China Relief Expedition: General Chaffee's Report
General Chaffee's Report
on the China Relief Expedition
[Excerpted from the U. S. War Department, Five Years of the War Department Following the War With Spain, 1899-1903
(Washington, D. C., 1904), pp. 395-407.]
HEADQUARTERS, CHINA RELIEF EXPEDITION,
Pekin, China, September 1, 1900.
China Relief Expedition: General Chaffee's Report
SIR: In compliance with my orders to proceed to Pekin, China, I have the honor to submit the following report:
I left Washington June 27, 1900, and arrived at San Francisco, Cal., at 6 p. m. July 1, and immediately embarked on the U. S. Army transport Grant, lying in the harbor. Shortly afterwards the transport steamed out of the port, but when about 15 miles from San Francisco a small break in the machinery (steam pipe) was discovered, and as it was likely to prove a serious matter the transport returned to the harbor for repairs, which were effected, and we sailed on the afternoon of July 3, at 6.45, for Nagasaki, Japan, where we arrived without special incident on the morning of July 24, and remained two days to coal ship. While there I received your instructions of the 21st to proceed to China and assume command of the United States forces there.
During my stay at Nagasaki I called on board the Newark and had a conference with Admiral Kempff. I also called upon Mr. Harris, American consul, and Mr. J. Hattori, governor of Nagasaki Ken.
The Grant arrived at Taku Bay at break of day July 29. In the bay at this time were many war ships and transports of various nations - of the United States, the Brooklyn, Admiral Remey's flagship; the transport Indiana, which had brought the Fourteenth Infantry from Manila, partially unloaded; the Port Albert, which had brought transportation of the Ninth Infantry from Manila, unloaded, except some 400,000 or 500,000 feet of lumber. The need for other stores on shore being more pressing, the unloading of the lumber could not be effected for some time, and I ordered the Port Albert to sail for Nagasaki, lumber on board. The Flintshire had arrived two days previously from Nagasaki, having on board Light Battery F, Fifth Artillery (Capt. Henry J. Reilly commanding), and two companies of the Fourteenth Infantry; nothing had been taken from this ship. The Solace, a naval hospital boat, was also in the bay, having received the day previous the wounded from the battle of Tientsin.
At 8 o'clock on the morning of the 29th I boarded the Brooklyn and had a conference with Admiral Remey, who gave me such information of the situation at Tientsin and Taku Bay as he was able to. Later in the forenoon I boarded the Solace and saw the wounded from the battle of Tientsin, and on the first opportunity, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I went aboard the Pechili, a ship chartered by the Quartermaster's Department for the unloading of transports, and arrived at Tong-ku about 8 p. m., where I spent the night aboard the Monocacy, Captain Wise commanding.
I found in Taku Bay and Tong-ku very slight facilities controlled by the United States for the discharging of our transports. The Navy Department, having taken no part in the assault on the Taku forts, had secured very little, practically none, of the river boats, which are very essential for the transportation of supplies from the bay to Tientsin. The flags of several other nations were floating from nearly every junk to be seen along the river, a great many of which were at the time of my arrival being employed in the unloading of the transports of various nations. Capt. Joseph C. Byron, assistant quartermaster, U. S. A., and Capt. Winthrop Wood, assistant quartermaster U. S. A., were energetically at work to secure lighters and tugs to relieve the situation in which we were placed.
The Pechili had been chartered at Shanghai and had arrived the day previous to my arrival. Captain Wood had borrowed a tug and had been to Chefoo, where he had secured two scows which would carry about 75 tons each. These had also arrived the day previous to my arrival, and were at the time I arrived in the bay loading with stores from the Indiana. The draft of the Pechili was so deep that it could cross the bar only at high tides, which on that day was about 5 o'clock p. m., and its cargo must be discharged during the night and go out about 5 o'clock in the morning. Through the efforts of Captains Byron and Wood I understand the situation at the mouth of the river with respect to discharging the cargo of our transports has been greatly improved, and that at this time our ships may be unloaded without much delay.
Hearing that there was a forward movement to take place, I hastened on to Tientsin, leaving Tong-ku by a river house boat captured by the Navy from the Chinese and placed at my service by Captain Wise, of the Navy. Only Capt. Grote Hutcheson, Sixth U. S. Cavalry, my adjutant-general, and aid, Lieut. Roy B. Harper, Seventh U. S. Cavalry, accompanied me at this time. On the way up the river I discovered a burnt scow, the shell of which was iron, and on it I placed a United States flag and reported to Captain Byron its presence there, with directions to have it towed down the river and repaired and put into the service of the United States. This scow would probably carry about 75 or 100 tons of freight. I arrived at Tientsin at 11.40 o'clock a. m., July 30, 1900.
At Tientsin at this time were the Ninth Infantry (Lieut. Col. Charles A. Coolidge commanding), which had a sick list of something like 200 men, and the physical condition of the regiment generally bad, and six companies of the Fourteenth Infantry (Col. A. S. Daggett commanding). The latter regiment was in good condition, with a small sick list. Two days later two companies of this regiment, from the Flintshire, arrived at Tientsin. There was also at Tientsin at this time a small battalion of marines, under Maj. Littleton W. T. Waller, and on August 1 a battalion of marines, 920 men, under Maj. William P. Biddle, by the Grant from San Francisco, arrived at Tientsin. The only transportation at Tientsin at this time was 19 wagons, 4 ambulances, and 1 Dougherty wagon belonging to the Ninth Infantry. The transportation of the Fourteenth was delayed sometime after the departure of that regiment from Manila and did not arrive in the bay until some days after my departure from Tientsin.
On my arrival at Tientsin I called on the various generals commanding troops, and on August 1 a conference of generals was held at the headquarters of Lieutenant-General Linivitch, of the Russian army. Present at the conference were the commanding general of the Russian army and his chief of staff; Lieutenant-General Yamagutchi and his chief of staff, Major-General Fukushima, of the Japanese army; Lieutenant-General Gaselee, of the British army, and his chief of staff, General Barrow; General Frey, of the French army; the Germans were also represented by an officer of the German navy; myself and Maj. Jesse M. Lee, Ninth Infantry, and Lieut. Louis M. Little, of the marines, who speaks French.
The purpose of this conference was to decide whether the armies were ready to make a movement for the relief of Pekin. It was disclosed in the conference that the Japanese, whose forces occupied the right bank of the river in and about Tientsin, where also were located the British and American forces, had by various patrols determined that the Chinese were in considerable force in the vicinity of Pei-tsang, about 7 miles distance up the river from Tientsin, and that they were strengthening their position by earthworks extending from the right bank of the river westward something like 3 miles, and from the left bank east to the railroad embankment was also being strengthened.
The forces were variously estimated, from reports of Chinese, from at 10,000 to 12,000 men in the vicinity of Pei-tsang, with large bodies to the rearward as far as Yangtsun, where it was reported their main line of defenses would be encountered.
The first question submitted for decision was "whether a movement should be made at once," which was decided in the affirmative, two Powers only dissenting, and these not seriously, as their doubt seemed to be that the force we could put in movement was not sufficiently strong to meet the opposition that might be expected.
The decision was that the attack should be made on Sunday, August 5, and as the Japanese, British, and American forces occupied the right bank of the river, the Russians the left, the attack should be made without change of situation of the troops, the British to send four heavy guns to aid the Russian column. The strategy on the right bank of the river was left to the determination of the British, American, and Japanese generals. The force reported to the conference as available for the movement was: Japanese about 8,000; Russian, 4,800; British, about 3,000; American, 2,100; French, 800. With special effort on the part of Captains Byron and Wood, Reilly's battery was gotten to Tientsin August 3 and assembled. We were also able to make one pack train available on the 4th, just in time to march with the column. The marines and Sixth Cavalry were gotten off the Grant and to Tientsin August 3. The presence of the Sixth Cavalry at Tientsin, dismounted, enabled me to take all available men of the Ninth and Fourteenth, also all the marines, except one company 100 strong, left to assist the civil government of the city. By arrangement prior to my arrival the officers selected to establish a civil government for Tientsin were to be allowed a military force, of which the United States should furnish 100.
I was compelled, of course, to leave the Sixth Cavalry, because the horses had not arrived.
On August 9 Capt. De Rosey C. Cabell, Sixth Cavalry, joined me at Pehmoon with his troop, M, Sixth Cavalry, consisting of 2 officers and 76 men. A detachment amounting to more than 200 men of the Ninth and Fourteenth, reported by the surgeons as unfit to march, was left. All troops except the company of marines were put under the command of Lieut. Col. T. J. Wint, Sixth Cavalry. At the hour for marching (3 p. m., August 4) my force amounted to about 2,500 men. Transportation was very limited; 18 4-mule wagons and 1 pack train. First reserve ammunition, 100 rounds per man, loaded heavily 5 wagons, but the timely arrival of the pack train relieved three of these by transfer of ammunition to it.
One day's rations were ordered in haversacks, four days' in wagons, ten days' into junks, which were to ascend the river, following the army. Major Waller, of the marine battalion, a very energetic, excellent officer, had managed to secure Chinese carts and packs sufficient to carry four days' rations for the battalion of marines, thus relieving for so much the pressure on my wagon train. I authorized a generous number of coolies for each company, to carry cooking utensils, water, etc., and the litters, it being impossible to make room on the wagons for any kitchen utensils whatever.
The Japanese had by patrols and reconnaissance in force very accurately determined the position of the Chinese line, which, as before stated, extended from Pei-tsang, on the river, westward about 3 miles. The troops moved out from the city of Tientsin during the afternoon and night of August 4 and bivouacked in the vicinity of Siku arsenal, the same that was taken by Admiral Seymour in his retrograde movement. From the Siku arsenal a road branches westward and leads around what was the right of the Chinese entrenched position. The plan of attack was for the Japanese to march on this road at 1 a. m. on the morning of the 5th, followed by the British, which were followed by the Americans, and envelope the Chinese right, taking by assault an arsenal (powder house) which formed the right of the Chinese position. This having been accomplished, the three forces were to face to the right and march in the direction of Pei-tsang, driving from their entrenchments whatever Chinese forces might be encountered. It was also known that the Chinese had a strong outpost opposite, about a mile in front of Pei-tsang, on the right bank of the river, and located upon the direct road from Tientsin to Pekin. The Japanese were to send a battery and a battalion to attack at this point at 3.30 o'clock a. m.
The plan of attack was carried out to perfection by the Japanese troops, but it was ascertained in the developments that the ground was too limited for all the forces of Japanese, British, and Americans to enter into combat. As soon as the Japanese had assaulted and carried the Chinese arsenal that army set itself on both sides of the Chinese entrenchments and swept it clean to the river, practically excluding the British and American forces, which were following in the column of march, from getting into a position that they could render much assistance.
At about 5 o'clock a. m. a message was received from the Japanese general that he had cleared the arsenal and was pursuing the Chinese, and asked that the British and Americans move directly northward from wherever they might be. The British received this message first, faced immediately to their right, and moved in the direction indicated. In order to render assistance it was necessary for the Americans to pass around the British and endeavor to come in contact with the Japanese. This endeavor was made, but before we could get into position the Japanese had cleared the field of Chinese to the river at Pei-tsang, and the action of the day practically closed. The march of the American forces was continued northward around the British, and came upon the river about 1 mile to the north and west of Pei-tsang, the British forces directly upon the right, the Japanese having possession of all the river front.
Endeavor was made from this point to find passage for the American troops northward along the river, but the bank had been cut and all the country to the left, except a narrow road bordering on the river, was flooded. The action of the day having ceased, the Chinese having retired up the left bank of the river toward Yang-tsun, our troops were bivouacked at Too-wa-she, a small village northward of Pei-tsang. Our forces suffered no loss during the day; the heat was intense, and the march the greater part of the day through cornfields.
The Russian troops during the advance and in the evening drew across from the left to the right bank of the river, probably finding it impossible to march forward on the left bank of the river because the front of the Chinese position had been flooded.
Being unable to march forward on the right bank of the river, I saw General Yamagutchi at 10 o'clock p. m., who informed me of his plans for the next day, which were for the Japanese to march up the right bank of the river, and to do this he would have to construct three bridges, in width from 40 to 50 feet. A pontoon bridge had been constructed at Pei-tsang by the Japanese, and the British, Americans, and Russians determined to march up the left bank of the river to Yang-tsun. As the bridge was controlled by the Japanese, the chief of staff informed me that it would be broken at 6 o'clock in the morning; it was therefore necessary to march early, which I did at 4 o'clock a. m.
While in conversation with the Japanese chief of staff, an officer arrived from the leading force of the Japanese from the right bank of the river, where the bridges had to be constructed, with a report that the bridges could not be completed, and the Japanese advance, before 9 o'clock, and I was requested by the chief of staff, in order to insure cooperation on both sides of the river at Yang-tsun, not to march from Pei-tsang before 6 o'clock in the morning.
After crossing the river I marched in the direction of the railroad, near which I halted until 6 a. m. During my halt the Russian troops crossed the pontoon bridge, followed by the British and French, and these took the river road, which was generally parallel to the railroad and a mile to a mile and a half from it. My troops moved on at 6 o'clock, marching near the railroad embankment, averaging 10 to 20 feet high and about 40 feet wide, revetted on both sides with stones, rock ballast. The railroad track had been entirely removed, the ties burned or carried away, the rails generally left along the road.
The march of the United States troops was over a generally level country, cultivated; but the crops were short and stunted, due to drought, not seriously impeding their march.
Arriving within about a mile and a half of Yangtsun the enemy were discovered occupying the section immediately in front of the bridge and the bend in the road, the railroad and the river road converging at this point.
In consultation with Lieutenant-General Gaselee, and at his request, I placed the Fourteenth Infantry to attack along the west side of the railroad, where they connected with the British line. The Russians were at this time to the left rear of the British, probably in column. I crossed to the east side of the railroad embankment with the Ninth Infantry, marines, and Reilly's battery and deployed to support the march of the Fourteenth Infantry and British troops. General Gaselee had lent me a squadron of British cavalry to operate on my right flank.
While deploying to advance with the Fourteenth Infantry in the direction of Pei-tsang the enemy opened on my right flank with artillery, and soon after the commanding officer of the British cavalry reported that in the village directly on my right there were eight companies of Chinese infantry and three guns; that he had personally seen that force. It was unsafe to leave my right flank exposed to a force so strong. I directed a move against it. Our guns very soon silenced the guns of the enemy and set the village afire. While moving toward the village indicated I received two messages by staff officers from the British commander requesting that my artillery be brought to bear on the embankment and village being attacked by his force and the Fourteenth; that the Fourteenth were suffering severely. This before I had completely cleaned out the village to my right.
On the second message being received, which was delivered most anxiously, for my assistance, I abandoned the movement on the village with the artillery and marines, which were on the left, and at once changed direction of the battery and marines and moved toward the bridge or village being attacked by the Fourteenth and the British. I was loath to do this, because of the fact that I believed that the British had ample artillery - a battery as heavy as my own - and that the Russians were immediately on their left with artillery and the space to be attacked was a very contracted one. In addition, artillery fire, as well as infantry, was delivered from various villages to my right and in front. Notwithstanding my reluctance to change my line of battle before having accomplished the cleaning of the villages on the right, I did so, and went into position to assist the Fourteenth, intending to fire over the railroad embankment, which was about 20 feet high.
The battery had unlimbered and was about to open fire, when I saw men of the Fourteenth mount the embankment directly in front of the line of fire of the battery. I ordered Captain Reilly not to fire, and within a minute thereafter the battery was fired upon by Chinese infantry or dismounted cavalry secreted in the cornfields within short range. Captain Reilly opened fire upon them with shrapnel, and with the aid of the marines, which were arriving, dispersed this force.
The Ninth Infantry, which had in part come up on the right of battery, mistook the Chinese flag for the French and withheld their fire, losing an opportunity to inflict serious damage on the Chinese troops. I should remark in explanation of this that twice during my movements I received messages from the Russians, through the British commander, "to be careful not to fire on the Russian or French troops which were advancing on Yangtsun, and would bend in their march to the right," indicating that they were likely to pass my front. As a matter of fact, neither the Russian or French troops were anywhere in advance of my line or that of the British line on the left of mine, but these messages had been communicated to regimental commanders and officers of my staff, and in consequence of this all troops were careful.
The Fourteenth assaulted with vigor the position of the Chinese, supported on its left by the British troops, who were also somewhat mixed with the Fourteenth in consequence of the contracted ground. The Fourteenth Infantry should not have been placed in the attack on the west side of the railroad, as there was not sufficient ground even for the British to operate properly, but I allowed it to attack on that side because of the request of the British commander, who wished me to support his right. In this attack the Fourteenth Infantry suffered considerable loss - 7 killed and 57 wounded. I regret to state that probably of 25 or 30 of this number some were killed, others wounded, by fire of the British and Russian batteries after the position of the Chinese was in possession of the Fourteenth infantry and some of the British troops. The advance of the Fourteenth Infantry ended at the railroad embankment.
The Ninth Infantry, marines, and Reilly's battery continued its advance northward through the villages lying to the eastward of Yang-tsun until we reached nearly the north end of the city, where opposition had practically dispersed, and I withdrew my troops to camp near the railroad bridge. During the later stages of this advance the Japanese sent a battery and some troops which entered into action upon my right and advanced with me to the point where the operations of the day ceased. During the advance of the Ninth Infantry Lieutenant Lang and 5 men of that regiment were wounded. One man in the marines wounded; one man and two horses of Reilly's battery wounded. The day was intensely hot and our men suffered horribly for the want of water and from the heat; quite a number were prostrated and only arrived in camp after nightfall; two of the men so afflicted died on the field.
In the conference at Tientsin it was agreed that the first step of the advance on Pekin should terminate at Yang-tsun; that place being taken, a conference should be held to determine what further was to be done. The troops remained in camp at Yang-tsun during the 7th of August. The dead were buried and the wounded sent by boats to Tientsin. During the forenoon of the 7th a conference was held at the headquarters of the Russian commander, and it was decided that the forward movement should be resumed next day and continued to Ton-Chow, where a conference should be held and plans agreed upon for the attack on Pekin. All the armies would concentrate at Tsai-tsun during the day and night of August 8, and the march be resumed at 4 o'clock on the following day. The Japanese lead, to be followed by the Russians, who were followed by the Americans and British. In this order, and the time of starting in the morning, the march was continued to Tong-Chow.
The time of starting of the Japanese forces, 4 o'clock in the morning, followed by the Russians, threw the hour of marching of the American troops back to about 7 a. m., and the march being slow and the heat very great many of our troops were prostrated and left by the roadside to usually regain camp during the night. During the five days' marching from Pei-tsang to Tong-Chow our forces were woefully distressed physically.
At Shang-shia-wan, a walled town, some little opposition was offered by the Chinese troops, quickly brushed away by the Japanese army, which took possession of the town and advanced a brigade to near Tong-Chow the same night.
At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 12th the south gate of the wall of Tong-Chow was blown in by the Japanese troops, when it was found that the place had been deserted by the Chinese forces. All the armies had arrived at Tong-Chow by noon of the 12th; that day being cloudy and cool enabled the troops to march without much distress the early part of the forenoon.
During the afternoon the Russian commander sent a note stating that he thought it best to remain at Tong-Chow and rest the army for a day. This idea did not meet the views of other generals present, and we visited the headquarters of the Russian commander at 6 o'clock in the afternoon and advised a forward movement next day. The Russian commander stated that he could not move next day, and that he must rest his troops.
The Japanese when taking possession of Tong-Chow in the morning advanced troops toward Pekin for a distance of 6 miles. It was finally agreed that the next day, the 13th, should be devoted to reconnaissance; the Japanese should reconnoiter on the two roads to the right or north of the paved road which is just north of the canal; the Russians on the paved road, if at all; the Americans to reconnoiter on the road just south of the canal; the British a parallel road 1 miles to the left of the road occupied by the Americans. On the 14th the armies should be concentrated on the advance line held by the Japanese, and that that evening a conference should be held to determine what the method of attack on Pekin should be.
On the morning of the 13th I reconnoitered the road to be occupied by the Americans with Troop M, Sixth Cavalry, Reilly's battery, and the Fourteenth Infantry up to the point specified in our agreement, or about 7 miles from Tong-Chow. Finding no opposition, I directed the remainder of my force to march out and to close in on the advance guard. This force arrived at midnight. The British reconnoitered their road with some cavalry. The Japanese reconnoitered their front and also the front which properly belonged to the Russians.
For reasons unknown to me the Russians left their camp at Tong Chow about the time that my troops were marching to close on my advance guard. They followed the road which had been assigned to them, and about 9 o'clock heavy firing was heard in the vicinity of Pekin. It was the next day ascertained that they had moved forward during the previous evening and had attacked the "Tong-pien-men Gate," an east gate of the city near where the Chinese wall joins the Tartar wall. Very heavy artillery and considerable small-arm firing was continued throughout the night. At the time of occurrence I supposed the firing to be the last efforts of the Chinese troops to destroy the legations. About daybreak of August 14 a Japanese staff officer came and inquired if I knew anything of the whereabouts of the Russian troops, to which I could only reply that I supposed them at Tong-Chow or on my right flank on the opposite side of the canal. To this he replied that " they were not on the opposite side of the canal."
The 14th being the day decided upon for the concentration on the line 7 miles from Tong-Chow, I made no preparations for carrying on any operations beyond a small reconnaissance by a troop of cavalry to my front, which duty I assigned to Captain Cabell, who marched about 5 o'clock a. m., leaving equipage in camp. I first thought to support this reconnaissance with a battalion of infantry, but decided later not to do so. Not long after Cabell marched, a column of French troops, about 200, passed on the road, following him. The commander of the French troops informed me that he wished to cross a bridge some 3 miles in advance to join the Russian troops. I informed him that there were no troops in front except a cavalry troop which I had sent out to reconnoiter, and thought the Russians were opposite me on my right.
My cavalry had been absent not more than an hour when Mr. Lowry, the interpreter, who had accompanied it, raced back and informed me that Captain Cabell was surrounded by Chinese cavalry. I immediately ordered a battalion of the Fourteenth Infantry to fall in, and we went forward about a mile and a half and found Captain Cabell occupying some houses, firing from the roofs on a village in his front. I insisted on the French troops giving me the road, which they reluctantly did. Having joined Cabell, I continued the reconnaissance to my front, wishing to get as near the wall of the city as I could, but not expecting to move my whole force, which was contrary to the agreement at Tong-Chow on the evening of August 19. Without serious opposition we arrived at the northeast corner of the Chinese city, having brushed away some Chinese troops or "Boxers" that fired from villages to our left and front.
About 10 o'clock I saw the advantage of holding the ground that I had obtained, and directed all my force to move forward, as I had then become aware of Russian troops being in action on my right, and could also hear the Japanese artillery farther to the right. My left flank at this time was uncovered, except by a small force of British cavalry. The British troops did not advance from Tong-Chow until the 14th, owing to the agreement previously referred to. On that day they marched for the line of concentration and found my force advancing on Pekin. At noon a British battery was at work a mile to my left and rear. At 11 a. m. two companies of the Fourteenth Infantry, under the immediate command of Colonel Daggett, had scaled the wall of the Chinese city at the northeast corner, and the flag of that regiment was the first foreign colors unfurled upon the walls surrounding Pekin.
The two companies on the wall, with the assistance of the troops facing the wall, drove away the Chinese defenders from the corner to the east gate of the Chinese city, where the British entered without opposition later in the day.
About noon it was reported to me that the Russians had battered open "Tung-pien-men gate" during the night, and had effected an entrance there. I arrived at the gate soon afterwards and found in the gate some of the Fourteenth Infantry, followed by Reilly's battery. The Russian artillery and troops were in great confusion in the passage, their artillery facing in both directions, and I could see no effort being made to extricate themselves and give passage into the city.
One company of the Fourteenth Infantry deployed itself in the buildings to the right of the gate and poured effective fire onto the Tartar wall. Captain Reilly got two guns through a very narrow passage to his left, tearing down a wall to do so, and found a position a few yards to the left of the road where he could enfilade the Tartar wall, section by section, with shrapnel. The Fourteenth Infantry crossed the moat and, taking position paralleling the moat, deployed along a street facing the Tartar wall, and with the aid of the artillery swept it of Chinese troops. In this way, gradually working to the westward, the Tartar wall was cleared of opposition to the "Hait-men grate," and beyond.
Orders were sent to the Ninth to follow up the movement of the Fourteenth Infantry and Reilly's battery as soon as the wall was cleared of Chinese; also to follow the movement to the "Chien-men" gate of the Tartar city. The marines were to follow the general movement, but later were ordered to protect the train. At about 3 o'clock p. m. our advance had arrived opposite the legations, the fire of the Chinese having practically ended, and we drew over to the Tartar wall and entered the legation grounds with the Fourteenth Infantry by the "water gate or moat," Reilly's battery passing through the "Chien-men" gate, which was opened by the American and Russian marines of the besieged force. The Fourteenth Infantry was selected on this occasion in recognition of gallantry at Yangtsun and during this day. The British troops entered at the "Shahuo" gate of the Chinese city, and following a road through the center of the city to opposite the legations, arrived there through the "water gate or moat" in advance of the United States troops.
Having communicated with Minister Conger, I withdrew the troops from the legation and camped just outside near the Tartar wall for the night. My casualties during the day were 8 enlisted men wounded in the Fourteenth Infantry, 1 enlisted man wounded of Battery F, Fifth Artillery, and 1 officer and 2 enlisted men wounded of the marines.
Upon entering the legations the appearance of the people and their surroundings, buildings, walls, streets, alleys, entrances, etc., showed every evidence of a confining siege. Barricades were built everywhere and of every sort of material, native brick being largely used for their construction, topped with sandbags made from every conceivable sort of cloth, from sheets and pillowcases to dress materials and brocaded curtains. Many of the legations were in ruins, and the English, Russian, and American, though standing and occupied, were filled with bullet holes from small arms, and often having larger apertures made by shell.
The children presented a pitiable sight, white and wan for lack of proper food, but the adults, as a rule, seemed cheerful and little the worse for their trying experience, except from anxiety and constant care. They were living on short rations, a portion of which consisted of a very small piece of horse or mule meat daily. The Christian Chinese were being fed upon whatever could be secured, and were often reduced to killing dogs for meat.
All the surroundings indicated that the people had been closely besieged, confined to a small area without any comforts, no conveniences, and barely existing from day to day in hope of succor.
I enclose herewith a list furnished by Minister Conger, showing the casualties during the siege among the various nations, as well as the number of men defending both the legations and the French mission at Pei-tang in another part of the city. The only two Americans in serious condition upon my arrival were Capt. John T. Myers, U. S. Marine Corps, lying quite ill with typhoid fever, and Asst. Surg. T. M. Lippitt, U. S. Navy, suffering from a severe gunshot wound in the upper left thigh. These officers are still here. Both are improving, and I hope at an early date to send them to Tientsin, and thence to a hospital ship.
I was informed by Mr. Conger that a portion of the imperial city directly in front of the Chien-men gate had been used by Chinese to fire on the legations, and I determined to force the Chinese troops from this position. On the morning of the 15th I placed four guns of Reilly's battery on the Tartar wall at Chien-men gate and swept the walls to the westward to the next gate, there being some slight opposition in that direction supported by poor artillery. About 8 o'clock a. m. the Chinese opened fire on us at Chien-men gate, from the second gate of the imperial city north of Chien-men gate, whereupon I directed an attack on the first gate to be made, and in a short while Lieut. Charles P. Summerall, of Reilly's battery, had opened the door of this gate. Our troops entered, and were met with a severe fire from the next gate, about 600 yards distant.
Fire was directed upon the second gate with the battery and such of the infantry as could be elevated on the Tartar wall and side walls of the imperial city and act effectively. In the course of half an hour the Chinese fire was silenced, and Colonel Daggett led forward his regiment to the base of the second gate. Lieutenant Summerall was directed to open this gate with artillery, which he did. The course just indicated was pursued for four gates, the Chinese troops being driven from each gate in succession, the fourth gate being near what is known as the " palace grounds," which is surrounded by the "imperial guards."
At a conference that afternoon it was decided not to occupy the imperial city, and I withdrew my troops into the camp occupied the night before, maintaining my position on the Tartar wall at Chien-men gate.
The idea of not occupying the imperial city was not concurred in by the ministers in a conference held by them the next day. In their opinion the imperial city should be occupied. It was later decided by the generals to occupy the imperial grounds, and in consequence of this decision I reoccupied the grounds we had won on the 15th, placing the Ninth Infantry within as guard at the gate where our attack ceased.
During the 15th, and the attack upon the gates referred to, our losses were 2 enlisted men killed and 4 wounded, Ninth Infantry; 3 enlisted men killed and 14 wounded, Fourteenth Infantry; 1 enlisted man, Battery F, Fifth Artillery, wounded. At 8.50 o'clock a. m. of this date, Capt. Henry J. Reilly, Fifth Artillery, was struck in the mouth and almost instantly killed when standing at my left elbow observing the effect of a shot from one of his guns by his side.
At a conference of the generals on the afternoon of the 16th, the Chinese and Tartar cities were divided to the various forces for police and protection of the inhabitants. The United States troops were assigned to the west half of the Chinese city, and to that section of the Tartar city lying between the Chien-men gate and Shun-chin gate of the south wall of the Tartar city, and north to the east and west street through the Tartar city, being bounded upon the east by the wall of the imperial city.
In order to safeguard the Pei-ho River for the passage of boats carrying supplies and transport the wounded and sick to Tientsin, troops were left at several points-at Pei-tsang about 400 men, of which the American forces supplied one company (G) from the Ninth Infantry; at Yang-tsun 800 men, all the French force; at Ho-shi-wu 100 Japanese, 50 English, 50 Americans. Company C, Ninth Infantry, was left at this point, the station being commanded by an English officer. At Matow the strength of the post was fixed at 100 men - 50 Americans and 50 English - to be commanded by an American officer. I had 150 men in the command who were reported as being physically unable to continue the march to Pekin. These men were left, and Capt. Alfred Hasbrouck, Fourteenth Infantry, detailed to the command of the post. At Tong-Chow one battalion Japanese (800), half battalion Russian (400), 50 English, and 50 American troops were left. For this service I detailed 50 marines. I also detailed 50 marines as guard for depot at the river in conjunction with 100 English troops detailed for like service.
The officers and men of the Signal Corps serving with this expedition have worked night and day to make successful and keep in order our telegraphic communication with Tong-ku. Usually the line was but a short while after us in reaching camp. Many and very perplexing annoyances have been met with and still continue. In some cases suspicion has been great that the Chinese were not the only responsible parties for cuts and removal of parts of the wire. Notwithstanding repairs have to be made almost daily, a large amount of business has been done, and the officers and men of the signal detachment are to be congratulated for the success attained. In order that offices might be opened at all points where desirable and to economize material, Major Scriven arranged to work jointly with the British detail, which action was approved by me. Our line has done service for all the armies and for newspaper correspondents to the extent it possibly could.
The medical department has provided as prompt relief to our wounded and as timely care of the sick as was possible to render. Before leaving Tientsin I caused to be established there hospital facilities that would accommodate 250 to 300 men. Thither has been sent quickly all wounded needing treatment in hospital and such sick as the chief surgeon deemed advisable. I am informed that the hospital ship Relief arrived at Taku Bay not long ago and took on board a number of the wounded and sick from Tientsin.
Capt. Frank DeW. Ramsey, Ninth Infantry, chief commissary and quartermaster with the troops, has quite successfully managed the timely arrival of supplies. At no time have the troops seriously suffered for food. We have not, of course, been able to issue in full the vegetable component of the ration.
The reports of regimental commanders, endorsed by me, accompanied by battalion and company commanders' reports, are herewith enclosed, and should be referred to for more complete detail of movements by regiments, battalions, and companies while on the march and during engagements which took place from Tientsin to Pekin. In several instances mention is made of the individual gallantry of officers and men which did not come under my personal observation. I approve in each instance the remarks of approbation expressed by the Commanders my recommendations appear by endorsement on the reports.
Maps prepared under direction of Lieut. Harley B. Ferguson, Corps of Engineers, are also enclosed.
The following-named officers have served on my staff:
Personal staff.-Second Lieut. Roy B. Harper, Seventh Cavalry, aid-de-camp; First Lieut. John W. Furlong, Sixth Cavalry, acting aid-de-camp; First Lieut. Benjamin B. Hyer, Sixth Cavalry, acting aid-de-camp.
Divisional staff -Capt. Grote Hutcheson, Sixth Cavalry, adjutant-general; Maj. Jesse M. Lee, Ninth Infantry, inspector-general; Maj George P. Scriven, Signal Corps, chief signal officer; Maj. William B. Banister, chief surgeon; Capt. William Crozier, Ordnance Department, chief ordnance officer; Capt. Frank DeW. Ramsey, Ninth Infantry, chief commissary; First Lieut. Harley B. Ferguson, Corps of Engineers, chief engineer officer.
Attached -Lieut. Col. John S. Mallory, Forty-first Infantry; Maj. Samuel M. Mills, Sixth Artillery; Capt. Cornelius F. O'Keefe, Thirty-sixth Infantry; Second Lieut. Allen Smith, jr., Ninth Infantry; Lieut. Julian L. Latimer, U. S. Navy.
Every officer has been untiring in his respective duties, and in addition thereto has anxiously sought opportunity to aid in every possible way to further the object of this expedition.
My thanks are tendered to all. I shall take occasion very soon to make special report with my recommendations respecting officers of my staff.
I wish to invite especial attention to Col. A. S. Daggett, Fourteenth Infantry, for his gallantry at Yang-tsun, August 6; for energy and good judgment in the attack on Pekin, August 14; and for gallantry and excellent supervision of the attack on the gates of the imperial city, August 15. I recommend that he be made a brigadier-general, United States Army.
Very respectfully, ADNA R. CHAFFEE
Major- General, U. S. V. Commanding China Relief Expedition.