Pei-Ho, Or North River, a river of China, which rises near the Mongolian frontier, about lat. 41° N., Ion. 115° 30' E., and after a general S. E. course of about 350 m. flows into the gulf of Pechili in lat. 38° 30', Ion. 117° 47'. Near the mouth of the river are 'the villages of Taku and Siku, and a little higher up Tangku, and in the immediate vicinity are widespread settlements estimated to contain 500,000 inhabitants; hut the most important town on the Pei-ho, and the largest port N. of Shanghai, is Tientsin at the junction of the grand canal, about 70 m. from the sea, and the head of steam navigation. Tungchow, where all the boats land their passengers and cargoes for Peking, is 110 m. higher up, or by the sinuosities of the river 180 m. from Taku. The principal affluent of the Pei-ho is the Hoen-ho. On a small tributary, the Tung-hui, 12 m. from the main stream, is Peking. It is estimated that the river and its affluents drain an area of about 200,000 sq. m. The velocity of the stream, arising from the great altitude of its source, has scoured out a narrow channel through the deep alluvial plain of Chihli or Pechili, and cut into the substratum of clay.
For the last 5 m. of its course the plain is little if at all above the level of high water at spring tides, and the river discharges itself over an extensive bar formed of tenacious clay, and the distance at low water from a depth of 10 ft. without to 10 ft. within is nearly 4 1/2 m. In the channel leading over the bar there is a depth of 11 ft. at high water; but at low water there is only 24 in. in most places, and extensive dry mud banks on either hand. Within the bar the channel winds upward for about a mile between steep mud banks, which are covered at high water, and render navigation at that time very dangerous. At this distance the banks become covered with reeds, the breadth is about 100 yards, and the current runs from 2 to 3 m. an hour. Forts and earthworks have been erected upon natural or artificial mounds with an altitude of from 10 to 12 ft. at high water, and, from the peculiar configuration of this reach, face and flank it on all sides. - In an engagement between English and French gunboats and land forces and the Chinese at the mouth of the Pei-ho, on May 19, 1858, the Chinese were defeated.
Another attack was made on the forts, June 25,1859, chiefly by 11 English gunboats, manned by 500 men, with 700 marines, when the English were repulsed with a loss of 89 killed and 345 wounded. On Aug. 21, 1860, the attack was renewed with an English and French fleet of 300 sail and a land force of 25,000 men. The Chinese fortifications were captured and destroyed. The English lost 19 killed and 182 wounded; the French, 30 killed and 100 wounded; the Chinese loss was estimated at 3,000.