Military Adventurer (Cont'd)

(Continued...)

The trump card which the society is preparing to play—is its new acquisition, an American citizen. Homer Lea has joined hands with the Chinese revolutionists. Homer Lea, well up in military affairs, claiming a military ancestry back through all America’s wars is the masterpiece of conversation. The importance of gaining such a member is so great that the president at Macao is looking at the California achievement. Homer Lea will be rewarded if he and the revolution are successful. He will be a great man in China and there will be plums in the shape of diplomatic positions falling in his path to be picked up.

Meanwhile the local leaders feel that their success is now assured—now that an American military man is working with them.

He is a 24-year-old college student, who claims a wealthy father in Los Angeles. He says that his allowance has been $300 per month, which is a neat little sum and which he rather regrets the loss of. For it so happened, according to his narrative, that he told his father about three months ago of his plans for being a warrior bold. The reply was: “I will supply you with money to attend college, but with none to start revolutionary wars.” And the $300 was cut off.

This had no effect upon the young man’s determination. He went about his work more stubbornly than ever, hobnobbing with the Chinese, and becoming intimate with one of the leaders of the Los Angeles reform society. This man was Tom Tsai Hin, a person shrewd enough in his narrow-eyed fashion to appreciate the value of the name of an American to stand on his lists. Moreover, Homer Lea would be invaluable to attend to the actual management from a military standpoint. Proud to bursting on the strength of his acquisition, Tom Tsai Hin had pictures taken of Lea and himself grouped with another member of the society—Chang Kung Sing. Eight of these photographs were sent to Honolulu, Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hongkong and Macao, and letters went along explaining that one Homer Lea, a student at Stanford University, California, a man well up in military affairs, is in sympathy with the Pow Wong Wuey and desires to operate the campaign from a military standpoint and to bring it to a successful issue.

He is a 24-year-old college student, who claims a wealthy father in Los Angeles. He says that his allowance has been $300 per month, which is a neat little sum and which he rather regrets the loss of. For it so happened, according to his narrative, that he told his father about three months ago of his plans for being a warrior bold. The reply was: “I will supply you with money to attend college, but with none to start revolutionary wars.” And the $300 was cut off.

This had no effect upon the young man’s determination. He went about his work more stubbornly than ever, hobnobbing with the Chinese, and becoming intimate with one of the leaders of the Los Angeles reform society. This man was Tom Tsai Hin, a person shrewd enough in his narrow-eyed fashion to appreciate the value of the name of an American to stand on his lists. Moreover, Homer Lea would be invaluable to attend to the actual management from a military standpoint. Proud to bursting on the strength of his acquisition, Tom Tsai Hin had pictures taken of Lea and himself grouped with another member of the society—Chang Kung Sing. Eight of these photographs were sent to Honolulu, Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hongkong and Macao, and letters went along explaining that one Homer Lea, a student at Stanford University, California, a man well up in military affairs, is in sympathy with the Pow Wong Wuey and desires to operate the campaign from a military standpoint and to bring it to a successful issue.

Tom Tsai Hin’s next move was to put Mr. Lea into action at once. He provided him with important documents, such as identification papers, letters of introduction to the president and leaders of San Francisco’s society and most valuable of all, five letters to the most important leaders in the Orient. They were addressed to Kang Yue Wei of Macao, who goes by the alias of Hong Nam Hoi; Leon Kei Chew, now in Honolulu; the Gee Sun Po, a Chinese newspaper in Macao; the members of the Tai Tung Hok Hau Association of Yokohama, and to Lee Yung Shue of Tuck Wing, Hongkong. The facsimile given here of one of the letters is of all, as they are identical. They merely introduce Mr. Homer Lea, explain his plans and dwell upon his ancestry of warriors, which means much to these Old World people.
Mr. Lea does not speak their language, so he had difficulty in finding the San Francisco president of reformers when he arrived here. Rev. Ng Poon Chew helped him out. He is a reformer from Los Angeles, editor nowadays of a local Chinese newspaper, the Chung Sai Yat Po

When the president read Mr. Lea’s letters and saw his photograph taken with the Los Angeles leader, glad-hand was no name for it. He trumpeted Lea’s arrival among his colleagues and great was the sensation. Dr. Tom She Bin was much elated and spread the news joyfully. He advertised to such good effect that eight prominent reformers called upon Lea and invited him to a banquet in his honor at a swagger restaurant on Jackson street—a restaurant where carved stools take the place of chairs and where the soup comes last.

Mr. Lea behaved prettily and the banquet took place on the night of March 16 last. Famous reformers were present and Chinese custom was infringed upon to the extent of speech-making. Mr. Lea’s part of this was done through an interpreter. Silently eager Chinese sat about and heard Lea’s propositions. He would start a revolutionary war at either Hongkong or Macao; he would go up the river as far as Foochoo and establish three way stations, and if given entire charge of the military forces he would agree to bring them to military perfection by providing them with equipment and subsidiary officers in thorough going fashion. He promised that he would be able to cope with any armed forces.

Still more he told the secret men. He said that he had been in correspondence with Charles White, Third Artillery, commissary department, of the United States army now at Manila, and that through him he could organize a regiment of 1300 discharged United States soldiers to go to Hongkong and to join his forces there.

Three white men are ready to help the enterprising Mr. Lea. Dr. E. H. Samuels of Mayfield will take charge of the military hospital. He is a New Zealander, 30 years of age, the son of the surgeon general of the Union army. He expects to direct a staff of twenty-five physicians. He has already submitted an elaborate plan for his field hospital, showing collecting stations, dressing stations and all the rest of a complete outfit.

John York, a Los Angeles attorney, will manage the signal corps. He is, Lea says, major in the National Guard of California, and a valuable man for the army. He, too, will be entirely controlled by Lea.

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More in the fascinating new book
American Soldier of Fortune - Homer Lea from Author Lawrence Kaplan on C-Span Book TV here.