Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff.

Banzai! by Parabellum online

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What could the two cruisers _New York_ and _Brooklyn_, lying in dock for
repairs, do without a single ball-cartridge on board? What was the good
of the deck guards using up their cartridges before the red flag of
Nippon was hoisted above the Stars and Stripes?

It is true there was a fight at one spot - out at Winfield Scott.
Although the fog proved of great assistance to the Japanese in a hundred
cases, the stipulated signal for attack, that is, the whistle of the
Japanese auxiliary cruiser _Pelung Maru_, for example, being taken for a
fog-signal, nevertheless an annoying surprise awaited the enemy

A steamer headed towards the Golden Gate in the wake of the _Pelung
Maru_ heard the roar of the sealions, and as this showed how near they
were to the cliffs, the vessel dropped anchor and instead of blowing its
whistle ordered the ship's bell to be rung. This was heard by the
_Pelung Maru_ a short distance ahead and interpreted as a sign that
something had occurred to disturb the plan of attack. A steamlaunch was
therefore sent out to look for the anchored ship.

The latter was the German steamer _Siegismund_, whose captain, standing
on the bridge, suddenly saw a dripping little launch approaching with
its flag trailing behind it in the water. And just as in every cleverly
arranged plan one stupid oversight is apt to occur so it happened now.
The launch carried the Japanese flag and the lieutenant at the helm
called to the _Siegismund_ in Japanese. As they were directly before the
guns of the American batteries, the German captain didn't know what to
make of it. He couldn't imagine what the launch from a Japanese warship
could be doing here at dawn before the Golden Gate fortifications, and
thinking that the fact would be likely to be of interest to the
commander of the fort, he sent him the following wireless message: "Have
just met launch of a Japanese warship off Seal-Rocks; what does it

This information alarmed the garrison at Winfield Scott, and the men at
once received orders to man the guns. Then they waited breathlessly to
see what would happen next.

An inquiry sent by wireless to the other stations remained unanswered,
because these were already in the hands of the Japanese, whose operators
were not quick-witted enough to send back a reassuring answer. As the
commander of the fort received no answer, he became suspicious, and
these suspicions were soon justified when a number of soldiers were
discovered trying to force their way into the narrow land entrance of
the fort. A few shots fired during the first bayonet assault and the
bullets landing within the fort showed that it was a serious matter.
Besides, a puff of wind dispersed the fog for a few seconds just then,
and the shadowy silhouettes of several large ships became visible.
Without a moment's hesitation the commander of Winfield Scott ordered
the men to open fire on them from the heavy guns. These were the shots
that had been heard at the San Francisco Post Office and Tom was quite
right in thinking that he heard the rattle of musketry directly

But with the small stock of ammunition doled out to the coast defenses
in times of peace - there were plenty of blank cartridges for salutes - it
was impossible to hold Winfield Scott. The fort sent out a few dozen
shells into the fog pretty blindly, and, as a matter of fact, they hit
nothing. Then began the hopeless battle between the garrison and the
Japanese machine-guns, and although the shots from the latter were
powerless to affect the walls and the armor-plating, still they worked
havoc among the men. And the ammunition of the Americans disappeared
even more quickly than their men, so that when at ten o'clock two
Japanese regiments undertook to capture the fort by storm, the last
defender fell with practically the last cartridge. Then the Rising Sun
of Dai Nippon was substituted on the flagstaff of Winfield Scott for
the Stars and Stripes.

In the city itself small Japanese guards were posted at the railway
station, the Post Office and the telegraph offices, at the City Hall and
at most of the public buildings, and as early as this, on the morning of
May seventh, troops for the march eastward were being landed at the pier
at Oakland. A standing garrison of only five thousand men was left in
San Francisco, and these at once occupied the coast-batteries and
prepared them for defense. The same thing was of course done with the
docks and the naval station, with Oakland and all the other towns
situated on the bay.

The sudden appearance of the enemy had in every case had a positively
paralyzing effect. Among the inhabitants of the coast the terrible
feeling prevailed everywhere that this was the end, that nothing could
be done against an enemy whose soldiers crept out of every hole and
cranny, and even when a few courageous men did unite for the purpose of
defending their homes, they found no followers. It is a pity that others
did not show the resolute courage of a Mexican fisherman's wife, who
reached the harbor of San Francisco with a good catch early on Monday
morning and made fast to the pier close to a Japanese destroyer. Almost
immediately a Japanese petty officer came on board and demanded the
catch for the use of the Japanese army. The woman, a coarse beauty with
a fine mustache, planted herself in front of the Jap and shouted: "What,
you shrimp, you want our fish, do you?" and seizing a good-sized silver
fish lying on the deck, she boxed the astonished warrior's ears right
and left till he fell over backwards into the water and swam quickly
back to the destroyer, snorting like a seal, amidst the laughter of the

The question naturally suggests itself at this point: Why didn't a
people as determined as the Americans rise like one man and, arming
themselves with revolvers and pistols and if it came to the worst with
such primitive weapons as knives and spokes, attack the various small
Japanese garrisons and free their country from this flood of swarming
yellow ants? The white handbills posted up at every street corner
furnished the answer to the question.

The municipal authorities were made responsible to the Japanese military
governor, who was clever enough to leave the entire American municipal
administration unaltered, even down to the smallest detail. Even the
local police remained in office. The whole civil life went on as before,
and only the machine-guns in front of the Japanese guard-houses situated
at the various centers of traffic showed who was now ruler in the land.
All the officials and the whole city administration were bound by a
marvelously clever and effective system.

In the proclamations issued by the Japanese military governor the city
was threatened, should the slightest sign of resistance occur, with acts
of vengeance that positively took one's breath away. Three Japanese
cruisers, with their guns constantly loaded and manned and aimed
directly at the two cities, lay between Oakland and San Francisco. They
had orders to show no mercy and to commence a bombardment at the first
sign of trouble. It did not seem to have occurred to any one that
although the bombardment of a town like San Francisco by a few dozen
guns might indeed have a bad moral effect, it would nevertheless be
impossible to do much harm. But the Japanese had other trump cards up
their sleeves. The military governor declared that the moment they were
compelled to use the guns, he would cut off all the available supply of
water and light, by which means all resistance would be broken down
within twenty-four hours. For this reason all the gas-works and
electric plants were transformed into little forts and protected by
cannon and machine-guns. Tens of thousands might try, in vain, to take
them by storm; the city would remain wrapped in darkness, except, as the
Japanese general remarked with a polite smile to the Mayor of San
Francisco, for the bright light of bursting shells.

In the same way the municipal waterworks in San Francisco and all the
other towns occupied by the Japanese were insured against attack. Not
one drop of water would the town receive, and what that meant could be
best explained to the Mayor by his wife. And thus, in spite of their
often ridiculously small numbers, the Japanese troops were safe from
surprise, for the awful punishment meted out to the town of Stockton,
where a bold and quickly organized band of citizens destroyed the
Japanese garrison, consisting only of a single company, was not likely
to be disregarded. The entire population of the Pacific Coast was forced
to submit quietly, though boiling with rage, while at the same time all
listened eagerly for the report of cannon from the American army in the
east. But was there such a thing as an American army? Was there any
sense in hoping when months must pass before an American army could take
the field?

* * * * *

The deception of the _Evening Standard_ by means of the fatal telegram
was preceded by an instructive episode. Indeed, it might well be asked
whether anything that happened in this terrible time could not be traced
back pretty far. In order that the news of the naval maneuvers in the
_Evening Standard_ should receive sufficient attention on the critical
day, this paper and consequently the inhabitants of San Francisco had
for some months past been taught to expect over the signature "Our
Naval Correspondent," amazingly correct accounts of the movements of the
American fleet and all matters pertaining to the navy.

Mr. Alfred Stephenson had hard work to keep his head above water as
editor of the _Los Angeles Advertiser_ at Los Angeles. The struggle for
existence gave him considerable cause for worry, and this was due to the
fact that Mrs. Olinda Stephenson wished to cut a figure in society, a
figure that was not at all compatible with her husband's income. Mr.
Stephenson was therefore often called upon to battle with temptation,
but for a long time he successfully withstood all offers the acceptance
of which would have lowered him in his own estimation. The consequence
was that financial discussion had become chronic in the Stephenson
household, and, like a Minister of Finance, he was compelled to develop
considerable energy in order to diminish the financial demands of the
opposition or render them void by having recourse to passive resistance.
This constant worry gradually exhausted Mr. Stephenson, however, and the
check-book, which, to save his face, he always carried with him, was
nothing more than a piece of useless bluff.

He could therefore scarcely be blamed for eagerly seizing the
opportunity offered him one evening at a bar in Los Angeles, when a
stranger agreed to furnish him regularly with news from the Navy
Department for the _Evening Standard_. The affair had, of course, to be
conducted with the greatest secrecy. The stranger told Stephenson that a
clerk in the Navy Department was willing to send him such news for two
hundred dollars per annum. The result was astonishing. The articles
signed "Our Naval Correspondent" soon attracted wide attention, and the
large fees received from San Francisco quite covered the deficits in the
Stephenson household. Mrs. Olinda was soon rolling in money and the
tiresome financial discussions came to a speedy end. From that time on
Stephenson regularly received secret communications, which were mailed
at Pasadena, and as to the origin of which he himself remained in
complete ignorance. But these same messages enabled the _Evening
Standard_ in a brief space of time to establish a national reputation
for its naval news, which was at no time officially contradicted.

The matter did not, of course, pass unnoticed in Washington, for it soon
became evident that secret dispatches were being misappropriated.
Vigorous efforts were made to discover the guilty person in the Navy
Department, but they all proved vain for the following reason: Among the
wireless stations used for maintaining constant communication between
the Navy Department at Washington and the various naval ports and naval
stations, and the fleet itself when at sea, was the large station on
Wilson's Peak near the observatory, whose shining tin-roof can be seen
plainly from Los Angeles when the sun strikes it. All messages arriving
there for transmission to San Diego and Mare Island could be readily
intercepted by the wireless apparatus attached inconspicuously to the
huge wind-wheel on an orange plantation between Pasadena and Los
Angeles. The uninitiated would have concluded that the wires had
something to do with a lightning-rod. The Japanese proprietor of the
plantation had simply to read the messages from the Morse key of his
apparatus and forward what he considered advisable to Mr. Stephenson by
mail. A few hours later the _Evening Standard_ was in a position to make
a scoop with the dispatches of its infallible naval correspondent.

Thus Stephenson, without having the slightest suspicion of it, formed a
wheel in the great chain which prepared the way for the enemy, and since
the _Evening Standard_ had earned a reputation for publishing
absolutely reliable news in this field, no one for a moment doubted the
announcement of Admiral Perry's attack, although this was the first
spurious message which Stephenson had furnished to his paper.

_Chapter IX_


A steamer is lying at the pier taking in cargo. Long-legged cranes are
taking hold of bales and barrels and boxes and lowering them through the
ship's hatches with a rattle of chains. Wooden cases bound with steel
ropes and containing heavy machinery are being hoisted slowly from the
lorries on the railway tracks; the swaying burden is turning round and
round in the air, knocking against the railing with a groaning noise,
and tearing off large splinters of wood. The overseer is swearing at the
men at the windlass and comparing his papers with the slips of the
customs officer, the one making a blue check on the bill of lading and
the other taking note of each article on his long list. Suddenly a small
box comes to light, which has been waiting patiently since yesterday
under the sheltering tarpaulin. "A box of optical instruments," says the
customs officer, making a blue check. "A box of optical instruments,"
repeats the overseer, making a mark with his moistened pencil-stump:
"Careful!" he adds, as a workman is on the point of tipping the heavy
box over. Then the hook of the crane seizes the loop in the steel rope
and with a stuttering rattling sound the wheels of the windlass set to
work, the steel wire grips the side of the box tightly, the barrel
beside it is pushed aside, and a wooden case enclosing a piece of
cast-iron machinery is scraped angrily over the slippery cobble-stones.
Heave ho, heave ho, chant the men, pushing with all their might. To the
accompaniment of splashing drops of oily water, puffs of steam, groans
of the windlass and the yells and curses of the stevedores, the whole
load, including the box of optical instruments, at last disappears in
the hold of the ship. It is placed securely between rolls of cardboard
next to some nice white boxes filled with shining steel goods. But when
the noise up above has died down, when with the approach of darkness the
rattling of the chains and the groaning of the windlasses has ceased,
when only the slow step of the deck-watch finds an echo - then it can be
heard. Inside the box you can hear a gentle but steady tick, tick, tick.
The clock-work is wound up and set to the exact second. Tick, tick, tick
it goes. When the ship is far out at sea and the passengers are asleep
and the watch calls out: "Lights are burning. All's well!" then the
works will have run down, the spring will stop and loosen a little
hammer. Ten kilograms of dynamite suffice. A quarter of an hour later
there'll be nothing left of the proud steamer but a few boats loaded
down with people and threatening every moment to be engulfed in the

Tick, tick, tick, it goes down in the hold; the clock is set. Tick,
tick, tick, it goes on unceasingly, till the unknown hour arrives. No
one suspects the true nature of a piece of the cargo which certainly
looked innocent enough. Yet the hour is bound to come sooner or later,
but no one knows just when.

* * * * *

Nor had the country at large recognized that the hour was at hand. In
the time that it took the short hand of the clock to complete its round
four times, our country had completely changed its complexion, and the
balance drawn by the press on Tuesday morning after an interval of
forty-eight hours, had a perfectly crushing effect. Of course the
appearance of the enemy in the West at once produced a financial panic
in New York. On Monday morning the Wall Street stock-quotations of the
trans-continental railroads fell to the lowest possible figure,
rendering the shares about as valuable as the paper upon which they were
printed. Apparently enormous numbers of shares had been thrown on the
market in the first wild panic, but an hour after the opening of the
Stock Exchange, after billions had changed hands in mad haste, a slight
rise set in as a result of wholesale purchases by a single individual.
Yet even before this fact had been clearly recognized, the railway
magnates of the West had bought up all the floating stock without
exception. They could afford to wait for the millions they would pocket
until the American army had driven the enemy from the country.

At the same time selling orders came pouring in from the other side by
way of London. The Old World lost no time in trying to get rid of its
American stocks, and the United States were made to realize that in the
hour of a political catastrophe every nation has to stand on its own
feet, and that all the diplomatic notes and the harmless
sentimentalities of foreign states will avail nothing. So it was after
the terrible night of Port Arthur and so it was now.

It was of course as yet impossible to figure out in detail how the
Japanese had managed to take possession of the Pacific States within
twenty-four hours. But from the dispatches received from all parts of
the country during the next few days and weeks the following picture
could be drawn. The number of Japanese on American soil was in round
numbers one hundred thousand. The Japanese had not only established
themselves as small tradesmen and shopkeepers in the towns, but had also
settled everywhere as farmers and fruit-growers; Japanese coolies and
Mongolian workmen were to be found wherever new buildings were going up
as well as on all the railways. The yellow flood was threatening to
destroy the very foundations of our domestic economy by forcing down all
wage-values. The yellow immigrant who wrested spade and shovel, ax and
saw, from the American workman, who pushed his way into the factory and
the workshop and acted as a heartless strike breaker, was not only found
in the Pacific States but had pushed his way across the Rockies into the
very heart of the eastern section. And scarcely had he settled anywhere,
before, with the typical Tsushima grin, he demanded his political
rights. The individual Jap excited no suspicion and did not become
troublesome, but the Mongolians always managed to distribute their
outposts on American soil in such a way that the Japanese element never
attracted undue attention in any one particular spot. Nevertheless they
were to be found everywhere.

We had often been told that every Japanese who landed on the Pacific
Coast or crossed the Mexican or Canadian borders was a trained soldier.
But we had always regarded this fact more as a political curiosity or a
Japanese peculiarity than as a warning. We never for a moment realized
that this whole immigration scheme was regulated by a perfect system,
and that every Japanese immigrant had received his military orders and
was in constant touch with the secret military centers at San Francisco,
who at stated periods sent out Japanese traders and agents - in reality
they were officers of the general staff, who at the same time made
important topographical notes for use in case of war - to control their
movements. Both the lumber companies in the State of Washington, which
brought hundreds of Japanese over from Canada, and the railways which
employed Japanese workmen were equally ignorant of the fact that they
had taken a Japanese regiment into their employ.

Thus preparations for the coming war were conducted on a large scale
during the year 1907, until the ever-increasing flow of Japanese
immigrants finally led to those conflicts with which we are familiar. At
the time we regarded it as a triumph of American diplomacy when Japan,
in the face of California's threatening attitude, apparently gave in
after a little diplomatic bickering and issued the well-known
proclamation concerning emigration to Hawaii and the Pacific States, at
the same time dissolving several emigration companies at home.

As a matter of fact Japan had already completed her military
preparations in our country in times of absolute peace, the sole
difficulty experienced being in connection with the concentration of the
remaining coolie importations. The Japanese invasion, which our
politicians dismissed as possible only in the dim and distant future,
was actually completed at the beginning of the year 1908. A Japanese
army stood prepared and fully armed right in our midst, merely waiting
until the military and financial conditions at home rendered the attack

When we glance to-day through the newspapers of that period, we cannot
help but smile at allowing ourselves to be persuaded that the Japanese
danger had been removed by the diplomatic retreat in Tokio and the
prohibition of emigration to North America. Our papers stated at the
time that Japan had recognized that she had drawn the bow too tight and
that she had yielded because Admiral Evans's fleet had demonstrated
conclusively that we were prepared. That only goes to show how little we
knew of the Mongolian character!

We had become so accustomed to the large Japanese element in the
population of our Western States, that we entirely neglected to control
the harmless looking individuals. To be sure there wasn't a great deal
to be seen on the surface, but it would have been interesting to examine
some of the goods smuggled so regularly across the Mexican and Canadian
borders. Why were we content to allow the smuggling to continue without
interference, simply because we felt it couldn't be stamped out anyhow?
The Japanese did not resort to the hackneyed piano-cases and farming
machinery; they knew better than to employ such clumsy methods. The
goods they sent over the line consisted of neat little boxes full of
guns and other weapons which had been taken apart. And when a Japanese
farmer ordered a hay-cart from Canada, it was no pure chance that the
remarkably strong wheels of this cart exactly fitted a field-gun. The
barrel was brought over by a neighbor, who ordered iron columns for his
new house, inside of which the separate parts of the barrel were
soldered. It was in this way that, in the course of several years, the
entire equipment for the Japanese army came quietly and inconspicuously
across our borders.

And then the Japanese are so clever, clever in putting together and
mounting their guns, clever in disguising them. Did it ever enter
anyone's head that the amiable landlord who cracked so many jokes at the
Japanese inn not far from the railroad station at Reno commanded a
battalion? Did anyone suppose that the casks of California wine in his
cellar in reality enclosed six machine-guns, and that in the yard behind
the house there was sufficient material to equip an entire company of
artillery inside of two hours, and that plenty of ammunition was stored
away in the attic in boxes and trunks ostensibly left by travelers to be
held until called for? As long as there's sufficient time at disposal,
all these things can be imported into the country bit by bit, and
without ever coming into conflict with the government.

Things began to stir about the end of April. A great many Japs were
traveling about the country, but there was no reason why this
circumstance should have attracted special notice in a country like ours
where so much traveling is constantly done. The enemy were assembling.
The people arrived at the various stations and at once disappeared in
the country, bound for the different headquarters in the solitudes of
the mountains. There each one found his ammunition, his gun and his

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Online LibraryFerdinand Heinrich GrautoffBanzai! by Parabellum → online text (page 9 of 23)