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

15
"Tour of Inspection"

The Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and indeed, the whole Court, had disappeared -- had fled, was gone.

-- Bertram Lenox Simpson

THE next day, 15 August, did not augur well for international collaboration. Despite their late arrival and rain-sodden, mud-coated, and sorry condition, the French lost no time in trundling four guns onto the Tartar Wall and beginning to bombard the pink walls of the Imperial City. A group of ladies and diplomats gathered on the wall to watch and applaud. According to A. Henry Savage-Landor, the women "stopped their ears as each shot was fired, and opened their mouths wide with admiration and yelled with joy when the shells were seen to explode a mile or so off." The officers courteously handed round their spyglasses to afford their guests a better view.

These proceedings were, however, a serious annoyance to General Chaffee, who was mounting his own attack on the Imperial City. An American officer, red-faced with fury, came galloping up to the French position. According to an amused Lenox Simpson, he demanded to know "if the commander of these d ----- pop-guns knew what he was firing at, and whether he could not see the United States army in full occupation of the bombarded points. He swore and he cursed and he gesticulated, until, finally, cease fire was sounded, and the guns were ordered down." Monsieur Pichon reacted angrily, vowing that if the French were required to stop then so must everyone else.

-253-

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