Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.
Peking, China, November 16, 1900.
Sir: Confirming my telegram of this date, I have the honor to report that while the military expedition of the allied forces were at Pao-ting Fu a court of inquiry was organized, and five Chinese officials were tried, and three of them sentenced to decapitation, viz: Ting Yung, the provincial treasurer, who, at the time of the murder of the missionaries last July, was provincial judges Kuei Heng, the chief Tartar official of the city, and Wang Chang-kuei, a lieutenant-colonel of the Chinese army, who, with his command, stood idly by while the murders were committed.
The present provincial judge, Shen Chia-pen, was recommended to be degraded and to be kept under military restraint until the appointment and arrival of his successor.
The tao-tai, T’an Wen-huan, was recommended to be sent to Tientsin for trial.
The sentences were approved by Field Marshal Count von Waldersee, and on the 6th instant the three first were duly executed.
For their connection with and gross negligence in the presence of the atrocious butchery of the helpless missionaries these men richly deserve the punishment inflicted; but, under all the circumstances, and in view of the present negotiations for a settlement, I apprehend a wiser course would have been to hold the prisoners for execution by the Chinese authorities, under a peremptory demand by the powers.
The whole movement has greatly frightened the court, and will make its early return to Pekin more difficult and less probable.
It was known to the allied forces sending out this expedition that orders had been previously given by Li Hung-chang to the Chinese soldiers to make no resistance, and the provincial and city officials at Pao-ting Fu were instructed to come out and meet them and give them a friendly reception. * * *
I have, etc.,