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Tientsin: The Chinese Reinforce; Allied Assault Delayed


HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Tientsin, China, July 2, 1900.


SIR: Information has been received to-day by runner that the troops of Ma San Yuen, 10,000 strong, are marching on Tientsin. They started from Tsai Tsun, a point 28 miles from Tientsin, yesterday afternoon. The roads are bad and troops not considered good; have 4 batteries. A reconnaissance of Russian cavalry will be made toward them this morning.

          It was decided in council to-day for the Japanese, American, English and French to attack the west arsenal to-morrow morning and capture Tientsin City. If the reconnoissance develops the fact that the Chinese column advancing is not within striking distance of the town, the Russian and German forces will advance by the left bank of the river and capture the Chinese camp and fort on that side.

          Tientsin, China, held by us with a garrison of 2,000 men. We apprehend no troubles from Chinese army.

          It is still most important that our troops be rushed forward as soon as possible after arrival.

          The council decided to require newspaper men to send their dispatches via Shanghai, and not by Chefoo.

          I send 4 wounded and some women and children down to Tong Ku this morning.

          Very respectfully,

LITTLETON W.T. WALLER,
Major, U.S.M.C., Commanding Forces.

THE SECOND IN COMMAND,
United States Naval Forces, Asiatic Station.

          We have now 9,500 troops in and around Tientsin.

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HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Tientsin, China, July 2, 1900.

SIR: I have to report that we made a reconnoissance in the direction of the fort near Tientsin City (Chinese). Forty of our men took part, supporting the English left. The firing was very heavy and sustained, but the enemy were driven out of the villages and the houses burned. Some of the British troops being in a hot corner and unable to retire, Lieutenant Butler volunteered to protect them, and moved to their position under a hot fire, permitting the British to retire. He then fell back, forming the rear guard of the column and protecting them thoroughly.

          I send you a translation of the congratulatory order of the Russian general upon the capture of the east arsenal June 27, 1900.

          Our men were thanked by Colonel Barr of the British service for their great assistance to-day. The villages destroyed have given us much trouble, forming cover for "snipers."

          I send 3 more wounded men by this tug.

          The health of the men is excellent and they are in splendid fighting trim.

          My stores and nearly all my ammunition have arrived.

          We need soups and broths for the wounded.

          It is most desirable that the forces be sent forward as soon as possible, as we need all the troops possible for the capture of the Tientsin fort at an early date. It is a great menace to us at present.

          When the marines or troops arrive, I will have quarters for them.

          I most sincerely request that I may be allowed to remain in command of the marines. I am in touch with the situation and in splendid condition physically for the enormous amount of work to be done.

          I inclose requisition for clothing and equipment. These may be furnished by the guards of the different ships. The requisition gives the sizes.

          It has been thought advisable to get the women and children from the town, so I have taken the authority of sending four American families by this tug.

          A full description of men killed and wounded was forwarded to you three days ago. I will, however, send another list with this letter--July 2, 7.30 a.m.

          I am just attending a meeting of the military council looking to an attack on the Chinese city of Tientsin. The firing from there was very bad last night. Troops are needed as fast as possible.

          Very respectfully,

LITTLETON W.T. WALLER,
Major, U.S.M.C., Commanding Forces.

THE SECOND IN COMMAND,
United States Naval Force, Asiatic Station.

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HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Tientsin, China, July 2, 1900.

SIR: At a meeting of the military commanders held this afternoon, it was decided not to attack Tientsin City until the morning of the 4th of July. I cast my vote against this, as I believe it essential to hold that city prior to the arrival of the Chinese troops. The Russian general was not willing to cooperate with us just at present. I presented the following information received by me from private and reliable sources:

          There are four gates to the city of Tientsin, the roads therefrom intersecting the city and dividing it into four equal parts. The city has no troops in it at present. The suburbs on the west side are thick and occupied by "Boxers," the headman living on the north side just north of the viceroy's yamen. With him is General Nieh, whose troops we have so often defeated. This house is on the opposite side of the grand canal from the walled city. The guards in the city are composed of men employed by the Chinese merchants. They are in number about 5,000, but are not in favor of the "Boxers." The Chinese merchants are very anxious to save the town from destruction. I have proposed to them that when they attack they direct their guards not to fire on us, also to open the south gate so we may gain entrance to the town and walls. In return we will promise them immunity from trouble. The Chinese forces there are about 3,500, located near the viceroy's yamen. There are several thousand "Boxers," all armed with rifles. The plan for attack is for the Anglo-Americans to form in two columns, consisting of troops and sailors. The Americans with the troops pass on the south side of the mud wall and attack the arsenal; the sailors follow on the north side with field guns; these in turn followed by the French with six guns, small, and the Japanese forming three echelons on the north side of the wall.

          Reaching and carrying the arsenal by storm, the echelons make a partial change of front to the right and move on the city. The march will probably begin on July 4 at 2.30 a.m., so as to be in position by daybreak.

          I believe the attack should be made at once, but the Russians will not move to-day.

          The Russians, with the Germans, are to advance by the left bank of the river, engaging the forts and capturing the yamen and barracks. As the Russians have all, or nearly all, the artillery, it is risky to move without them; still, if the Chinese get 10,000 more men in the town, it means so much more difficulty for us.

          There is hardly a chance for a move on Pekin for the next two or three weeks.

          My stores have arrived and I am very comfortable. The men keep well, but the duty is very hard. I shall send the Monocacy's and Yorktown's marines back as soon as I get back from the attack on Tientsin.

          July 3.--The attack on Tientsin City has been abandoned for the present. The Chinese troops, before reported, arrived and entered the city last night. Shelling from their guns began early this morning and has been kept up during the day. Many houses have been hit. The houses on each side of my quarters have been struck three times each.

          The Japanese battery went into action about 11.30, using black powder, with the result of about 30 casualties, 4 killed. The Russians had one gun (field) dismounted and 4 men killed.

          Orders have been issued to send all women and children from the town. I shall send them over as soon as possible.

          I deem it advisable to send all the wounded able to be moved to Taku as soon as possible. Mr. Taussig seems to be more or less under the shell range; has developed a diarrhea, and by the advice of the senior surgeon I shall send him down the river to Taku. This river communication may be cut at any moment. All the other wounded capable of being moved will be sent down as soon as possible. The shell and bullet firing is almost incessant.

          Reports from the German concession, Tias Chow, are very bad, and it is believed they will withdraw their forces from this place.


          The relations between the powers are outwardly friendly. The Russians have delayed for two days the capture of Tientsin, and my prediction has come true as regards the capture of the walled city.

          Lieutenant-Colonel Mallory, Forty-first Infantry, has reported. I shall, of course, retain command. He is a childhood's friend of mine and there is no danger of friction.

          The authorities again ask for troops of ours. Colonel Mallory can cable direct to his own government, which is a great advantage.

          I have quarters for one regiment of infantry and over 300 men. If I could be informed of the approach of others, I should be able to hold good quarters. On the strength of rumor I have requested room for 2,000 men.

          Owing to delay, the situation has become much more serious, and I have to urge the immediate pushing forward by rail as far as rail heads all our troops and then the march to Tientsin, following the track from rail head to arsenal bend, and then direct to Tientsin. I will send you a tracing of the map I am using. I send inclosed several dispatches with the request that they may be forwarded by the first opportunity.

          I am in close touch with the English and Japanese and very friendly with the Russians. My belief is they will not accompany us in the march on Pekin.

          I would urge, sir, that lighters be sent for the transportation of Americans.

          The missionaries to the west of us have never been heard from since the trouble began.

          At the request of the powers, and considering the gravity of the situation here, I shall hold the Monocacy and Yorktown marines for the present.

          The Japanese loss to-day was 4 killed and 11 wounded.

There is no firing to-night. The Chinese have placed three additional batteries near the north end of the Chinese city. One of these found and dismounted a Russian gun, killing 4 men.

          We will carry our lines farther forward in the morning. Expect two 12-pounders and 4-inch from the Terrible to-morrow, when our artillery will be heavier than enemy's. I expect the shelling will be heavy to-morrow.

          We need artillery and cavalry. If it is possible to get them from Philippines they should be sent.

          I do not think the relations between the powers are as cordial as they were, although there has been no rupture.

          I have sent down censored dispatches for the press with the request that they be forwarded as soon as possible.

          July 4. Taussig is being sent down the river by British tug.

          Very respectfully,

LITTLETON W.T. WALLER,
Major, U.S.M.C., Commanding United States Forces.

THE SECOND IN COMMAND,
United States Naval Forces on Asiatic Station.

          May I ask for a press copy of this report? Have no time to make it.

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Source: Navy Department. Annual Report of the Navy Department for the Year 1900 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900), pp. 1152-55.

13 March 2000