Siamese Naval Fortification During the Franco-Siamese Conflict: Samut Prakan 1893

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Kritsada Sawangwanchai


During the Franco-Siamese conflict in 1893, Siam erected a system of fortifications in Samut Prakan province today to safeguard the capital from any potential foreign warships attack from the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. These forts later played a significant role in engaging French warships during the Paknam Incident. However, a comprehensive exploration of these fortifications needs to be included.

Therefore, this research paper seeks to examine these fortifications in terms of their design and architectural elements through a comparative study of contemporary fortifications and military technology of that era. The study will focus on forts constructed or refurbished during the reign of King Chulalongkorn in 1893 when the conflict between Siam and France was at its peak. The research findings reveal that during the FrancoSiamese strife, there was an urgent requirement for the Siamese elite to strengthen the defense system along the Chao Phraya River, especially before the Paknam Incident on July 13, 1893. The forts constructed during this period can be categorized into two groups based on layouts. The first group is the blending of the modern fortification system and bastioned fortification, and the other one is refurbished from old forts built during the reigns of King Rama II and Rama III. These fortifications demonstrated Siam’s endeavor to adopt modern fortification systems and technologies amidst any constraints during the reformation. As a result, these forts possessed unique designs that were not found in others that were built in the same period, such as a mixing of old and modern styles of fortification, fort orientations that impact firing direction, and the design of the protective area in some forts that is inefficient. 

After 1893, Siam still retained the concept of defending the Chao Phraya River using fortifications. However, during King Rama VI’s reign, the Siamese navy changed its doctrine to focus on building its fleet rather than the fortifications, leading to a decline in the significance of fortification.


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