Title page for ETD etd-01282004-104948

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Smith, Eric T
Author's Email Address esmit34@lsu.edu
URN etd-01282004-104948
Title That Memorable Campaign: American Experiences in the China Relief Expedition During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stanley E. Hilton Committee Chair
Karl A. Roider Committee Member
William A. Clark Committee Member
  • Peking
  • Chaffee
  • 9th infantry regiment
  • 14th infantry regiment
  • Liscum
Date of Defense 2003-12-15
Availability unrestricted
At the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the American army was not experienced in dealing with challenges abroad. The Army spent the last quarter of the nineteenth century fighting the Indian Wars in the West and a generation of officers grew to maturity commanding small frontier posts where only a few had the opportunity to maneuver large formations during the Spanish-American War. The infantrymen who marched into Peking in August of 1900 were transitioning between the tactics of the past and the future. The Napoleonic formations used in the American Civil War, already made obsolete at that time by the lethal firepower available, still lingered in the collective memory as the preferred method of maneuvering large bodies of troops and bringing firepower to bear.

The Americans who participated in the Boxer Relief Expedition demonstrated impressive adaptability and flexibility. They assembled a sizeable force in China from a scattered military, occupied with fighting an insurgency in the Philippines and garrison duties in the United States. General Chaffee worked within a loosely organized coalition of allied armies in order to rescue the besieged legations in Peking.

It is ironic that the Boxer Rebellion, and the international coalition mounted to combat it, was doomed to slip into near obscurity, overshadowed by the military conflagration to come a decade and a half later. The American role in the China Relief Expedition foretold events that would occur in the next major war in the twentieth century, the Great War.

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