Mr. Foulk to Mr. Bayard.
Seoul, Corea, September 2, 1885. (Received October 30.)
Sir: I would respectfully report that for several months past the Corean Government has been taking active steps toward the improvement of its military force, and more particularly to have it in such shape that the expected military instructors may upon their arrival promptly begin their work of rendering it practically efficient, after Western military tactics.
Some time since an order, with an advance payment of $8,000, was given the American Trading Company of Yokohama, Japan, to furnish His Majesty with 6 new model Gatling guns and 75,000 cartridges. These are expected to arrive from the United States at an early date.
In regard to these guns, an order for them was given last year by His Majesty to the Gatling Gun Company of Hartford, Conn.; the order was suppressed, however, in January last, by Mr. P. G. von Möllendorff, who had formerly offered to procure them at a cost of $7,000 apiece, while the price of the 6 guns and 75,000 cartridges ordered by His Majesty was fairly fixed at $16,000, delivered at Chemulpo, Corea.
Orders have also been given for a supply of powder, caps, and bullets, with a number of reloading machines; these to be used in reloading shells expended in practice already with the 3,000 Remington and 1,000 Peabody-Martini rifles now in the hands of the troops. Two hundred thousand cartridges have also been ordered, and the purchase of powder-making machinery is under consideration.
The troops of the capital guard are the only ones of Corea which have as yet been organized with considerations of Western methods. They are divided into four battalions, and number about four thousand men. They have been well exercised in the use of modern rifles by long continued target practice, are uniformed, well garrisoned, and subordinate, but are sadly deficient in training as to the manual of arms, company or platoon drill, or fighting tactics. The officers are Coreans of the old civilization, without any knowledge of the requirements of troops to be trained after Western methods.[Page 353]
In regard to the supplies for the troops referred to above, I may state that their being ordered is the outcome of requests for advice on the subject to which they pertain made to me last year, and to which I responded as authorized by the instructions issued to me as naval attach to this legation.
I am, &c.,
Ensign, U. S. Navy, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.