China Relief Expedition
“America in the China Relief Expedition”
Brig-Gen A. S. Daggett
U. S. Army, Retired
Brig-Gen Daggett by his own admission did not go into complete detail in describing the actions of the 14th in China; within the pages of his book. He still does an admirable job of allowing the reader to follow the action in an abbreviated manner. The After Action Reports that he included in his book give additional insights for the reader that detail the events and people involved. These reports represent the official version of what happened at the Battalion and Regimental levels, with one company level report existing.
Battle of Yang-Tsun
A.S. Daggett, Colonel
Fourteenth Infantry, Commanding
One Battalion, the Third, under Major Quinton, had been advancing for several hours in line of squads; the Second, under Captain Eastman, following; the right rested on the railroad leading to Peking. When within about one and a half miles of the village, artillery fire began from our front and right; deployment was made immediately, and the advance continued to within about fifteen hundred yards of the village, when the regiment was subjected to rifle fire. We soon overtook some British soldiers (Sikhs), whose right overlapped our left some thirty or forty yards. Arriving within about three hundred yards of the village, a slight cover was found, where I directed a halt and fire to be delivered at the houses where the enemy were, their fire being nearly silenced. I directed an assault to be made, which was done by Americans and British together; the former, being a little more rapid in their movements, reached the village first. Here we received a severe artillery fire from three directions, causing considerable losses. We advanced through the village, clearing the enemy from the railroad, and advanced to within about five hundred yards of a clump of houses and very extensive wall, surmounted by a pagoda. With a company of fresh troops, I could have taken this place, but our troops were so exhausted that it was impossible to go farther. The line was halted and regiment collected here. I silenced the fire of the enemy from the wall and pagoda by a few well-posted sharpshooters. For reasons which it might not be best to embody in this report, but which I will state to the General verbally, I deemed it my duty to lead the assault on the village in person.
I was accompanied in the advance and assault by Major Quinton, Captain Learned, adjutant, and Captain Reynolds, quartermaster, whose conduct was gallant and splendid; the conduct of all the officers was creditable to American Valor.
The Character of the march had been such that the men were much exhausted when they engaged in battle. Captain Eastman’s battalion was not engaged in the assault, but was much exposed and lost many men. It was reserved by the commanding general for duty on the northeast side of the river.
Seven enlisted men were killed and 57 wounded; 2 officers were prostrated by the heat. About 430 men were engaged in the battle. Only about 200 rounds of ammunition was expended, the village being carried by assault.
Major Quinton’s and Captain Eastman’s report are enclosed.
Battle of Yang-Tsun
F.F. Eastman, Captain
Second Battalion, Commanding
After being detached by the commanding general for some time, I rejoined the regiment about 10 a.m., and was directed to join the reserve of the firing-line in the line of companies in columns of fours. I did so. When the Third Battalion advanced, the Second Battalion followed in that formation until we came within the zone of artillery fire, a few minutes later, when I formed two lines of squads, and later deployed Companies E and F in the first line, and G and H in the second line, E and H being on the right of their respective lines.
During the advance the right of each line rested on the railroad embankment, the left overlapping the English line a good deal.
The entire advance to the village was made under a very severe shrapnel fire and some infantry fire, without a halt and without firing a single shot.
On reaching the village of Yang-Tsun, many men, both Indian and American, turned to the right, ascended the railway embankment, and opened fire; but the English officers ordered firing to cease, as it was reported to me at the time that the men were firing on Japanese troops.
Within a few minutes after occupying the embankment several shells from batteries at our left and rear-southeast-struck in our midst, exploding, killing and wounding a number of men.
I immediately sent my adjutant, Lieutenant Brambila, to stop the artillery fire. He walked about one-half mile, when he found a mounted messenger to send to the batteries, and then was so overcome by the heat, and has not yet fully recovered.
Soon after the shelling ceased, I received orders from regimental commander to assemble the Battalion, but before it was possible to assemble the companies, General Chaffee’s aide directed me to let the men rest awhile, then assemble them, and attack a couple of villages lying one mile to one and one-half miles to the northeast of my position.
Before the advance began the men had emptied their canteens, were suffering from thirst, and were greatly exhausted by their march over soft ground, so that after reaching the village all officers and men were so exhausted that it was impossible to re-form battalion. After resting an hour or more, I formed the battalion to carry out General Chaffee’s orders, but before starting I could see that the villages to be attacked had already been captured by our troops; so I rejoined the regiment, and reported to the regimental commander.
I saw but little of the company officers during the advance, but all reached the village with their companies. Lieutenant Brambila was with me, and his coolness and conduct under fire could not have been better.
I am sorry it is my duty to find fault with the non-commissioned officers; they seemed, with few exceptions, to be of but little use in preserving intervals during the advance, and in my attempts to re-assemble the battalion they were utterly useless. All the duties of the non-coms, had to be performed by the company officers, causing useless and dangerous delay in forming after the engagement.
My battalion formed two lines of skirmishers at 10:45 and reached the village at 11:15 a.m., re-assembled at 2:30 p.m., and re-joined the Third Battalion at about 2:45 p.m.
Battle of Yang-Tsun
W. Quinton, Major
Third Battalion, Commanding
On our side we have 10 killed and 53 wounded; of this loss, my battalion loses 6 killed and 33 wounded.
We broke camp at 3:50 yesterday morning and moved down the Pei-Ho River one-half mile, so as to avail ourselves of the pontoon bridge left by the Chinese, and over which they managed to escape yesterday afternoon from the pressing, eager, and active operations of the Japanese forces. Passing through the Russian camps, we crossed the bridge just at daylight, and after having moved on a line perpendicular to the Peking Railroad something less than half a mile, I was directed to deploy my battalion and halt. Here we halted for a greater period than one hour, and while halted other troops, mainly British Sikhs, passing by on our flank, moved to our front and deployed in line of skirmishers. In the marching to Yang-Tsun my battalion changed direction half left, and throughout the entire march, until it met the enemy, its right flank was protected by the Peking Railroad. As the grade of this road is from ten to fifteen feet above the plain, it made most excellent cover as against observation and protection to a certain extent from a flank fire.
Deploying my battalion first in line of squads, and subsequently, when within the zone of the enemy’s fire, as skirmishers, we were compelled to advance rapidly, as the artillery fire rained upon us was intense, and this was supplemented by a severe and fairly well aimed fire from small-arms. My command was deployed as follows: Company M, Captain Martin, and Company K, First Lieutenant Burnside, composed the first line, with Company L, Lieutenant McClure, and Company I, Captain J.R.M. Taylor, as battalion reserve, the reserve being commanded by the last-mentioned officer.
Proceeding steadily to the front, my battalion soon found itself on the line occupied by the Sikhs. When we reached this particular point we were about three hundred yards from the Chinese village, from which a galling fire was directed upon the advancing Sikhs and Americans. It was evident this village would have to be carried quickly if we desired to avoid great loss. Indeed, this was so evident that the troops moved forward at the run to the assault of the village, and this almost without firing a shot. This first impulse of attack brought us to a point where we were fairly protected, within one hundred yards of the angle of the village nearest the railroad. In passing through the cornfields the troops did not suffer much loss, as their movements were masked by the standing corn, but the men were badly bunched up with every step of advance by the converging lines of the railroad and river which join each other at the village. Hence, there was considerable mixing up of commands, although the impulse that controlled each line was ever forward. Immediately with me was Colonel Daggett and his adjutant, Captain Learned, and we all followed up the movements of Company M, Fourteenth Infantry, and a mixed command of Sikhs and Fourteenth Infantry to the assault of the right (our right) angle of the village. Finding cover, as before stated, at a point about one hundred yards distant from the angle before mentioned, we poured fire upon the doors and windows of the village by direction of Colonel Daggett. This fire was steadily kept up for a period of about thirty seconds, when it ceased and the line moved forward, led by Colonel Daggett, piercing the village and forcing the enemy to retire beyond the railroad track. As we entered the village, Colonel Daggett and a portion of the force with him went through the village itself. I turned to the right, skirted the outer edge, found that the Chinese had passed the railroad track and were preparing to pour in a fire upon our right flank. I therefore directed a portion of my command to occupy the railroad embankment, and as men came up to join the attack, I directed a fire from the point in the village where I was, upon a small cannon that the Chinese were firing from beyond the village near the railroad bridge. As our men kept up a constant fire upon the gun, its fire ceased. We entered the village at 12:20, and so rapid were our movements that we were in complete possession in a few minutes. With Colonel Daggett, Captain Learned, and myself was associated in these movements Major T.E. Scott, Third Sikhs. I desire to call attention to the cool, intrepid gallantry of this most courteous gentleman, who operated with us and aided us materially.
Our own officers behaved, as usual, with the cool bravery that everywhere distinguishes the American officer. We all fought under the eye of the Colonel. To mention one name where all fought so gallantly would be invidious. These are steady and coolly brave gentlemen, and every officer in my battalion earned and deserves special mention and reward.
Route and position of the U. S. troops on August 14th and 15th in red
as they approached and entered the Chinese City, and then the Tartar City
Battle of Peking
A.S. Daggett, Colonel
Fourteenth Infantry, Commanding
Early on the morning of the 14th instant left bivouac, about five miles from Peking, and proceeded toward that city. After advancing about four miles, the column was halted. I was then ordered with two companies to operate toward the walls of the city. I advanced to within about three hundred yards of the walls, where considerable rifle fire was poured into our left. I crossed this zone of fire and caused the companies to follow rapidly, singly, and at three yards distance apart. We found two corners, about four hundred yards from each other, where bricks had fallen out, leaving holes where men could take hold with hands and toes of their shoes. The walls were scaled in this way by the men and officers. Rifles and ammunition were hauled up with cords and gun-slings. A few men were armed in this way before the enemy discovered our position. They opened fire on us, but our men, being well covered, stood their ground, and were constantly being reinforced slowly by other men climbing the wall. I then ordered the colors to be planted (about 11 a.m.) on the wall, which drew more rifle fire and a few shells. After nearly all of E and H Companies had climbed the walls, they were directed by Captain Learned, adjutant, to clear the walls of the enemy, which was speedily and gallantly done. This gave relief to that whole section of the walls and country, so that free access was given to the gate blown open the night before. Company H was commanded by First Lieutenant Mullay, aided by First Lieutenant Gilbreath; Company E was commanded by First Lieutenant Gohn, assisted by Second Lieutenant Hanson. Musician Calvin P. Titus, E Company, first scaled the wall, and was quickly followed by Captain Learned, who conducted all the operations thereon with excellent judgment and to a successful close. His conduct in this brilliant operation deserves the highest commendation. All the company officers deserve high praise for their part in this remarkable assault. Dr. Winn climbed the wall among the first, to render aid to the wounded. His conduct in this affair was superb.
I then proceeded to a street running parallel with the south wall of the Tartar City with Companies E and G, latter commanded by First Lieutenant Faulkner, Eighth Infantry, aided by Second Lieutenant Kilbourne. This street varied between two hundred and four hundred yards distance from the wall. From the roofs of buildings a fire was directed on the openings of the wall, which drove the enemy away or silenced his fire. We proceeded in a westerly direction until our ammunition was nearly exhausted, and the men completely so, and I did not deem it prudent to proceed farther without more ammunition. I sent to the commanding general for the remainder of my regiment, and on its arrival I continued to work in a westerly direction until First Lieutenant Murphy discovered signs of a friendly flag. I ordered firing to cease, when American marines and civilians called out to us. They informed us that we could enter the next gate without opposition, as the British forces had so entered. If my whole regiment had been with me, I think I could have accomplished this work two hours earlier, and have been first to enter the Tartar City. It will be noticed that I had only two companies with me during the scaling of the walls and silencing the fire along the south wall of the Tartar City, except the last twenty minutes of that work.
About 7 o’clock the next morning, the 15th instant, I was directed to enter the Imperial City. We soon arrived without opposition in front of a wall about thirty feet high, surmounted by a large brick and stone building, flanked by buttresses, giving the enemy a front fire of about one hundred and twenty five yards. This wall was pierced by three archways, closed by very heavy gates and barred by timbers eight inches in diameter. Having no implements to break these gates down, a section of Battery F, Fifth Artillery, was sent to me under First Lieutenant Summerall, who quickly blew the gates down. Beyond was a court about one hundred yards wide and six hundred yards long, at the farther end of which was a wall and building similar to the one above described. Long, low buildings on either side connected the two walls. I soon discovered that the wall and building were occupied by the enemy in some force. I directed a platoon of M Company, Captain Martin and First Lieutenant Murphy, to deploy in the court, and soon reinforced it by the remaining platoon. It drew a rather severe fire. I sent First Lieutenant Burnside, with Company K, around our outer right flank to enfilade the enemy’s position. Captain Martin had somewhat reduced the enemy’s fire, and, having expended his ammunition, I relieved him with Second Lieutenant McClure’s Company L. I soon saw that this front fire would quickly silence the enemy, and withdrew Lieutenant McClure. The movements of Captain Martin’s and Lieutenant McClure’s companies and their conduct were almost perfect, reflecting great credit on these officers and their men. I then caused the two guns to open with shrapnel on the buildings and defenses on the wall. Lieutenant Burnside also about this time began firing on the enemy’s left flank, and the enemy was soon dislodged. Three successive gates and courts similar to the above were entered in the same way, except that the frontal attack was not made till after the flank and battery work had been accomplished, except that at the second gate there was no opposition. At the first gate First Lieutenant T. Corcoran, Sixth Cavalry, did good work with his Gatling gun.
The conduct of all company commanders during these battles was highly commendable, and, with one exception, they were efficiently supported by their lieutenants.
Captain Reynolds, regimental quartermaster, not having many quartermaster’s duties to perform, accompanied me on the 15th instant.
The casualties were: 1 enlisted man killed and 8 wounded on the 14th, and 4 killed and 14 wounded on the 15th.
About 15,000 rounds of ammunition were expended on the 14th and 31,000 on the 15th.
Battle of Peking
F.F. Eastman, Captain
Second Battalion, Commanding
Pursuant to orders given the evening of the 13th of August, I was ready to move at 5 a.m., on the 14th, with a battalion composed of three companies, E and F of the Second Battalion, and Company K of the Third Battalion, to support the cavalry in a reconnaissance to the front, to be made under the immediate direction of the commanding general of the expedition.
At 5:30 a.m. General Chaffee ordered me to send the battalion back to their camping-place “to get breakfast”. At 7 a.m., I was ordered to form the battalion in great haste to go to the relief of the troop of the Sixth Cavalry, said to be in a trap. Two companies, E and F, moved out as soon as possible. After marching rapidly about two miles, Company F was ordered off to take some position to the right and front, which had been designated by the commanding general. A few minutes later Company E was deployed to the left and front and advanced under the immediate direction and control of General Chaffee and staff.
A half-hour later, Companies H and G of my battalion, having been relieved from outpost, came up under the command of Colonel Daggett, and were turned over to me. A few minutes later I moved forward about one-half mile, and was halted. At this place, Company H was sent on to occupy some village to the left and front, but was halted after marching a quarter of a mile up the road, and Company F was designated and sent off. I did not see Company F again until after reaching the British Legation within the walled city.
A few minutes later the regiment advanced, with Company H leading, followed at fifty paces by Company G. Company E had crossed to the right and front. A half-mile to the front Company G was halted by General Chaffee, and the Third Battalion marched to the rear. Company H followed the regimental commander out of sight, toward the city wall, three hundred yards in front.
Some firing being heard on our left front, General Chaffee ordered me to deploy Company G in that direction and advance toward the city. I refer to the report of the commanding officer of Company G, Lieutenant Faulkner. I remained with that company until I found Companies E and H on and under the city wall, acting under the personal direction of the regimental commander.
Between 12 and 1 o’clock Company H advanced along the top of the wall, companies E and G entered the city gate, followed by Reilly’s Battery of the Fifth Artillery. We found the gate and short street for a distance of one hundred and fifty yards jammed with Russian troops and guns and exposed to a severe fire from the tower at the southeast corner of the Tartar City of Peking.
I sent the companies into alleyways to the left, and collected a few men to fire on the enemy to enable Captain Reilly to put his pieces in position to fire on the tower and to enfilade the south wall. While thus engaged, Companies E and G were taken by the regimental commander along a street parallel to the wall and within two hundred yards, whence they soon succeeded in silencing the enemy’s fire from the wall.
I rejoined Companies E and G at about 3 o’clock, and soon after Company H rejoined the battalion. At about 5 p.m. we entered the city and proceeded to the British Legation; at 6 we camped under the city wall outside.
At 7 a.m. the 15th instant, Companies E, G and H of my battalion followed the Third Battalion in marching out. A portion of that battalion soon became engaged in an attack on one of the gates to the palace, and I was directed to take a portion of my battalion to endeavor to flank the enemy and subdue his fire. I took Companies G and E and sent them down streets parallel to the walls, and soon succeeded in establishing small parties in advantageous positions, from which their fire soon drove the enemy from the gate-towers. Lieutenant Kilbourne, on duty with Company G, led his detachment under a sharp fire down the street to a barricade, from which he opened a very effective fire.
I sent my adjutant twice with messages to the regimental commander and to General Chaffee to the effect that a piece of artillery could soon force a gate which was practically in my possession, and secure entrance far in advance of the troops making the direct attack. An hour afterwards the gate was opened from within, and I rejoined the rest of the regiment with my detachments, and the companies acted the remainder of the day under the personal direction of the regimental commander.
Outer gate to Tartar City, seen from inside
Battle of Peking
C.P. Faulkner, First Lieutenant
Commanding Company G
The company was relieved from duty on outpost about 7:20 a.m. on the 15th instant, and ordered by the regimental commander to follow in rear of the Third Battalion, the other companies of the Second Battalion having been ordered out to support the cavalry. The company, after several rests, was halted where F Company had advanced to, and was there placed under the battalion commander’s orders.
The company was moved forward to a grove in plain sight of the walls of Peking, and received orders from General Chaffee through the battalion commander to connect with the cavalry; but before this could be accomplished orders came from General Chaffee to move to the left and meet a fire (which, in my own opinion, was delivered by our own forces), and if possible, silence it. The company deployed in line of squads, and, after scaling a mud wall, was deployed in line of skirmishers, and advanced through a cornfield until stopped by a sunken road, which was very difficult to descend and much more so to ascend; but, having reached the top, the advance continued to within seventy-five yards of the wall. Seeing nothing, and believing that our own forces occupied the wall, the company was withdrawn to the road and ordered to advance to the wall, where we found Companies E and H of the battalion. At this point the company lost 2 men wounded, both slightly.
The company was then ordered by the regimental commander to proceed through the gate. Having reported to the regimental commander, he directed that it take a position in rear of some buildings, and await further orders. The regimental commander soon after directed the company to follow him across a creek, which was done in good order under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were firing from a large building. Having reached a street parallel to the south wall of the city, the company was ordered to attack the wall from the roofs and such other places as afforded cover. The company was placed in the best positions found, and their fire, in conjunction with that of Company E, soon had the enemy on the run, and after an hour and a half or two hours, the enemy’s fire was silenced. The battalion was soon formed and marched into the city.
The men in the company did their duty well, and responded to every demand made upon them. Sergeant John Howser, color-bearer, was wounded during the engagement. Lieutenant Kilbourne was of the greatest assistance, and had charge of the first platoon during the day.
In the engagement on the 15th, the company was ordered by the battalion commander to move to the right and take a position behind a barricade about three hundred and fifty yards from the first gate. This was accomplished by sending one squad at a time under cover of some buildings. Having reached the position designated, Lieutenant Kilbourne directed the first platoon to open fire on the wall which the enemy occupied, and in about thirty minutes silenced their fire. Here General Chaffee ordered a squad sent out ahead to find out what they could. They reported in a short while that nothing was in sight. The company was withdrawn and joined the battalion. The second gate having been taken, I was directed to occupy it, which was accomplished without any incident, and I remained there until relieved.
During both days the men did their duty splendidly.
The wall in the vicinity of the American Legation
Battle of Peking
W. Quinton, Major
Third Battalion, Commanding
The morning of the 14th found three companies of my battalion on outpost duty at a small village five miles distant from Peking. The remaining company (K, commanded by Lieutenant Burnside) was with me in person, occupying the central part of the village. At an early hour in the morning the battalion was concentrated and took up the line of march on a road that led direct to one of the main gates that afforded entrance to the Chinese Quarter of the city. I marched on this road until I was within two hundred yards of the walls of Peking, when I was stopped and directed by the general commanding to return and support Reilly’s Battery, Fifth Artillery, which latter organization was one and one-half miles back on the road over which I had marched. I returned in compliance with this order, and almost immediately after reporting to Reilly for the purpose above indicated, Reilly was directed to move as rapidly as possible to the front, and I was instructed to report to the commanding general, with my battalion, at a point to the left of the road that I was on and immediately under the walls of Peking. During my absence the Second Battalion of my regiment had succeeded in planting the regimental colors upon the walls of Peking, and were engaging the Chinese inside the walls. Halting my battalion, I went inside the walls, passing through a gate that was occupied by Russian infantry and along the line of a narrow dirty, difficult street that was completely blocked by artillery and carts, and every species of conveyance loaded with ammunition and supplies, until I came to a point on the street near a bridge, where our troops were warmly engaged with the Chinese, who occupied an ancient and formidable structure upon the opposite side of the bridge. This structure was five stories in height, loopholed, and from every loophole fire was poured upon our troops. As the jam on the street prevented, temporarily, the entrance of my battalion, I was instructed to hold it outside the walls until such time as I received orders to enter. Subsequently I received orders to enter, and marched in column of files to the Chinese Quarter, and about one hour after entering relieved Second Battalion of my regiment in a position that occupied, and from which it was pouring a flank fire upon the pagoda, building, or fortification before alluded to. That evening we went into camp under the walls of the Consular Concession.
On the morning of the 15th we broke camp at an early hour. Every officer and every man was happy at the fancied conclusion of the campaign and the report that was generally spread throughout the command that we were to exchange the filthy camp under the walls of the Consular Concession for a pleasant place not far distant. We moved up the left bank of a dry creek that flows between and separates the walls of the Consular Concession from the Chinese City, until we came to a high-storied, gloomy-looking building, double roofed, and having three wide sally-ports on the ground floor. The building itself was flanked, both on the right and left, by some smaller buildings and that which represented the appearance of a wall, tile capped, and from twelve to fifteen feet in height. I placed my battalion in column of companies, at half distance, in front of this building, and was directed by Colonel Daggett, the regimental commander, to bring up two large pieces of chevaux-de-frise that were back on the road a short distance, for the purpose of forcing open the massive gates of the sally-ports of the building immediately fronting my battalion. The gate, to my surprise, responded readily to the blows inflicted by the chevaux-de-frise and flew open easily. Colonel Daggett, a few other mounted officers, and I entered the sally-port, which led us into a rectangular enclosure about one hundred yards wide and from five hundred to six hundred yards in length. At the extreme end of this rectangle we saw another building, in manner and form and general outline a counterpart of the one which we had just passed under. The sides of the rectangle were made up of a long line of low tiled building, resembling a rope walk, and was continuous throughout. We had entered the enclosure on horseback, and apparently without attracting observation. After consultation, it was decided to throw in a platoon of infantry, to be deployed at as wide intervals as the ground would permit, and advance toward the next building. I directed, in compliance with this order, Captain Martin to deploy his second platoon, under Lieutenant Murphy. The platoon was marched through the sally-port, and, in the act of deploying, was met with a withering fire from every conceivable kind of weapon that can be fired from the shoulder. This fire was so severe that Captain Martin was almost immediately directed to reinforce the line with his remaining platoon, and instructed to hold the fire of the enemy down. This duty he performed most faithfully and gallantly, and under the strain of one of the most severe musketry fires that I have ever witnessed. It being evident that our front was too narrow, being limited by the walls of the enclosure, I directed, under orders of Colonel Daggett, Lieutenant Burnside to place a line of skirmishers on the roofs of the small buildings flanking the large central structure at our end of the rectangle. This duty was promptly performed, the men using the chevaux-de-frise to climb to the tiled roof of the buildings and walls. This move was very successful for two reasons: first, it relieved to a great extent the fire that was directed upon our skirmishers in the rectangle; second, it disclosed the fact that there was a lane to our right that led up to the enemy’s position. Lieutenant Burnside promptly took advantage of this fact, and sent his second platoon, under Lieutenant Wagner, along the lane with the view of getting some work in on the left flank of the enemy. Subsequently Captain J.R.M. Taylor was directed to proceed up this lane, before alluded to, and place his company also upon the flank of the enemy. Meanwhile Martin’s company, M, Fourteenth Infantry, had been replaced by McClure’s, L, Fourteenth Infantry. In twenty-five minutes Martin had exhausted his one hundred rounds and he was out of ammunition. The company was relieved, brought to the rear, and through the sally-port, for the purpose of obtaining a new supply of ammunition, without loss as a result of the movement, and the new company, under Lieutenant McClure, placed on the line in a manner soldierly in the extreme. Following this movement a section of Reilly’s Battery (Fifth Artillery) reported, and, with a few well-directed shots, opened the remaining two gates of the closed sally-ports of the building that we were operating from. This gave us an unobstructed fire of artillery upon the enemy’s position, which it was now very evident, was beginning to become untenable. The left sally-port was occupied by the Gatling gun of the Ninth Infantry. This gun was well served and did most excellent service. The fire of the enemy up to this time had been held down by the Fourteenth Infantry. The men fought with a coolness and pluck that was most admirable, cautioning each other when they observed any wild shooting upon the part of any man. As a result of this admirable behavior, nearly every shot fired found its way to the balcony occupied by the enemy, and if every bullet fired did not find its billit, it was no fault of the man who fired the shot, as the balcony was kept raked by a storm of bullets. Upon the appearance of Taylor’s company upon the left flank of the enemy, the opening of the three gates giving entrance to the rectangle, the fire from the section of of Reilly’s Battery, and the handling of the Gatling gun by the Ninth Infantry, the enemy retired to the next gate. We had six of them to pass. We had soon two. We had gained in morale as the Chinese became extremely timid toward the last. They were no longer anxious to expose themselves, but unhesitatingly sought cover. The loss sustained by my battalion is very small, when the fire that the confident enemy first concentrated upon it is considerable. I can form no estimate of the strength of the enemy as to numbers. I could simply note that the balcony was crowded with men, and that in addition there were heavy groups of men firing upon us from both flanks of the enemy’s position. The history of carrying the third gate is almost identical with that of the taking of the second. We followed the same tactics, except that, noticing that the Japanese had sent us two scaling-ladders, I had these joined so as to form one ladder, by lashing and using some extra pieces intended for scaffolding, and held this in readiness for the remaining gates, which we were ready and eager to carry; but our orders came to us to suspend all operations, and here the story of the American attack upon the Imperial City, in so far as my Battalion is concerned, ceases. The attack was made without adequate reconnaissance, without proper appliances for scaling walls, or passing through them. Every difficulty the troops surmounted. I am under the impression that the walls of the rectangle that we first entered are hollow and were used at some time for domestic purposes. If I am correct in this impression, we could have entered them at our end of the rectangle and pressed right up to the enemy’s position without the firing of a single shot or the exposure of a man, through the continuous line of building that I describe as presenting the appearance of a ropewalk. It is a matter of regret that the command was not supplied with pickaxes or with scaling-ladders, or rope even, so as to be able to at once pass over or through difficulties always to be calculated upon in an attack upon a fortified position.
China Relief Expedition
Secretary of War
Washington, D.C., November 30, 1900
To the President:
On the 14th Peking was reached. At 11 a.m. of that day two companies of the Fourteenth Infantry, under the immediate command of Colonel Daggett, had scaled the wall of the Chinese City, and the flag of that regiment was the first of the foreign colors to be unfurled upon the walls of Peking. After steady fighting until about the middle of the afternoon, the Tartar City was entered and the Legations were relieved. Our casualties during the day were 1 officer and 11 enlisted men wounded.
Read the book: America in the China Relief Expedition by Brig. Gen. A. S. Daggett
China Relief Expedition (Excerpts from America in the China Relief Expedition by Brig. Gen. A.S.Daggett)
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