Saturday, August 11, 2018

Letter from C. B. Downing - 1900



October 17, 1900, The St Johnsbury, Vermont, Caledonian

Letter from C. B. Downing

Aug. 1, 1900.

From the last Caledonian received here, I see that the home friends fear the Boxer movement is spreading towards Chefoo. There were Boxers here, practicing in out-of-the-way places for a time. There may be some yet, but if so they dare not show themselves. At one time the crowds on the streets were very rude to foreigners, calling out “Kill the foreign devils,” and a stone or two was thrown. At that time our consul and the captain of the Nashville requested us to leave “Temple Hill and come into the settlement.” All the women and children did so. The gentlemen remained on the Hill and kept on with the work there.

The Tautai at the beginning of the trouble sent a guard of twenty-five soldiers to protect our houses. One day one of the, gentlemen had occasion to shoot a dog near the soldiers tent. One of them was heard to say “Today you shoot dogs, tomorrow you will be killed.” A good many arrests have been made in villages near us, and some have been beaten and a few leaders beheaded. Now everything about us seems perfectly quiet. The Tau tai has a guard of several hundred soldiers to protect the place and the foreigners still keep a volunteer guard out every night. We have always a Japanese and an American man-of-war in our harbor, and otten five or six small boats. Just now we have the Hospital ship the “Relief” here filled with sick and wounded men.

You know before this that Peking is relieved, and now we can get reliable news from friends there. A letter from Dr. [Henry Dwight] Porter came yesterday giving us the account of the taking of Peking. Surely prayer was answered in the preservation of so many lives. There were seventy in one place, eighty-five horses and mules, and rice supplied their food. One baby died during the siege. Rev. Gilbert Reid was wounded but is near well. We expect some of the friends to come to Chefoo this week. A letter has just been received from one of the ladies in Peking from which we learn that the Boxers are not the only people to be dreaded. She writes, “The Russian and French are not soldiers, but wild beasts. God pity the women, whether heathen or Christian.” The city is in confusion, loot lying about in all the streets. Reliable word has come that one party of missionaries has been burned to death in one of the houses in Tai Yumfu. Two or three other parties known to have started from their stations have not been heard from. There is an ominous silence in regard to our Peking friends. No word has come since we learned they were about leaving for Tein Tsin.

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