The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 30—11:48 a.m.]
360. 1. Following from American consul general at Hankow:
“August 27, 5 p.m. I have been informed through the Commissioner of Customs here that the commander of the Cantonese forces at Yochow on August 25th served notice that all foreign warships must stop at Chenglingki in order to be visited by his men, since he fears that Marshal Wu’s gunboats may fly foreign flags to disguise themselves, and that if the vessels do not stop, his men will re upon them until they do stop. Have communicated this information to our local naval authorities, who state that of course notice will be disregarded. It is assumed that the Changsha consulate has been informed through the Customs there and that it has made an appropriate reply. Wu crossed the river here this morning en route to the front where heavy reenforcements have been counted on. Generally believed that Cantonese will be unable to make any further advance unless their present fighting strength is augmented. Many Chinese from Wuchang and other points across the river have come to the foreign concessions here in the past few days for refuge and to store their valuables.”
2. In reference to which I have telegraphed as follows to American consul general at Canton:
“August 30, 4 p.m. American consul general at Hankow reports that he has been informed through Commissioner of Customs there that commander of Cantonese forces at Yochow on August 25th served notice that all foreign warships must stop at Chenglingki in order to be visited by his men, since he fears that Marsnal Wu’s gunboats may fly foreign flags to disguise themselves, and that if the vessels do not stop, his men will fire upon them until they do so. Lockhart further telegraphs that he has communicated this information to local American naval authorities, who state that of course the notice will be disregarded.
3. [sic] You should bring this state of affairs immediately to the attention of the Cantonese authorities, expressing my surprise that such an attitude should be adopted on their part with which American public vessels obviously cannot fall in. You will request [Page 622] that notice be canceled in order that no untoward incidents may arise for which Cantonese authorities would be responsible. In making this communication to Cantonese authorities you should assure them that we will make every effort to prevent misuse of American flag in the manner indicated.”
4. Both of above messages have been repeated to commander in chief, United States Asiatic Fleet.