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BOXER REBELLION // CHINA 1900

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THE DEFENCE OF LEGATIONS medal named to; LANCE-CORPORAL WALTER SPARKES. ROYAL MARINES LIGHT INFANTRY. (SEVERELY WOUNDED AT PEKING IN A VICTORIA CROSS ACTION.)

CHINA 1900 MEDAL WITH CLASP: DEFENCE OF LEGATIONS.

Only 82 "Defence of Legations" medals were issued. They are very rare especially to a wounded man.

Condition: NEF.

Copies: ADM. 171/55 - medal roll. ADM. 15914 8699.

Providence: Ex-collection of G. Hawkes-Field (auction of 3.11.1950

DNW Auction Summer 2004.

 British Soldiers in Peking.

 

Walter John Sparkes ws born at Catherington, Hampshire, on the 25th June 1877. He enlisted into the Royal Marine Light Infantry at Gosport, on the 20 July 1896, aged 19 years old. His description on enlistment is given thus: "height 5 feed 6 5/8 inches; complexion, sallow; hair dark brown; eyes, blue; with no distinguishing marks or scars. His civilian occupation is stated to be that of "labourer" and his religious denomination is recorded as "Church of England".

Walter Sparks was given service number 8604 (Plymouth Division) and he was attached to D. Company. He was initially stationed at the R.M.L.I. Deport at Walmer, remaining there from the 20th July 1896 to the 13th February 1897. During this time he completed his basic training and passed his proficiency tests in musketry, gunnery and swimming, before being transferred to the Plymouth Division, on the 14th of February 1897. Here, he remained until the 10th of January 1898, except for a short tour of duty aboard H.M.S. Alexandra, from the 18th June 1897 until the 20th July following.

On the 11th January 1898 L.Cpl. Sparkes was transferred to H.M.S.Australia aboard which ship he served until the 17th January 1899, when he was returned to Portsmouth Division H.Q. During this tour of juty, on the 20th July 1898, he was awarded one Good Conduct Badge and, on the 24th October 1898, he was promoted to Lance-Corporal. It should be stated at this point that L.Cpl. Sparkes seems to have been highly regarded, his character and ability both being universally logged as "Very Good".

On the 16th of Febuary 1899 L.Cpl. Sparkes embarked aboard H.M.S. Orlando and subsequently saw service aboard this ship in the China theater. When the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China during the following year L.Cpl. Sparkes was one of a small number of Royal Marines who were landed at Peking (China's Capital), to guard the British Legation and Compound.  For a period  of eight weeks, from June to August 1900, the various Legations at Peking were exposed to one of the deadly sieges of modern times, but thanks to the little band of gallant defenders, of which L.Cpl. Sparkes was one, the forces defending the Legations and Compound held out until relieved by the advancing Allied Army.

L.Cpl. Sparkes, himself, had arrived at Peking on the 31st May 1900 and remained there until invalided to England, on the 4th September following. During the defense of the Legations L.Cpl. Sparkes was severely wounded in action, on the 25th June (Casualty list shows Sparkes wounded on 27th). On that day the Boxers and Chinese Army attempted to burn out the defenders and the British Legation was seriously threatened. In the ensuing action, which resulted in a victory for the defenders, a small party of Marines made a gallant sortie from the British Legation building during the course of which L.Cpl. Sparkes was shot through the left eye (for his conduct during this action Captain Lewis Halliday was awarded the Victoria Cross).

The Siege and Destruction of the Hanlin Library:

The Siege of Peking--called by one historian, "the episode best remembered abroad" of the Boxer Uprising--was a dramatic event that captured worldwide attention that minor incidents did not.  Once the attacks began in earnest with the encouragement o f the Empress Dowager, the Allied hostages and their Christian Chinese converts, prepared for a siege of unknown duration, by consolidating their small area of control and fortification by withdrawing from the exposed extremities and resettling nearly 3,000 people into the remaining quarters.

Not long after the first assault when Sir Claude MacDonald emerged as commander-in-chief, on Saturday, 23 June, the Chinese tested the perimeter of the western side of the enclave by burning an area of native dwellings south of the British Legation. Fire became a new frightening tactic. To the north of the Legation was situated the Hanlin Yuan, a complex of courtyards and buildings that housed "the quintessence of Chinese scholarship . . . the oldest and richest library in the world." A late morning fire there was quelled and the compound cleared of Chinese troops. The British became worried that the incendiary intentions of the attackers might include this vulnerable site, the buildings at some point being only an arm's length from the British building walls. On the other hand the Allies, knowing of the Chinese veneration for their cultural heritage, felt that they would face no destructive threat from that direction.

Yet, on Sunday, 24 June, when the winds shifted to come strongly from the north, the unanticipated happened: the buildings of Hanlin, and the Library that abutted the British building, began burning on a bigger scale than that of the previous day. An observer at the time wrote:  "The old buildings burned like tinder with a roar which drowned the steady rattle of musketry as Tung Fu-shiang's Moslems fired wildly through the smoke from upper windows." Through a hole in their own wall that was near one of the Hanlin cloisters, the British Royal Marines hastened through the breach, followed by a motley crew of others who formed a human bucket brigade. To quote an observer again,

 

"Some of the incendiaries were shot down, but the buildings were an inferno and the old trees standing round them blazed like torches. It seemed as if nothing could save the British Legation, on whose security the whole defence depended. But at the last minute the wind veered to the north-west and the worst of the danger was over.

The fire-fighters had already demolished the nearest of Hanlin halls. The next one was the library."

An eyewitness, Lancelot Giles, son of Herbert A. Giles, described the situation as follows: "An attempt was made to save the famous Yung Lo Ta Tien [now spelled Yong Lo Da Dia], but heaps of volumes had been destroyed, so the attempt was given up.

The Chinese have suggested that the British destroyed the library as a defensive measure; however, the British account, noting the direction of the wind, have maintained that the "Chinese set fire to the Hanlin, working systematically from one courtyard to the next." Important as this issue is, it is eclipsed by the significance of the Hanlin library itself and of its destruction to f ire and booty collectors.

The Contents of the Hanlin Library:

The exact contents of the Hanlin Library is not known with certainty. No record of its collections survives. What is known is that the materials housed in it were irreplaceable. Among the collections was the noted encyclopedic collection of volumes, Yong Lo Da Dia, commissioned by the Ming Dynasty's emperor in the early Fifteenth Century, and the original texts of Siku Quan Shu, the Four Treas ure Library, to be discussed below. One of the largest works of its kind ever produced, the first encyclopedia was compiled between 1403 and 1407 by the Yung Lo Emperor, Chu Ti (1403-1424), and consisted of 22,937 sections (or chuan) of which sixty were the table of contents. Altogether the 22,937 sections (chuan) or works in 11,095 handwritten folio volumes contained more than 370 million words--or twelve times Diderot's famous encyclopedia of the Eighteenth Century.

After a bloody accession and at the suggestion of chancellor Hsieh Chin, the Emperor, a patron of literature, authorized and implemented the collection and copying of the literary treasures of China's past and gave his chancellor the task of oversight. Headquartered in the imperial library at Nanjing, more than two thousand scholars and many imperial officials participated in the compilation work and some of them scoured the countryside for texts that the had not been seen in the imperial library nor replicated since the ancient times; ultimately some eight thousand books from the ancient times through the early Ming Dynasties were included in the vast compilation. They covered an array of subjects, including agriculture, art, astronomy, drama, geology, history, literature, medicine, natural sciences, religion, and, technology, as well as descriptions of unusual natural events.

Because of the cost of woodblock cutting, the encyclopedia was never printed, but existed in a single manuscript copy in Nanjing and then moved with the capital to Beijing in 1421 and housed in the emperor's palace in the Forbidden City. After being threatened in a fire in 1557, a second set was produced in the 1560s and housed in the Huang Shi Chen (the imperial Archive), and then moved to the Hanlin Library during the period of the Emperor Yong Zheng (1723-1736). The original texts of Yong Lo Da Dia in Nanjing possibly perished by fire in 1449, and the first manuscript copy possibly perished in the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. The remaining copy was than housed in the Hanlin Yuan where, although venerated by scholars and emperors, it was gradually diminished through a variety o f circumstances. Some items were subject to theft by collectors or speculators seeking precious items to keep or sell. Other items were lost to poor preservation and fell prey to environmental conditions, insects, and rodents. Warfare and fire accounted for another segment of the collection. Some calculations suggest that of the 11,095 volumes existing in 1407, only about 800 remained in 1900 --the greatest number of losses occurring in the late Nineteenth Century.

With the relief of the Legations accomplished Cpl. Sparkes was invalided to England aboard the S.S. Jelunga, on the 4rh September 1900, arriving back at Portsmouth H.Q. on the 1st December. For his service in the China War L-Cpl. Sparkes was promoted to Cpl., on the 6th December following. Subsequently, he was awarded the China Medal with clasp "Defence of Legations" (the medal roll confirms), it being sent to him on the 8th may 1902. By special authorization Cpl. Sparkes was also "allowed to reckon six months service towards limited engagement, G.C. Badges and Pension, for the 'Defence of Legations at Peking'.

Walter Sparkes was invalided out of the Service on the 13th Feb., 1901. His brief description on discharge is given thus "bullent wound in left eye". His intended place of residence in civilian life is noted as 15 Whichers Gate Road, Rowlands Castle.

On August 2nd 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, the one-eyed Walter Sparkes attempted to re-enlist, but he was patently unfit for any further serivice and was duly rejected as medically unfit on the 6th August 1914. He was a good old soldier.

 

 

Group from the British Legation 1900,CHINA. Defenders.

 

THE BOXER REBELLION


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.

British Minister.

 

A Boxer.

 

 Tientsin to Peking with the Allied Forces, London, 1902.

 

 

In 1900 an alliance between eight major powers, who would be fighting each other in a World War fourteen years down the road, was formed. The nations of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States, fought to defeat a common enemy, the Boxers. The Boxers were a secreat Chinese society bent on driving the "foreign devils" out of China once and for all. No one seems to to know the exact origin of the Boxers (I Ho Ch'uan, which means Righteous Harmonious Fists), they may have been around in the 1700s, because Jesuit missionaries were expelled in 1747 due to Boxer influence. Why in 1900, the Boxers were able to raise so much power has never been answered.

The rise in Boxer support could be attributed to the amount of imperial support for the movement. Most notably, Prince Tuan and to a certain extent, the Dowager Empress, Tzu Hsi. This "unofficial" imperial support of the Boxer society was not the only contribution. China had recently suffered natural disasters, military, political, and economic sanctions placed on them by the Western powers. China was defeated in 1894-1895 by Japan, with Japan emerging as the most powerful of the Asian powers. In 1896, Germany seized the ports of Kiaochow and Tsingtao after two German priests were killed. Russia demanded and received a lease on the ports of Port Arthur and Darien, Britain obtained Wei-Hai-Wei, and France seized Kwangchowwan. Additionally, the completion of the Tientsin-Peking railroad put thousands of Chinese workers out of work.

Chinese people began to turn to the secreat societies, which had always preached hatred of the western foreigners. Between 1898 and 1899 the Boxers began to emerge from the underground and began preaching in the open. The Chinese government started off being Anti-Boxer, but eventually stopped. Military commanders and governors, who were Anti-Boxer were removed from command and replaced with Pro-Boxers. Between 1898-1899 the Boxers focused on attacking Chinese Christians, but on December 30, 1899 they killed a British missionary. The British and German governments immediately issued strong protests, resulting in two Boxers being executed and a third imprisoned. The situation continued to worsen in early 1900, the Dowager Empress released an imperial edict. In this she stated that secret societies were part of Chinese culture and were not criminal in their day.

In the spring of 1900 the Boxers were out of control, they killed seventy Chinese Christians and riots broke out all around Peking. On May 29, 1900 two British missionaries were attacked, with one being killed. The foreign ministers in Peking issued strong protests. The diplomats told the Chinese that they had twenty-four hours to put down the Boxers or they would call troops up from the coast. Before the Chinese government could reply, the diplomats learned that the telegraph line between Peking and Pao Ting Fu had been cut. The foreign diplomats ordered troops up from the coast, but were halted by the Chinese. On May 31 the troops were allowed to advance into Peking. Three hundred and forty troops arrived in Peking that night, followed by another 90 four days later. These were the last troops to enter Peking until August 14, 1900.

A secret society, known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony, attracted thousands of followers. Foreigners called members of this society "Boxers" because they practiced martial arts. The Boxers also believed that they had a magical power, and that foreign bullets could not harm them. Millions of "spirit soldiers," they said, would soon rise from the dead and join their cause.

Their cause, at first, was to overthrow the imperial Ch'ing government and expel all "foreign devils" from China. The crafty empress, however, saw a way to use the Boxers. Through her ministers, she began to encourage the Boxers. Soon a new slogan: "Support the Ch'ing; destroy the foreigner!" appeared upon the Boxers' banner.

Attack on Russian paddle Wheeler by Chinese forces.

Coloured woodblock prints like this were commonly made in China to decorate houses at the New Year; they are often known as nianhua or 'New Year prints'. From the middle of the nineteenth century, nianhua were also produced as broadsheets, to be pasted on walls to bring news to an illiterate or semi-literate public. Here, popular sentiment is being stirred up against the Russians with whom the Chinese were losing negotiations over territory. The paddle-steamer has been damaged by submarine mines laid by the troops of Dong Fuxiang (1839-1908) and there appear to be many casualties. It was Dong Fuxiang's Gansu army that subsequently attacked the Legation quarter during the Boxer uprising.

Attack on Russian paddle Wheeler by Chinese forces.

Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi

The Concubine and the Emperor:

Empress Dowager Cixi. Leader of the Chinese people in 1900. She decided to back the Boxers and committed Imperial Troops to the War.

Tzu Hsi (pronounced "Tsoo Shee" and spelled Cixi in Pinyin) was born on November 29, 1835. Her clan name was Yehonala or Yehenara. Little is known about her background, but according to some accounts her father was a captain in the banner corps that guarded the emperor's home, the Forbidden City.

China at that time was ruled by the Manchu's. The Manchu's were originally nomads from Manchuria, located northeast of China. Around 220 BC Emperor Shih Hwang-ti of the Ch'in (or Qin) dynasty built a wall to keep Manchu's and other barbarians out of China. More walls were built over the next 1,500 years, and the Ming dynasty (which ruled from 1368 to 1644) joined them together, forming the Great Wall of China, which still stands today. It was 1,500 miles long, on average 25 feet tall, and 15 to 30 feet thick at its base. Despite the wall the Manchu's ultimately conquered China and established their own dynasty, the Ch'ing dynasty (Qing in Pinyin), so called because they claimed descent from the Ch'in dynasty.

Like the emperor and most other prominent people in China at that time, Yehonala and her family were Manchu, and had little contact with Chinese people. Some writers have claimed that a teenager Yehonala fell in love with a Manchu garrison commander, Jung Lu and they planned to marry. But Yehonala's beauty and charm attracted the attention of others, and at the age of 16 she was chosen to be one of the concubines of Emperor Hsien Feng. Instead of marrying Jung Lu she went to live in the Forbidden City, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs.

The Forbidden City contained an outer palace with three ceremonial halls where the emperor held audiences. His family lived in the inner palace, surrounded by twelve courtyards where the emperor's concubines lived. Yehonala was now one of those concubines. The emperor would pick which woman he wanted to see each night. To make sure she couldn't smuggle a weapon into his bedroom, she was escorted there by eunuchs and left naked on the foot of the bed.

Although Emperor Hsien Feng (Xianfeng in Pinyin) had many concubines, only Yehonala gave birth to a surviving son. After his birth she was raised in rank from third-grade concubine to first-grade. But she had not won the emperor's affection; he soon lost interest in her because he was in love with another consort, Li Fei, who would mysteriously disappear after Tzu Hsi became empress, never to be heard from again.

Tzu Hsi Seizes Power:

Hsien Feng died in 1861 at the age of 30. His primary wife had no sons, so Tzu Hsi's five-year old son, Tung Chih or Tongzhi, became emperor. It was at this time that Yehonala took the name Tzu Hsi, meaning "Kindly and Virtuous." (In later years she would be nicknamed The Old Buddha.) The emperor's primary wife took the name Tzu An. The two dowager empresses wanted to rule as regents, but were opposed by a group of influential nobles and royal councillors. However, the two women had allies. One was Hsien Feng's brother Prince Kung. According to some writers, the Banner Corps liked Tzu Hsi because she was the daughter of one of their officers, and her supposed former fiancé, garrison commander Jung Lu, also remained loyal to her throughout his life.

With the help of Prince Kung, the dowager empresses seized control of the government. Their enemies were convicted of treason. Two were allowed to commit suicide because they were royal. Tzu Hsi wanted the ringleader to suffer the traditional "Death of a Thousand Cuts," but in the end he was simply beheaded.

Tzu Hsi and Tzu An were now the regents. Although the emperor was just a child, the empresses couldn't rule openly; they had to go through the little boy. A bamboo screen was set up behind the boy's throne. When government officials delivered their reports to the emperor, Tzu Hsi listened and told him what to say in return. Dutifully the young emperor parroted her words.

The exact extent of Tzu Hsi's power is disputed today. She is popularly remembered as a ruthless dictator, but in :Dragon Lady" author Sterling Seagrave presents her as a rather meek creature who was manipulated by her advisers and slandered by Western writers. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

A New Emperor:

By the age of 15, Tzu Hsi's son, Tung Chih, was drinking heavily and consorting with male and female prostitutes. At the age of 16 he married Alute, the daughter of a Manchu nobleman. Tzu Hsi is said to have been fearful that Alute would undermine her authority over Tung Chih. In order to prevent this and to keep Tung Chih busy so that she could continue to rule in his name, she supposedly encouraged her son to keep concubines.

Eventually the young emperor contracted smallpox. After a seeming recovery, he suddenly died -- possibly of venereal disease. Some people suspected that his mother had wanted him to die this way so that she could hold on to her power. Soon after her husband's death, Alute committed suicide by swallowing opium. It was rumored that Tzu Hsi had driven her to it.

Whatever the reason, Tung Chih had died and left no children to inherit the throne. Determined to maintain her power, Tzu Hsi chose the next emperor -- her own three-year old nephew, Kuang Hsu or Guangxu, who was not in direct line of succession to the throne. Soon after he became emperor, his mother -- Tzu Hsi's sister -- died. And in 1881 Tzu Hsi's co-regent, Tzu An, the other dowager empress, also died.

The new emperor, Kuang Hsu, was skinny, sickly, and terrified of the Empress Dowager. When he turned 17, in 1889, Tzu Hsi theoretically surrendered her power to him. She retired to her summer palace, six miles away from the Forbidden City. From there she spread rumors that the emperor was childlike and incompetent. He visited her often, and it seems she continued to rule through him.

However, Kuang Hsu did have a mind of his own. And he started listening to people who, unlike Tzu Hsi, were in favor of westernizing China. In 1898 he initiated his Hundred Days of Reform. He issued decrees ordering railroads, the modernization of the military, reform of the legal system, and so forth. He also dismissed hundreds of Manchu officials who opposed his reforms. Tzu Hsi was outraged by these changes, but she cleverly bided her time and allowed the emperor to make enemies among the Manchu elite.

As it happened, Kuang Hsu's troops were commanded by a friend of Tzu Hsi's rumored boyfriend, Jung Lu. This man told Jung Lu of the emperor's plans to strip Tzu Hsi of power. So Tzu Hsi arranged for the emperor's palace guard to be replaced by Jung Lu's men. Then she returned to the Forbidden City. Supposedly the emperor was so terrified by the sight of her that he threw himself on the ground and said, "I am unworthy to rule. Punish me as I deserve." Tzu Hsi obliged.

There was an artificial lake in the Forbidden City called the Winter Palace Lake. In the lake was an island, Ying Tai or "Ocean Terrace." Tzu Hsi had Kuang Hsu locked up in a palace on Ocean Terrace. There he was totally isolated from the rest of the court. His servants were put to death or banished. He saw no one except four guards and his wife, who was Tzu Hsi's spy. Sometimes he was allowed out for ceremonial occasions. But Tzu Hsi was in charge. And she wiped out his modernizing decrees.

The End of Tzu Hsi's Reign:

The dowager empress and her party fled north to the city of Sian (with the emperor riding in a cart, dressed as a peasant). The Boxer Rebellion was over; at least 250 foreigners had been killed. China had to accept a humiliating settlement called the Peace of Peking. It imposed heavy fines on China and amended trade treaties in favor of foreigners. It also allowed foreign troops to be stationed in Peking. Many members of the royal court were exiled, decapitated or "allowed" to commit suicide. The Peace of Peking increased the Chinese people's anger at their Manchu rulers, including Tzu Hsi.

In 1901 the dowager empress returned to the Forbidden City. Because of the Boxer Rebellion's failure she changed her policies radically. Now she, too, was in favor of railroads, modern schools and other Western innovations. Her government outlawed "slicing," killing people with a thousand small cuts. It also outlawed opium; soldiers who smoked it could be beheaded. The Manchus lost a lot of their special priveliges in China. Chinese people were now permitted to settle in Manchuria, the Manchu homeland. The empress even promised the Chinese people a constitution and representative government.

Jung Lu's daughter had married the emperor's brother, Prince Ch'un. In 1906 they had a son. Tzu Hsi named him Pu Yi, or "Ceremony of Tribute." Two years later the Empress Dowager had a stroke, followed by dysentery. Realizing she was dying, she made plans for the succession. The throne did not necessarily pass to the eldest son; the ruler could choose his successor. Of course, Tzu Hsi made this decision for the imprisoned emperor. She chose three-year old P'u Yi.

In the middle of the night P'u Yi was brought to the Forbidden City. The next day the imprisoned 37-year-old emperor conveniently died. Rumor had it that he had been poisoned. Tzu Hsi made P'u Yi's father regent, making it clear that he would obey her instructions. But that same day -- November 15, 1908 -- she too died, at the age of 73. She was buried in splendor, covered in gems.

Four years later P'u Yi was forced to abdicate. In 1928 revolutionaries dynamited open Tzu Hsi's tomb, looted it and desecrated her body. As an adult P'u Yi became emperor of Manchukuo, but he ended his life as an ordinary citizen of Communist China.

The End of Tzu Hsi's Reign:

The dowager empress and her party fled north to the city of Sian (with the emperor riding in a cart, dressed as a peasant). The Boxer Rebellion was over; at least 250 foreigners had been killed. China had to accept a humiliating settlement called the Peace of Peking. It imposed heavy fines on China and amended trade treaties in favor of foreigners. It also allowed foreign troops to be stationed in Peking. Many members of the royal court were exiled, decapitated or "allowed" to commit suicide. The Peace of Peking increased the Chinese people's anger at their Manchu rulers, including Tzu Hsi.

In 1901 the dowager empress returned to the Forbidden City. Because of the Boxer Rebellion's failure she changed her policies radically. Now she, too, was in favor of railroads, modern schools and other Western innovations. Her government outlawed "slicing," killing people with a thousand small cuts. It also outlawed opium; soldiers who smoked it could be beheaded. The Manchus lost a lot of their special priveliges in China. Chinese people were now permitted to settle in Manchuria, the Manchu homeland. The empress even promised the Chinese people a constitution and representative government.

Jung Lu's daughter had married the emperor's brother, Prince Ch'un. In 1906 they had a son. Tzu Hsi named him Pu Yi, or "Ceremony of Tribute." Two years later the Empress Dowager had a stroke, followed by dysentery. Realizing she was dying, she made plans for the succession. The throne did not necessarily pass to the eldest son; the ruler could choose his successor. Of course, Tzu Hsi made this decision for the imprisoned emperor. She chose three-year old P'u Yi.

In the middle of the night P'u Yi was brought to the Forbidden City. The next day the imprisoned 37-year-old emperor conveniently died. Rumor had it that he had been poisoned. Tzu Hsi made P'u Yi's father regent, making it clear that he would obey her instructions. But that same day -- November 15, 1908 -- she too died, at the age of 73. She was buried in splendor, covered in gems.

Four years later P'u Yi was forced to abdicate. In 1928 revolutionaries dynamited open Tzu Hsi's tomb, looted it and desecrated her body. As an adult P'u Yi became emperor of Manchukuo, but he ended his life as an ordinary citizen of Communist China.

 

 

 

UnitedStates GreatBritain ImperialRussia Japan Germany France Italy Austria-Hungary

Sir Claude M. MacDonald (1852-1915) was educated at Uppingham School and Sandhurst, and was a soldier-diplomat. He regarded himself as a 'soldier-outsider' as regards the Foreign Office. He presided over the Tokyo Legation in years of harmony between Britain and Japan (1900-12), swapping posts with Sir Ernest Satow who replaced him as Minister in Peking. In 1900 MacDonald had led the defense of the foreign legations which were under siege during the Boxer Rebellion, and worked well with the Anglophile Japanese Colonel Shiba. On January 30, 1902 the first Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed in London between the Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne and Hayashi Tadasu, the Japanese Minister. MacDonald was still in Tokyo when the alliance was renewed in 1905 and 1911. He also became Britain's first ambassador to Japan when the status of the legation was raised to an embassy in 1905, and was made a Privy Councillor in 1906.

 

Legation Guards Commander: Sir Claude MacDonald
Seymour's Expedition Commander: Adm. Sir Edward Seymour
International Relief Expedition Commander: Gen. Alfred Gaselee

 

Allied Forces 1900-1901

 

Country Legation Guard
Troops
Seymour's Expedition
Troops
International Relief Expedition
Troops
Total Artillery
Pieces
United States 56 111 2,000 2,167 --
Great Britain 82 915 3,000 3,997 --
Russia 81 312 4,000 4,393 --
Japan 25 54 10,000 10,079 --
Germany 51 512 200 763 --
France 48 157 800 1,005 --
Italy 29 42 53 124 --
Austria-Hungary 35 26 58 119 --
Total 507 2,129 20,111 22,747 *92

* Artillery pieces were divided as foolows: 5 Legation Guards, 17 Seymour's Expedition, and 70 Internation Relief Expedition.

The international troops were mostly highly trained Marines. These troops were also better armed than their Chinese counterparts. The Legation Guard troops, 507 strong, came under siege in Peking (Beijing) by some 20,000 Boxers. With superior weaponry they were able to repel the Chinese until a the International Relief Expedition arrived.

From Barrow's photographs 'with the China Expeditionary Force'

 

The British commanders


General Sir George de Symons Barrow (1864-1959) served in China under General Sir Alfred Gaselee (1844-1918). Barrow's volume of photographs 'with the China Expeditionary Force' depict many of the main characters of the rebellion. Gaselee, seated, managed to get his British and Indian troops into Peking ahead of all the others.

 

 

 

Austrian Hungarian Embassy guards in Peking. B/w card with soldiers in front of the Austrian Embassy.

1900: Tianjin. An Austrian soldier  in the courtyard of the Austrian Concession in Tientsin. He is sitting in a Chinese cart, a donkey pulling.

 

Allied Losses 1900-1901

 

Country Killed Wounded
International
Force
*250 ??

* This includes all foreigners killed during the conflict not just the soldiers. American losses were 9 Marines Killed and 17 wounded.

The Allied Force suffered low casualties and easily defeated the larger Chinese troops. These defeats of such superior numbers of Chinese forced the empress to sign a humiliating peace treaty giving away Chinese land to foreign powers and having to pay money to all the countries involved in the conflict.

dong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great victory was achieved on August 1 (converted from the lunar calendar) on the outskirts of Tianjin by Dong Fuxiang's forces, presumably harrying the foreign forces that were assembling there to march to Peking and relieve the siege. The joint force took time to assemble (the British were concurrently preoccupied with the Boer War) and even longer to organise itself due to internal rivalries. When it did set out, on August 4, it moved swiftly and decisively through Boxer and imperial army resistance.

 

The Taku Forts were the key to the strategic operation
- they had to be annihilated before the large-scale operations required to rescue the foreign colonies of Tientsin and Peking could be undertaken .


A view from the Taku Forts.

There were four Taku Forts:
These were low-profiled
They were flat-topped against the tidal flats (mud flats I guess)
There were two on each bank of the mouth of the Pei Ho
Foreign engineers had supervised reconstruction in recent years
They had been outfitted with new rapid-fire Krupp German made cannon of heavy caliber.

Most of the allied ships were lightly armoured and equipped with obsolete guns
but they were the only elements of the fleet capable of approaching that close to the Taku Forts; the heavier warships could not negotiate the Taku Sand Bar.
(This point is made with relation to the fact that they were going to put down landing parties to seize the forts, but here and in what happened on the next day it would seem that they were the only ships engaged against the forts .
There certainly does not seem to have been any bombardment at a time prior to this and there is no mention of heavier warships bombarding the forts from a distance whilst the nine shallow-draft vessels went close up to do so...

The allied ultimatum was ignored
The nine-ship flotilla moved in for the assault 50 minutes after Midnight , June 17th

Six hours of desultory bombardment followed
It began when the Gilyak switched on her new searchlight and made herself a splendid target for the shore batteries (!)

BUT The Chinese gunners had been inadequately trained and did little damage to the warships

Damage to the bombarding light ships

1. Bobr. Hits received - 1 (a fragment) No casualties
2. Korietz. Hits received - 6. Killed: 2 officers, 8 men, wounded: 21
3. Giliak. Hits received - 3. Killed: 8 men.Wounded: 2 officers, 45 men
4. Lion. Hits received - 3. Wounded: 3 men
5. Algerine. Hits received - 5. Wounded: 2 officers, 7 men
6. Iltis. Hits received - 16. Killed: 2 officers (incl. commander), 4 men. Wounded: 14 men
7. Whiting . Hits received - 1 (no casualties)

At 3 a.m. the warships were close-in enough to put landing parties ashore
Sailors from the various nations with fixed bayonets poured across the mudflats

The bombardment continued
Dawn's light improved allied accuracy
The powder magazines of two of the forts were blown up

Two forts were stormed and taken.

By breakfast time the fleet had secured a resounding victory at the relatively minor cost of 172 casualties (presumably this figure conflates the killed and the wounded).
 

 

The Chinese Christians were killed and hated just like foreigners. An estimated 30,000 Chinese Christians were killed by the Boxers.

 

 

R.C. Forsyth's 'complete roll of the Christian heroes martyred in China in 1900' is characteristic of the many volumes published shortly after the Boxer uprising, offering graphic detail of the murder of missionaries, especially women and children. It was also a matter of some pride that 'the Boxer massacres produced more Protestant martyrs than all the previous decade of the Protestant Church's history in China'.

 

 

 

R.C. Forsyth, The China Martyrs, London, 1904.

 

Picked up from the flagstones on August 28 1900, when foreign troops marched into the Forbidden City after the imperial court had fled, this is a sort of 'chain leaflet'. It orders the faithful to copy it and distribute the copies (or face beheading). The leaflet accuses the Christian churches of failing to produce rain to end the disastrous drought in north China, and offers a remedy in the case of ingesting foreign poison.The translation of the leaflet was made by the Rev. Arthur Henderson Smith, a missionary who also wrote of his experiences of the siege and produced two sociological studies of Chinese life.

 

 

 

A Boxer leaflet

 

 

The Rev. Frederick Brown of the Methodist Episcopal Mission in Tianjin volunteered as a chaplain since, as he said, British soldiers fought better if they felt they had the chance of a Christian burial nearby. Brown listed General Barrow's marching orders for the British force which included Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Royal Engineers, Bengal Lancers, with Sikhs and Rajputs bringing up the rear. Brown described how 'The British race had relieved the legations, notwithstanding that they had given an undertaking "not to lead the column".

 

Tientsin to Peking with the Allied Forces, London, 1902.

 

Chinese Mission in Sien-Hsien. Vicar Monsignor Leocart S. J. in front of the Church in Kitscheu.

The Bishop of Chung king with his Chinese Priests.

After taking Peking, the international troops looted the capital and even ransacked the Forbidden City. Disguised as a peasant, the empress dowager escaped the city in a cart. She returned to the Forbidden City a year later, but the power of the Ch'ing dynasty was destroyed forever.

The Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901, negotiated by the Great Powers with China, included provisions for a fortified legation quarter, foreign garrisons along the Tientsin-Peking railway, and a large indemnity. The Western powers and Japan agreed—mainly because of U.S. pressure to “preserve Chinese territorial and administrative integrity” and because of mutual jealousies among the powers—not to carry further the partition of China. Nevertheless, China was compelled to pay an indemnity of $333 million, to amend commercial treaties to the advantage of the foreign nations, and to permit the stationing of foreign troops in Beijing. The United States later (1908) used some of its share of the indemnity for scholarships for Chinese students. China emerged from the Boxer Uprising with a greatly increased debt and was, in effect, a subject nation. As China continued to fractionalize in the early part of the 20th Century the War Lords ruled with an Iron fist as the shadow of WWII loomed in the not too distant future.

Mark Twain, the anti-imperialist, said the following about the Boxer Rebellion:

"China never wanted foreigners any more than foreigners wanted Chinamen, and on this question I am with the Boxers every time. The Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success. The Boxer believes in driving us out of his country. I am a Boxer too, for I believe in driving him out of our country."

-Mark Twain November 23, 1900-

 

A small foot note:

The Australians in the Boxer Rebellion.

When the first of the Australian contingents, mostly from New South Wales and Victoria, sailed on 8 August 1900, troops from eight other nations were already engaged in China. On arrival they were quartered in Tientsin and immediately ordered to provide 300 men to join a force sent to capture the Chinese forts at Pei Tang which overlooked the inland rail route. The 300 Australians were a small part of an 8,000-strong force made up of troops from Russia, Germany, Austria, British India and some Chinese troops serving under British officers. The Australians travelled apart from the main body of troops, and by the time they arrived at Pei Tang the battle was already over.

The next action in which the Australians (Victorians troops this time) were involved was against the Boxer fortress at Pao-ting Fu, where the Chinese government was believed to have sought refuge when Peking was taken by western forces. The Victorians joined a force of 7,500 on the ten-day march to the fort, only to find that the town had already surrendered; the closest they came to the enemy was to guard prisoners. The international column then marched back to Tientsin, leaving a trail of looted villages behind them.

While the Victorians marched to Pao-ting Fu and back, the NSW contingent was undertaking garrison duties in Peking. They had arrived on 22 October after a 12-day march. They remained in Tientsin and Peking over winter, performing police and guard duties and sometimes working as railway men and fire-fighters. Although they took little part in combat, the Australian forces did play a role in the restoration of civil order, and an aspect of this work involved shooting (by firing squad) Chinese caught setting fire to buildings or committing other offences against European property or persons. The officers and men of the Australian contingents were dissatisfied with the nature of the duties they were asked to undertake. They had expected martial adventure and the opportunity to distinguish themselves in battle, but they had arrived in China too late to take part in significant combat.

 

 

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