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Felice Beato 
The Flag of the Commander in Chief of the Korean Forces 
1871, June 
  
Albumen print 
10 5/16 x 8 7/16 ins 
  
J. Paul Getty Museum 
Partial gift from the Wilson Centre for Photography, 2007.26.199.46 
  
 
LL/46092 
  
A letter of Captain McLane Tilton, USMC, who commanded the Marine detachment in 1871, was added by Alan Griffiths (22 February 2016) as it pertains to this photograph. Corporal Brown (left) and Private Purvis (middle), US Marine Corp, pose with their commanding officer, Captain Tilton on the right. Charles Brown, Corporal of the Marine Corp on the USS Colorado, and Hugh Purvis, a private in the Marine Corp board the USS Alaska were both awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions on 11 June 1871. Brown deserted in October 1871 before his medal was awarded.
 
Source: Miss Carolyn A. Tyson, 1 January 1966, Marine Amphibious Landing in Korea, 1871, (A Naval Historical Foundation Publication)
www.navyhistory.org/marine-amphibious-landing-in-korea-1871/

US Ship “Colorado” off Isle Boisée, Corea, Asia
June 21st 1871
 
My dearest Nannie,
 
My last letter, No. 13, gave you an account of the firing upon our launches from the Corean forts in the Salée River, whilst engaged in making soundings. I suppose you have all been very anxious about us since, as no doubt the papers have been filled with all sorts of dreadful prophecies in regard to the affair. I am glad to say I am alive still and kicking, although at one time I never expected to see my Wife and baby any more, and if it hadn’t been that the Coreans can’t shoot true, I never should. It is all over now, and as I expected, we have failed to make any treaty with the Coreans. The local authorities near us return all our communications sent on shore to be forwarded to their King, and our Expedition so far as a treaty goes has turned out to be fruitless. We have not force enough to go to their Capital in the interior even if our government directed us to do so. The Country is beautiful; filled with lovely hills & valleys running in every direction and cultivated with grain of all kinds which even now is turning to the colors indicating ripening. Everything is pretty and green, and the little thatched villages are snugly built in little nooks, surrounded by pines & other evergreens. We had a dreadful time on our Expedition, landed six hundred and eighty in all upon a muddy beach 1/4 mile wide, mud knee deep, but the guns of the Monocacy protected us shelling the first fortification where we landed and drove the Coreans out who retired firing at us, but didn’t hurt anyone. This was Saturday the 10th of June. We all camped that night, the Marines being in advance of the main body about 1/2 or 3/4 a mile. Early Sunday morning we started for the next fort, and took it without any opposition but found the guns in the fort, (brass breech loaders) all loaded, We knocked the ramparts down and proceeded to the great work of the Coreans a redoubt in a neck of land jutting into the river, which formed around it a bent elbow. This place we advanced on and when about 120 yards from it, we laid down on a ridge & blazed away killing about forty in the fort and then we stormed the place which was on a steep hill. The Corean soldiers fought like tigers, having been told by the King if they lost the place the heads of every body on Kang Hoa Island on which the forts stood, should be cut off. Poor Lieut. McKee who was such a beau at the Naval School was killed. He was the first to get over the wall of the redoubt when he was mortally wounded & died six hours afterwards. I and one of my Corporals & one of the Marines of the “Alaska” captured the big yellow flag that flew over the fort. The Alaska Marine was there a second or two before me & my Corporal, but while he was unknotting the halliards, my Corporal & I tore the flag down. It was about 12 feet square with a black chineese character in the centre. Today the Admiral ordered our photograph to be taken with the flag spread behind us, (the Corpl. Private & me), so you will no doubt feel glad that your old man gets a little credit without a hole through his skin, which by the by is about the color of a roasted chestnut at this present writing. I wrote a report of what we did during the 10 & 11 of June at direction of the Commanding Officer, 21 and send by this mail a copy of it to General Zeilin. If you want to know all about it get Mrs. Z. to have it copied for you. Old Schley 23 distinguished himself too, and came near extinguishing himself also. But he is as hearty as a buck, and I don’t think any of us will be in any more danger during the cruise. As for me I am quite satisfied, “I have not lost no Coreans”, and “I ain’t alooking for none neither”- I want to go home! The way the “gingall” or match-lock bullets whizzed was a caution to all those innocents engaged in war. My precious girl I am one of those innocents, and I dont want to engage in any more sick business. We will leave here before long going across to Cheefoo, on the China Coast, from thence to Yokohama so when you get this you may rest assured that none of us are to lose our skins. Your no. 33 & 34 came safely here to me, from Cheefoo, where they had been sent from Japan, Many thanks for them…
 
Affectionately Mc_______…. 
 

 
  
 
  
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