The Minister in China (Crane) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 24—5:24 p.m.]
188. Statement of China papers that on July 16th General Wang Chan Yuan, Military Governor of Hupeh, by a ruse placed under arrest General Wu Kuang Hsin, an Anfu adherent and disbanded his force, thus forestalling attack on Wu Pei Fu’s forces from the South.
On the 18th occurred the defeat and retreat on Peking of Tuan’s 15th division and portion of 1st occupying first line against Wu Pei Fu west of Peking. No doubt inspired by these circumstances and the advice given his associates, Tuan, on 18th petitioned the President to be relieved of all posts and honors sending also circular telegram announcing this resignation to provincial authorities including Chihli and Fengtien. His resignation was refused on 18th and again on 19th. On latter date the President issued a mandate referring to and supplementing his mandate of the 14th in which he directed contending forces to return to their original posts. Second mandate stated that due to misunderstandings there has been [Page 453]various movement of troops resulting [in] hardships to people and military and directed that orders be issued to commanders of the various fighting lines to cease further attacks and [comply with] subsequent mandates in settlement of controversy. The Chinese press reports that on the 18th Tuan issued instructions for a general retirement of his forces on three fronts as follows: Langf ang, Pangkochuang, Changhsintien. There appears to be a lull in military operations which is unlikely to be permanent as General Hsu Shu Cheng and other Anfu leaders are desperate. On the 19th about six prominent military officials, including ex-Premier Chin were sent by the President to Tientsin to mediate with Tsao Kun and Chang Tso-lin. An ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs reports conversation between Generals Hsu and Tuan in which former proposed that General Lung Chi Kuang at Hsianchan with his force of 50,000 men attack foreign settlements at Tientsin. I have informed Colonel Morrow of this conversation indicating Legation’s disbelief in probability of the attack taking place. Desultory looting in environs of Peking by 1st and 15th divisions is reported but city within wall remains quiet.