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Distinguished Soldier


Bismarck reported to area papers that the city was entertaining a distinguished guest on this day in 1911. The guest was Second Lieutenant Calvin Pearl Titus, who had earned fame as the first soldier to scale the walls of Peking, China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

The Boxer Rebellion was a Chinese reaction to foreign intervention in China during the second half of the nineteenth-century. Several countries, including Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the United States, had economical and social interests in China at this time. A social group arose in China that opposed foreign presence in the country and stirred anti-foreign and anti-Christian resentment among China’s rural and industrial populations. The group called themselves the “Righteous Harmonious Fists”, but its members were referred to as ‘boxers’ by foreigners. The boxers soon began an intense campaign of violence against foreigners and Chinese Christians within the country, but China’s Imperial Court failed to take a stand against the faction.

China’s leaders feared that a stand against the popular group would initiate an overthrow of the government. Meanwhile, the foreign powers were compelled to take action to protect their citizens within China. The majority of persecuted Christians and foreign missionaries had congregated in the capital city of Peking. Telegraphs began arriving from the city asking their home-countries for help. The allies, including the United States, deployed troops to the city to save the trapped citizens. Among those deployed was 21-year old Calvin Pearl Titus of the America Army’s Fourteenth Infantry. After a long siege, the foreign powers were able to take the city of Peking on August 14, 1900. Lieutenant Titus was the first soldier to make it over the walls of the city, amid a storm of Chinese fire. He was later presented a medal of honor in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Titus was also appointed to West Point Military Academy for his actions, where he remained until his graduation in 1905.

Lieutenant Titus was in Bismarck on this day in 1911 to act as assistant instructor for the North Dakota National Guard training sessions at Fort Lincoln. The capital city was proud to entertain such a distinguished soldier. The lieutenant remained in the city for nearly a week before returning to his station at Fort William Henry Harrison north of Helena, Montana.



Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, June 7, 1911: p. 2.