The Battle of Tientsin (Emerson Liscum)

The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery

The Battle of Tientsin (Emerson Liscum)

Arlington, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Virginia 22211, United States

Created By: Georgetown University


Emerson H. Liscum

Emerson H. Liscum (1841-1900) was born in Huntington, VT. In May 1861 Liscum joind the 1st Vermont Infantry as a private and fought in several major Civil War battles including Gettysburg where he was wounded. After the Civil War he stayed in the Army, served on the frontier and in Cuba during the Spanish-American War rising to the rank of Colonel. In 1900, he commanded the 9th Infantry Regiment which was part of the US occupation force in the Philippines. As the situation deteriorated in China, his regiment was the first Army unit dispatched to relieve the sieges of Tientsin and Peking. Arriving on July 9th, Liscum and the 9th Infantry joined a multinational assault on the walled city of Tientsin. He was killed leading his troops across an open field with his last words allegedly being, “Keep up the fire!” now the motto of the 9th Infantry. After the conflict the 9th Infantry commissioned a large punch bowl dubbed the “Liscum Bowl” from silver taken from China. Today, the 95-pound bowl, valued at over $5 million is housed at the 4th Infantry Division Museum in Fort Carson, CO.

The Battle of Tientsin

Simultaneously to the siege of Peking, the foreign concessions in Tienstin were under siege until a large, allied force relieved them on June 23rd. Interestingly future president Herbert Hoover, working as an engineer in China, was involved in the defense of the concessions. After reaching Tientsin and rescuing Admiral Seymour, the allies had a tenuous foothold in China a road to the coast. However, the walled city of Tientsin, north of the concessions remained in Chinese hands as a threat.

On July 13th, after building sufficient combat power the allies assaulted the walled city. The force consisted of about 6,900 soldiers: 2,500 Russians, 2,000 Japanese, 900 Americans, 800 British, 600 French, and 100 Germans and Austrians. The Chinese opposing them numbered 12,000 soldiers. To reach the city wall the allies had to cross more than a mile of flat, treeless ground. Caught in the open by Chines armed with modern artillery and rifles the allies suffered heavy casualties. In the bloodiest battle of the Boxer Rebellion, 25 Americans were killed and over 100 wounded. After a withdrawal under fire, the following morning the allies breached the gates and entered the city. An orgy of looting and destruction perpetrated by all of the victorious allies followed.

About six feet next to the Liscum grave is the grave of Henry Reilly, this is our next stop. Not the design of Reilly’s grave. It is designed to evoke a Chinese-style tower or gate.

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


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