393.1111 Nelson, Bert N./76: Telegram
The Consul General at Hankow (Lockhart) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 17—12:02 a.m.]
22. The following telegram has been sent to the Legation:
“March 16, 3 p.m. I called again today on General Ho Chen-chun and urged upon him most emphatically the immediate necessity of rescuing Nelson and Tvedt from hands of bandits. General Ho promised to send a telegram at once to General Chao Kwan-tao at Sinyangchow instructing him to issue a permit for Dr. Skinsnes’ representative to carry medicines to brigands’ camp. General Ho stated that there are about 30,000 brigands in an area 500 li in length [Page 942] and 200 li in breadth in northeast Hupeh east of the Ping-Han Railway.19 The area is very mountainous and General Ho claims that it is difficult successfully to attack the brigands especially as they are in scattered groups. Ping-Han Railway was cut by bandits again on Saturday near Kwangshui and traffic is now suspended. Troops despatched earlier in the week from Sinyangchow to attack brigands at Lichiatsai were thoroughly defeated, many of them being captured or voluntarily going over to brigands. The General in command, on being captured, suicided.
I consider that only plan which offers any reasonable hope of effecting release of Nelson and Tvedt in near future is one of sending money and medicines through the Chinese mentioned in my March 12, 3 p.m.20 This agent has already obtained the release of 30 or 40 Chinese who were freed on the payment of sums ranging from $300 to $13,000.
Repeated to Nanking and Department.”