Boxer Rebellion 1899-1901

The colonials had carved up China.
Boxer Rebellion, sometimes also referred to as the 3rd Anglo-Sino war (China – 1899-1901). It was an anti-colonial uprising during the end of the Qing dynasty.

 
  • Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists (Yìhétuán), known as Boxers
    • peasant organization in Shandong Province responding to fiscal crises and natural disasters which they blamed on the presence of foreigners
  • Initially suppressed by the Qing dynasty
    • later encouraged as part of a movement to expel foreign powers
    • Christians were massacred and foreign legations in Peking were besieged.
  • Relief force under Vice-Admiral Edward Seymour attempted to reach Peking but was forced to turn back.
  • Followed by an international force, under Lieutenant-General Alfred Gaselee, called the Eight-Nation Alliance which raised the legation siege and occupied Peking.
    • Qing government was forced to sign the Boxer Protocol in September 1901 and pay a huge indemnity to the allied power.
  • For 55 days, Boxers laid siege to the heart of Beijing
  • Rebels, mainly young Chinese farmers and workers, kept more than 400 foreigners holed up in Beijing’s Foreign Legation Quarter.
  • Siege followed months of anti-Imperialist and anti-Christian sentiment that swept across China at the turn of the 20th century
  • On August 4, 1900, a relief force of more than 3000 soldiers from Sikh, Punjabis, Bengal Lancers, Rajput and other  regiments left Tianjin, part of the larger eight-nation alliance that was dispatched to aid the besieged quarter, where 11 countries had set up legations.
    50000 soldiers to Capture Peking, of which 10000 were British and Indian. Boxer Rebellion, Allied Force. 1900
    Representative U.S., Indian, French, Italian, British, German, Austrian and Japanese military and naval personnel forming part of the Allied forces
    Representative U.S., Indian, French, Italian, British, German, Austrian and Japanese military and naval personnel forming part of the Allied forces
  • Indian troops were also dispatched to guard churches and Christian missionaries, the targets of the Boxer uprising.
  • Crucial role played by troops from British India in lifting the siege,. Indian regiments made their way to the foreign quarter “crawling through the Imperial sewage canals”, undetected by the Boxers, and were the first troops to come to the aid of the besieged foreigners.
    • "THE excitement inside the Legations 
      was intense. Captain Pell, A.D.C.,
      a Sikh officer, and four or five Indian
      soldiers were the first to get up the 
      watergate.
      The Indians shouted, while the rescued 
      people ran, took them by the hands, 
      shed tears of joy, and in many cases 
      sent up thanksgiving to God for their 
      deliverance.
      At last I too entered, over the ankles
      in sewage and covered with filth. 
      The tunnel was  only about seven feet 
      high,so that I had to travel it in foot,
      leaving my coolie outside with my steed." 
      <From Tientsin to Peking with the Allied 
      Forces - Rev. Frederick Brown,
       Methodist Episicopal Mission Tientsin>
       
    • Indian troops
      Indian troops “First in” to relieve siege of Legations in Peking.
  • British also dispatched Indian regiments to China leading up towards the Opium War, which ended with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 and the opening up of Chinese ports to the British.
  • British deployed Sikh soldiers as law enforcement officers in ports like Shanghai, where their trading companies had set up a large presence by the early twentieth century.
    • Sikh soldiers were feared by the Chinese with their imposing figures, so much so that the British deemed that they did not even need guns when on duty.
British Indian Army Regiments Deployed in Boxer Campaign
British Indian Army Regiments Deployed in Boxer Campaign
 
Follow the links below for more information on the following regiments:
 
 

Strength of the allied forces available for the march on Peking.

<”Frontier and overseas expeditions from India” 
– Compiled in the Intelligence Branch,
Division of the Chief of Staff,
Army Head Quarters, India.
Vol. VI Expeditions Overseas,
Calcutta, Superintendent Government Printing,
India,  1911, pg.469.>

Strength of Allied Force available for the march on Peking


Composition of British Forces.

<”Frontier and overseas expeditions from India”
– Compiled in the Intelligence Branch,
Division of the Chief of Staff,
Army Head Quarters, India.
Vol. VI Expeditions Overseas,
Calcutta, Superintendent Government Printing,
India,  1911, pg.469.>

Composition of British Forces
Composition of British Forces

<”St. George and the Chinese Dragon” – An Account of the Relief of the Pekin Legations by an Officer of the British Contingent. By Lieut.-Colonel H.B. Vaughan -7th Rajputs – Illustrations by the Author – London – C.Arthur Pearson, Ltd. 1902>

Summary of British Forces Killed and Wounded during the Advance on and Relief of Peking.

Boxer Campaign British Force Casualties
Boxer Campaign British Force Casualties

Title: THE SIEGE OF THE PEKING LEGATIONS
Author: J. H. MACOUN
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Literature
Publisher: World Public Library Association

“To pass the time, those of us off duty began playing “poker.” We were still deep in the game when we heard a shout come from the Legation. Soon after Konovaloff suddenly rushed in with a shout, ” The Relief Force is in, the Sikhs are in the Legation, everyone is out in Legation Street to meet them!” We did not believe him at first; we told him he was joking us. “Well,” he
said, “listen to them shouting yourself!” We heard, we rushed outside, and we cheered for all we were worth! Our enemies at once fired a heavy volley at our barricade—but what did we care now? Such of us as could leave ran at once into the Legation.
What a scene there was ! Men, women, and children— everyone out on the lawn cheering, yelling, crying, mad with excitement and delight; and there coming in, line after line, waving their turbans and cheering, real, live, big, burly Indian troops, dripping with perspiration, dust-covered, and thoroughly tired ! Oh, it was delightful ! I could not contain myself. I rushed up to the first one I saw—I clapped him on the back—I shook his hand. I yelled, I cheered. My pent-up feelings had to be relieved in some way. I who had thought I should never come out of this awful siege alive could now realize and see that I was at last saved! The rest is soon told. English troops, Americans, French,. Russians, and Japs all soon made their way into the city, and in the course of a few days Peking was fully in the power of. the Relief Expedition.

J. H. MACOUN.”


Title: THE STORY OF THE SIEGE IN PEKING
Author: S. M. RUSSELL
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Literature
Publisher: World Public Library Association


 “August 1st -Yesterday, at 2.30 p.m., I had laid down for a short rest, having been up all the previous night, when I heard a shout, ‘The troops have come!’ I ran out hastily, and there on the lawn was General Gaselee and a number of Indian soldiers, presenting a most picturesque appearance. The joy was unspeakable! Hurrahing and cheering were intense. The Indian troops seemed even more excited than we .. They waved their turbans and shouted’ Hurrah!’ with beaming faces. A little after the Welsh Fusiliers and the American troops came in. We gave them as warm a reception as possible, but we had expended all our remaining strength in cheering the Indians, so I am afraid they thought they got a poor reception. The French, Russian, and Japanese troops did not get in till late on the fourteenth. The troops of the above three Powers reached the city gates long before the British. They attacked the East Gate of the Tartar city and the East Gate of the Chinese city. Both these gates were. strongly defended, and were only taken after a long and desperate struggle, in which many of the Allies were killed. The British troops came up to the city much later, rushed in by the South-East Gate of the Chinese city, ran along the outside moat, and into the Tartar city by the Water Gate, with the loss, I believe, of only one man.”