You let him on board” cried the USS Monocacy. “No” replied Cpl Watson nervously but firmly.  “Here go ahead anyway” urged the Monocacy to the befuddled chief watertender.  Cpl Watson drew his gun “He shall not pass.”   

-Dialog recorded by the Captain of the USS Palos when the USS Monocacy forcibly tried to transfer an unwanted and poor performing sailor upon the Palos and the Palos’s Captain gave orders to the Marine guard to prevent his transfer.

-          From Gunboat on the Yangtze by Glenn Howell  


After the first few years of the twentieth century the navy maintained two squadrons of gunboats in China, a southern squadron out of Hong Kong and a Yangtze River squadron out of Shanghai.  Marines did not normally serve aboard these ships, a part for two larger gunboats:the USS Wilmington and USS Helena.  Carrying around 40 Marines these men served as the gunboat flotilla’s strike force.  Both ships were replaced in the 1920’s by the USS Ashville, USS Tulsa, and briefly the USS Sacramento, but Marines continued to maintain a presence aboard these newer ships.  On occasion, when the necessity dictated Marines could find themselves embarked on a number of smaller gunboats for brief periods, such as Cpl Watson and his Marines were in 1920.  In addition, during the troubles in the Yangtze Valley in the mid-1920’s through the mid 1930’s Marines found themselves aboard American flagged cargo vessels operating on the great river.  All gunboats were subordinate to the Commander of the US Asiatic Fleet.

For views along the Yangtze River click here.

For viewing the log of Private Walter Klinepeter, gunboat Marine, click here.


1Lt William Paca and the Marine Detachment, USS Tulsa, North China