Created By: Georgetown University
Austin R. Davis
Austin R. Davis born in 1871 in Atlanta, GA graduated from the United States Naval Academy in as a Marine Second Lieutenant in1894. Davis served onboard the USS Oregon at the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish-American War. During the Boxer Rebellion, Davis was assigned to the battalion of Marines which was dispatched to China at the start of hostilities. Alongside the 9th Infantry, the Marines assaulted the walled city of Tientsin on July 13th. Advancing alongside the Marine commander Colonel Robert Meade, Davis was struck by a bullet and killed instantly. In his report Colonel Meade wrote “I regret to report the death of Capt. A.R. Davis, who was killed at my side in the advanced trench. He was killed almost instantly. I had his body brought in with the wounded, and he is buried here in Tientsin, his grave being marked. This was all I could do.” Following the war, Davis’ body alongside 137 other servicemembers killed in the conflict was repatriated to the US. Officers of the Marine Corps furnished this monument at some point shortly after.
The Marine Corps at the turn of the century was still largely a ship-bound force. Often disembarked from Navy vessels for short expeditions, the force was just begininning to experiment with organizations as large as battalions and regiments. In total, about 1,200 Marines served in China during the Boxer Rebellion with many arriving after the end of major hostilites.
The first Marines arrived on May 31st as the ships complement from USS Newark and USS Oregon. These men were dispatched to Peking. A provisional battalion of about 140 Marines arrived on June 18th led by Major Littleton Waller. Finally a force of 318 Marines led by Col. Robert L. Meade arrived on July 10th. Meade divided the force into two battalions but due to ill health, Meade was replaced in late July by Lt. Col William Biddle. While many of these Marines were detailed to guard Tientsin and the supply route to Peking, about 300 joined the assault on Peking.
The Marines were instrumental in the defense of the Legation Quarter and fought in every major American action. At Tienstin the Marines worked closely with the British Royal Welsh Fusiler Regiment to relieve the concessions. The Marines were withdrawn from China in October and to their dismay were denied their role as legation guards by Gen. Chaffee, who had a fraught relationship with the Marine Corps.
The distance to the next stop is the longest walk in this tour. If you need to take a break this is a good time to do so. You can either walk back to Lee Drive and stop at Arlington House (there are restrooms here) or continue on. Begin by continuing the loop back to the intersection with Sherman Drive. Make a right turn and continue on Wilson Avenue. Follow this road past the Memorial Amphitheater at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (another restroom is located here). On your right as you walk, you will see what appears to be a white tower with a basket. This is the mast of the USS Maine, which exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898, igniting the Spanish-American War which in many ways preempted the Boxer Rebellion. Continue past the amphitheater until you reach the intersection with Porter Avenue. Turn right and cross the cemetery grounds until you see the next stop which is a headstone marked "Rhodes" beneath a large tree.
This point of interest is part of the tour: The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery