Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Third Session of the Fortieth Congress
Mr. Van Valkenburgh to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Immediately after the attack by the troops of Bezen on the foreigners in this place on the 4th instant, as I have communicated to you in my No. 8, I took measures to procure statements in writing from such of the American citizens as were present and saw the occurrence. The same course was pursued by some of my colleagues, and I have now the honor to transmit to you copies of the same.
Inclosure No. 1 is made by W. H. Morse, esq., our consular agent at Osaka, who was residing here, and being upon the tocaido, or main street, had a good opportunity to observe all that took place. As I crossed the sand-flats, or concession grounds, with the marines in pursuit of the Japanese, I met him and Mr. Blake bringing in the wounded man.
Inclosed No. 2 is by Mr. F. Blake, an intelligent American merchant, who also had excellent opportunities for knowing what actually took place.
Inclosure No. 3 is made by three American gentlemen by the name of Marks, brothers, and merchants also on the main street.
Enclosure No. 4 is the statement of Walter G. Clark, apprentice boy on the Oneida, who was wounded; and No. 5 is the report of Surgeon Suddard, of the Oneida, forwarded to me at my request by Commander Creighton.
No. 6 is the statement made by F. Rougement, senior lieutenant of her Majesty’s ship Ocean, and only shows the ugly disposition of the troops before entering the concession, where the outrage was committed. He saw them some two miles before they reached the sand-flats, at that time estimating their number at seven hundred or eight hundred. If there were so many they could not have all passed through the settlement at the time of the firing, as I saw them, and I estimated them at one hundred and fifty or two hundred. This statement is corroborated by two [Page 650] American naval officers, and one other English officer, who were with him.
Inclosure No. 7 is that of Joseph Colins, an English gentleman, who seems to have been rudely treated by them before they fired.
Inclosures No. 8 are statements of five Prussian subjects, kindly furnished me by the Prussian chargé d’affaires.
No. 9 is made by the three French non-commissioned officers, and upon whom the attack was first made with lances.
No. 10 is a rough plain of the settlement, showing the custom-house occupied as legations, the sand-flat or open space, prepared to be sold in lots to the foreigners, the tocaido, or main street, leading from Hiogo to Osaka, and the Japanese residences and places of business of the several persons making the statements.
I have the honor to be, sir, your very obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Morse to Mr. Van Valkenburgh.
Sir: As per your request, I hasten to lay before you a few facts connected with the late attack upon our settlement made by the Prince of Bezen.
On the 4th instant, I observed during the forenoon, at different times, baggage carriers and straggling soldiers going in the direction of Osaka.
About 2½ o’clock p. m. I was looking from the window of my house in the Otay Cho street, when I observed an official of rank pass by mounted on horseback. He was surrounded by a number of men armed with matchlocks, rifles, and spears. A few moments after he had passed there was a great commotion in the train; baggage carriers and spearsmen dropped what they were carrying in the road, and rushed for the houses and side lanes, evidently in a great state of alarm. Thinking that an attack had been made, I went immediately for my revolver, and while leaving my house met Mr. F. Blake, who remarked, “come along, an attack has been made upon us.”
I accompanied Mr. Blake as far as the sand-flat, saw a number of Japanese firing in the direction of the legations, and attempted to cross over, with several others, whereupon we were fired at. We retreated for a moment, when Mr. Blake espied a foreigner stretched upon the ground apparently dead. We at once directed our course towards the body, and were fired upon again, but managed to secure the person of the wounded man, whom we found to be a sailor belonging to one of the American men-of-war in port. After carrying the wounded man for a short distance we were relieved, when I met your excellency.
I was afterwards informed by one Reitcher (a Prussian subject) that the mounted official referred to got down from his horse, spoke to his body-guard, who immediately said “Teppo oasi,” and at once commenced to fire, as stated above.
I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,
His Excellency General R. B. Van Vankenburgh, Minister Resident of the United States in Japan.
Mr. Blake to Mr. Van Valkenburgh.
Dear Sir: In accordance with your request, I herewith beg to lay before you the facts which came under my own personal observation in connection with the unfortunate occurrence which took place within the foreign concession limits on the day before yesterday.
On the day above mentioned, say Tuesday, February 4, at about half-past two o’clock p. m., while standing in front of the house occupied by myself on the main street of [Page 651] the town, witnessing the passage by of a train of Daimio’s retainers coming from the direction of Hiogo, and going towards Osaka, I heard the discharge of firearms in quick succession from the direction of the foreign concession close by, and looking up the street saw a two-sworded officer quickly dismount from his horse, and the baggage carriers along the street, in both directions, in a state of great confusion.
I immediately ran up the street to the boundary of the concession, to learn the cause of the disturbance, calling out to Mr. W. H. Morse, United States consular agent for Osacca, whose house I passed on the way, to follow; and on gaining the head of the street saw the armed men of the train, with rifles, or firearms of some description, scattered along in the vicinity of the road, firing (apparently as fast as they could load) towards the English consulate and custom-house, occupied by the ministers of the foreign legation, and at all foreigners in sight.
Seeing this open attack, I made at once with all speed across the open space towards the buildings above mentioned, but had not proceeded far when I saw the body of a man lying off to the left, about one hundred and fifty yards from the road and the firing party, which appeared to be again marching; noticing the man move, as if endeavoring to rise, I ran towards him, and had got within about twenty yards of him, when I saw two of the Japanese step forward from their ranks, take deliberate aim, and fire at me a few seconds after the other, the whistle of both balls sounding in close proximity. I retreated a few paces, and the train appearing to be again on the move, I reached the man, who appeared seriously wounded about the chest by a rifle ball, and lifting him as much as possible from off the ground, commenced dragging him out of reach of further danger, when, being joined by Mr. Morse and another gentleman, whose name is at present unknown to me, we lifted and carried him towards the custom-house.
The wounded man, I have subsequently learned, was one of the crew belonging to the United States steamer Oneida, now lying in this harbor.
I remain, dear sir, your obedient servant,
His Excellency General R. B. Van Valkenburgh, United States Minister to Japan.
Consular Agency of the United States of America, Hiogo, Japan, February 7, 1868.
On this seventh day of February, A. D. 1868, before me, Paul Frank, consular agent of the United States of America for Hiogo and the dependencies thereof, duly appointed and sworn, personally appeared Mr. F. Blake, to me personally known to be the person described in and who executed the foregoing statement, and who acknowledged to me that he executed the same freely and voluntarily to and for the uses and purposes therin named.
Given under my hand and the seal of this consular agency, the day and year in this certificate first above written.
Messrs. Marks to Mr. Van Valkenburgh.
Sir: We have the honor to report to you the following facts, which came under our personal observation during a certain time of February 4, 1868:
On the above mentioned date, at about 2.30 p. m., we were all in our house, which was located on Main street facing the foreign concession, when we were startled by a report of musketry in close proximity to our house.
We were called out to see what the Japanese were doing, and at once saw an armed body of them, which we should judge to be from one hundred and fifty to two hundred, armed with rifles and spears, who immediately opened a deadly fire on all foreigners that were near them. We saw our danger and made for the custom-house under a continuous firing of musketry. Our escape was only through the mercy of God.
The sailor boy of the United States sloop-of-war Oneida fell wounded close to us. We were under fire about five minutes. We saw her Britannic Majesty’s minister, Sir Harry Parkes, running some distance from us, and also other foreigners.
We gave no cause or provocation in any way to those armed Japanese to fire on us; we were in place of business, and knew nothing of the whole affair until we were called. In consequence of this our firm has been serious losers.
We are, sir, your obedient, humble servants,
His Excellency General R. B. Van Valkenburgh, United States Minister, &c.
On this eighth day of February, A. D. 1868, before me, Paul Frank, consular agent of the United States of America for Hiogo and the dependencies thereof, duly appointed, personally appeared A. Marks, H. Marks, and L. Marks, to me personally known to be the persons described in and who executed this statement, and who acknowledged to me that they executed the same freely and voluntarily to and for the uses and purposes therein named.
Given under my hand and the seal of this consular agency the day and year in this certificate first above written.
Statement of Walter G. Clark, Second-class apprentice belonging to the United States steamer Oneida.
I was in company with two or three of the gig’s crew going across the concession towards the main street, and I saw these Japanese marching along, but took no particular notice of them, as I had been among similar ones before, and took them to be only a procession. When I was within about twenty-five yards of the main street, and opposite the Oneida house, the leader dismounted, and they commenced firing. I then turned and ran towards the legation, but had not got more than four or five yards when I was shot. I saw nothing that caused them to fire. They seemed to fire only at the Europeans on the concessions.
Witness: H. Walton Grinnell, A. V. Lieutenant United States Navy.
Mr. Suddard to Commander Creighton.
Sir: In accordance with your request of this day, I have the honor to inform you that Walter G. Clark, second-class apprentice, was brought on board of this ship about 2 p. m. of Tuesday, the 4th instant, with a gunshot wound of the right shoulder. The ball, supposed to have been discharged from a musket, entered near the top of the shoulder and penetrated inwards towards the scapular region. The shoulder joint seems to have escaped injury. Neither at the time of injury, nor since, has the position of the ball been ascertained. He has not had a bad symptom, and seems to-day to be proceeding rapidly to a state of convalescence. From present appearances, I am of opinion that the injury is not likely to result in permanent inconvenience.
Very respectfully, &c., your obedient servant,
Commander J. B. Creighton, U. S. N., Commanding United States steamer Oneida.
Mr. Rougement to Mr. Parkes.
Sir: In compliance with your request, I beg to forward a statement concerning the appearance and strength of the troops who fired at the foreign residents on the afternoon of the 4th instant.
On the day in question I was walking with three other officers towards the upper end of the town of Kobé, when I observed a body of troops coming down the street [Page 653] towards me, and when within twenty yards, the officer who was leading them spoke in a violent manner to me, which I understood meant to get out of their way. This I accordingly did, and stood at one side of the street till the whole force had passed, during which time the greater part of them scowled at me in such a manner that I had a feeling of uncertainty as to whether they would molest me or not. As far as I was able to judge, I should say they consisted of from seven to eight hundred men. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
FRANK ROUGEMENT, Senior Lieutenant her Majesty’s steamer Ocean.
His Excellency Sir Harry Parkes, E. C. B., &c., &c., &c.
The undersigned officers were in company with me, and confirm this statement.
Affidavit of Joseph J. Colins.
In her Britannic Majesty’s court at Hiogo, the 10th day of February, 1868.
Personally appeared before me, her Britannic Majesty’s acting consul for Hiogo and Osaka, Joseph J. Colins, who made depositions as follows:
At about half-past 1 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday last, the 4th day of February, I was in my house, which is situated in the main street of Kobé, near to the temple called Gokurakugi, when I was informed by the plasterers who were at work on my house that some Japanese troops were coming along the street. I left my house and crossed over to the other side of the street in order to see them pass. As they approached the spot where I was standing, I heard the man who preceded the troops in the front rank call upon the people in the street to go down on their knees. The Japanese at once prostrated themselves, but I remained standing some three feet from the houses on the street. Upon coming up to where I was standing, the man who had before called upon every one to kneel down shouted to me personally to prostrate myself. I did not reply to him, but remained where I was. whereupon he brought down his rifle and charged at me therewith, catching me in the pit of the stomach, and knocking me up against the houses.
He then returned to his place in front of the ranks, and passed. I at once made up my mind to report this occurrence, and for that purpose ran along the main street, past the line of troops, and arrived at the corner of the settlement near to Marks & Co.’s store, where I saw her Majesty’s minister and other gentlemen standing. I at once reported what had occurred to Sir Harry Parkes, and he, with others who were with him, and myself, all crossed the street into the settlement. We had not been there long when the troops came up, preceded, however, by a rush of common people. We turned round and were walking away in the direction of the custom-house, when I happened to look round and perceived that the troops had halted, and were kneeling down, apparently by direction of an officer, who had been hitherto on horseback, but had now dismounted, when they rose to their feet again, presented their rifles in the direction in which we were going and fired a volley at us, and then kept up an irregular fire at us until we reached the custom-house.
JOSEPH J. COLINS.
This deposed on oath before me.
Statements of Prussian subjects and protégés made before A. Evers, esq., his Prussian Majesty’s consular agent at Hiogo, on the 7th February, 1868.
Frederick von Fisher.
On the 4th February, between 2 and 3 o’clock, I was standing with three French-non-commissioned officers before my house (Mr. Legeune’s) in the main street at Klobé, quite near the foreign concession. One of the non-commissioned officers of the name of Callier crossed over to the other side of the street to buy some tobacco. During this a troop of Japanese soldiers approached and passed along the street. One part of [Page 654] the soldiers passed; then followed a richly ornamented kago, surrounded by six men with lances. Behind the kago came a large number of baggage carriers, and then an open space. Behind this space came other soldiers. Through this open space Callier tried to pass. I saw a soldier carrying a lance take his arm and turn him off. Near the entrance of my house he received a thrust in his side, at which all the spearmen took off the covers from their lances and pikes. I did not hear an order given for the attack. I retreated into my house, as did also the non-commissioned officers. Callier was the last one in the door. Another lance thrust was, however, warded off by one of the other gentlemen, with his hand. I ran into the upper story and saw from the window the Japanese halted before the house. While I descended again to the lower floor, to save myself through a back gate, I saw six or eight Japanese, with lances, standing in the entrance hall. At the same moment I heard the report of rifle shots. I then broke through a bamboo hedge, and saved myself by running across the rice fields to the Dutch consulate.
Of the French non-commissioned officers, only Callier was armed with a sword.
FREDERICK VON FISHER.
On the 4th February, in the afternoon, I saw arrive near my house, situated in the continuation of the main street, a troop of Japanese soldiers. One part of them, escorting a kago, passed, when, at a noise from behind, an officer on horseback turned round, called something, drew his sword, and jumped from his horse. Immediately afterwards the Japanese commenced to fire in the direction of the open place of the foreign concession. I ran to join Messrs. Richter and Naehtigal, and while we were standing at the door of the house, a Japanese made a lance thrust at us. Mr. Nachtigal called out something in Japanese, at which the Japanese turned round and went off.
On the 4th February, at about 2 p. m., I was passing over the open place in the foreign concession to go to the entrance of the main street, when I saw arrive a troop of Japanese soldiers. They cried out “Staniero,” and ordered all the Japanese coolies to kneel down. Suddenly all the Japanese looked behind them, in which direction a loud noise was heard, and I profited by this moment to pass the street, immediately before the Japanese troops. After I had passed them the Japanese troops advanced again, and an officer on horseback, apparently the commanding officer, dismounted and turned round. In the same moment all the Japanese called out “Teppo, teppo,” and commenced to fire. All the guns were directed towards the open place, none towards me. I did not hear a distinct order given. Some of the Japanese turned round towards me and Mr. Nachtigal, before whose house I was standing, and one pointed his spear against us, but when I had put aside a gun Mr. Nachtigal had in his hand, the Japanese retired. I then passed through the house into the open fields to go to my own house, in the corner house of the street. I found three French officers sitting on the roof and not able to get down. Having helped them down, I crossed the street and saw that the Japanese had disappeared.
August Ferdinand Hermann Friebe.
On the afternoon of the 4th I passed through the street behind the foreign concession, when a troop of Japanese arrived. At their head was a Kago with escort, and then an officer on horseback surrounded by several Yokumins. In consequence of a calling out from behind, the officer turned round and said something to his men, and jumped from the horse and drew his sword. At the same moment the Japanese commenced to fire I ran into my house to get my gun, and ran then in the direction of the open place. The bullets passed over my head and some of them dropped in my immediate neighborhood. I saw an American sailor, lying immediately behind me, and turned round to raise him, the Japanese advanced and I fired my gun at them. I do not know if I wounded any one. I then helped to carry the sailor to the custom-house.
On the afternoon of the 4th I was standing before my house in the main street, when a troop of Japanese arrived. There were about twenty men with swords before a Kago, and a similar number followed it. Then came on horseback a man about thirty-five years old, simply dressed, but looking very proud, surrounded on both sides by about twelve men with lances. “When this officer was about eight or ten paces distant from me, the men called out something, at which the officer turned round, jumped off his horse, drew his sword, and said something to those behind him. I supposed this to [Page 655] have been an order, because at the same moment the Japanese commenced to fire. I believe that they fired at a Frenchman who tried apparently to run towards the French consulate. Some turned round towards my house, at which I turned round and put my hand out to take my revolver; one of the troop then made a thrust with his lance at me and at Mr. Richter, standing on my side. I called out to him, my revolver in my hand, at which he retired and did not further molest us. I tried then to run over the open place, when an American sailor fell about twenty yards behind me, struck by a bullet. I turned round to raise him, but at the same moment the Japanese came running towards me; seeing this I ordered Mr. Friebe, who carried my gun, to fire at them, which he did. The Japanese thereupon stopped. I do not know that any one was wounded, as the gun was only loaded with shot.
Other American sailors then came, and we carried the sailor off. I accompanied them for some distance, and afterwards went with the soldiers during the pursuit of the Japanese.
Statement of E. Martin and Fortant and Collier, three Frenchmen, made to his excellency Mr. Leon Rocher on the 6th of February, 1868.
We have the honor to inform your excellency of the events which happened on the 4th of February.
At about two p. m. we took a walk (Martin and Fortant) on the road alongside the concession, and in the direction of Hiogo.
Having arrived within about fifty yards of the house occupied by Mr. Lejeune, we saw a troop of Japanese, which had stopped in the street. At the moment we came near them they recommenced their march. At the head of the column we saw a man put his hand on his sword and look at us with a defiant air. We continued our walk, remaining on the right side of the road, and arriving before the house of Mr. Lejeune we stopped to see the train pass.
At this moment Collier came out of the house of Mr. Weingard, where he had gone to buy some tobacco; he remained at the right of the soldiers, marching in the same direction as they did. One of the soldiers pushed him, pronouncing some words in an imperative tone of voice. Collier, not having understood, asked him what he wanted; the soldier only replied by a menacing gesture. Collier marched more rapidly, always in the same direction as the troops. We then heard a noise arise at the further end of the column. Fortant, seeing a soldier take off the cover from his lance, told Collier that a thrust was directed against him. Collier made immediately a jump forward, but could not prevent being touched under the left arm. Feeling himself wounded, he passed through the column to join us. At the moment he arrived near us some lances were directed against him, but Martin warded off a thrust which certainly would have touched Collier in the back.
Being only three against such a numerous troop, it would not have been prudent to resist. Jumping into the first story was therefore for us the work of a moment. Martin and Fortant, their revolvers in their hands, kept watch at the two entrances of the room, while Collier tried to break through the wall to make an opening for us.
We then heard an order given we did not understand, and could see through a little opening on the street that the troops had halted and loaded their rifles. A moment afterwards the report of some shot was heard in the direction of the foreign concession. Collier having broken two small boards that were in the wall, we could mount to the roof by this small opening and see what was going on. The troops had marched on, and were firing in skirmishing order on the foreign concession.
We then hastened to descend, and went towards the consulate to inform your excellency of the events which had happened.
We have the honor to be your obedient servants,