Between the 12th and 15th centuries, interconnecting river and sea trade routes transformed Europe’s economy. This development led to Europe becoming the world’s most prosperous trade networks. The only limiting factor to river or sea trade was the inadequacy of ships for that purpose. As Spain began a campaign to push Moslems out of the Iberian Peninsula, it realized economic growth in Andalusia and eventually allowed Spain to seize Lisbon in 1147. In Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, the Italians dominated trade in the eastern Mediterranean. In the North Atlantic, Norsemen began their conquest of England, which evolved into the development of peaceful trade along the North Sea. Trade organizations developed, which involved merchant guilds in northern Germany.
Historians credit the beginning of the Age of Discovery to the Portuguese, under the patronage of Infante Dom Henrique (also known as Prince Henry the Navigator). Henry directed the development of lighter ships, a design known as the caravel. With improved sails, the caravel could sail farther and faster than any other ship of the day. The caravel was highly maneuverable and could sail nearer the wind. With this ship, the Portuguese began exploring the Atlantic coast of Africa [Note 1].
In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias reached the Indian Ocean by sailing around the Horn of Africa. Perhaps the most significant discovery of all was Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the American continent in 1492. This discovery set into motion competition between Portugal and Spain, under whose patronage Columbus made his discovery. To avoid conflicts between these two nations, the Pope issued bulls, which divided the world into two exploration regions. The Pope granted each kingdom exclusive rights to claim newly discovered lands [Note 2].
Gradually, other European states developed maritime interests that placed them into direct competition with Portugal and Spain. In pursuing these interests, exploring nations attacked the ships and seized their competitors’ cargos; it was a behavior that led European countries toward the development of navies, which they used to protect their ships, shipments, and foreign operating bases. Newly discovered lands would be of no benefit to European adventurers unless or until these new lands were conquered, controlled, and colonized. Through the use of superior military technologies, Europeans enslaved indigenous peoples. They used them to harvest the new lands’ bounties, which included precious metals, previously unknown grains, spices, and fruits.
By the 16th century, Italians and Arabs shared a monopoly on overland trade with India and China. The Portuguese broke this monopoly by developing sea routes to both countries. Rivals for business, notably the Dutch East Indies Company, soon eclipsed the Portuguese by establishing bases of operation in Malacca, Ceylon, several Indian port cities, Indonesia, and Japan [Note 3].
In this competitive setting, European powers pursued their overseas interests through treaty, colonization, conquest, or a combination of all three. Trade with China was desirable because of the high demand for Chinese goods and because they offered immense profits. Through the 1700s, China had become the center of the world economy [Note 4]. Every European power wanted a trade relationship with China that favored their country at every other competitor’s expense. The inability of the Qing (also Ch’ing) Dynasty to deal with internal challenges in the late 1700s sent a strong signal to the European powers (and Japan) that China was ripe for the taking.
The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) was China’s last imperial dynasty. Evidence of dynastic decline became evident when Chinese officials proved incapable of ending sectarian violence among Sufi Moslem groups. The Qing’s interference in Moslem affairs led to an insurrection that lasted from 1781 to 1813. It was only with the assistance of a third Moslem group that the rebellion was finally put down.
Soon after the uprising, the European powers (and Japan) began chipping away at Chinese sovereignty —and continued to do so for nearly seventy years. For the Chinese, European and Japanese encroachments were far more than a lengthy series of military assaults; they were the catalyst of a national identity crisis and damaged the Chinese psyche. After several hundreds of years of deluding themselves into believing China was the center of the universe, the Chinese suddenly learned that much-younger nations possessed far superior technologies and had no hesitation in using them to achieve selfish interests. Foreign powers took advantage of every opportunity to whittle away at Chinese sovereignty, including the illegal importation of opium from Afghanistan, India, and Turkey.
In earlier times, chemists believed opium contained harmless healing properties, but in the early to late 1700s, its true nature became apparent as tens of thousands of people became addicted to opium. As more Chinese became opium-dependent, increased demand drove prices higher, which increased the profits of foreign trading companies, smugglers, dealers, and government officials who accepted bribes to look the other way. Finally, realizing opium’s effects, Emperor Jia-Qing issued a succession of edicts (1729, 1799, 1814, and 1831) declaring opium illegal and imposing severe penalties for its importation use. The only tangible result of these laws was that (a) they made opium even more profitable, and (b) high demand for opium guaranteed its continued importation. Everyone involved in the opium trade was making money —except the user.
Opium aside, China enjoyed a favorable trade balance with European interests. China sold porcelains, silks, and tea in exchange for silver bullion. In the late 18th century, the British East India Company (BEIC) expanded the cultivation of opium within its Indian Bengal territories, selling it to private traders who transported it to China. In 1787, BEIC sent 4,000 chests of opium to China annually. By 1833, 30,000 chests went to China. American shipping companies were also engaged in opium, including the grandfather of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the ancestors of former Secretary of State John F. Kerry. The opium trade was euphemistically called the “Old China Trade.” Other foreign powers became involved in opium, as well. BEIC may have lost its monopoly, but profits remained high.
Partly concerned about his people’s moral decay, and somewhat concerned about the outflow of silver, the Emperor directed his high commissioner, Lin Tse-Hsu, to end the trade. Lin ordered the seizure of all opium, including that held in foreign trading company warehouses. Charles Elliott, Chief Superintendent of British Trade (in China), was very quickly inundated with British merchants’ complaints. To assuage their concerns, Elliott authorized the issuance of credits to merchants for 20,000 chests of opium, which he promptly turned over to Commissioner Lin. Lin destroyed the opium; Elliott immediately cabled London, suggesting the British Army’s use to protect the United Kingdom’s investments in the opium trade.
A small skirmish occurred between British and Chinese vessels in the Kowloon Estuary in early September 1839. In May 1840, the British government sent troops to impose reparations for British traders’ financial losses in China and to guarantee future security for trade. On 21 June 1840, a British naval force arrived off Macao and began a bombardment of the city of Din-Hai. Chinese naval forces sent to interdict the Royal Navy were utterly destroyed. The Treaty of Nanking (1842), which ended this First Opium War, was the first of many “unequal treaties” imposed on China. China agreed to cede to the British the island of Hong Kong (and surrounding smaller islands) and granted treaty ports at Shanghai, Canton, Ning-Po, Foo-Chow, and Amoy.
In 1853, northern China became embroiled in a massive civil war known today as the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64). Its leader was Hong Xiu Quan —a man who believed that he was the brother of Jesus of Nazareth. The stated intentions of the Taiping were to (a) convert the Chinese people to Hong’s version of Christianity, (b) overthrow the Qing Dynasty, and (c) reform the state. Hong established his capital at Nan-King.
Despite this massively disruptive upheaval, the Emperor appointed Ye Ming-Chen as his new high commissioner and ordered him to stamp out the opium trade. Ye’s seizure of the British ship Arrow prompted the British Governor of Hong Kong, Sir John Browning, to again request the Royal Navy’s assistance. The British fleet, under Admiral Sir Michael Seymour [Note 5] responded by bombarding fortifications outside the city of Canton.
When Chinese mobs set British properties on fire on 15 December, Browning requested military intervention. The murder of a missionary prompted the French to align with Great Britain against the Chinese government. The Russian Empire soon joined the fray, demanding greater concessions from China, including the legalization of the opium trade and exempting foreign traders from import duties. In late June 1858, foreign powers forced China to pay reparations for the Second Opium War, open additional port cities to European commerce, and authorize missionaries’ unlimited access to Chinese cities. Like circling sharks, Europeans and the Japanese began to carve out their niches in China —sometimes through secret agreements, at other times through military conflict.
By the late 1800s, Shandong Province in North China, long known for social unrest, strange religious sects, and martial societies, had had enough foreign meddling in Chinese affairs. One of these societies was the Yihe-Quan, loosely translated as The Righteous and Harmonious Fists. They were called “Boxers” because of their martial arts expertise and their use of traditional Chinese weapons. The Boxers were staunchly anti-Imperialistic, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian.
The people of North China had long resented the arrogant meddling of Christian missionaries. This outrage grew worse after the Treaty of Tientsin in 1860, which granted foreign missionaries’ freedom of movement throughout China and the government’s authority to purchase land and build churches. Chinese villagers objected to the foreign settlements that developed around these Christian church communities. Natural calamities did not help matters [Note 6].
In November 1897, a band of armed Chinese men stormed a German missionary’s residence and killed two priests. The murders prompted Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II to send a naval squadron to seize Jia-Zhou Bay on the Shandong Peninsula’s southern coast [Note 7]. Wilhelm’s intent to seize Chinese territory initiated a scramble for further concessions by the British, French, Russians, and Japanese. Germany gained exclusive control of developmental loans, mining, and railway systems in Shandong. Russia gained complete control of all territory north of the Great Wall, which they soon occupied with Russian military forces. The French gained control of Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guangdong provinces. The Japanese gained control over Fujian province, and the British gained control over the entire Yangtze River Valley, from Tibet to the Henan and Zhejiang provinces. The Italians, for whatever reasons, were excluded.
In Chinese religious myth, the Jade Emperor represents the first god, one of three pure ones and the highest power of all Chinese deities. A temple to the Jade Emperor had been built in the village of Li-Yuan-Tun. In 1869, the temple was converted to a Catholic Church. Soon afterward, the French minister in Peking demanded (and received) authorization for the Li-Yuan-Tun priests to bypass local officials in family law and authority to resolve regional disputes. In 1898, the Guangxi Emperor proclaimed the so-called Hundred Days of Reform (22 June-21 September). The reform period enraged Chinese conservatives, as it served to prove that the Qing Dynasty was corrupt, weak, or both. Boxers attacked the Christian community, murdering priests and others.
In an attempt to avoid another uprising, the Empress Dowager Cixi [Note 8] placed the reformist Guangxi Emperor under house arrest and assumed absolute power in China. What made the Boxers particularly worrisome to Cixi was that they were mostly unemployed teenagers with nothing better to do. After several months of ever-increasing violence against foreigners (generally) and missionaries (mostly) in Shandong and on the North China Plain, the Boxers covered on Peking (present-day Beijing). They demanded either the expulsion or extermination of all foreigners.
The Boxer crisis was one of national prominence and one primarily caused by foreign aggression in China. From the Chinese perspective, foreigners were slowly but steadily dismembering China, destroying Chinese culture, and demeaning Chinese religious beliefs.
Initially, Cixi viewed the Boxers as bandits, but realizing that most Chinese conservatives supported the Boxers, she changed her position and issued edicts in their defense. In the spring of 1900, the Boxer movement spread rapidly north from Shandong into the Peking countryside. The Boxers burned Christian churches, killed Chinese Christians, intimidated Chinese officials, or murdered anyone who stood in their way. American Minister Edwin H. Conger cabled Washington, stating, “…the whole country is swarming with hungry, discontented, hopeless idlers.”
Christian missionaries flocked to the Legation seeking the protection of their various ministers on 28-29 May. On 30 May, British Minister Claude Maxwell MacDonald requested multinational troops to secure the Legation. Ambassador Conger cabled Washington to protect the Asiatic Fleet; Kaiser Wilhelm II was so alarmed by the Chinese-Moslem troops that he requested intervention by the Caliph Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire.
The situation in Peking continued to deteriorate, prompting Admiral Seymour of the Royal Navy to dispatch a second force
On 31 May, Captain John Twiggs (Handsome Jack) Myers, U. S. Marine Corps, arrived in Peking in command of two ship’s detachments of American Marines. The guard force consisted of Myers and twenty-five Marines from USS Oregon, Captain Newt Hall, 23 Marines, five sailors, and U. S. Navy Assistant Surgeon T. M. Lippert from the USS Newark. British and Russian troops, numbering around 325, arrived the same day.
On 5 June, Boxers cut the railway line to Tianjin, isolating Peking and making further military reinforcements difficult.
On 10 June, the “Great eight” organized a second multi-national force under British Vice Admiral Sir Edward Seymour [Note 5] —the largest contingent of which were British, augmented with 112 American sailors and Marines. Captain Bowman McCalla of the U. S. Navy was appointed to serve as Admiral Seymour’s second in command.
Admiral Seymour obtained the Chinese foreign office (headed by Prince Qing) to proceed. Still, when the Empress Dowager learned about Qing’s approval, she replaced him with Prince Duan, a radical anti-western member of the royal family. Prince Duan was the de facto head of the Boxer movement, and it was Prince Duan who ordered the Chinese Imperial Army to attack the western powers.
Admiral Seymour’s expedition had not progressed very far when he discovered that Chinese Boxers destroyed the railway tracks in front of him. He considered returning to Tianjin [Note 9] but found that the Chinese also ripped up those tracks. The distance between Tianjin and Peking was only about 75 miles, prompting Seymour to proceed on foot.
On 11 June, the Japanese minister to China was attacked and murdered by Chinese soldiers guarding the Yong-Ding Gate on the southern wall. The murder was likely intentional because the Chinese commander, General Dong Fu-Xiang, had earlier issued violent threats toward foreign legations. On the same day, German sentries observed the first Boxer in the Legation Quarter. German Minister Clemens von Ketteler ordered his soldiers to capture the Boxer, a teenager, whom Ketteler ordered executed.
Beyond inhumane, killing the lad was a foolish decision because the boy’s execution served only to enrage the Boxers further. In retaliation, thousands of Boxers attacked the walled city. So furious were the Boxers that they began a systematic campaign of pillaging, arson, and murder of all Christian properties and persons, including Chinese Christians. Joining them were gleeful Chinese Moslems. In fear for their lives, dozens of American and British missionaries took refuge inside the Methodist Mission. A Boxer onslaught there was repulsed by U. S. Marines.
On 18 June, Vice Admiral Seymour received word of the Boxer attacks.
On 18 June, the Empress Dowager warned foreign ministers that a state of war would exist between China and the western powers unless they withdrew from Peking within 24-hours. Cixi promised safe passage out of Peking, but only as far as Tientsin. Presumably, after that, the diplomats would be “on their own.”
The Seymour expedition had advanced to within 25 miles of Peking when his relief force was set upon by overwhelming numbers of Boxers and Imperial Chinese soldiers [Note 10]. The attacks were so unrelenting (and bizarre) that Seymour was forced to seize and then occupy the Chinese forts at Taku [Note 11]. By that time, two hundred of Seymour’s men had either been killed or wounded, and the men were low on ammunition, food, water, and medical supplies. It was a victory for the Chinese, but at a terrible cost in Boxer and Imperial Army lives. Seymour dispatched a Chinese servant with word of his predicament to the Peking legation.
On 19 June, the foreign ministers within the Legation informed the Empress Dowager that they had no intention of withdrawing from Peking. Cixi issued her declaration of war on 20 June; a Boxer/Imperial army siege of the city began on the same day.
Also, on 19 June, Major Littleton W. T. Waller arrived at Taku in command of 107 Marines detached from the First Regiment at Cavite, Philippines. Along with another detachment of 32 Marines, those men formed a light battalion, who immediately moved inland to join a Russian column of 400 men. The small force set off for Tianjin at around 0200 on 21 June. Facing them were between 1,500 to 2,000 Chinese combatants.
The Chinese outnumbered the joint force from the start. When the international force encountered intense enemy fire, they retreated. Waller and his Marines served as a rearguard contingent, forced to leave behind his dead and drag his wounded men. Waller successfully fought off a numerically superior Chinese force and reached the relative safety of Tianjin City. After providing for his wounded Marines, Major Waller immediately attached his remaining men to the 1,800-man British column formed under Commander Christopher Cradock, Royal Navy. At 0400 on 24 June, Cradock’s international expedition (consisting of Italians, Germans, Japanese, Russians, British, and American military contingents) set off again to relieve the Legation. They instead ended up rescuing Admiral Seymour.
In Peking, the Boxers were initially content to harass the foreign Legation with harassing rifle and artillery fires, but there was no organized assault. Foreign ministers agreed to form pro-active, mutually supporting military defenses with the few men at their disposal. On 15 June, Captain Myers placed his Marines on the Tartar Wall, a critical position that would otherwise allow Boxers to direct devastating fire into the legation area.
On 25 June, Seymour was at the point of being overrun by Chinese Boxers and Imperial soldiers when Cradock’s regiment reached what remained of Seymour’s expedition. Admiral Seymour and the relief force marched back to Tianjin unopposed on 26 June. In total, Seymour suffered 62 killed and 228 wounded.
In Peking, Boxers decided to employ the anaconda tactic of squeezing legation guards to death. To accomplish this, they constructed barricades some distance from the front of the Marine position—each day moving them further forward to the legation perimeter. During the night of 28 June, Private Richard Quinn reconnoitered one of these barricades by low-crawling to the barricade. His observation of Boxer activities provided useful intelligence as to the Boxer’s intentions.
On 2 July, Captain Myers determined that he had had enough of the Chinese “squeezing” strategy. The Chinese barricade was, in Myers’ opinion, unacceptably close to the legation perimeter. He decided to organize his men for an assault against the Chinese fence.
Myers launched his assault at 0200 on 3 July. The timing and weather conditions couldn’t have been more perfect. The attack commenced in the middle of a torrential downpour. The legation guard’s attack drove the Boxers back several hundred yards. Two Marines were killed during the attack, and Captain Myers received a severe wound in the leg from a Chinese pike. After the action, Captain Myers was evacuated to the Russian Legation. He received medical treatment; his injury was significant enough to cause Myers to pass his command to Captain Newt Hall. After the assault, sniper and artillery fire died down, and diplomats agreed to an informal truce on 16 July. The desultory fire continued, however, until the foreign legations were relieved on 14 August.
On 6 July, the U. S. Ninth Infantry Regiment joined the allied force near Tianjin.
On 10 July, Colonel Robert L. Meade, commanding the First Marine Regiment, led 318 Marines ashore from USS Brooklyn. Meade led his Marines to Tianjin and joined up with Waller’s battalion. Meade assumed command of all American military forces.
On 13 July, the allied forces launched an assault against Tianjin under Major General Alfred Gaselee, British Army (known as the Gaselee Expedition), appointed as Supreme Commander of the international force [Note 12]. Fighting took place for most of the day with little allied advance. Meade’s 450 Marines suffered 21 casualties. A Japanese-led night attack broke through the Chinese defenses, giving international force access to the walled city.
On 28 July, diplomats in the Legation Quarter received their first message from the outside world in more than a month. A Chinese boy—a student of missionary William S. Ament, covertly entered the Legation Quarter with news that a rescue army of the Eight-Nation Alliance had arrived in Tianjin and would shortly begin its advance. For some, the news was hardly reassuring because the Seymour expedition had failed to break through the Chinese Boxer and Imperial Army.
On 30 July, Brigadier General Adna R. Chaffee, U. S. Army, arrived in Tianjin to assume command of all U. S. Forces in China. Also arriving with Chaffee was one battalion of Marines under Major William P. Biddle [Note 13], two battalions of the Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, the Sixth U. S. Cavalry, and one battery of the Fifth U. S. Artillery. On 4 August, the international expedition of approximately 18,000 men departed from Tianjin for Peking. Chaffee’s force included around 2,500 men, including 425 Marines.
On 5 August, Japanese forces of the international expedition engaged and defeated Chinese forces at Pei-Tsang. A second battle occurred the next day at Yang-Stun. For many allied troops, the unseen enemy was the broiling heat, which caused numerous heat casualties during the 75-mile march to Peking.
On 13 August, the Chinese broke the temporary truce with the foreign Legation with a sustained artillery barrage. The barrage lasted until around 0200 on 14 August.
Five national contingents advanced on Peking’s walls on 14 August: British, American, Japanese, Russian, and French. Each of these had a gate in the wall as their primary objective. The Japanese and Russians encountered the heaviest Chinese resistance. The British entered the city through an unguarded entrance and proceeded into the city with virtually no Chinese opposition.
Rather than forcing their way through a fortified gate, the Americans decided instead to scale the walls. Marines destroyed Chinese snipers and set up an observation post from the vantage point of being on the high wall. In the Marine’s assault, First Lieutenant Smedley D. Butler and two enlisted men received gunshot wounds.
U. S. Marines advanced to the Old Imperial City on 15 August, encountering sporadic resistance, but scattered gunfire did continue to plague the American Legation for several more months. By the end of the siege, Marine casualties included 7 killed, 11 wounded, including Captain Myers and Assistant Surgeon Lippert.
Among the Marines who participated in the Boxer Rebellion, thirty-three received the Medal of Honor … including Private Harry Fisher [Note 14], killed on 16 July 1900; he was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Diplomats signed a Boxer protocol in September 1901.
- Cohen, P. A. History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
- Edgerton, R. B. Warriors of the Rising Sun: A History of the Japanese Military. Norton & Co., 1997.
- Harrington, P. Peking, 1900: The Boxer Rebellion. Osprey Publishing, 2001.
- Martin, W. A. P. The Siege of Peking: China Against the World. New York: F. H. Revell Company, 1900.
- Myers, John T. “Military Operations and Defense of the Siege of Peking. Proceedings of the U. S. Naval Institute, September 1902.
- O’Connor, R. The Spirit Soldier: A Historical Narrative of the Boxer Rebellion. New York: Putnam, 1973.
- Plante, T. K. U. S. Marines in the Boxer Rebellion. Prologue Magazine, Winter 1999.
 Aided by a Chinese invention known as the magnetic compass, first used in Europe around 1200 AD.
 Later modified by the Treaty of Tordesillas, which established an arbitrary line east of which were relegated to Portugal, west of which belonged to Spain.
 In 1599, Japan’s Tokugawa shogunate closed its borders or limited contacts with foreigners until the mid-1800s.
 Between the 15th and 18th centuries, silver had become the medium of exchange between China and Spain. Approximately 35% of all silver bullion produced in the Americas found its way to China.
 Sir Michael Seymour was the uncle of Sir Edward Seymour, also a Royal Navy admiral.
 Traditional Chinese viewed natural (cyclic) events, such as earthquakes, droughts, and severe flooding, as omens that the ruling Emperor had lost the mandate of heaven. Such periods were frequently accompanied by civil unrest and dynastic changes.
 The German government was likely less bothered about the murder of two priests and more interested in using the incident to obtain more concessions from the Chinese government.
 Empress Dowager is the English title given to the mother or widow of an East Asian emperor. Cixi was born with the name Yehe Nara Xing-Zhen of the Manchu clan. She was selected as a concubine to the Emperor Xian-Feng and gave birth to a son in 1856. When the Xian-Feng Emperor died in 1861, her son became the Tong-Zhi Emperor, and she became the Empress Dowager. Calling herself Cixi, she ousted a group of regents appointed by the late Emperor and assumed the regency. She gained control over the dynasty after installing her nephew as the Guangxi Emperor when her son died in 1875. She may have poisoned her nephew after keeping him under house arrest for a while.
 The cities Tianjin and Tientsin are the same; they are merely English language spelling variations from the Chinese lettering. However, there were two distinct areas of the city. In 1900, there were two adjacent subdivisions, one to the Northwest was the ancient high-walled city measuring about one-mile on each side. To the Southeast, about two miles away along the Hai River, was the treaty port and foreign settlements, measuring about a half-mile wide. Around a million Chinese lived within the walled city; the port settlement housed around 700 European merchants, missionaries, and approximately 10,000 Chinese servants, employees, or businessmen. Two of these residents were the American Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry-Hoover. Hoover later became President of the United States.
 Seymour’s glaring error was that (a) he assumed that his western force could easily push aside the Chinese Boxers, and (b) he elected not to include field artillery within the expedition’s composition.
 Chinese Boxers and Imperial troops employed well-aimed artillery against Seymour, and a number of different tactics to keep the western powers off their guard. For example, the Chinese redirected waterways to flood the main routes of march, ambuscades, pincer assaults, and sniper attacks. Seymour’s discovery of a substantial cache of Imperial Chinese arms and ammunition (including Krupp field guns), a million or so pounds of rice, and ample medical supplies saved the expedition from total destruction.
 The actual senior military officer present was General (Baron) Motomi Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi was not selected as supreme commander owing to the fact that he wasn’t a white man. The Japanese contingent did distinguish itself during this series of actions.
 Biddle served as 11th Commandant of the Marine Corps (Major General Commandant) (3 February 1911-24 February 1914).
 Harry Fisher was a soldier and a U. S. Marine and the first to receive a posthumous award of our nation’s highest military decoration. After his award, it was discovered that Private Fisher had enlisted in the Marine Corps under a false name. He had previously served in the U. S. First Infantry Regiment. When the Army refused his request for sick leave (having contracted malaria during the Spanish-American War), he deserted for the purpose of receiving proper medical treatment. When he afterward attempted to restore himself to duty, the War Department refused, and he was “discharged without honor.” His real name was Franklin J. Phillips (20 Oct 1874 – 16 July 1900). With a dishonorable discharge on his record, he changed his name to Harry Fisher and joined the U. S. Marine Corps.