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Peking: Reports from the U.S. Consulate

Chefoo, China, August 7, 1900.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith copy of a letter from Minister Conger, dated July 21, the copies of three memoranda all relating to the situation at Pekin up to July 21, obtained by me from official sources.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant.


Assistant Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.



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.



All Pekin, Tungchow Americans, also Walkers, Chapins, Smiths, Wyckoffs, Verity, Hobart, Terry, Mackay safe Pekin; wire friends. All property destroyed.

Eastern Shanghai, Record, Chicago, June 20. Kettler murdered, secretary wounded en route tsung li yamen by Chinese troops. Foreign residents besieged British legation. Since then under daily fire artillery rifles Chinese. Fortunately cowardice prevented successful rushes. Our loss 60 killed, 70 wounded. Theirs exceeded thousands. No word from outside world. Food plenty -- rice, horses. Yesterday flag truce message from Jung Lu requested Macdonald willing truce. Replied willing, provided Chinese came no closer. Shell firing ceased; quiet now. Hope it means relief, having defeated Chinese, are nearing. All exhausted constant watching, fighting, building barricades, digging trenches night, day.

All locations except British utterly wrecked, shell shot. Austrian, Italian, Belgian, Holland, burned ground; British also much shattered. American marines still hold vital position city wall commanding legations after brilliant sortie July 3, Captain Myers driving back hordes Kansuli troops, he slightly wounded; captured flags, arms. Greatest credit due Secretary Squires, whose military experience, energy, invaluable present dangers, treachery; possible entry city defeated Chinese army. Intense anxiety early relief.


Another report, which I have not been able to copy, reports Lippett badly wounded.



TIENTSIN, July 27, 1900.

Messenger who left Pekin 21st arrived to-day with messages from several ministers. Minister Conger sends following to Consul Ragsdale: "Have been besieged in British legation five weeks under continual fire of Chinese troops but since 16th by agreement there has been no firing; 50 marines of all nationalities killed and more wounded. We have provisions for several weeks, but little ammunition. If they continue to shell us as they have done, we can't hold out long, complete massacre will follow. Hope relief can come soon; glad to hear of victory at Tientsin."

Gist of other messages missionaries uninjured, but missions destroyed, customs staff and families uninjured. Chinese approached British minister under flag of truce and proposed cessation of hostilities; ministers agreed providing Chinese made no advance. Treachery feared. July 3 Captain Myers, American marines, made wonderful sortie, capturing guns and standards. He was wounded slightly. Chinese also badly defeated when they attempted night attack. Foreigners hold Legation street from French to American legations and British on north, all working at barricades, trenches, and fighting, and nearly worn out. Chinese seem to be short of ammunition. Our marines have fought like tigers against fearful odds; only Chinese cowardice prevented their hordes of savages massacreing our nationals.


PEKIN, July 21, 1900.

DEAR RAGSDALE: Have been besieged in British legation five weeks under continued fire from Chinese troops, but since 16th, by agreement, there has been no firing. Fifty marines of all nations have been killed, and more wounded.

We have provisions for several weeks, but little ammunition. If they continue to shell us as they have done, we can't hold out long. Complete massacre will follow. Hope relief can come soon. Glad to hear victory at Tientsin, but regret its terrible cost.

Hope you are all safe and will send cipher by bearer.



Washington, September 14, 1900.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a dispatch from the consul at Chefoo, China, reporting the situation at Pekin to July 21, 1900.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Acting Secretary.



Published: Tue Apr 14 09:06:14 EDT 2015