In through the Sluice Gate
An ominous silence made us fear the worst . . . and that the flag was only a ruse to lure us on. -- General Gaselee
THE same question was also exercising the various contingents, of the relief force. At the news of the Russians' apparent duplicity, the Japan Pekingese had marched rapidly for , followed by the Americans. Meanwhile, in the British camp, General Gaselee had at first refused to believe that the allied agreement had been broken. It took the dull booming of the guns from the direction of the Tartar City to convince him. By 3:30 on the morning of 14 August, the main British force was moving out to join its advance guard some six miles from Peking. Frederick Brown was riding with them, fortified by a modest cup of cocoa and a cracker. Despite the early hour, some of the officers had opted for a whiskey and soda. It was a difficult journey. The road had been turned to mud by the heavy rain and men and horses slithered to gain a purchase. As dawn rose the high sodden crops obscured the view of the troops, but the British rendezvoused with their advance party at around 7:00 A.M. and after a brief pause pushed on again toward Peking.
The Chinese made no attempt to stop them. "As we British marched along the soft road to the south, we could see and hear that sharp fighting was proceeding to the north, but not a shot or shell came near us," wrote Brown. By 1:00 they could see the Chinese City wall looming in the distance but at first many were un