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China Relief Expedition

China Relief Expedition (1900).In summer 1900, a multinational expeditionary force including U.S. troops under overall British command arrived in northern China to suppress the Nationalist, antiforeign Boxer Rebellion and break the siege of the foreign Legation Quarter, Peking (now Beijing).

In May 1900, responding to escalating violence, 450 foreign troops—including about 115 Americans—reinforced the legations in Peking. As the Ch’ing government of the Manchu dynasty moved to support the Boxers and the legations came under siege, a relief force of 2,080 troops under British Vice Adm. Edward Seymour (including a small force of American sailors and Marines) set out from Tientsin on the coast. However, it was held at bay. A larger relief force of troops from Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and America was then organized under British Gen. Alfred Gaselee. On 16 June, the United States diverted substantial forces from the Philippines to participate in this effort, including the 9th and 14th Infantry Regiments, 1st Marines, and an army artillery unit. The Sixth Cavalry Regiment came directly from America. U.S. forces, eventually numbering about 2,500 out of 18,000, were commanded by Maj. Gen. Adna Chaffee. On 3 July, Secretary of State John Hay reiterated the U.S. “open door” policy of preserving China's territorial entity.

The Battle of Peking, 14–16 August 1900—in which “Reilly's Battalion” gave covering fire to British troops advancing on the Legation Quarter—broke the 55‐day siege of the legations. The defeat of the Boxers led to the signing of the Boxer Protocols in September 1901, providing a $332 million indemnity. Most of the U.S. share was remitted to educate Chinese students in the United States.
[See also China, U.S. Military Involvement in.]


Aaron S. Daggett , America in the China Relief Expedition, 1903.
Reginald Hargreaves , Comrades in Arms, Marine Corps Gazette, vol. 48, no. 10 (1964), pp. 50–55.
Michael H. Hunt , The Forgotten Occupation: Peking, 1900–1901, Pacific Historical Review, vol. 48, no. 4 (1979), pp. 501–29.

Eileen Scully

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