Return to NHC homepageDocuments of the Boxer Rebellion

Tientsin: Captured Silver Bullion


OFFICER OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCE ON ASIATIC STATION
Flagship Brooklyn, off Taku, China, August 24, 1900.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose copies of correspondence in regard to a quantity of bullion taken from the ruins of the Chinese city of Tientsin by the First Regiment United States Marines. Inclosures "X" relate to what took place before the matter had been referred to the Department as to the immediate disposition of the bullion; "Y," the transaction of sale; "Z," the carrying out of the contract and mailing of the drafts to the Department.

          Very respectfully,

GEORGE C. REMEY,
Rear-Admiral, U.S.N., Commander in Chief.

THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY,
Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

_____


X.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Tientsin, China, July 20, 1900.

SIR: I have already treasure to the value of about $300,000 in gold and about twice or three times as much more to bring into town.

          We have not yet found the gold vaults of the treasury, but are on the track of them. They may or may not contain treasure.

* * * * * * *

          There is a large quantity of silver there yet which will have to be taken out with picks, as the burning building has fused it into a solid mass.

          I respectfully beg that a lighter may be sent to me for transporting the bullion now at my barracks to the flagship and that the commandant at Taku may be instructed to keep a lighter (and a tug as motive power) at this city until all the treasure has been collected.

          The senior medical officers of both Army and Navy say that in about three days most of the wounded, to about the number of 60, can be sent down the river. The commanding officer and chief surgeon of the Ninth Regiment wish to put their wounded on the hospital ship Relief, hourly expected here. I respectfully ask for proper transportation for the wounded down the river. It is a long and fatiguing journey, and they should have protection from the sun.

          Very respectfully,

R. L. MEADE,
Colonel, U.S.M.C., Commanding U.S. Forces in Tientsin, China.

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
United States Naval Forces on Asiatic Station.

_____


HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Tientsin, China, July 21, 1900.

SIR: I have appointed a board consisting of Maj. And Asst. Paymaster George Richards, Capt. M. J. Shaw, and C. H. Christopher Moller, an American and the agent in Tientsin of J. P. Morgan & Co., bankers, to count the bullion and when the opportunity arises, to send it to Shanghai, receiving in place of this great bulk, proper bank certificates to cover its full value.

          I did write to you asking for a lighter to convey it to the flagship, but the present plan is the better one if it meets with your approval and will rid us of a cumbersome mass of bullion. Mr. Moller can procure the necessary bank certificates, and unless they are entirely sound and the Government is thoroughly secured I will not accept them.

          Very respectfully,

ROBT. L. MEADE,
Colonel, U.S.M.C., Commanding United States Forces in Tientsin.

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
United States Naval Forces on Asiatic Station.

_____


HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT UNITED STATES MARINES,
Tientsin, China, July 26, 1900.

SIR: As a matter of precaution and in order to remove all danger of demoralization to my command I have removed all bullion which was in the marine barracks in this city to the Hongkong and Shanghai inclosure, which is a safe place.

          Of course I am guarding it, but I have used my discretion in the matter, having in mind your conversation with me upon the subject when you were in Tientsin on the 23d instant, wherein you expressed a desire to have it sent to a bank. The removal will be competed to-day, and I have waited until now before reporting it because I wished to report the completed act.

          In case the marines should be compelled to move forward and it was still in barracks, we would have to desert the bullion or leave a guard for it, thus weakening the effective force.

          Very respectfully,

ROBT. L. MEADE,
Colonel, U.S.M.C.

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
United States Naval Forces on Asiatic Station, off Taku, China.

_____


HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES IN TIENTSIN, CHINA,
July 20, 1900.

GENTLEMEN: You are hereby appointed a board to count the bullion and estimate the value of the treasure in our possession and which may later be brought in. The board shall deliver the bullion to our Hongkong and Shanghai Bank designated by Mr. C. H. C. Moller, and proper receipts securely covering the United States Government shall be obtained from said bank.

          The board shall meet at 9 a.m., the 21st instant.

          Full reports of the entire transaction shall be made to me.

          Very respectfully,

ROBT. L. MEADE,
Colonel, U.S.M.C., Commanding United States Forces in Tientsin.

Maj. GEORGE RICHARDS, Assistant Paymaster, U.S.M.C.
Capt. M. J. SHAW, Acting Commissary and Quartermaster, U.S.M.C.
C. H. CHRISTOPHER MOLLER, Citizen of United States, residing in Tientsin.

 

FIRST REGIMENT UNITED STATES MARINES,
British Concession, Tientsin, China, July 27, 1900.

SIR: In compliance with your order dated the 20th instant, appointing the undersigned members of a board to count the bullion and to estimate the value of the treasure in charge of the First Regiment of Marines, we have the honor to report that we found the bullion badly damaged and depreciated in value by fire, fully 70 per cent in "sycee" shoes of short and varying weight and the remainder fused with brick, mortar, and other extraneous and deleterious matter requiring ultimate refining and casting. The condition of the same is such that the weight of the bullion forms no accurate guide in determining its commercial value.

          We have counted 16,716 shoes of "sycee" of varying condition and weight, a greater part of which is in bad condition and will require refining. We estimate the value of this to be $334,320, United States money. The remaining slag and refuse sweeping we have weighed and they approximate to 2,889 shoes of "sycee," which, allowing for cost of refining and probable inaccuracies, we estimate the value to be $42,000, United States money. The total value of the treasure we believe to be about $376,300, United States currency.

          The board ascertained in the premises that the vaults of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank could not accommodate the treasure, which was duly reported and the board's instructions in this particular were verbally revoked. Subsequently the treasure was removed from its location at the time of this count to the premises of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, under the supervision of the officers of the First Regiment of Marines, and there placed under guard.

          We ascertained that the bank would not give receipts for the treasure while there stored, owing to its condition and its packing. This fact was duly reported to the then commanding officer of the First Regiment. It is therefor impossible for proper receipts, securely covering the United States, to be obtained by the board from said bank, as instructed, other than the inclosed communication.

          Very respectfully,

GEORGE RICHARDS,
Major and Assistant Paymaster, U.S.M.C.
MELVILLE J. SHAW, Captain, U.S.M.C.
C. H. C. MOLLER.

THE COMMANDING OFFICER,
First Regiment United States Marines.

_____


HONGKONG AND SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATIONS,
Tientsin, July 27, 1900.

SIR: With reference to Colonel Meade's letter to me of the 24th instant, and my reply to same, I understand that there is now stored on the bank's premises, on behalf and at the risk of the United States Government and under a guard from the United States forces now in Tientsin, sycee and slag bullion, estimated by your commission to be of the value of about $376,000 gold.
          I am, sir, your obedient servant,

A. HEWAL, Agent.

Rear Admiral GEORGE C. REMEY, U.S.N.,
Commander in Chief U.S. Naval Forces on Asiatic Station.

_____


TIENTSIN, July 27, 1900.

SIR: We have the honor to inform you that, subject to your approval, we arranged with Colonel Meade, on the 21st instant, to purchase the silver slag and bullion in custody of his regiment.

          Colonel Meade informs us that he had the honor of addressing you verbally of the written contract made by us to him.

          The bullion is now in the safe custody of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation at this place, and is held by them to your order. Its value in its present shape is $376,300 gold.

          We have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servants,

MOLLER AND CAMPBELL.

Rear Admiral REMEY,
Commanding United States Forces, Asiatic Station, Taku.

P.S. -- The bank will vouch for us.

M. & C., Bullion Brokers.

Y.

OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES ON ASIATIC STATION,
Flagship Brooklyn off Taku, China, July 30, 1900.

SIR: The Secretary of the Navy having authorized the sale of the bullion taken by the marines from the ruins of the supposed mint at Tientsin, you will immediately arrange for its disposition.

          Maj. George Richards and Capts. M. J. Shaw and W. B. Lemly, U.S.M.C., are hereby appointed a board to conduct the sale at the best terms obtainable, satisfy themselves of the soundness of the securities offered, and certify to the whole transaction; all to be done under the supervision and subject to the approval of the commanding officer of the First Regiment United States Marines.

          The draft in exchange for the bullion is to be made payable to the order of the Secretary of the Navy and will be promptly delivered into the custody of the paymaster of the fleet.

          Very respectfully,

GEO. C. REMEY,
Rear-Admiral, U.S.N., Commander in Chief.

THE COMMANDING OFFICER,
First Regiment United States Marines, Tientsin, China.

_____


HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT, UNITED STATES MARINES,
Tientsin, China, August 1, 1900.

SIR: I transmit herewith the report of the board ordered to dispose of the silver from the salt commissioner's yamen, together with a contract which speaks for itself. The action of the board is approved by me, and I would suggest that an officer be sent to Shanghai with the bills of lading and insurance certificates, or that the American consul there be authorized to deliver the bills of lading, etc., when the notes, properly secured, are delivered to him.

          As the transportation is limited, I have to suggest that the commander in chief will telegraph his approval or disapproval of the contract and action of the board. The next steamer sails for Shanghai on Sunday. I shall direct that the bullion be loaded into lighters and kept under a strong guard, ready to be moved down the river as soon as his approval is received. I believe it wise to get the bullion away as soon as possible.

          Very respectfully,

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

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
United States Naval Forces on Asiatic Station.

_____


HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT, UNITED STATES MARINES,
Tientsin, China, July 31, 1900.

GENTLEMEN: By direction of the commander in chief you are hereby appointed a board to conduct the sale of the bullion obtained from the ruins of the yamen of the salt commissioner, Tientsin, at the best terms obtainable. You will satisfy yourself of the soundness of the securities offered and certify to the whole transaction, subject to my supervision and approval.

          The draft in exchange of the bullion is to be made payable to the order of the Secretary of the Navy.

          I transmit for your guidance a copy of an agreement between the then commanding officer, Colonel Meade, and Mr. Kenneth R. Campbell, representative of M. P. Morgan & Co., of New York. If in your judgment, and after due inquiry, you find the price to be just, Mr. Campbell should have the right to purchase.

Very respectfully,

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

Maj. GEORGE RICHARDS.
Capt. M. J. SHAW.
Capt. W. B. LEMLY.


HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT, UNITED STATES MARINES
Tientsin, China, August 1, 1900.

SIR: In obedience to your order dated July 31, 1900, appointing us a board to conduct the sale of the bullion obtained from the yamen of the salt commissioner, Tientsin, at the best terms obtainable, we have conducted the sale aforesaid and respectfully report as follows:

          In accordance with the copy of an agreement between Colonel Meade and Mr. Kenneth R. Campbell, a copy of which is herewith inclosed marked (A), we have made a contract between the United States of America, represented by this board, as a party of the first part, and Mr. Kenneth R. Campbell, is heirs, executors, or assignees as parties of the second part, which completely covers the sale of said bullion. A copy of said contract is herewith inclosed marked (B).

The board states further that before the execution of the aforementioned contract, we made due inquiry and in our judgment the price agreed upon by Col. Robert L. Meade, U.S.M.C., in his inclosed agreement we find to be just; considering the condition of the bullion as determined by the board appointed for this purpose, and the present condition of the market which is uncertain and fluctuating on account of the political situation here prevailing.

          Very respectfully,

GEORGE RICHARDS,
Major and Assistant Paymaster, U.S.M.C.
MELVILLE J. SHAW,
Captain, U.S.M.C.
W. B. Lemly,
Captain, U.S.M.C.

MAJOR L. W. T. WALLER, U.S.M.C.
Commanding First Regiment, United States Marines, Tientsin, China.

_____



(A)

HEADQUARTERS FIRST REGIMENT, UNITED STATES MARINES,
Tientsin, China, July 21,1900.

MR. KENNETH R. CAMPBELL, Present.

SIR: In the event of the captured treasure from Tientsin, city, now under guard of my regiment, being sold by order of the United States Government, I agree to accept your offer at the rate of $20 gold per shoe of sycee, including the silver fused with foreign matter which is to be taken at a valuation to be determined by a fair appraisement by the commissioners appointed to count it.

          Payment to be made by drafts on J. P. Morgan & Co., New York, at sixty, ninety and one hundred twenty days sight.

          Delivery to be given at Taku in lighter.

          This agreement to be subject to the approval of my commander in chief, to whom I have communicated the matter.

ROBT. L. MEADE,
Colonel, U.S.M.C., Commanding United States Force in Tientsin.

Confirmed:

KENNETH R. CAMPBELL.

Witness to both signatures,
C. H. MOLLER,
Member of the counting board.

_____


[Telegram.]

TAKU, August 3, 1900.

COMMANDING OFFICER,
First Regiment Marines, Tientsin:

          Contract for sale of bullion is approved. Paymaster Bryan ordered to Monocacy to-day to go with the bullion to Shanghai. You must arrange for lighter and guard from Tientsin to steamer at Taku without delay.

REMEY.

Certified correct:

B. B. BELKNAP,
Lieutenant, U.S.N., Aid to Commander in Chief.

 


OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
UNITED STATES FORCE ON ASIATIC STATION,
Flagship Brooklyn, off Taku, China, August 3, 1900.

SIR: Referring to your letter of the 1st instant in regard to the contract for the sale of the silver bullion taken in Tientsin, and confirming my telegram of this date to you, I hereby inform you of my approval of the terms of the contract signed by Maj. George Richards, U.S.M.C., Capt. M. J. Shaw, and Capt. W. B. Lemly, U.S.M.C., with Kenneth R. Campbell, at Tientsin, China, dated August 1, 1900.

          Very respectfully,

GEO. C. REMEY,
Rear Admiral, U.S.N., Commander in Chief.

THE COMMANDING OFFICER.
First Regiment, United States Marines, Tientsin, China.

_____


Z.

U.S. FLAGSHIP BROOKLYN,
Off Taku, China, August 22, 1900.

SIR: Complying with your order No. 1973 S. dated August 3, 1900, I have the honor to report:

          I reported on board the U.S.S. Monocacy August 3.

          On the afternoon of the 5th I received the bullion in a lighter alongside the steamer Knivesburg. I at once made formal delivery to Mr. Campbell, who directed the stowage aboard in my presence. After the stowage was complete and the hatches sealed, I received the bills of lading and the insurance certificate.

          The custom-house of this port being at Tientsin, it was necessary for Mr. Campbell to visit that city for important papers. This caused a delay of one day.

          We cleared the bar at noon, August 7.

          A delay of two days was caused by stoppage at the ports of Chefoo and Tsintau.

          I arrived at Shanghai August 13, and reported to the senior officer present.

          On the 14th I visited the Knivesburg with the representative of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Upon the filing of a bond by Mr. Campbell for 200,000 taels, they gave me the drafts required by the terms of the contract. These drafts were drawn by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation upon their agent at New York, and payable to the order of the Secretary of the Navy.

          I transmitted the firsts of the drafts, under the direction of the senior officer present, by registered mail, with a letter of transmittal (copy inclosed), and with copies of my orders and contract.

          The seconds of the drafts, with a letter of transmittal (copy inclosed), were put in an envelope. The envelope was sealed and addressed, and placed in the hands of Passed Assistant Paymaster Dyer, to be registered and sent by the next succeeding mail.

          On the afternoon of August 16, I took passage on the steamer Yunping for Taku, arriving at the flagship on the morning of the 21st.

          Very respectfully,

SAM. BRYAN,
Passed Assistant Paymaster, U.S.N.

Rear Admiral GEO. C. REMEY,
Commander in Chief, United States Naval Force on Asiatic Station.

____


OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCE ON ASIATIC STATION,
Flagship Brooklyn, off Taku, China, August 3, 1900.

SIR: In addition to your duties on board the flagship Brooklyn, proceed to-day to Tongku, China, and report to the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Monocacy for temporary duty in connection with a quantity of bullion to be shipped to Shanghai and there turned over to the representative of the firm of J. P. Morgan & Co., New York, in accordance with the terms of the inclosed contract.

          You are hereby authorized to receive the drafts in exchange for the bullion, and as soon as received the drafts will be forwarded by you, under the direction of the senior officer present, to the Secretary of the Navy, with a fully explanatory letter of transmittal.

          Upon the completion of this duty return and assume your regular duties on board the Brooklyn. Transportation from Shanghai will be furnished you by the senior officer present at that place. You will report to me your proceedings in complying with these orders.

          Very respectfully,

GEO. C. REMEY,
Rear-Admiral, U.S.N., Commander in Chief.

Passed Assistant Paymaster SAMUEL BRYAN, U.S.N.
U.S. Flagship Brooklyn, off Taku, China.

_____


(B.)

Known by all these presents:

          That it is mutually agreed between the United States of America, represented by a board composed of Major and Asst. Paymaster George Richards, U.S.M.C., Capt. M. J. Shaw, U.S.M.C., and Capt. and Asst. Quarter master W. B. Lemly, U.S.M.C., duly appointed by the commanding officer First Regiment, United States Marines, party of the first part, and Kenneth R. Campbell, his heir, executors or assignees, party of the second part, as follows:

          The aforesaid party of the first part agrees to deliver to the aforesaid parties of the second part, at Taku, China, in a lighter, a quantity of silver bullion at present stored under guard at the premises of the Hnngkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation of Tientsin, China, and amounting in all to 16,716 shoes of sycee, or thereabouts, in bags, and 13,000 pounds (avoirdupois), or thereabouts, of silver fused in lumps, containing a large percentage of foreign material.

          The aforesaid parties of the second part agree, upon the fulfillment of the conditions of the party of the first part, as aforesaid, to deliver to the party of the first part at Taku, China, bills of lading and insurance policies, covering the shipment of the aforesaid silver from the port of Taku, China, to that of Shanghai, China, the party of the first part thereby retaining the custody of said silver during such shipment and until its arrival at the said port of Shanghai.

          The aforesaid parties of the second part agree to deliver to the aforesaid party of the first part through its representatives appointed for this purpose, at Shanghai, China, upon the arrival of the shipment as aforesaid, three drafts, all indorsed by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation at Shanghai, as security, or by some equally acceptable security for the party of the first part, drawn upon the firm or corporation of J. P. Morgan & Co., of New York, N. Y., or some corporation equally acceptable to the party of the first part, to the order of the Secretary of the Navy, good and sufficient in amounts in United States gold, as follows: One draft for $100,000, payable at sixty days' sight; one draft for $100,000, payable at ninety days' sight; one draft for $176,300, payable at one hundred and twenty days' sight.

          The aforesaid party of the first part agrees, upon receipt of the aforesaid properly secured drafts, to deliver the bills of lading and insurance policies to the aforesaid parties of the second part, and said bullion to the final custody of the aforesaid parties of the second part.

          Such agreement of the aforesaid party of the first part to be in full effect and binding only upon approval of these presents by Rear-Admiral George C. Remey, U.S.N., commander in chief United States naval forces on the Asiatic station.

          Done in duplicate at Tientsin, China, this 1st day of August, in the year of our Lord 1900.

GEORGE RICHARDS,
Major and Assistant Paymaster, U.S.M.C.
MELVILLE J. SHAW,
Captain, U.S.M.C.
W. B. LEMLY,
Captain, Assistant Quartermaster, U.S.M.C.

Witnesses for the United States Government:
G. F. LUNG.
WM. GLASGOW POWELL
R. H. DUNLAP.
GEO. D. COSTIGAN.
J. H. A. DAY.
WIRT McCREARY.
Approved:

GEO. C. REMEY,
Rear-Admiral, U.S.N., Commander in Chief
U.S. Naval Force on Asiatic Station.

KENNETH R. CAMPBELL.

Witnesses:
OLIVER D. NORTON.
C. H. C. MOLLER.

[First indorsement.]

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY,
BUREAU OF NAVIGATION,
September 21, 1900.


          Respectfully forwarded to the Department.

A. S. CROWNINSHIELD.



[Second indorsement.]

NAVY DEPARTMENT, October 2, 1900.

          Respectfully referred to the Brigadier-General, Commandant, United States Marine Corps, for his information and return.

LONG, Secretary.

Return to Documents of the Boxer Rebellion | Continue to Next Section



Source: Navy Department. Annual Report of the Navy Department for the Year 1900 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900), pp. 1167-74.

13 March 2000