Today in History, March 24: 1927 – Gunboat Diplomacy. Chinese nationalists and communists had been struggling for control of the country. When the fight reached Nanking (Nanjing), the nationalist forces left the city. The communist soldiers that entered the city raided the consulates of western nations there; British and American citizens were injured and some killed. All of the western nations that had commercial interests in China had a Naval presence in the region. In response to the assaults, the Royal Navy and the United States Navy vessels on the Yangtze fired on the soldiers and civilians sacking the western sections of the city, driving them away. Marines evacuated the western civilians to ships that were then escorted out of the area. In the process, the escorting ships, mostly the USS William B. Preston, had to suppress fire from the shore several times. The Nationalist forces eventually took back the city. By the next year the government had apologized for the incident and the communist forces agreed to pay reparations.