Trophy Gun from Takoo Fort - 1856

During the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century, trophy guns became significant symbols of military triumph and cultural appropriation. These firearms, often intricate and highly decorated, were seized by British forces from Chinese arsenals and battlefields. The capture of these guns served not only as a demonstration of victory but also as tangible evidence of the technological and tactical superiority claimed by the British. These trophy guns were transported back to Britain, where they were displayed in museums, military academies, and private collections, symbolizing the spoils of imperial conquest. They provided the British public with a direct, albeit controversial, connection to the distant and exotic theaters of conflict, reinforcing nationalistic pride and the perceived righteousness of their imperial endeavors. The legacy of these trophy guns continues to evoke reflections on the complex interplay between warfare, cultural exchange, and imperialism.

Two guns in front of the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre are outstanding examples of such artifacts. The one scanned here has the following inscription:

“This gun was cast in the imperial factory at Pekin in the year 1856 captured by the forces under the command of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour GCB at the taking of the Takoo Forts Peiho River May 20 1858 was presented by the captors to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and brought to Keyhan Yard during the superintendence of Admiral Sir Thomas Sabine Pasley Barone T. who caused this carriage to be prepared for its reception Anno Domini 1860”