The China Relief Expedition:  Medical Department

  

ARMY HISTORICAL SERIES

THE
ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT
1865-1917

by
Mary C. Gillett

CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
UNITED STATES ARMY
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1995

Chapter 8:  CAMPAIGNS OF THE NEW EMPIRE

[Excerpts from pages 220 and 222]

(Extracted)

In late June 1900, despite misgivings about weakening his force in the Philippines, General (Arthur) MacArthur ordered the 9th Infantry to prepare to embark for China as the first Army contingent of the China Relief Expedition, which sought to protect U.S. interests and citizens threatened by the Boxer Rebellion.  With the later addition of the 14th Infantry and an artillery battalion from the Philippines, as well as still more units coming directly from the United States, the China Relief Expedition would eventually number 2,500 and include 800 marines with their Navy doctors.  Adna R. Chaffee, who received his promotion to major general in the volunteers on 19 July, assumed command of the China Relief Expedition when he arrived in China on the thirtieth, three weeks after the landing of the first U.S. troops there.  The expedition became part of an international force composed of troops from several major powers, including Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Japan, that were seeking to subdue the Boxers, to intimidate the Dowager Empress, and to make China again safe for foreigners.  Because most of the U.S. soldiers who eventually served in China were sent from the Philippines, the responsibility for the medical care of the expedition fell upon the shoulders of Army Medical Department leaders there.54

A few days after General Chaffee took command of the China Relief Expedition, 2,500 U.S. soldiers joined British and French troops to march on Peking.  The U.S. contingent now included the 14th Infantry with its four regular medical officers, two contract surgeons, twenty-one hospital corpsmen, and equipment.  Each regiment had "Chino" litter-bearers, but they were trusted so little that they were kept "under guard to prevent their running away."  A Regular Army assistant surgeon also accompanied the artillery battalion that was a part of the expedition.  Marching with the soldiers were U.S. Marines with their three physicians, attendants, and litter-bearers.  Although supply wagons were available for the Medical Department, Major Banister, who continued in the position of chief surgeon, had his medical chests carried in his ambulances so that they would be immediately available.
61


54. WD, ARofSG, 1901, pp. 150-51; idem, Correspondence, 1:421, 426; idem, ARofSW, 1901, 1(pt.6):434, 508; Percy M. Ashburn, A History of the Medical Department of the United States Army, p. 228.

61. WD, ARofSG, 1901, p. 153 (quotations); idem, Correspondence, 1:426, 442; James A. Huston, The Sinews of War, p. 303.


Our thanks to the U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History for the information on this page.  The complete text of this historical document can be found at:   http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/spanam/gillet3/ch8.html

 

 

Acknowledgements:
The China Relief Expedition: Medical Department
Copyright 2012  14th Infantry Regiment Association
Last modified: April 17, 2016