By LtCol C. H. Metcalf - Originially Published September 1938
The Manchu Dynasty had been gradually losing its hold on the people of the Celestial Empire throughout the greater part of the nineteenth century, largely on account of humiliating defeats in foreign wars and the ever growing authority of foreigners in China. As that century drew to a close, the position of the Manchus was particularly difficult; they were faced with the proposition of either continuing to protect the foreigners or shift to the popular anti-foreign position and thereby continue in power. Anti-foreign riots became quite common during the latter 1890's, and a number of foreign missionaries were massacred with the approval of local officials. The Imperial Government refused to take action. These difficulties as well as other anti-foreign out-bursts led to the establishment of legation guards in Peking by the foreign powers. The American legation guard, established in November, 1898, consisted of eighteen Marines taken from the Boston, Raleigh and Baltimore under the command of First Lieutenant Robert McN. Dutton, A guard of thirty Marines taken from the same vessels was placed over the consulate in Tientsin soon afterwards. Conditions at both places having improved during the succeeding months, both guards were withdrawn on March 15, 1899, and returned to their ships.
Anti-foreign feeling among the Chinese continued to grow, however, with the Imperial Government showing less willingness to oppose it. By May, 1900, conditions in Peking were almost desperate for the foreign population in spite of the efforts of the powers to persuade the Imperial Government to provide protection. An American legation guard of forty-eight Marines and three sailors from the Oregon and Newark under the command of Captain John T. Myers landed at Taku on May 29 and proceeded with some other foreign troops to Peking, where they arrived on May 31 just before the city was encircled by the Boxers-a popular militia organization with a strong anti-foreign attitude.
Conditions grew worse in Peking during the following months, and the foreign legations requested permission to increase their guards. The Imperial Government, which by this time was openly siding with the Boxers, flatly refused to permit the increases. The foreign ministers then called upon their naval forces off Taku for further protection. Vice Admiral Sir Edward Seymour responded to the call and organized an international force of about two thousand men including a detachment of 112 American sailors and Marines commanded by Captain B. H. McCalla, U.S.N. The force advanced from Tientsin on Peking but encountered considerable resistance, and Tientsin, in its rear, fell into the hands of the Boxers. Seymour's force, unable to reach Peking, retired, fighting its way back towards Tientsin. It engaged in a number of battles with the Chinese in which they suffered losses of about 25 per cent of the personnel. Twenty-five of the detachment under Captain McCalla were wounded and three were killed in action. During the last of Seymour's encounters with the Chinese he captured a strong position in which he remained until relieved by another relief column.
In the meantime the foreigners in the vicinity of Peking were likewise faring badly. Plans for the defense of the foreign legations were agreed to early in June. Captain Newt H. Hall with a detachment of American Marines was placed on guard over a Methodist mission at some distance from the legation compound. Efforts were made to protect the native Christians, who were being massacred by the Boxers. The Imperial Government, becoming openly hostile, demanded that the foreign legations leave for Tientsin. This the foreigners refused to do, since there was no assurance that they would be protected. Severe fighting with the Chinese occurred while attempting to rescue the body of the German Minister who was killed on June 20. Foreign women and children moved into the English Legation while Captain Hall and his charges repaired to the Legation Compound. After this the firing upon foreigners became quite general. On June 24 serious fighting began on the walls surrounding the legation. The first attack was repulsed by the Germans while the Marines under Captain Myers established a position behind a barricade, and the Germans occupied a position several hundred yards in the rear facing in the opposite direction. Some Chinese soldiers attempted to rush the Marines' position but were driven back in great confusion and considerable loss. They did not again repeat the experiment. The sector assigned to the Marines was too large for the small force to defend; it was necessary to reinforce them each day by small detachments of Russians, Germans and English. During the closing days of June the fighting was almost continuous. A large section of the wall was evacuated during a heavy bombardment on July 1 but, on the insistence of Captain Myers, was promptly reoccupied before the Chinese discovered that it had been left undefended.
The Chinese next succeeded in building a tower on the walls which threatened to make the position of our Marines untenable. Myers was given the task with the support of a few foreign troops of capturing the tower by a night attack. The carefully planned maneuver completely surprised the Chinese, who fled down the wall several hundred yards to the next barricade. Two Marine privates were killed and Myers was wounded in the course of the fighting. During the remainder of the siege the Chinese became somewhat more cautious and resorted principally to sniping, while the allies busied themselves in strengthening their positions along the wall. An armistice was agreed to on July 16 which lasted until the allied relief column arrived.
Meanwhile the American Government, having become thoroughly alarmed, ordered the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic naval station to render all possible assistance to the legations in Peking. Rear Admiral George C. Remey, then in command of the station, ordered all available Marines in the Philippines sent to Taku, China, to be in readiness to march to Peking. Similar orders were issued to certain army units in those islands. The first contingent of Marines to reach Taku was a detachment of seven officers and 131 enlisted commanded by Major L. W. T. Waller. He started from there to Tientsin in the afternoon of June 20 by train and, arriving within twelve miles of his destination, sent the train back and bivouaced for the remainder of the night. The only other foreign forces in the vicinity with the exception of a few foreign troops in Tientsin, who were being besieged and in great danger, was a detachment of about 450 Russians. With the cooperation of the Russian troops Waller pushed on towards Tientsin and reached the city early the following morning. They encountered serious resistance there and, after about two hours' fighting with the loss of three killed and seven wounded, the Marines together with the Russians were forced to retire. They went back to the positions where they had bivouaced the night before, the Marines performing the difficult task of rear guard during the retreat. Some allied reinforcements, mostly Russians and English, arrived on the night of the 22nd, which brought the total force up to approximately 2,000. Waller joined his little force with a British naval detachment under Commander Craddock and on the early morning of the 24th the augmented allied force reached Tientsin. After overcoming considerable resistance, they entered the city and relieved the beleaguered foreigners. Waller lost one killed and three wounded in the day's fighting. The force rested for about twelve hours, then pushed on to the relief of the Seymour expedition, which was being besieged in an arsenal about eight miles beyond Tientsin. The relief was accomplished without resistance; the combined forces then returned to Tientsin June 26. McCalla, who had been wounded three times, turned his naval detachment over to Waller and returned to his ship.
The Chinese were still holding the position from which they had succeeded in driving back Waller and the Russians about one week before. The Russians alone attacked again but were repulsed. Two Marine officers and forty men together with a British naval detachment then reinforced the Russians and with their combined strength of about 1,800 drove the Chinese, estimated at 7,000, from their strongly fortified position. Waller strikingly reported the experience of the Marines thus far in his own colorful language as follows:
"Our men have marched 97 miles in the five days, fighting all the way. They have lived on about one meal a day for about six days, but have been cheerful and willing always. They have gained the highest praise from all present, and have earned my love and confidence. They are like Falstaff's army in appearance, but with brave hearts and bright weapons."
The situation was still very difficult for the allies, as the Boxers and other Chinese forces were still in possession of the native walled city of Tientsin and their strength was growing much faster than that of the allied forces. The French and the British sent only native colonial troops. The Russians and Japanese added a few more troops during the next fortnight. The next American troops to arrive from the Philippines were the Ninth Infantry, less one battalion, on July 11, and the First Regiment of Marines the following day-the two having only about one thousand men. With their arrival, however, and a few foreign troops, long delayed plans for capturing the walled city were immediately undertaken.
A more or less coordinated attack was agreed upon for the early morning of July 13. The city was bombarded, principally by Russian artillery, during the preceding night. The Marines, who had just arrived from the Philippines, were grouped with the Ninth Infantry, both under the command of Colonel R. L. Meade, U.S.M.C., whose organization was in turn brigaded with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and a British naval force all under the command of Brigadier General Dorward of the British Army. Plans for the attack were very vague, and the existing reports of what followed are not clear. It is therefore difficult to reconstruct an account of the fighting which took place during the two succeeding days. It appears, however, that General Dorward's mixed command attacked the walled city along its south side while a Japanese force operated on its right. The advance to the attack was made both to the front and the flank over a practically flat plain which in places was marshy and the only cover from fire was occasional grave mounds and dikes. The advance of the American and British forces was hotly contested by the Chinese and casualties were quite heavy on both sides. The wall was reached and occupied in some places but as night approached the situation was still so uncertain that the troops withdrew to a more sheltered night position. The advance was vigorously resumed the following morning; the signal for the advance was the blowing open of the South Gate. The allies then were everywhere successful. The enemy in the rear of the proposed advance to Peking had been eliminated, but much remained to be done before another relief column could be started.
The fighting around Tientsin in which the Marines had participated thus far was the most desperate of the entire campaign. The casualties to the Marine Corps personnel were particularly high but they took their losses as veterans and throughout the campaign that followed kept up the fighting spirit which the Corps had demonstrated in similar difficult campaigns throughout its history. A number of officers of various positions in the organization won distinction which accompanied them throughout their careers in the Marine Corps.
The resistance of the Chinese as far as Tientsin had been completely crushed but there were still too few allied troops to undertake the relief of Peking. Some more of our army arrived from the Philippines late in July and with them Major General Chaffee, U. S. Volunteers, who took command of the American forces. On August 3 a troop of the Sixth Cavalry, a battery of light artillery, the Fourteenth Infantry and another battalion of Marines joined this command. The strength of the allied forces by this time was approximately 18,600 and the advance was begun immediately. The railroad had been almost completely destroyed and it was necessary to depend upon a fleet of junks to transport the supplies and ammunition up the Pei-ho River which approximately paralleled the line of march. The weather was extremely hot and dry and most of the troops were unused to field conditions. The suffering was intense and many more casualties were suffered from the heat than from the enemy.
The first resistance was encountered on August 5, but was brushed aside before the American troops got into the action. On the following day at Yang Tsun more serious resistance was encountered and the Americans took part in the attack. The Marine regiment was assigned to support Riley's battery and their principal part in the affair was to drive off a Chinese cavalry attack against their right flank by several well-aimed volleys. The Marines also helped to capture two villages during the day, suffering no casualties except those as a result of the heat. In spite of the trying conditions the march continued at the rate of about twelve miles per day. Very few of the Marines fell out on account of the heat (as compared to the other troops). By August 12 the column was well on its way to Peking and the Japanese contingent captured with little difficulty Tung-Chow, the last stronghold before Peking. It was agreed among the allied commanders that on the following day only a short march would be made and the troops given a rest before attempting to capture Peking, then only a few miles away. Much to the surprise of all the other allies heavy firing was heard in the direction of Peking early on the morning of the 13th and it was soon learned that the Russians had violated their agreement and had pushed on in an attempt to capture Peking single-handed. The American force upon receiving this news resumed the advance and joined the Russians, who had captured one of the gates. By 3:00 p.m. the Russians and some Americans including two companies of Marines had fought their way to the wall of the Tartar City and were within sight of the American Legation. The Japanese in the meantime had captured the native city in spite of considerable resistance. Late in the afternoon the legations were reached and the siege raised.
The following day the allies attacked the Imperial City. The Marines led one of the attacking columns in the initial stage of the attack, took up a position over the Chien-Men Gate and cleared the way for artillery to come into action. Shortly afterwards two other companies of Marines took up firing positions in a pagoda while a battalion gained a favorable firing position on the wall and delivered an effective rifle fire against the Chinese troops in the Imperial City. The Chinese were gradually driven out and the Imperial Court fled from Peking, leaving the country practically without a government. Peking was looted first by the retiring Chinese troops, and then by the foreign troops, who did a systematic job of it. Order was not restored in the vicinity until weeks later. After the fighting was over the Marines moved into the Tartar City. They remained in Peking until September 28, when they were evacuated to the ships and to the Philippines. A guard for the American Legation was established by the Army.
The Legation Guard which had been maintained at Peking since the Boxer Rebellion by a company of the Ninth Infantry was relieved by a detachment of one hundred Marines commanded by Captain Harry Lee on September 12, 1905. The post was increased to 125 the following year and since that time has been given several small increases and has continuously been maintained to the present time with a present strength of more than five hundred.
The unsettled conditions in China which are incidental to the transition from the old autocratic government to a more democratic one and which began with the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 has made it well nigh impossible for local authorities, even when they are willing, to protect foreign lives and property. These conditions have led to many armed interventions by foreign powers. In some of these American forces participated jointly with other foreign forces. The vessels of our Asiatic fleet have been kept on duty at various important Chinese ports watching the development of the situation, and ready to furnish protection to Americans and other foreigners. A great many minor landing force operations have been made by vessels of the fleet in which the Marines as well as the sailors participated. Conditions which began soon after the revolution in 1911 have continued in different periods of uncertainty and have necessitated various interventions by the United States of varying sizes from small detachments to reinforced brigades of Marines.
Among the earlier of these interventions in which the Marines participated was one at Hankow in October, 1911, when the Marine detachment of the Helena, in addition to some small detachments of sailors, were kept ashore for several weeks guarding the American Consulate, the Standard oil plant and the power and light company. The Marine detachment of the Albany, which was anchored at Shanghai, landed early in November to protect the office of the commercial cable company, where it remained on duty for a few days.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, in order to have a stronger force available, arranged for the transfer of a battalion of Marines from the First Brigade in the Philippines. Fifteen officers and 360 enlisted men under Major Philip H. Bannon were sent from Olongapo on the Rainbow to Shanghai in October, 1911, to be held as a ready expeditionary force to be used as needed. The battalion remained on board the Rainbow at Shanghai and other Chinese ports during all the following winter. An additional company of Marines from the Philippine Brigade was sent to Peking at about the same time to reinforce the Legation Guard. The guard at Peking was further reinforced by the transfer of one of the companies of Bannon's battalion during December. With these additional troops the Legation was considered sufficiently guarded at least for the time being.
Early in March, 1912, however, fighting between Chinese factions in Peking placed the foreign legations in danger. The Marines of the American Legation prepared their compound for a state of siege, erected barricades and other defenses. At the urgent request of the American Minister, the Fifteenth Regiment on duty at Tientsin sent a detachment of six officers and 229 soldiers as reinforcements. When they arrived on March 3 most of the soldiers were placed on guard over the four American missions lying outside the Legation compound. The remainder of Bannon's expeditionary battalion of Marines at Shanghai was also ordered to Peking, where it arrived on March 10 and relieved the detachment of the Fifteenth Infantry, which returned to its station at Tientsin. The Guard as thus reinforced continued at a strength of over five hundred until early in May, when conditions had considerably quieted down and two companies of the expeditionary battalion were transferred back to vessels of the Atlantic Fleet and resumed their status as a reserve force of Marines afloat.
Even the Marines of the far away naval station in Guam were drawn into the troubled areas in China. Thirty-six of them, under Second Lieutenant Harry Schmidt, were placed on board the Supply, the regular station ship for Guam, and sent to the China coast to join the Asiatic Fleet. Schmidt and his Guam Marines were landed at Chefoo for a few days during November to protect American interests. The smaller vessels of the Navy which did not carry Marines made a number of landings with small detachments on similar missions. During 1912 general conditions improved somewhat but it was necessary on several occasions to land sailors and Marines from the Albany and the Rainbow at Shanghai during July and August for the protection of American interests.
Activities In China Since The World War
The prestige of the white man's China suffered greatly during the World War. Civil wars, the domination of war lords and the general chaotic state of economic and social affairs in that country entered upon a new phase with the beginning of the Chinese Nationalist Movement at Canton in 1923. At first the movement was considerably under the influence of the Russian Bolsheviks but, as it progressed, became more conservative and now represents a strong nationalistic democratic movement attempting the unification of China and the freeing of that country from all outside domination. China's desire to get rid of the foreign control, gradually extended by European powers and Japan during the previous hundred years, asserted itself in outbreaks against foreign residents and their property. These outbreaks corresponded in a manner to the Boxer movement of the summer of 1900 but were less violent. Resentment was especially strong against the British during the early stages of the movement but as time passed Great Britain succeeded in pacifying the Chinese to such extent that the strongest resentment against foreigners gradually shifted to the Japanese.
During several outbreaks a number of the powers sent additional naval vessels as well as expeditionary forces to important centers of foreign property and population, for the protection of their nationals. During a contest between factions led by General Wu Pie-Fu and Marshal Chang Tso-Lin for control of North China, Americans in Peking were endangered. In order to provide reinforcements for our Legation, the Marines of the Asiatic Fleet were formed into a battalion and sent to Tientsin, where they arrived on May 5, 1922, and remained at the Barracks of the 15th U. S. Infantry for a brief period in readiness to be rushed to Peking. However, the crisis passed within a few days after the arrival of the Marines and the battalion was returned to its regular station. The Nationalist forces threatened to seize the Maritime Custom House at Canton in November, 1923, and the Commander-in-Chief of our Asiatic Fleet sent four destroyers and two gunboats with a detachment of Marines to that place. The British and French sent landing forces ashore to protect their interests but our naval forces were able to accomplish their mission by merely being present.
Conflict between the contending factions for the control of North China was resumed during the autumn of 1924 and conditions around Peking were again somewhat menacing to the foreign legations. Upon request of the American Minister, 225 additional Marines were provided from the U.S.S. Huron of the Asiatic Fleet and from the Philippines to reinforce the Legation Guard. A detachment of fifty Marines was soon afterwards stationed at our Army Barracks at Tientsin as a potential reinforcement for the Legation Guard at Peking. A new government was set up at Peking and conditions improved. The Marine detachment at Tientsin was withdrawn and the Legation Guard at Peking was reduced during June of the following year. Conditions throughout China continued very uncertain and several vessels of the Asiatic Fleet, some of which carried small additional forces of Marines, were sent from one threatened port to another as the scene of possible trouble shifted. When the war lord controlling the general vicinity of Shanghai at the end of 1924 was faced with an invasion of his territory by an opposing faction his troops mutinied and he fled to Shanghai for safety. The foreign settlements being endangered by the disorderly element, additional protection was provided. The Marine detachment of the U.S.S. Sacramento was landed on January 15 and together with other naval forces helped to protect the foreign quarter until the danger had passed early in February and the Marines returned to their ships. However, in view of impending further trouble which soon took place an additional force of 140 Marines were sent over from the Philippines. Civil war again broke out around Shanghai during the summer of 1925 and the International Settlement was again protected by Marine detachments from ships of the Asiatic Fleet and by a small expeditionary force-two officers and 125 Marines, sent over from the Philippines and Guam. The immediate need for such protection passed by' the end of August and the Marines on shore in Shanghai were placed on board various naval vessels and remained in Chinese waters awaiting the development of the situation.
Throughout the remainder of 1925 and the following year disorders occurred at various Chinese ports as well as in the interior. The Asiatic Fleet kept a greater portion of its vessels, several of which had extra complements of Marines, in readiness to protect our nationals and their property. The vessels together with small expeditionary forces of Marines were shifted to different parts of the China coast but no actual landing force operations were made during this period.
The Nationalist forces were gradually extending their control over more of the country. They discovered in 1927 that Soviet representatives who had been assisting in organizing the government as well as the army were plotting its overthrow. This led to a split in the Koumintang (Nationalist Party) and the bolshevik sympathizers driven from it became a radical faction which stood in the way of national unity. The Nationalists, nevertheless, were able gradually to strengthen their control to include practically all of the country. Their insistence on recovering rights from foreigners grew into strong anti-foreign feeling on the part of the Chinese which at times resulted in massacres of foreigners. Such an affair occurred at Hankow in March, 1927, when several foreign consulates were violated by Nationalist soldiers. This led to demands by some of the powers for punishment of the offending commanders, reparations and apologies. The situation at Shanghai was made very critical for the foreign settlements during February, 1927. A Nationalist army was approaching the city and a political strike in its sympathy occurred in Shanghai. The local commander of the opposing forces retaliated against the strikers by beheading a number of them. The various foreign powers inaugurated extensive plans for the defense of their settlements.
The danger to Americans was anticipated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, who mobilized all available Marines in the Far East, including a small battalion from Guam, caused them to be transferred to Shanghai and on February 9 placed a force of fifteen officers and 326 Marines on guard to assist in protecting the International Settlement. The ill feeling against foreigners ran high and the danger appeared so threatening that more extensive measures for protection were in order. A battalion of Marines was obviously inadequate for the American portion of an allied force which contemplated a total strength of approximately forty thousand. The Fourth Regiment of Marines consisting of sixty-six officers and 1,162 enlisted men under Colonel Charles S. Hill was sent from San Diego and arrived at Shanghai on February 24. It was landed about ten days later and together with the expeditionary battalion already ashore took over an area of the International Settlement for the "protection of American and foreign life and property." Its efforts were coordinated with the other foreign forces by the senior commander, Major General John Duncan of the British Army. Our Marines in close support of the British troops concerned themselves initially in preventing mobs and other undesirable elements from entering the international city, and in maintaining order. They were not at this time assigned to the defense of the boundary line.
The Nationalists took possession of Shanghai on March 21 with little actual fighting, as the defending leader went over to their side. There was some disorder in the Chinese quarter, but the foreign troops had by this time developed the defenses of the foreign settlement and it was little affected. The British had a clash with a group of the opposing forces who were being allowed to come into their area in single file, giving up their arms as they entered. Pressure from their rear by Nationalist troops caused the Chinese to attempt a rush into the British lines. The British held them back at first by clubbing them and then when their soldiers were fired on the British opened up with their machine guns. The situation at Shanghai soon settled down but almost immediately a crisis occurred at Nanking. The Nationalist forces captured that city on March 23 and on the following day in the midst of considerable disorder and looting some attacks occurred against foreigners, not only by Nationalist soldiers but by a mob, in which some Americans as well as others were killed. A group of foreign refugees sought shelter on Socony Hill near the river and were there protected by a barrage fired by American and British naval vessels and evacuated to safety. That attack on foreigners by Chinese soldiers and the hazardous position of foreign settlements in several other Chinese cities prompted additional protective measures to be taken for Americans residing in China.
The Navy Department dispatched three additional cruisers from Hawaii to Chinese waters and ordered the sending of additional Marine units to China. The Sixth Regiment of Marines was hurriedly reorganized at Philadelphia with personnel drawn from various Marine Corps posts in the eastern part of the United States, rushed to San Diego by rail for duty in China. Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler was designated to command all the Marines in China, which were to be organized into a reinforced brigade. He organized his headquarters and several units of brigade special troops including artillery, tanks, engineers and service troops at San Diego. Butler with his headquarters, one battery of artillery and the Sixth Regiment sailed on the U.S.S. Henderson April 7 and arrived at Shanghai on May 2. The remainder of the troops to form the brigade including two extra battalions, one for each of the regiments, were mobilized at San Diego and sailed on the S.S. President Grant on April 17. The Henderson was kept at Shanghai for the following month, with most of the Marines which came out on it remaining on board. The Marines on the President Grant were taken to Olongapo, P. I., and from there sent on to Shanghai on the U.S.S. Chaumont. After the arrival of all troops at Shanghai the designated Third Brigade of Marines had a total of 238 officers, 18 warrant officers and 4,170 enlisted men.
The Nationalist forces continued to extend their control northward and the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet as well as the representatives of the other powers prepared to send forces to protect their nationals in the north of China. An aggregate force of 16,000 allied troops was ordered to the Tientsin-Peking area. General Butler with his entire brigade, less the Fourth Regiment, moved up to Tientsin early in June, established themselves in camp and announced that their object was "solely for the defense of life and property." The Fifteenth Infantry and other Army units aggregating approximately 1,800 was stationed at Tientsin or along the Peking-Tientsin railway. The legation guard at Peking then had a total of 17 officers and 499 Marines, making our armed forces in the vicinity about 5,200. The foreign powers had the right under the Boxer protocol of 1901 to keep the railroad to Peking open and they appeared well prepared to do so.
In spite of the considerable concentration of troops which had been hurried off to China, the "war" proved to be a very uneventful affair when compared to the experiences of the Marines in China during 1900. Marines at all of the principal stations made extensive plans for all manner of emergencies, most of which never occurred. Initially the Marines at Shanghai were given only missions of the internal security of the International Settlement. Later they were given a regular sector to defend against invasion by mobs or organized armed forces. The mission of the Third Brigade was announced as being primarily for the protection of American lives and property. The general principle adhered to was that conflict with the Chinese when not absolutely necessary to carry out the primary mission was to be carefully avoided. Coordination with other foreign forces was sanctioned only for protecting the lives of Americans and other foreigners. The positions held by the Marine Brigade provided a refuge for Americans residing in their general vicinity. The Brigade was under the command of the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and was not subject to the orders of any foreign officer. It carefully avoided being placed in the position of the "cat's paw" to further the interests of any of the associated powers. Its adherence to such a policy had much to do with furthering the traditional friendly feeling of the Chinese towards the United States.
After a few weeks the Marines settled down to more or less of garrison routine and concerned themselves largely with drills, parades and carrying on such field training as the limited areas available would permit. They together with some of the other foreign military units made extensive use of athletics to maintain the morale of the command. Every effort was made to promote the good will of the Chinese and on a number of occasions assistance was rendered in various ways to the Chinese government. In order to impress Chinese officials and others of the importance of the American forces and their military efficiency, every effort was put forth to make all Marine units "snappy" in appearance and precise in all their drills. Numerous military parades were put on, sometimes for moral effect and often as a compliment to Chinese and other officials, for the purpose of fostering good will.
The general situation in China continued throughout 1927 and early 1928 about the same, with the Nationalists in control of the southern part of the country and certain war lords with little affiliations in control of the remaining parts of the country. Anti-foreign demonstrations subsided and some of the foreign powers, particularly the British, reduced their forces in China during the fall of 1927. The Third Brigade of Marines was maintained at approximately its original strength throughout 1928 and on March 1 of that year duty with the organization was made "permanent," indicating little anticipation of an early withdrawal. During the spring and summer of 1928 the Nationalist forces again under the leadership of Chiang Kai Shek advanced farther north and occupied Peking. They abandoned it as the national capital and renamed it Peiping. Soon afterwards they occupied Tientsin and had control of practically all of China. Chiang Kai Shek was chosen president of the country on October 10. General political conditions had greatly improved during the year and plans were formulated for a partial withdrawal of the Marines from the country. All units of the Third Brigade in Tientsin were withdrawn in January, 1929, and those not used for replacements in China, the Philippines, Guam or the Asiatic Fleet were returned to the United States. The Legation Guard at Peiping was increased to five hundred enlisted men and the Fourth Regiment, which remained in Shanghai, was increased to 1,150.
The apparent unification of China suffered a serious set-back during 1929 by a rift in the Nationalist Party. The Soviet influence had gone much farther than was desired by many leaders of the party. The Nationalist Government broke off its connections with its Russian advisers and attempted to purge itself of the Red influence. A break resulted in a division of the party into two factions, which have contended against each other at various times until the present emergency had apparently induced the Communist branch to join with that representing the Nanking Government. The Nationalist Government continued to strengthen its hold over the entire country and except for the communist-bandit activities there was better prospect for unity and peace by the beginning of 1931 than at any time during the previous ten years. Banditry made it necessary for the United States to maintain a number of small naval vessels in Chinese waters-some around the seaport towns and others on the larger rivers. Several of these vessels had clashes with bandit or communist groups. The Fourth Marines remained at Shanghai with an average strength of about 1,200 men.
Japan's sponsoring the movement for the separation of Manchuria from China, in September, 1931, in a manner which suggested eventual Japanese domination, aroused strong anti-Japanese feeling throughout China. Boycotts against Japanese goods and cotton mills broke out. In January, 1932, mobs clashed with Japanese and Japan made a formal demand for the cessation of the boycotts and other anti-Japanese activities. The Japanese garrison in the International Settlement of Shanghai made an attack on the Chinese district of Chapei on January 28. The Chinese strongly resisted the move and the Japanese bombed and set fire to the densely populated area. Both Great Britain and the United States protested the act and they together with several other foreign governments rushed additional troops to Shanghai. The Fourth Regiment of Marines was reinforced by a detachment of eight officers and 326 Marines and by the Marine Detachment of the U.S.S. Houston. The 31st United States Infantry was sent over from the Philippines and arrived at Shanghai on February 5, 1932. Upon the outbreak of hostilities the Fourth Marines occupied its defensive positions to prevent the belligerents from entering the International Settlement. The 31st Infantry soon after it arrived took over part of the American sector.
During the period from the initial outbreak until the Chinese troops evacuated the area, the Marines in Shanghai were kept constantly on the alert. A number of stray shells as well as some misdirected bombs fell in their regi, mental sector. The Chinese gradually built up a substantial force, including among other troops the Nineteenth Route Army, while the Japanese continued to bring in reinforcements until nearly fifty thousand faced the Chinese positions. Hostilities were more or less continuous for more than a month and on several occasions fighting occurred within a few hundred yards of our Marines' positions. A number of Marines had narrow escapes but no casualties were suffered by them. From various vantage points they watched the fighting between the two armies and came to have great admiration for the splendid defense that the hastily improvised Chinese Army made against the well-equipped and trained Japanese forces. When the Chinese finally retired on March 3 they did so in perfect order and without being observed by the Japanese. Their retirement put an end to hostilities. Order was gradually restored and the defense of their sector gradually became less trying and was maintained with fewer and fewer Marines. The state of emergency was declared ended on June 13, 1932, and the holding of the defense sector discontinued. The 31st Infantry was withdrawn and returned to its regular station in the Philippines. The Fourth Marines again resumed its peaceful routine of carrying on training and maintaining itself in readiness for any further emergency.
The Fourth Marines for the entire period of its occupation of Shanghai had consisted of only two battalions, regimental headquarters and service troops. After the withdrawal of the 31st Infantry the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet recommended that the strength of the Marine regiment in Shanghai be increased sufficiently for it to hold the American sector and obviate the necessity in the future of having to call upon the Army for additional troops. Sufficient personnel were sent from the United States to form an additional battalion. The regiment then had an aggregate strength of sixty-four officers and 1,745 enlisted men. It remained at approximately that strength until December, 1934, when one of the battalions was disbanded and the strength of the regiment reduced to fifty-eight officers and 1,005 enlisted.
During the period between the withdrawal of the Japanese forces from Shanghai and the beginning of their present invasion, internal conditions in China continued to show many cross currents. Civil wars between the Nationalist Government, the Communists and certain war lords recurred throughout the period, with the Nationalists becoming stronger, particularly in the west of China. Despite the more or less continual aggression by Japan, internal strife prevented the country from presenting a united front against the common enemy. However, material progress was made in many parts of the country despite the unsettled conditions. The Asiatic Fleet and the Fourth Marines at Shanghai continued to have frequent periods of concern over the safety of Americans and their property. In January, 1934, the Nationalist forces advanced against a revolutionary force at Foochow. The American Consul at that place, fearing for the safety of our nationals, called upon the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Tulsa, which was lying in a nearby anchorage, to provide protection until the danger had passed. The Tulsa's Marine detachment went ashore and guarded the Consulate while the rebel forces were retiring from the city and until the Nationalists took possession and restored order. During the following year small detachments of Marines were used in conjunction with the vessels of the Yangtze Patrol for the protection of commerce on the Yangtze River. Some twenty-six small detachments in all were sent out for periods of about one month each and performed various protective missions on vessels plying that river-usually on the vessels during their trips into the interior.
The defensive sector assigned to the Fourth Marines at Shanghai remained generally the boundary of the International Settlement along Soochow Creek, with a total frontage of about six thousand yards. The strength of the regiment remained on the average of about eleven hundred until it was augmented during the present emergency. It continued to concern itself largely with promoting good will with the Chinese and the various foreign powers represented in Shanghai, and in maintaining itself at the highest possible state of training and readiness for future emergencies.
Since Japan succeeded in cutting off Manchuria from China in 1931-32, Japan has kept up an almost continuous pressure in North China with the object of bringing more and more of China under her control. The province of Jehol was separated in 1933 and two years later by having friendly officials installed in some of the other northern provinces, her control was still further extended. Chahar province was made a demilitarized zone in June, 1936, and in the meantime four other important northern provinces were set off for future domination by Japan. When the government of China was reorganized in December, 1935, Chiang Kai-Shek. was made virtually a dictator. He has for some time been making every effort to build up the defenses of the country and under the tutelage of German officers has built up a sizable army, the true worth of which is yet to be determined by the present conflict.
During the early summer of 1937 the Japanese began to press more vigorously their efforts to gain control of North China. This resulted in friction with Chinese forces and on July 12 fighting broke out in Peiping and soon spread to Tientsin. The Chinese sent no reinforcements from their main army in the south and the Japanese, who were continually being reinforced, encountered little resistance in that part of the country. Japan demanded a large autonomous area in the north of China. Chiang Kai-Shek's government determined to resist to the utmost any further aggression on the part of Japan. The Japanese with a comparatively small force took possession of the Tientsin-Peiping Railway. They set up military rule and began to extend their conquests to the west and south. Our embassy guard of about five hundred Marines and the several other contingents of foreign troops found themselves in the midst of the fighting around Peiping but successfully avoided being drawn into it.
Trouble started in Shanghai August 9 when a few Japanese were killed. Japan concentrated some thirty-two ships in the vicinity and started fighting on August 12 by invading the Chinese city. The fighting increased in severity, with the Japanese attack supported by heavy bombing operations, which played havoc with important parts of Shanghai and killed many hundreds of noncombatants. At first the Japanese were using only naval landing forces, but their army was rushed to the area to relieve the pressure by the Chinese whose forces had been rapidly augmented in an effort to drive out the Japanese. After Japan had landed about forty thousand troops to the north of Shanghai, the Chinese retreated on August 28 to a stronger defensive position, which they have held up to the time of this writing.
Soon after the initial outbreak in Shanghai, the Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet requested that a thousand extra Marines be sent to Shanghai to augment our forces there to a sufficient strength for a proper defense of their sector. While waiting for this additional force, which could be supplied only from the United States, landing forces including Marine detachments were put ashore from vessels of the Asiatic Fleet to assist the Fourth Regiment. Two additional companies of Marines were formed at Cavite and sent to Shanghai. With the approval of the Navy Department, the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps determined upon increasing the strength of the Marines in Shanghai to a reinforced brigade. Brigadier General J. C. Beaumont was selected as brigade commander. Brigade Headquarters troops, the 6th Regiment of Marines, and a battery of antiaircraft artillery were made ready in a very short time at San Diego but their transfer to China was delayed for several days until the U.S.S. Chaumont could be made available. Brigade Headquarters and the 6th Regiment sailed on the Chaumont on August 28, while the U.S.S. Marblehead, escorting that transport, carried the battery of antiaircraft artillery. These additional troops arrived in Shanghai on September 19, 1937. The reorganized Second Brigade of Marines then had an aggregate strength of 2,536. It, together with the other foreign forces, which have been substantially augmented, was able to defend the International Settlement and maintain its neutrality.
The course of general events in China during the past year is too well known to readers of TUB GAZETTE to require repeating. The Second Brigade in Shanghai carried on its duties during the fighting of the Chinese and Japanese around that city pretty much the same as during the previous taking of Shanghai by the Japanese. The situation for the Marines was at times somewhat strained and there was occasionally some danger from bombs, shells, and small arms bullets. By February, 1938, the war zone had moved considerably to the west of the city, and it was no longer considered necessary to maintain an entire brigade of Marines in Shanghai. The headquarters of the brigade and the Sixth Marines left Shanghai on February 18, 1938, proceeded via Manila and Guam to Honolulu and, after participating in fleet maneuvers, returned to their regular station at San Diego some time afterwards.
The Marine detachment at Peiping continued to be maintained at about its normal strength. At about the time it was decided to withdraw part of the Marines from Shanghai, our Government also decided to withdraw the part of the Fifteenth Infantry stationed at Tientsin and turn that foreign post over to Marines taken from Peiping. A detachment of approximately 200 men under Lieut. Colonel W. C. James was organized at Peiping, proceeded to Tientsin on February 28, 1938, and established a Marine Corps post at the barracks which had been maintained for a number of years by the U. S. Army. The last of the army troops left that post on March 2. With the Japanese in almost complete control in the Peiping-Tientsin area, nothing unusual has happened to the Marines in north China during recent months.