The Occupation of Peking (Adna Chaffee)

The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery

The Occupation of Peking (Adna Chaffee)

Arlington, Virginia 22202, United States

Created By: Georgetown University


Adna R. Chaffee

Adna R. Chaffee (1842-1914) was born in Orwell, OH and enlisted in the Union Army as a Private in the 6th Cavalry Regiment in 1861. Serving through the duration of the Civil War, Chaffee was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1863. After the war Chaffee decided to remain in the Army and spent the next 30 years in the cavalry, fighting in the Indian Wars mainly in the Southwest. Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, now-Colonel Chaffee was promoted to Brigadier General and commanded a brigade in the Cuban campaign. When the Boxer Rebellion broke out, he was serving as Chief-of-Staff of the military governor of Cuba during its occupation. Selected over more senior officers, Chaffee was dispatched to China to lead the China Relief Expedition. Arriving after the capture of Tientsin, Chaffee led the American force in the capture of Peking. Initially, hesitant to remain in Peking, Chaffee realized that an occupation was necessary while the end of the conflict was being negotiated. He attempted to maintain order and return services in the American-occupied portions of the city and generally avoided joining the other powers in punitive expeditions in the countryside. Following the end of the occupation, Chaffee became the military governor of the Philippines and later Chief of Staff of the Army from 1904-1906. He retired in 1906. His son, Adna R. Chaffee Jr., is buried nearby and rose to the rank of Major General and was instrumental in the establishment of the US tank force.

The Occupation of Peking

After the capture of Peking the allies occupied the city for several months while negations with the Qing government ensued. Originally, Gen. Chaffee's orders had directed him to leave China as soon as possible but given the unrest in the region, Chaffee felt it necessary to keep a force in northern China to help restore order. While many of the allied powers launched punitive expeditions into the countryside, Chaffee did not see any value in engaging in the brutal campaign of revenge. He did ascent to allow US troops to escort missionaries back to their former parishes but after several incidents where it appeared the missionaries attempted to use troops to extort payments from villagers, these missions ceased.

The troops in Peking restored basic services and encouraged civilians to return to their city. While extensive looting occurred shortly after the capture of the city, Chaffee cracked down on it afterwards and used funds obtained from the sale of loot to provide wages to Chinese workers and to bring in food for the troops and populace. Part of the troops’ mission was to protect their portion of the city from encroachment by allied troops and several incidents occurred where sentries shot marauding allies.

The next stop is directly behind this grave. Look for the monument marked “Hutcheson”.

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


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