The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900

By Diana Preston | Go to book overview

9
The Drifting Horror

With tears have we announced in our ancestral shrines the outbreak of war -- Imperial edict, 21 June 1900

THE uncertainty was perhaps hardest to bear and the foreigners exhausted themselves with questions. Luella Miner wrote sadly: "We are as isolated here as if we were on a desert island. Our latest news of the outside world-even of the other parts of China . . . is two weeks old. . . . Is the whole of China in turmoil? Are our Christians everywhere being slaughtered?" Had the allies carried out their threat to seize the Taku forts, she wondered? Where was Seymour? Had the foreign settlements in Tientsin been overrun? And were the Powers now formally at war with China?

As far as China was concerned they were. An Imperial edict issued on 21 June told the citizens of the Celestial Empire that "with tears have we announced in our ancestral shrines the outbreak of war." The edict described the Boxers in caressing tones as "patriotic soldiers." They were to be incorporated into the militia and rewarded for their loyalty with silver and grain. On 23 June, a rather more sinister decree stated that "the work now undertaken [in Peking] by Tung Fu-hsiang should be completed as soon as possible, so that troops can be spared and sent to Tientsin for defense." The word used for "work" -- "shih" -- was intentionally vague and a euphemism for a swift massacre of the foreigners. Imperial troops were to carry out the annihilation, while Boxers were withdrawn behind the lines.

-146-

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The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Prologue ix
  • Part I - The Poison in the Well 1
  • 1 - Thousand Deaths 3
  • 2 - Boxer and Devils 22
  • 3 - The Approaching Hour 33
  • 4 - Rats in a Trap 51
  • 5 - Sha! Sha! 66
  • Part II - Death and Destruction to the Foreigner! 87
  • 6 - A Failed Rescue 89
  • 7 - City of Mud and Fire 105
  • 8 - Behind the Tartar Wall 124
  • 9 - The Drifting Horror 146
  • 10 - The Darkest Night 165
  • Part III - War and Watermelons 175
  • 11 - A Truce and a Triumph 177
  • 12 - The Half-Armistice 190
  • 13 - Horsemeat and Hope 213
  • 14 - In Through the Sluice Gate 233
  • Part IV - Murder, Rape, and Exile 251
  • 15 - Tour of Inspection 253
  • 16 - The Osland of the Peitang 262
  • 17 - Tke Faith and Fate of the Missionaries 275
  • 18 - The Spoils of Peking 283
  • Part V - Another Country 297
  • 19 - The Treaty 299
  • 20 - The Court Returns 312
  • 21 - . . and the Foreigner Departs 320
  • 22 - The Boxer Legacy 335
  • Epilogue 353
  • Acknowledgments 361
  • Notes and Sources 363
  • Bibliography 402
  • Art Credits 409
  • Index 410
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