War correspondent McGahn

  ”It was almost midnight, and the silent and sleeping ancient city was bathed in the torrent of moonlight. The palace was changed by moonlight, the flat clay brick roof turned into marble, and the thin and tall minaret top looked vague, like guarding the ancient city. Elf sentry. There are many small courtyards and gardens hidden in the dark shadows everywhere in front of you. Huge elm trees rise up from them, and there are silent tall poplars with ghost-like figures. In the distance, the outer walls, battlements and The watchtower is faintly in sight, hidden in the misty moonlight, it feels as high as the sky and as far as the horizon. Shiva is no longer a real city, but torn from the magical “One Thousand and One Nights” A page of paper.”

  This text is soaked in the mystery and sadness of the foreign land, and it is in line with the reader’s imagination of the ancient city of Khiva at the night of the fall. I have always liked it. In 1873, a group of Russian troops led by General Kaufman captured the Khanate of Khiva. Since then, there is no state-level political and military force in Central Asia that dared to say no to the Tsar. The Khanate of Khiva is located in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River. The Turkicization is the earliest and most thorough. It has heroic and combative Turkmen nomadic cavalry. It is separated from aggressive Russia by the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea and the Kyzyl Desert. It has repeatedly beaten the invading Russian army. , After both Bukhara and Kokand had surrendered to Russia, they remained independent and unyielding. It is precisely because of this that Kaufman rode into Khiva on June 10, 1873, which can be regarded as a symbol of Central Asia falling under the control of Tsarist Russia. This moment is indeed a glorious moment for the Russians, but those who sympathize with the Khiva Khanate can’t help but feel sad.
  McGahn’s “The Battle of the Amu Darya” provides the most direct and vivid record of the Russian army’s conquest of Khiva in 1873. He crossed the Kazakh steppes in the deep winter with the unique adventurous spirit of that era, regardless of the Russian military embargo. , Through the Kyzyl Desert, a life of nine deaths, and finally caught up with Kaufman’s army by the Amu Darya, crossed the river with the Russian army, witnessed the Russian army entering Khiva after the castle along the way, and witnessed the Russian army The brutal massacre of the Turkmen. As the only foreign journalist in this battle of conquest, McGahn’s book became a treasure trove of materials for many later historical works. From this book, I began to explore McGahn, an unusual war correspondent.
  Modern printing technology gave birth to newspapers, newspapers gave birth to journalists, and then combined with war, a special type of journalists appeared-War Correspondent. Like Europe, the United States is also rich in war correspondents. In the 20th century alone, a large number of legends emerged, such as: John Reed, world-famous for covering World War I, the October Revolution, and the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (John Reed, 1887-1920), the famous writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) who reported on the Spanish Civil War, and Michael Herr (1940-2016) who reported on the Vietnam War. However, in terms of the degree of attention and long-term historical influence of the report, none of them can compare to McGahn, his predecessor in the 19th century. It can even be said that there are not many people who can compare with him in the history of world news. Contemporaries always talked about it: McGahn’s report on the Ottoman massacre of the Bulgarian insurgents greatly changed the British public’s view of Ottoman, forcing the British government to sit back and watch the Czarist Russia invade Ottoman, which gave birth to the “Berlin Treaty”. Thus changed the political map of the entire Eastern Europe.

  McGahn walked through the villages and streets step by step. His mastery of Slavic languages ​​and several major Western European languages ​​made him even more powerful. His strong physical stamina, careful observation, fast writing, and vivid and picturesque reproductions Ability is rarely concentrated on him.

  McGahn was born on June 12, 1844 in a rural village near New Lexington, Ohio, USA. His father was a new immigrant from Ireland. When McGahn’s father died at the age of seven, his family was in a difficult situation, but his mother still allowed the children to receive basic education. When he grew up, McGahn went to St. Louis, Missouri to find a job and worked as a teacher and reporter. Here he met one of his cousins, the famous civil war hero General Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888), and it was Sheridan who advised him to go to Europe to study law. McGahn went east to Europe in 1868 to study law in Brussels, but it didn’t take long before he gave up his efforts to obtain a law degree and concentrated on studying French and German. His linguistic talent was very important to his later career as a journalist, especially since he mastered Russian in a short period of time, which provided him with the prerequisites to become a “Reporter Cossack”.
  After spending two years in Belgium and France, McGahn was exhausted and was planning to return to the United States to catch up with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. It happened that General Sheridan served as a German observer, and he persuaded the New York Herald to hire McGahn as a war correspondent to follow the French army to cover the war. Since then, the 26-year-old McGahn has been on the battlefield and has done a lot in less than 8 years, shining like a comet in the 1870s. He arrived at the headquarters of Charles-Denis Bourbaki in time and witnessed and recorded the fiasco and subsequent collapse of the French army. His reports on the Franco-Prussian War were very lively and lively and were very popular in the United States. Many chapters were reprinted in European newspapers, which earned him a preliminary reputation. After the defeat of France, he moved to Bordeaux and did a series of very important interviews. The most famous interview subjects were the politician Léon Gambetta, the historian Luois Blanc and The writer Victor Hugo.
  As if with a magical premonition, McGahn arrived in Paris at dawn on March 18, 1871, to witness the riots in the Montmartre Heights. It is said that he first saw the unusual knot of a group of armed men on the street, so he followed closely and came to Montmartre, becoming the only reporter to appear on the scene, reporting the outbreak of the Paris Commune revolution. In the following two months, as one of the few foreign journalists in Paris, he covered the storm in the Paris Commune all the way, and his reports were reposted by newspapers in many countries. His activeness, bravery and tirelessness earned him a reputation both inside and outside the Siege of Paris. It is said that he has close relations with the Polish military leader Jaroslaw Dombrowski (Jaroslaw Dombrowski) and others. When the Versailles government forces invaded Paris, McGahn, who was reporting on the war on the streets, was arrested and imprisoned. If it had not been for the overnight rescue by the American envoy, he might have been shot. After being released from prison, McGahn continued to wander around Europe, looking for subjects for the “New York Herald.”
  A few months later, almost accidentally, McGahn arrived in Yalta, Crimea. In the Tsar’s summer residence, he learned Russian, made Russian friends, and met Varvara Nicholavna Elaguine, a rich Russian lady who later became his wife. Perhaps no one could foresee that he tied his fate to Tsarist Russia in this way. It is said that in the social circle dominated by young Russian officers, this young American is very popular. A court guard officer took him to tour the beautiful scenery of the coast. His foot was injured and broken while climbing a rock, and he was forced to stay in bed for more than three weeks. In December, McGahn returned to St. Petersburg with the Tsar and experienced the Russian winter. In the spring of 1872, the commander-in-chief of the US Army, William T. Sherman (1820-1891), visited Russia. McGahn accompanied him to visit Georgia and other places in Transcaucasus and wrote a series of reports. Then he went to Geneva to report on the “Alabama arbitration case” that received international attention at the time. After that, he continued to wander around Europe, searching for news topics. Destiny was favored. Soon he heard the news and learned that the Russian army was about to march to the Khiva Khanate, so he had his trip to Khiva, and he also had the “Ahh” which this article will specifically introduce and record this Central Asian expedition. “The War of the Mu River” book.

  After returning to St. Petersburg from Central Asia in the autumn of 1873, McGahn’s biggest thing was getting married, but three weeks later he was sent to Cuba by the newspaper to report on the Spanish trial of the crew of the so-called pirate ship Virginius (that trial). Triggered the confrontation between Britain and the United States and Spain). In March 1874, he finally found time to go to London to concentrate on writing “The War of the Amu Darya”. In any case, he wrote very fast, because the book was published in New York and London at the same time, and he left London in July to go to Spain to report on the third Carlos War, indicating that the time available for writing is not It will be more than four months. Although McGahn was only 30 years old at this time, he was already quite famous. The publication of “The Battle of the Amu Darya” has established his legendary status in the press and society.
  In Spain, McGahn joined the rebels of Don Carlos, Duke of Madrid, and reported guerrilla warfare in the Pyrenees for ten months. He rode on horseback during the day and camped in the open at night. It was difficult and dangerous. The obvious difference in appearance between the two sides of the Civil War is the color of the hat. The Republicans wore red hats and the Carlos factions wore blue hats. Many war reporters carry two hats with them and rotate them as needed. McGahn had only blue hats, so when he and another reporter were caught by the Republicans, they were regarded as Carlos and were thrown into prison. They were kept in a cell full of lice and fleas for a day and night, and then they were arrested. Tell you that you are going to die. Once again, American diplomats came forward in time to rescue McGahn. The American consul in Bayonne, France heard that reporters had been arrested and rushed to rescue them just before the execution.
  The Carlos War in Spain is not over yet, and McGahn has received new orders. The owner of the “New York Herald” James G. Bennett Jr. (1841-1918), as the main investor, funded the captain of the three-masted sailing ship “Pandora” explorer Allen Young (1827- 1915) Arctic expedition. The purpose of the expedition is twofold: one is to search for the remains of the Franklin expedition that disappeared 30 years ago, and the other is to explore the “Northwest Passage” from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean. McGahn joined, on the one hand to represent Bennett, on the other hand, of course, to report on the ship. For McGahn, the ice and snow are much safer and more comfortable than the battlefields in Central Asia and Europe, so his reports are also permeated with a relaxed sense of humor. Although the two goals set by the expedition were not achieved, McGahn did not take a trip. He returned to London and quickly completed the book “Under the Northern Lights” (Under the Northern Lights) on this Arctic expedition. 1876). Perhaps due to content limitations, this book is not as successful as “The Battle of the Amu Darya”, but for understanding McGahn’s personal character, this book provides a more open window.
  Immediately afterwards, McGahn became involved in the central affairs of Europe-the so-called “Oriental Issues”, which brought his career as a journalist to its peak. The so-called “Oriental Problem”, also known as the “Balkan Crisis”, is actually that European powers want to weaken the influence of the Ottoman Empire in Europe and encourage the Southeast European nations under Ottoman rule to establish their own states. The wave of national independence across the Balkans was surging, and the Ottomans suppressed it everywhere, and suffered a lot. It was against this background that the bloody massacre of the Bulgarians by the Ottoman government took place in April 1876. At this time, the two personal connections McGahn established in Central Asia played a decisive role: one was Eugene Schuyler (Eugene Schuyler, 1840-1890), an American diplomat who had traveled with him in Central Asia, and the other One was Mikhail D. Skobelev (1843-1882), a Russian officer he met in Khiva.
  Schuyler arrived in Istanbul as consul general in July 1876. As soon as he arrived, he heard about the massacre from American teachers and Bulgarian students at Robert College (the predecessor of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and was subsequently ordered to investigate it. McGahn arrived in Istanbul at exactly this time. He had come to report on the war between Serbia and Ottoman. Schuyler asked him to join his investigation team and went to Bulgaria together. Previously, McGahn left the “New York Herald” due to a disagreement with Bennett, and switched to work for the British “Daily News” (The Daily News). In Bulgaria, they saw a lot of evidence of the massacre of civilians by the Ottoman army. McGahn described the tragic scenes to British readers with his unique vivid and concise text. These reports aroused strong indignation from the British public against the Ottoman regime. For example, his report on the civilians in Batak village who were driven to the church and burned to death was not only widely known in Britain, but also translated into many languages ​​and appeared in newspapers in various European countries.
  A series of investigative news written by McGahn, especially the report published in the “Daily News” during the 20 days from July 28 to August 16, 1876, was hailed as “the best news report in history.” “The column”, “the details are as precise as the previous Raphaelite paintings”, but the short length is shocking. McGahn walked through the villages and streets step by step. His mastery of Slavic languages ​​and several major Western European languages ​​made him even more powerful. His strong physical stamina, careful observation, fast writing, and vivid and picturesque reproductions Ability is rarely concentrated on him. He recorded conversations with people from all walks of life and interviewed hundreds of survivors of the atrocities of the Holocaust. He found that, excluding those villages and towns that were just looted, more than 50 villages were completely burnt down, and more than 1.5 people were slaughtered. Ten thousand names. His sources include diplomats, German railway officials, Greeks, Armenians, clergy and missionaries, and even some Turks.
  To a large extent, it is precisely because of the widespread influence of these reports that, out of international geopolitical considerations, governments that originally took a stance on Ottoman atrocities, especially the British government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Under the strong pressure of public opinion, the consistent policy of supporting Turkey had to be changed, which opened the green light for Russia to invade Turkey under the banner of revenge for the Slavic brothers. Some people even say that the tsarist government hastily declared war, partly because these reports have created tremendous pressure in Russia. The impact and effect of McGahn’s series of reports in Bulgaria were properly assessed at that time. Ivan Vasov (Иван М. Вазов, 1850-1921), known as the “Father of Bulgarian Literature”, dedicated his 1876 poem “Mother’s Sorrow” (Жалбите на майките) to McGahn. McGahn’s own words are not regarded as bragging: “I’m sure to say that when it comes to destroying the Turks, I have contributed more than anyone…except the Turks themselves.”

  It is indeed embarrassing to think that McGahn was so young and died so suddenly. It is certain that if he had not died so early, he would have written the Spanish Civil War, the Bulgarian Massacre, the Russian-Turkish War, and even the previous Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune.

  On April 24, 1877, Russia declared war on Ottoman. The “Daily News” sent McGahn as a war correspondent to report on this Russian-Turkish war, known as the tenth Russian-Turkish war in history. So Skobelev, the Russian officer McGahn met in Khiva, can help a lot. At this time, the 34-year-old Skobelev was already one of the famous Russian generals. The Russian army under his command was the first to cross the Danube and fought the main Ottoman forces. The casualties were the greatest, and the most important strategic locations and cities were captured. Skobelev himself is also a legendary general. He always rushes to the front line in white clothes and white horses. The Russian army calls him “General White” and the Turkish army calls him “White Pasha”. He is as tall as McGahn, and they both like to remember those days in the Khanate of Khiva in front of others. The friendship between the two is so deep that it is said that Skobelev even lends McGahn the internal correspondence of the Russian army to watch. Although McGahn had a broken ankle and was in a cast, he insisted on riding a pony. He was active on the front line during the day and sent articles to the rear camp at night. He was injured several times during the battle, and sometimes he couldn’t even ride a horse, so he had to sit on a gun cart and go with the army. In this way, he reported almost all major wars until he arrived in Istanbul in February 1878, and then witnessed the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano on March 3 and the end of the war.
  In the spring and summer, McGahn received an order to go to Berlin to report on the signing of the Berlin Treaty. At this time, his friend, Lieutenant Francis V. Greene (1850-1921), a military attache sent by the US military to Russia, suddenly fell ill with typhoid fever and fell ill in San Stefano. When McGahn cared for him, he also contracted typhoid fever. Not long after, McGahn died in Istanbul on June 9, 1878, three days before his 34th birthday. Two days later, people held a small-scale funeral for him at a foreigner’s cemetery overlooking the Bosphorus in Pera (now Beyo lu) district. Participants in the funeral were mainly journalists and diplomats from various countries gathered here because of the Russian-Turkish War, as well as several Russian military officers, including Skobelev. It is said that Skobelev could not cry and was so sad that he could not stand up. Several people took him out of the cemetery. Six years later, a U.S. warship brought McGahn’s bones back to the United States and was finally buried in his hometown, Maplewood Cemetery in New Lexington, Ohio.
  On the back of McGahn’s tombstone is a striking line: “Liberator of Bulgaria”. There are indeed rumors that the Russian tsar mentioned that if McGahn is not dead, he is best suited to be the leader of the newly independent Bulgaria. After Bulgaria became independent, in recognition of McGahn’s achievements, a street and a school in the capital Sofia were named after him, and many streets and squares in other cities were named after him. In 1984, the Bulgarian-American artist Lubomir H. Daltchev erected a stone statue of McGahn in the central square in front of the New Lexington City Court to show his image of striding along as a war correspondent. Every year in June of his birth and death, New Lexington has an event to commemorate McGahn.
  McGahn’s life is roughly the same. Dale L. Walker (1935-2015), who wrote the only biography for him, said: “McGahn’s short life story is’too good to be true’. “It’s really embarrassing to think that McGahn was so young and died so suddenly. It is certain that if he had not died so early, he would have written the Spanish Civil War, the Bulgarian Massacre, the Russian-Turkish War, and even the previous Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. McGahn personally experienced and deeply participated in these important historical events, and his book is not only an important historical material, but also has a very high readability. It is enough to prove this point is his masterpiece about the Russian conquest of Khiva. “The Battle of the Amu Darya”.