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Battle of Tientsin
Part of the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion.jpg
Britons, Japanese and Boxers in battle.
Date July 13 - July 14, 1900
Location Tianjin, China
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
United Kingdom United Kingdom
 United States
Empire of Japan Japan
France France
Russia Russia
German Empire Germany
Qing Dynasty China
Commanders
United Kingdom General Dorward
United States Emerson H. Liscum
Qing Dynasty Nieh Shih-ch'eng 
Strength
6,000 30,000
Casualties and losses
750 unknown

The Battle of Tientsin or the Relief of Tientsin was a battle during the Boxer Rebellion which came as an allied effort to relieve the besieged allied forces in the Siege of Tientsin.

Contents

Forces

After the capture of the Taku Forts, Western forces poured into China for the relief efforts of the besieged cities of Tientsin and Peking. Soon the Allied force numbered 6,000, composed of soldiers, sailors and marines from Great Britain, America, Japan, France, Russia and Germany. With so many distinct nationalities among the Allied force there was no overall commander appointed.

The Imperial Chinese Army and its Boxer allies numbered upwards of 30,000 in the Tientsin area. These forces were led by Chinese general Nieh Shih-ch'eng, who was considered one of the ablest Chinese officers in the army. The approach of the foreign relief column did not deter the Chinese from their investment of the Westerners inside Tientsin.

The battle

The Allies agreed upon a simple plan to storm the city. The British, Americans, Japanese and French were to attack the South Gate in three columns while the Russians and Germans attacked the East Gate. Future U.S. President Herbert Hoover, who was based in the city as a mining engineer, agreed to be a guide to the Allied force through the local terrain. Early in the morning of 13 June, Hoover, with the US Marines, guided British-American-Japanese-French column to their objective. The lead troops came under fire and Hoover was permitted to withdraw from the force and return to the rest of the civilians who were due to be evacuated to the Taku Forts. However Herbert and Lou Hoover stayed behind at Tientsin to care for the wounded.

The attack went poorly for the Allies in large part due to the lack of overall command. Miscommunication and uncoordinated movements plagues the attackers. The main effort against the South Gate became pinned down in an exposed position under Chinese fire from within the city. Captain David Beatty noted the British forces took cover in an entirely exposed location. Similarly the some men of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment was exposed to the Chinese fire and Colonel Emerson H. Liscum of the regiment was mortally wounded. His dying words were "keep up the fire".

Eventually the attacks were called off. The Japanese soldiers attempted to blast away the South Gate but the defenders continued to simply cut or extinguish the fuse. Finally at 3:00am the following morning the Japanese army met with success. A soldier volunteered to brave enemy fire and light a short fuse. The soldier was killed in the explosion but the gate was open. Japanese soldiers poured through the open gate followed by the British and Americans. The Russians renewed their attack on the East Gate and finally broke through. The Chinese defenders made good their escape in the face of this recent Allied success, but minus General Nieh Shih-ch'eng, who was killed in the fighting. Once inside the city the Allies once again became disorganized and many soldiers turned to looting. As the Imperial Chinese soldiers had already withdrawn it was the local Chinese who suffered the most and many of these civilians were killed.

See also

Sources

  • Harrington, Peter Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion 2001 Osprey Publishing
  • Preston, Diana The Boxer Rebellion 2000
  • Hoover The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover Years of Adventure 1874-1920 1952

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