Lot 1    

17th Century Qing Dynasty Cannon Captured in Boxer Rebellion
4/27/2011 - Historic Firearms & Historic Militaria
An 800lb. cast bronze cannon, 3" diameter bore, 3" diameter trunnions, overall 63.5", with prolific Chinese and Manchurian characters at the breech. Includes period wooden wheels and metal straps which held together the carriage, now derelict.

Ironclad provenance relates that this gun was one of three nearly identical cannons captured in the proximity of the Ha Ta gate during the multi-national attack on the walls of the Tartar City August 13-14, 1900 during the Relief of Peking. The guns were shipped back to the United States as war souvenirs by Colonel Webb. C. Hayes, CMOH, 31st US Infantry who had served as Volunteer A.D.C. on the staff of Major General Adna R. Chaffee commanding the US contingent during the China Relief Expedition. Chaffee is also known as creator of the Military Order of the Dragon and the force behind the issue of campaign medals in the American military.

The gun made in 1695 is significant in that its design was inspired by the noted Flemish Jesuit Missionary and Imperial confidant Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688). The tube bears the names of several important Imperial cannon makers and overseers who had cast guns for the Manchu Emperor under the Verbiest's supervision. Parenthetically, just seventeen Verbiest cast guns bearing his name are known to exist, mainly in European museums. The heavy weight of this gun suggests that it was originally intended as part of a static defense. Warfare during the Qing dynasty favored smaller cannon that were more easily transported in the field. Etched into the breech the inscriptions are in Chinese and Manchurian phonetically written in the Mongolian alphabet and translate as follows:

Made on the 34th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi [1695] at Jingshan Nei [inside Beijing]

Cannon Titled: General Zhisheng

Specification: Powder capacity 1 jin 8 lians [900 grams equivalent]. Iron cannon ball 3 jins [1800 grams equivalent]. Long range shot should be set at 45 degrees with slightly more powder added from top.

Credits: General Manufacturer Executive: Hai Qing-Imperial Guard 1st Class [highly prestigious 3rd ranking military official]

Manufacturer Overseer: Ba Fa Shou-Titled Manufacture Administrator [4th ranking civil official]

Documentation: Shuo Si Tai and Ge Er Tu [low ranking civil officials]

Casting Masters: Li Wende and Yuan Shi [Chinese, not Manchurian names]

It is difficult to say whether the bronze guns were captured in a particular action involving the American contingent or taken in situ from the southern wall adjoining the Chinese city after the fighting was over. Russian, American, and British troops were engaged near the Ta Ha gate during the uncoordinated assault of August 13-14 while zones of control for the various nationalities were not formalized until after the cessation of hostilities. That guns were plentiful is illustrated in the book Military Order of the Dragon, 1900-1911, p.33 showing at least twenty “captured Chinese cannon” parked in a row.

In a letter dated 9 May 1901 written at Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio Lieutenant Colonel Webb Hayes described the background of his war souvenirs: Dear Mr.xxxx, I am happy to announce the arrival here of the Tartar bronze cannon which I found as part of the defense of the Ha Ta Gate of the Tartar City of Peking. These three guns were supposed to have been brought to Peking when the Mongols or Tartars conquered the Chinese some four hundred years ago and established the present reigning Tartar dynasty. These guns were used not only in bombarding the Legation but also against the allies, so it is said, and were the most interesting guns from a curio standpoint found on top of the Tartar wall of the city of Peking. The inscription on the cannon I hope can be deciphered. There were but three of these guns on the wall of Peking, and all were under Russian jurisdiction but through the efforts of Lt. Colonels [Joseph T.] Dickman [U.S.V., General Chaffee's Assistant Chief of Staff] and [Henry O.] Heistand, both Ohio men, I secured the promise of them all. Unfortunately, however, the Russians surrendered the care of the Ha Ta Gate to the Germans and with it the control of these guns, so that the whole question had to be taken up again. The three guns were hauled to Tung Chow some 15 or 20 miles and then dismantled an placed on Chinese junks for the 100 mile trip down the Pei Ho (River) to Tein Tsin (illegible)-then by rail to Tong Ku some thirty miles-then by lighter to the transport off Taku and thence to San Francisco. I believe that these are the only Chinese cannon brought to the United States. Very Truly Yours, (signed) Webb C. Hayes,

One of the distinctive bronze guns was presented to West Point and can be viewed in the museum’s artillery collection—Trophy Point—online.

James Webb Cook Hayes (1856-1934) was a lawyer and Ohio industrialist, born the second son of Republican President and former Civil War general Rutherford B. Hayes. During the Spanish American War Hayes enlisted as major of the 1st Ohio Cavalry and while detached as aide to General Young was slightly wounded during the Santiago campaign. As a staff officer Hayes accompanied General Miles to Puerto Rico. In July 1899 Hayes was promoted to lieutenant colonel, 31st U.S.V. Infantry and won a Medal of Honor on December 4, 1899 for heroism at Vigan, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Hayes went to China during the Boxer Rebellion as a volunteer aide-de-camp on the staff of Major General Chaffee and later acted as an observer in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. During the First World War, Colonel Hayes held administrative posts in France and Italy and was promoted to brigadier general after the war. A number of photographs found in Military Order of the Dragon, 1900-1911, an organization with which Hayes was closely associated, depict the officer in China during the Boxer Rebellion.

A rare and richly historic 17th artifact taken as a war souvenir during the famed China Relief Expedition of 1900.


Condition:  
Very good condition with a nice untouched patina.
Sold: $149,500.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
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