Friday, July 9, 2010

Boxer Rebellion Siege

Courtesy of wikipedia:

The compound in Beijing remained under siege from Boxer forces from 20 June - 14 August. A total of 473 foreign civilians, 409 soldiers from eight countries, and about 3,000 Chinese Christians took refuge in the Legation Quarter. Under the command of the British minister to China, Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the legation staff and security personnel defended the compound with one old muzzle-loaded cannon; it was nicknamed the International Gun because the barrel was British, the carriage was Italian, the shells were Russian and the crew was American.

During the defence of the legations, a small Japanese force of one officer and 24 sailors commanded by Colonel Shiba, distinguished itself in several ways. Of particular note was that it had the almost unique distinction of suffering greater than 100 percent casualties. This was possible because a great many of the Japanese troops were wounded, entered into the casualty lists, then returned to the line of battle only to be wounded once more and again entered in the casualty lists.

Also under siege in Peking was the North Cathedral, the Beidang, of the Catholic Church. The Beidang was defended by 43 French and Italian soldiers, 33 Catholic Priests and nuns, and about 3,200 Chinese Catholics. The defenders suffered heavy casualties especially from lack of food and Chinese mines exploded in tunnels dug beneath the compound.

Foreign media described the fighting going on in Beijing, as well as the alleged torture and murder of captured foreigners. While it is true that thousands of Chinese Christians were massacred in north China, many horrible stories that appeared in world newspapers were based on the actual murder of men, women and children within the foreign legation. Nonetheless a wave of anti-Chinese[citation needed] sentiment arose in Europe, the United States and Japan. The poorly-armed Boxer rebels were unable to break into the compound, which was relieved by an international army of the Eight-Nation Alliance in August.

The map of the city looked like this:

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