[KS] Re: Request on my source
chonan99 at hotmail.com
Sun May 9 04:32:24 EDT 1999
I am sorry if my format is incorrect or unorthadox but I ahve received
several replies, some asking for my source on the Turtle Ships being used
against the General Sherman. I have copied the texts word for word
including the spelling errors and differences in the spellings of the names.
Please note that these are copied from the original books and authors and
this is in no way an attempt to infringe in their rights. If I am wrong for
copying these the way that I have, I would appreciate if one of the members
could offer me suggestions on how to correctly do it in the future.
The Korean Repository (1892?)
In the 7th moon of Pyeng-in year, (1866) a dark colored foreign ship with
many ropes hanging from its masts, was sighted on the Ta Tong River. It
dropped anchor first at Keupsa Gate, the line between P¡¯yung-an and
Whang-ha provinces, and there it waited.
The governor (Pak Kyoo Soo) of Pyeng Yang sent a messenger to inquire into
the coming of this ship. By writing characters they managed to communicate,
and were informed that the foreigners had come to exchange goods with the
Koreans. They were from the land of Mi (United States), and were in all
nineteen persons, the chief being Ch¡¯oi Ranhun and Cho Neungpong. There
were several orientals abroad, of abort stature and dark complexion. These
understood characters and so served as interpreters.
The messenger informed them that it was contrary to Korean custom to deal
with foreigners, and that if relations were ever established it must be by
the king, and could not be through the governor of P¡¯yung an province. He
then asked if they might send aboard something to eat. They replied that
they desired nothing but wheat-flour and eggs. The messenger returned and
reported to the governor.
At this juncture, without awaiting a reply, the foreigners weighed anchor
and came up as far as Mangyungda, a hill some twelve li from Pyeng Yang.
Above this is Crow Rapids which shuts off further progress.
The night following there were heavy rains on the mountains that form the
watershed of the Ta Tong river, and, while none fell in Pyeng Yang, the
river rose rapidly. It being the 15th. of the moon there were also high
tides. This lifted the boat sufficiently to cross Crow Rapids, a rise of
water said to have been seldom seen before. The foreigners thinking this
the ordinary depth of the river crossed the rapids, and made their boat fast
just above Yang Jak island.
An adjutant (named Yi) now went on board with four eggs, and carrying this
message from the governor. ¡°You have come right up to the walls of our
city when asked to remain outside, and have insisted on trade which is
contrary to our laws; matters have come to such a pass now that we must hear
from his majesty th king before we can decide,¡± and thus the officer came
and went several times.
It was the second year of the present king, but the Tai Won Koun was then
Lord High Executioner for Korea. He thought this foreign ship meant a new
invasion of Roman Catholicism, and so his reply was. ¡°If they do not go at
once have them killed.¡± The day preceding this reply the river had gone
down, and the boat was already hopelessly fast in the mud.
The governor sent his soldiers to carry out the orders. Arms and ammunition
were dealt out, bows and arrows were also in demand. The Americans seeing
the threatening attitude of the natives, seized the adjutant, who had come
on board for a last visit, and made him prisoner. ¡°Never mind the
adjutant,¡± says the governor, ¡°fire on them!¡± and now the fight began.
It lasted four days, and the whole country was covered, we are told, with
spectators. From the ship huge guns went off that shot ball ten li and
roared thunder that could be heard a day¡¯s journey away. Bits of broken
metal were scattered through the crowd. The one who tells the story was
then a boy eighteen years of age and in the confusion he was struck by one
of these fragments on the back of the hand. It lamed him for a little.
¡°To my surprise,¡± said he, ¡°I found I was still alive.¡± The archers and
soldiers, some of whom had been killed, now refused to go anywhere near the
boat and at a distance their aim was useless, for the foreigners concealed
behind the gunnel left them no mark.
They then tried the Tortoise Boat, a scow mounted with cannon that has a
protective armor of sheet-iron and bull-hide. The front part of this lifts
when the shot is fired, and closes immediately after. They tried several
shots but found it impossible to pierce the ship. Thus far The General
Sherman had the advantage.
Then a drill sergeant Pak Ch¡¯oongwun fastened three scows together before
the East Gate, and then piled them up with brushwood, which he sprinkled
with sulphur and saltpeter. Long ropes were then fastened on each side by
which to navigate it. It was then set fire to and let down toward the ship.
But the first failed, and the second, and only after a third attempt, was
the General Sherman seen to be on fire.
The crew were smoked out and came tumbling into the water on both sides.
Some had jars with them, which, when opened, seemed to contain a thick brown
oil unknown to Koreans.
Drill-sergeant Pak in a small that he had ready, pushed quickly up to the
ship¡¯s side and rescued adjutant Yi, who was still alive.
The wretched foreigners were now hacked to pieces by the furious mob. One
or two who reached shore carried a white flag, which they waved while they
bowed repeatedly. But no quarter was given, they were pinioned and cut to
pieces, then the remains were still further mutilated, certain parts were
cut off to be used as medicine, the rest gathered up and burned in a heap.
When the fire burned the ship, there remained the iron ribs that looked like
posts driven into the ground. These have since been melted down and used in
The two or three pieces of cannon were placed in the armory of Pyeng Yang,
where they now are, and the chains of the ship are still seen hanging
between the pillars of the East Gate Tower.
There is a miryuk (Buddhist image) near Crow Rapids. The crew it seems had
told adjutant Yi that before they left China they had consulted a sorcerer
who said ¡°There is danger before the miryuk of a city that has stood alone
a thousand years.¡±
After all was over the governor of Pyeng Yang had a celebration in yangwan
summer house, with music and dancing at the same time despatching a letter
to the capital, in which was this remarkable statement. ¡°Drill sergeant
Pak when he rescued adjutant Yi, took him under his arm and leaped with him
a hundred yards across the Ta Tong from the burning ship.¡± When the Tai
won Koun read this, he laughed a great oriental laugh and commanded that Pak
Ch¡¯ongwun be made and aide-de-camp in Anjoo.
Pak still lives in Kang-dong, P¡¯yung an Province.
Jas. S. Gale
The Tragedy of Korea, by F.A. McKenzie Hodder and Stoughton (1908)
In 1866 an American schooner, the General Sherman, whose crew consisted of
Captain Preston, three Americans, an Englishman, and nineteen Malay and
Chinese sailors, left Tientsin for Korea. She was loaded with guns, powder,
and contraband articles, and was said to be despatched for the purpose of
plundering the royal tombs at Ping-yang. The ship entered the Tai Tong
river, and was there ordered to stop by the local authorities. Its visit
roused great excitement, as it was believed to be made in connection with
the French Catholics, against whom the Government was then in full
opposition. The regent of Korea, the Tai Won Kun, sent orders that the
foreigners were not to be allowed to land, and that they were either to be
driven back or killed. The people of Ping-yang prepared for war. Their
weapons were primitive. They had the fire-arrow or wha-jun, which was said
to be able to shoot 800 feet and then explode with considerable force. The
soldiers dressed themselves in their dragon cloud armour, cloth of many
folds reputedly impervious to bullets. These bowmen were paraded, and some
old style cannon brought out. Parties of Koreans on either banks of the
river opened fire on the ship¡¯s crew, and for four days an intermittent
duel was maintained. The ship¡¯s guns did considerable execution, but for
every Korean killed there were a dozen to step into his place. Being
ignorant of the navigation of the river, Captain Preston ran his ship on the
banks and was unable to float it off.
After some days¡¯ fighting, the Koreans had accomplished very little. Their
archers and soldiers would not approach the ship near enough to do much
damage, and they soon refused to expose themselves to certain death from gun
fire. An ancient armoured float was brought into play, the tortoise boat, a
scow mounted with cannon and protected by a covering of sheet iron and bull
hide. The front part of the armour lifted when the shot was fired and
closed immediately afterwards. Even the tortoise boat failed to injure the
foreign ship. The a drill-sergeant - Pak by name - made himself for ever
famous by proposing another plan. He fastened three scows together, piled
them with brushwood, and sprinkled the wood with sulphur and saltpetre. The
scows were secured by cords, were set alight, and then sent down the river
towards the General Sherman. One failed to do any damage. A second trio
was prepared, but the now fearful crew of the American ship managed to keep
it off when it approached them. Then came a third trio of burning boats,
and this set the General Sherman on fire.
The crew were almost suffocated by the stench and capour of the burning
sulphur and saltpetre. They tried in vain to put out the flames, and as the
smoke grew thicker and thicker they were forced one by one to jump into the
water. They were seized by the Korean soldiers, now hurrying up in boats.
Some of the invaders had white flags, which they waved in vain. Most of
them were hacked to pieces before they reached the shore. Others were
brought to land, where they tried by friendly smiles and soft words to win
the goodwill of the people. But they were not allowed many minutes to live.
They were pinioned and then cut down, mutilated in abominable fashion, and
the bodies torn to bits. Parts were taken off to be used as medicine, and
the remainder burnt. The General Sherman itself was consumed by flame
rescued from the river, dragged in triumph to the south gate of the city of
Ping-yang, and hung high as a warning to all men of the fate awaiting those
who would dare to disturb the peace of the Land of the Morning Calm. When I
last visited Ping-yang, they were hanging there still.
The Rule of the Taewon¡¯gun 1864-1873 Restoration in Yi Korea
by Ching Young Choe
Sometime during the latter part of July 1866 the owner of the American
schooner General Sherman, a merchant named W.B. Preston, arranged with
Meadows & Co., a British firm in Tientsin, to send his schooner to Korea
with a cargo of miscellaneous merchandise. The officers and crew of the
ship comprised men of various nationalities: Captain Page, American; Chief
Mate Wilson and the owner Preston, American; George Hogarth, supercargo,
British; and thirteen Chinese and three Malays. An Anglican missionary,
Robert Thomas, who had learned Korean from some Korean Catholic converts at
Chefoo, accompanied them as interpreter. The ship¡¯s cargo consisted mainly
of cotton goods, tin sheets, glass, and other items. The schooner left
Tientsin on July 29 and stopped briefly for water at Chefoo, from where she
set out on August 9 on her ill-starred last voyage.
On August 16 the General Sherman reached the mouth of the Taedong River and
slowly steamed up towards the city of P¡¯yongyang, where Preston hoped to
exchange his goods for Korean paper, rice, gold, ginseng, and leopard skins.
At a number of places, both the provincial and local authorities attempted
in vain to prevent the ship from going further (even to the extent of
offering provisions). There was no trouble, however, until August 27, when
the Sherman appeared off the bank of P¡¯yongyang. That day witnessed the
first sign of the important clash that was not well known outside Korea
until almost the end of the Yi dynasty.
Toward the evening of August 27 six of the Sherman¡¯s crew were observed
aboard a small blue boat going up the Taedong, then swollen with rain on its
upper course. They were immediately pursued by Yi Hyon-ik, the deputy
commonder of the P¡¯yongyang military headquarters, and two other Koreans in
a tiny junk. The Korean boat was attacked by the blue boat, and Yi and his
companions were captured and taken to the schooner.
The next morning the schooner moved its anchorage a short distance up the
river, firing at random with muskets and guns. Soon five sailors came down
from the ship, boarded the blue boat, and started to go up the river. Just
about this time the populace of P¡¯yongyang, excited over the news of Yi¡¯s
abduction, began to assemble along the bank, demanding his release. The
sailors announced through their interpreter that they would settle the
matter after they entered the walled city. The civilian crowd now started
to throw stones at the sailors while the soldiers threatened them with bows
and arrows and matchlocks. The sailors managed, however, to escape from the
hostile mob and return safely to the schooner. Since the situation was
becoming serious, the schooner at last decided to leave the river. It was
no longer navigable. It was at this time that the first clash between the
sailors and the Koreans took place and Yi¡¯s rescue was effected.
On August 29 the sailors again ran wild, in spite of repeated warnings from
the Korean authorities. Many native junks around the ship were damaged and
some of the crowd were fatally shot. It was reported that by the following
day seven natives had been killed and five others wounded by the random
firing. Faced with this uncontrollable situation, on August 31, the
governor of P¡¯yongan, Pak Kyu-su, determined to end the turmoil by
destroying both the steamer and the crew.
The chief offensive weapon of the Koreans was the ¡°flaming¡± or ¡°burning¡±
junk. As for the Sherman¡¯s crew, they fought gallantly until they were
left with almost no gunpowder and cartridges. On September 2 the ship,
which by then had run completely aground, found herself surrounded by the
flaming junks and was at last burned. At the very moment when she caught
fire, the Reverend Thomas and a Chinese named Chao jumped from the prow of
the ship and appealed for mercy, waving a piece of white cloth. They were
taken ashore, where they were beaten to death by irate soldiers and
civilians. The other crew members were either shot or burned to death in
the ship. During this incident the Koreans only lost one man.
Thus ending the General Sherman incident. But the incident became an
important diplomatic issue, and finally, in 1871, the cause of an American
expedition. To an extent, the ¡°private expedition¡± of Ernest Oppert
effected the settlement of the Sherman case.
Again I would appreciate any assistance anyone can offer about the military
status, strength and weapons of the Korean army and navy (they were the
same) during the period of 1850-1905.
Thanking you in advance.
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