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1st Quarter - Jan. 15, 2001
Masthead photos: Walter and Anna Granger, ca. 1900.
FOSSIL-HUNTER'S GUIDE TO THE YANGTZE PATROL, 1923 Yangtze River, Sichuan Province, March, 24, 1923, early afternoon1 Walter Granger and his party finish tiffin aboard their rented junk as they sail down the Yangtze from Wanhsien (Wanxian). The day before, Granger had just escaped a week-long entrapment at the outskirts of a warlord battle for control of Wanhsien. As the fighting eased, Granger was able to leave his highlands base camp for the river to make his way back to Wanhsien. He was now evacuating his expedition down river: wife Anna, Chinese assistants James V. Wong, "Buckshot" (Kan Chuen Pao) and cook "Chow", and a large cargo of fossils and other specimens. The way to relative safety down river in Ichang took them through the Three Gorges. This section of Yangtze river travel posed special danger. Canyon walls narrowed thrice to create separate systems featuring ferocious rapids, whirlpools and shoals, each of the
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Based on Walter Granger's 1907 expedition diary and photographs. For children and adults, 32 pages of text, color illustrations, running glossary. Softcover. Scheduled for publication in spring of 2001. Price about $16.95 plus shipping and handling. Add $5.00 for autographed copies. Please direct inquiries and orders to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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three specializing in one over the others. Armed bandits, renegade soldiers and hoodlums also lay hidden along the riverbanks waiting to fire at boats hoping to disable and crash them against one shore or the other. Granger was wary: he had experienced all this before. In interludes before and between his five summer expeditions to the Gobi from 1922 to 1930, he made four winter fossil-hunting expeditions to southern China (1921-1927). His purpose in Sichuan Province was to collect the Pleistocene mammal fossils -- known to the Chinese as "lung ku" (dragon bones) -- found buried deep in crevices and pits of the Paleozoic limestone ridges paralleling the Yangtze River along the south bank upriver from Wanhsien. Chinese farmers mined the fossils in the off-season to wholesale to druggists who crushed them into powder for retail as a medicinal cure. Granger was the first trained paleontologist to identify localities and collect fossils in Sichuan Province and produced a significant collection of Pleistocene vertebrates.2 This effort was termed the "Chinese Branch" of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, a branch which included expeditions by herpetologist Clifford H. Pope to southern and western China. Since both Granger and Pope began making their expeditions in 1921, the Central Asiatic Expeditions actually ran from 1921 to 1930, not 1922 to 1930. That is, there was
continued - ("FOSSIL-HUNTER'S GUIDE TO THE YANGTZE PATROL, 1923.")
Granger notified Lieutenant Commander George W. Simpson aboard the USS Palos stationed at Wanhsien of his decision to make the run down river. Simpson immediately arranged to escort Granger's junk down as far as Pan Tuo, twenty-five miles south of Wanhsien.7 Anna went aboard the Palos for that leg of the trip. Granger's junk reached Pan Tuo safely at around noon, followed by the Palos. The two craft were moored there, Granger's junk made fast to the Palos, for the rest of the day to allow a much needed R & R -- hiking trips to the Hsin Lung Tan or a nearby temple, some duck-hunting, and perhaps a baseball game. A post boat and two other junks arrived that evening and dropped anchor nearby. At dawn the next morning, two men from the Palos went aboard Granger's junk. It was then cast off and headed down river: the Palos returned upriver to Wanhsien. That afternoon, as they entered Wushan Gorge, Granger and his party knew they were not yet out of danger. As the river narrowed and the cliffs of the gorge steepened, Granger scanned the cliffs on both sides with his field glasses, rising from his chair and stepping to the open deck space aft of the junk's cabin. Within seconds he sighted a man gesturing to another man aiming a rifle. Granger guessed the second man was a sniper and the first man was signaling him to prepare to fire and
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substantially more to the Central Asiatic Expeditions than five trips to the Gobi. So, by 1923, Granger was wellacquainted with life along the Yangtze River. He knew the river not only for its incredible beauty and many uses, but for its awesome power and danger. More than once had he shot the dangerous rapids, shoals, and whirlpools of the Three Gorges. And more than once had he been shot at. Robbery and vandalism, he knew, were reasons why American and British gunboats, as well as those from other nations, patrolled the Yangtze. Though he generally journeyed the Yangtze by junk or steamship, Granger was well-acquainted with the boats and crews of American and British navy patrols. Britain's gunboats Widgeon and Teal and America's gunboats Elcano, Monocacy, Palos and Quiros were among his regular contacts. When Granger advised the commander of the Palos of his intention to leave Wanhsien immediately, the commander offered to escort him out of the city. The Palos was a 165.5 foot long, shallow-draft (2.5 feet), iron-hulled, screw-driven vessel, displacing 204 tons and carrying an average crew of fiftyone. It was built in 1914 and had a top speed of 13.25 knots, barely adequate to negotiate the Yangtze's rapids.3 But it carried serious weaponry, and a foreign flag. Generals Chang Chung of the 1st Army and Yang Sheng of the 2nd
shouted an alarm. Anna hurried into the junk's cabin. She hastily put bedding and pillows against the walls to slow any bullet that pierced the wall. Less than a minute passed, the junk was now fully within the narrows of Wushan Gorge. A bullet smacked the water at the stern. Intended for the junk's steersman, the shooter wanted to disable him. Loss of steering would throw the junk into confusion and cause it to wreck. Granger returned fire with his pistol instantly, as did his Chinese assistants Jim Wong and Buckshot with their rifles. Anna flattened herself out on the floor of the cabin just as their Chinese cook Chow hurled himself through the entryway toward the very same spot, nearly crushing Anna. Together they inched along the floor and down into the junk's hold. An unarmed Chinese soldier, taken aboard at Wanhsien after begging for a ride, took off his uniform and hid in the cabin. With their automatic pistols, U.S. Navy Seaman 2nd class P.N. McRoberts and Fireman 3rd class Burt Crabtree returned fire along with Granger, Wong, and Buckshot. The steersman turned the junk toward the opposite shore. Forty-three rounds were fired back at the sniper's position. Only two other shots came from the bank, both aimed at the junk's oarsmen. The sniper did not succeed and it will never be known whether he even survived return fire. Why were two, armed American sailors aboard Granger's junk? "3/23/23 - USS Palos: Pan Tuo. Moored as before. At
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Army began their final battle for Wanhsien in early March of 1923. Chang Chung, then current military chief of the Wanhsien district,4 had earlier ousted Yang Sheng from that very position and then repelled an attempt by Yang Sheng to retake the city. This time, however, Yang Sheng's effort to retake Wanhsien was aided by powerful Chinese warlord Wu P'ei-fu.5 Chang Chung was worried enough by the change in balance to send his wife out of the city -- conclusive proof to observers that this coming round would not go well for the General. On March 6th, elements of Yang Sheng's 2nd Army advanced from the southwest across the Yangtze to enter the outskirts of Wanhsien. Granger's base camp lay in their path. Over the next several days, advancing and retreating troops of both armies ebbed and flowed past Granger's doorstep at Yenchingkuo (Yangjingou). Granger and his assistants kept 24-hour watch while the fit, the wounded, and the stragglers of the 2nd Army advanced, then retreated, then advanced again in a exhausting, deadly dance of resolution with the 1st. Granger and his men slept little, remaining fully clothed with personal weapons at the ready all the while. Early on the morning of March 7, Granger learned that General Yang Sheng himself was about to pass by: "All quiet during the night. About daybreak the first group of the advancing 2nd Army passed through the valley and another
6:00 McRoberts, P.N., S2c, and Crabtree, Burt, F3c, were transferred to the junk of Dr. Granger for transfer to the United States Ship Quiros for further transfer to the United States and to act as protection for the passengers and Junk in accordance with Commanding Officer's orders."8 Brought up for discharge on bad conduct charges several weeks before, Seaman 2nd class McRoberts and Fireman 3rd class Crabtree were awaiting transfer down river from the Palos for remand to the United States and exit from the Navy.9 Because warlord activity along the Yangtze was so intense during this time, the Palos was forced to remain on duty at Wanhsien and could not take McRoberts and Crabtree down river. No other ship could leave its post to go upriver to get them: fighting throughout the Yangtze valley had forced the gunboats to remain at their stations and most commercial traffic to cease. When Granger decided to escape Wanhsien, Commander Simpson knew he couldn't escort Granger all the way to Ichang, but he could put McRoberts and Crabtree on board Granger's junk for added protection as well as to finally get McRoberts and Crabtree off his gunboat and down river. The gunboat USS Quiros stationed at Ichang could eventually take the men down to Shanghai for transport back to the States. Commander Simpson issued pistols to McRoberts and Crabtree for protection with the understanding that upon their arrival at Ichang, they would to hand
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group arrived shortly afterward and stopped for rest and to cook rice. General Yang, in a chair, came through about 6 o'clock and I went down to greet him as he passed. He returned the greeting most cordially." Yang Sheng's eventual rout of Chang Chung led to the hasty construction of a floating bridge across the Yangtze just upriver of Wanhsien so that Yang Sheng could quickly bring more troops and supplies in to secure the city. The floating bridge was made of five, stout bamboo cables stretched across the river and anchored to boulders on either side.6 Sixty-six junks were then secured to the bamboo cables, every second junk with anchor down. Additional lines were secured to various points upriver. Planking was laid across to form a roadway. Telegraph wires were run across as well. Yang Sheng had another 10,000 troops to bring across the Yangtze. The floating bridge was the fastest way to move them. But it also blocked river traffic: commerce and allied gunboat patrols were brought to a standstill. Domestic and foreign river users protested vigorously. Yang Sheng answered that his need to move troops was more urgent than river commerce and international patrolling. Anyway, he said, politely ignoring charges that it constituted a blockade in violation of international treaty rights, the bridge was only temporary. Yang Sheng's "temporary" bridge
them back over to the commanding officer of the Quiros who would have them returned to the Palos "by the most convenient method after steamer traffic [was re-]opened." While armed navy men were occasionally assigned to protect non-military commercial craft on the Yangtze, this is the only known instance when they were used to protect a private party. Granger was happy for the help. After reaching Ichang, he wrote Simpson: "Arrived safely at noon on the 27th... In the Wushan Gorge, at noon on the 24th, we were fired upon by a small band of robbers on the side of a cliff some two hundred feet above the river, and a couple of hundred yards away... We opened up with everything we had and got in forty odd rounds before the party broke up. Your men fired about ten rounds each with their automatics and McRoberts tried a few shots with our rifle... We might have pulled out of the mess by ourselves, but I was mighty glad to have your two men along... I feel that the 3d Asiatic Expedition [renamed the Central Asiatic Expeditions] is much indebted to the Commanders of the Upper River Gunboats."10 --by Vin Morgan E-MAILS Hi Somehow I was fortunate enough to stumble onto your web page and I love it! I am a volunteer docent (since 1991) at the American Museum of Natural
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was so thoroughly built that not even a powerful gunboat could breach it, as the commander of the French gunboat Doudart de la Gree discovered on March 13. The bridge's engineer had boasted of the bridge's strength, but also claimed that no section of it could be opened for fear it would destroy the overall structural integrity. An aggressive French gunboat commander decided to try anyway by ramming his craft into it at full speed several times, to no avail. He might have waited a few days. Anna Granger noted in her diary entry for March 16th that magically "the bridge of boats is now open every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m." and that "Walter should have no trouble in bringing his junk down from [a few miles upriver]." Though the immediate conflict had cleared his vicinity by March 12, Granger did not try leave his base camp for Wanhsien until March 19, for it wasn't until then that he learned by note via runner from Anna in Wanhsien, where she had been for the entire battle, that the bridge opened for river traffic five hours a day. Even so, Granger's junk could not sail into Wanhsien harbor that next day. The bridge closed an hour early on the 19th. So while Granger's junk and precious cargo lay moored in the river beyond the bridge with three armed Chinese assistants remaining on board overnight, Granger had to make his way into the city on foot. Once there, he
History and have been a volunteer at AMNH since 1989. Having grown up in Vermont..., I immediately felt a kinship to Walter Granger. A tour that I do in the fossil halls addresses artists and explorers and Granger is, of course, prominently featured. I am also a member of the Explorers Club..., and also do tours for the club, so when we get to the Presidents photos, I again speak of Walter Granger. Now I have more information from your web page thank you! Best regards, SZ CORRECTION Our story on Chaco Canyon last quarter should have stated that the visit by Wortman, Granger, et al., occurred, and photographs taken, in June (not July) of 1896.
Source: "List of mammals collected by Mr. Walter W. Granger, in New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska, 1895-96, with Field Notes by the Collector." Bulletin, AMNH, 1896, Vol. VIII, pp. 241-258.
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found Anna still safe at the China Inland Mission. But the situation was still tense and Granger decided to leave Wanhsien immediately. Equipment and fossils were brought ashore the next day for repacking and reloading: the plan was to depart Wanhsien by the dawn of March 21. (continued -->)
FOOTNOTES ("FOSSIL-HUNTER'S GUIDE TO THE YANGTZE PATROL, 1923."): 1. Except where otherwise noted, this narrative is based on the unpublished 1923 Szechuan expedition diaries of Walter and Anna Granger. Source: The Granger Papers Project. 2. For a technical description of these fossils, see [Granger, W.], Colbert, E.H., and D.A. Hooijer, "Pleistocene Mammals from the Limestone Fissures of Szechwan, China," Bull. AMNH (1953), v. 102:1-134. Though not named as a co-author, sadly, Walter Granger's work -- his collection of the fossils and his notes, diagrams, maps, and correspondence concerning them -- clearly constitutes this paper. It could not have been prepared and published without him, even posthumously. Therefore, Granger's de facto senior authorship is recognized here. 3. Directory of American Naval Fighting Ships. Source: United States Naval Institute. 4. USS Palos, Report of Operations for Week Ending 18 November 1922 (dtd. 20 November 1922). Source: National Archives. 5. Ch'i, Hsi-Sheng. 1976. Warlord Politics in China, 1916-1928. (Stanford: Stanford University Press). 6. See USS Palos, Report of Operations for Week Ending 17 March 1923 (dtd. 19 March 1923). Source: National Archives. 7. See USS Palos, Report of Operations for Week Ending 24 March 1923 (dtd. 26 March 1923). Source: National Archives. 8. USS Palos, Ship's Log - 23 March 1923. Source: National Archives. Vague reference is also found at page 9 in Riding Shotgun on the Yangtze (Western Maritime Press, 1993, David H. Grover, ed.). 9. USS Palos, Report of Operations for Week Ending 17 March 1923 (dtd. 19 March 1923). Source: National Archives. 10. USS Palos, Report of Operations for Week Ending 14 April 1923 (dtd. 16 April 1923). Source: National Archives.
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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, e-mail us.
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 at email@example.com
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. Please note the following limits specifically 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. In remembrance of Dr. Norman Charles Morgan (1919-1969), Jonathan Patrick Morgan (19451966) and Caroline Granger Morgan (1980- ).
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