Kings and Generals Podcast
3.40 Fall and Rise of China: Gapsin Coup
1 dzień temu
32:07Last time we spoke about the imo uprising. Empress Min royally messed up when she allowed her nephew Min Gyeom-ho to be in charge of handing out the grain to the retired soldiers. His tossing of the job to a subordinate led to embezzlement and the soldiers were greatly slighted. The pissed off soldiers began a major riot threatening to kill Empress Min, her clan and those they thought had cheated them. The Japanese military advisor and other staff were attacked, some Japanese were even killed, thus bringing Japan into the mix. King Gojong panicked and allowed his father to return, only to be ousted by his own father. The Daewongun was back and immediately went to work trying to rid Korea of the Min clan. Now the Chinese and Japanese were bringing forces to bear in Korea, was war on the menu? #40 This episode is the Gapsin Coup Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Now the Chinese had a sticky situation on their hands, the attempted coup d’etat had disposed of many officials who they had been working with and worse they had attacked Japanese nationals prompting Japan to perform military intervention. Ma Jianzhong ordered the Daewongun to meet with him and read him the riot act. Ma accused him of acting against the Qing emperor by unseating the approved King of Korea “your sin is unpardonable. Considering the fact that you are the father of the king, we will not press hard on you. Please go to Tianjin to receive whatever punishment is bestowed upon you”. The Daewongun was then forced into a palanquin, whisked aboard the warship Weiyuan and sent to Tianjin. He was then interrogated by Li Hongzhang and sent into house arrest at Baoding until October of 1885. Li Hongzhang had this to say of it all “: "Our country regarded [Korea] as part of the empire and dispatched...troops. We arrested the evil ringleader, the Taewongun [Grand Prince Hungson], and detained him at Paoting. The [Korean] masses were awed. Now the entire world knows that Korea is our dependency."” Basically Li Hongzhang was playing a grand game of power politics, he was trying to show face to the western world that China was in charge of Korea. However this major show of face was also a large loss of face particularly to Korea and Japan who saw this as quite the lenient strategy. And thus China reasserted her suzerainty over Korea, her troops secured Seoul and the Qing officials began to aid the Korean-Japanese negotiations. The treaty of Chemuplo was signed on August 30th of 1882 to which Korea agreed to pay Japan in indemnities, sent an envoy to officially apologize and permitted a Japanese legation guardforce in Seoul. The Qing began training the Korean army and provided them with 1000 rifles, two cannons and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The Korean military was to be trained by a Qing figure, one of the most important figures in modern Chinese history called Yuan Shikai, oh boy this guy. On my personal channel I think I have made at least 8 episodes related to him, but he will come a bit further in the story as a lead player. Korea was reduced to an official tributary state of the Qing with King Gojong unable to make many decisions without official Qing approval prior. China basically began to treat korea more like a colony. The Min clan came right back into their seats of power, albeit under Qing approval and Li Hongzhang began to perform puppetry work on the nation to make sure she served Qing interests. The Korean government then received two major advisers, Ma Jianzhong and a close confidant of Li Hongzhang, Paul von Molldendorff, formerly of the German foreign office, but now under Li Hongzhangs employment. The new Capital guard commander was Yuan Shikai. By 1883 Li Hongzhang was so pleased with his work he said this to an American minister in Beijing "I am the king of Korea, whenever I think the interests of China require me to assert the prerogative." The 1880s was a political maelstrom for Korea. As a result of the actions of the Qing and Japanese, Korea was literally being torn apart. Two major factions emerged within the Korean political scene, the first being the Gaehwa Party, known as the “enlightenment party”. They can be seen as a leftist party, progressive liberal types. Their leadership came mostly from the Yangban class, those being the traditional gentry-ruling class of the Joseon dynasty. These were the highly educated types who joined the bureaucracy and military, the quote en quote “landed guys” the aristocrats. They were much akin to the Qing officials, those who took examinations to earn their place within the government, living by the principles of confucianism. The members of this faction included Kim Ok-gyun, who spent considerable time in Japan and was mentored by Fukuzawa Yukichi. Kim Ok-gyun would emerge the leader of this faction and he alongside his colleagues pushed for a more independent Korea that took steps to perform their own version of the Meiji restoration. They also wanted to end what they saw as Qing interference with their nation. They were greatly frustrated by the limited scale and scope of Korea’s modernization efforts and reforms. Most of their leadership like Kim Ok-kyun were quite young, in their late 20’s and early 30’s and they were headstrong to be progressive, and progress at this time, to them looked like Japan. They basically saw the Qing as an arrogant imperialist power interfering with their nation rather than a protector. The other faction was known as the Sadaedang, the right side conservatives. This included the Min clan and many high government officials who were very pro-Qing. Its not to say they were against progress, in fact they championed many causes put forward by the Enlightenment party, but they favored gradual changes based on the Qing models. After the Imo uprising, the Pro-Chinese faction was greatly bolstered, obviously because of the interventions by the Qing within their nation. The Min clan advocated going about the modernization process via dongdo seogi “adoping western technology while keeping eastern values”, it was not so different from the Meiji restoration, but they wanted to keep inline with the Chinese. In 1882 after getting rid of the Daewongun and his rioters, the Min clan pursued a pro-chinese policy. Instead of adopting major institutional reforms akin to the Meiji restoration such as legal equality, modern education and significant industrialization, they chose to direct the pathway of the nations reforms in piecemeal. This basically meant revamping the underlying social structure of Korea rather than replacing or changing. They began to block all appointments of the progressive to any important positions, particularly that of their greatest rival Kim Ok-kyun. They signed trade agreements with China that enabled the Qing to dominate the trade with Korea at the expense of other nations, specifically that of Japan. King Gojong basically looked like he was abandoning all the progressive policies that had begun before the Imo uprising. The Japanese were livid over all of this as they had planned to dominate Korea with their influence to soon import Korean grain and export products back, but now China dominated her. Then a major event occurred that drew conflict between Japan and China over Korea yet again. In 1880, Kim Ok-kyun had managed to secure a position in the high government office serving as a councilor in the foreign office and even became acquainted with King Gojong. He was the bulwark trying to get Korea to take the Meiji restoration path and in December of 1881 he went off to Japan and would be in Japan when the Imo uprising occurred. Since he was there, he was made the official Korean representative in 1882 to apologize for the ordeal and he would remain in Japan until 1884. While in Japan he was influenced heavily by Fukuzawa Yukichi. Through this Kim Ok-kyun became convinced Korea needed to severe its Qing domination by overthrowing the Min clan so they could commence a Meiji restoration program with Japan's help. "Korea is a country in which misgovemment and extortion have flourished luxuriantly for centuries, but under the recent MING [Min] administration a serious change for the worse has taken place." Now in 1884 hostilities broke out between the Qing and French over a conflict in Annam, this became the Sino-French War of 1884-1885, which will be its own episode. Needless to say, the Qing forces within Korea were moved to deal with the French and this represented a major opportunity for the progressives in Korea. Despite the name progressive, the pro-Japanese faction decided to fall back on quote “the old Korean method of political transformation by murder”. Yes they were going to attempt a coup d’etat, with help from the Japanese. The Gaehwapa leadership, on December 4th staged their coup under the guise of a grand banquette being hosted by Hong Yeong-sik, the director of the Ujeong Chongguk, the postal administration. It was an inaugural banquet to celebrate the opening of a new national post office. The guests were to be King Gojong, commanders of the Seoul garrison, several foreign diplomats and high ranking officials, obviously many of which were members of the Sadaedang faction. They had help from the Japanese minister Takezoe Shinichiro who promised he would mobilize the Japanese legation guards to provide assistance. The plan was quite simple, get everyone to come and kill the commanders and officials; then hijack King Gojong to use him like a puppet to legitimize their pro-japanese reform program. They had a 14-point proposal which held conditions such as these; to end Korea’s tributary relationship to the Qing dynasty; to abolish the Yangbang privileges and establish equal rights for all; to reorganize the governmental structure as a constitutional monarchy; to change the land tax laws; cancel the grain loan system; unify the internal fiscal administrations; promote free commerce and trade; create a modern police system, who would in turn severely punish corrupt officials in government, ie the Min clan. Now Kim Ok-kyun was obviously encouraged by Fukuzawa Yukichi, alongside other Japanese intellectuals and officials to seek a Meiji style reform in Korea. But the Japanese leaders did not support his plans for a coup. Count Iwakura, the same who led the Iwakura Mission and the foreign minister Inoue Kaoru both refused to support the coup as they still wanted to retain goodwill with China. Shibusawa Eiichi, the most prominent Japanese business leader in promoting Japanese business in other parts of Asia also refused to support the coup. Kim Ok-kyun had presented many in Japan his plans, but with 3000 Chinese troops in Korea he knew the coup had no chance, that was until the Sino-French war broke. So despite not having any real support from Japan, he went ahead with the coup thinking it was an opportunity too great to pass up. They began the banquet and Kim Ok-kyun sent some of his supporters to set fire to a nearby building causing some noise and confusion. While that occurred they seized King Gojong and brought him to his palace. Then they began to summon various Korean garrison commanders they believed might mobilize the military against them to the palace. Each commander came one-by-one only to be murdered by the Gaehwapa. So basically the coup amounted to the decapitation of 6 Korean ministers, the murder of military officials and other administrators, while occupying the royal police backed up by the Japanese legation force of around 170 men. The father of the murdered postmaster general, who had been duped into hosting the event was so applied by it and the stain upon his families honor, he invited all 18 members of his family to a dinner and killed them along with himself via poisoning, whoa. Now things did not go according to plan for the Gaehwapa. The Japanese minister, Takezoe, went back on his promise to provide military assistance as soon as word came that the Qing were sending forces into the city. Kim Ok-kyun seemed to believe with just under 200 Japanese troops he was going to somehow maintain power keeping the king hostage, but 1500 Qing troops was not going to let that happen. When the coup was found out, Queen Min secretly sent word to the Qing asking for help and they sent General Yuan Shikai. It took Yuan Shikai and his men all but 3 days to retake the palace, rout the Japanese troops and rescue King Gojong. During the fighting around 180 people were killed, including 38 Japanese troops and 10 Chinese. The officials who had been appointed by Kim Ok-kyun were all dismissed. Japanese citizens living in Seoul were viewed by the locals as exploiters, thus they became targets of attack, many of their homes were looted and burned. Kim ok-kyun and 8 of his followers managed to escape to Japan using a Japanese ship. Just prior to the failed coup, Kim Ok-kyun had met with King Gojong about some reform ideas and the king was in support of many of them. After the coup the king made a full 180 and publicly label Kim ok-kyun as a villain. King Gojong voided all the reform measures done by the coup leaders and sent an envoy to Japan to protest their involvement in the coup demanding repatriation of the conspirators. On December 6th, King Gojong telegraphed Li Hongzhang asking for reinforcements. Meanwhile Yuan Shikai who wanted to dethrone the king because he deemed King Gojong to be “ a dim-witted monarch” who he believed was actually complicit in the coup but was overruled by the conspirators. A sticky political situation thus emerged between the 3 nations. As I mentioned, King Gojong demanded Japan repatriate the conspirators. The Japanese responded by demanding Korea pay them indemnity for the loss of life and property, to make formal apology and promise to punish the guilty. In a show of force the Japanese sent 7 warships and 2 battalions to Korea. On January the 9th of 1885, within the presence of 600 IJA and under threat of war if they did not cooperate Korea signed the “Seoul Protocol” also known as the Treaty of Hanseong. The Koreans officially apologized and paid Japan reparations in the sum of 100,000 yen for damages done to the Japanese legation, go figure that. This treaty however was really gimmicky, because the real trouble going on was not between Japan and Korea, but instead Japan and China. Ito Hirobumi and Li Hongzhang met in Tianjin in April of 1885 to discuss the matter. Tensions were very high between the nations and both men tried to defuse that tension. They called for bilateral troop withdrawal from Korea, a proscription against sending further military instructors and prior notification to another of any future troop deployments in Korea. King Gojong would be advised to hire military instructors from a third nation to train up the Joseon army, America the most likely candidate. Japan and China signed off on this and it became known as the Tianjin convention or “Li-Ito convention”. It was a diplomatic victory for Japan in the end . Japanese minister Takezoe Shinichiro avoided punishment for his complicity in the coup which essentially was done to subvert Korea’s tributary status with the Qing. China lost her exclusive claim to armed intervention in Korea, since Japan and her now we're even on that front. The treaty represented yet again another curtailment of Qing suzerainty over Korea. Now despite all of that, Japan also lost significant influence over Korea while China’s influence only increased. Japan looked like the bad guy to the Korean populace. Also Li Hongzhang appointed Yuan Shikai as the “director General Resident in Korea of diplomatic and commercial relations”. Basically Yuan Shikai was to look after Qing interests in Korea, but in a civilian capacity. Officially this was in line with the Tianjin convention, as Yuan Shikai was no longer a military leader, but both China and Japan knew at a hares notice he could called upon Qing forces whenever he wanted. Li Hongzhang instructed Yuan Shikai to prevent Japanese commercial dominance over Korea and promote Chinese commercial dominance which he did very well. After both the Chinese and Japanese withdrew their forces from Korea as per the Tianjin convention, China chose to garrison most of its forces along the Korean border. Likewise the the vast majority of telegraph lines in Korea were Chinese controlled while Japan had one going to Pusan, but when they requested it extend to Seoul this was rejected. Thus the Japanese could only communicate with Seoul using a Chinese controlled telegraph system. Yuan Shikai, despite being in his early 20s, exercised strong leadership and for all intensive purposes Japanese influence was simply drained. Now while many Koreans were happy to be rid of Kim Ok-kyun and his Japanese friends, many also complained about Yuan Shikai who was seen to be very overbearing and quite arrogant towards the Korean government. In June of 1885 China signed the final peace protocol with France and thus for the first time since the Russian conflict in Xinjiang, China was free of threat from war from Russia and France. This gave the Qing government the opportunity to be more aggressive in Korea. Yuan Shikai operated as if he was above the law. He replaced progressive officials with pro-chinese members of the Min Clan. He also began interposing in foreign matters, taking the place of Korean diplomats or envoys. He stopped all attempts at military reform and the development of modern industry. As for his personal reputation that was quite bad as well, he acquired a reputation for as one source puts it “kidnapping young korean women and making them his concubines, something akin to 19th century comfort women”. The Qing and Min clan were using the two failed coup d’etats to virtually wipe out any and all political opposition. Yuan Shikai’s tenure over Korea which lasted for a decade has been considered by some historians as “a dark age” for Korea’s development. Japan had learnt its lesson after 1884 bitterly and they would not eschew in Korea for some time, but this did not mean forever. No, the lesson they learnt was not to leave korea alone, it was to make sure next time they would have a stronger position than China. King Gojong also learnt a lesson, that Korea was vulnerable and needed a protector, but who? Well King Gojong secretly began gravitating towards Russia. You know the Russian Empire was a coy player when it came to Asia and China in particular. The Qing had greatly miscalculated when it came to Russia in the 19th century. The Qing intelligence indicated to them that the Russians had crushed Britain and France during the Crimean War so when the Second opium war was raging on, China was wary of Russia. This had a large effect on the Qing as they basically gave up parts of Siberia to Russia assuming they had large forces at the ready when in fact their far eastern forces were scattered horribly. Had the QIng showed a stronger arm against Russia they could have retained more territory which would have helped them pay their large indemnities to the west after the Opium wars. From the Russian point of view they took full advantage of a golden situation. Honestly, imagine Britain and France fight a war against this grand Qing empire in the late 1850’s and Russia just barges in making demands alongside them. With the treaty of Aigun, setting a new boundary on the AMur River, Russia gained 185,000 square miles of territory, that is the size of California and was the only livable part of eastern siberia. Russia followed this up with the treaty of Peking grabbing 130,00 square miles of territory, then again on October 7th of 1864 where she signed the treaty of Tarbagati grabbing another 350,000 square miles. That was like adding two Italies. The Qing at the time did not have proper knowledge of the territory they were handing away and when they figured it out later it was a national humiliation. Russia acquired all of this through a bluff, with some bravado and a brilliant stroke of diplomacy. As I will talk more about in the “great game” episode, Russia and China were in conflict for a long time because of Xinjiang. They remained on the verge of full scale war until 1881 when they signed a treaty, but until that point China had felt hamstrung when it came to Korea and the Russians. As the Korean situation went further and further to shit, the Russians eagerly watched, salivating as you can imagine. Russia’s strategy for quite a long time at this point was to surround its empire with weak neighbors, to destabilize those who threatened to become strong. This was a very logical strategy for a large continental power, thus Russia wanted to do everything possible from a third power swallowing up and revitalizing Korea. They sent Karl Ivanovich Weber as consul to Korea and he carefully cultivated ties to King Gojong. Weber made it clear to the Korean officials Russia intended to support them in the event Korean territorial integrity or independence became threatened. A secret deal was made between Korea and Russia, to obtain military instructors in return for a lease at Yonghunghang, a port in Wonsan. When the British found out about this they were quite livid and they immediately occupied Komundo island near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Its not important just yet, but Britain and Russia being aggressive towards another with holdings in east asia would reek its ugly head in 1904. When Yuan Shikai found out about King Gojong’s plans to secure Russian military assistance he was not too happy and tried to intimidate him. Yuan Shikai ended up quashing the Russian military adviser plan by leaking it to the diplomatic community which caused a large uproar. Yuan Shikai’s influence over Korea was beginning to boomerang, as now the Korean sought out Russia aid even more so seeing Qing suzerainty even more overbearing. King Gojong approached Weber again in 1886 requesting to establish a Russian protectorship. This was leaked to Yuan Shikai, who began plans to depose the King, but Li Hongzhang overruled him. Russia would make two fateful decisions, the first in 1888 when they would try to facilitate Japan’s attempts to undermine the Qing influence over Korea. Russia did this in order to weaken the Anglo-Chinese relations, but Russia had also greatly underestimated Japanese power and overestimated Chinese power. The second decision I have spoken about multiple times, the building of the trans-siberian railway. This decision altered the balance of power in the far east as Russia would be able to deploy troops at basically a whims notice to the CHinese and Korean borders. But Russia also needed something else vitally important, a warm water port. Russia had acquired vladivostok, a cold water port that freezes up for a few months of they and back then without icebreakers one could not keep their fleet at port year round. Russia eyed Korea or a Chinese warm water port in the Yellow sea as a future prize they must claim. Now I don’t want to side track too much about Russia as that will come about much later in 1904. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The Gapsin coup was yet again another mess that almost led China and Japan to war over their proxy fight over Korea. Things were heating up more and more, how long could the diplomats and politicians hold it all off?
3.39 Fall and Rise of China: Imo Uprising
37:00Last time we spoke about the Dungan Revolt. Yes it was a grand little side story that only encompassed something that should have required at minimum three podcasts, but I do my best. Northwest China was a wild place and multiple groups on the frontiers of other nations saw an opportunity when the Taiping Rebellion kicked out to try and rebel themselves. Multiple muslim groups and some foreign leaders like Yaqub Bek fought the Qing, the Russians and other groups to try and consolidate control over key areas. However when the Taiping were finally quelled, the Qing sent Zuo Zongtang northwest to deal with the Dungan problem. Zuo Zongtang led a brutal campaign to reclaim Xinjiang and was successful, a large part to muslim chinese defectors. Now we need to venture back to the issue of Japan, China, Korea and a truly stressful situation for poor old Li Hongzhang. #39 This episode is the imo uprising Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. The 1880s were an extremely turbulent time for China, Japan and Korea. Each nation faced the same anxiety, that of western encroachment, the danger of colonization. Each of these nations would face challenges from the west and this would affect all 3 of them and in turn their relations to another. There were leading figures in each nation that sought to cooperate together to resist western colonialism. At the time the greatest threat was Russia. The Russian empire was beginning the process of building the grand trans-siberian railway. The railway would only begin construction in 1891, but by the 1880’s settlers were being pushed east into Siberia and discussions were being held to push the process forward. Now when Japan pulled the sneaky maneuver of getting Korea to sign treaties acknowledging her independence from China, both Korea and Chinese officials were deeply concerned and no wonder. Japan had kept pressing the buttons and this was a major red flag moment. But the Chinese and Koreans had a multitude of problems at the time taking up much of their attention. Thus the Chinese and Koreans tried to ignore the implications of the Japanese treaties in the hopes they could be stamped down later thus easing Japan back into a passive role. You might be asking yourself why are the Chinese and Koreans backing down so much and allowing Japan basically to stomp over them, to put it simply, they had too much to deal with. You might remember when I barely talked about some of the rebels going on in China during and after the Taiping Rebellion. One of those known as the Dungan Revolt of 1862-1877, well that little guy was not such a little guy. If you go on wikipedia for example and look up the Dungan revolt you will notice a few things right off the bat, the first most likely the death toll which was in the millions, possibly up to 21 million. It hit Shaanxi, Gangsu and Xinjiang provinces very hard. But alongside the death toll, you would probably notice secondly the participants list which is extravagantly long and holds many surprising participants. The Ottomans, British, Russians, Uzbeks all hands their hands in the Chinese cookie jar. While the Dungan Revolt is certainly a big one, it gets even bigger, much bigger. The Dungan Revolt basically is part of “the Great Game”. Now you're probably asking yourselves what game? The Great Game was this mashup of conflicts between the British and Russian empires of multiple territories spanning the middle east and Asia. They fought for and over numerous things, for example the British believed Russia had plans to invade India. The Russians thought Britain wanted to expand into central asia. This led to countless wars such as the 1st anglo-afghan war of 1838, the first anglo-sikh war of 1845, the second anglo-sikh war of 1848, the second anglo-afghan war of 1878 and theres even more than that. Now for China this cultivated the Dungan Revolt somewhat and Russian began encroaching in Xinjiang. From 1871 to 1881 the Qing dynasty and the Russian empire were on the verge of a massive war over Xinjiang. Now I am literally pulling out my hair as I write this series because I planned to write a single podcast explaining how the situation in Korea led to what will be one of the most important wars, the first sino-japanese war of 1894-1895 and as I do so I keep skipping over major events, such as the multitude of rebellions in China, and this “great game situation”. Oh and its not just the great game, in the 1880s emerges another fantastic war known as the Sino-French War of 1884-1885 first involving Vietnam and France and then China gets mixed in. Needless to say I face two options, option number 1; I give a summary of these events and gloss right over them to carry on with my intended little narrow narrative about Korea, China and Japan. Option 2) I carry on as I am and write two separate episodes, “the great game” and “the Sino-French War of 1884-1885”. I am electing to do option 2, so please bear with me for the time being I imagine those 2 episodes will come right after I am done with the Hermit kingdom. Stating that I keep glossing over major events, but its simply impossible to hit them all, so if there are some you just are dying to hear about, or simply other things you want to hear about that I can’t hit here please let me know on the Pacific War channel discord, comment my Youtube channel or become a patreon, if ya do I promise I will make content just for you, that's why it’s there. So needless to say, these major events were hitting China at an extraordinarily bad time. These were major variables thwarting China from seeking a firmer hand against Japan when it came to Korea. China was waiting for things to simmer before they confront the Japanese. And do remember despite Japan’s actions, they still represented the greatest possible ally against the looming Russian bear to the north who were gradually expanding into Asia. The prospect of large numbers of Russians moving into East Asia concerned Korea, Japan and China all the same. On top of this the Russians began plans in 1882 to start a steamship line from Ukraine to Priamur, on the coast of Siberia and this also meant a large development of Priamur. Korea had the great misfortune of being what one author has called ‘a shrimp among the whales”. The whales being China, Japan and Russia. Korea had a long history of being fought over, in 661 the Japanese sent troops, then the Yuan Dynasty forces of Kublai Khan used Korea to try and invade Japan in the 1190’s and in the 1590s Hideyoshi invaded Korea. So Korea had this unfortunate history of simply being stuck in the middle. In 1882 China still held suzerainty over Korea…well from their point of view, the Japanese certainly did not see it that way. Korea was grasping at straws, trying to avoid conflict, but she was playing a game between two tigers. Now in 1881 Korea began expanding its relations with all 3 major players, Russia, China and Japan. Awhile back I mentioned that Korea sent Kim Hong-jip to Japan and after his journey he strongly suggested Korea send more envoys to learn more from Japan. In 1881 this led Korea to create the Gentlemen’s sightseeing group. These were 12 young Koreans who went to Japan to learn more about the Meiji restoration efforts. The mission was akin to Japan’s Iwakura Mission, the Koreans inspected administrative agencies, military facilities, education facilities, everything they could. The Koreans were very impressed by what they saw and when they came back home they sought ways to push Korea onto the same path as Japan’s modernization efforts. Amongst the 12 gentleman was one Kim Ok-kyun. After the tour had ended Fukuzawa Yukichi one of Japans top liberal minded intellects arranged for Kim Ok-kyun to remain an extra 6 months at Keio university. Kim Ok-kyuns stay convinced him that the Meiji restoration was the essential path for Korea to self strengthen and thwart western encroachment. Now Kim OK-kyun will be a key player in many things to come, but I bring him up now just to signify the efforts of Japan to win over Korea. People such as Kim Ok-kyun began championing Japan as Korea’s savior and this prompted King Gojong to look to Japan for some assistance in modernizing, such as the employment of Lt Horimoto Reizo who trained the Pyolgigun. But while Japan was making inroads to circumventing China, China was not sitting idly by. Li Hongzhang had emerged probably as the most influential person in all of China by the 1880s. The Qing government authorized the man who was the Grand Minister for the Northern Sea, the governor general of Zhili province, Commander of the Huai Army, associate controller over the board of admiralty and Grand secretary, yes China was continuing the practice of placing as many titles as possible onto a single man. Above all else Li Hongzhang was responsible for Korea. As much as I have talked about Zeng Guofan’s pupil I have not really talked all that much about the man himself. Li Hongzhang dominated Chinese foreign policy for nearly quarter of a century. He was 6 feet tall and quite a lot of western diplomats noted him to have a fine physique, a vigor to his nature, piercing eyes, a commanding presence and a no-nonsense approach. As a Qing official he wore multicolored silk robes, a large triangular hat with the traditional three-eyed peacock feathers. As noted by his mentor Zeng Guofan “Li Hongzhang possessed a bearing and manner of speech sufficient to bring men to their knees”. Li Hongzhang was frankly a go-getter as we say in the west. George F Seward, a minister of the US to China called him “a giant among his fellow Chinese and the best foreigners who have met him in affairs will not hesitate to accord to him intellectual powers, which would command admiration in any cabinet or council”. Russia’s count Sergei Lil’evich Witte, the architect of the empires industrialization program for over two decades and a man not known to overstate others said this of Li “I have met many notable statesmen in my career and would rate Li Hongzhang high among them. In fact, he was a great statesman; to be sure he was Chinese, without any kind of European education, but a man of sound Chinese education, and what is more, a man with a remarkably sound mind and good common sense." The socialist French newspaper, Le Siecle, called him "the yellow Bismarck." I particularly like that last one, yellow Bismarck thats a flavourful one isn't it. Li Hongzhang was Han Chinese, from 6 of 7 generations that passed the imperial examinations, a scholar through and through. He passed the third highest out of 4000 other students for the highest imperial degree and built up the Huai army with help from Zeng Guofan quickly becoming one of if not the dominant military ruler in China. It was in fact his rule over the most powerful army in CHina that led to many of his appointments as the Qing needed to try and rein him in somehow. He and Empress Dowager Cixi would have a long-standing relationship. Li Hongzhang aided her in installing her nephew as Emperor in 1875, though in reality he would not actually rule anything it would be Cixi and Li was loyal to her. On the note of Cixi, Li Hongzhang was criticized heavily for corruption and indeed he became fabulously wealthy. Yet I do not think you can point fingers simply at Li, as it was not just him but the Qing bureaucracy that was corrupt. A foreign employee under Li had this to say about him and corruption “The Viceroy was a diplomat of world-wide fame; but to his countrymen - before the war - he was chiefly reputed as a great military and naval organizer. He was not nor could he be that; for the corruption, peculation and nepotism which infested his organizations had their fountain-head in himself, and to an extent which was exceptional even for a Chinese official. He was himself enmeshed in the national machine of organized inefficiency; to him also it was a normal condition, and any other, had it been indicated, would have been incomprehensible to him.” You have to understand at this time in the Qing dynasty corruption was simply the status quo. Bribery was the normal source of political influence. The Qing salaries were insufficient, so all officials bribed and embezzled to make ends meet. To get anything done politically in China at this time one had to bribe whether it was for good means or bad, Li was no different. Li’s activities were some of the largest in scope China would ever see and thus required enormous sums of money. None the less Li was a Han, and the Manchu were never going to let the Han simply run the show, so even if Li had idea’s about reform to stop the corruption they would not allow him to do so as it would put a Han in the drivers seat. And so Li was a master operator within the corrupt system of Qing politics, he had to grease the corrupt wheels of power. Unlike the Meiji restoration which took daring reforms backed by the Genro of Japan, Li had major shackles. I think I already said this before, Li Hongzhang is one of my favorite characters of modern Chinese history, but he is also a terribly tragic character. One would call him a man before his time. He showed great foresight about how China could modernize but he was hampered by the system. Yet despite all of that he did an incredible amount to help modernize China nonetheless. He also never got a chance to really see the outside world until late in his life unlike most of his Japanese counterparts. He would also take the lionshare of the blame for the many humiliations CHina would receive, literally right until his death he just kept fighting bitterly. Many champion those who do great feats during good times, but we often forget those who lived in dire times who struggled to do great feats, and Li is one of those. Now as the man responsible for Korea Li Hongzhang advised his Korean counterpart in 1879 "There is no human agency capable of putting a stop to the expansionist movement of Japan: has not your Government been compelled to inaugurate a new era by making a Treaty of Commerce with it? As matters stand, therefore, is not our best course to neutralize one poison by another, to set one energy against another? You should seize every opportunity to establish treaty relations with Western nations, which you can use to check Japan." The advice was carried to King Gojong who in 1822 solicited Li Hongzhang to negotiate on Korea’s behalf for a treaty with the United States. The Josen-United States Treaty of 1882 or Treaty of Peace, AMity, Commerce and Navigation would be signed in 1882 heavily influenced by Li Hongzhang. It was Korea’s first treaty with a western nation, albeit an unequal treaty. It established mutual friendship with the US and mutual assistance in the case of attack. The treaty became the template for others as soon Germany signed one in 1883, then Russian and Italy in 1884 and France by 1886. The idea obviously being, Li Hongzhang trying to bolster up Korea so Japan would not try to invade her. Now despite the fact these treaties were intended to counterbalance Japan, they also indirectly undermined China. Combined with the Japanese treaties they all worked collectively to shatter Korea’s isolation and severed China’s suzerainty over her. To be blunt, while China could continue to scream about how Korea was still her tributary, now a collective group of other nations saw her as independent. This also began a process of creating pro-Japanese and pro-Chinese factions within the Korean political system. There were those who missed the times of the Daewongun reign. They believed the current actions of Korea were unfaithful to Confucianism. And then in 1882 a small problem would evolve into a larger one. Remember the Japanese military attache, Lt Horimoto Reizo? Well in January of 1882, his work ended up reorganizing the existing 5 army garrison structure into the Muwiyong “palace guards garrison” and the Changoyong “capital guards garrison”. But alongside that he also created the Pyolgigun “special skills force” which was basically the yolk of a new modern Korean army. This is all fantastic and good fun, however Korea held a very tight budget and was forced to reduce the number of her old-style troops. For those of you who know your Satsuma Rebellion that occurred in Japan, here in Korea a similar event unfolded. In July of 1882 many Korean soldiers were retired against their will. They protested that for over a year after the forced retirement they had not received back pay. 1000 men, mostly the old and disabled were let go, and they were not paid their stipends of rice for 13 months. They began to protest, and who wouldn't. Hearing about this, King Gojong ordered that a months allowance of rice be given to the soldiers and he directed one Min Gyeom-ho, the overseer of the Joseon’s government finances to see to it. Min Gyeom-ho was the nephew of Queen Min, and that is an important fact as the Min family would be seen as culprits. Well Min Gyeom-ho handed the job over to his steward who sold the rice he had been given for the soldiers and used that money to buy millet which was further mixed with sand and bran, the good classic old case of embezzlement, like cutting cocaine with baking powder. Well the the substance by the time it got to the soldiers had gone rotten and as you might imagine it really pissed off the already pissed off protesting soldiers. So on July 23rd of 1882 a riot broke out in Uigeumbu. Pissed off soldiers marched upon the residence of Min Gyeom-ho who they suspected was the culprit swindling them all. Min Gyeom-ho heard of the incoming rioters and ordered the police to arrest their ringleaders and have them executed the next day. The rioters received word of these orders and broke into Min Gyeom-ho’s home, but by that point he had fled so they simply trashed the place. Without the man to exact their vengeance upon the rioters marched to the armory and began stealing arms and ammo. Then they went to a local prison, overwhelmed its guards and released the arrested ringleaders alongside other political prisoners. At this point Min Gyeom-ho was hiding at the Royal palace. He panicked and ordered the army to quell the revolt, but by this time the revolt was snow balling. The armed rioters then turned their attention to two different groups of people, the first were the Japanese and second Korean progressives aka the reformers supporting the new changes to Korea propped by Japan. A group of rioters headed to Lt Horimoto’s quarters where they grabbed him and took turns stabbing him to death. Another group of over 3000 rioters marched upon the Japanese legation. Over at the legation were the minister to Korea Hanabusa Yoshitada alongside 17 staff members and 10 legation police. The legation was quickly surrounded prompting Hanabusa to order all the documents within to be burnt. As the smoke and flames increased, many of the legation staff used it as a cover to escape through the rear gate. The Japanese fled to the nearest harbor where they took a boat down the Han river enroute to Incheon. From there they thought they would be safe, but Korean soldiers continued to hunt them down, soon they were fleeing to another harbor, but this time the Koreans caught up to them. 6 Japanese were killed with another 5 severely injured. The survivors got onto a boat and made a break for open sea, eventually running into the British survey ship HMS flying fish which took them in. The rioters certainly did not stop at the Japanese legation, on July 24th they took to marching upon the royal palace still hunting Min Gyeom-ho. They got their hands on Min Gyeom-ho killing him alongside a dozen high ranking Joseon officials including Heungin-gun Yi Choe-Heung, the older brother of the Daewongun. It should be noted that while he was the brother to him, he was also publicly critical against his isolationist policies and could be seen as an ally to the Min clan. The rioters also hunted for Queen Min, intending to kill her as well. They saw the Queen and the rest of the Min allies as the main culprits behind the corruption going on in the government. Queen Min managed to escape the palace being carried literally away on a guards back dressed as a commoner. She fled for refuse in the home of Min Eung-sik in Chungju of Chungcheong province. Meanwhile the rioters managed to kill an official of the Min family and the entire ordeal became known as the Soldiers Riot of 1882 or the Imo uprising. Now the Imo uprising was sort of a symptom of something else going on in Korea. I had mentioned previously that the Korean politics had created sort of a faction situation. It was not necessary one side was Pro Chinese and the other Japanese, a lot more was going on, but I will try to summarize it as best as I can. During the reign of the Daewongun, many of the Korean literati, you know the political, scholar, high society types, well they considered a lot of what the Daewongun was doing to be unfaithful to confucianism. However when the Daewogun was kicked out, they began to see all the grand reforms and treaties emerging under King Gojong as even worse. In fact they never really saw it as “King Gojong’s” but rather Queen Min and her entourage of family members in high positions taking Korea to hell in a handbasket. During the Imo uprising incident there was a rather important figure amongst the rioting troops, Prince Waneun, the illegitimate son of Daewongun and one of his concubines named Kyeseongwol. He was the older half brother to King Gojong. Now When the Daewongun was “forcefully retired” he actually did not go without a fight and attempted a coup, which just saw him getting deported to China, and this greatly upset Prince Waneun. But he bide his time, entering the Korean military as a low ranking officer. When the rioters struck in 1881, Daewongun had sent agents to instigate them, one of which was Prince Waneun. It seems the Daewongun was trying to replace King Gojong with his illegitimate son, but the riots failed. When they arrested the rioters many of their leaders were executed, one of which was Prince Wanuen. Who ordered his specific execution is unknown, myth has the Korean politician Yi Yun-yong being responsible, but there is also evidence he did so under orders from Queen Min and King Gojong. On October 28th of 1881 he was poisoned to death while in prison at Jeju. The reason I bring up this minor part of the story is to highlight that there were serious efforts being made by political factions to usurp King Gojong and steer Korea in certain directions. The Daewongun clearly supported the rioters and their cause. In fact it is known the Daewongun exhorted the rioters to specifically bring down the Min clan and expel the Japanese. Daewongun was very much in the China camp politically. King Gojong clearly did not support their cause, but he saw the writing on the wall. King Gojong asked his father to return to the palace, who promptly showed up with 200 of the rioters backing him up. King Gojong capitulated to their demands, one of which was to restore his father to power. King Gojong basically said this to his father when he showed up to the palace “put an immediate end to the wild melee and I will give power over the small and large matters of the government”. And thus the Daewongun was back in power. His first order of business as you might imagine was to remove from office all officials of the Min family, he even had his own brother executed because he had allied to them! At the time it was believed Queen Min had been killed, thus he had a funeral process begun for her. Now in response to the killing of the Japanese officials, well Japan was not too happy about that. The foreign office under Inoue Kaoru ordered Hanasuba to return to Seoul to hold a meeting with senior Korean officials to get them to bring the rioters responsible to justice. If any more of these rioters were to attack Japanese, Japan was going to bear military force against them, regardless of whatever the Korean government did. Inoue instructed Hanabusa, that if he saw the Koreans making any attempts to hide the perpetrators and not punish them, or if they refused simply to comply at all with their demands this would constitute a breach of peace and thus the IJA would be rolling in. Japan also sent an official letter to the Korean government with an envoy, indicting it for the crimes that had been done to the Japanese and that Japan would be sending forces to occupy the port of Chempulpo. Hanabusa meanwhile was instructed that if China or another nation attempted to mediate on behalf of Korea, he should refuse this, but to reiterate none the less that Japan still believed her relations with Korea were friendly and that they best restore that friendly relationship. Thus Hanabusa was to go to Seoul with IJA and IJN forces to protect him and other Japanese officials. Now while Japan was doing all of this, in the background they were also calling up reserves for their military in advance and Inoue Kaoru made sure to notify western ministers in Tokyo they were sending IJA/IJN forces to Korea to “protect their citizens”. He strongly emphasized this was all in good faith and that their intentions were peaceful, but when the Americans offered to mediate he declined this off the bat, not a great look. As for the Chinese reaction, Li Hongzhang who was in charge had left his post just before the crisis had broken out, taking a leave of absence because his mother had just died. How fate tosses the dice sometimes eh? Thus China’s de facto foreign minister was left out of touch and Korea did not have a Chinese legation on hand. Li Shuchang, the Chinese minister in Tokyo received word of the situation and sent word home. On August 1st, Zhang Shusheng dispatched 3 warships of the Beiyang Fleet under the command of Admiral Ding Ruchang to Korea with the Qing official Ma Jianzhong to assess the situation. 4500 Qing forces led by General Wu Changqing arrived and they quickly aided the Korean government in quelling the rioters thus thwarting a full blown rebellion. The Qing forces took control over Seoul. This was the first time that China had military intervened in Korea since 1636 and constituted a major departure in her foreign policy over Korea. Would this situation ignite a war between the Qing and Japan? I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The imo uprising was going to escalate things for China, Japan and Korea, simply boiling the pot of war gradually over time. How long could the diplomats and politicians keep those rattling the sabers of war?
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3.38 Fall and Rise of China: Dungan Revolt
34:55Last time we spoke about the modernization efforts of China, Japan and the Hermit Kingdom of Korea. China and Japan undertook very different paths to modernization, and little Korea was stuck in between them. Yet there was even another play joining the mix, the empire of Russia who was threatening all 3 of the Asian nations with her encroachment. The 3 Asian nations attempted to cooperate against the common threat, but Japan and China were growing ever more and more hostile towards another, particularly over the issue of who should influence Korea more. Yet today we are actually doing something a bit different, this will be sort of a side episode, for China had too many events going on during the 19th century to cohesively tell. One story goes often forgotten, yet it encompassed numerous groups, vast amounts of territory and a lot of bloodshed. #38 This episode is the Dungan Revolt Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. I am not going to lie, I have no idea where to even start with this one. Originally I wanted to write a single episode, perhaps a two parter, explaining how China and Japan find themselves going to war in the 1890’s largely over Korea. Yet the late 19th century is probably one of the most jam packed time periods for Chinese history. So many uprisings, rebellions, wars with foreign states occurs for the Qing dynasty, there’s simply no way to tell them all, but here I want to touch upon just a few. Now I keep bringing up but barely talk about, the Dungan Revolt of 1862-1877. If you go right now and please do, to the wikipedia article on the Dungan Revolt, check out the list of Belligerents. You will see the Qing, the Russian Empire, a short lived state called the Kashgaria, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and an unbelievable number of Muslim rebel groups from all over the place. Events like this do not live in a bubble, as we say in the research world of neuroscience, this requires multivariable analysis. Well that's what I hope to accomplish, in a single episode. Now I expect when I say the Dungan Revolt, the first question that comes to mind for many of you is, who are Dungans? Its complicated. They can be described as Turkic or Chinese speaking, Hui Muslim people who inhabitant Xinjiang province, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and parts of modern Russia. Now you are saying, wait are they Turks or Chinese, thats a very politically motivated question haha. Today you could call them, Hui, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks, Tatars, etc. In essence they inhibit a part of the world that has so many different groups around and their history goes very deep, before the time of the Qing dynasty. When the Qianlong Emperor hit the scene in the early 18th century, he named the province Xinjiang, meaning “new frontier” and the people there were known by many as Hui, but specifically for those Chinese speaking muslims in the northwest, well they were often referred to as Dungans. Prior to the Qing rule, Xinjiang was ruled by the Oirat Mongols of the Dzungar Khanate. I am sure you veteran listeners before I came to this podcast know much of these peoples and their history, you probably could teach me a thing or two, as this is very much so out of my specialization. One thing you might remember that I touched upon I believe in the very first episode of this podcast series was the Dzungar genocide. As ordered by the Qianlong Emperor “"Show no mercy at all to these rebels. Only the old and weak should be saved. Our previous military campaigns were too lenient. If we act as before, our troops will withdraw, and further trouble will occur. If a rebel is captured and his followers wish to surrender, he must personally come to the garrison, prostrate himself before the commander, and request surrender. If he only sends someone to request submission, it is undoubtedly a trick. Tell Tsengünjav to massacre these crafty Zunghars. Do not believe what they say." It is estimated perhaps 80 percent of the 600,000 or so Dzungars were killed through war and disease between 1755-1758, enough to argue the annihilation of them as a people. Now with Xinjiang so devastated and depopulated, the Qing sponsored a large-scale settlement of Han, Hui, Uyghur, Manchu and other Chinese. Thus the demographics of the region changed dramatically, Xinjiang became mostly Uyghurs around 60% or so, followed by 30% Han and Hui and the rest of various minority groups like Manchu. The Qing did their best to unify Xinjiang, and one of their policies was to turn over 17,000 acres of steppe grassland over to Han Chinese to farm and colonize. Some historians point this out to be an attempt to replace Uyghurs, but in truth its messier than just that, as the Qing also banned Han Chinese from settled in Uyghur concentrated areas of the province. Now the Oirat Mongol’s come back to the scene, this time in the form of the Kalmyk Khanate. They were mostly Tibetan Buddhists and in 1770, over 300,000 of them tried to seize control of parts of Xinjiang from the Qing. However when they began their great expedition, their traditional rivals the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz attacked them the entire way leading them to show up to Xinjiang, worn out, starving and ridden with disease. Many of them simply came and surrendered to the Qing upon arrival and managed to settle within Qing territory. Now these were nomadic people, but the Qing demanded they give up the nomadic lifestyle to take up farming, which was a deliberate policy to break them as a people. They utterly failed at becoming farmers and quickly fell into poverty, undergoing such horrors as selling their own children into slavery, becoming prostitutes, bandits, and such, terrible times. Alongside the terrible treatment of the new coming Kalmyks, Uyghurs were being abused by Manchu officials. It is said Manchu officials were gang raping Uyghur women, such as the official Su-cheng. A rebellion occurred, and the Qing violently quelled. There were reports of mass rape by Manchu troops causing even more hatred from the Uyghur population. Now fast forward to the Taiping Rebellion, during 1862 as Taiping forces approached Shaanxi province, the local population began to form militias known as the Yong Ying. The Yong Ying or “brave camps” were similar to our friend Zeng Guofans “Yung-Ying” Xiang army, just less well structured and terribly under equipped. If they were lucky the Qing government would hand over some Jingalls, but more or less the old sword and spear were their choice of weapon. Now the Yong Ying’s being propped up by the Qing were Han Chinese, but around them were large populations of Muslim Chinese who, well lets just say were having PTSD episodes from the countless atrocities performed upon them by these same people for centuries now. So the Muslim groups formed their own Yong Ying’s and this is where our story really begins. In 1862 sporadic conflicts such as skirmishes between groups, riots, smaller uprisings and such. They ran the gambit for reasons, could be just a barroom brawl as they saw, trivial type of stuff. During this time any rebel groups that emerged drew attention from the Qing and by proxy association were believed to be possibly working with the Taiping. To add some more chaos to the situation, the Green Standard army as you would assume took its recruits from populaces all over China. Their job much more as a police force than a real army was to keep things running smoothly in all the provinces of the Qing dynasty. In northwest China this meant numerous Hui and other muslim chinese groups were amongst their ranks and thus training for combat and armed, so keep that in mind. There were numerous incidents that sprung the Dungan revolt, but one in particular involved of all things the price of bamboo poles. Some Han merchants were overcharging Hui and this led to a major fight. Bamboo poles were traditionally used to make spears. During a time of major conflict and open rebellion suddenly the Hui communities began to buy large quantities of bamboo poles and this led to the belief they were planning to set up an Islamic state in northwestern China. Organized mosques run by popular mullahs in Shaanxi were purchasing more and more bamboo poles, which they were indeed making into spears. The Hui communities were worried about their safety, seeing all these local militias pop up meant there would be fighting over resources and such. Well the non muslim merchants, mostly Han saw the paint on the wall and were obviously worried about selling bamboo poles to people who might attack them, or better said might defend themselves. Thus many merchants began to increase the prices on bamboo poles and this led to a major uprising known as the Shengshan bamboo incident. Manchu general Duolongga, the same man we talked about during the Taiping Rebellion was leading a cavalry unit in the north when the Hui revolt suddenly turned into a siege laid against Xi’an in Shaanxi province. Duolongga led a campaign against the muslim bands and by 1863 the siege was lifted and the rebels were pushed out of Shaanxi into neighboring Gansu province. In Gansu the Muslim leaders began to spread rumors of an impending Qing crackdown on muslims. They spread fear that the Qing would soon massacre many and this allowed them to organize another siege, this time against Ling-chou, a large city 40 miles north from Jinjipu. Jinjipu happened to be the HQ of a major Muslim leader named Ma Hualong, more about him later. While Lingzhou was laid siege, another strategic city was also attacked by Muslim forces, the city of Lanchow. The Governor General at Lanchow, En-lin reacted by trying to apply a policy of reconciliation. He advocated to the Qing court to not alienate the Muslims and began sending edicts in Gansu reiterating non-discrimination policies towards Muslims. His efforts seem to have been all for naught, as the rumors of a Qing massacre upon the muslims won out the day and large scale violence just grew. Within Eastern Gangsu, many of the Shaanxi Muslim refugees formed the what became known as the “18 great battalions”. Their purpose was to train and arm themselves to take back their homes in Shaanxi. Now while Gansu and Shaanxi were kicking off the beginnings of the Dungan revolt, this also opened the door to more groups to join in. Yaqub Bek, was born in the town of Pskente in the Khanate of Kokand, today’s Uzbekistan. There region he lived in was drawn into conflict continuously with outsiders like the Russian and from within as it was deeply factionalized. Yaqub Bek claimed to be a descendant of Timur Gurkani the Turco-Mongol conqueror of the Timurid Empire, probably a ruse to give himself more credibility as a great ruler. He conspired against factions such as the Qipchaqs, taking part in a horrible event known as the Qipchaq massacre. Eventually in the 1860’s he fought for the Kokand khanate as a General against the Russians, but they defeated them in 1866 resulting in the major loss of Tashkent. The ruler of Khokand, Sadik Beg dispatched Yakub Beg to Kashgar to raise and find new troops amongst Muslim allies. Yaqub Beg instead invaded Kashgar, defeated its Chinese defenders and declared himself ruler. Now Yaqub Beh was stuck between the forces of the Russian, British and Chinese empires who were all vying for control of the surrounding area, this was part of something called “the great game” which I simply cannot get into for it is too great, pun intended. Thus Yaqub Beg began a campaign that basically saw him conquer Xinjiang province, and this drew the ire of the Qing as you can imagine. So the Qing were now dealing with multiple Muslim rebel groups in the northwest and on top of this some of them were foreigners, who held considerable backing. The Qing dynasty sent one of their most formidable Generals, Zuo Zongtang in 1867 to Shaanxi to pacify the region. Zuo Zongtang as you already know was instrumental in the downfall of the Taiping, working closely with Zeng Guofan. Zuo Zongtangs task was to restore the peace, promote agricultural output particularly that of grain and cotton and to promote Confucian education. As we have seen throughout the series, northwestern China is a rough place to live, stricken with poverty and thus Zuo Zongtang would not be able to rely on the resources of the territory he would have to look elsewhere. This led Zuo Zongtang to immediately demand the Qing court help fund the expedition as he personally began to take out major loans worth millions of taels from foreigners. Zuo Zongtang wanted to prepare massive amounts of supplies before going on the offensive, a smart move. Zeng Guofan likewise helped his subordinate by allocating him 10,000 Xiang forces, led by General Liu Songshan to bolster Zuo Zongtang’s 55,000 man army. Zuo Zongtang’s forces were mostly Hunanese, but there were also men from Henan, Anhui and Sichuan as well. Because of the Taiping Rebellion, Zuo Zongtang was a proficient army raiser now and he did his best to train the men in a western fashion and outfit them with western arms. As I had mentioned, Zuo Zongtang was one of the champions of modernization and established the Lanzhou arsenal in 1872 which produced Remington breech loading type rifles for his forces alongside artillery and munitions. Now that name, Ma Hualong I had mentioned comes up here a bit. He was the leader of the Jahriyya, known also as “the new teaching”. They were something of a Muslim sect in Gansu province and had been around since the 1760s.They periodically rebelled as a group and caused conflict with other groups, including muslim ones. When Ma Hualong took the leadership position in 1849 he gradually began to build up their forces and to do so he created a vast trade network using a caravan trade through Inner Mongolia and Beijing. His group became extremely wealthy and when the Dungan revolt heated up he began to use his trade network to purchase guns. Zuo Zongtang understandably was suspicious of the gun purchasing activity and deduced Ma Hualong sought to conquer parts of Inner Mongolia and rebel. Ma Hualong began collaborating with Muslim refugees fleeing Shaanxi for Gansu and this led to conflicts with the Qing. General Liu Songshan ended up dying in combat while campaigning against multiple Muslim militia groups, some of which were controlled by Ma Haulong. Meanwhile Zuo Zongtang was finishing up suppressing Shaanxi and establishing control over the province when he finally had a free hand to deal with Ma Hualong who had heavily fortified Jinjipu into a stronghold. Zuo Zongtang’s forces erected a siege upon Jinjipu using Krupps field guns, the good old fashion sappers tunneling with mines tactic and the age old classic of starving out the enemy. After 16 months of siege, starvation took its toll upon the defenders prompting Ma Hualong to surrender his forces in January of 1871. Ma Hualong hoped to save the majority of his people, but Jinjipu saw a massacre, thousands lose their lives and the town was rape, plundered and raized. Zuo Zongtang ordered the execution of Ma Hualong, his son Ma Yaobang and 80 Muslim rebel leaders via “Lingchi / death by slicing”. This was a horrible form of execution where a sharp object like a knife was used to slowly remove portions of ones body over long periods of time until the person died. Once done with Ma Hualong, Zuo Zongtang set his eyes upon another Muslim rebel leader named Ma Zhan’ao. Ma Zhan’ao worked loosely with Ma Hualong, but his stronghold was at Hezhou, present day Linxia. He controlled the region west of Lanzhou and benefited from Ma Hualong’s vast trade network managing to arm his rebel forces. Unlike Ma Hualong who was of the “new teaching” sect, Ma Zhan’ao was of the “Khafiya / old teaching” sect and they proscribing trying to peacefully exist amongst the non muslim Qing population. When the Dungan revolt began, Ma Zhan’ao escorted numerous Han Chinese to the nearest safe area of Yixin and he did not attempt to conquer the area nor molest them. Regardless he was one of the major muslim leaders purchasing arms and earned the attention of Zuo Zongtang who began an offensive against his forces in 1872. Initially his muslim defenders inflicted heavy losses upon Zuo Zongtang’s army much to the frustration of Zuo Zongtang. But Ma Zhan’ao did not want war and he dispatched his General Ma Chun to try and negotiate with General Zuo Zongtang. He offered to surrender his stronghold to the Qing and provide assistance to the Qing dynasty in quelling the Dungan revolt. Zuo Zongtang suspected this all to be a ruse, but the Qing ordered him to abide by the mutual assistance and indeed Ma Zhan’ao did assist the Qing. Zuo Zongtang began to pacify other areas, while Ma Zhan’ao basically saved his people from annihilation. To this very day the area he controlled holds a muslim population who control the Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture. Many of Ma Zhan’ao’s generals like Ma Qianling and Ma Haiyan defected to the Qing, including his son Ma Anliang who proved themselves instrumental to helping Zuo Zongtangs campaign. As Zuo Zongtang pacified the areas he was soon awarded governor generalship over Shaanxi and Gansu. At this point Zuo Zongtang loosely followed a strategy of divide and conquer. Those Muslim groups part of the New Teaching he violently massacred, but those of the old teachings he tried to persuade defection to the Qing. The Qing government likewise began to make edicts stating the Muslim rebels did not represent all muslim chinese, just as all the White Lotus rebels back in the early part of the century did not represent all buddhists. They advocated the Muslim community take up the old teachings over the new teachings. With the help of the Dungan people of Hezhou Zuo Zongtang then turned his gaze west towards Xinjiang to defeat the forces of Yaqub Beg. Zuo Zongtang was now joined by defected Dungan armies led by Generals like Ma Anliang, Dong Fuxiang. By 1875 Zuo Zongtang had assembled men and supplies along the Gansu corridor and the next year began his campaign by attacking Urumchi where he massacres their garrison. Next he besieged Manas for over a month until they surrendered. Allegedly the garrison were allowed to march out of the city with weapons, but it seemed to Zuo Zongtang’s commanders in the field they were planning an armed break out so they were all put to the sword as well. The women and children were spared luckily. Zuo Zongtang established a HQ at Gucheng while the Russian Empire annexed the Khanate of Kokand, squeezing Yakub Beg further. In September of 1876, Yakub Beh received reports a Chinese army was on the march 700 miles to the east and he began to prepare his defenses. He built up fortifications at Turfan and in 1877 he was visited by Aleksey Kuropatkin. Kuropatkin was sent on a diplomatic mission to Yaqub Beg to try and resolve some Russian border claims over the Fergana Valley. Kuropatkin told him he had around 17,000 troops spread over the Fergana Valley region and that he could not hope to match them. Yaqub Beg was in a very bad situation. The Chinese army had entered Urumqi pretty much unopposed, many of his eastern forces were defecting over to the Qing and in the west they were defecting to the Russians. In the spring the Chinese attacked the fort of Davanchi which lay between Urumchi and Turfan. Simultaneously an army led by Chang Yao seized Pichuan just 50 miles east of Turfan. Yaqub Beg’s forces were shrinking from lost battles, desertions and defections. The Qing forces attacked Turfan where Yaqub Beg’s men were beaten badly, so he fled to Toksun. At Toksun the Qing pursued him quickly and defeated him again, so he fled to Karashar, and then Korla. All of the fleeing demoralized his troops causing further desertions and defections. It would be at Korla where Yaqub Beg died and historians are uncertain as to exactly how or when. The Qing claimed he died on May 22, while Aleksey Kuropatkin claimed it was May 29th. What he died of is a bit of a mystery. The Russians state he died of illness, multiple historians think it was poisoning. Some modern historians think it could have been a stroke. Regardless with Yaqub Beg dead this pretty much closed the curtain on his forces control over the area. In autumn of 1877, Zuo Zongtang had kept his forces around Turfan as it was the hot season and he wished to gather further supplies, when he received news of the death of Yaqub Beg. Yaqub Begs forces disorganized into multiple rebel groups without a real leader consolidating anything. Zuo Zongtang sent advance parties to occupy Karashar and Korla meeting limited resistance. Zuo Zongtans army pushed the rebels further west until he eventually seized Kashgar with barely a fight and this led notable cities like Yarkand and Kohtan to submit. Xinjiang was officially reconquered by the Qing. The rebel groups dissolved gradually and no large scale revolts would occur for some time in the northwest. In 1884 Xinjiang was established as a province officially again. Zuo Zongtangs Xiang army and other Han Chinese troops began purchasing Uyghur girls from their parents to take as wives, relying often on their Hui allies to work as translators. Countless Uyghur muslim women would be married off to Han Chinese in Xinjiang during the late 19th to early 20th century. This was not limited to Han Chinese under the Qing as plenty of Hindu, Armenians, Jews and Russians also did the same. A large rationale for the situation was the amount of male depopulation from the area which caused a vacuum of single women. The punishments for the leaders who caused the Dungan revolt were harsh. Many of the songs of the Muslim leaders were castrated by the Qing imperial household department once they hit 11 years of age and they were sent to work as eunuch slaves for Qing held garrisons in Xinjiang. Many of the wives of the Muslim leaders were likewise enslaved. To give you an idea of how prevalent this was, the Muslim leader Ma Guiyuan had 9 of his sons castrated by the Qing. The Muslim leaders themselves were mostly executed by Lingchi. Yaqub Beg and his son Ishana’s corpses were burned in public view. Yaqub had 4 other sons who died imprisoned at Lanzhou, Gansu or were killed by the Qing authorities upon discovery. Even Yaqub Beg’s grandchildren were hunted for, many of which were caught and executed or castrated. The Dungan revolt led to mass migration all over the place. Some Hui people fled to Russia, settling in places like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Within the Qing dynasty, the Hui Generals who defected were all promoted by the Emperor such as Dong Fuxiang and Ma Anliang. The power of these pro Qing Hui forces would become quite important to the Qing military further down the road, particularly during the Boxer Rebellion. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Well I hope you enjoyed my butchering of the Dungan Revolt, again I did my best to tell it in regards to its significance to the history of China. In reality it was part of something known as the “great game” that had had a long lasting impact on many other nations history.
3.37 Fall and Rise of China: China & Japan & Korea
36:30Last time we spoke about the modernization efforts of Big Brother and Little Brother, aka China and Japan. Both nations went about the process of modernization in vastly different ways. Japan began its Meiji restoration, an incredible hyper modernization process done to thwart colonization by western powers. Yet China was hampered by hardline conservatives like Empress Dowager Cixi who sought instead to restore the Qing Dynasty’s symbolic grandeur over technological innovations such as railways. China’s greatest leaders like Zuo Zongtang, Zeng Guofan and Li Hongzhang did all they could to usher in some form of modernization. Li Hongzhang emerged as the champion of modernization efforts for China, but he kept butting heads with stubborn conservatives wishing instead to reclaim the Qing’s former symbolic glory.. It would not only be the conservatives in China he would have to face, for the Empire of the Rising Sun was growing, and forcing China into the shade. #37 This episode is China & Japan & the Hermit Kingdom Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. In the early 1860’s, before Emperor Meiji took to the throne, the Japanese sought to establish diplomatic relations with China. The Japanese regarded China as an enormous nation that could provide markets for their merchants, but more importantly, China could cooperate with Japan in the face of Western challenges. Who better to help thwart off the west, than Big Brother? In October of 1870, the Japanese official Date Munenari went to Tianjin to meet Li Hongzhang to see if they could open formal diplomatic relations. Li Hongzhang believed in the value of establishing relations with Japan and the importance for China to modernize and self-strengthen. Li Hongzhang admired Japan for preventing westerners from invading their nation and limiting the activities of westerners within her borders. The meeting was a cordial one, both sides saw common interest in working together to resist the west. In 1871 on September 13th, Li Hongzhang and Date Munenari signed the Friendship and Trade Treaty, the first diplomatic document between China and Japan in modern history. Li Hongzhang agreed that the two nations would not launch aggression against another and that if either nation were involved in a conflict with an outside power the other would come to their assistance. It sounded a lot like Pan-Asia unity was atleast on its way, but before the treaty could be ratified the Japanese tried to eliminate the clause to provide assistance and added a new clause, that Japan would be given most favored nation, thus giving Japan the same rights that the western nations had forced upon China, yes it was an unequal treaty clause. As you can imagine Li Hongzhang was greatly annoyed by this and delayed the ratification to try and get the Japanese to back down. By May of 1873 the Japanese yielded, accepting the mutual assistance clause and abandoned the most favored nation clause. Leaders of China and Japan than expressed that their nations shared common culture and were a common race “Tongwen, Tongzu - Dobun, Doshu” and thus they shared an interest in working together to respond to the threat of the west. When this treaty was signed, the Iwakura mission had not yet returned to Japan, but Emperor Meiji had assigned Japans foreign minister, Soejima Taneoimi to go to China to learn about her position on the issue of the Ryukyus and Taiwan. Japan had interests in them and knew this would lead to conflict with the Qing. Soejima was an expert on the Chinese classics and skilled at Chinese poetry. Thus when he went over and the Chinese hosts began to make it clear Japan was in a supplicant relationship with China because she held the Chinese emperor, Soejima used his knowledge to wedge Japan into a special position. He came to Tianjin and met with Li Hongzhang. Famously when they met, Li Hongzhang was in traditional clothing, while Soejima was in western attire and Li criticized him for this. Soejima then went to Beijing and waited several days trying to get an audience with high level Qing officials. The Qing were greatly angered by Japanese attempt to get most favored nation status in the treaty. Thus they were really trying to hammer in that Japan was the supplicant to China. Soejima was upset at the condescension with which he was treated. He quoted the Duke of Zhou stating to the Qing “If you treat [foreigners] as barbarians, they will be just that, but if you treat them as true gentlemen, they will indeed become true gentlemen.” Soejima was the first Japanese person in modern times to meet the Qing emperor. Prince Gong greeted him and told Soejima he would not have to kowtow before the emperor. The kowtow issue had actually been resolved because Western diplomats had made too many problems of it, by proxy Japan would not have to either. The Qing made an effort to show respect to Soejima by seeing him before other foreign diplomats and allowed him to bow just 3 times. Soejima was wine and dined by Li Hongzhang in Tianjin later, it was extremely cordial and there was goodwill between the men. Soejima’s experience in China had him returning to Japan confident that China would not stop Japan from expanding her trading activities in the Ryukyus and China. Japan then prepared a legation staff to China and established a formal diplomatic office in Beijing with Mori Arinori as the ambassador. Li Hongzhang advocated that Beijing should establish a legation in Japan, arguing that if China had had a legation there they could have prevented Japan from attacking Taiwan in 1874. China’s legation staff would arrive in Tokyo in december of 1877, again slow to the mark. Li Hongzhang was cautious about Japanese intentions now and in 1876 met with Mori Arinori. They shared concerns over Russian advances and Li Hongzhang suggested to Mori Arinori that their nations should cooperate on matters in Korea. Japan was focusing efforts to strengthen its northern island against possible Russian threats. They viewed Sakhalin, Manchuria and Korea to be regions of national security concern. While Japan worried about Russia encroaching on Hokkaido from the sea, China worried about Russia encroaching on its northeast region. Although the trans-siberian railway only began construction in 1891 their efforts to settle people across Siberia in preparation for its construction began much earlier. The Qing had not allowed non Manchu people to reside in their homeland of Manchuria since conquering the Ming dynasty centuries before. To strengthen resistance against Russia, in 1878 the Qing changed their immigration policy to allow and even encourage non-Manchu to come to Manchuria. Within a few years many migrants came from various parts of China to settle in Manchuria. Japan likewise was sending settlers to develop Hokkaido, but unlike Japan, the Qing had no real development plans to modernize manchuria. Soon after Hokkaido began being developed the Japanese next move was to gain control over the Ryukyu islands south of Japan's 4 main islands. This would be the first real tension between Japan and China. From 1862 to the mid 1870s Japan had concentrated on defense and thus things revolved around her 4 main islands. After the mid 1870s however, Japan gained in strength and began to expand their defensive perimeter. The Ryukyu, in Chinese “the Liuqui Kingdom” was led by indigenous peoples who oversaw the small islands stretching between Kyushu and Taiwan. The Ryukyu kingdom tried to fight for its independence by showing good will to both China and Japan and this brought Qing and Tokugawa presence. The Ryukyu kingdom maintained Chinese and Japanese emissaries who came regularly, but never at the same time. The Ryukyu kingdom paid tribute to China and traded with her, thus was influenced heavily by her. However culturally the Ryukyu were closer to Japan and Satsuma domain in particular had a large influence on her. From 1871 to 1874, Japan used a shipwreck incident involving some Ryukyu fisherman off the coast of Taiwan to strengthen her rights to govern the Ryukyu islands. In 1871 Ryukyu fisherman in 4 small boats got stuck in a typhoon sinking 1, shipwrecking 2 and 1 remained afloat. The survivors made their way ashore on Taiwan where 44 of them were killed by Taiwanese aboriginals. 12 fisherman survived and escaped aboard their last boat back to the Ryukyus. At this time Taiwan was under the control of Fujian province and the Japanese government demanded China compensate the fisherman. This inherently was also the Japanese government claiming the Ryukyu islands to belong to them. For two years the issue went unresolved and in 1874 Japan launched a punitive expedition led by Saigo Tsugumichi, the brother to the famous last Samurai Saigo Takamori. If you are interested in the story of Saigo by the way over at the Pacific War channel I have an episode dedicated to the Satsuma Rebellion, what inspired the film the Last Samurai, though that movie is sort of a mix between the Boshin War and the Satsuma rebellion, still good movie just not historically accurate. Well the Qing officials explained to the Japanese that the Taiwanese were not technically under Qing control and that the Ryukyu islands were actually under Qing jurisdiction. The Japanese expeditionary forces remained on Taiwan, intentionally to intimidate China. Soejima and the official Okubo Toshimichi went to China to discuss the issue and under pressure the Qing officials agreed to pay compensation to Japan for the Ryukyu sailors, but later stated they were unaware the payment would also provide Japan with support for her claim over the Ryukyu islands. Li Hongzhang was livid over this betrayal and stated that while the Europeans were at least honest in their negotiations, the Japanese were duplicitous. By the mid 1870’s the Japanese and Chinese militaries both increased their presence in the Ryukyus. Then in 1879 during the process of abolishing the old feudal domains to replace them with prefectures, Japan officially recognized the Ryukyu islands as the prefecture we know today as Okinawa. Japan followed this up by ordering Okinawa to stop sending tribute to China. Now Li Hongzhang had supported relations with Japan, even with their incursions in Taiwan in 1874 and their swindle of treaty deals, but in 1880 China refused Japan’s official proposal concerning the Ryukyus. China however did not follow this up militarily. The problems between China and Japan would only worsen and it would be Korea stuck in the middle. Japan’s interests in Korea were both for security and economic. Of all the territories near Japan, Korea was the most significant strategic area. She was in the vortex of Russia, China and Japan. Korea had also been the crux of two military clashes between Japan and China in 661-663 and 1592-1598. Alongside that Korea had been the staging area for the failed Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274-1281. The German military adviser to Japan, Major Jacob Meckle stated that Korea was “a dagger thrust at the heart of Japan” and this had a profound effect on Japanese strategists. Japan was concerned other nations, like Russia, would use Korea as a base from which to attack Japan. Yet if Japan could establish a military presence on the peninsula, well that would prevent this from ever occurring. Historically Japan had dealt with Korea, better called the Joseon dynasty through the Tsushima islands and Pusan island. Both Korea and Japan took up isolationist policies and much like Nagisaki acted as Japan’s open port for so long, Korea kept Pusan as its open port. During the Sakoku period, Japan gave the Tsushima domain the responsibility of dealing with Korea. There had always been limited trade between the two nations, but things certainly changed after Japan kicked off its Meiji restoration. Japan had looked to nations like Britain as an example of how to build a strong economy. This led Japanese officials to seek a relationship like Britain had when it came to economic activity. To manufacture products, sell it to its colonies and build up its own economy. Their idea for this was to import soybeans and wheat from Korea and sell Korea industrial products. Initially Japan’s only major export was raw silk, so they decided to try exporting silk textiles. In late 1869 a Japanese representative from Tsushima was sent to Pusan to announce Japan was to have a new emperor, standard stuff. What was not standard however was in the letter sent to the Koreans the term for the Japanese emperor used the Ko character rather than Taikun. The Ko character was used to refer to the Qing emperor, implying the Joseon Dynasty’s emperor was inferior. By using the Ko character for the Japanese emperor, Japan was trying to establish the same relationship. And so the Korean officials refused to receive the new representative and his mission as a result. The Koreans wanted to remain in the sinocentric world as tributaries to the Qing. This fiasco led to the legendary Seikanron debates, in which Saigo Takamori argued Japan should perform a punitive expedition against Korea, again if you want to hear more about that hilarious tale check out my Satsuma Rebellion episode on the Pacific War channel. Long story short, the Japanese leadership knew they were not yet strong enough to embark on such a venture so they blocked Saigo’s motion. Now Japan did not simply give up on the Korean situation, they kept trying to send envoys to force Korea to recognize the equality between Japan and China. In the meantime in 1875, the steam gunboat Un’yo under the command of Inoue Yoshika was dispatched to survey the Korean coastal water. On the morning of September the 20th, Inoue put ashore a party on the island of Ganghwa to request water and provisions and here came a major conflict. Ganghwa had quite recently been the place of two major conflicts, a French expedition against Korea occurred in 1871 and an American expedition the same year. Thus the men manning the fortifications at Ganghwa were trigger happy with fresh memories of what foreign ships could do to them. When the Japanese came ashore, the Korean shore batteries fired upon the Un’yo. The Japanese as you might imagine were really pissed off and they quickly dispatched 32 men, 10 marines, 19 sailors and 3 officers to attack Yeongjong fort. The men landed near the eastern gate of the fortress and immediately white coated Joseon defenders began firing their antiquated matchlocks and some arrows down upon the Japanese. A Japanese sailor was wounded by a matchlock ball and another was hit in the groin by an arrow. The Japanese pressed their attack climbing over a wall to open the gates as their marines rushed into the fort. The Un’yo fired its 6.3 in and 5.5 in deck guns to support the assault. The Koreans tried to flee through their western gate only to run into 6 Japanese sailors who ambushed them. Kawamura Kwanshu, a Japanese officer present had this to say "they clambered down the steep bank on the south-eastern side, and in hopes of escaping to the opposite island … they stripped off their clothes and plunged into the sea. Unfortunately, the tide was high and too deep to wade across. Many of them hesitated and we fired on them without mercy ― 24 Koreans were killed on the rocks and many more drowned trying to swim to safety. Only six or seven were seen making it safely ashore on the distant island.” The commander of the fort, Yi Min-dok managed to escape as the Japanese plundered the fort which Kawamura tells us " We took 36 bronze cannons and a drum nearly 6 feet in diameter. In addition to this there were four drums three feet in diameter. Their trumpets were very like toy trumpets used by children in Japan. Their bows also were very like the Japanese. Their arrows were exactly like those in Japan. The swords were numerous, but they must have been bought in Japan. The guns were all matchlocks. Among the booty was a French book on gunnery translated into Chinese." Many Koreans were captured and they were forced to carry the plunder to the Un’yo as the Rising Sun flag was raised over the fort. The Japanese held the island awaiting a challenge from Korea, but none came. The next day the Un’yo returned to Japan leaving Yeongjong in ruins. The entire ordeal turned into an implicit threat to Korea, if they refused to recognize Japan’s claim and open up relations Japan would use its military might. Within Japan, the Korea incidents had gone hand in hand with the Satsuma rebellion of 1877 to push the Japanese public to support military action in Korea. The Meiji leadership were under pressure, but they hoped to avoid conflict by resolving such problems through diplomacy. Li Hongzhang perceived that if Japan were to invade Korea, this might provoke Russia to respond and thus China also wanted to resolve such issues through diplomacy. The Qing dynasty officially held suzerainty over the Joseon Dynasty, thus they held the right to approve Korea’s foreign policy decisions but not to interfere with her domestic affairs. For centuries China held this right, but did not exercise it. Then in 1875, Mori Arinori was sent to Beijing seeking Qing support to open trade between Japan and Korea. Mori Arinori met with the Qing office for general management of affairs concerning the various countries, what a mouthful, known as the Zongli Yamen. The Zongli Yamen officials stated while Korea was a Chinese dependency, China still could not interfere with her domestic affairs and thus could not demand she open up trade with Japan. So the next year Mori Arinori met with Li Hongzhang over the issue and both men sought a peaceful agreement. Mori Arinori advocated for Korea to be treated under international law as a sovereign state. Now Ito Hirobumi the rising political leader of Japan during this time believed progress could not be made opening Korea up by working with the Qing. He urged his colleagues that Japan should work with Korea directly instead. Korea at this time was going through some major changes as well. The young Emperor Gojong turned 21 years old in 1873 and replaced his father Yi Ha-eung who was the Heungseon Daewongun, basically a regent ruling the dynasty. His father was a conservative with a very simple foreign policy it went like this according to the American Historian Bruce Cummings “no treaties, no trade, no catholics, no west and no Japan”. Yes the Daewongun liked his isolationist policy and he was not wrong about doing so. By keeping Korea as bottled up as possible he was able to keep the western powers arguably out for quite some time. However the problem with this was while keeping the west out you were also hindering chances at modernization and an industrial revolution. Korea was known as the Hermit Kingdom and while she tried her best to keep the world out, the world eventually would come crashing in. When Gojong came into power in 1873, unlike his father he was much more willing to consider opening up and working with the Japanese. Now alongside Gojong was his wife, the famous Empress Myeongseong, also called Empress Min. She was born to the Yeoheung Min Clan in 1851. They were a noble clan who historically held high positions in the Joseon dynasty. She lost her father at age 7 and was raised by her mother and other Min relatives. When Gojong turned 15, his father sought a wife for him. He wanted someone with no close relatives so she could not harbor much political ambitions, but came from a noble lineage. He rejected many, until he found the orphaned Min who was beautiful and of ordinary level of education. She was married to Gojong and after Daewongun realized the empress had political ambitions. Daewongun had this to say of her “she was a woman of great determination and poise”, despite this he paid little mind to her and things moved on. Empress Min would quickly ruffle feathers so to speak. She showed herself to be very assertive and ambitious. She did not toss lavish parties for the nobles nor participated in the normal extravagant lifestyle, you know wine and dining, tea parties with the princes and princesses all that jazz you see in the Crown. No instead she spent a lot of her time self educating, reading books reserved for men. She studied history, science, politics, the works. By the age of 20 she began trying to play an active role in politics in spite of the Daewongun and other officials trying to stop her. She then bore child prematurely who died 4 days after birth. This prompted the Daewongun to state publicly that she was unable to bear a healthy male child, which became quite a public scandal. Queen Min even suspected her father in law had slipped her ginseng to cause her pregnancy issues. Daewongun proceeded to push his son to conceive a child through a concubine called Yi Gwi-in and she soon gave birth to Prince Wanhwa. Daewongun quickly tossed the title of crown prince upon the child and it looked like the jig was up for Empress Min. However Empress Min secretly began to form a powerful faction against the Daewongun. The faction included high officials, scholars, members of the Min Clan and they made a move to remove the Daewongun from power. Empress Min’s adoptive older brother, Min Seung-Ho along with the Joseon court scholar Choe Ik-Hyeon formally impeached the Daewongun arguing that Gojong, then age 22 should rule in his own right. The royal council agreed to this and Daewongun was forced to retire. The second he was out of the picture, Empress Min banished Yi Gwi-in and her child to a village outside the capital and stripped them of royal titles. The child also died on january 12th of 1880. Now Empress Min had control over the Joseon court and quickly appointed trusted family members in high court positions to assert her dominant role as Queen consort. So yeah she was a firebrand of a woman, a very interesting character, I do apologize my knowledge of Korean history is limited, but I do recommend if you are into Korean tv series there are quite a few on her like Empress Myeongseong from 2001. Now just a few months after the Un’yo incident, Japan sent an emissary to Korea to push a treaty. It was the exact same type of situation Japan faced when Commodore Matthew Perry’s blackships, gunboat diplomacy. King Gojong signed what became known as the Ganghwa Treaty: this opened up 3 Korean ports to Japan, one at Pusan right away, one Wonsan in 1880 and another at Inchon and 1883. The treaty was an unequal treaty, very much in the same light as the ones forced upon Japan by western nations. The treaty had ended the Joseon dynasties tributary status under the Qing dynasty now she was an independent state. The Chinese were now suspecting Japan sought a presence on the peninsula and Li Hongzhang openly expressed fears that Japan might develop territorial ambitions on the mainland. The Chinese and Japanese continued talks about cooperation against the West, especially Russia, but they were also now quite wary of another. Now Korea was not idle during all of this and her officials sought a way to secure her. King Gojong sent a mission to Japan headed by Kim Hong-jip. Kim Hong-jip was presented a plan by a Chinese diplomat named Huang Zunxian there called “a strategy for Korea”. It warned that if Korea was threatened by an empire like Russia, Korea should maintain friendly relations with Japan, China and seek an alliance with the United States to counterweight Russia. Kim reported this to King Gojong who was impressed with the plan. Then in 1880 following the Chinese advice King Gojong established diplomatic ties with the US. Negotiations began between all the nations in Tianjin and the Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and navigation was signed by Korea and the US. However during the negotiations, issues rose up. The Chinese insisted that Korea was not independent and still a dependency of China. America firmly opposed such a thing, stating the new treaty should build upon the Treaty of Ganghwa which stipulated Korea as an independent state. A compromise was made between China and the US stipulating that Korea held a special status as a tributary state of China. Now as of 1879, China had given Li Hongzhang responsibility for relations with Korea. Li Hongzhang urged Korean officials to adopt China’s self-strengthening program to do the same for their nation in response to foreign threats. Korea after all had just opened herself to the world and now would pursue modernization under a doctrine known as tongdo sogi “eastern wars and western machines”. To modernize Korea would incorporate western technology while trying to preserve her culture, it was much alike to the Meiji restoration. In 1881 Korea established the T’ongni kimu amun “office for extraordinary affairs” modeled on the Qing administrative structures. That same year a mission was sent to Japan to see their modernized factories, military, and education system. Korea then hired a Japanese military attache, Lt Horimoto Reizo to help create a modern army for Korea. This led to the Pyolgigun “special skills force”, where around 100 men of Korea’s aristocracy were given Japanese military training. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Trouble was brewing between the Qing dynasty and the Empire of the Rising Sun. It seemed the Hermit Kingdom of Korea was a continuous source of conflict for the two empires, and perhaps might drag them into a war that would change the balance of power in Asia forever
3.36 Fall and Rise of China: China & Japan: Big Brother & Little Brother
38:48Last time we spoke the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, Tianjing had finally fallen to the forces of Zeng Guofan and his Xiang army. Hong Xiuquan, the self proclaimed brother of Jesus was dead. All the remaining Taiping Kings and Hong’s son were hunted down and executed. History's bloodiest civil war was over, claiming the lives of 20-30 million people. Yet this civil war was just one event amongst many simultaneously occurring in the Qing dynasty. Foreign encroachment and internal strife were breaking down the dynasty brick by brick. China was facing an uncomfortable situation, she had to modernize to survive against threats abroad and within. Another nation, just across the sea, faced the same cataclysm, but would undergo a vastly different approach. Henceforth the two nations, China Big Brother and Japan, little brother, would never be the same again. #36 This episode is China & Japan: Big Brother & Little Brother Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Now I want to say this right off the bat, for those of you who are fans of my Youtube channel and have seen my content, you already know my background from the beginning was more so the history of Japan. It was in fact my love of Japanese history that led me to the history of China and I think that says something about these two nations. You simply cannot speak about one's history without the other. I could delve deeply into the opening of Japan, its turbulent Bakumatsu period, my personal favorite, the Boshin war, the Meiji restoration, the Satsuma rebellion, etc etc. But this podcast is about the Fall and Rise of China. While my personal channel deals with both nations trying to give an equal amount of narrative to explain both their developments, I want to try my very best to keep it to the hip so to say. If you want more details about the historic events of Japan from 1600-1890 or so, check out my personal channel or perhaps become a Patreon over at www.patreon.com/pacificwarchannel and scream at me to do some podcasts in depth on those subjects, I certainly would love to dabble more into it, like for example a podcast dedicated to the Shinsengumi, the samurai police who fought to the bitter end to defend the Tokugawa shogunate during its death throes, just an idea. The last time we spoke, I went over the end of the Taiping Rebellion, a momentous part of the history of Modern China. I literally sighed with relief upon completing that large series….then I stared at a blank page. Where do I even begin now? The first thing that came to my mind is how to explain what occurred to both China and Japan in the mid 19th century. Both nations were forced to modernize lest they become colonized by foreign powers. For China this was brutal, she was quite literally being carved up, but for Japan who had spent 265 years almost completely isolated under her Sakoku policy, she was opened up, went through hyper modernization and thwarted colonization as a result. Japan’s story is quite different for numerous reasons, major ones being that she got the enormous benefit of seeing what was happening to China and learnt directly from China’s predicament. After the west defeated China during the Opium Wars and Commodore Perry opened up Japan in 1853, Asia could no longer maintain a separate existence. Both nations were forced to begin the process of becoming part of the world. Japan had many natural advantages over China. She was made up of 4 islands, very compact, sea transportation was widely available, her communications did not have to link very far. China would only get its first telegraph in the 1880s, and it took their governmental communications nearly a month to travel from one end of the country to the other. Japan being an island had always felt vulnerable to dangers from the sea. This sense of danger prompted Japan to seek knowledge of the outside world to protect herself. Chinese leaders had to worry about enemies coming over land from multiple directions, thus they were less concerned about the seas. Japan, had isolated herself for 265 years, while China had become the literal pinnacle of civilization, hoarding the worlds silver. Thus as you can imagine Japanese leadership were not as confident as the Chinese who saw themselves on top of the world, and you know that saying or the game, king of the mountain? Well its hard to sometimes see people coming after you when your on top. Japan was also more homogeneous, whereas China had hundreds of differing people, Han, Manchu’s, Mongols, Uighurs, Tibetans, etc. Unifying such people and maintaining domestic harmony was pretty much impossible. China was also undergoing a population boom in the 19th century alongside massive food shortages. This led to the terrible rebellions such as the Taiping Rebellion, I think we covered that one pretty well, the Nian Rebellion which we talked about a little bit, but of course there were others. So I think we all know now the Taiping Rebellion encompassed many issues ongoing in China. For the Nian rebellion, it occurred mostly in the north and was basically peasants banding together to survive. Natural disasters had taken a toll, food was scarce and when bad times come, especially in China, bandits begin to roam. To fight off the bandits the Nian formed militias, but as you might imagine the Qing saw this and freaked out. The main purpose of the Nian was survival and resisting taxation, something I personally can subscribe to haha. Inevitably the Nian looted and raided as a means to keep their group going on, clashing with bandits, the Qing and other rebel groups like the Taiping. Much like the Taiping, the Nian failed to topple the Qing dynasty and were quelled gradually through the Qing ruthless campaigns that used scorched earth tactics. The Nian also were in the north and thus faced the forces of Mongol general Senggelinqin. Seng defeated the Nian and killed their greatest leader Zhang Lexing in 1863 from which the never recovered. After the 2nd opium war was done, the Qing simply were more able to deal with the internal rebellions, and the Nian unfortunately were close to Beijing and not as formidable as the Taiping. Now while all that was going on, multiple muslim rebellions occurred. There was the Hui Muslim backed Panthay Rebellion in southwestern China, mostly in Yunnan province. Panthay is the Burmese word used by Burmese for Chinese muslims who arrived from Burma to Yunnan. They were fighting discrimination and like many other rebellions during this time, they saw the Manchu weakened as a result of the opium wars and decided there was an opportunity to become independent. By the way while I am referring to this as a quote muslim rebellion it was not at all exclusively muslim, many non-muslims joined them such as the Shan and Kachin people of Burma. Once the Taiping were dealt the Qing had a stronger hand south and gradually quelled them by 1868. To the northwest of China came the Dungan revolts led mostly by Hui muslim chinese in Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia provinces. These revolts raged from 1862-1877 and they began from conflicts between Hui and Han chinese. It was a terrible time leading to massacres, famines, massive migrations of people, plagues, simply awful stuff. In northwest China its estimated something like 21 million people died. Zuo Zongtang, a subordinate of Zeng Guofan rose to prominence and created his own army based on the Xiang model called the “chu army”. He largely was responsible for quelling the Dungan revolts. So ye China was dealing with a lot. The 1860’s in general were a turning point for China and Japan. Both nations gained new governing structures and resumed official contacts with another for the first time in over 2 centuries. For Japan the 1860’s were part of what is called the Bakumatsu period, its this very messy point in their history where the leadership of Japan was frantically trying to figure out how to save themselves from colonization. Over in China the 1860’s leads us into a period known as the Tongzhi restoration named after the new emperor. The Taiping by the early 1860’s were on a steady decline and this gave the Qing leadership finally a moment to try and rebuild national strength. For Japan this period saw the Shogun being overthrown in 1868, and this also led to a bitter war called the Boshin war of 1868-1869. One of my personal favorite wars by the way, I have an episode on it over on my personal channel the Pacific War channel if you want the full rundown and a ton of Chimbara film clips to give it flavor. To brutally summarize, there was a call to end the Tokugawa shogunate, they even gave the Tokugawa family a great severance package, but the Shogun did not go down without a fight. Loyal hans and the Shinsengumi fought to retain the SHogunate while the hans of Satsuma/Choshu and Tosa rose up and defeated them. After the shogunate was dissolved Japan went into the Meiji restoration, which I also have a full episode on sorry for the plug ins over at my Youtube. I perhaps will get into it later, but to summarize the Meiji restoration is the greatest feat of Modernization I would say in human history. Its a hyper modernization process where Japan took the very best aspects of the outside world, while trying to retain important parts of their own culture to mold Japan into a modern state. They were extremely successful and as a result achieved the number one goal of the Meiji restoration, thwarting colonization. The Japanese had resolutely responded to the challenges from the west. As for China, with the death of Emperor Xianfeng in 1861 came the enthronement of Emperor Tongzhi at the age of 5. The Qing leadership were eager to restore the social order that had been severely damaged by the Taiping Rebellion, the Second Opium War and countless other rebellions. Xianfeng who died at the age of 30 was considered a failed emperor and I mean I would have to strongly agree. The guy spent all his time getting high, messing with his harem and fled the capital, never returning to it. China had been left in a disastrous state, but with the defeat of the Taiping came new leadership. That leadership was not Emperor Tongzhi, but rather a mix of Prince Gong and Empress Dowager Cixi. The Empress Dowager proved to be very skilled in managing court politics and quickly became the dominant power during the Tongzhi period and that power would last basically until her death in 1908. Prince Gong and other officials realized that to cope with the foreigners, new skills and new technology, especially that of shipping and weaponry would be required. But many Qing officials remained focused on cultivating the moral qualities that they considered essential for national vitality. Empress Dowager Cixi and many Qing officials believed that the essence of China’s problems stemmed from the loss of a true confucian spirit. To address this problem, they sought to restore the importance of the imperial examination system and to eliminate the major corrupt issue that had emerged, that of buying and selling offices. As I had pointed out in the Opium War series, while in the past the integrity of the Qing dynasty and the other dynasties before it lay in officials being appointed by the merits after taking the imperial examination, starting around the 19th century this kinda fell apart. Officials were gradually purchasing their appointments and other high ranking officials began selling appointments, such as the Cohong merchants who basically inherited an incredible debt upon taking their role and were expected to extort funds back to their backers. The Qing dynasty was extremely corrupt and would just keep getting worse and worse. Cixi valued the importance of symbolism and undertook the building of the new summer palace after it was burnt down during the 2nd opium war. Her name would infamously be attached to the building of the summer palace which was unbelievably expensive. Many accusations and myths for that matter would involve Cixi utilizing funds for necessities of the empire instead for the palace. Now in 1861, China launched a self-strengthening movement. This focused upon training troops, building their ships and producing their own weaponry. Self-strengthening movements were not new to China, they had been seen countless times such as when the Ming began seeking foreign aid to fend off the Qing invasion all the way back in the 16th century. Now as we saw during the end half of the Taiping rebellion series, Zeng Guofan tackled self-strengthening head on. One of Zeng Guofans scholar colleagues was a man named Feng Guifen who had sent him a series of essays in 1861 highlighting the issue of self-strengthening. Feng spent considerable time focusing on studying warfare against the Taiping, specifically in the east around Shanghai. He was very impressed by the western military technology present there and would often write to Zeng Guofan about it. Likewise Zeng Guofan wrote in his diaries about self-strengthening and how western technology could be used to defend China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Zeng Guofan’s second hand man, Li Hongzhang likewise wrote of self strengthening during this time period and identified how Western power lied upon their technology and that China must learn to construct the same machines they did. He advocated first to apply this to the military, but gradually it must also apply to industry at large. As we saw during the Taiping Rebellion, there was a large struggle by both the Qing and Taiping to get their hands on western arms. Zeng Guofan purchased many western arms for his Xiang army and the Qing famously employed the EVA forces. By 1860 the majority of Qing leadership types including the scholar class were aware they had to move with the times and study western technology. By 1861 China officially began a self strengthening movement which can be seen to have three phases the first going from around 1861-1872, the second from 1872-1885 and the third from 1885-1895. The first phase focused on training of troops, building ships and the production of arms. With support from Prince Gong, Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, Zuo Zongtang and other officials began major projects. Zeng Guofan established a arsenal in Shanghai, Li Hongzhang built one in Nanjing and Tianjin and Zuo Zongtang built a dockyard at Fuzhou. The arsenals were created with help from foreign advisors and administrators who also set up schools for the study of specific sciences like mechanics. The Qing government likewise created the “Tongwen Guan” “school of combined learning” in Beijing. The purpose of the school was initially to teach foreign languages, but it would gradually expand course curriculum towards astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, medicine and so on. The school would begin a transformative process and lead to the construction of similar schools. Li Hongzhang for example would go on to create language schools in shanghai, Guangzhou and Fuzhou pioneering western studies. Zeng, Li and Zuo initially used foreign workers to build up their factories and arms, until their own native chinese could learn the skills necessary to replicate the processes. At Li Hongzhangs Jiangnan arsenal they began producing Remington breech loading rifles. They began production in 1871 and by 1873 produced 4200 rifles. The rifles were expensive to make and inferior to actual remington arms, but it was a start. The naval dockyards at Fuzhou amongst others had a much more difficult job ahead of them. By the time they began producing ships, they turned out to be twice as expensive than simply purchasing ships from Britain. This led China to purchase more ships to meet the demand and by the 1880s China would be purchasing and creating more ships than Japan. Also in the 1880s Li Hongzhang established the CHina Merchants steam navigation company to help China create its own commercial shipping, something necessary for modern trade. Another big process of modernization in the 19th century was of course, trains. Chinese laborers famously traveled to north american to help build the great railroad systems in both the United States and Canada. This prompted Qing officials to advocate for the same thing in China, famous figures like Lin Zexu and Hong Rengang called for this. However the hardline conservative types, most notably Empress Dowager Cixi were very reluctant about steam engine technology and that of trains. There were various reasons they were wary over railroad development. In 1865 a British merchant built a 600 meter long railroad outside Xuanwu Gate in Beijing to demonstrate the technology to the Qing imperial court. The courts reactions was mixed, they were certainly impressed by its functionality, but also found it very noisy and strange, so they had it quickly dismantled. It would not be until 1876 when the first railroad was established known as the Woosung road. It went from the American concession in Shanghai to Woosung, present day Zhabei district. It was built by Jardine Matheson & co, the nefarious company that had sunk its teeth into China since the first days of opium smuggling began under it. The construction of the railroad was done without approval from the Qing government and thus would get dismantled the next year. Then in 1881 another railway was created, the Kaiping Tramway and Imperial Railways of north china. British engineer Claude William Kinder spearhead the project with the support of Li Hongzhang, creating a line from Tangshan to Xugezhuang. It would expand eventually to Tianjin in 1888 and Shanhaiguan by 1894. It got the name Guanneiwai railway and was met with multiple attempts by conservative Qing officials to be dismantled. Famously Empress Dowager Cixi fought against Li Hongzhang who persisted to tell her railways were necessary to advance China. She was against their construction because she believed their noise would disturb the emperors tombs. Li Hongzhang tried everything he could to get her on board and at one point she tried to compromise with him asking if the train carts could be horse drawn instead. Yet despite her rather hilarious attempts to thwart railway construction by the 1890s great railways were created to link up eastern and central China. Now over in Japan, after the Boshin War was over, Japan famously sent a mission out to the west known as the Iwakura Mission of 1871-1873. The purpose of the mission was to study the most important aspects of the west from the most powerful nations. The diplomats and students that went on the mission would become key leaders in the new Meiji government of Japan driving the restoration. China also performed its own Iwakura Mission, but it was not as large in scale, and those who went on it did not exactly end up being the great drivers of modernization like their Japanese counterparts were. Three years before the Iwakura mission, a Chinese delegation known as the Burlingame Mission arrived in the United States. The delegation extended its journey to Britain, France, Prussia, Russia and visited smaller nations briefly before returning to China in 1870. The purpose of the delegation was to investigate how westerners conducted diplomacy so the Qing could figure out a means to get rid of the unequal treaties. It was the very same reason the Japanese would send their Iwakura mission. Anson Burlingame, a US minister and envoy to Beijing was appointed by the Qing to lead the delegation. Around 30 members attended the mission, and in 1870 Burlingame died of Pneumonia forcing two of the Chinese delegates, Zhigang and Sun Jiagu to take the reins of it. They met with heads of state, visited factories, shipyards, mines, all things big industry. They got to see electricity, machinery many scientific wonders, but also the plight of their own people. Yes they got to witness the conditions Chinese workers went through on the railways in places like California. They saw Chinese going into mines and not coming back out. This prompted some delegates to ask the question “why do Christian missionaries who do such good work in China, bully Chinese workers in California?”. The delegate Zhigang would publish some of these observations in a book giving very harrowing accounts. Another delegate, Zeng Jize, the eldest son of Zeng Guofan came back with extremely positive opinions of everything he saw in the west and was met with harsh criticism from conservative officials for being too sympathetic towards foreign customs. Li Hongzhang and other officials however grabbed the delegates when they got back to China, extremely eager to hear all about what they had seen. Li Hongzhang was particularly interested in the political and economic aspects of the west. Empress Dowager Cixi personally met with some delegates when they got back asking questions about things happening aboard. Even the conservative types were gravely concerned with how things were moving in the west. But the end result did not lead to a Meiji restoration. While Japanese leaders were investing in industry and infrastructure, Chinese leaders were looking to restore their national spirit instead. Its hard to blame the Qing leaders, unlike Japan who largely avoided conflict with the west, though there were a few fights in Satsuma against the British for example, well the Qing was like an old boxer who just got KO’d a few times too many. The opium wars and internal rebellions had destroyed the Chinese public's faith in their government, the fabric of the mandate of heaven was unraveling. So instead of putting all the money into industry, many projects were enacted to re-envigorate the grandeur of the Qing.As I had said, the Empress Dowager Cixi famously invested incredible sums of money to renovate the Summer Palace in Beijing. Infamously she took funds intended for modernizing the navy and used them to build a marble boat pavilion at the summer palace. Li Hongzhang believed in addition to the factories, arsenals and shipyards, China needed to update its school system and wanted to send students abroad just like Japan was doing. He also advocated that the civil service exams should offer technical knowledge alongside the cultural knowledge and he was met with large scale protest. By 1885 conservatives in Beijing began cracking down on the modernization. So while Chinese students stayed for the most part in China, Japan sent countless aboard to learn everything they could from the west. Now the Iwakura mission that went to the west also came to China on its way back. After witnessing 15 nations and all their wonders, they came to Shanghai where they spent 3 days. They were hosted by the Shanghai official Chen Fuxun and they were shocked by what they saw in the city. That shock was at the lack of change, the travelers who had grown up in a world where China was Big Brother were shocked that big brother seemed to have fallen behind. Kume Kunitake, the chief chronicler of the voyage said this of his first impressions of Shanghai “There are no sewers, and urine flows along the streets. Amid all this, the inhabitants seem quite unconcerned.” Believing that the Japanese were harboring illusions about Chinese sophistication based on the past, he tried to correct the view of his countrymen who “regarded every Chinese to be a refined gentleman well versed in literature and the arts. Thus [in Japan] the custom still persists of holding any curios, calligraphy, paintings, poetry or literature from China in high esteem. . . . Under the Qing dynasty, learning has been stagnant in China.” The members of the Iwakura mission had all studied history and knew of the great Tang dynasty and the greatest of China, but now in 1873 they thought there was very little to learn from her anymore. They shared a kinship with China, wished she could resist the western encroachments and remain a great civilization, but it looked to them China had no great leadership. China, Japan and even Korea had young emperors, but only Emperor Meiji would acquire real authority. In China emperor Tongzhi took the throne at 5, but it was Cixi who really ran the show. In Korea Emperor Gojong took the throne at the age of 12 in 1864, but his father Taewongun really held the power. Both Gojong and Tongzhi would be hampered by their relatives and isolated from advisors who might educate them on western advances. Emperor Meiji meanwhile was tutored by senior advisers starting in 1868 preparing him for his role in leadership. Lack of leadership led to a lack of ability to reign in certain aspects of modernization necessary for progress. In Japan key individuals working with Emperor Meiji grabbed the reigns of foreign affairs gradually dismantling the unequal treaties the west had forced upon Japan. The key individual in China who would undertake foreign affairs was Li Hongzhang who was for the most part doing everything on his own initiative and had to fight off conservatives. In Japan, foreign affairs specialists emerged, but this was not the case in China. Even emperor Meiji himself took an interest to learn about foreign affairs. Japan hired many western specialists in all aspects of governmental bureaucracy to help train the Japanese. When Chinese officials went to Japan in 1877 to set up a legation, they were astonished to find the Japanese bureaucracy for foreign affairs, unlike that in China had completely adopted European procedures and protocols. One of the Iwakura missions delegates was a man named Ito Hirobumi and he would serve in the foreign office before becoming prime minister in 1885. He studied in England, learning quickly that Japan was weaker than her and that Japan needed to learn from her to become strong. With his ability to speak english, Ito became the key man responsible for negotiations with other nations. He was to be Li Hongzhangs Japanese counterpart, and helped negotiate the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858 with Li. Both men would have a special relationship that was long lasting. The first time Chinese and Japanese officials met after two centuries was when the Senzaimaru arrived in Shanghai in 1862. The officials were strangers without precedents, they had no idea how to move forward. The Japanese members of the first Senzaimaru trip were carefully selected for their ability not only to learn about potential markets for Japanese goods, but also to investigate the political situation so Japan could open formal relations with China. 51 Japanese took part on the mission which lasted 2 months. The highest Chinese official in Shanghai, was our old friend Wu Xu. Since no Chinese were in Japan prior to notify about the mission, they literally just showed up to Shanghai and this certainly perplexed Wu Xu as to what he should do. Wu Xu reported the delegations arrival to Beijing but received a reply with no clear directions, thus he acted with caution. The Dutch helped the two sides speak and assured Wu Xu that the Japanese were reliable traders and this prompted Wu Xu to accept selling their goods. The Japanese brought things they already knew the Chinese market most likely desired, sea products, lacquerware, paper fans, nothing too fancy. Trade was slow, no treaties or relations were established, but the Japanese gathered great intelligence on the status of the Qing dynasty. They had not yet recovered from the Taiping Rebellion, to the Japanese China looked like chaos. They were shocked by the poverty, filth, the lack of hygiene. They were disappointed to find what their ancestors considered the greatest civilization seemed to be in rubles. They were outraged to find out how mistreated the Chinese were at the hands of westerners. They thought westerners extremely arrogant, mistreating Chinese like slaves in their own country it was so shameful. They worried what the British and French had done to the Chinese during the Opium Wars might come to Japan and indeed the British made a minor attack in Satsuma in 1863 and Choshu in 1864 raising concerns. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. China and Japan went through their own processes of modernization, which were dramatically different to say the least. Li Hongzhang was emerging at the forefront and he desperately was trying to help China modernize, but he was but one man amongst many.
3.35 Fall and Rise of China: Taiping Rebellion #12: Fall of Heavenly Kingdom
48:54Last time we spoke Cholera spread like a plague taking countless lives on either side of the conflict. The loss of so much life hurt the Xiang armies positions, and Zeng Guofan worried dearly for the life of his brother fighting at Yuhaitai. Zeng Guofan desperately tossed any men he could to help his brother and it proved effective as Li Xiucheng was forced to flee for the safety of Nanjing’s walls. The EVA force lost Ward and gained Chinese Gordon as its leader. But it was to be a short lived command as Gordon and the British became outraged with their allies atrocities and slights against them and thus took back on the stance of neutrality. Yuhaitai was taken and now Nanjing was under siege by the Xiang army, it was only a matter of time for the Taiping to finally fall. #35 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 12: The Fall of the Heavenly Kingdom Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. The populace of Nanjing were terrified, with only two gates left open, provisions were becoming very limited and there was almost no way to get out. Roughly 30,000 people were inside the city, 10,000 of which were soldiers. After the fall of Suzhou to Li Hongzhang in December, Li Xiucheng returned to Nanjing pleading with the heavenly king, to simply abandon Nanjing and take the entire movement into Jiangxi province. The heavenly king was livid, saying Li Xiucheng lacked faith in the cause. Without much choice, Li Xiucheng began to prepare the city for a bitter siege. Meanwhile the heavenly king was becoming more and more paranoid and angry. His anger led him to cruelty and he began punishing the people in horrifying ways. For example the new crime of communicating with those outside the walls of the city saw people pounded to death between rocks or flayed alive in public. The people would have fled the city, but they knew the fate of what happened to those who did, as was the case when Anqing fell. By late December they heard the rumors about the fate of Suzhou thus sealing their fate to Nanjing. Zeng Guofan sent reports to his brother in spring of 1864 not to even let women and children escape the city, so their fear was well founded. Zeng Guofan justified this by stating, to force the Taiping to support the entire population within the city would accelerate their starvation. With Chen Yucheng dead, Li Xiucheng spread too thinly, Hong Rengan found himself yet again thrust into the role of military commander. Hong Xiuquan told his cousin he had to go out of the city to rally troops from nearby territories to help relieve Nanjing. But it was not possible to head north or west, nor was it possible to traverse the river. Hong Rengan set out the day after Christmas of 1863. His first destination was Danyang around 50 miles east of Nanjing which was commanded by an uncle to the late Chen Yucheng. The commander told Hong Rengan he could not spare any troops to help Nanjing, so Hong Rengan continued on to Changzhou. While enroute he found out Li Hongzhang had taken the city, forcing him to winter in Danyang. When spring came, he took his force south into Zhejiang, where Hangzhou was still holding out. Back in 1861 when Hong Rengan went out to get recruits, the work was much easier. This was no longer the case, in the cities of Danyang and Huzhou he found people too afraid to leave their garrisons to go back to Nanjing. Meanwhile the Xiang army was exponentially growing, by 1864 Zeng Guofan had 120,000 troops, Zeng Guoquan 50,000, another 30,000 garrisoned Anhui, 13,000 moved around with Bao Chao and 10,000 were in the area between Anhui and Suzhou. Li Hongzhang’s Anhui army followed up its conquest of Suzhou by marching upon Nanjing from the east. They seized Changzhou and Wuxi with ease as Zuo Zongtang battled Taiping in Zhejiang province. All these armies would eventually converge upon Nanjing. Zeng Guoquan’s forces managed to take the Fortress of Heaven on the Dragon’s shoulder, pitting it against the Fortress of Earth. With the vantage point upon Dragon’s shoulder the Xiang forces were able to create stockade camps at the Shence Gate and eastern Taiping Gate, thus cutting off the city completely. By the end of March, Hangzhou fell to Zuo Zongtang forcing its survivors to flee to Huzhou seeking refuge with Hong Rengan. With the loss of both Suzhou and Hangzhou, the Taiping no longer held any significant cities in the east. There were no more avenues for rescue for the Taiping capital, all that was left was a siege. Zeng Guoquan’s siege army was running dry on provisions, the devastation of the countryside was hitting his men as bad as it was the Taiping. Even though they held the Yangtze, by spring of 1864 there was no longer much food coming from it. His men ate rice gruel and basically nothing else. He confided to his secretary, “If we don’t break this city in a month, our whole army is going to crumble to pieces.” Within Nanjing the garrisons first crop of wheat was breaking the surface in april. Zeng Guofans men atop forts and mountain lookouts could see within the city the crops growing with bitterness. They held into the early summer, but Beijing’s patience was wearing thin and so were their stomachs. Zeng Guoquan wanted the glory of taking Nanjing for himself, so he resisted the advice of Li Hongzhang to come supplement his forces. Zeng Guofan was torn by this, he understood his brothers ambition, but it was terribly unwise. He wrote to his brother “Why must you have sole credit for conquering Nanjing? Why should one person be the most famous under heaven?” Li Hongzhang realized the family predicament and offered to save face for the Zengs by forming an excuse that he was unable to come help after all. Zeng Guoquans siege had been enlarged, they built a 3 mile road for supplies through a bog, connecting the river to Yuhuatai. While on the surface it looked like the Xiang forces were loafing around, this was far from the truth, the real siege work was being done under the earth. They did not have large enough cannons to break the walls of Nanjing, so they had to tunnel and mine, the good old fashion way as they say. They would even have to tunnel under moats some 90 feet underground. Each tunnel was made hauling out dirt and rock by hand, but the spotters in Nanjing were always watching. A cool fact I did not know before writing this series, when sappers begin tunneling for long periods of time, the grass on the ground level above them turns brown leaving a kind of path the tunnellers are taking towards a wall. Spotters looked for this and for ventilation holes, after all if you are digging far you have to get air into the work space. Inside Nanjing Taiping sappers dug their own counter tunnels to thwart mines. They often did this by exploding their own mines, flushing gas into the tunnels or flooding them with boiling water or sewage. Imagine dying in a tunnel full of sewage, horrid. At one point a Xiang miner exploded a mine close enough to a wall, but the explosion failed to make a breach and the Taiping quickly went to work building more parts to the wall near it. By June, the Xiang had mines exploded up in over 30 areas of the walls, but their results were nothing less that 4000 dead sappers. Then on July 3rd, after they captured the Fortress of Earth at the base of the Dragon’s shoulder they had a vantage point so close to part of Nanjing's walls they could fire cannons over. Throughout the night and day they fired cannons into part of Nanjing thwarting the Taiping tunnelers while their own worked. The most ambitious tunnel yet was dug, around 70 yards out, digging at a rate of 15 feet per day. It lead to a part of Nanjing’s walls 50 feet thick. The Taiping knew what was coming, but the bombardment never ceased, and even the noise from the cannons prevented spotters from figuring out precisely where the tunnel was. By the 15th of July Li Xiucheng was forced to launch a night sortie to try and attack the tunnel opening, but the Xiang army forced them right back into the city. Three days later the tunnel had just about reached its target for the explosives. Zeng Guoquan was impatient, pressured by Beijing, so he ordered his men to pack 6000 cloth sacks under the wall containing over 20 tons of gunpowder. The explosion went off at noon on the 19th, as 400 hand picked veterans crouching hiding on the ground to launch themselves through the breach. The explosive experts lit the fuse and waited, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20, 30 the fuse took that long to travel the tunnel. Then a tremendous blast was heard forming a convulsion sending part of the wall to go up blasting outwards and skyward raining parts of the rubble everywhere killing tons of the 400 men hiding on the ground. When the smoke cleared, a 200 foot wide breach could be seen. The Xiang forces sounded the drums and stormed down the Dragon’s shoulder towards the breach screaming. The clambering over dead bodies and rumble surging forward, many of them holding maps of the inner city. The first troops to breach the hole specifically dodged the defenders rushing further into the city with maps in hand as they had the specific mission to rush to the palace of the Heavenly King to kill the self proclaimed brother of jesus. But Li Xiucheng beat them to their mission and he spirited away Hong Xiuquans son, before they could capture the would-be future monarch. When the Xiang troops entered the palace they found nothing but an eerie silence. Hong Xiuquan the heavenly king, the self proclaimed brother of Jesus was already dead. Going back in time, to the spring of 1864, Li Xiucheng said to the heavenly king “There is no food in the whole city and many men and women are dying. I request a directive as to what should be done to put the people’s mind at ease.” Starvation was hitting the people, but the heavenly king did not seem to pay any notice. Hong Xiuquan began to talk to Li Xiucheng about the 16th chapter of Exodus, how god would preserve the Taiping faithful, just as he preserved the children of Israel for 40 years as they wandered the desert, by scattering manna on the ground amidst the dew each morning. Beginning in 1862, Hong Xiuquan had begun ordering his subjects to emulate the lives of the israelites, storing 10 bushels of manna every year to see them through their times of trouble. What exactly manna is, hard to say, if you read the bible it says it was a small, white flower with the scent of coriander that tasted like honey. The Chinese Taiping bible describes it as “Tianlu and Ganlu” which means sweetened dew. Hong Xiuquan said to Li Xiucheng “everyone in the city should eat manna. This will keep them alive” he then issued an order “Bring some here, and after preparing it I shall partake of some first.” Li Xiucheng states “the Sovereign himself, in the open spaces of his palace, collected all sorts of weeds, which he made into a lump and sent out of the palace, demanding that everyone do likewise, without defaulting. He issued an edict ordering the people to act accordingly and everyone would have enough to eat.” Thus Hong Xiuquan began to eat the weeds he called manna within his palace. In April of 1864 he began to fall ill with his 50th year of life. He seems to get better in may, but then becomes sick again. The cause of his illness is not understood, but Li Xiucheng account states “its from him eating manna, and when this man was ill he would not take remedies”. Hong Rengan account states “a lingering illness of 20 days took him”. Tiangui Fu the son of Hong Xiuquan said “my father succumbed to sickness”. On May 30th, Hong Xiuquan or one of his aides announces it is time for the Heavenly king to go to Heaven where he will request the Heavenly father and Heavenly Elder brother to send a celestial army to defend Nanjing. There is no grand funeral for the heavenly king. On June 1st he is wrapped in a shroud of yellow silk by his palace women and buried in the bare ground, which was the regular service for the Taiping. No coffins were necessary, because he was expected to rise soon to go to heaven. Hong Xiuquan had ordered coffins to be abandoned prior and that the word “death” to be taboo, because they were all going to ascend to heaven. Five days after his death, his son Tiangui Fu takes his fathers throne. While the Qing forces are busy sieging the city, for 6 weeks the Young monarch reigns. He is basically at the mercy of Li Xiucheng and Hong Rengan. Li Xiucheng gives this account “After the Young Sovereign came to the throne,there was no grain for the soldiers, and there was chaos in the armies. . . . The Sovereign was young and had no ability to make decisions, no one, civil or military, in the capital, could think of a solution.” When the explosion went off on July 19th and the slaughter and chaos began within the city, Tiangui Fu stood bewildered in his palace beside his 4 wives. They tried to grab him, to stop him from fleeing, but he broke away from them and ran into the crowds with his 2 younger brothers heading for Li Xiuchengs palace. They grabbed the nearest horses and their bodyguards clustered around them. During the chaos they try to escape through the different gates in turn, each time turned back. Li Xiucheng eventually finds the royal group and whisks them to a safe location. They hide for some time in an abandoned temple on the western side of the city, perched atop a hill from which they can see the Qing forces scattering into the city. The Young monarch and his comrade put on Hunanese clothing as a disguise, something that had been prepared weeks before. They seize the cover of darkness as the Xiang army are busy raping and plundering the city. Li Xiucheng bids a tearful farewell to the Young monarch as he and his small party charge through the breach Zeng Guoquans sappers made, with the sun against their backs they vanish. The horse of Li Xiucheng collapses and his guard leaves without him. Dazed and confused, Li Xiucheng climbs back to the abandoned temple on the hill. He wakes up to find peasants robbing him of his valuables, when he is left with nothing to take, they grab him and bring him to Zeng Guoquans forces. No one knows where the Young monarch is, but Zeng Guoquan has Li Xiucheng in his hands and interrogates him. Without the leadership of Li Xiucheng the Taiping forces might linger on in the rest of the country to form some small kingdom, but they would never be able again to become a large movement. With the capture of Li Xiucheng, the Taiping rebellion was pretty much dead. Li Xiucheng writes a very lengthy confession before his execution. Before his death he begs the Qing officials to stop the slaughter of Nanjing, to spare the old Taiping veterans who had marched from Guangxi and Guangdong, to give them permission to go back home. “engage in some trade. If you are willing to spare them, everyone will hear of it, and everyone will be willing to submit.” He even provides his captors with some advice, to buy the best cannons from the foreigners, alongside efficient gun carriages and other weapons, so that the best Chinese craftsmen could reverse engineer them and teach the people of china how to make their own. “one craftsman can teach ten, ten can teach a hundred and everyone in our country will know. . . . To fight with the foreign devils the first thing is to buy cannon and get prepared early. It is certain that there will be a war with them.” “Our Heavenly Kingdom is finished . . . and this is because the former Heavenly King’s span was ended. The fate of the people was hard, such a hard fate!” Li Xiucheng speaks to his captors believing the Young Monarch is already dead, but Tiangui Fu was safe accompanied by a few hundred loyal soldiers. Tiangui Fu and his small force circle the shore of Lake Tai, fleeing for Huzhou where Hong Rengan commands a small Taiping garrison. Yet before talking about that I want to talk about the horrors that befall Nanjing. The Xiang army’s discipline broke at Nanjing, they were starving when they stormed the great city, filling their stomachs for the first time with food and the achievement of their ultimate goal, ending the war. After bitter years of campaigning, far away from their homelands, they began to break ranks and laid waste to the capital in an orgy of rape and plunder. Zeng Guofan issues proclamations forbidding troops from murdering civilians, rape of looting, but his commanders ignore this. The bloody occupation of Nanjing sees the fanatical death of many Taiping, refusing to surrender who fight to the bitter end. As Zeng Guofan reported to Beijing “On the 17th and 18th, Tseng Liang-Tso and others searched through the city for any rebels they could find, and in three days killed over 100,000 men. THe Ch’in-huai creek was filled with bodies. Half of the false wangs, chief generals, heavenly generals, and other heads were killed in battle, and the other half either drowned themselves in the dikes and ditches or else burned themselves. The whole of them numbered 3000 men. The fire in the city raged for 3 days and nights…Not one of the 100,000 rebels in Nanjing surrendered themselves when the city was taken but in many cases gathered together and burned themselves and passed away without repentance. Such a formidable band of rebels has been rarely known from ancient times to present”. The slaughter of Nanjing was the combination of fanaticism from the Taiping and the policy of Zeng Guofan who was determined that the surrender from the veterans Guangxi/Guangdong Taiping was not to be accepted. His goal was the extermination of the whole movement, via the death of its core leadership. He wanted no residue of any successors to try and carry on the Taiping ideology. He performed a ruthless extermination, thus forcing many of the Taiping to fight to the very end or commit mass suicide. Zeng Guoquan’s aides reported to him that mass looting, murder and rapes were occuring. Soldiers could be seen running off with gold, silver, furs, jade and any other valuables. At first soldiers burned palaces, but then they moved onto homes, eventually the entire city was aflame. Only when a heavy rainstorm occurred on July 25th did the fires go out. On the 26th, Zeng Guoquans secretary entered the city and was overwhelmed at the sight. All the male Taiping still alive were being used by the Xiang soldiers to carry loot or dig up buried treasure. It seemed like many of them were being set free to flee the city after, but many were also slaughtered after. Countless, elderly who could not perform labor were killed outright. Countless children lay dead in the streets alongside the old, as the secretary wrote in his diary “Children and toddlers, some not even two years old, had been hacked up or run through just for sport. There wasn't a single women left in the city under 40 years old. Sometimes they had ten or twelve cuts on them, sometimes several times that. The sound of their weeping and moaning carried into the distance all around.” A female Taiping survivor named Huang Shuhua was 16 years of age during the capture of Nanjing. She had this to say about when the soldiers came. “They killed my two older brothers in the courtyard, then they went searching through the rooms of the house. One of the strong ones captured me and carried me out. My little brother tugged on his clothing, my mother threw herself down before him, weeping. He shouted angrily, ‘All rebel followers will be killed, no pardons—those are the general’s orders!’ Then he murdered my mother and my little brother. My eldest brother’s wife came out, and he killed her too. Then he dragged me away, so I don’t know what became of my other elder brother’s wife. I was grief-stricken, sobbing and cursing at him, begging him to kill me quickly. But he only laughed at me. ‘You, I love,’ he said. ‘You, I will not kill.’ ” The soldier tied her up and took her aboard a boat back to his home in Hunan. The soldier was from the home county of Zeng Guofan, Xiangxiang. She would spend the rest of her life as the wife of a man who had murdered her entire family. She wrote down her story on two slips of paper one evening while traveling and when at an Inn she secretly slid the papers to someone at the inn before hanging herself. Zeng Guofan took possession of Nanjing, arriving from Anqing on July 28th, 9 days after his brother’s forces breached its walls. Apparently officers from his brothers forces took him around the city in a sedan chair, telling him tales of the battles fought and won, showing him the scenes of the destruction. Poetry, plays, banquettes, song and wine, celebrating was made by the victors. Soon honors would be poured over said victors from Beijing once Zeng Guofan sent news of the fall of the Taiping capital. Zeng Guofan sent inflated numbers of Taiping killed, as you may have noticed when I read those quotes, there was absolutely not 100,000 dead in Nanjing. He was inflating the glory of his family, that of his armies prowess, and he masking over the rape and plundering of the second capital of the dynasty. He was very careful with what information got out. When he came face to face with Li Xiucheng, he had direct orders from Beijing to send the man alive back to Beijing, instead he executed him where he was making sure to overlook the interrogation process himself so he could make sure the writing of Li Xiucheng was exactly the way he wanted it. Now Hong Rengan was in Huzhou during the downfall of Nanjing, helplessly trying to find help for the capital. When news came that Nanjing had fallen and Li Xiucheng was dead, Hong Rengan found himself in possession of the Young monarch who fled to Huzhou for safety. At this time Huzhou was being attacked by Li Hongzhang’s Anhui army and remnants of the EVA force. Not the Ever victorious army, no this was the Ever triumphant army. Basically the remnants of the EVA force were taken by some French officers who continued to work alongside the Qing. The roads to leading to Huzhou were strewn with corpses and severed heads to ward off the Qing/Anhui/EVA forces. The coalitionary forces are too much for the defenders of Huzhou who at the end of August of 1864 flee south. Hong Rengan intends to take the Young Monarch to Guangdong where the Taiping movement started. They rode for 3 months making it to the Meiling Pass, searching for safety. Their escapade left them in a mountainous country 15 miles northeast of a town called Stone Wall where they were finally attacked. Qing soldiers came upon them during the night before the Taiping loyalists could even mount their horses. Hong Rengan fled alone on foot wilding running through a forest where he is captured on October 9th. He is interrogated by the local Qing officials, where he tells them “The heavenly King was nine years older than I and gifted with extraordinary powers of intelligence. A glance at anything was all that was required to impress the subject on his memory. The uprising at Thistle mounted undoubted evidence of the display of divine power throughout those years,and despite the ultimate collapse of the Taiping movement, among those who have enjoyed the smiles of fortune for the longest time the Heavenly King stands pre-eminently forward,”. Hong Rengang is executed in Jiangxi’s capital of Nanchang on November 23rd. As for the Young Monarch, Tiangui Fu, he manages to slip away with 10 followers. His band crosses a small bridge and climbs a nearby hill to hide, but they are discovered by their Qing pursuers. Somehow Tiangui Fu manages to evade them, hiding out in the hills, afraid and alone. He shaves off his long hair and finds work with a local farmer pretending to be a man named Zhang from Hubei. After the harvest for that year, he travels onwards but is finally caught and arrested on October 25th by a Qing patrol. He throws himself at the mercy of the state, confessing “The old Heavenly King told me to study religious books, and would not allow me to study ancient books, which he said were all demonic. I managed, however, to read secretly thirty or more volumes, and still retain some recollection of their subjects and contents. The conquest of the empire was the ambition of the old Heavenly King, and I had no part in it.” He tells his captors if they release him, he will study the Confucian classics and try to gain the lowest degree, that of Licentiate. Instead the Young Monarch is executed on November 18th, a week before his 15th birthday. The Heavenly King is dead, the Young Monarch is dead, all the kings, north, south, east, west, flank, shield, loyal, brave and countless others are all dead. The day Zeng Guofan took control of Nanjing was a triumph, not for the Qing dynasty but for him. He was at that moment the most powerful man in all of China. His Xiang army was dominant, he was that of a military dictator controlling the vast eastern and central parts of China. He was not fully under the Qing courts control, in fact the Qing relied upon him almost entirely to retain their own control. Until the Taiping menace was defeated, the Qing court watching his efforts without dread, once it was done that all changed. Rumors spread like wildfire, some said Zeng Guoquan told his brother the time was right to abandon the crumbling Qing dynasty and to start a new dynasty from his base in Nanjing. But Zeng Guofan did not do this. In truth, by the time Nanjing was under its last siege, Zeng Guofan began a process for disbanding his grand Xiang army and to relinquish his power. He sought to hold onto his positions as governor general over Anhui, Jiangsu and Jiangxi, and help rebuild Nanjing to its former glory. Many watched expected him to take his army and march upon Beijing, to rid China of the Manchu, but he sent his soldiers home. And thus Zeng Guofan remained a loyal subject, to a child emperor and the Empress Dowager Cixi. If you are bewildered by this, you are most definitely not alone, countless historians and contemporary figures were confused. Zeng Guofan’s ruthlessness and brilliance led him to possess basically unlimited power. All of his top ranking commanders were people he knew, they all had strong personal ties to him, their loyalty was set in stone. What could have possibly stopped him from taking over China? Well, according to his closest family members and friends, they say Zeng Guofan was a man wrecked by anxiety and depression. He was reluctant from the very beginning to be given command, quite uncertain of himself. He was a true scholar and sought nothing but to go back to his books and to lead a life of moral scholarship. He was deeply influenced by Confucian beliefs, but many also think he was influenced by the horrible levels of corruption, greed and incompetence he saw within the Qing bureaucracy. He was never heard to question the legitimacy of the Emperor, and being very devout to Confucianism, he probably really believed in the mandate of heaven. There are also those who point out, to such a brilliant mind, was ruling China a desirable thing? He say how tumultuous the era they lived in was, was it a good era to rule over? Perhaps his uncertainty about himself, left him thinking he could not live up to the task. Regardless, the Xiang army demobilized in August of 1864, less than a month after the fall of Nanjing. In May he gave a notice for sick leave, which as he told his brother was just an excuse to go into hiding after the war was done. He wanted to escape all of his critics who were growing suspicious of his power. He recommended his brother should do the same, but it seems Zeng Guoquan resented this advice. Zeng Guoquan apparently was beginning to expand his economic powers and Zeng Guofan had this to write to his brother, “Military commanders who have usurped fiscal power have never brought anything but evil to the country and harm to their own families. Even if you, my brother, are a complete idiot, surely you cannot be ignorant that you have to distance yourself from power to avoid being slandered.” Well the Qing court went to work on Zeng Guoquan and his subordinates accusing them of corruption and usurpation. Likewise they hounded Zeng Guofan by proxy, and for the 8 years left of his life they tormented him, not allowing him to retire or pause from duties. Zeng Guofan’s dreams of returning to scholarship, his homeland, a quiet life, would never come to be. In 1867 he wrote on the issue of his looming death “I would be happier there, than I am in this world”. The estimates on the death toll of the Taiping Rebellion are simply impossible to gauge fully. If you go to wikipedia, or pick up any book they all fall on 20-30 million people. There were no reliable censuses at the time, the estimates are based mostly upon demographic projections on what the Chinese population should otherwise have been in later generations. In an American study performed in 1969, by the year of 1913, almost 50 years after the fall of Nanjing, China’s population had yet to recover to its pre 1850 levels. In 1999 it is estimated the provinces hardest hit by the Taiping Rebellion, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hubei and Jiangxi suffered a population loss of around 87 million people between 1851-1864. Around 57 million of them dead from war, the rest never born due to decreased birthrates. The projection for the full scale of the war in all provinces is around 70 million dead with a total loss for the population at 100 million. As you might imagine there is a large amount of skepticism over such unbelievable numbers. Regardless the scars of the event were most definitely felt for decades as attested by countless travelers and inhabitants of China. It was frankly one of if not the deadliest civil war in human history. What is rather incredible is the fact the Qing dynasty did not fall then. Don’t get me wrong, it was a mortal wound, but the Qing dynasty would limp on for another 5 decades. Did the Qing dynasty win the war? Not entirely, its safer to say the efforts of Zeng Guofan, foreign intervention and the Qing defeated the Taiping movement. The Qing dynasty was basically put on life support by Zeng Guofan and foreign interests if you really think about it. The Opium wars linked the Qing dynasty to nations like Britain and France who had financial stakes in China and wanted the devil they knew rather than the Jesus they didn’t to ensure the flow of unequal trade, see what I did there? Zeng Guofan, was simply in my opinion a strong conservative. I told you bits and pieces about his reluctance to work with foreigners and utilize their technology. He came around to it all of course, but he did so gradually and begrudgingly, there are countless tales of him butting heads over the issue. That issue being modernization, something his successor Li Hongzhang will become a champion of might I add. Zeng Guofan was devout to Confucianism and traditions, honestly he is a large part as to why the Taiping were unable to destroy much of Chinese culture. Zeng Guofan would be villainized by many as a traitor to his race, someone who held up the Manchu. In the end China suffered immensely, this was after all occurring during the century of humiliation. I will end with this to say about the intertwining years of the Second Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion. These years were a time of chaos and change for Asia as a whole. China would end up slowly moving towards modernization, but another nation would take the opposite route and usher in hyper modernization. The balance of power in Asia was turning, leaving more room for conflict on an unprecedented scale. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Sheesh, 12 parts my god, would you believe it if I told you there was a lot more left out? Remember there were other rebellions like the Nian and Dungan, and perhaps given a audience desire I might talk about those as well.
3.34 Fall and Rise of China: Taiping Rebellion #11: Siege of Heavenly Kingdom
40:02Last time we spoke Hong Rengan was in misery, nothing was going as planned. Li Xiucheng went off on his own to perform a campaign in the east, but it was drawing ire from the foreign community to make Hong Rengans life even worse. To defend Shanghai from Li Xiuchengs men, Ward’s mercenary force became the Ever Victorious Army and began to work alongside the foreign community and Qing. Chen Yucheng was hunted down and executed, yet another great Taiping king gone. Zeng Guoquan made an extremely bold move and began a siege of Yuhuatai, a fort guarding Nanjing. Then the foreigners it seems quasi joined the Qing, thus ending any chance of the Taiping earning their support. With what seems the rest of the world against the Taiping, and the enemy nipping at their doors, what could they do to stop the inevitable? #34 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 11: The Siege of Heavenly Kingdom Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Meanwhile, refugees from across Jiangsu and Zhejiang flooded into Shanghai seeked protection. In 1862 alone nearly 1.5 million refugees crammed into the Chinese and foreign held parts of the city. Where there are so many people, comes issues. One particular issue was human waste, with so many people crammed into the city, the waterways literally became clogged with fecal matter and other waste. The rivers were also the primary supply of water for the city and even with the custom of boiling the drinking water, the washing water and that used to prepare food was not. A massive cholera outbreak began in may of 1862 causing the usual symptoms, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Death ran rampant and by June it was a full blown pandemic. 10 to 15 Europeans were dying a day based on records, but obviously the Chinese population suffered the most. Hundreds of people died each day and by July thousands. At its peak the Cholera outbreak killed 3000 people a day in the foreing settlement, the streets were ridden with unburied bodies. Some local Chinese called it “fan sha, the foreign infection”. The pandemic spread, first going north to the Taku forts, then Tianjin where it claimed 20,000 lives in a few weeks. From there it hit Beijing, but it was not limited to this northern route, it also went south and over the Yangtze going into the interior of CHina. Zeng Guofan’s HQ was hit and men began to die. 10,000 men under Zeng Guoquan at Yuhuatai became sick, 10,000 more under Bao Chaos army in southern Anhui and Bao Chao himself also became sick. 50% of Zuo Zongtangs army in Zhejiang were sick and with the massive amount of illness, the Xiang army simply could no longer continue to be on the offensive. Zeng Guofan ordered his commanders to distribute Korean ginseng to the sick troops hoping it would at the least alleviate symptoms. Over in Shanghai the British military distributed “cholera belts”, these were wide cummerbunds of flannel wrapped around the persons torso to keep it warm because the belief was the disease was caused by sweaty chills in the bowels. Another British medical officer in Beijing, did not believe the disease was the result of insanitation and instead suspected quote “the operation of certain electrochemical changes in the atmosphere on certain constitutions.” Within Nanjing it seems they fared a bit better, which is understandable as they were more rural and less crowded then places like Shanghai or Tianjin. The disease spread via the trading routes, which were pretty much closed off to the Taiping. Those Taiping around the Shanghai area however got just as smashed by the disease as the rest. The disease would petter off during the winter, but found its way to Manchuria and then Japan. For those of you who know your Bakumatsu period history, the Cholera outbreak began in Shanghai. Overall, in the region surrounding Shanghai for about 40 miles, by September it was estimated by missionaries that cholera had wiped out ⅛ of the population, a population in the several million. Zeng Guoquans position at Yuhuatai was a precarious one, even before Cholera wreaked its ugly head. Zeng Guofan was shocked by his brothers boldness to dig in so close to the heart of the rebellion. When Cholera began to steal away half of Zeng Guoquans forces, his brother dispatched reinforcements, literally everything he could spare but the Xiang army was fewer than 30,000 strong. The men at Yuhuatai held firm in their trenches, fighting off the occasional Nanjing sorties against them from the southern gate. The Cholera epidemic also gave Li Xiucheng an opportunity to breakoff the Shanghai campaign and return to Nanjing, something the Heavenly King was begging him to do. Well after a very long time of ignoring the poor heavenly king, Li Xiucheng decided in the late summer to withdrew to Suzhou where he gather 3 separate armies to form a relief expedition back to Nanjing. Each army had its own objective: one was going to attack Bao Chao in southern Anhui, one was going to attack the Xiang and Qing naval forces and logistics line and the third led by Li Xiucheng personally would attack Zeng Guoquan’s force at Yuhuatai. By late September his armies were marching, with 120,000 under his immediate command. Rumors at the time talked about his force being as large as 300 to a possible 600,000 men. When Geng Guofan received reports of the Li Xiuchengs force moving back to lift the siege on Nanjing he began to frantically ship provisions and supplies to his brother, but there was simply no way he could send enough men to hold off such a goliath army. Bao Chao was busy fighting in southern Anhui and likewise Duolonga had chased Chen Yucheng north, despite receiving direct orders to turn back to help at Nanjing. It seems the Manchu commander was a bit jealous of Zeng Guofan’s brother and was dissatisfied with the special treatment of the Zeng family members. So after the death of Chen Yucheng he went northwest into Shaanxi to suppress another rebellion that was going on at the time, remember there’s so many simultaneous rebellions. The Dungan Rebellion was a Muslim rebellion led primarily by Hui groups in Shaanxi, Gangsu and Ningxia. It was a brutal and bloody conflict and would claim the life of Duolonga two years later. The assault upon Yuhuatai would commence on October the 13th, while Zeng Guofan was tossing as many reinforcements as he could to help his brother, but these figures were in the mere hundreds. Zeng Guofan sent letters to his brother trying to raise his morale, claiming Li Xiucheng would require incredible logistical capabilities to keep his army provisioned and perhaps it would lead to his downfall, but privately he was falling into despair. He had this to write in his diary “Last night, I thought about my brother Guoquan, facing danger in ten thousand forms. Anxiety burned my heart. I repaired to my inner chamber and tried laying out scenarios on a Go board [to distract myself]. Then I paced back and forth, circling the room. At eleven o’clock I went to bed but could not fall asleep. Sometime after three in the morning I finally slept, and had nightmares.” It is alleged, Zeng Guofan began to stop sleeping and refused any visitors while he received daily letters from his brother fanning his anxiety. In one letter dated on October 24th, Zeng Guoquan said his forces were holding the Taiping at bay after 7 days of constant attack. He also noted the enemy were using new weapons purchased from the foreigners, that fired explosive shells, “luodi kaihua pao, shells that bloom like flowers when they fall to earth”. It was two days later, Zeng Guofan learned another Taiping army of at least 100,000 led by Li Xiuchengs cousin the Attending king had left Zhejiang province to help attack the Xiang forces at Yuhuatai. The report was greatly delayed, by the time it reached Zeng Guofan, that said army had been marching for over 3 weeks. There were no letters from his brother after that. Riddled with anxiety, Zeng Guofan wondered about the fate of his brother. It would turn out his brother was hit by shrapnel from a shell, it struck his face and nearly killed him. Zeng Guoquan was still alive, but there was basically no chance he could escape Yuhuatai. Zeng Guofan pleaded with Li Hongzhang to help send reinforcements, but Li could spare none, though he did recommend sending the EVA force up river using steamships to help. Zeng Guofan was truly desperate as he allowed the EVA force to help, but this did not change the fact it would take weeks for them to get to Nanjing. In the meantime Zeng Guofan sent orders to his brother to retreat at any possible moment the enemy left an opening to flee. His brother refused, and while this sounds like a bit crazy, in reality Zeng Guoquans forces were dishing terrible casualties to the Taiping. The defenses at Yuhaitai were firm with heavy walls and trenches. Each time the Taiping launched an attack several thousand of them paid for it while Zeng Guoquans men faced casualties in the hundreds. While Li Xiucheng’s sappers mined under the outer walls of Yuhaitai, the defenders frantically fed the cannons and fired their matchlocks at the Taiping. The defenders tried their best to gauge where the sappers were digging to breach their tunnels before they got under the walls, but just incase they began to build secondary walls in the interior. Zeng Guofan was so afraid for his brother, he even wrote to his eldest son Jize, in Hunan province asking him to leave home for the first time to come and join him at his HQ in Anqing. Yet Zeng Guoquan managed to hold on, his men wrecked the Taiping tunnels before they could breach his walls. The Xiang force on Yuhaitai survived 45 days of attacks and Li Xiucheng finally broke off the attack on November 26st, absolutely incredible. It turns out Zeng Guofans words of comfort to his brother proved true, Li Xiuchengs logistics failed him. Li Xiucheng was forced to use stores from Nanjing and this began to threaten the city, alongside this the army he sent to attack the Xiang/Qing naval forces failed. Winter was coming and Li Xiuchengs men didnt not have proper winter attire nor equipment. Thus he began to send parts of his army back to Jiangsu and Zhejiang while he took the rest to Nanjing hoping to launch an attack later to dislodge the Yuhaitai force. Zeng Guofan did not give up trying to get his brother to abandon Yuhaitai, insisting that the preservation of his army was more important than maintaining the position. Yet Guoquan kept refusing to budge. Well as Guofan kept worrying about his brother Guoquan, something indeed would occur, but to his other brother Guobao. The younger brother had taken 5000 men to help support Guoquan at Yuhaitai. He had sworn vengeance upon the Taiping whom killed his brother Zeng Guohua in 1858. Zeng Guoquan sent a letter to Zeng Guofan that their brother had fallen gravely ill, he had typhoid. On the morning of january 11th, Zeng Guofan got another letter stating Guohua had died. Back in the Shanghai front the rambunctious Ward had taken a bullet to his stomach on September 21st and died an apparently very agonizing and slow death the same night of 1862 while in Ningbo. Ward had been campaigning in conjunction with Li Hongzhang’s troops taking advantage of Li Xiucheng’s massive pull out of the region. In Ward’s dying breath he apparently demanded money and declared Wu Xu and Yang Fang, the two juggernaut financial backers in Shanghai owed him 140,000 taels in back pay. He threatened that his family back home would press upon them to make good on their debts. Things began to crumble for the EVA forces after Ward’s death, Li Hongzhang began to advise who should take up the mantle of command. One notable prospect was the North Carolinian Henry Burgevine, whom was favored by Admiral Hope and Frederick Bruce. Both Brits of course were keen to have the EVA commander be an American since it certainly took the limelight off their nation. Burgevine was said to be a model southerner type, gallant, charming, but he also loved his alcohol and had a terrible temper. During the fall of 1862, Burgevine led the EVA to drive the Taiping out of a few towns on the outskirts of Shanghai and by winter the 30 mile radius was met. Burgevine was butting heads however with undue payments from Yang Fang, several months worth. When Li Hongzhang ordered him to take the EVA forces to Nanjing to help Zeng Guoquan, Burgevine refused. It was obvious as to why, being closer to Nanjing greatly risked his and the EVA forces lives and there would be less chance of plundering. Yang Fang then refused to make good on his debts to the EVA force unless they complied with going to Nanjing and apparently Burgevine blew a gasket. On January the 4th of 1863, Burgevine showed up to Yang Fang’s house with a few bodyguards and punched the man in the face, robbing him of 40,000 silver dollars before fleeing to Songjiang to pay his men. This led Li Hongzhang to place a bounty over the man's head of 50,000 taels. Well needless to say Burgevine disappeared rather quickly, leaving Frederick Bruce to need to find a new commander. This time Bruce wanted to avoid finding any more filibuster, cowboy types and to find someone more professional, more honorable, who would be more accountable. Thus obviously no Americans were going to fit that role, haha, and Bruce reluctantly had to look towards his fellow Brits. Bruce eventually found, a rather famous name today, but back then he was a young British officer in the Royal Engineers named Charles Gordon. You may have heard his more famous title as “Chinese Gordon”, he was very much akin to Lawrence of Arabia, similar stories. Gordon was painfully british looking, with an awesome mustache might I add in his defense. Fun fact one of his grandfathers owned a ship that was ransacked during the Boston Tea Party, go USA. One of my sources state he was quote “religiously asexual, never married, and had as early as age fourteen expressed a wish that he were a enuch. He also happened to speak with a pronounced lisp”. There were several allegations to suggest he was gay, seemingly based on the fact he did a lot of charitable work for male youth and that he had a fondness for handsome young men. Honestly if you look him up you will find a wide array of bizarre theories, some suggesting he was a homosexual who was so repressed by his Christian faith that he channeled his frustration into being the perfect soldier. One British historian, Paul Mersh suggested he was not a homosexual, but had Asperger syndrome and this made it extremely difficult for him to express emotions towards women. I have to say that is a wild theory, but I personally don’t know enough about the man, nor am I in any way his biographer to say much about this fascination on his sexuality. I will say one thing though as a general rule, when you find older historians, those writing lets say up to the mid 20th century, making excuses as to why some figure was not gay, key words “oh he was just very good friends with so and so”, usually its because the figure was gay, haha. Sigh we have come a long way in the world and there is a lot to be said about prejudices of the past and some that still linger, but anyways. Gordon inherited a very demoralized force in march of 1863. There were 3000 Chinese soldiers left after many desertions, alongside 30 pieces of artillery and 2 paddle steamers. Gordon unlike his 2 predecessors, was very willing to work closely with Li Hongzhang. He took a leave of absence from the Royal Engineers so he could serve under the Qing, therefore allowing him to campaign outside the 30 mile radius of Shanghai. After a brief period of training he began his campaign by joining the Qing commander Cheng Xueqi to march into Jiangsu province and reclaim lost territory to the Taiping. Gordon’s smaller force became the spearhead driving up the waterways to take walled cities by surprise by bashing them with artillery, while Cheng Xueqi’s larger army came in to swarm everywhere they struck. By the summer of 1863, their combined forces were approaching Suzhou. All was going great for Li Hongzhang and Charles Gordon, but then came a familiar face to disrupt things, Burgevine. Burgevine showed up to Beijing backed up by the US minister Anson Burlingame, trying to claim back his role as the commander of the EVA forces. Burlingame was able to lobby on his behalf and got Prince Gong to agree to the matter, but Li Hongzhang wanted nothing to do with the ill tempered man who punched Yang Fang in the face. Burgevine showed up to Shanghai with an imperial commissioner instructing Li Hongzhang to put him back in charge, but it is alleged by Li Hongzhang that the letter Prince Gong had sent was more of a suggestion rather than direct order. Regardless, Li Hongzhang was not going to play ball and to get away with not having to take back Burgevine Li Hongzhang simply left on campaign with Gordon to attack Suzhou without taking Burgevine. Well the ill tempered Burgevine got riled up again and quickly made his way into Shanghai where he rallied up 70 foreign mercenaries, many of whom had served Ward but were discharged. He took all these men and stole one of the EVA steamers and they made their way up the waterway to Suzhou to join the Taiping. Burgevine began training the Taiping in Suzhou how to defeat Gordon’s forces and when the battle commenced it seemed the rebels had the upper hand. Burgevine at one point went out at night over to Gordons camp to try and get the man to quit his position, something Gordon allegedly considered because he was having a rough time with the logistics of the EVA force. Regardless while Burgevine looked like he might turn the tides for the Taiping, another event occurred that would give the Qing a distinct edge, Captain Osborn showed up on September 1st to take command of the war fleet. Now what is interesting about the situation was that Prince Gong envisioned using the new naval forces to hit the Taiping along the rivers and then be employed as a patrol force for the eastern coast. But someone else had different ideas about the use of these naval units, Zeng Guofan. Prince Gong had planned to use multiethnic crews, sailors from Shandong, gunners from Hunan and Manchu for marines. Well Zeng Guofan thought the new naval forces would be better employed as an addition to his own naval forces. He began to advise against mixing ethnic groups, because it might cause disunity. He advised instead that all crews should be Hunanese, hmmmm. Thus the squadron of steam powered gunships would be absorbed into his fleet of Long Dragons, Fast Crabs and sampans. With such a fleet Zeng Guofan would control the entire Yangtze River system. And here emerges the balance of power swinging within the Qing Dynasty. This general with a large amount of autonomy was quasi dictating against the Qing central government. When Captain Osborn arrived he found an official letter from Prince Gong informing him that a Hunanese Admiral would be serving as the new fleets commander in chief, Osborn had just been demoted to assistant commander. Furthermore the letter stated the fleet would take orders from Zeng Guofan and Li Hongzhang. Osborn went to Beijing to protest these changes, but Prince Gong refused to budge on the matter. In fact rumors began to spread that Prince Gong had no choice in the matter, because Zeng Guofan quote “threatened to shut off all the supplies to the Imperial Government”. Osborn was furious “I came here to serve the Emperor, and under him the Regent, not to be the servant of mere provincial authorities.” Osborn resigned, while refusing to surrender control of the fleet to Prince Gong. Then came a real tense situation for Anson Burlingame, because the Confederates had envoys in China who sought to purchase the fleet for themselves so they could use it to fight the Union. Anson Burlingame lobbied hard to make sure this did not occur and in the end the fleet was sold at a loss back to India and then to Britain. Meanwhile while Gordon was facing the decision to step down at the behest of Burgevine, he decided instead to counter by convincing Burgevine to defect back to the Qing side. Burgevines frequent visits to Gordon were drawing suspicion from his Taiping comrades and his drunken ill tempered behavior did not help his cause too much. Apparently Burgevine really pissed off one Taiping commander, who had sent funds to purchase western guns and ammunition through Burgevines contacts only to find cargo of Brandy showing up. Not only was Burgevine getting on the Taiping’s nerves, he also drew ire from his western comrades. On on occasion a western officer brought up Burgevines drinking problem only to have Burgevine fire a shot through the mans cheeks. Thus on October 15th, in the midst of an assault upon Suzhou by Gordons men, several of Burgevines officers defected, forcing Burgevine to do the same. Burgevine was exiled from China, as per the terms of his amnesty, but would show back up later on trying to raise another militia. No one knows for sure how, but Burgevine was captured by Qing soldiers and somehow ended up drowning in a river tied in chains. Local authorities said he had some sort of accident aboard a boat that capsized, but we all know that is not true. With Burgevine gone, a major obstacle had been overcome for the campaign against Suzhou. Despite this, the battle for Suzhou remained a stalemate by November. The Taiping commander of Suzhou was Tan Shaoguang, he also held the title of “Wang Mu, Esteemed King”, the son in law of Li Xiucheng. He wanted to defend Suzhou to the bitter end, but it turns out many of his subordinate commanders did not feel the same way. On November 28th, one of his subordinates secretly met with Chen Xueqi, promising to give up Suzhou peacefully while getting rid of Tan Shaoguang and his loyal officers. The man’s name was Gao Yongkuan whom held the title of “receiving king” though by this point every commander was being given these titles. He offered to open the gates of Suzhou, but was very fearful of being caught by Tan Shaoguang. Gordon and Chen Xueqi agreed with Gao to take the city with minimal bloodshed. On the morning of December 4th, Tan Shaoguang held a banquet and during a speech he was stabbed by Gao Yongkuans group of mutineers and had his head cut off and sent to Cheng Xueqi. The gates of Suzhou were opened and Gordon with his EVA forces were the first to enter the city peacefully. Gordon spoke with the mutineer commanders and they all shaved their heads ready to surrender, grateful that Gordon kept his word to not slaughter them. Li Hongzhang showed up by boat to take control over the city with his personal guard and this is where things turned dark. Musket fire could be heard, and Gordon went to investigate finding Cheng Xueqi outside the walls of Suzhou looking very uneasy. Gordon asked him what was going on and Cheng replied that the Taiping commanders never showed up to surrender. Gordon rode back into the city to see what was going on, finding Qing forces looting the city. Gordon suspected this was the work of Cheng Xueqi who must be deceiving him, so he hunted down Li Hongzhang for answers. Yet he could not find Li Hongzhang, nor the Taiping commanders, he went back to Cheng Xueqi who simply told him he had no idea what was going on. Now the sources are mirky on this one. One thing to take note is that Cheng Xueqi was a Taiping defector himself, thus it gives some plausibility for his side of the story. Cheng Xueqi was said to be seen weeping on the ground as he sent a western officer to send a message to Gordon. The message was an apology, stating he did what he did because he had to follow Li Hongzhangs orders. Gordon eventually found the remains of the Taiping commanders, he had this to say of the scene. “The hands and bodies were gashed in a frightful way and cut down the middle, the receiving king’s body was partially buried.” Gordon was livid, he had promised these men their safety and Li Hongzhang brutally executed them. To this breach of his honor, Gordon renounced his service under Li Hongzhang and this spread to the foreing community like wildfire. This spelled the end of military cooperation between Britain and the Qing dynasty. The British parliament fell back upon the policy of neutrality, but allowed for the defense of Shanghai. Ironically, by the time Britain had finally reached its decision to go back to neutrality, their assistance was basically no longer needed. The situation in the interior of China was becoming quite horrid. Zeng Guofan wrote in his diary on June 8th “Everywhere in southern Anhui they are eating people”. It was not the first note of cannibalism from his diary entries and not to be the last. He carried on to write it was not new news that human flesh was being eaten, but the price for said flesh had gone up considerably. The price per ounce had gone up four times that which it was sold at the year prior. Cannibalism was found in Jiangsu province as well. Northern Anhui was a wasteland reported Bao Chao who was desperately trying to scout for a supply line for the drive upon Nanjing. Yet as absolutely horrifying as the situation was in central china, it did benefit the Qing, because the Taiping depended on the peasants amongst them, and the famine was creating internal conflict. As Zeng Guofan put it in his diary about the situation of the Taiping around Nanjing. “Campaigning in a region with no people, the rebels will be like fish out of water. In a countryside devoid of cultivation, they will be like birds on a mountain with no trees.” On June 13th, Zeng Guoquan finally seized the stone fort atop Yuhuatai. Having control of it meant Zeng Guoquan was able to shut Nanjing’s southern gate. The west and northern gates of Nanjing open onto the Yangtze River and their defense laid in these large Taiping forts across the mile wide Yangtze corridor to the city. On June 30th, the Xiang navy attacked these forts in a intense bombardment battle. The Taiping fort shore batteries fired back upon the Xiang, causing 2000 casualties, but in the end the Xiang forces were able to take the forts, slaughtering their defenders. Having taken the forts, the Xiang forces now controlled the Yangtze River northwest of Nanjing. Before the Yangtze River way was closed, Li Xiucheng had left in February of 1863, 3 months after failing to defeat Zeng Guoquan. He took his force into northern Anhui, searching for a supply line for Nanjing. Much like Bao Chao, he found a wasteland and his troops suffered immensely. They were starving, forced to eat grass while facing the Xiang forces who were better provisioned. When word spread that Zeng Guoquan took the fort atop Yuhaitai, Li Xuicheng immediately headed back to Nanjing, managing to cross the river just 10 days before the northern Taiping forts fell. He estimated the campaign into northern Anhui cost him 100,000 men. Yet as soon as he returned to the capital he had to leave yet again because Li Hongzhang was attacking Suzhou and Zuo Zongtang was attacking Hangzhou. Nanjing’s western gate was shut because of Xiang dominance along the Yangtze and its southern gate was shut because of Zeng Guoquans dominance over Yuhaitai. With this in mind Zeng Guofan turned his attention to the remaining easternand northern gates. He sent Bao Chao to lay siege to the Shence Gate, the primary northern inland gate. But Bao Chao faced a terrible epidemic. Simultaneously there were troubles breaking out in southern Anhui and Jiangxi provinces, so he sent Bao Chao to quell them. Meanwhile Zeng Guoquans forces expanded their position at Yuhaitai, seizing 10 bridges and mountain passes allowing them to control the supply roads southeast of Nanjing. By November Zeng Guoquans focus were blocking the eastern approach to the city. The eastern gate to Nanjing was still open and 2 large forts defended atop a mountain that edged towards the city. The mountain was known as the Dragon’s shoulder and its fort was the Fortress of Heaven, to its bottom was the Fortress of Earth. By December the eartern gate and the Shence gate were the only points of entry still under Taiping control, out of Nanjing’s 23 mile circumference. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. The Qing coalition lost their foreign support, but it seems it was no longer needed anyways. Zeng Guoquans gambit payed off brilliantly and now the great city of Nanjing was finally under siege, it was only a matter of time for the end.
3.33 Fall and Rise of China: Taiping Rebellion #10: Ever Victorious Army
43:06Last time we spoke Emperor Xianfeng died at the ripe age of 30 having spent a life smoking opium with his harem. Now the Qing dynasty was in the hands of his 5 year old son, but in reality henceforth until its collapse the Qing dynasty would actually to be controlled by the infamous Empress Dowager Cixi. Hong Rengan received a military defeat at Tongcheng and it seems he would never psychologically recover from it. Li Xiucheng went on the offensive and performed a grand eastern campaign taking multiple provinces. Zeng Guofan needed a new army created and chose his student Li Hongzhang to command it. The Anhui army was formed and it looked like the Qing side was going to win this civil war after all. The only thing that might turn the tide back for the Taiping was that ever sought after foreign support. #33 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 10: The Ever Victorious Army Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. Meanwhile back in Nanjing, Hong Rengan’s life was becoming more and more miserable. He lost at Anqing and his rivals used his absence to take away his authority in the capital. His continued efforts at gaining western support was going nowhere, in fact it was earning him embarrassment. The foreign relations to the Taiping had become poisoned due a large part to the eastern campaign led by Li Xiucheng. Many of the foreign missionaries stopped visiting Nanjing and soon that direct line of communication that Hong Rengan cherished had slipped away. Shanghai was bracing itself for what it believed was a Taiping offensive against the city and Hong Rengan could do little to nothing to stop Li Xiucheng. As for Zeng Guofan, he knew Shanghai was extremely wealthy and must be protected from the Taiping, but Nanjing was simply more important and he could not launch two enormous campaigns simultaneously against both. Zeng Guofan elected to focus on Nanjing and perhaps once Li Hongzhang had built up his Anhui army he could deal with Shanghai. For Shanghai, it looked certain the Taiping would soon attack, and the Qing had no assurances from the foreigners that they would help defend the city. They had no one to turn to, then our old friend the filibuster wannabe Frederick Townsend Ward. Despite Britain's attempts to stop the mercenary leader, he was still going strong with his HQ at Songjiang. He only had 68 foreign mercenaries left because of the constant harassment from the Taiping and British, but he did have some Napoleon field guns and a promise form his Qing benefactors that if he took Qingpu he would be rewarded handsomely. Way back when we talked about how Ward’s ragtag group failed to take Qingpu from the Taiping and they attempted 4 more times with disastrous results. They just kept using the same strategy over and over, blast the gates with artillery, storm the walls and hope the Qing military followed through. Ward’s defeats were brutal and he lost a third of his force for his efforts. The foreign community of SHanghai had zero sympathy for the filibuster, he was just a source of embarrassment. But then the American civil war broke out and a rumor emerged about a group of Californians purchasing the vessel, Neva and that it was a confederate ship now being run by none other than Ward. According to these rumors, the Neva was outfitted with guns stolen from US munitions stored in Shanghai and this said vessel was firing up Union merchant ships going around the Chinese coast. The United States only had a single warship in China at the time, the USS Saginaw which hunted the so called Neva. When they finally caught the Neva, the so called guns it held were actually whiskey, it was just a merchant ship, but still the rumors persisted raising Ward as this legendary figure. Now this was all awkward as hell in Shanghai, the american population was overwhelmingly pro union northerners, while the British were more pro confederacy. The American merchants were dependent on the British warships to protect their business and this caused all sorts of conflict. During one particularly bad incident, the Trent incident of 1862 in which a US captain chased down and boarded the British steamer Trent trying to arrest two confederate diplomats, if you know the story you know the story haha. Long story short it was the confederates trying to go to Britain to make their case and the Union illegally arrested them, anyways this led Admiral Hope to get his naval forces at Shanghai to seize the homes, vessels and assets of the American community. This led to a rumor, Ward was going to pre emptively attack Hope’s force. The entire American community in Shanghai thought they might go to war with Britain yet again, but this never came to be. Meanwhile during all that chaos, the very real threat, the Taiping began to appear on the horizons of Shanghai on January 11th. The alarms all sounded when smoke emerged due north of the city and a new wave of refugees began pouring in. The smoke began to get closer and closer prompting the foreign community to hold emergency meetings to plan a defense. The Americans, British and French put aside their quarrels and banded together to man the walls. The threat was extremely real, one member of the community had been captured and interrogated by the Taiping about the city defenses and this man reported that he saw the rebels were carrying British and German muskets and that there appeared to be an Arab military advisor and a small group of European mercenaries in their ranks. Then a force of around 3000 Taiping branding muskets seized the town of Wusong just 10 miles north of the city. One British captain reported witnessing the battle and said the Taiping were quite astonishing, very well organized and equipped far better than the Qing seemed to be at the battle of Peiho. Li Xiucheng did not want to smash Shanghai into pieces, he wanted to do everything possible to take it mostly intact. Thus his strategy was to surround the city and bring her to her knees. Beginning in January, 5 Taiping armies each numbering in the thousands to tens of thousands began surrounding Shanghai at a distance of several miles each. Soon a propaganda campaign emerged between Songjiang and Shanghai, with written notices stating the Taiping would ensure the safety and protection of all those who joined their side. As for the foreign community, Li Xiucheng warned them to stay out of the conflict, and that anyone caught giving aid to the Qing “will be like a flying moth dashing into the fire, seeking his own extirpation.” Thus Shanghai was under siege and the communications to inland places were severed. Admiral Hope sent word to Hong Kong asking for reinforcements and the consul of Canton relayed the dire news back to Britain. The new wave of refugees brought far too many mouths to the city. 80,000 or so Taiping surrounded Shanghai and word was that more would be coming from Suzhou by the end of the month. The main defensive body for the foreign community were British and French troops who manned the walls, alongside 200 volunteers, some police and a contingent of Punjabi infantry. In an unusual fashion, on January the 26th, snow began to fall, now do remember Shanghai lays in a subtropical zone rarely seeing temperatures below freezing. By the time the Taiping began to fully encircling Shanghai there was about 2 feet of snow in the area and this had a paralyzing effect in the lower Yangtze region. By the end of January the eastern seaboard froze. The weather would break in early February, but the Taiping were delayed greatly by all of this. The Taiping found an unexpected resistance at Songjiang, Ward’s force. Now after losing so many battles, Ward had stopped simply recruiting westerners, he now began training Chinese instead. He had a minimal staff of American and European officers overseeing the training of his Chinese forces and because of the payment differences, they Chinese were paid a tenth of what the westerns were paid, he had a pretty large force under him. Ward taught his Chinese soldiers how to respond to english commands and standard bugle calls. The men were outfitted with european style uniforms, typically blue jackets for artillery men and green jackets for infantry. They were trained in the western fashion and equipped with cutting edge weaponry, British enfield rifles, some Prussian made rifles and the odd American rifle or pistol here or there. But the Taiping were also getting their hands on some western weaponry. One report in 1862 showed a ship was caught smuggling 300 cannons, 100 cases of small arms and 50 tons of ammunition to the Taiping from Singapore. Another report indicated the Taiping at Wusong had been supplied with nearly 3000 muskets, 800 pieces of artillery and 18,000 cartridges, a dangerous amount to be sure. On February the 3rd, Wards new militia fought the Taiping managing to hold out at Songjiang against a force of 20,000 rebels. Their success was largely due to hidden artillery batteries they had placed outside the town which surprised the rebels during their approach, gunning down over 2000 men before their commander called for a retreat. Wards men managed to capture 700 Taiping alive and shipped them back to Shanghai in chains. Two days after the battle, Ward went on the offensive attacking a Taiping outpost halfway between Songjiang and Qingpu forcing the garrison commander to pull out. This was the first time the Shanghai gentry funded private army had any real success and this prompted them to rename the force to give it more inspiration, and thus it Wards militia became known as the famous “Ever Victorious Army” (EVA). Many of you may have heard of this force if you are American, its probably one of the very few things known about the Taiping rebellion in the west to be honest. The EVA force took orders from Wu Xu, their main benefactor, who by no means trusted his General Ward. Ward and the westerners continuously plundered where they went, despite Wu Xu pleading for them not to. In order to try and secure some form of loyalty from Ward, one of the wealthiest backers, the banker Yang Fang married his daughter off to Ward. The Chinese women had been betrothed to another, but the man died before the wedding making her unmarriageable within the Chinese culture. It was a mutual arrangement, for Ward he could pressure his wife to push the backers to pay up and for the backers they could pressure Ward to remain loyal. Now after the snowstorm dissipated, and I refer to it as a snowstorm simply because my source does, but as a Canadian if you think 2 feet of snow is a storm wow haha. Admiral Hope and Rear admiral Auguste Leopold Protet signed a joint agreement on February 13th to defend Shanghai from the Taiping based on Hope’s 30 mile radius idea. They formed a land force to take out into the field against the Taiping, although the British parliament had made it clear to Hope he was not to break neutrality unless it was to save the lives of British subjects. Hope as you can imagine disregarded the orders. Their force was not very large, 900 French and 650 British soldiers, some sailors as a reserve and 200 civilian volunteers including Americans. The Qing forces in Shanghai were around 10,000 strong. Hope had no…well hope to match the Taiping out in the field, but he believed he could hold the walls. If he wanted to perform any action out in the field he simply needed more men, and take a wild guess who he went to. Oh yes the man he tried to arrest on countless occasions, the wild filibuster Ward. Since Ward now was recruiting Chinese rather than trying to steal away westerners, and given his recent military victories, Admiral Hope decided to form an alliance with Ward. Ward had zero interest in the defense of Shanghai, but Hope enticed him with gunships that could move his men to hit Taiping towns along the riverways, un gagnon gagnon. Frederick Bruce approved the alliance of convenience, but stressed while they could perhaps drive the Taiping out of the immediate area, they had to allow the Qing forces to actually push further and to garrison towns taken. Zeng Guofan upon hearing of all of this, disapproved and did not think it would prove fruitful. But he had no large cards to play in the east, and if the EVA held Shanghai, well that would be just dandy. And when Wards men won the battle for Songjiang on february 20th, zeng Guofan begrudgingly sent word to Beijing that it was in the dynasty’s best interests to allow the bizarre foreign mercenary force to continue its work in Shanghai and even Ningbo if they could get there. But he also strongly warned them not to let the EVA forces campaign further inland, especially not against Nanjing. If foreigners were to help defeat Nanjing, what might they demand as a reward for such deeds. Now give the Eva would be augmenting the Shanghai area, now Zeng Guofan felt perhaps he could dedicate some forces there, afterall if he could grab Shanghai it would be an enormous boost to his power. He approached the Gentry of Shanghai and they found common ground. They sought further protection and Zeng sought funding for his campaign against Nanjing. Thus Zeng Guofan tossed an army to try and break the siege of Shanghai, if they were successful that said army could later be used to cut off Nanjing. Another enormous benefit of this arrangement was Zeng Guofan obtaining what Hong Rengan so desperately desired. The Shanghai backers, nominally Wu Xu formed a contract with a British firm, Mackenzie, Richardsons & company to use their steamships. Now Zeng Guofan could move his forces unimpeded down river to Shanghai aboard British steamers. The Taiping could not fire upon the ships because of the Union Jack and in just 3 round trips, 6500 of Li Hongzhangs new Anhui forces were encamped in Shanghai ready for campaigning. Li Hongzhang then assumed his role as governor of the province and by proxy became the leader of the Shanghai backers, while Wu Xu would retain control over the EVA forces. Meanwhile, with Shanghai under Li Hongzhang’s oversight, Zeng Guofan and both his brothers Zeng Guoquan and Guobao began a march towards Nanjing. Shanghai was under siege, albeit from quite a distance, still this had an enormous effect on its economy, its very lifeblood. The price of rice went up 50%, flour and firewood doubled, but the Taiping were not attacking the walls, not yet at least. Joint operations between the EVA and foreign defenders began on a small scale in mid february with an assault upon High Bridge, 8 miles away from Shanghai proper. Ward had 600 men while Hope and Protet brought 500. The battle was a quick one, with only a single Frenchman killed before the Taiping fled the town. Then on April the 23rd a rather fateful action occurred at Ningbo. A taiping commander received a promotion, now General Fan and in his honor they fired a 10am salute from the cannons facing the river. The guns apparently were not well aimed as a handful of projectiles went across the river and hit the French gunship l’etoile as it was passing by. Admiral Hope and Protet used the situation to dispatch their forces led by Captain Roderick Dew aboard Encounter to retaliate against Ningbo. However when Dew got to Ningbo the Taiping profusely apologized and stated they wanted to remain under friendly terms and would make sure it never happened again. Hope and Protet were not at all content with this and sent word to demand the Taiping take down all the guns on the eastward facing wall of Ningbo. They were given 24 hours to comply or else the British would do it themselves. Well the Taiping refused to comply, because they obviously needed said cannons where they were to defend against the Qing, but they offered to take away the gunpowder from said cannons and to only provide it back if the Qing attacked. Then on May 5th a large group led by the disposed Ningbo gentry, got together a group of 150 small armed boats led by some pirates and peasants to come up the river to attack Ningbo and as they did so they asked the British and French for aid. Just as a mere coincidence their point of attack was the same eastern wall. Thus the British and French invited the motley group to their side of the river. Then Captain Dew sent word to the Taiping “If you fire the guns or muskets from the battery or walls opposite the Settlement, on the advancing Imperialists, thereby endangering the lives of our men and people in the foreign Settlement, we shall then feel it our duty to return the fire, and bombard the city.” It would turn out this was all a planned scheme go figure. The motley group began approaching Ningbo, but then positioned itself in such a way as to push the European gunships between them and the city. Accounts differ, by the Europeans state one of the Taiping cannons fired first upon the Encounter killing 2 crewmen. It is also alleged that the person operating said cannon was actually a servant of one of the Shanghai gentry backers. Then the British and French ships began to bombard Ningbo before the combined allied party stormed the eastern wall. The motley group were actually the last to storm the city, leaving most of the bloody work to the europeans. According to an eyewitness account “in a few hours did more damage than the rebels did in the whole of the five months that they had possession, chopping off the heads of the unlucky rebels that he caught.” The British press went right to work demonizing the Taiping, a lot of which was based on witness accounts from specific men responsible for trying to break the neutrality stance of Britain. There was also a need to create a narrative to control China in general. Britain had turned its attention squarely to asia since the American civil war had broken much of their trade. The Times declare “the only route to Great Britain's economic survival lay down the path of the Taipings Annihilation”. The Times carried on stating the tea market was being ruined allegedly by the Taiping, and to compensate Britain would have to raise the tax rate on tea to preserve revenue. This would bring hardship to the tea drinking working class of Britain who were already suffering from the textile depression. Thus the stance of neutrality was hurting the good people of Britain, boy oh boy do you see the parallels to today’s politics. The warmongers won the day and Britain’s government’s hands were tied, thus Britain was dragged into a proxy war with the Taiping. The European coalition, EVA, the Qing and Li Hongzhangs Anhui army were now an allied front embarking on a large campaign to push the Taiping out of the Shanghai region. The beginnings of the campaign were largely successful as a result of the superior firearms, by May 16th a combined force left Shanghai and Songjiang marched upon Qingpu. They bombarded the town for 2 hours using 40 artillery pieces, including a 68 pounder and 4 giant 110 pound naval armstrong guns. Its gates were blown to splinters and 3500 of Wards Chinese EVA troops stormed the town as “god save the queen” was blasted by the military band. 4 days later Admiral Protet led an assault upon South Bridge which lay due south of Songjiang and was shot right through the heart by a Taiping sniper. His death enraged the French who took out their vengeance upon the nearby town of Zhelin where they massacred 3000 civilians, including women and children before raising it to the ground. While the allied force proved very capable at seizing walled cities, holding them was another matter entirely. They simply did not have enough manpower to hold everything they took. After taking Qingpu, Li Xiucheng sent a large force from Suzhou to hit Songjiang, since the EVA force was absent. Ward turned back to hit Songjiang with 2000 EVA troops, leaving 1500 to garrison Qingpu, which fell under a siege to more Taiping. The garrison of 1500 men held out for a month, but ultimately were forced to torch the city and make their escape. In the summer of 1862, the British and French handed over a group of Taiping prisoners over to Qing forces and according to an eyewitness sat by idly while the Qing performed horrible atrocities. Here is part of the harrowing account: “A young female, apparently about eight months pregnant, who never uttered a groan or sigh at all the previous cruelties she had endured from the surrounding mob, had her infant cut out of her womb, and held up in her sight by one of its little hands, bleeding and quivering; when, at the sight, she gave one heartrending, piercing screech that would have awakened pity in a tiger, and after it had been in that state dashed on her breast, she, with a last superhuman effort, released her arms from those holding her down, and clasped her infant to her bleeding heart, and died holding it there with such force that they could not be separated, and were thus thrown together on the pile of other carcasses. Another young woman among the prisoners awaiting her turn to be disembowelled, with a fine boy of ten months old crowing and jumping in her arms, had him snatched suddenly away from her, and flung to the executioner, who plunged the ruthless knife into his tender breast before his mother’s eyes. Infants but recently born were torn from their mother’s breasts, and disembowelled before their faces. Young strong men were disembowelled, mutilated, and the parts cut off thrust into their own mouths, or flung among the admiring and laughing crowd of Chinamen.“May God forgive England for the part she is taking in this war” The foreign press ran rampant stories of the horror and brutality, many still trying to stop their nations from taking an active role in China. Others pointed out the savagery to be a justification for colonizing China. Admiral Hope’s vision of creating a 30 mile radius around Shanghai proved impossible. The allied coalition did not have enough men to garrison the places they took from the rebels and given the gruesome events at Qingpu and the death of Protet, Hope was forced to toss the towel. Soon the forces pulled back to the walls of Shanghai and Hope was replaced by Rear Admiral Augustus Leopold Kuper. Captain Dew likewise was reprimanded for his part in the escalations to war. Ward could not be reprimanded of course, but his EVA force was left to fight on its own, something he did not mind too much as the British and French forces often stopped his men from plundering. While things were going badly for Shanghai, Zeng Guofan was enjoying an amazing campaign. Duolonga’s cavalry were harassing Chen Yucheng in northern Anhui for him to flee to Luzhou. From Luzhou Chen Yucheng had an extremely bold strategy, he began calling upon Taiping forces and Nian groups to launch a four pronged campaign going north through Henan and Shaanxi provinces with the ultimate goal of hitting Beijing. Three of the four armies marched north as planned early in 1862, but Chen Yucheng found himself stuck in Luzhou, under a siege by the forces of Duolonga and the Xiang army. His communication to the other 3 armies were cut off and his provisions were dwindling. On may 13th, he took 4000 men and broke out of the siege trying to flee north, but Duolonga’s cavalry force gave quick pursuit. Chen Yucheng headed for the city of Souzhou which one of the army groups had been sent to attack. The army was led by Miao Peilin, someone Chen Yucheng had gotten to defect during the siege of Anqing. Chen Yucheng reached Shouzhou before Duolonga’s cavalry cut him to pieces, much to his relief. But as he entered the city, Miao Peilin was nowhere to be found. It turns out, because of the severing of communication, Chen Yucheng had no idea that Miao Peilin had been defeated at Shouzhou already back on April 25th, his entire army surrendered to the Qing. Miao had turned back over to the other side, once a defector always a defector as they say. A large reason he was allowed to defect back was because he promised to deliver to the Qing a Taiping general, ie: Chen Yucheng. Chen Yucheng was taken prisoner and before he was executed in June of 1862 he had this to say to his captors. “It is Heaven’s will that has brought me here, and there is nothing that can be said of my past. I have long enjoyed the reputation of a victorious commander, but now I would prefer to look to the future. For the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom to lose me, one single man, it will be as if the mountains and the rivers of the kingdom have been reduced by half. I bear a great debt of gratitude to my Heavenly Dynasty and will not surrender. The general of a defeated army cannot beg for his life. But as for the four thousand men I command, they are veterans of a hundred battles, and I do not know whether they are still alive. You can cut me to pieces for the crimes I have committed, but this has nothing to do with them.” And so the Brave King was dead. The death of Chen Yucheng and the preoccupation of Li Xiucheng with the Shanghai front left Nanjing vulnerable. The Taiping garrisons along the Yangtze river between Anqing and Nanjing would have no hope for reinforcements from the north nor the east, and Zeng Guoquan was on the march towards the Taiping capital. As Zeng Guoquan advanced, Taiping garrisons simply abandoned their outposts and forts, setting fire to their stockades before fleeing. It was an absolute disaster for the Taiping. They had always known the Qing forces would strike Nanjing from Anqing, but they never expected it to come this soon. By late May, Zeng Guoquans forces were reaching the Nanjing outskirts. Zeng Guoquan first seized an important junction in the riverway that controlled Nanjing’s moat. Then on May 30th, he attacked a small hill just outside the southern gate of Nanjing. The hill was known as Yuhuatai “terrace of flowering rain”, and it held a fort at its top. While Nanjing had been so heavily fortified, people literally said it was impenetrable, it did have vulnerabilities and Yuhuatai was one of them. The hill was over 300 feet high, around a mile across and about a half mile away from Nanjing southern gate. From atop the hill one could peer into Nanjing, the perfect base of operations one would want when sieging such a grand city. Zeng Guoquan had 20,000 men with naval support to provision him. Zeng Guoquan dug in and began to send word back to his brother asking him to help procure western arms. Zeng Guofan was surprisingly not impressed with western arms. He wrote about how he found them quite finicky, overly complicated and prone to breaking down after 20-30 shots. He wrote back to his brother ‘the way to achieve victory is to be found in men, not in arms. Bao Chao has no foreign guns and no foriegn powder, yet he repeatedly achieves great victories. He Chun and Zhang Guoliang had foreign cannons with their Green standard force’s siege of Nanjing in 1860, but they did not prevent their defeat. A true beauty doesn’t fuss over pearls and jade, and a great writer needs no more than brush and ink. If a general is truly skilled at war, why should he go grasping for foreign weapons?””. Despite his views on the matter, Zeng Guoquan’s persistent pleas eventually led him to purchase foreign arms from agents at Canton and Shanghai. Still Zeng Guofan insisted the foundation of their armies should rely on Jingalls, bird guns, Chinese made cannons and the good old sword and spear. One thing Zeng Guofan did realize though was the dramatic advantage of steamships. While in Anqing in 1862 he purchased a small steamship from Shanghai and gathered all the Qing scientists and engineers he could to the city to try and reverse engineer it. The ship soon broke down and none were able to repair it. But by the summer one engineer managed to build a working prototype steam engine and a year later Anqing would create a 28 foot long steamer. Meanwhile Prince Gong was also enthralled by the power of the steam engine and was trying to procure the purchase of some ships from Britain. While Britain wanted to keep the facade of neutrality going, especially after the Shanghai embarrassment, the idea of selling steamships to the Qing was an interesting one. If they provided ships, perhaps Britain's interests in China could be secured simply by protecting major waterways like the Yangtze. Prince Gong found a agent to try to get the ships, one Horatio Nelson Lay. Lay went to work approaching Captain Sherard Osborn, the captain of the Furious during the second opium war. He offered the captain a 4 year contract stating the man would take orders only from the Qing emperor and no other in China. These orders would go first to Lay, who would take up residence in Beijing. Now a nit picky piece of information here. Unlike the civil war in America, where Britain granted belligerent status to the confederates, in China no such recognition was ever made. This was because the British parliament wanted to officially remain neutral. But because there was no official belligerent status for the Taiping, this meant they were not protected by Britain's foreign enlistment act, which prevented the selling of things like, gunships to any party that was at war with a nation Britain had friendly relations with, ie: the Qing. Thus Britain was free to sell gunships to the Qing to be used against the Taiping. Ironically at the same time Lay was trying to procure a naval force from Britain, so was James Bulloch of the Confederate states of America. Lay would find success whereas James would find failure. Now there were some hiccups for Lay when it came to the foreign enlistment act. It was forbidden for British subjects to enlist in the national militaries of foreign states, thus captain Osborn would require special permission from the crown. But wouldn’t you know it, in August of 1862 the foreign enlistment act was suspended suddenly and parliament went into recess over the entire summer and would only reconvene in february. Thus Lay and Osborn were able to serve the Qing and were allowed to hire British crews for the ships. Four months later, Lord Palmerston's government issued a second order making it lawful for any British officer to enlist in the service of the Qing emperor to quote “to serve the said Emperor in any military, warlike, or other operations, and for that purpose to go to any place or places beyond the seas, and to accept any commission, warrant, or other appointment from or under the said Emperor, and to accept any money, pay, or reward for their services.” There was one twist to all of this, anyone who served the Qing would have to resign or take a leave of absence from the Royal Navy. As you can imagine this meant that anyone who took the job would go unregulated and be unaccountable for their behavior, basically they were becoming much like Ward’s mercenaries. By the time february came, all the work could not be undone, though the Tory’s tried to reverse everything accusing Palmerston and the Whigs for getting Britain directly involved in the Chinese civil war. The entire thing was lambasted by multiple presses in Britain who pointed out rightfully, that Britain’s finances were tied to the Qing paying reparations, and if the Taiping toppled the Qing the money might stop flowing. The first 3 vessels to be sent to China were the Mohawk, Jasper and Africa, renamed the Pekin, Amoy and China. The rest of the ships would be freshly constructed and it would take roughly a year to get them all over there. It was to be 7 gunships and one store vessel, they would range from men-of-war to smaller steamers that could traverse shallow riverways. They would carry around 40 guns and a crew of 400. Interestingly the Qing had never before required a naval ensign, so Lay helped them invent one, a green and yellow ensign with a dragon in the middle. The ships lacked the latest iron armoy, but this was insignificant as the Taiping had no decent artillery to hit them. The fleets flagship, the Kiang-soo was a 241 footer that could reach 19 knots, a very fast ship for its day. The fleet was called the Anglo-Chinese expedition, though many Historians refer to it as the Lay-Osborn flotilla. Though for the common Chinese people who were witnessing their weak imperial government’s willingness to pay foreign mercenaries to win their battles, they deemed it the Vampire Fleet. The year of 1863 would prove very fruitful for the Qing forces. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. It seems the rest of the world were now allied against the Taiping. Zeng Guoquan made an extremely bold attack upon Yuhuatai ushering in the deathrows of the Taiping capital. What could the Taiping do to stop it.
3.32 Fall and Rise of China: Taiping Rebellion #9: Li Hongzhang and the Anhui Army
38:31Last time we spoke the Qing dynasty was looking dreadful. More and more peoples were flocking to the Taiping, as the European forces were humiliating the Qing government. Yet the more independent figure of Zeng Guofan and his Xiang army was making headway with its siege of Anqing, so much so it forced the shield king to depart from Nanjing to meet the enemy on the field. The foreign community had not completely lost its faith in the Taiping and sent envoys to see what relations could be made. Then the grand pincer attack of the Taiping kings failed horribly and they were unable to stop the Xiang army from capturing Anqing. Nanjing was now threatened yet again and it seemed no headway was being made with the foreigners to earn their support. Can the Taiping come back from such defeats? #32 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 9: Li Hongzhang and the Anhui Army Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. On August 22nd of 1861, Emperor Xianfeng died at the age of 30. The probable cause of his death was tuberculosis, but many romanticize it as him dying of shame and disgrace, never returning to Beijing. I think his rampant abuse of opium may have contributed also. Zeng Guofan received the news on September 14th and had this to write “Heaven has collapsed, the earth is split open. My emperor, from the time he came to the throne until today, over the course of twelve years, never knew a day when he wasn’t consumed by worry over our dangers. Now Anqing is finally conquered, and the longhairs have begun to weaken. It looks as if the war has reached a turning point. But my emperor did not live long enough to hear the report of victory, so his dejection and melancholy will follow him into eternity. What a terrible agony that is for me, and for all of his ministers.” Xianfeng had died after just 11 years of rule and to make matters worse, the throne was supposed to go from father to son, but Xianfeng was notably infertile. In spite of spending almost his entire time with a harem of 18 concubines and wives for years, Xianfeng had managed to only father one son. This son in 1861 was 5 years of age. Hong Rengan began to preach and boast about the situation. “Xianfeng left behind a little demon who is several years old and will find it difficult to continue the demon rule. This is precisely the time for us to seize the opportunity to uphold Heaven, and render ourselves not unworthy in our role as heroes of the world.” Confidence in the dynasty was crumbling, many of the elites within Beijing began to compare the previous Qing emperors' reigns to the current situation. Yet while many of these elites lamented about how the dynasty was in decay, none offered any remedy to the situation, much like our politicians today ahah. As much as Beijing was in disarray, the Taiping were in no position to march upon it, afterall they had just lost Anqing. However the death of Xianfeng reinfigerated the Taiping nonetheless. Chen Yucheng and the remnants of his battered army were cut off in northern Anhui while Li Xiucheng was marching east into Zhejiang province. Zhejiang at this time held around 26 million people and Li Xiucheng planned to conquer the province and gain further independence from Hong Rengan. Hong Rengan did not want Zhejiang province, well at least not at this time, what he wanted was for the Taiping to consolidate and take back Anqing. Control over the Yangtze region was the key to his strategy of consolidating a southern empire and for that Anqing was a major component. He began to beg Li Xiucheng sending letters from Nanjing to turn his army back around to smash Zeng Guofan. “the Yangtze has been described as a serpent, with its head at Hubei, its body in Anhui, and its tail in Jiangnan. We don’t have Hubei, and if we let go of Anhui as well, the serpent will be sundered, and the tail won’t survive for long on its own.” To all of this Li Xiucheng simply replied that Anqing was a hopeless cause and that he would not leave Zhejiang. Hong Rengan was livid, but what could he really do. Now the way Hong Rengan described the Yangtze as a serpent, was something Zeng Guofan also ascribed to. Both men understood the enormous advantage Wuchang and Anqing presented; they both controlled vast regions of agriculture. But along the eastern coast, particularly the port cities held enormous wealth and this is what attracted Li Xiucheng to Zhejiang. As a result of him taking forces into Zhejiang, now the overall momentum of the Taiping strategy skewed to the east. Hong Rengan had changed after his military disaster at Tongcheng. He was more bitter, angry that the foreigners would not support their cause. And the second he had left Nanjing, the Hong brothers had done everything they could to belittle him. One major thing they did was take away the need for Hong Rengans seal to forward information to the Heavenly Kings, thus taking the mediator monopoly from him. This also came at a time Hong Xiuquan’s son was older and sitting in on important meetings, learning the ropes. The Heavenly son was gradually becoming more important than Hong Rengan, he was no longer the undisputed second in command of the movement. Despite this, Hong Rengan still remained in charge of foreign relations and much of the administration of Nanjing. While Hong Rengan was out of Nanjing, a ton of setbacks had occurred. The worst were the demands imposed upon the Taiping by Admiral Hope and Parkes, that the Taiping must stay at least 30 miles away from Shanghai and other treaty ports such as Hankou and Wuchang. The new 5 year old heir to the Qing dynasty was the son of one of Xiangfeng’s concubines, a pretty Manchu woman named Yehonala. She gave birth to the boy at the age of 20 and since he was the sole male this made her status rise as she was the mother of a soon reigning emperor, a rank that compared to that of being the wife of the emperor. Her title became known as Empress Dowager, and she is quite infamous in modern Chinese history, her name since becoming the Empress Dowager became Cixi. She is often compared to Queen Victoria, as both would be the most powerful women of the 19th century. When Xianfeng died, he issued an edict naming his 8 closest Manchu advisers as regents for his son. Traditionally when a new emperor was too young to rule, power was entrusted to regents or family members until the emperor became old enough. With the boy being 5 years of age, the regents could expect to rule over the empire for at least a decade, not a bad gig. Many of these regents hated the Europeans and dreamed of breaking the treaties. Yet Prince Gong, who many thought was too soft on the foreigners, sought a plan to appease the foreigners by creating a office of foreign affairs, so that in the meantime all the strength of the Qing empire could be brought down upon the Taiping. Now the only check to the powers of the new regents was the pair of Empress Dowagers, Cixi and the Xianfengs widow . Before his death he had given them each an imperial seal. While all edict would be composed by the regents, the Dowager empresses would hold veto powers using their seals. The widow proved compliant to the regents from the offset, but Cixi did not follow the regents without question. She began to assert her independence and threatened to withhold approval for some of the regents' policy decisions, creating a tension between the 8 male regents and the mother of the emperor. The tensions came to a head in late October when Xianfeng’s remains were finally brought back to Beijing. In the grand funeral procession, 124 bearers carried the dead Emperor and at their head was Sushun the top ranking regent. The two dowager empresses traveled with a forward party escorting the young emperor in a closed palaquin. The empresses would have a single day in the capital before Sushun would get there and they quickly went to work. The empresses met with Prince Gong immediately, using their private guards to thwart some of the other regents who were with them from preventing the audience. Some of the regents even tried to stop the boy emperor from meeting with Prince Gong, but Prince Gong had become quite popular in Beijing, having been the only one who stayed to do anything to help the city when the foreigners attacked, thus the population, and more importantly the Beijing guards stopped the regents forces. It also turns out Cixi had spent weeks secretly meeting with Prince Gongs brother at the hunting retreat in Rehe and they formed a plan. Prince Gong accompanied the empresses into Beijing making sure the regents were nowhere near them. Then Prince Gong read out an edict in the emperors name using the empress dowagers seals, charging Sushun and the other regents of treason, who could have seen that one coming. A detachment of Manchu guards led by Prince Gongs brother rode out to confront Sushun, arresting him and the other regents. They were accused of causing a war with Britain and France by misleading the late Emperor Xianfeng with treacherous advice. They were blamed for the kidnapping of Harry Parkes and other envoys, breaking faith with the foreign community and provoking Elgin to march on the capital. They also prevented the emperor against his will from returning to Beijing and faked the Emperor's will to make them regents, this is some real game of thrones shit right here. The trail was quick, as you would imagine, and within a week the regents were found guilty of all charges, gasp. 5 of them were striped of their rank and banished to the western frontier. The 3 most powerful regents, Sushun, Duanhua and Zaiyuan were sentenced to death, but in display of compassion, Cersei Lanister, I mean Empress Dowager Cixi, no idea how I mixed up those two figures, I see what you did Mr. George R Martin, Cixi granted Zaiyuan and Duanhua the privilege of strangling themselves with silk, but it turned out to be a symbolic gesture as they were hung in a dungeon. For Sushun who proved to be her true rival, he was beheaded in public on November 8th in a cabbage market. Now edicts proclaims empress dowager Cixi would quote “should in person administer the government and by assisted by a counselor or counselors, to be chosen from among the princes of the highest order, and immediately allied to the throne”. Thus Empress Dowager Cixi with Prince Gong as her chief adviser became the new ruler of the Qing dynasty. Now coming back to a point I made quite awhile back, I think during the first episode of the series, Karl Marx predicted in 1853 that the Taiping rebellion would cripple British trade in China and he was quite wrong, at least initially. Ironically, the civil war severed the internal trade networks within China causing merchants to dramatically look to external trade thus booming British trade. Figures rose about 30 percent from 1860-1861, but then another large event unfolded, another civil war, this time in America. Britain was thus trapped between two large civil wars. British commerce relied heavily upon both these nations. The United States, aka King Cotton in the south, provided the cotton for British textiles, which they sold in the far east. ¾’s of Britain cotton came from the US south and because of the tricky political situation now Britain could not afford to deal with those southerners lest they get caught up in the civil war. Now until the cotton dried up from the US, Britain was able to undersell the Chinese domestic cotton market, but with the outbreak of the war, the prices rose too high and now the Chinese were not buying their stuff. British exports dropped dramatically, causing textile factories to shut down. Cotton was just one part of the conundrum, because alongside it, the Americans consumed around 2/3rd of the green tea purchased by British merchants from China. Thus the British tea and textile trade was being torn to bits. There was one gleaming light of hope however. The new treaty ports in China offered some new opportunities. The British could trade between the ports, especially those along the Yangtze river. Hell the internal trade networks were shattered as a result of the civil war, but the British enjoyed steamship power along the rivers and the ability to go freely from port to port. Now Britain sought profit, to do so they needed to expand the Chinese markets, and this meant doing some business with the Taiping who held some of the good ports. Until now Britain had avoided open relations with the Taiping. Now on May 13th of 1861 Britain announced recognition of the confederacy meaning Britain would treat the south as a separate government contending for power and not a lawless rebellion. This meant Britain could loan money and purchase arms and supplies for the Confederacy. To the merchants in China this seemed to be the ideal situation that should be adopted there. Many called for treating the Taiping the same as the confederacy, hell the confederacy was recognized after mere months, while the Taiping had been around for 10 years. The house of commons debated the matter and after long a tedious back and forths it was decided the neutrality stance must be sustained, given however that the Taiping did not hinder British trade within the provinces they controlled. Meanwhile Li Xiucheng’s army was running rampant in Zhejiang province, taking the capital of Hangzhou in December of 1861 after over 8 weeks of siege. The city had 2.3 million inhabitants and it proved quite easy to starve them out. Li Xiucheng had his men fire arrows with messages into the city stating the people would not be harmed and would be given the choice to join the Taiping or be left to leave freely. As one Qing commander at Hangzhou put it “Because the Loyal King issued orders not to harm the people, the people didn’t help fight against him … Thus, none of the people suffered at the hands of the longhairs, and they all turned around and blamed the Imperials for their afflictions.” Thus the Manchu garrison burnt themselves alive while Qing officials slit their throats, but the common people went unmolested, nice for a change. It also seems Li Xiucheng took notice of the horrifying atrocities performed by Zeng Guofan at Anqing and wanted to earn the high ground with the commoners by pointing out how terrible the Manchu were. He even let the Manchu and Qing officials in Hangzhou go free, though as I said many took the alternative path of suicide. Hangzhou was the capital and lynchpin of Zhejiang province, an enormous blow to the Qing. But there was another city that was significant, Ningbo, a treaty port, on the other side of Hangzhou bay, and just due south of Shanghai. To go from Ningbo to Hangzhou by land was around 200 miles, roughly double the distance of that by ship. The Qing forces at Shanghai hoped Ningbo’s close proximity would mean the foreigners might defend the city as well. But Bruce stamped that down pretty quick sending word to the consul of Ningbo that if the Taiping were to attack, the BRitish would not get involved. He also told Admiral hope “I do not think we can take upon ourselves the protection of Ningpo, we should not display British naval power near that city lest we get compromise ourselves in this civil contest”. Admiral Hope seems to have seen things differently as upon learning in may of 1861 that the Taiping were going to march on Ningbo, he dispatched Captain Roderick Dew in the 14 gunship Encounter to dissuade the rebels. Captain Dew was also told to try and make contact with any Taiping commanders nearest to Shanghai and to relay the same type of messages Parkes had when it came to Hankou. “Point out to the commander that the capture and destruction of the town of Ningpo would be extremely injurious to British trade and that he should desist from all hostile proceedings against the town. Don't commit yourself to the necessity of having recourse to force, but do remind him of what took place last year at Shanghai”. After giving the veiled threat to the Taiping Captain Dew went into Ningbo and told the Qing officials to mount every possible defense they could. Dew was told by Hope that under no circumstances could he open fire on the Taiping, it really was just a bluff. But Hope also asked Dew to investigate Ningbo and figure out the quote “amount of auxiliary european force which you think sufficient for its defense”. It seems the real politik at play was this. Both Admiral Hope and Frederick Bruce were planning ahead for what they assumed would be a major policy change. Both men expected their government to change its mind and wanted to be ready at a whims notice to defend any British interests from the Taiping. But in essence as you can see their actions were also drawing in conflict with the Taiping, the old self fulfilling prophecy. Both men did not want to see the Qing overthrown by the Taiping, because they seemed the worse choice as far as trade was concerned. All the customs duties from treaty ports were being used by the Qing to pay the reparations to the British for the second opium war, ahaaaaa there it really is. If the Taiping took a port, well the British could expect no return, but to prop up the Qing meant an endless cash flow. Nonetheless the Taiping represented a large threat, the British simply did not have enough forces to defend all their interests for the meantime they had to play a sort of ballet between the Taiping and Qing. Captain Dew ended up bringing 12 large cannons from the British armory at Shanghai and installed them on Ningpo’s walls, figuring if it was not British manning them, well that didnt breach neutrality. But low and behold the Qing officials did not lift a finger to help defend the city, and why would they, if they made the situation worse perhaps the British would become more involved. When the Taiping approached Ningpo, the city emptied, well all those who could flee did. On November 26th the Taiping were 30 miles off from Ningpo and by December 2nd just a days march when the British sent a party to parley with them. The British pleaded for the Taiping to give the city one more week before assaulting it and they agreed to this for some unknown reason. On december 9th, 60,000 Taiping advanced in 2 columns towards the city gates as Taiping naval units rowed over to scale the walls from the sea. It was a relatively peaceful conquest as just about all Qing officials had fled prior. Of course the usual looting was done, but very little murders were performed. The French, American and British officials came to Ningpo to talk to the Taiping demanding they respect their trade privileges and the Taiping commanders agreed enthusiastically offering to execute anyone who dared lift a finger on any foreigner. Thus for the Taiping this was an incredible victory and one step closer to establishing good relations with the foreigners. 1862 was a year of many unknowns for China, both Beijing and Nanjing were re-forming themselves and no one could accurately predict how the war would go. Zeng Guofan was building up his Xiang army now using Anqing as an HQ. His power base was now Anhui province. To the east, Li Xiucheng controlled Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, nearly a quarter of China’s yearly income came from these combined territories. After grabbing Ningbo, the only logical step forward was, Shanghai. It was a gleaming gem, unbelievable revenues could be earned by its control. The past 2 years had shown Li Xiucheng that the British simply would not pay the Taiping proper recognition nor respect and so he sought to finally do something about it. Li Xiucheng began to prepare his army to return to Shanghai, this time not so lightly armed. Li XIucheng was never one to believe the foreigners could have ever been won over in the first place and now Hong Rengan’s authority was widely diminished in Nanjing, as for out here in the east it was honestly Li Xiucheng’s show. As for the British, Ningbo seemed to not be trading much at all since the Taiping came, Anqing had fallen to Zeng Guofan and all the meanwhile Bruce was sending reports back home of endless Taiping atrocity stories whenever they took cities, most were fabricated. Bruce was trying to make parliament see that the stance of neutrality would eventually lead to the death of British trade. Harry Parkes also traveled back to Britain who would have a lot to say to the public about his time in China, his mistreatment afterall was the rationale for the burning of the summer palace. The very last deed he performed before sailing off was a last ditch attempt to stop the Taiping from approaching Shanghai, which they refused. In fact the negotiations had gone so terribly, one of Admiral Hope's commanders threatened to attack the rebels if they dared come near Shanghai. Back to Zeng Guofan, he finally had Anqing, but now he faced the daunting need for more and more men. By taking Anqing he now gained the vast territory around it, holding tens of millions of people spreading towards the east. The Taiping still controlled many towns in northern Anhui and Chen Yucheng was in full retreat going downstream towards Nanjing. Everything east of Nanjing was pretty much a hopeless cause. Zeng Guofan’s men were exhausted, they spent basically a year besieging Anqing, many wanted to go back home, morale was low. Zeng Guofan began to rebuild in Anqing using his own men as laborers. Under his direction they rebuilt the confucian academy and examination hall, repaired the walls and restored the markets. Next he set up relief stations to help the famine stricken population and helped them restore the agricultural output of the region. He also sent his brother Guoquan back to their homelands of Hunan to recruit another 6000 Hunanese soldiers, because the next push was going to be against Nanjing. Now Zeng Guofan was taking a bit of a risk sending his brother to do such a thing. There was a coup going on in Beijing, the Cixi Cersei Lannister one I spoke of, he did not know what the outcome was going to be from said coup and his actions could be judged as anti Qing since he was gaining more and more power independently from Beijing. Zeng Guofan already had a growing number of critics within Beijing who saw him as a growing threat to the central government. Thus he simply dispatched word back to the capital stating he needed to gather as many forces as he could to be able to march upon Nanjing to ride the dynasty of the Taiping menace. But this was all a facade, in order to actually defeat Nanjing, it had to be strangled from supplies, similar to ANqing. Yet Chen Yucheng loomed around in northern Anhui, and he was still yet to consolidate all of southern Anhui. He would need to take vast territory in southern Anhui towards Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and this would require colossal forces. But a strategy formed in his mind, he envisioned 3 separate armies attacking in unison: one from Anqing going east downriver to Nanjing; another led by Zuo Zongtang would march through Jiangxi into Zhejiang to smash Hangzhou; the last would march through Jiangsu and fight towards Suzhou and then Nanjing. But such feats required vast amounts of men, and he was beginning to think his homelands of Hunan were being drained dry of youthful men. Thus he cast aside his conservative methods for the first time and began to cast a wider net, he was going to trust a non Hunanese man to help him in his endeavors, one of my favorite figures in modern Chinese history, Li Hongzhang. Li Hongzhang was 38 years old at this time, a scholar from Anhui province and he was asked to help form a new provincial militia that could supplement Zengs Hunanese one. Just like Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang was a Hanlin scholar, an elite who scored top of the examination system. He was 11 years younger to Zeng Guofan, his father literally passed the Jinshi examination in Beijing in the same group as Zeng Guofan in 1838. The two men became close early on, when Li arrived in Beijing in 1844, fresh from passing his provincial examination, it was Zeng Guofan who agreed to serve as his teacher to help prepare him for the Jinshi, which he passed with distinction in 1847. They were tied by friendship through Li’s father, making Zeng Guofan something like an uncle to him, but even more than that, Zeng Guofan was his teacher and mentor. Within the Confucian culture, a student and teacher were akin to a son and father. Despite such close ties, it took Zeng Guofan a long time to come to the point where he would trust Li Hongzhang with his own army. Zeng Guofan knew the man was brilliant, he also knew he was ambitious. Li’s older brother served on Zeng Guoan’s staff, but when Li Hongzhang came to Zeng Guofan’s military HQ in Hunan in 1858 looking for employment he was turned away. He was not just turned away, he was literally ignored for over a month. Yes Li spent a month hanging around until he got so frustrated he demanded Zeng Guofan given him a answer, which Zeng did, through an aid with some sarcasm he said to Li “perhaps the Hunan army was a bit to shallow a beach in which to harbor so large a ship as Li”. What Zeng was doing and would continue to do for a few years was to break Li’s arrogance. He did this by various means, such as having guards drag Li literally out of bed if he ever overslept. Zeng was trying to toughen the man up, to test his grit. Li for his part hung in there, trying to convince Zeng of his loyalty and humility. They got in fights of course and this led Li to leave for a time, but by 1862 their relationship was solid and Zeng either through his trust in the man or in desperation entrusted him with basically being his second. Now there were some negatives to all of this. Zeng Guofan had very experienced military commanders at this point, much more experiences than Li Hongzhang, but Zeng Guofan was a scholar more than anything else and he valued Li Hongzhangs hanlin scholarship above all else. In early 1862, Li Hongzhang began to form a regional militia using the same model as the Xiang army, which would be known as the Anhui army. He performed the same type of recruitment scheme, going first to his home district, forming companies of troops from the same homes to serve officers who they had connections to. Several thousand Anhui commoners were brought to Anqing by February to begin training under the guidance of veteran officers of the Xiang army. This new army would have the same structure, same training and for all intensive purposes was a mirror image of the Xiang army. The only real difference was that Li Hongzhang took orders from Zeng Guofan whom was supposed to be taking orders from Beijing but was increasingly becoming more and more independent. Empress Dowager Cixi and Prince Gong basically had no choice, but to allow Zeng Guofan his autonomy, because he was proving to be one of the very few commanders capable of dealing defeats to the Taiping. In November they issued edicts appointing Zeng Guofan as the governor-general and imperial commissioner of Anhui, Jiangsu and Jiangxi alongside military control over Zhejiang. This was some pretty crazy stuff, he basically controlled 4 of the richest and most densely populated provinces. Zeng Guofan received the news of his new appointments at the same time as the news of what occurred during the coup, he was pretty surprised to say the least. Control over Zhejiang was a miserable part of the news, as it was literally being attacked with Hangzhou and Ningbo falling. He was a bit overwhelmed by it all and wrote in his diary “This power is too great, my stature will be too high, and my undeserved reputation has outgrown itself. This terrifies me to the extreme.” Despite his anxiety over it all, Zeng Guofan set to work and basically ordered his subordinates to perform a complete takeover of the civil administration of eastern China. Zeng Guofan’s top subordinates became the individual governors of each province under him with Li Hongzhang receiving Jiangsu, Zuo Zongtang Zhejiang and two other proteges taking Jiangxi and Anhui. Now Zeng Guofan was able to redirect tax revenue from the provinces under his control, meaning he could hire and supply more troops. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Emperor Xianfeng was dead and Empress Dowager Cixi was in charge. Zeng Guofan was making a ton of progress, but there simply was not enough men so he had his student Li Hongzhang form a new Anhui army.
3.31 Fall and Rise of China: Taiping Rebellion #8: The Fall of Anqing
41:29Last time we spoke The foreign community of Shanghai did not take the Taiping advances lightly and fired upon the rebels as they approached the great port city. The filibuster Frederick Townsend Ward created a foreign mercenary team to fight the rebels with pretty mixed results. Hong Rengan tried to smooth things over with the foreigners to earn their support, but nothing was going the Taiping’s way. Meanwhile Zeng Guofan was building up his Xiang army, falling into despair at the prospect that Beijing might be captured by foreigners. Yet this did not stop Zeng Guofans resolve to take Anqing, a major stepping stone to seize Nanjing. It seems Hong Rengans grand strategy was falling apart as a result of the foreign community, could he turn things around before Zeng Guofan crushed his plans? #31 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 8: The Fall of Anqing Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War. When the Taiping generals and officers were around things went relatively well for the populaces that came in contact with the Taiping assaults. However as the Taiping armies moved onwards, large groups of bandits followed in their wake, many Taiping secretly amongst them. They would plunder, rape and murder, the usual as it were. Horrible atrocities were common, one account from Xiangshan county in Zhejiang province had a recently groom disemboweled before 12 bandits raped his bride and killed her as well. In the same province one story told that “there were those who would cut open the stomach and drink the blood, and others who chopped off the four limbs. Some would dig out the heart and eat it…my pen cannot bear to write this”. They would carry off women to rape and young boys to be made into future conscripts. Often the Taiping vanguards if they could not find Qing officials, they would kill citizens of a city and dress up their corpses in Qing official attire, to invigorate the rest of the army. Heads went on stakes, placards were nailed to them. The violence between the Qing and Taiping was becoming indistinguishable. But as so often in China, alongside the horror, taxes were collected, crops were grown, new officials were appointed, life simply went on. The frank truth about this time period, is the Chinese commoners did not care who was in charge whether it be Taiping or Qing, they simply wanted the damn fighting to end so they could carry on with their lives, they just wanted some order and to be able to provide for their families. Facing so many new territorial gains and countless differing population under their control the Taiping established agreements with local leaders, such as the gentry class who were willing to play ball. Thus a lot of these territories held a lot of autonomy, that is if they paid taxes and made sure not to help the Qing. There was an interesting element of class struggle going on as well. Where the Qing ruled, the wealthy landowner gentry class or scholars generally called the shot. But where the Taiping ruled, you could join their ranks, no matter what class you came from and move up the social ladder. Real control still lay outside the Taiping's grasp. Though the Qing were weakened by the European victory of them and even with the Emperor literally fleeing the capital, the mandate of heaven still remained and as long as it did, those loyal to it would resist the rebels. Hong Rengan and Li Xiucheng did not agree on a great many things, but one thing they certainly saw eye to eye on was the need to consolidate the fertile southern provinces, to take what was once the old Ming empire and use it to starve the Qing in the north. By autumn of 1860, Li xiucheng was forced to leave his command in the eastern provinces, to come to relieve Anqing from Zeng Guofan’s siege. Hong Xiuquan actually sent orders for Li Xiucheng to march north to hit Beijing again now that it was weakened, but he refused, ironically similar to how Zeng Guofan refused Emperor Xianfeng. Instead Li Xiucheng insisted he should go west into Jiangxi and Hubei provinces, were several hundreds of thousands of people could be recruited into the Taiping ranks. He would use these men to lift the Anqing siege and this all meant a clash with Zeng Guofan in Qimen. Before Li Xiucheng left Nanjing for his campaign he told the citizens ‘if Anqing can be held, there is no need to worry, but if it is not firm, the capital will not be secure, everyone needs to start stockpiling food”. In 1861 Hong Rengan took to the field under orders from the heavenly king, to help relieve Anqing. It was the first time he commanded an army, he himself had never really fought in a battle before. All the way over in Beijing, Prince Gong was begging Emperor Xianfeng to return to the capital, hell the war was over, the foreign barbarians had left, the sovereign was needed in the capital to reassure the people. Yet Xianfeng refused to go back to Beijing, he was furious that Pring Gong agreed to allow foreign envoys to be in Beijing, he could not be around them. Thus Xianfeng stayed at his hunting retreat with his empress and harem of concubines, busying himself by ordered his staff to make improvements to what had become his new home. Prince Gong meanwhile was received terrible reports from Zeng Guofan about difficult situation at Anqing. Prince Gong understood the Taiping menace was akin to a disease in ones inner organs, they were the most urgent problem the dynasty had to deal with, the foreigners were actually a secondary threat when compared. Thus he decided to do what was ever necessary to appease the foreigners while everything should be directed at defeating the Taiping. Once the rebellion was over then they could do something about all the foriegn encroachment. At the same time he wondered if it was time for the Qing to seek aid from the foreigners to quell the Taiping. Russia unlike the others, was free from the obsession of neutrality and had been hassling Qing officials to offer direct military aid. The Russians also offered shipping aid, suggesting they could coordinate with the Americans to bring southern rice to Tianjin by ocean routes. The Russians were the oddball out when it came to foreign powers in China. They were still angry about the Crimean War and while the Americans British and French fought tooth and nail for maritime trade rights, Russia alone shared a land border with the Qing, one that was thousands of miles long. The Russians saw the enormous opportunity a weak Qing government offered them, they could perhaps expand their territory or develop cross border trade. Thus the Tsar sent representatives who offered Xianfeng rifles as early as 1857, and during the negotiations in Tianjin in 1858 they went a step further offering military advisors. All they asked was for a little control over the territory north of the Amur river, which was in the Manchu homelands. As you can imagine Xianfeng didn't like that deal and said no, but then in 1860 when the Europeans defeated the Qing and forced them to sign the treaty of Tianjin, the Russian diplomat, Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev managed to negotiate a secret Sino-Russian treaty on the side. Ignatiev said he would help the Qing to not be toppled by the other Europeans, if Prince Gong granted Russia control over the north region of the Amur river, an area 300,000 miles large, that was bigger than Korea. The Russians offered a gift of rifles and 400 russians aboard steam powered gunships to coordinate with the Qing military and attack Nanjing. Prince Gong took the offer seriously and pressed the question over to many high ranking Qing officials, one of which was Zeng Guofan. There was a ton of bickering amongst those in support of the deal and those against, Zeng Guofan was one of those for it. Zeng argued Russian and China had no real qualms between another, and it was not unprecedented to accept such help, the previous dynasty after all accepted help from the Dutch to fight the Taiwan rebels in the 17th century. But Zeng Guofan also argued what he needed was not naval forces, no they needed land forces, there was simply no route by which to advance on Nanjing otherwise. He advised modifying the offer to such means. Zeng Guofan finished by arguing what they really needed was to improve their own technological abilities, so they would not need external help in the future. “If we study how they make their cannons and ships, it will be of great benefit to us in the long run.” In the end Xianfeng agreed to taking 10,000 rifles and 8 cannons from the Russians, but declined naval services. In february of 1861 Admiral Hope sailed up the Yangtze river to see if relations could be opened with the Taiping without permission from the British government. The government back home was bickering over the civil war issue, many demanded Britain must remain neutral, a few thought it would be a good idea to help the Qing defeat the rebels, they did after all have a treaty with them and expected the weakened dynasty to pay up, and a select few thought the Taiping cause might be just. Regardless Admiral Hope was enroute to Nanjing with a small squadron of gunboats and it took them two weeks to navigate 200 miles up the river to Nanjing. They were the largest foreign party to visit Nanjing and their lead negotiator was none other than the racist nutcase Harry Parkes. They reached Nanjing on February 24th, missing Hong Rengan who had left in early February to help Anqing. On march 1st, Harry Parkes explained the British sought trade along the Yangtze river as was their right under the new treaty they signed with the Qing. Regardless of which side held control over the river banks, Britain wanted to sail freely and they intended to leave a 6 gun paddle frigate, the Centaur in Nanjing to protect British subjects who might visit the city. The Taiping officials relayed the messages to Hong Xiuquan and he sent word back warning his followers not to allow the British to leave their gunboat, he could simply not allow this. Apparently Parkes had a screaming match with the officials saying “he must have another vision!”. And somehow this led to the Taiping agreeing, then Parkes warned them if they attacked Zhenjiang or Jiujiang, both under Qing control, they had best not harm any British subjects or property. In return he promised British forces would not interfere nor harm Taiping. After this apparently the officials just kept pestering Parkes for weapons and he had this to write about it all “The rebels want arms it is the same … on the side of the Imperialists, opium and arms, opium and arms, is the one cry we hear from mandarins, soldiers, and people, at every place we have yet come to.” Admiral Hope meanwhile observed the Taiping and concluded they were a destructive force that should be kept at arms length. He deduced “a period of anarchy, indefinite in duration in China, in which the commercial towns of the empire will be destroyed, and its most productive provinces laid waste.” To this end Hope urged that a 30 mile radius around Shanghai be defended to prevent the Taiping from entering the city. By the end of March, Parkes demanded the Taiping not approach Shanghai with a 2 days march of the city or any other treaty port. Hong Xiuquan agreed to not let his forces within 30 miles of Shanghai, but made no promises for the other cities. Admiral Hope told the Taiping officials, Britain would put an end to any renegade British subjects helping the Qing as mercenaries, but would ask the same be done for the Taiping side. Speaking about those foreign mercenaries on the Taiping side, a British representative named Robert Forrest was sent from Shanghai in march of 1861 to go to Nanjing to investigate if and who were aiding the Taiping. It turns out there were around a hundred or so foreign men working as mercenaries for them. They were the same group of men that had been led by Savage before his death, now their leader was a man named Peacock. On the other side, the British consul reported they had caught 13 members of Frederick Townsend Ward’s mercenary men at Songjiang and one of them said he had another 82 men under his command. 29 of these men were royal navy deserters. By May 19th, Ward was caught and arrested as he was trying to recruit more men in Shanghai. Since he was an American, the only person with jurisdiction over him was the US consul. When Ward was questioned the man said he was no longer American and now a subject of the Qing emperor. He was even engaged to a Chinese woman, though that would prove to be a quick ruse. On top of that the provincial governor of Shanghai happened to be a patron of Ward and produced papers proving his Qing citizenship. All of this was so convincing the US consul refused to prosecute Ward and he was set free to keep luring more foreigners into the service of the Qing. There was no real legal basis to go after Ward and a very frustrated Admiral Hope simply grabbed the man and locked him up on his flagship. But Ward jumped out a window and swam away. Now back to the Anqing front, Zeng Guofan had begun his campaign against the fulcrum point to Nanjing in the summer of 1860. The city was the domain of the Brave king, Chen Yucheng. In the spring of 1860 he decamped with the bulk of his army to help Li Xiucheng break the Qing siege of Nanjing, leaving behind a garrison of around 20,000 to hold the city of Anqing. The garrison were unseasoned recruits mostly from Hunan and Hubei provinces. Zeng Guofan took advantage of Chen Yucheng’s sortie by sending his brother with 10,000 men through the Jixian pass to prod Anqing. Anqing did not flinch, their defenses were quite strong and they were very well provisioned. Initially Zeng Guofans siege of Anqing was of little concern to the Taiping leadership. They knew the city was strong enough to hold out and took their time to gradually send a relief force in september of 1860. However, this was also part of Hong Rengans strategy's second phase. After consolidating the southern reaches of the Yangtze east of Nanjing, he directed the Taiping forces upstream. Once it became very apparent the foreigners in Shanghai would not sell steamships to them, which Hong Rengan was depending on to get the forces to hit Wuchang, he opted to simply march overland to capture the city. After the fall of Suzhou, Chen Yucheng and Li Xiucheng formed a massive pincer operation against Wuchang. Chen Yucheng would take a 100,000 strong army around the north through Anhui while simultaneously breaking the siege of Anqing in early winter en route to Wuchang. Li Xiucheng would mirror this by going south of the great river hitting Zeng Guofans HQ in Qimen alone the way and send his forces to smash Zeng Guoquan at Anqing before marching on Wuchang. Now Zeng Guofan had staked just about all his forces on the siege of Anqing, he only had a defensive garrison at Qimen of 3000 troops. All of his troops were in danger of being cut off from their supplies and reinforcements. Cheng Yucheng went through Anhui recruiting some Nian rebels who help create feint attacks to confuse the Qing as to where they were marching. Eventually in late november his army turned south to hit Anqing, but between them lay the Taiping held city of Tongcheng and alongside it Chen Yucheng ran right into an enormous Qing cavalry force of 20,000 men led by the Manchu general Duolonga. Duolonga had been sent by Zeng Guofan to protect the approach of Anqing from its north and the cavalry force proved a major obstacle to the Taiping. Chen Yucheng was forced to take his men to Tongcheng for its walls protection and had to abandon his march upon Anqing. Remember the Taiping were rather weak when it came to cavalry, it was one of the few advantages the Qing held over them. Thus a force of 20,000 Qing cavalry was quite a force to be reckoned with. Chen Yucheng held Tongcheng against the Qing through the winter and decamped in March around the same time Hong Rengan left Nanjing. He led his force northwest beyond the range of the Qing cavalry and then turned sharply southwest to rush over to Wuchang. Along the way his men had to smash several Qing militia forces while a Qing cavalry detachment tried to cut their way off. But by march 17th of 1861 Chen Yuchengs men got to Huangzhou on the Yangtze’s northern bank just 50 miles downstream from Wuchang. There his men surprised the Qing garrison of 2000 men slaughtering them all. By capturing Huangzhou, Chen Yucheng had the perfect base of operations to attack Hankou and then Wuchang. Meanwhile in Qimen, Zeng Guofan was anxious about the Taiping advances that seemed to be converging. The attending King, cousin to Li Xiucheng had captured Xiuning, 30 miles to his immediate east. He dispatched Bao Chao to take back the city while he was receiving news his brother Guoquan was not doing well at Anqing. Then terrible news came on November 26th, Li Xiuchengs entire army was approaching from the north. Zeng Guofan quickly dispatched riders to call for help, but his nearest forces had left with Bao Chao to take back Xiuning and Li Xiuchengs forces had appeared directly between them. All he could do was send a letter to his brother at Anqing stating “the rebels are only 15 miles from my Headquarters, just a stones throw and there are no obstacles to stop them….All we can do now is study our defenses and, when they come, try to hold out until someones comes to help us”. However Li Xiucheng did not immediately attack Qimen, he had no idea of the HQ’s strength and paused to gather intel. This pause allowed Bao Chao to come sweeping in with his cavalry to smash into the Loyal King’s army who were exhausted from their long march. Bao Chao’s force was much smaller so he continuously harassed the Taiping army, but never fully dedicated his army to a full battle. Li Xiucheng simply took his men and marched into Jiangxi as per the pincer plan. Despite Li Xiucheng moving on, 3 smaller Taiping forces were still harassing Zeng Guofan and he suspected this was a feint to mask an offensive against Anqing. His HQ were severed off from their supply routes because of the Li Xiuchengs cousin, thus he had to disband his HQ and tried to march east, only to be attacked and pushed right back to Qimen. Meanwhile Chen Yucheng awaited Li Xiucheng’s forces to meet up with him at Hankou, but he was in a bit of a situation. Hankou was a new treaty port for the British and it just so happened Admiral Hope’s expedition was on its way back from Nanjing. Harry Parkes showed up to pay a visit warning the Taiping not to cause any harm to the treaty port. Chen Yucheng spoke with Parkes, talking about the plan to take Hankou and Wuchang. Parkes had gone past these cities and knew they were weakly defended and because some British subjects were there stated this. “I commanded his caution in this respect and advised him not to think of moving on Hankou because they could not take the city without seriously interfering with British commerce”. Thus Parkes basically threatened Chen Yucheng, that he would face the same fate as Li Xiucheng had at Shanghai. Chen Yucheng tried to negotiate, stating his forces would absolutely make sure not to hinder the British, but Parkes was adamant and Chen Yucheng was forced to agree not to advance on the city. Now Chen Yucheng had no idea what to do, so he sent word back to Nanjing asking for instructions and thus the opportunity to smash Hankou was slipping away. The Qing cavalry that was chasing him across Anhui province made it to Wuchang sounding the alarm forcing him to dig in at Huangzhou. It would take months for Nanjing to give Chen Yucheng a message back and in the meantime Wuchang and Hankou would be heavily reinforced. Downriver at Anqing the siege had reached its 8th month. Zeng Guoquans trench lines surrounded the city with sequences of walls and moats about 2 miles from Anqing’s walls. It was like an extra fortified wall around Anqing that defended against anyone coming out of the city or coming to relieve it. Zeng Guoquan even had riverine units blockading Anqing from receiving aid via the river, but there was a major flaw in this, foreign ships. At Anqing’s southern gate, foreign steamships could drop anchor and unload food or weapons at very inflated prices for the people of Anqing. If Zeng Guoquan tried to stop them it violated the treaty of Tianjin, which the Taiping were trying to abide by to win over western support. And alongside this, believe it or not a small market emerged between the besiegers and besieged. Zeng Guofan had not dished out the payroll for over 9 months, forcing the besiegers to seek salaries elsewhere, thus many began to smuggle food into Anqing for money. War can be quite silly at times. Back to Li Xiucheng, his army moved past Qimen in December and made its way through southern Anhui to see if Zeng Guoquan would back off of Anqing. Li Xiucheng also sent forces into Jiangxi and Hubei where hundreds of thousands of possible new recruits lay for the plucking. Slowly but surely, his army made its way to Wuchang to meet up with Chen Yucheng’s army, but he was expected by April and he missed this deadline. By April most of his army was still in Jiangxi province, more than 200 miles away from the assembly point. By early May his forces got to the city of Ruizhou, 150 miles from Wuchang. But instead of carrying on, the citizens of Ruizhou begged him to stay and Li Xiucheng found himself doing so as he likewise recruited another 300,000 followers over the course of a few weeks. Now as incredible as it sounds, for him to gain so many, these were all untrained forces, given weapons yes, but not exactly trustworthy. Zeng Guofan understood this and he understood that such an army had a large mouth to feed. Li Xiucheng would only arrive to Wuchang in June, 2 months late for the expected rendezvous. He expected Chen Yucheng to be in Hankou ready to launch an assault on Wuchang, but soon learnt his colleague had left and worse yet, he never took Hankou. By this point, Wuchang had enjoyed 3 full months of warning of the impending Taiping armies and had called up reinforcements. With such vast numbers of untrained men, Li Xiucheng did not dare approach Wuchang too close and set camp on the outskirts of its county. Chen Yucheng had left a garrison at Huangzhou to coordinate with Li Xiucheng, but when Li arrived in the area the river was being controlled by Zeng Guofans navy making it impossible to communicate with Huangzhou. In desperation Li Xiucheng turned to the British consul at Hankou to deliver a message to Huangzhou. The British consul kept that letter as a souvenir and did not deliver it. With no reply from Chen Yucheng, and with no idea where or what he was doing, Li Xiucheng had basically no options left when it came to Wuchang. He could not remain where he was, his new forces were untested and he did not believe they could take Wuchang. He received word Bao Chao was coming from the east to attack him and he knew such veteran troops could do carnage to his green forces. Thus at the end of June he abandoned the western campaign and took his goliath sized army into Hubei. Bao Chao tried to pursue him, but Li Xiucheng had a good headstart and made his way over land and sea eventually moving through southern ANhui and then into Zhejiang. With Li Xiucheng failing to show up in time, Chen Yucheng had to act on his own. He received no further instructions from Nanjing about whether or not to attack Hankou so he decided to leave a garrison at Huangzhou and took his forces downriver to hit Anqing. On April 27th he made it to the Jixian pass with 30,000 troops easily scaring off the quite outnumbered Xiang troops there. Then he began the process of building fortifications outside Zeng Guoquans fortified encirclement…basically it was a fort, covered by another fort, covered by now another fort, infortception? So now there were 2 rings surrounding Anqing, meanwhile Chen Yucheng managed to sent rafts with supplies across the river to Anqing. After 3 days of trying to break through parts of Zeng Guoquans walls, Duolonga’s pursuing force had gotten between his forces and the nearest Taiping held city of Tongcheng. This threatened Chen Yuchengs supply and communications line to Nanjing and without Li Xiucheng it seemed he would be unable to break Zeng Guoquans defensive lines. Thus Chen Yucheng looked like he was going to have to depart, but then on May 1st, a Taiping army 20,000 strong showed up led by Hong Rengan at Tongcheng. By May 6th, Hong Rengan sent scouts to meet up with Chen Yucheng, but they were beaten back savagely by Duolonga’s cavalry force. It was at this point Chen Yucheng made a grave mistake. He left 12,000 men behind to hold the encirclement defenses and withdrew with the rest of his men northwards to strike at Duolonga’s cavalry in coordination with Hong Rengan from the north. On May 24th the two Taiping armies attacked Duolonga in 3 columns, 2 from the north and 1 from the south, but a Qing spy had revealed this strategy to Duolonga. Duolonga set up an ambush, using a detachment of cavalry going around Chen Yuchengs forces rear, falling upon the men and sending them into a rout. Soon Chen Yucheng’s army was running to Tongcheng receiving massive casualties in the process. The rout also severed Chen Yucheng from his 12,000 men back at the encirclement of Anqing, leaving them helpless without leadership nor possible reinforcements. As for Hong Rengan, it was his first foray into military command and it would effectively be his last. At the same time Hong Rengan’s army was receiving its defeat, the Heavenly King was hosting a visit from Harry Parkes and was greatly unnerved by it wishing for Hong Rengan to return to Nanjing to deal with such matters. Thus an order was sent out for him to return and he did so. Chen Yuchengs blunder left 12,000 men in a terrible situation, 4000 were manning the Jixian pass and around 8000 were at Waternut Lake with only the supplies they had brought with them. They outnumbered Zeng Guoquans encirclement forces, but only by a bit and now the Qing would smash them. Zeng Guofan had ordered Bao Chao to help ferry his army across the Yangtze river to get over to his brother to help. The day after Chen Yucheng had fled to Tongcheng, Zeng Guofan and his brother’s armies swept over the Jixian Pass force, breaking them within a week. On June 7th, the Taiping at Jixian Pass surrendered, Bao Chao’s men killed 3000 of them. Then they went on to smash the Taiping at Waternut Lake, eventually defeating them by July 7th. 8000 Taiping surrendered, handing in 6000 foreign rifles, 8000 long spears, 1000 jingalls, 800 Ming dynasty matchlocks and 2000 horses, a very nice haul. Zeng Guoquan had no idea what to do with all the prisoners, a force almost as large as his own who were very dangerous. One of his battalion commanders suggested they just kill them all and he made a suggested plan. They could open the gates of the camp and let the prisoners in 10 at a time so they could be beheaded in batches, “in half a day, we could be done”. What a monster. Zeng Guoquan didnt have the stomach for such a thing and left it all to the said commander who by his own accounts oversaw the butchering of 8000 POW’s in the course of a single day. Apparently they started at 7am, and were done by sun down, my god. It seems Zeng Guoquan was deeply troubled by the slaughter and I don’t blame him. Despite the great victory, the siege of Anqing still ground on as Bao Chao and Zeng Guoquan smashed Taiping relief forces. It was the foriegn ships bringing provisions into the city that was making the difference. Zeng Guofan tried to send word to the British to stop making deliveries, but they kept ignoring his messages. By mid July he was fed up after finding out a foreign ship had unloaded nearly 200 tons of rice to Anqing, so he sent a complaint to Beijing. It seems his complaint worked like a charm, Prince Gong sent word to Bruce on July 18th protesting the British help of the Taiping at Anqing, demanding Qing forces be allowed to search every ship that went to the city. Thus Bruce halted any British ships from going to Anqing and in the late summer Zeng Guofan began to receive captured letters from Anqing defenders indicating they were finally running out of food. Chen Yucheng tried one last time to try to lift the siege at Anqing, taking the remnants of his battered army along with the survivors of Hong Rengans he marched in a long northern sweep around Duolonga’s forces to get to the Jixian Pass where his force reoccupied the defenses they had made there. Chen Yucheng planned for all out offensive leading him to perform a desperate mission to rescue his family from Anqing by river while Zeng Guofan’s navy fired upon any and all ships departing from the city. August saw a symphony of gun and cannon fire with Taiping waves of men throwing themselves against Zeng Guoquans encirclement, row upon row of them pouring out from Anqing and from Chen Yucheng. The dead piled up against the defensive works on either side as the living clambering over them to try and kill the gunners atop. Then on the night of september 3rd, with the sound of guns, cannons and blades sundering the landscape, all went quiet as Chen Yucheng tossed the towel at last. He burnt the stockade at Jixian Pass to the ground and left Anqing to suffer its fate to the Qing. Most of the defenders managed to escape Anqing during the battle, escaping through some tunnels made underneath Zeng Guoquans encirclement. The burning of the Jixian Pass stockades provided a decent distraction, though there is evidence that the great escape of so many Taiping was actually an arrangement made by a Qing commander. In exchange for handing over Anqing without a fight they perhaps let the Taiping defenders go. Regardless, all the civilians remained in Anqing alongside some poor defenders chained to the wall mounted cannons. The Xiang forces entered the city unopposed on September 5th. The depths of horror found within the city would leave a long last nightmare. After the foreign ships were banned form bringing provisions, the inhabitants of Anqing ate all the food, then the animals including rats, until nothing was left, all except for one thing. The Xiang forces found out while all the food had run out, the markets were still open for business, the business of selling human flesh, at around half a tael per catty, or 38 cents a pound. Around 16,000 people were left alive in the city. Zeng Guofan wrote to his brother asking what they should do with the people “When we conquer the city, the proper thing to do will be to kill a lot of people. We shouldn’t let compassion lead us to err in the grand scheme of things. What do you think?” There are differing accounts of the slaughter, one states Zeng Guofans officers first separated the women and children from those being killed, another states all were treated the same. I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me. Zeng Guofan finally captured the great city of Anqing, a stepping stone to taking Nanjing. The Taiping pincer strategy failed utterly and now they were left in disarray. Can the Taiping come back from these defeats?