The Consul General at Mukden (Pontius) to the Minister in China (Crane)17

No. 49

Sir: I have the honor to report that immediately following the return to Mukden of General Chang Tso-lin troops were despatched to various points on the Peking-Mukden railway between Mukden and Shanhaikwan. The railway between these two points is now under military control and the closest supervision is exercised to hold all available railway rolling stock. The mail trains have not been interfered with, and mails to and from Tientsin are despatched and received as usual.

Soon after the return of General Chang he received word of the dismissal of Generals Tsao Kun and Wu Pei-fu from their posts on the ground of unwarranted political interference and disobedience of military orders issued by the Central Government. It was felt that the dismissals were due to the pressure brought to bear upon President Hsu Shih-chang for the removal from office of General Hsu Shu-cheng. General Chang Tso-lin no doubt found himself in an awkward predicament in underestimating the power and influence still wielded by Marshal Tuan Chi-jui. Then followed the belligerent movements of Generals Tsao Kun and Wu Pei-fu who were aroused at their unlooked for dismissal. In the present crisis [Page 442]General Chang is no doubt endeavoring to adopt a neutral attitude. Whether or not he will escape the wrath of both parties remains to be seen.

General Chang has instructed the Traffic Inspector of the Mukden-Koupangtze section of the railway to hold 200 cars in readiness for the movement of troops. This office was informed that 20 cars in charge of the Commanding Officer of the 28th Division with a small guard left Mukden on the 12th instant for Chinchow from which point in all probability the first detachment of troops will be despatched. More cars were to be sent to that place as soon as collected. General Chang no doubt fully realizes that precaution in safeguarding the territory under his jurisdiction is of first importance, especially owing to the large Japanese interests in Manchuria. Should the Japanese sustain any losses through the invasion of troops from other provinces, he would be held strictly accountable, and if Japanese interests suffered in any way it would be an excuse to bring more Japanese troops into Manchuria.

The Military Governors of Kirin and Heilungchiang Provinces arrived at Mukden on the 12th instant. Immediately after their arrival they called a meeting of all high military and civil officials at the Military Inspectorate at which it was unanimously agreed to support the President against Marshal Tuan Chi-jui. General Chang then despatched a telegram to the President informing him that Fengtien is prepared to send two divisions of troops to the vicinity of Tientsin and Peking for the sole purpose of guarding the Capital. General Chang Tso-lin also issued a notice to the railway authorities that his action in despatching troops to the south-west is to suppress the unruly conduct of Marshal Tuan Chi-jui, who forced President Hsu to issue a mandate for the dismissal of Generals Tsao Kun and Wu Pei-fu.

It is now reported that a large detachment of troops from the 28th Division will leave Chinchow for Lutai today. 60 cars are now held in readiness in Mukden for the transportation of troops from outlying districts to Chinchow. The local Mint is very busy manufacturing small arms ammunition. General Chang, has set apart $500,000 for immediate military expenditure. This office has also been informed that General Chang has despatched a telegram to the Diplomatic Body at Peking justifying his control of the railway and the despatch of troops on the sole ground of his desire to protect the President.

I have [etc.]

Albert W. Pontius
  1. Copy forwarded to the Department by the consul general under covering despatch no. 67 of same date; received Aug. 13.