Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 400.]

Sir: I have the honor to confirm, on the overleaf, my telegram of August 30.1

Reports from Paoting-fu, which probably reached you long since, inform us that all the missionaries there were brutally murdered; also that 28 were killed in the province of Shansi, to which province Governor Yu Hsien was last winter transferred from Shantung against the protests of the British minister and myself. We have heard of several missionaries who escaped from Shensi and Honan, but the probability is that outside of Pekin and Tientsin there is not a living missionary in all north China.

Native Christians are daily coming in with most horrible reports of killing, quartering, and burning women and children. Some Chinese Christians are still in hiding in the country, and I am asking General Chaffee to send troops out to rescue some of those within a reasonable distance from the city.

That the Throne indorsed and encouraged the Boxers in their attacks against foreigners, organized them, placed princes and ministers in command of them, paid them, exhorted them, extolled them, and made common cause with them is abundantly confirmed by the Imperial decrees transmitted in my dispatch No. 395 of August 17, and is therefore responsible for the whole movement and its results.

[Page 191]

At first, under the advice of some of the more conservative and enlightened ministers, the Empress Dowager was rather inclined to suppress the Boxers, but later, especially after the repulse of Admiral Seymour and Captain McCalla, and the partial defeat of our troops at Tientsin, she was encouraged by Prince Tuan, Kang-I, and others, and was thereafter controlled by them. Ministers Hsu Ching-ch’eng, Hsu Yung-i, Yuan Chang, and Lien Yuan were summarily decapitated for advising a different and more civilized course of action. Prince Ching, it is said, seeing that he was powerless, did not too strongly oppose Prince Tuan, and survived.

Information comes to us from reliable sources that Prince Tuan had planned to have his soldiers massacre all the foreign ministers at the Tsungli Yamen on June 20. But while the prince and ministers were arranging the hour to receive us the impatient soldiers prematurely attacked and killed Baron von Ketteler, which created such excitement that we were not invited to the Tsungli Yâmen, and so were saved.

A secretary of the Tsungli Yâmen and also a president of one of the boards have assured me that every attempt to get us outside of our lines, either to go to the Tsungli Yâmen or to Tientsin, was only a plan of Prince Tuan and his colleagues to secure an opportunity to kill us, which would have surely been accomplished had we gone out.

On the 11th of August Prince Ching and others sent us a note asking us to fix an hour when they could call and discuss the question of a preliminary suspension of hostilities. We named 11 a.m. the next day (12th). They did not come, but later in the day wrote us they were too busy to come. The same yâmen secretary has since told me that the reason of their not coming was because Prince Tuan and his friends said they should not, and that when Prince Ching and Wang Wen-shao insisted upon going he (Prince Tuan) said he would order his soldiers to fire upon them if they did.

We did not witness during the siege, nor have we been able to discover since our relief, any evidence whatever that since June 20 the Chinese Government ever made one single effort in our defense or antagonistic to the Boxers in any way. All its endeavors through its ministers abroad to make the world believe that it did were basest hypocrisy.

The English own a very beautiful cemetery just outside the west wall of the city, in which were buried all Protestant Europeans and Americans who have died here. Many beautiful and expensive monuments were erected therein. It has been desecrated in the most ruthless and savage manner. Not a vestige of the wall surrounding it is left. Every tree has been cut down and every headstone and monument completely destroyed. Many of the bodies have been exhumed and strewed around or burned. * * *

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

E. H. Congee.
  1. Printed p. 199.