China 1900 (Manus MacCloskey)

The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery

China 1900 (Manus MacCloskey)

Arlington, Virginia 22202, United States

Created By: Georgetown University


Manus MacCloskey

Manus MacCloskey (1874-1963) was also a lieutenant in Battery F. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, MaCloskey graduated from West Point in 1898. Too late to participate in the battery’s actions in the Cuban campaign of the Spanish American War, MacCloskey first saw combat in the Philippines. At the time an artillery battery had three officers (a captain and two lieutenants), 80-100 soldiers and six field guns (3.2-inch gun M1897). As the lone artillery battery in the American force, F Battery was responsible for providing artillery support to the infantry and cavalry at the battles of Peitsang, Yangtsun, and Peking. In the latter battle the guns were used to blow out the gates of the Peking Walls and later the Forbidden City. After the war, MaCloskey commanded an artillery regiment in the First World War and rose to the rank of Brigadier General. His son, Monro (buried next to him) rose to the rank of Brigadier in the Air Force and wrote a book Reilly's Battery: A story of the Boxer Rebellion, about his father’s unit.

China 1900

By the summer of 1900, the situation in northern China was becoming unsafe for foreigners and Christians. Roving bands of Boxers were attacking missionaries and converts throughout the countryside. The Qing government was divided on how to deal with the situation. Some officials wanted to crush the rebellion with Chinese troops. Others wanted to use the Boxers to help drive out the foreigners. This disagreement lasted the entire conflict with some Chinese troops joining the Boxers and some staying neutral. The dowager empress initially took a wait-and-see approach but this did little to assuage the fears of foreigners in Peking and Tientsin (Tianjin).

In May, as communication lines with Peking were cut, a flotilla of foreign naval vessels arrived off the coast of China at Taku (Dagu). The force assembled represented the great powers of the age, Britain, Germany, Russia, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan, and the United States. They would be collectively known as the Eight-Nation Alliance during the conflict. On the request of the Legations, and the protest of the Qing government, the forces in Taku sent about 400 sailors and marines to protect foreigners in Peking. More troops were also sent to Tientsin.

On June 16th, with a fear of losing access to both Tienstin and Peking, the allies naval commanders met to discuss options. It was decided to give an ultimatum to the Qing government to allow the allies to occupy a pair of forts at Taku which controlled access into China's interior. When this was rejected the next day, troops from seven of the nations (the US declined to particpate) assaulted the forts. After a short, bloody fight the allies captured the forts.

The attack on Chinese sovereign territory enraged Dowager Empress Cixi. The battle pushed the Chinese government towards open support for the Boxers. On June 19th, Chinese troops attacked the Seymour expedition north of Tientsin. The same day, the legations were given an order to leave Peking within 24 hours. Recognizing the danger in this, they refused. The siege of the legations began the following day.

Return to Custis Walk and follow it up the hill until Sheridan Drive. Make a right turn and follow Sheridan past the grave of President Kennedy. Bear left onto Grant Drive until it intersects with Roosevelt Drive. Turn right on Roosevelt and continue until you intersect with McClellan Drive. The next stop is up the hill on your right about 30 feet from the intersection.

This point of interest is part of the tour: The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery


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