File No. 882.00/526.
Chargé Bundy to the Secretary of State.
Monrovia, December 18, 1915.
Sir: I have the honor to report for the information of the Department that the Chester left Monrovia on December 6, 1915, for Freetown, Sierra Leone, to secure coal and provisions. She was gone eight days and returned to Monrovia on the morning of December 14, 1915.
The next day, December 15, there was a conference at the Legation at which President Howard, the Secretary of State, Captain Schofield, and myself were present.
The situation on the Kru coast was discussed at length and it was decided that the Chester would proceed to the disaffected area again and lend whatever moral assistance was possible in the circumstances.
On December 16 the Chester sailed for Sinoe. She transported fifty more frontier soldiers as reenforcements to the troops already on the Kru coast. One hundred men were desired to augment the force on the coast, but fifty were all that could be reenlisted, up to the time the Chester sailed. Recruiting will continue, I am informed, until fifty more are obtained. With the despatch of these to the coast the Government will have about three hundred and fifty soldiers at the scene of disorder. It is not unlikely that this number will have to be still further increased before the uprising can be put down.
The General Receiver is anxious to keep the Frontier Force down to the smallest number that will permit it to effectively cope with present conditions in the country because its maintenance is a heavy charge on the uncertain revenues of the Republic. He assures me, however, that he expects to see the Kru campaign through to the end since he has satisfied himself that their rebellion against the Liberian Government is not based on substantial grounds. The Krus have some grievances, the General Receiver thinks, that are well founded, to which the Government ought to pay attention. But nothing has come to light of a serious nature to justify their taking up arms and organizing a widespread revolt in the present instance.
As previously reported the Krus have persistently sought the aid of the British in their rebellion against the Liberian Government, and confidently expected to receive it. On November 13, 1915, nine of the disaffected chiefs addressed a letter to the British Consul General at Monrovia, earnestly begging him for his assistance and that of the British Government.
It is stated in this letter that the Chester aided the Liberians “with his cutter and use machine-guns on us who have nothing in the way of arms.” Of course there is no truth whatever in the [Page 634] statement that the Chester used machine-guns on them. When the actual fighting took place at Sinoe I am informed that the Chester was not even there but had moved on down the coast.
The British Consul General replied to the Kru chiefs through the Liberian Government on December 11, 1915 (see enclosure). It will be observed that this is a strong letter and should go a long way toward correcting any misconceptions, however acquired; that may have lodged in the minds of the rebel chiefs. The letter of the British Consul General was given by the Liberian Government to Captain Schofield to be read and delivered in person to the Kru chiefs.
From a wireless message through the Chester to Conakry and from there cabled to Monrovia, December 19, President Howard was advised that Bluebarra, the point dominating the port of Sinoe, was again attacked by the Krus on December 17, 1915, but the attacking party was driven off. One frontier soldier reported killed. This message also stated that Major York and one hundred and sixty men left Sinoe on December 11, presumably to push the campaign against the Krus at other points on the coast. The removing of this one hundred and sixty men from Sinoe so weakened the garrison there that the Krus apparently thought it an opportune moment to attack Bluebarra again. The Chester arrived at Sinoe the same day of this last attack, December 17, with the fifty men before mentioned and these will doubtless strengthen the Government forces at Bluebarra sufficiently to prevent any more assaults at this point by the Krus.
The question of ammunition is still a grave matter for the Government, and it is looking forward anxiously to a reply from the Department to the Legation’s cable of December 1, sent to ascertain whether the Government of the United States would lend Liberia 500 Krag carbines and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for them. Captain Schofield stated to me, at the time of his leaving Monrovia for Sinoe, December 16, that if he found conditions on the Kru coast were sufficiently grave he might feel called upon to take up this matter directly with the Navy Department before returning to Monrovia.
I have [etc.]