Gaselee Expedition

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Second intervention, Gaselee Expedition, China 1900
Part of the Boxer Rebellion
Date August 1900
Location Tienstin, China
Result Allied Victory
Belligerents
 Empire of Japan
 United Kingdom
 United States
France France
 Russia
 German Empire
 Italy
 Austria-Hungary
Qing dynasty Imperial China
Righteous Harmony Society
Commanders and leaders
Japan Baron F. Yamaguchi
Russia Nikolai Linevich
United Kingdom Alfred Gaselee
United States Adna Chaffee
Qing dynasty General Ma Yukun
Qing dynasty General Song Qing
Strength
55,000 50,000–100,000
Casualties and losses
Possibly Hundreds Unknown

The Gaselee Expedition was a successful relief by a multi-national military force to march to Beijing and protect the diplomatic legations and foreign nationals in the city from attacks in 1900. The expedition was part of the war of the Boxer Rebellion.

Background[edit]

The Boxers were an anti-Christian, anti-foreign rural mass movement. Their objective was to rid China of foreign (Western) influence. In May and early June 1900, they advanced on Beijing. The Qing government of China was equivocal about the Boxers, fearing that they might become anti-Qing. The Boxers were a serious threat to Western and Japanese citizens and Chinese Christians living in Beijing, Tianjin, and other areas of northern China.

The diplomatic Legations (Embassies) in Beijing requested that marines be sent to protect them; more than 400 from eight countries arrived in Beijing on 31 May. However, as the threat from the Boxers increased, it become apparent that additional soldiers were needed. On 9 June, Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald the British Minister cabled Vice Admiral Edward Hobart Seymour, commander of the British Navy's China fleet, that the situation in Beijing "was hourly becoming more serious" and that "troops should be landed and all arrangements made for an advance to Peking [Beijing] at once."[1]

On receipt of MacDonald's message, Seymour assembled within 24 hours a force of more than 2,000 sailors and marines from Western and Japanese warships and prepared to embark for Beijing from Tianjin, 75 miles away, by train.[2] His force consisted of 916 British, 455 Germans, 326 Russians, 158 French, 112 Americans, 54 Japanese, 41 Italians, and 26 Austrians.[3] Seymour's Chief of Staff was Captain John Jellicoe. The Commander of the Americans in the expedition was Captain Bowman H. McCalla.

The diplomats in Beijing anticipated that Seymour would arrive there on 11 June, but he didn't. Shortly thereafter, all communications were cut and the Seymour Expedition disappeared in the interior of China. Acting without the Chinese Imperial court's permission, they had, in effect, launched an invasion. The Chinese response was decisive. Seymour was defeated during the disastrous Seymour Expedition.

The expedition[edit]

Allied troops suffered from severe illnesses, unsanitary conditions, diarrhea, flies, and other pests. General Dorwood cautioned advance, urging 60,000 men to be ready before going forward, since he witnessed the Chinese pound the Allied forces with their weaponry at Tianjin. The Chinese destroyed the railroads and junk ships to prevent the allied advance. German Field Marshal Alfred von Waldersee was selected as supreme commander, but he was in Germany with his soldiers. Lieutenant General Sir Alfred Gaselee was chosen as temporary commander of the expedition.[4]

Only 2,500 soldiers and marines were on hand to maintain a position some ten miles in length, with all communication with the fleet cut off for a considerable time. But the troops of the Powers were being rushed to the scene with the utmost dispatch possible. Not, however, until 14 July had enough reinforcements arrived from the coast to relieve after severe fighting the beleaguered force and to capture the entire city, which was indispensable as a base of operations against Peking. Then came another distressing wait before the advance on the capital could begin. This was largely on account of the changed opinions regarding Chinese valor and the effectiveness of their resistance to the Seymour expedition. As it was, the Allies would have tarried at Tientsin for additional reinforcements some weeks longer had not the British and American commanders threatened to proceed alone with their contingents and risk the consequences. Although it was felt, so had the estimation of Chinese prowess been increased, that at least 50,000 troops were necessary, some thought 70,000, successfully to invade the interior, the second relief expedition to Peking finally got under way, on 4 August, with an impressive total of 18,800 men. This number included 8,000 Japanese, 3,000 British, 4,500 Russians, 2,500 Americans, and 800 French. The Germans were unrepresented, as it was judged best to reserve some strength for Kiaochau and the coast.[5]

The Expedition consisted of an unknown number of Germans, Austrians, Italians, 900 British troops, 1,300 Indians, 200 men from the Weihaiwei Regiment under direct British command, 2,000 American troops, 1,200 French, 3,000 Russians, 9,000 Japanese. 25,000 Russian and Japanese garrisoned Taku and Tianjin, and so did not participate in the expedition. Most French Infantry were from Indochina.

Deliberate and Accidental Allied Friendly Fire[edit]

The Allies argued and fought each other, severely criticizing each other's fighting ability. Some British Royal Welsh Fusiliers killed four Germans in a fight. Their commander allegedly imprisoned his men for not murdering more Germans.[6] The French contribution to the expedition was to fire by accident on the other Allied forces, doing not much of anything else.[7]

Weather[edit]

108 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and insects plagued the Allies. Soldiers dehydrated, and horses died. Chinese villagers killed Allied troops who searched for wells, and gouged out the eyes and sliced the tongues off Japanese troops, nailing them to village doors.[8] The weather resulted in many Allied soldiers dying of heat as they foamed at the mouth during the expedition. The Indians and even the Russians, who were judged to be the strongest, succumbed.[9]

Atrocities[edit]

The tactics were gruesome on either side. By this time, each side had heard reports of the atrocities committed by the other. Foreign newspapers printed rumors and third hand reports; some were true. [10] Witnesses reported that the Allies beheaded already dead Chinese corpses, bayoneted or beheaded live Chinese, and raped Chinese girls and women.[11] The Russians and Japanese were both especially noted for their atrocities by the other allies. Russians killed Chinese civilians indiscriminately.[12] There were widespread reports that Chinese responded with violence and mutilation, especially toward captured Russians,[13] American Lieutenant Smedley Butler saw the remains of two Japanese soldiers whose eyes were gouged out and tongues cut off before being nailed to doors. [14]

Battle of Beicang[edit]

Main article: Battle of Beicang

Battle of Yangcun[edit]

Main article: Battle of Yangcun

Battle of Peking[edit]

Main article: Battle of Peking

Battle of Beitang[edit]

Main article: Battle of Beitang

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleming, Peter. The Siege of Peking. New York: Harper, 1959, p. 72
  2. ^ Leonhard, Robert, The China Relief Expedition (PDF), JHUAPL, p. 11, retrieved 18 October 2010 .
  3. ^ Davids, Jules, ed. American Diplomatic and State Papers: The United States and China: Boxer Uprising, Series 3, Vol. 5. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1981, p. 102. Other accounts give slightly different numbers.
  4. ^ Robert B. Edgerton (1997). Warriors of the rising sun: a history of the Japanese military. WW Norton & Co. p. 87. ISBN 0-393-04085-2. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  5. ^ Paul Henry Clements (1915). The Boxer rebellion: a political and diplomatic review, Volume 66, Issues 1-3 (Issue 160 of Columbia studies in the social sciences). NEW YORK: Columbia University. p. 135. Retrieved 1-9-2011. Only 2,500 soldiers and marines were on hand to maintain a position some ten miles in length, with all communication with the fleet cut off for a considerable time. But the troops of the Powers were being rushed to the scene with the utmost dispatch possible. Not, however, until 14 1 July had enough reinforcements arrived from the coast to relieve after severe fighting the beleaguered force and to capture the entire city, which was indispensable as a base of operations against Peking.2 Then came another distressing wait before the advance on the capital could begin. This was largely on account of the changed opinions regarding Chinese valor and the effectiveness of their resistance to the Seymour expedition. As it was, the Allies would have tarried at Tientsin for additional reinforcements some weeks longer had not the British and American commanders threatened to proceed alone with their contingents and risk the consequences. Although it was felt, so had the estimation of Chinese prowess been increased, that at least 50,000 troops were necessary, some thought 70,000, successfully to invade the interior, the second relief expedition to Peking finally got under way, 4 August, with an impressive total of 18,800 men. This number included 8,000 Japanese, 3,000 British, 4,500 Russians, 2,500 Americans, and 800 French. The Germans were unrepresented, as it was judged best to reserve some strength for Kiaochau and the coast. About 200 Americans and 300 Russians on 22 June made a desperate attempt to enter Tientsin by following the railway. When within two miles, they were ambushed and forced to retire, the Americans losing 3 killed and 13 wounded. But upon receiving reinforcements they returned on the 24th and forced their way in, causing the Chinese to withdraw from their position on the east, which enabled the besieged again to have communication with Taku. See the interesting Report by U. S. Consul Ragsdale on the "Siege of Tientsin" in U. S. For. Rel, 1900, pp. 268-273.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ Robert B. Edgerton (1997). Warriors of the rising sun: a history of the Japanese military. WW Norton & Co. p. 90. ISBN 0-393-04085-2. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  7. ^ Robert B. Edgerton (1997). Warriors of the rising sun: a history of the Japanese military. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 88. ISBN 0393040852. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  8. ^ Robert B. Edgerton (1997). Warriors of the rising sun: a history of the Japanese military. WW Norton & Co. p. 88. ISBN 0-393-04085-2. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  9. ^ [1] Thompson 2009, p. 168.
  10. ^ Jane E. Elliott, Ch. 2 "The Great Newspapers Report the Boxer Rising," Some Did It for Civilisation, Some Did It for Their Country : A Revised View of the Boxer War. (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2002; ISBN 9622019730), pp. 1-41.
  11. ^ [2] Thompson 2009, p. 168.
  12. ^ [http://books.google.com/books?id=wkHyjjbv-yEC&pg=PA87#v=onepage&q&f=false Edgerton 1997, p. 87.
  13. ^ [3] Thompson 2009, p. 168.
  14. ^ [4] Edgerton 1997, p. 88.