The Consul General at Tientsin (Gauss) to the Chargé in China (Mayer)30

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Legation’s instruction of the 12th instant,31 on the subject of the “North China Patrol”, U. S. Asiatic Fleet.

This office anticipates the resumption of hostilities between the combined Fengtien-Shantung-Chihli forces32 and the Kuomintang, Kuominchun and Shansi forces33 in the immediate future. A particularly weak point in the Ankuochun position is the dissension amongst the Shantung-Chihli commanders. It is not unreasonable to anticipate the possible defection to the opposing forces of troops [Page 217] of the Shantung-Chihli commands; such a situation might readily open the way for a general southern advance and the retreat of the Fengtien forces outside the Great Wall. In any case, the indications point to the extension of the sphere of civil war to the North during the coming spring and summer. This will necessitate the evacuation of Americans from interior places. Tientsin being overcrowded and the cost of living here being beyond the means of missionaries, most Americans from the interior will proceed to Peitaiho Beach. It is quite probable that Americans from Tientsin and Peking will also proceed to the Beach, with or without the consent of their authorities.

The American authorities will undoubtedly be confronted again this year with the necessity of providing protection for the large number of American citizens who will concentrate at Peitaiho Beach.

In 1927, the permission given for Americans to proceed to the Beach undoubtedly was an important factor in encouraging evacuation from the interior in the face of the impending Nationalist advance. A similar situation will exist in 1928, if Americans are to be advised to evacuate districts likely to be included within the area of civil war.

While the civil war area may not extend as far as Peitaiho Beach, a Fengtien retreat would likely be made, in part at least, along the Peking-Mukden Railway; the railway would be entirely in the hands of the Chinese military; Americans and other foreigners would be isolated at Peitaiho; and retreating and disorganized soldiery penetrating to the Beach would be a serious danger.

The situation requiring precautions for the protection of Americans at Peitaiho was met in 1927 by the stationing of American naval vessels off Peitaiho or at Chinwangtao. The measures taken were, in my opinion, adequate and necessary. I am disposed strongly to recommend that the same measures be taken this year. How far the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Asiatic Fleet, may be in a position to assign vessels for the protection of Americans at Peitaiho if the light cruiser division is withdrawn, I do not know.

I request to be informed what provision will be made this year for the protection of Americans at Peitaiho Beach.

I note in a copy of the printed “Operating Plan, U. S. Asiatic Fleet, Fourth Quarter—1927–1928” received at this Consulate-General on March 7th, 1928, that “Light Cruiser Division Three” is assigned from March to June to “North China Patrol”. I am told that the U. S. S. Marblehead is still at Chinwangtao, but I have no information officially on the subject.

I have [etc.]

C. E. Gauss
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in his despatch No. 1441, March 21; received April 28.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. Allied with the Peking Government.
  4. Allied with the Nanking Government.