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Kempff, Louis

Naval officer; born near Belleville, Ill., Oct. 11, 1841; graduated at the United States Naval Academy in 1861; and was assigned to the Vandalia on blockading duty off Charleston. While there he captured the schooner Henry Middleton, of Charleston, and took it to New York. On Nov. 7 he participated in the battle at Port Royal, S. C. He was made lieutenant in 1862. During the remainder of the Civil War he served on the Wabash and other vessels of the Atlantic and Gulf squadrons; took part in the bombardment of Sewell's Point, Va., in May, 1862; and in the reoccupation of Norfolk, Va. In 1866 he was promoted lieutenant-commander; in 1876, commander; in 1891, captain; and in 1899, rear-admiral. In 1900, when the Boxer troubles broke out in China, he was assigned to the command of the American naval forces in Chinese waters. He arrived at Taku on the Newark, May 28, and on the following day sent ashore 108 marines. The other foreign war-ships in the harbor also landed about 100 men each. When an attempt was made to send this international force to Peking to rescue the members of the foreign legations there, the Tsung-li-Yamen (or Chinese foreign office) refused permission, but subsequently a portion of the allied troops,

Louis Kempff.

including sixty-three American marines, were sent by train to the capital, reaching it on June 1. The troubles grew rapidly worse, and on June 17 the foreign admirals at Taku, with the exception of Admiral Kempff, sent a demand for the evacuation of the Taku forts by 2 P. M. In answer to this demand the Chinese opened fire upon the foreign war-ships which had congregated in the harbor. The British, French, Russian, and Japanese ships replied, and after seven hours the forts surrendered. At first there was general regret among naval officers and others that Admiral Kempff had not taken part in the bombardment of the forts. Later, however, he gave as his reasons that a state of war against China did not exist; that such an attack would be legally an act of war; and that formal aggression by the foreign governments would be regarded by the Chinese as constituting a state of war, would unite all the Chinese against the powers, and increase the difficulty of settling the trouble. These reasons were found to be in strict harmony with the policy of the United States government. Admiral Kempff's action was approved by his [232] government, and was subsequently commended by many European statesmen.

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