A Campaign in Tonkin


Une campagne au Tonkin (A campaign in Tonkin) is a first-hand account of the military campaign mounted by France in 1883−86 in order to establish a protectorate over Tonkin (northern Vietnam). The author, Charles-Edouard Hocquard (1853−1911), was a military doctor who sailed with a French battalion from Toulon in January 1884. He arrived in the Gulf of Tonkin the following month and immediately proceeded to Hanoi by way of Haiphong. Hocquard’s book recounts important engagements in the campaign, including the capture of Bắc Ninh and the bombardment and capture of Hưng Hóa in March−April 1884. Hocquard also was engaged in the Kep Campaign in October of that year, in which the French fought Chinese forces. China had intervened in the conflict in August 1884, in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to block establishment of French control in this traditionally Chinese sphere of influence. In addition to recording military events, Hocquard’s book contains detailed descriptions of the social life, economic activities, religious observances, and customs and manners of the people of Vietnam. Hocquard concludes his narrative with several chapters about his visit to the Vietnamese court at Huế and his reception by the king. The book contains 247 engravings and two maps. Hocquard had published another book about his time Vietnam, Trente mois au Tonkin (Thirty months in Tonkin) in 1889, and he is known for his pioneering photographs of the country.

Last updated: April 3, 2015