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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

3rd Quarter - July 13, 2000

Masthead photos: Walter and Anna Granger, ca. 1900.

GUNBOATS ON THE LONG RIVER: A armament - two 6-pounders, six .30-

FOSSIL-HUNTER'S GUIDE TO THE YANGTZE caliber machine-guns, and an
PATROL assortment of hand weapons such as
non-automatic rifles, shotguns
This is a subject one would not (sometimes sawed off for use as "riot
expect to find under paleontology, guns"), Colt .45s, Browning automatic
fossil-hunting or Granger. Until this rifles, Thompson submachine guns,
website publication, I am reasonably Lewis submachine guns, and even tear
confident that no one has. It is a gas.
connection which likely cannot be
made without reading Walter or The British HMS Widgeon was built of
Anna Granger's Central Asiatic iron in 1904; displaced 180 tons;
Expedition diaries and here in measured length - 165' x beam - 24'6"
Durham, NH, or stumbling onto a x draft - 2'6"; delivered a speed of 13
rare, likely oblique reference in the knots; carried a complement of 35;
voluminous military records at the and was armed with two 6-pounders,
National Archives in Washington, DC. four machine-guns, and an
assortment of hand weapons. Her
Fossil-hunting and gunboats in the shallow-draft design was also powered
Yangtze valley of the 1920s are by steam but was double-screw
indeed tied together by Walter driven.
Granger's three separate winter-long
expeditions to Sichuan Province Maneuverability was critical; with her
during 1921 to 1925 (1921-1922, double-screw design and slightly less
1922-1923, 1924-1925). These took displacement, the Widgeon could
him (and twice Anna) from Shanghai maneuver better than most gunboats,
(where he'd arrived by train from especially in rapids. The few gunboats
Peking) upriver to the small hamlet that did negotiate the rapids of the
of Yanjingou [Yen Ching Kuo] 10 Yangtze were always in danger of
miles past Wanxian in very becoming holed by rocks. The remedy
dangerous section of the Yangtze was simple: the holes were patched by
waterway. stuffing in bags of cement hastened to
harden by adding soda. (Tolley, p.

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

Wanxian was a city and district 181.)

"[u]nique on the Yangtze, [for it] had
ever been a trouble spot. Rival YangPat's flagship was the USS Isabel
generals fought in and around it. stationed at Shanghai. Isabel's
Bandits threatened, floods took their statistics were: displacement - 710-
toll of the lower-lying parts, tons; length - 245'3" x beam - 27'9" x
foreigners clung precariously to their draft - 8'6"; speed - 26 knots;
business in the face of all hazards complement - 99; armament - four
and provocations." (Tolley, p. 232.) three-inch rifles and an assortment of
hand weapons. Though it had plenty
If that were not enough, the Yangtze's of speed, this Isabel's greater length,
worst rapids lay in the gorges just draft and weight barred it from
below Wanxian! That Granger never upriver gunboat duty.
lost a precious load of fossils in them
is admirable. For, as Granger noted When Granger made his three
on February 28, 1922: ". . . Reached expeditions to the Wanxian district,
the wreck of the Hung Fok about 10 only a handful of gunboats from any
o'clock . . . Capt. Hudson said he had of the nations present were capable of
seen nearly fifty people drowned navigating the Upper River "where the
there while he had been stationed shooting was prevalent . . . robbers
there. Several post boats had proliferated . . . merchants and
capsized and some mail lost." (W. missionaries complained bitterly."
Granger, Diary.) (Tolley, p. 84).

The Grangers' connection with the It may have mattered little anyway:
Yangtze gunboats apparently is "[s]oon after the 1927 Battle of
unique to the histories of gunboats Wanhsien, where three British river
and paleontology. Yangtze gunboats gunboats bloodily slugged it out with
in particular interacted with all sorts a Chinese field army, the China
of civilians throughout the Yangtze, Weekly Review read the tea leaves
but Walter Granger is the only fossil- with awesome accuracy: 'A little tin
hunting paleontologist for whom, as gunboat on a narrow river is no
well as for his wife, there is a record match in a fight with a Chinese army
of contact. The Grangers' equipped with modern heavy
involvement was not with Chinese artillery.'" (Tolley, p. 303.)
gunboats however, although those
were present on the Yangtze of The American YangPat fleet of the
course; it was with British and 1920s also included the USS Elcano,
American gunboats. Quiros, and Villalobos, three vessels
captured from the Philippines during
But, you ask, how could this be? the Spanish-American War (1898).
Wasn't the Yangtze a Chinese The Italians filled the gap left by the
territorial river then as it is now? Germans and Austro-Hungarians after
their defeat in World War I. One of
The answer lies in the series of broad the Italian gunboats was the

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

commercial "concessions" the diminutive, but brave, RINS Ermanno

Chinese earlier had granted to other Carlotto, commissioned at Shanghai in
nations. "Concessions and foreign 1921.
settlements had been established [by
various treaties] which were in Additional British gunboats were the
practically every sense of the word a HMS Teal, Cockshafer, Gnat, and
piece of the sovereign territory of the Scarab. The French fleet included the
country concerned, and in which the FNS Balny and the Doudart de la Gree.
controlling foreign powers retained The Chinese fleet included the RCN
the rights of policing and governing, Yuen Nan, Chi Tung, and Chen Tung
delegated to a council of resident and the Japanese maintained perhaps
merchants. In a settlement, such as at the most pervasive and ultimately
Shanghai, foreigners might lease land most fateful naval presence. Among
directly from native proprietors, who others, they patrolled the HIMJS
could as well hold properties for Hodero, Hodzu, Momo and Shinoki.
their own use. A concession was a To varying degrees, the Grangers were
foreign leasehold where land could familiar with most of these gunboats.
not be subleased [back] to Chinese
and from which Chinese could be So, how were Walter and Anna
individually denied entry." (Tolley, p. Granger involved with the gunboats of
23.) the Yangtze? Well, that's another story
for another time.
"[The] Americans . . . gained [their
access by negotiating] 'most favored -- by Vin Morgan
nation' status, enjoying many
privileges given others by treaty. This
would have a profound effect on the
Sources: CAE Diaries of Walter and
lives of Americans in China for
Anna Granger; U.S. Navy Ship logs
another century. Through 'extra
and reports, National Archives;
territoriality' they would enjoy the
"Yangtze Patrol: the U.S. Navy in
same personal rights and guarantees
China" by Kemp Tolley (1971);
as of they had been at their own
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting
firesides in the United States; Chinese
Ships; "Riding Shotgun on the
law could not touch them anywhere
Yangtze" by David H. Grover (1993);
in China." (Tolley, p. 23.)
and Kemp Tolley (USA) and Michael
Phillips (GB), personal
"With the end of World War I, a new communication. Corrections,
era opened in China. The trading additions, and observations are
nations, less Germany, came back
welcome. (VLM.)
stronger than ever, determined to be
their own policemen, as it was
evident that the former amorphous
Imperial authority had been replaced
by near anarchy. The Yangtze Valley
was a cockpit of inter provincial from an e-mail received 6-10-2000:

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

warlord strife, overlaid by primary

schisms between rice-eating south "Dear Mr. Morgan:
and grain-eating north, in which the
river was a natural dividing line. At . . . I feel very fortunate to have
this stage [1918], it was considered discovered your website the other
unsporting to shoot at a foreign day. I have a feeling that you may
gunboat, except perhaps in Szechwan have the answers to many questions I
[Sichuan], where different house have regarding my great uncle [Albert
rules prevailed . . . [but by] 1919, "Bill" Thomson] which can't seem to
disorders were endemic throughout be answered by . . . the AMNH
the Yangtze Valley as a result of the [American Museum of Natural
north-south hostilities." (Tolley, p. History]. . . .
"For over 2,000 years the Yangtze
river has been the spine and central
nervous system of China. It is 3,500 from an e-mail received 6-17-2000:
miles long and the Chinese give it
two names: from the mouth to Suifu "Hi:
(Ipin) is Ch'ang Kiang [Chang Jiang],
or Long River; upriver from there it Although I'm retiring soon from the
becomes Kin'sha Kiang [Jinsha Jiang], AMNH, I have an interest in getting
or River of the Golden Sand. The the record straight if it is in error. . . .
American naval presence began in I . . . would appreciate receiving your
June 1854 when the USS previous [newsletters], plus being put
Susquehanna sailed up to Wuhu and on the mailing list for future ones. . . .
back for "ship-keeping" duty. The
USS Ashuelot was first U.S. Navy boat [MCM]"
to travel up the river through the
gorges. It did so from May to July of
1874 and thereby established a AN OBSERVATION
thousand-mile-long route between
Shanghai and Ichang [Yichang] that
"The relation of hoax and popular
would be followed by countless
natural history is unnervingly close."
American gunboats over the next
Donna Haraway, Primate Visions
seventy-five years. The American
(Routledge, 1989) at p. 279.
fleet became known as the Yangtze
Patrol or YangPat."
Yangtze river gunboats came in a
variety of designs ranging, for
example, from the well-planned HMS
Widgeon to the less so USS Monocacy Our website designer Kathleen Fetner
(II) to boats captured in the Spanish- has her own wonderful collection of
American War, such as the USS 1920s China letters and photographs

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

Elcano, to converted private yachts, from her grandparents Donald and

such as the rather large, deep-draft Erma Smythe. Don was a geology
USS Isabel built in 1917 by Bath Iron professor at Tienstin University and
Works, Bath, ME and acquired before Erma was a journalist. Their letters
completion by the U.S. Navy and photographs are splendid.
(originally for use as a small
destroyer) from her owner, It just so happens that the Smythes
automobile manufacturer John North also mingled professionally and
Willys of Toledo, Ohio. socially with some of the members of
the Central Asiatic Expeditions, a
All of these gunboats served with fascinating connection between our
many other somewhere along the projects that came to light because of
Yangtze during the 1920s, but only a the Internet!
precious few could operate beyond
Yichang. Not all gunboats were river
gunboats and not all river gunboats WALTER GRANGER
were suited where the mighty MEMORIAL AWARD
currents, dangerous rapids, and
narrow gorges ruled. The Walter Granger Memorial Award
honors any person who, like Walter
Of the American gunboat fleet in Granger (1872-1941), makes
1923, only Palos and Monocacy (II) significant, steady and selfless
were shallow-drafted enough to contributions to paleontology
operate between Yichang and throughout the course of their work
Chongqing [old Chungking] and even while setting aside any need for
then both were considered overstatement or self-promotion.
underpowered for the strength of the
Yangtze river flow.

A gunboat was (and still is) a small,

armed vessel. Generally it was less
than 200 feet in length, had a crew of
less than 100, and carried only light

For example, the American Monocacy design by John R. Lavas

(II) was shallow-drafted, single screw
driven, and powered by steam Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska was
produced from coal (or wood) announced as the first recipient on
boilers. Her statistics were: hull - November 7, 1998, the 126th
iron; displacement - 204 tons;
anniversary of Walter Granger's birth.
dimensions - length 165'6" x beam
24'6" x draft 2'5"; speed - 13.25
knots; complement - 47;

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

USS Monocacy (II) in full dress at Chongqing, 1932.

(U.S. Naval Institute photo)

The Granger Report is published quarterly (on or about the 15th of the first
month) and is a gradual, if random, assemblage of items acquired through
cumulative selection. To inquire about prior issues of The Granger Report, simply
e-mail us. You may fax us at 603-868-5321 (USA). Copyright © by Vincent L. Morgan
for The Granger Papers Project. All rights reserved. Information may not be republished or
redistributed without our prior written authorization.

The Granger Papers Project is an independent research, editing and writing project featuring
the personal expedition diaries and letters of American paleontologist and explorer Walter
Granger (1872-1941) and his wife Anna (1874-1952). In several significant respects, this is the
first treatment of Walter Granger's era based on a significantly more complete documentary
record. In addition to paleontology, the study of evolution, and Granger's pioneering fieldwork
in the Faiyum of Egypt in 1907, in China and Mongolia from 1921 to 1930 (Central Asiatic
Expeditions), and in the American West throughout his life, research topics include: American
foreign policy; western civilian, missionary, and military interests in Asia; the First and Second
Asiatic Expeditions; The Explorers Club; the American Museum of Natural History; and
previously published accounts of, by, or about the aforesaid. Address interest or inquiry to us

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The Granger Report-3rdQ/2000

Please note the following limits on use of any of The Granger Papers Project written matter
and/or images contained throughout this website:

1) We believe information is freedom. Any person may use, store, manipulate, project,
reproduce, and display the recorded images for any purpose associated with their own
educational purposes. Images may be incorporated into educational exercises for students
enrolled in the user's own classes at any institution of learning any where located. We would
appreciate notice of your use; and

2) No image may be displayed, reproduced, stored, transmitted or manipulated for sale or

profit by the user, including training sessions and continuing education programs, without the
written consent of The Granger Papers Project. Permission of The Granger Papers Project is
required for inclusion of images in papers for publication, company reports, derivative works,
or compilations. A royalty may be assessed.

The Granger Papers Project website was launched on 1 February 1997. We thank Kathleen
Fetner for this website design.

To the memory of Dr. Norman Charles Morgan (1919-1969) and Jonathan Patrick Morgan

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