Thread: What was the Boxer Rebellion?
8/13/2003 10:54pm, #11
Robert W. Smith is an authority on the Chinese fighting arts. The following is a quote from Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith, 'Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts' (Kodansha International, Tokyo and New York, 1969, 1980), pages 18-19.
"The [Boxer] rebellion grew out of anti-foreign sentiment spurred on by the Empress Dowager. It marked the zenith of secret society activity focused on the Boxers. Secret societies can be traced back to the Carnation Eyebrows in the Former Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 8) followed in A.D. 170 by the Yellow Turbans. Prior to the Manchu dynasty the White Lotus was the most powerful society, though run a close second by the Triad Society, said to be started by the Shaolin monks. [The structure in this sentance is awkward but its not a typo I've reproduced it as I've found it.] The birthplace of the rebellion was Shantung Province. It had been said that the Righteous Fists (I-ho Ch'uan), suppressed nationally in 1808 but surviving in Shantung, rose there because Shantung had been hit by three disasters at once: floods, famine, and the Germans. Shantung was a fertile soil for boxing. Ssu-ma Ch'ien noted nearly two thousand years before that many rebels had fled there during the Warring States period, giving it a special high-spirited flavor. [whatever that means] The Boxers, trained in a compound of traditional tactics and esoteric 'religious' practices, were whipped into a frenzy of bloodletting, but in the end they could not prevail against the modern fire-power of the western 'barbarians.' These practices were supposed to make the Boxers invulnerable to lance and bullet. In late 1899 when Yuan Shih-k'ai became governor of Shantung, he proved that at least th group of Boxers he executed by a firing squad had no such supernatural powers."
In his chapter on China, Smith also provides a list of various Chinese martial arts masters who lived in the relatively recent past. There were two who came from Shantung province. Shan Yun-hsiang (1863-1938) who practiced the internal art of hsing-i, (p. 25) and Teng Yung-feng (1873-1941) who also practiced the internal arts of hsing-i and pa-kua. (p. 27) Neither of these men appeared to havee had any involvement with the Boxer Rebellion so I can only say that these arts were available in Shantung Providence at the relevant time rather then that the Boxers actually utilized them.
8/13/2003 11:14pm, #12
A couple quick points from Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford, Kenneth J. Hagan, 'American Foreign Policy: A History to 1914, Third Ed (D.C. Health and Company, Lexington Mass, 1988), p. 211.
Number of troops America sent to Peking from the Philippines to help suppress the Boxer Rebellion:
Number of other foreign troops involved in this particular operation:
Amount in U.S. dollars (at the time) that China was forced to agree to pay in damages:
over $300 million
Territorial concession that America attempted to score out of this revolt:
Sansha Bay, Fujian Province
Why this failed to take place:
Japan of all nations pointed out that such a concession would violate America's own official 'open door policy'.
5/13/2004 1:34am, #13
The best book on the subject of the Boxer rebellion is probably Chester C. Tan's The Boxer Catastrophe, (New York: Octagon Books Inc, 1967). So please forgive me for quoting from it at length.
"Steiger's Theory of Origins
Before going into the history of the Boxers or I Ho Ch uan, as the Chinese called them, let us examine the theories on their origins. Of these theories, two in particular deserve our attention. The older explanation of the origins was given by Lao Nai-hsuan, a magistrate in Chihli, [A providence next to Shantung providence] who, in a pamphlet published in 1899, maintained that the I Ho Ch uan--literally, Righteous Harmony Fists--was a secret society which had been associated with the White Lotus Society, the Eight Diagram Sect, the Red Fist Society, and similar heretical and revolutionary organizations. It was suppressed in 1808, but it maintained an obscure existance in many districts of Chihli and Shantung. Lao's work we shall discuss in the next section. The other theory was proposed by George Nye Steiger, who in his [book] China and the Occident [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1927] combated Lao's explaination and asserted that the boxers were 'volunteer militia' recruited 'in response to the express commands of the Throne.' The correct name for the organization, he said 'was I-ho Tuan, Righteous and Harmonious Band, or Militia'; the substitution of Chuan for Tuan, as the third character in the name of the organization was simply a pun which was perpetrated by its opponents. The Boxers were 'lawful bodies,' he asserted, although they latter absorbed the members of secret societies like Ta Tso Hui (Big Knife Society).
A close examination of Steiger's book will show that his explaination is not founded upon sufficient evidence. His attempted refutation of Lao's theory was based upon some assumptions which are far from being conclusive. 'It is impossible to believe, ' he said 'that a secret society, holding heretical doctrines and known to have revolutionary aims, would deliberately go out of its way to institute a campaign of bitter hostility against Christian missions, and thus stir up against itself the activities of the officials and the complaints of foreign diplomats. Such procedure would have been contrary to all that is known of the history of the country.'
Yet just a year before the emergance of the Boxers, the Ta Tao Hui, a secret society in the same province of Shantung, deliberately showed its hostility against the Christian missions by killing two German priests. Indeed, now that the reactionaries were in power and a strong foreign policy was adopted, it might well have been the thought of the secret societies that this was a good time to conciliate the officials and public by unfurling a popular banner of antiforeignism.
The quotation from a report of Dr. Arthur H. Smith, a missionary in Shantung, that in some villages he had found no connection between a secret society called 'Six Times Sect' and the I Ho Ch'uan is certainly no evidence that there was no connection Between the Boxers and other secret societies in other districts. Similarly, the lack of reference by Dr. H.D. Porter, another missionary in Shantung, to any secret society in his description of the Boxer bands cannot be taken as a solid basis for Mr. Steiger's theory. Quotations from some missionaries who happened to write what they casually observed are not sufficient to determine the character of a widespread movement. Yet it was on the basis of such evidence that Steiger drew his conclusion. And his statement was as positive as it could be.
'The so-called Boxers,' he wrote, 'were a Tuan, or volunteer militia; they were recruited, in response to the express commands of the Throne, in precisely those provinces whose loyalty was most to be trusted. . . .Whatever the Boxer movement may have become--or threatened to become--by the spring of 1900, it was, in the beginning, neither a revolutionary nor a heretical organization; it was a lawful and loyal volunteer militia, whose existance was fully justified by the reasonable apprehensions of the government aand the people.'
If the I Ho Ch'uan were local militia, it is necessary to explain why they took on such miraculous formulae as were characteristic of the secret and heretical societies. Their charms and incantations, their intricate ritual, and their belief in certain supernatural powers which would render them invunerable and invincible, all savored heavily of heresy. It is interesting to see how Steiger tried to explain them away:
'The degrees of the Empress Dowager, in which she urged the development and improvement of the local militia, had repeatedly ordered that these volunteer bodies be given modern armament and drill. Since the arsenals of the Empire could hardly produce modern weapons in sufficient quantities to supply the needs of the regular imperial and provincial troops, no modern weapons were, for the time at least, available for the militia organizations, which continued to be armed with swords, spears, a a few firearms of the most primitive sort. But although it was impossible to furnish the Tuan with Mauser rifles, it was necessary to comply with the commands of the Throne; this could be achieved by drilling the militia according to the manual adopted for the modern armed troops. Squad and company drill, the goose-steps and the setting up exercizes which had been introduced into the training of the Peiyang Army by the German and Japanese military instructors, were, therefore, taught to the Tuan and were diligently practiced by them as a means whereby the defenders of the Empire might become equal in prowess to the forces of the 'outside barbarians.' It required little exercize of the imagination to visualize the metamorphosis by which these physical exercises became, in the mind of the Chinese peasant, magic rites which would confer supernatural strength and invulnerability upon all who religiously performed them.'
[Chester Tan considered Steiger's argument bullshit] It requires, indeed, a far stretch of the imagination to suppose that the Chinese peasants would mistake the Western drills for magic rites. The rites practiced by the Boxers were the rites practiced by the Chinese secret societies for the ages. The taking up of them amply testifies to the influence of these societies on the Boxers, if not indeed the metamophasis from these societies to the Boxers. The only positive basis given by Steiger for his assertion that the Boxers were lawful and loyal bodies was the Imperial decrees of November 3 and December 31, 1898, ordering the organization of the local militia."
[Tan then provides a history and functions of the Chinese militia before returning to 1898]
On November 5 the Emperess Dowager issued the first decree concerning the militia. It read as follows:
'There has never been a time when the relations between the sovereign and people could safely forgo a good understanding and a united effort. It is of course for the local magistrates to initiate measures in all questions of local importance, but no policy can be successfully carried out unless the gentry and the common people cooperate with the Government. If we consider, for example, the question of food-supply reserves, the organization of pao chia [constables], and the drilling of militia, they may seem like ordinary matters, but if they are efficiently handled, they may be of great value to the nation. For by reserving grain for the lean years, the people's livelihood is secured, and similarly by the organization of the pao chia, protection is afforded against bandits. As to the militia, they only require to undergo regular training for a sufficient period to know the military tactics; they then could be relied upon in case of emergency. We therefor decree that these matters be started first in Chihli, Mukden, and Shantung an then in other provinces. Generals, viceroys, and governors of the various provinces must advise the gentry and common people so that these measures may be carried out with the utmost energy.'"
pp. 36-39, 40-41 [To be continued next post]
5/13/2004 1:35am, #14
Continuing from Chester C. Tan, The Boxer Catastrophe, (New York: Octagon Books Inc, 1967). pp. 41-43.
"It is not easy to say, by merely reading the words of the decree, what exactly was the purpose of the organization of the militia. Were they to be used for the defense of the country against foreign enemies, or were they drilled for internal protection? The decree was couched in vague terms; it spoke of emergency without specifying what kind, and the militia were named along with the constables. Considering, however, the original proposal of Chang Yin-huan and the more recent memorial of Liu K'un-i, who pointed out that 'if successful, the militia could be dispatched to distant places when necessary,' the use of the militia for national defense might well have been within the thought of the Imperial Court.
But if that was its intention, it soon found great difficulties. The lack of modern weapons, necessary for any armed engagement with foreign troops, and the reluctance of the villagers to be sent away from their home villages were formidable obstacles. It was with these obstacles in view that a decree was issued on June 19th, 1899, explaining more specifically the purpose of the militia. The militia it said, 'are organized primarily for cleaning out the internal bandits: they were not to be dispatched far away to fight the enemies." There was no need to buy modern weapons, for locally made guns would be sufficient for this purpose. The viceroys and governors were enjoined not to make too much fuss about the matter.
Whether originally intended for internal protection or external defense, the militia were not organized for antiforeign purposes. To defend the country against foreign aggression was one thing; to create riots against the foreigners was quite another. Although the Imperial Government was zealous in strengthing national defense, it was far from wanting trouble with the foreign powers, not in the years 1898-99 at least. A careful examination of the various decrees and reports of the provinces on the subject, which were numerous in the Ch'ing Te Tsung Shih Lu (True Records of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Reign of Kuang Hsu), will show no evidence that the Imperial Government had any antiforeign designs in connection with the organization of the militia. On the contrary, the Acting Governor of Kiangsi Providence spoke of the militia along with the protection of [Christian] churches, while Chang Chih-tung, Viceroy at Hankow, actually detailed the militia to guard the churches and protect the missionaries who traveledd out of the cities.
The militia were organized under the supervision of the local governments. Usually a headquarters of the militia was set up in the capital of the province, with branch offices in the localities. The officers of the headquarters as well as the branch offices were selected by, or with the approval of, the local governments. Under these circumstances it is hard to see how the militia could be the Boxers. The purposes of the two were different: the one was organized for the maintenance of order and peace in their localities, the other for stirring riots against the Chinese converts and the missionaries. Their organizations were different: the one under the sponsorship of the local governments, the other within the control of the secret societies. The militia were a legal body organized in accordance with the Imperial decrees; the Boxers were rioters to be suppressed by government troops.
The Boxer societies were not formed in response to the Imperial decrees, for before November 5, 1898, the first decree ordering the organization of the militia, they had already existed and operated. The fact that the local authorities and the Imperial Government repeatedly attempted to place the Boxers within the militia so as to control them more effectively should prove that the two were different entities."
[What Tan does not address in this selection is the possibility that the militia which trained perhaps twice a month, shared some rank and file members with these secret societies. It would have been possible that in certain branches that the officers were selected by the imperial government, but that the rank and file was not screened to prevent secret society affiliation.]
Last edited by Sam Browning; 5/13/2004 2:34pm at .
5/13/2004 1:36am, #15
Continuing from Chester C. Tan, The Boxer Catastrophe, (New York: Octagon Books Inc, 1967). pp. 43-45.
"The Views of Lao Nai-Hsuan
The theory of Lao Nai-hsuan should not be dismissed lightly, for the author was not only a scholar but also a competent official with a firsthand knowledge of the Boxer movement. He had been magistrate of Wuch'iao, a district in southeastern Chihli, for ten years. In June, 1898, after serving in another district for two years, he transferred back to Wuch'iao. It was about this time that the Boxers began to be active in southeastern Chihli. Their activities drew his attention, and he made a study of their origins. [Ed: which I wish someone could translate for this thread, *begs*]
In September, 1899, he published his famous treatise I Ho Ch'uan Chiao Men Yuan Liu K'ao (Study of the Origins of the Boxer Sect). He found that the I Ho Ch'uan was a branch of the Eight Diagram Sect, whose early leader Kao Sheng-wen, a native of Honan Providence, had been executed in 1771. His descendants and disciples, however survived and together with other secret societies continued to operate in the provinces of Honan, Shantung, and Kiangnan. In 1808 a decree was issued by Emperor Chia Ch'ing, ordering strict supression of the secret societies and severe punishment of their leaders.
In spite of this, however, it was reported in 1818 that the I Ho sect spread to Chihli and practiced the 'I Ho Boxing.' Many of its members were again executed, but the society maintained an obscure existance in many districts in Chihli and Shantung and ultimately emerged in 1898 as an active anti-Christian organization.
Lao based his statement upon the Chinese documents which he found in the Jen Tsuang Jui Huang Ti Sheng Hsun (Edicts of Emperor Chia Ch'ing). It should be noted that in those documents the exact name of I Ho Ch'uan appeared and that the practice of boxing was reported as a feature of the secret society in 1815. Lao also supported his exposition with current evidence. The Boxer monk Wu Hsiu, captured in Chingchou, and another Boxer leader, Ta Kuei, captured in Kuch'eng all admitted belonging to the Eight Diagram Sect. Other Boxers in the several other districts of Chihli also declared their allegiance to the secret society. Furthermore, the rules of the Boxer Society were typically those of the secret societies; for instance, those who joined the Society must strictly obey orders, the violation of which would be punished by execution and even extermination of whole families.
The theory of Lao Nai-hsuan has been well accepted in China, for besides the same name and the same practice of boxing, the charms and incantations of the Boxers clearly indicated their connection with the secret societies. It is quite common that heretical societies, in spite of frequent suppressions by the government, continued to exist. It had been the traditional policy of the Ch'ing Dynasty with respect to those societies to execute only the chieftains but let the followers disperse. This was called the policy of magnanimity, and magnanimity was considered good government. In fact, the secret societies, with their long history, usually infiltrated deep into the various levels of society. If an extensive purge had been undertaken, a very great number of people would have been involved. Whatever the motive, this policy never did exterminate the secret sects, with the result that many of them maintained their existance for centuries.
It is difficult to say to what extent the Boxer movement was initiated by the heretical sects. For if they played an important role in organizing the movement, their illegal status made it impossible for them to reveal themselves. There are no records as to exactly when and how the I Ho Ch'uan was first organized. Our evidence indicates that they began as volunteer associations. It is quite possible that the secret societies operated in the background. But whoever the initiator may have been, it is beyond argument that the Boxer movement was dominated by the heretical elements.
This of course did not prevent the movement from becoming a popular front against the foreigners and the Christians. That was a time when the Chinese hatred of the foreigners was intense and widespread. The Boxers' slogan of 'upholding the Ch'ing Dynasty and exterminating the foreigners' caught the imagination of the people, and the antiforeign sentiment of the people must at the same time have inspired the direction of the Boxers. It is difficult to trace exactly the stimulation and reaction in this kind of interaction, for the development of the Boxers was as multi-farious as it was spontaneous. At any rate the movement soon galvanized the populace of the northern provinces and spread like wildfire. It absorbed various elements of society and infiltrated various organizations, whether secret or official. At last it recruited the high officials and princes of the blood in the Imperial Court and thus precipitated the great catastrophe."
Last edited by Sam Browning; 5/13/2004 4:09pm at .
5/13/2004 7:18am, #16
5/13/2004 8:14am, #17
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
Wow. Great information! That's a lot of work typing. Thanks for the effort!
One would say, 'I am Kuan Ping.' And another, 'I am Sun Ho.' Another, 'I am Chu Pa-chieh.' [Ed: I have no idea what these names mean!]
Chu Pa-chieh (I HATE wade-giles...) is a character from "Journey To the West", a very long text of Chinese mythology. He was an immortal with officer's rank in heaven's army who got in trouble with heaven and was kicked out down to earth, but landed in a pigs body, thus the name Chu (pinyin Zhu1, which means pig). He fought with a rake, ate and womanized his way through life...
Sun Ho is also from the same "Journey To the West" (Xi You Ji). He is more commonly called Sun Wu Kong. He was a monkey who learned Taoist magic and martial arts, and beat the hell out of everyone he met with a 10,000 lb iron rod. He became so powerful that even Heaven's army couldn't contain him, and he 'earned' the title "Great Sage Equal to Heaven".
It makes perfect sense that dillusional 'boxers' would chose to be one of the above people when they go insane. :)
One of Charlie's daughters married Sun Yat-sen, another married Chiang Kai-Shek and became known as Madame Chiang Kai-Shek
5/13/2004 9:14pm, #18
Here is a short summary of the Boxer Rebellion from the U.S. Navy's point of view. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq86-1.htm What is especially interesting is in my review of some of the basic documents describing the events of 1900, it looks like the Boxers fought the Western armies (in alliance with regular Chinese military forces) conventionally. They did not try to use martial arts weapons preferring rifles and did not seem to rely on their 'iron shirt' technique, now they were no longer going after Western missionaries or other Chinese.
"The Boxer Rebellion and the U.S. Navy, 1900-1901
The origins of anti-Western attitudes in China are difficult to trace, but widespread dislike by the population at large goes back to at least the Opium War between Britain and China (1839-1842). These feelings worsened over the course of the 19th century as Western colonial powers, as well as Russia and Japan, negotiated for, leased, and even seized portions of the Chinese Empire. Following the 1895 Sino-Japanese War, several European powers secured territorial and commercial concessions from China, including the 1897 seizure of Kiaochow and Tsingtao by Imperial Germany. This intervention precipitated a new wave of even bolder efforts to force concessions from China, further exacerbating tensions.
Anti-foreign sentiment resulted in the rapid growth of a Chinese secret society (which had existed for centuries) known as the I Ho Ch'uan (Righteous Harmonious Fists), but referred to by the Westerners as `Boxers.' The Boxers called for the expulsion of the `foreign devils' and their Chinese Christian converts. The society stressed the ritualistic use of the martial arts and traditional Chinese weapons. Anti-foreign incidents, including the burning of homes and businesses, increased dramatically in 1898 and 1899, and was primarily directed at Chinese Christians. The number of killings by the Boxers continued to grow, and on 30 December 1899 included a British missionary. Western governments lodged strong protests with the Chinese Dowager Empress, Tzu Hsi. She responded on 11 January 1900, with a declaration that the Boxers represented a segment of Chinese society, and should not be labeled a criminal organization. Her unenthusiastic support for the Chinese Army's attempts at quelling the violence and the influence of Boxer sympathizers at the Imperial court, led Western governments to deploy military forces on the Chinese coast to protect their citizens and interests.
By spring 1900, Boxer violence was virtually unchecked by Chinese authorities. On 30 May, the foreign ministers at Peking (today known as Beijing, but at the time referred to as Pekin) called for troops to protect the legations at Peking. Four hundred and thirty Sailors and Marines (including fifty-six Americans from USS Oregon and USS Newark) from eight countries arrived at the legations on 31 May and 4 June. On 9 June, the Boxers began attacking foreign property in Peking, and the senior foreign minister, Great Britain's Sir Claude MacDonald, requested a sizable relief force just before the telegraph lines were cut.
The first attempt to relieve the foreign legations at Peking consisted of over 2,100 men (mostly Sailors and Marines) from Great Britain, Germany, Russia, France, the United States, Japan, Italy, and Austria. The allied force departed the city of Tientsin on 10 June, under the command of British Admiral Sir Edward Seymour. However, strong Boxer and Imperial Chinese opposition forced Seymour to return his battered column to Tientsin on 22 June. The allied powers worked to assemble a stronger force, and on 5 August 1900, it departed Tientsin with 20,000 men, including 2,000 Americans (over 500 of these were U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines). After fighting two major battles against huge Chinese forces, the relief force reached the foreign legations at Peking on 14 August.
Over the next several months, the forces of the Western powers and Japan in China continued to grow. They completed their occupation of Peking and spread out into the countryside of northern China, breaking up concentrations of Boxers. On 1 February 1901, the Chinese authorities agreed to abolish the Boxer Society, and on 7 September signed the Peace Protocol of Peking with the allied nations, officially ending the Boxer Rebellion.
China suffered a devastating blow to her prestige and power, which allowed foreign nations to consolidate their interests and previous territorial gains. The weakened Chinese state could not interfere in the war (1904-1905) between Russia and Japan that secured Japanese dominance in the Far East.
The United States was able to play a significant role in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion because of the large number of American ships and troops deployed in the Philippines as a result of the US conquest of the islands during the Spanish American War (1898) and subsequent Philippine insurgent activity. In the minds of many American leaders, the Boxer Rebellion reinforced the need to retain control of the Philippines and to maintain a strong presence in the Far East."
Last edited by Sam Browning; 5/13/2004 9:35pm at .
5/13/2004 9:18pm, #19
Here are copies of reports from the U.S. Consulate concerning the siege of the foreign embassies in Beijing. Notice that when the Boxers had a choice, even they preferred to use artillery and rifles. No kungfu for them! The report is from http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/boxer/boxer10.htm
"Peking: Reports from the U.S. Consulate
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES.
Chefoo, China, August 7, 1900.
SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith copy of a letter from Minister Conger, dated July 21, the copies of three memoranda all relating to the situation at Pekin up to July 21, obtained by me from official sources.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant.
JOHN FOWLER, Consul.
HON. DAVID J. HILL,
Assistant Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.
BRITISH LEGATION, Pekin, July 21.
From June 20 to July 16 repeated attacks by Chinese troops on all sides, both rifle fire and artillery, including two 3-inch Krupp guns.
Since July 16, armistice, but cordon strictly drawn, both sides strengthening positions.
We hold at present following line: Two hundred yards wall Tartar City south of American legation, Russian and British legations half of park opposite east of latter, also French and German legations; all outside this line burnt and ruins held by Chinese, whose barricades are close to ours.
All women and children in British legation. Food sufficient for fortnight at most. Ammunition running short.
Casualties to date 62 killed, including Strouts (captain of marines), David Oliphant, Warren, and double that number wounded in hospital, including Halliday (captain of marines). Rest of legation all well.
Important that relief force, when near, should advance rapidly to prevent attack on legations by retreating Chinese forces.
Yesterday we refused a renewed demand to leave Pekin and proceed to Tientsin.
All Pekin, Tungchow Americans, also Walkers, Chapins, Smiths, Wyckoffs, Verity, Hobart, Terry, Mackay safe Pekin; wire friends. All property destroyed.
Eastern Shanghai, Record, Chicago, June 20. Kettler murdered, secretary wounded en route tsung li yamen by Chinese troops. Foreign residents besieged British legation. Since then under daily fire artillery rifles Chinese. Fortunately cowardice prevented successful rushes. Our loss 60 killed, 70 wounded. Theirs exceeded thousands. No word from outside world. Food plenty -- rice, horses. Yesterday flag truce message from Jung Lu requested Macdonald willing truce. Replied willing, provided Chinese came no closer. Shell firing ceased; quiet now. Hope it means relief, having defeated Chinese, are nearing. All exhausted constant watching, fighting, building barricades, digging trenches night, day.
All locations except British utterly wrecked, shell shot. Austrian, Italian, Belgian, Holland, burned ground; British also much shattered. American marines still hold vital position city wall commanding legations after brilliant sortie July 3, Captain Myers driving back hordes Kansuli troops, he slightly wounded; captured flags, arms. Greatest credit due Secretary Squires, whose military experience, energy, invaluable present dangers, treachery; possible entry city defeated Chinese army. Intense anxiety early relief.
Another report, which I have not been able to copy, reports Lippett badly wounded.
LITTLETON W. T. WALLER.
TIENTSIN, July 27, 1900.
Messenger who left Pekin 21st arrived to-day with messages from several ministers. Minister Conger sends following to Consul Ragsdale: "Have been besieged in British legation five weeks under continual fire of Chinese troops but since 16th by agreement there has been no firing; 50 marines of all nationalities killed and more wounded. We have provisions for several weeks, but little ammunition. If they continue to shell us as they have done, we can't hold out long, complete massacre will follow. Hope relief can come soon; glad to hear of victory at Tientsin."
Gist of other messages missionaries uninjured, but missions destroyed, customs staff and families uninjured. Chinese approached British minister under flag of truce and proposed cessation of hostilities; ministers agreed providing Chinese made no advance. Treachery feared. July 3 Captain Myers, American marines, made wonderful sortie, capturing guns and standards. He was wounded slightly. Chinese also badly defeated when they attempted night attack. Foreigners hold Legation street from French to American legations and British on north, all working at barricades, trenches, and fighting, and nearly worn out. Chinese seem to be short of ammunition. Our marines have fought like tigers against fearful odds; only Chinese cowardice prevented their hordes of savages massacreing our nationals.
PEKIN, July 21, 1900.
DEAR RAGSDALE: Have been besieged in British legation five weeks under continued fire from Chinese troops, but since 16th, by agreement, there has been no firing. Fifty marines of all nations have been killed, and more wounded.
We have provisions for several weeks, but little ammunition. If they continue to shell us as they have done, we can't hold out long. Complete massacre will follow. Hope relief can come soon. Glad to hear victory at Tientsin, but regret its terrible cost.
Hope you are all safe and will send cipher by bearer.
E. H. CONGER"
5/13/2004 9:24pm, #20
Here is the Secretary of the Navy's report which not suprisingly does not mention the sack of Beijing by the Western army relief column. available at. http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/boxer/boxer1.htm
"Report of the Secretary of the Navy.
Washington, D.C., November 17, 1900.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the Navy Department for the past year:
OPERATIONS IN THE EAST.
The fleet on the Asiatic Station has cooperated with the Army in the Philippines, transporting and convoying troops, patrolling a wide area of badly charted waters, sending out landing parties, and keeping the coast clear of the enemy. The small gunboats have been of great value in preventing the landing of arms for the insurgents and cutting off illicit trade with and among the islands.
The cordiality which has characterized the relations of the Army and Navy is shown by numerous reports from officers on duty in the Philippines, and is alike creditable to both branches of the service.
In view of the disturbed conditions in Asiatic waters and of the demands upon the Navy, the Department early in the year deemed it expedient to augment the force in that quarter. The commander in chief of the Asiatic Station, Rear-Admiral Remedy, was accordingly given an assistant, Rear-Admiral Kempff, to insure under command of an officer of rank and experience a division of the fleet, if necessary, in quarters distant from the Philippines. Almost immediately thereafter circumstances made it necessary to maintain a separate force in Chinese waters, and the junior rear-admiral was ordered to proceed with a squadron to Taku, China.
When, therefore, an appeal for help came from the legations at Pekin, this Government not only had an adequate naval force at the nearest seaport town, but also was able to send forward immediately a force of marines for the protection of the United States legation. The small marine guard assigned to this duty under the command of Capt. John T. Myers consisted of 56 officers and men, made up of detachments from the U.S.S. Oregon and Newark. They reached the Chinese capital in the latter part of May, only a short time before the representatives and citizens of foreign countries in that city were subjected to siege and cut off from communication with the rest of the world.
The annals of history present few examples of more dramatic interest than the story of the beleaguered legations in Pekin, from June 20, 1900, the date on which the German minister was killed and the siege began, until August 14, when the allied forces entered the Chinese capital. Official and unofficial reports, and particularly the dispatches of our minister, show that the American marines bore their full share in the burdens of defense during this memorable siege. The United States legation was situated just inside of and near to the wall of the Tartar city. When the legations were assaulted, the American detachment immediately occupied a position on the city wall, a strategic point of great importance; established an improvised sandbag fort there, which enabled them to defend the section of wall immediately commanding the legations, and, although repeatedly attacked by overwhelming numbers, and on two occasions driven for a few minutes from the wall, they were never permanently dislodged, but held this vital position until relief came.
Some days before the siege began, and while railway communication with the Chinese capital was still open, arrangements had been made for the prompt dispatch, for the protection of the lives and property of Americans in the city, of another and larger detachment from our fleet at Taku. This second detachment was made up chiefly of seamen, under command of Captain Bowman H. McCalla, United States Navy, and was ready in the early part of June to join such expedition as the other governments interested might determine to send forward from their fleets at the mouth of the river.
On the night of June 9 Admiral Seymour of the British navy, the ranking naval officer, received a telegram from the British minister at Pekin, advising him that "unless those at Pekin were relieved soon, it would be too late." At 9:30 the next morning a relief column, under command of Admiral Seymour, started for the Chinese capital by train, the expedition consisting of 915 British officers, seamen and marines, 450 German, 312 Russian, 158 French, 112 American, 54 Japanese, 40 Italian, and 25 Austrian, a total of 2,066. Finding at Langfang that the railway had been so much damaged as to render it useless as a means of advance, this column, after ten days' fighting in a difficult country, without the transportation, ammunition, or supplies necessary to an extended campaign, encumbered by wounded to the number of 230, and entirely cut off from communication front and rear was obliged, June 20, to fall back, and having on their return march captured the imperial armory near Hsiku, a few miles above Tientsin, there awaited reenforcements. Of the part borne in this hazardous expedition by the American sailors, honorable mention is made in all reports. The British admiral himself, in a letter to the senior United States naval officer at Taku, says:
I can not conclude my letter without expressing to you, sir, the high admiration I have for Capt. B.H. McCalla, who accompanied us in command of your officers and men. Their post was usually in the advanced guard, where their zeal and go was praised by all. I regret to state that Captain McCalla was wounded in three places, but considering the gallant way in which he exposed himself I am only equally surprised and thankful that he is alive.
In the meantime the foreign settlement in Tientsin itself was subjected to attack, and communication between that city and Taku was interrupted. On the 19th of June a detachment of 8 officers and 132 enlisted men, chiefly from the first regiment of marines dispatched from Cavite by the Newark and Nashville, arrived at Taku. Instructions were immediately given that this force should take part in the forward movement for the relief of the besieged at Tientsin. This force, aggregating a little more than 500 men, was, however, too small to accomplish its object, and was speedily driven back by overwhelming numbers.
The following day, June 22, British, Russian, German, Italian, and Japanese reenforcements arrived, making a combined force of about 2,000 men. The foreign city of Tientsin was entered and the siege raised. On Sunday morning, June 25, an advance was made to the relief of Admiral Seymour's command, who were intrenched at a point about 8 miles from Tientsin. This movement was accomplished with little opposition, and early on the morning of July 14 the walled city of Tientsin was captured by the allied forces.
In this action, in which 22 officers and 326 men, under Col. R.L. Meade, participated, Capt. A.R. Davis, U.S. Marine Corps, was killed at the side of his commanding officer in the advanced trench; Capts. William B. Lemly and Charles G. Long, First Lieuts. Smedley D. Butler and Henry Leonard were wounded; a sergeant, a corporal, and 2 enlisted men were killed, and a sergeant, 2 corporals, and 12 enlisted men were wounded.
To record the instances of gallantry displayed by our officers and men at the capture of Tientsin would almost be equivalent to a publication of the entire roster.
The Chinese stronghold at Tientsin was captured early on the morning of July 14; on the same day systematic attacks upon the beleaguered legations at Pekin ceased; an informal truce was arranged at the instance of the tsungli yamen; communication between the besieged and the outside world was partially reopened; the legations were offered certain supplies by the Chinese authorities, and although subjected to desultory attacks from time to time and to a fierce final assault on the night of August 13 were on the following day relieved by the entrance into Pekin of the allied forces.
During the time of these events both rear-admirals were in Chinese waters. Their prudence and efficiency are highly commendable."