Harper¡¯s New Monthly Magazine 1871

Page 154:



Advices from Yokohama, March 24, announced that the expedition to Corea, accompanied by United States Minister Low, was preparing to leave. The expedition consists of three or four war vessels, under the command of Admiral Rodgers, and its object is to secure a treaty for the protection of shipwrecked mariners. An investigation is to be made into the loss of the American schooner General Sherman (August, 1866), and the fate of her crew; and if the report of the murder of the latter by the natives is confirmed, an indemnity will be enforced. The necessity of such measures is proved by the more recent fate of the English steamer which ran aground on a point of Ocksu Island on the night of February 13, and was attacked and captured by Chinese pirates. The crew and passengers were compelled to take to their boats, and make their way to the port of Amoy as best they could.

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The naval expedition to Corea, consisting of five vessels, commanded by Admiral Rodgers, and accompanied by Mr. Low, our minister to China, left Nagasaki, Japan, on the 17th of May. The expedition was undertaken for the purpose of endeavoring to make a treaty with the Corean authorities for the protection of shipwrecked sailors of civilized nations, who, when hitherto cast upon the shores of that peninsula, have been enslaved, murdered, or otherwise ill-treated. The expedition, accompanied by the ships of other European nations, including a French, and, it is believed, an English and Prussian vessel also, reached its destination about the 1st of June. A dispatch from Admiral Rodgers, dated June 3, stated that Minister Low and the Corean envoys had exchanged professions of amicable intentions, which, however, were soon followed by a conflict. ¡°The Monocacy, the Palos, and four steam-launches, under Commander Blake, were sent, June 1, to examine the river Sable at a point called Difficult Passage on the French chart No. 2750, at a point where navigation was most perilous. Masked batteries, manned by several thousand Coreans, were unmasked, and opened a heavy fire without warning upon our people. The French ship in advance fought gallantly. Our vessels, bearing up, drove the enemy from their works. The tide swept all the ships past the batteries. They anchored, and threw shells among the retreating enemy. The vessels returning received no fire, the enemy having been driven from their forts. Our people displayed great gallantry, and only two were slightly wounded.¡±

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The following dispatch was received from Admiral Rodgers at the Navy Department, Washington, June 28:

Corea, June 23, 1871

To the Secretary of the Navy: The Coreans not apologizing for their treacherous attack, on the 10th we landed on Kang Noe, took and destroyed the lower fort and munitions.
On the 11th we took another fort, and then stormed and captured the stronghold. Five posts have been taken. The troops which defended them are reported as numbering 11, 000. There was desparate hand-to-hand fighting in the citadel.
The ordnance was destroyed, 481 pieces (principally small brass pieces), very many small arms, and fifty flags taken.
We counted 243 dead Coreans around the citadel. We had three killed. They were the gallant Lieutenant M¡¯Kee, who was first inside the citadel, killed with bullet and spear, marine Denis Hanrahan, and landsman Seth Allen. Our nine wounded are all out of danger and doing well.
John Rodgers Commodore United States Navy.

The Coreans claim justification for the murder of the crew of the General Sherman on the ground that the latter were guilty of piracy.


Copyright © 2001 Thomas Duvernay

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