5TH OCTOBER

5th October 1860 – British troops sack Beijing.  Colonel Garnet Wolseley commented that the soldiers “seem to have been seized with a temporary insanity; in body and soul they were absorbed in one pursuit which was plunder, plunder.”  However, while it might be easy to blame ordinary soldiers, it was Lord Elgin who ordered that the city’s magnificent Summer Palace be looted and burned to the ground.

Gordon later recalled – “We accordingly went out, and after pillaging it, burned the whole place, destroying it in a Vandal-like manner most valuable property which could not be replaced for four millions.”