Last 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.
Last time we spoke about the offensive against the Gifu. The estimation of the Gifu defenses proved to be greatly underestimated and it was only after the Sea Horse was taken and the Gifu was severely isolated that its defenders began to crumble. At the last minute 100 Japanese came out screaming, tossing grenades and bullets, but ultimately the Gifu was taken and now the American forces on Guadalcanal could focus on pursuing the Japanese fleeing west. We also finished up the Buna-Gona campaign with the fall of Sanananda. The Japanese fought bitterly tooth and nail to retain their last toehold from their failed Port Moresby campaign. The evacuation was a disaster leading countless wounded and ill Japanese to commit suicide while their comrades fled for their lives trying to break through the allied lines. Those lucky enough to get past the gauntlet of fire went to Salamaua and Lae, where they would have to continue the fight over New Guinea. This episode is the battle of Rennell Island Welcome to the Pacific War Podcast Week by Week, 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 world war two? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two 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 you can find a few videos all the way from the Opium Wars of the 1800's until the end of the Pacific War in 1945. Last time we saw the conclusion to one of the bloodiest battles fought in New Guinea, let alone the Pacific War. The battle of Buna-Gona took the lives of countless Americans, Australians, Japanese and native Papuans whose misery almost never gets spoken about. We also saw a ton of action over on Starvation Island. The Sea Horse was captured, thus greatly isolating the fortified Gifu. When the Gifu's defenders realized they were cut off from the rest of the army, they made one last hurray into oblivion. 100 or so screaming Japanese stormed out of the Gifu with rifles, pistols, swords and grenades in hand to hurt the Americans as much as they could. After their suicidal charge, the Gifu had finally fallen and now the Americans could focus their attention west. By January 17th the first phase of the 14th corps western offensive had ended. The 25th division reduced 3 pockets of Japanese that emerged 2 days prior and the 2nd marine division smashed the Japanese around Hill's 83/84. On the 12th, the 27th infantry had captured the Horse's Head, cutting off Major Nishiyama's units then numbering 200 survivors out of an original 600. He was forced to make a last stand. He smoked his last cigarette with tears in his eyes as he had to look his men in the eyes and tell them all to prepare to die, he wrote in his diary that their calm acceptance to this moved him greatly. For the next 2 days he and the men looked for an area they could best serve to give up their lives, to make it meaningful. While Nishiyama kept a strong face for the men, following the orders to make a final stand, privately in his diary he debated with himself if he should try to withdraw the men on his own authority and as he wrote it “even at the expense of my honor”. He knew very well he could make a cover story to save face, some sort of false pretext to save the men from annihilation. But to do so did not only mean dishonoring himself, it meant to dishonor the whole unit. Over the course of those 2 days he sent a runner to the division HQ and General Ito sanctioned a withdrawal and thus Nishiyama and his 200 men escaped annihilation with their honor intact. It was very fortunate for them as General Patchs next phase of the offensive was set to begin on January 16th. The 14th corps next objective was a line from Hill 87 going northeast to the beach. This would contain Hills 87, 88 and 89. The 6th marines of the 2nd marine division and the 182 infantry would secure the right side and the 25th division would advance in the southern portion seizing hills 87, 88 and 89. 4 infantry regiments of the 147th infantry would be held back to guard the airfields. The 27th infantry of the 25th division would advance astride a narrow ridge called the snake to assault Hill 87 from the east, which the Americans assumed would be heavily fortified. The 161st infantry would perform a deep envelopment from the Galloping Horse to the southwest capturing Hills X,Y and Z then perform a flanking maneuver to seize Hills 88 and 89. The 25th infantry would protect the southern flank of the 161st and would continue to exterminate pockets of Japanese in the area. Exterminate by the way is a very cruel and fitting term for the way they were going about the business, for many of these so-called pockets were nothing more than abandoned, starving Japanese. By the 21st, Hills X and Y were taken by the 161st with relatively minor resistance. Then the 161st planned to deploy the 1st battalion to guard the southern flank while the 2nd and 3rd battalions got off Hill 7 to march towards Hill 87 when circumstances changed. On January the 21st, the 27th infantry was advancing on the narrow front with the 1st battalion as their spearhead, and behind them were the 3rd and 2nd battalions. The next morning at 6:30am, the 25th divisions artillery began tossing over 3654 shells upon Hills 87,88 and 89. At that point the 1st battalion advanced down the “snake's back” where they took out 3 Japanese machine gun nests trying to block their advance to the snakes tail. By 9:10am the 1st battalion was on its way to assault Hill 87. It looked from afar that Hill 87 held light opposition. After the 1st battalion seized the hill at 9:40, the 161st infantry was ordered to cross Hill Y to Z while the rest of the regiment turned north to follow along the snake behind the 27th infantry. Now while this was occurring, Brigadier General Robert Spragins was sent by General Patch to give General Collins leading the 25th authority to have them advance upon Kokumbona as rapidly as possible. The 25th's boundaries were extended to Hills 91, 98 and 99 which were like stepping stones towards Kokumbona. Without pause the 1st battalion took Hill 88 and then 89 by 11am. Then at 2pm it received the orders to seize Hill 90. By the time night was coming on, Hills 90 and 91 would be seized and this all tossed the Japanese defensive plans into chaos. During the night of January 22nd, the 17th Army HQ marched to Cape Esperance and the 38th division began to extract all the units it still was in contact with. But the huge thrusts made by the 27th infantry were pinching off the 2nd divisions flank and the Yano battalion. The 2nd division had orders to hold its position until sundown of january 23rd, but with the enemy advancing so much, Maruyama had ordered his men to pull back at 5am. Most of the 2nd division succeeded to pull back, but the Nitto Battalion of about 50 men all died holding their position. When the 17th army found out they were very angered by Maruyama. However unbeknownst to them, Maruyama pretty much saved countless Japanese lives as on January 23rd, the 27th infantry performed a 2 pronged. The 3rd battalion hit Hills 98 and 99 while the 1st battalion marched for Kokumbona. By 3:30 Kokumbona was captured, this was all done in astonishingly quick time, they could have overrun and annihilated Maruyama's men had he not pulled out. Overall between January 10th to the 27th, the 27th infantry had suffered 66 deaths including 7 officers. Now taking Kokumbona caused major changes for both the Americans and Japanese. For the Japanese the obvious change was many units were withdrawing while others who did not receive the orders to pull out would be smashed by the americans now thrust along the coast. The 6th marines were assaulting Japanese forces who had failed to withdraw and by January 24th the remnants of the 27th regiment were annihilated just a bit due east of Kokumbona. Now the 25th had made it to the area, joining CAM divisions consisting of the 147th, 182nd and 6th marines to advance further west. From the American perspective it looked like the Japanese might be aiming to perform a counteroffensive, so General Patch retained at least one division at the Lunga airfield incase. This of course was not the case as the 17th army was now hyper mobilizing its withdrawal and to do so it organized new coast defense units, made up of the ill and wounded. Men of the 38th and 2nd divisions were sent to Cape Esperance and Kamimbo, while the Yano battalion was deployed along the Marmura river by the 25th. Colonel Konuma in charge of rear guard duty took his men to the Bonegi river where he hoped to make a stand on its eastern bank to regain time lost because of 27th's incredible advances. On January 24th and 25th his men scattered into independent groups hindering the enemy's advance short of the Poha river. The CAM division ran into the Yano Battalion at around 1pm on January 26th which the marines said gave them heavy resistance. Major Yano's forces were gradually pushed back half a mile west of the Maruma by the 28th and the next day they had to withdraw across the Bonegi leaving the battered 2nd infantry group to face the American advance. On the 30th the 147th infantry got hit by the American vanguard. 1000 men crossed the Bonegi, but were quickly chased back to the east bank. The next day the 147th performed an envelopment maneuver using 2 companies which crossed the Bonegi. This resulted in what the Japanese called “considerable losses”, leading them to extract their forces away from Bonegi. By February the 1st the 147th fled for their lives as the Destroyer Wilson began bombarding the Bonegi area. Now we have to take a pause about the ground offensive going on to talk a bit about the air and sea. American intelligence found the Vila-Stanmore area on Kolombangara to be associated with radio traffic directing aviation units on Ballale. They sent reconnaissance to go look and found a nascent air base and began to suspect it was a staging area for barges and other small vessels trying to smuggle supplies to Munda. This prompted Admiral Halsey to plan an attack upon Vila-Stanmore to destroy the Munda air strength. Halsey gave Admiral Aisnworth the assignment of bombarding, he would come from the Kula Gulf while Munda would be hit by aerial bombardment. Ainsworth had task force 67 consisting of 4 light cruisers and 7 destroyers. Japanese search planes located Ainsworth on the afternoon of January 23rd, prompting them to launch Betty's from the 701st and 705st air groups. Ainsworth managed to slip by them during the night, and at 2am his cruisers and destroyers fire over 2000 6 inch shells and 1500 4 inch shells in 30 minutes. According to the Japanese over in Kolombangara, they sustained heavy material damage that delayed construction efforts, killed 5 men and wounded 20. Meanwhile the 30 Betty's hunting down Ainsworth finally caught a glimpse of his force because of the muzzle flashes. Before the Betty's could toss torpedoes, Ainsworth pulled the ships into rain squalls and used radar directed 5 inch antiaircraft fire to hit the enemy. Around 8am 24 dauntless, 17 avengers and 18 Wildcats from Saratoga delivered 23 tons of bombs upon Munda. Neither Munda nor Vila-Stanmore played a crucial role in Operation KE fortunately for the Japanese. On January 25th, 54 Zeros and 18 Betty's left Rabaul to perform a live-bait role. Another 24 Zeros left Buin to join this but weather prevented 18 of them. The air force reached Guadalcanal at 1:40pm as the Cactus airforce tossed 18 Wildcats and 6 P-38's to meet them. 4 zeros were shot down with another 6 heavily damaged. A second raid was made by the IJA's 6th air division. 9 Kawasaki KI-48 Lily bombers, 74 Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar fighters and 2 Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah's departed Buka and Shortland at around 9am on January 27th. The Cactus airforce tossed up a dozen wildcats, 6 P-38s and 10 P-40s over Lunga to battle them all the way towards the Russels. 6 Oscars were downed as the Lily's bombed the Matanikau for little effect. A third raid set for January 29th had to be postponed because something big was cooking up around Rennell Island. The campaign to claim air superiority had fallen short of its goals, prompting the southeast area fleet to request Operation KE be postponed, but the 8th area army adamantly insisted the evacuation must proceed as fast as possible. Now the IJN had sent some submarine supply missions to the 17th army in late december and on January 8th, American intelligence began to look closely at their radio traffic. They managed to decipher some signals predicting submarine transport runs set for January 26, 27 and 29. On the 29th the Kiwi and Moa, 2 out of 4 new zealand corvettes operating from Tulagi were hunting off the coast of Kamimbo when Lt Commander Bridson of Kiwi sighted the I-1 at 9:05. He dropped 2 depth charges forcing the submarine to surface and an eruption of 4 inch gunfire began. The skipper of the Kiwi ordered full speed and to ran the submarine drawing protest from Kiwi's chief engineer, but Lt Commander Bridson said “shut up! There's a weekend's leave in Auckland dead ahead of us”. Thus Kiwi smashed into the submarines port side, causing a breach in her and send troops aboard her to start jumping overboard. As Kiwi backed away she began firing upon the landing barges strapped to the submarine. Then Brison yelled “hit her again! It'll be a weeks leave! Once more for a fortnight!”. The Kiwi smashed into her again causing diesel oil to spout everywhere. After this rather hilarious battle that went on for 90 minutes, Bridson withdraw allowing the Moa to hold the fight. Aboard the I-1, captain Lt Commander Eichi Sakamoto had been operating the periscope when the depth charges hit the submarine. He scrambled her to the surface and her gun crew managed to fire 2 salvos at the Kiwi before fusillade fire from Kiwi cut the gunners and Sakamoto down. This prompted the submarines navigator to rush down the ladder screaming “swords!swords!”. The navigator, apparently a famous swordsman remerged topside, sword in hand and tried to jump aboard the Kiwi during her ramming venture. He grabbed onto one of her rails as riflemen on top I-1 tried firing at her. After being rammed for the third time, 47 soldiers jumped overboard swimming to shore as the Moa captured the navigator, that must have been a funny sight. The I-1 lay twisted in the water as the Japanese desperately tried to scuttle her. Later in february, Australian divers would manage to loot the submarine finding 200,000 pages of secret documents providing cryptographic materials and valuable JN-25 code information. In mid to late January, Admiral Nimitz and Halsey both regarded the dramatic accumulation of IJN shipping, vigorous air activity and all the radio chatter to be pointing towards some sort of new offensive in the southern solomons. They were looking at this anxiously because the projected withdrawal of the 2nd marine division was coming up. They had procrastinated the last removal of the marines for quite some time. So, in order to shield the movement of troop transports and counter possible IJN surface ship threats, Halsey deployed the kitchen sink in the south pacific. On January 29th, a carrier group built around Enterprise rendevouzed with Saratoga's task force. Task force 67 consisting of 4 cruisers and 4 destroyers joined up with Admiral Lee's task force 64 consisting of 3 battleships and 4 destroyers. They escorted Task force 62.8 consisting of 4 transports and 4 destroyers maintaining a course 100 miles to Lunga Point through the Lengo Channel. Close by the cover this was also task force 18 consisting of 6 cruisers and 6 destroyers sailing due south of Guadalcanal. Yes there are going to be a lot of task forces, growing exponentially henceforth. Rear Admiral Richard Giffen commanded task force 18, a new face to the pacific, he had spent the war thus far in the atlantic and mediterranean sea and was a favorite of Admiral King's. He was tasked by Halsey to rendezvous with Captain Robert Briscoe who was commanding the Cactus striking force consisting of 4 destroyers off Cape Chunter. Once they met up, Giffen was to lead them on a daylight sweep up the Slot as the transports unloaded at Lunga on the 30th. Now Giffen needed to meet up with Briscoe for 9pm and in order to make the deadline he detached his escort carriers Suewanna and Chenango with 2 destroyers so the rest of his force could pull up to 24knots. During the afternoon, unidentified aircraft began lighting up his task force 18's radar. His escort carriers began tossing up groups of wildcats and radar equipped avengers to get a clearer picture, but poor weather was hindering their efforts and Giffen refused to break radio silence as were his orders. In the mid afternoon 32 Betty's of the 701st and 705st air groups took off from Rabaul with the intent to perform night aerial torpedo attacks. Around twilight, task force 18 was set up in a column formation spaced out around 2500 yard apart arranged perfectly to face off against another surface fleet, but in quite a terrible position for anti-aircraft maneuvers. By 7:00 his flagship Cruiser Wichita's radar began showing what looked like a Japanese hornet nest of bombers. The Japanese airwave came from the west circling around the task force to gain the darker backdrop of the eastern sky for their approach. At 7:19 16 Betty's from the 705th commenced their attack. Anti-aircraft fire began to spurt, but Giffen remained hell-bent on making his rendezvous so the kept the speed going and ceased having his formation perform zigzagging maneuvers. This obviously aided the Japanese pilots who began dropping white flares along each side of the task force column to help guide the bombers torpedo runs. At 7:38 Lt Commander Joji Higai took his force of 15 Betty's from the 701sy and began their runs. At 9:40 a torpedo hit Chicago on her starboard side, followed 2 minutes later by another, halting Chicago. Another torpedo hit Witchita, but it was a dud. Still Giffen did not feel the need to change course nor lower speed. To decrease their visibility from the enemy he ordered the gunners to cease any firing unless they had an absolute target. Chicago's crews had stopped her flooding, leaving her listing 11 degrees. Chicago's engineers were trying to crank her engines to keep her up to speed, but it simply was not in the cards, so Giffen deployed the Louisville to tow the injured Chicago to safety. On January 30th, Chicago was limping behind Louisville at 3knots while Giffens task force 18 continued. Halsey dispatched the destroyer transports Sands and tug Navajo to relieve Louisville so she could rejoin the task force. From the early morning to 2pm, task force 18's radar screens displaying multiple Japanese reconnaissance aircraft coming from Rabaul. Admiral Kusaka was greatly relieved to find out Task force 18 was dealt an injury thus preventing it from threatening the first run of Operation KE. Kusaka predicted the Chicago would slip beyond the radius of her fighter cover from guadalcanal so he sent another air strike to attack the vulnerable ship. However unbeknownst to him, the escort carriers Suwannee, Chenango and Enterprise were shuttling wildcats to protect Chicago. Another group of 11 Bettys from the 751st air group lifted off at 12:05. A coast watcher warned Chicago and Enterprise of the threat around 3:05 allowing the carrier to launch fighters to intercept shortly after 4pm. Admiral Nimitz advised Giffen alongside the Japanese aircraft there were also 10 enemy submarines deployed south and southeast of guadalcanal. But Halsey ordered Giffen to change course for Efate with the battle worthy cruisers at 3pm, thus task force 18 divided, leaving the Chicago stripped of her shield of anti-aircraft batteries as the fighters were heading off with the rest of the force. Chicago would have only 4 wildcats running cap over her and at 3:40 the Betty's began to emerge. When enterprise understood the plight of the Chicago she sent force 6 more Wildcats to intercept, prompting the Betty's to rush for Chicago. Only 2 Wildcats managed to attack the Betty's before they released their loads. In all but a minute the Japanese desperately tried to toss their fish into the sea as the American pilots downed 3 Betty's likewise into the sea. Chicago tried its best to put up anti-aircraft fire, with her gunners claiming to down 4 Bettys as they attacked. 5 torpedo wakes emerged all converging upon Chicago. At 4:24 one torpedo hit her forward, followed seconds later by 3 others which ripped open Chicago's midship. The catastrophic damage prompted Captain Davis to immediately order abandon ship. As Davis recounted “Chicago rolled slowly over her starboard side and settled by the stern, with colors flying”. 56 men, including 6 officers died aboard Chicago leaving 1069 survivors. The Japanese pilots also came across the destroyer LaVallette which had valiantly turned back at the last minute to help chicago. 3 Betty's surged at her with one dropping a torpedo at just 300 yards away. The torpedo hit LaVallette's port side abreast her forward engine room. 21 of her crew were killed, but her engineers managed to get her back to fighting condition quickly and she pulled away. 12 Betty's had been lost that day, including Lt Commander Higai, one of their best Betty pilots for the IJN. The sinking of Chicago greatly frustrated Admiral Nimitz. In his official report of the event to King he wrote “especially regrettable because it might have been prevented.” Yeah Nimitz was frankly pretty pissed off. There was a long list of errors that led to the Chicago's fate. For one, Giffen was obsessed with keeping his rendezvous time and this led him to not consider the formation of his force, the amount of aerial support and to be blunt it was a tactical disaster. To make matters worse, some of his warships were carrying the super secret at the time VT proximity fuze. Nimitz vented his anger at his staff threatening to shoot anyone who announced the loss of the Chicago. During the afternoon of January 31st, american intelligence decyphered a dispatch stating Kondo's advance force had departed Truk 2 days early and this triggered Nimitz to alert his subordinates in the south pacific to expect a major Japanese operation was about to begin. The little battle of Rennell island had taken out the Chicago, but it also postponed the beginning of Operation KE now being slated for February 1st. The reinforcement Unit which was responsible for the evacuation was gathering its cruisers and over 21 destroyers at Shortland. Army officers were assured that the nominated commander of the Reinforcement unit for operation KE, Rear Admiral Satsuma Kimura led the finest flotilla in the IJN, destroyer squadron 10. But on January 19th, Kimura was injured when the submarine Nautilus damaged his flagship Akizuki near Shortland, prompting his replacement for Rear Admiral Koyanagi. At the same time, Admiral Kusaka secured the appointment of Rear Admiral Shintaro Hashimoto as commander of the Reinforcement Unit, prompting Koyanami to be held in reserve capacity. The 11th air fleet and 6th air division were responsible for maintaining the daylight CAP over the reinforcement units runs, but at night it would be the R Area air force. the 60 float planes of the R Area air force would sweep ahead of the reinforcement unit trying to shield them from the troublesome american PT boats. Operation KE relied heavily on some plans revolving around the Russell islands, if the destroyers failed to extract the 17th army it would fall upon landing craft from the Russell islands. Many army officers also hoped to install a temporary garrison and base in the Russells to work as a feint. Thus on January 28th, 6 destroyers bearing 328 men went to the Russells. And so soon, the grand operation would be unleashed. 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 hybrid force of US soldiers and Marines seized Kokumbona, greatly hindering Operation KE's timetable. Alongside this the battle of Rennell Island also added to hinder Operation KE's, to add further misery to its future success. Could the IJA/IJN work together to pull it all off, time will tell!
Last 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.
Last 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?
Last time we spoke Hong Rengan, the cousin of the heavenly king made a long pilgrimage to get to Nanjing. When Hong Rengan finally made it to Nanjing, the heavenly king rejoiced and began showering him with titles. Hong Rengan soon became the Shield King, but this drew jealousy and resentment from the Loyal king Li Xiucheng. Hong Rengan quickly went to work restructuring the movement, making dramatic improvements and began a campaign to win over foreign support. A grand strategy was formed to break the encirclement of Nanjing and it succeeded in a grand fashion, bringing the Taiping closer to Shanghai where a large foreign community awaited. However rumors spread that the Taiping wished to attack Shanghai creating fear amongst the foreigners they sought to ally with. Could Hong Rengang turn the tides in favor for the Taiping? #30 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 7: Ward's Mercenaries & the Battle for Shanghai 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. Shanghai was not a typical Chinese city, it had a complicated division of jurisdictions such as the international city with each nation having its own military force and each foreign citizen was liable only to their nations authorities. Trading vessels came and left, exchanging not only cargoe but crews from all around the world. People from all walks of life came to Shanghai and much like Mos Eisley, “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”. Now in 1860, just 12 miles due west of Shanghai a group of irregular military men began to run drills in a muddy little village. There were around 200 Europeans and Americans in a unit, wearing a hodgepodge of uniforms. Some wore red coats and dark pants, typical British marine getup, other blue jackets with white bell bottoms, that of french sailors, others tattered fabrics of merchant crews. For weapons, many had colt revolvers others sharp repeating rifles and the reason they drilled was to capture the Taiping held town of Songjiang, 10 miles further away from Shanghai. Alongside Qingpu, Songjiang was a strategic walled town and a necessary stepping stone for one to invade Shanghai from Hangzhou or Suzhou. The motley crew of mercenaries were being paid for by a banker named Yang Fang at the incredibly high rate of 100 dollars per month per man. On top of their handsome salaries these men were promised rewards of a hundred thousand dollars if their unit was able to defeat the Taiping garrison at Songjiang alongside anything they could loot. The commander of this unit was an American named Frederick Townsend Ward. He was 29 years old, from Salem Massachusetts and had deep black eyes and a thatch of unruly raven like hair worn long over his ears. Wards army was modeled on the so called filibusters, those American soldiers who frolicked in latin america in the 19th century. Ward was not drawn just by money but also the dream of establishing a new state to govern. Ward had been frustrated during his military career, he had failed to gain admission to West Point in 1846 and spent a year at Norwich university, a private military college in Vermont, without even graduating. His real military training came informally, in central america in 1852 when he enlisted with the infamous William Walker who led a small army of Americans to fight a civil war in Nicaragua to overthrow its government with the intent to form a new Yankee state. Ward fought hard for Walker, but left his camp to form his own, while Walker conquered Nicaragua and installed himself president in 1856. It was a short lived state to be sure, 4 years later the British captured Walker and arrested him for breaking neutrality laws. Meanwhile Ward traveled to Shanghai to launch his own venture against the Taiping, while his former mentor was executed by firing squads in Honduras. The Taiping-Qing civil war was a fantastic opportunity for a would be filibuster and initially ward came to china to join the rebels and overthrow the Manchu. However upon making it to Shanghai, making contact with the Taiping proved difficult. Ward first found work aboard a french steamer named Confucius, hired by some wealthy Chinese merchants to protect them against Yangtze pirates. Eventually Ward and the captain of the Confucius found themselves employed by local military authorities, thus Ward ended up selling his sword to the Qing. They saw in him some leadership qualities and had him begin recruiting Europeans, Americans and Filipinos to create a mercenary force to defend the region outside Shanghai. His army was strictly illegal, a complete violation of the neutrality laws. His force of mostly deserters could not even be treated for wounds in Shanghai lest they be arrested. Despite the small size of his force, the practically mythical belief in western arms being vastly superior led many of their enemies to simply surrender upon seeing a causasian opponent. Wards army was meant to be a spearhead for a 10,000 strong Qing force that followed behind it as they invaded garrisoned cities. Wards unit attacked Songjiang in april of 1860 and it did not go very well. With zero artillery to blast open the gates, Wards planned to sneak over the city walls under the cover of darkness using scaling ladders. Ward's men got so shit face drunk before their daring attack, that all their singing and swearing alarmed Songjiangs defenders when they approached. As they tried to climb, the Taiping cut them to pieces. After the failure ward sent men to purchase artillery pieces in Shanghai, managing to grab 2 pairs of half ton Napoleon field guns and Ward also procured a ton more men. Now he attacked Songjian again in July, this time with 500 troops, a great many being Filipino's. Under the cover of a fog, and less drunk the artillerymen bombarded the gate of Songjiang with 12 pound shells as the unit stormed the city. This assault proved to be a worse disaster than the last one. When they got through the outer gate, the found out the inner gate was undamaged. Thus Ward and his men were stuck in the wall, they couldn't get past the inner gate and could not bring their Napoleon cannons across the moat to hit it. The Taiping defenders were above them tossing stinkpots filled with burning sulfur all night long. Ward's men managed to budge the inner gate a couple of feet using bags of gunpowder, but they were being fired upon all the while. If it was not for their repeating rifles being so effective at close range, they probably would have not survived the night. Luckily they survived the night and soon their Qing backup showed up at dawn forcing the Taiping garrison to flee. Most of Wards 500 men were dead and all by 27 survivors were severely wounded. It was a terrible victory, but the city was theirs and Ward set up his new HQ in a Confucian temple. With Songjiang as a base, he regrouped, recruited and set up a new offensive for August the 1st to hit Qingpu 10 miles northwest. It did not go well, turns out the Taiping in Qingpu had managed to assemble their own type of Ward army led by an English coastal pirate named Savage who rangled up several of his comrades along the Taiping to man some big guns. Wards Qing backup army also did not show up and during the fighting Ward took a bullet right through both of his cheeks. Wards extremely drunk lieutenant tossed the new recruits, made up of mostly greeks and italians to throw themselves at the walls of Qingpu again 2 weeks after the first failed attack, this time with the Qing backup showing up, but all they managed to do was stir up a Taiping garrison now reinforced to a whopping 50,000 men led by Li Xiucheng himself. Li led a surprise flanking attack that routed the Ward army, not only winning the battle for Qingpu but also threatening Songjiang as Li Xiucheng chased them all the way there. The Taiping harassed Songjians gates for over 2 weeks and the only saving grace for Ward was the fact Savage was alongside the Taiping and he got shot dead. As we have seen, not all the foreigners were so hostile to the Taiping, Ward initially and Savage were willing to sell their swords to them. And in early july of 1860 as Ward had been preparing his attack on Songjiang, a small boat left Shanghai for the interior carrying 5 British and American missionaries who sought to contact the Taiping in Suzhou. One of them was Joseph Edkins and friend to James Legge, who was trying to find out if Hong Rengan had made it to Nanjing. The group ran into some Taiping units who told them Hong Rengan was the prime minister of Nanjing. The group were mortified when they got to Suzhou seeing the savagery committed there and as Griffith John described of seeing the ruined temples ““It is common to see the nose, chin, and hands cut off. The floors of these buildings are bestrewn with relics of helpless gods. Buddhist and Daoist, male and female. Some are cast into the canals, and are found floating down the stream mingled with the debris of rifled houses and the remains of the dead.” Li Xiucheng was in Suzhou at the time and he invited the missionaries for an audience. It was not a long meeting, but the missionaries found the man to be gentle, intelligent and he kept his soldiers well disciplined. They found themselves in agreement when it came to religious doctrine, but the missionaries knew the merchants of Shanghai cared for only one thing. Thus hey asked Li Xiucheng if he would allow the silk trade to continue under Taiping rule and Li Xiucheng replied that was exactly what the Taiping sought. Thus the group returned to Shanghai and countless newspapers in SHanghai began to publicize pro Taiping accounts. Edkins declared “They are revolutionists in the strictest sense of the term; both the work of slaughter and of plunder are carried on so far as is necessary to secure the end. These are evils which necessarily accompany such a movement, and are justifiable or otherwise in so far as the movement itself is so.” The idea the Taiping would be a state friendly to the west gained momentum. At the end of July, Edkins and Griffith returned to Suzhou for a second visit upon letters of invitation from Li Xiucheng and Hong Rengan. This time they found an even warmer welcome, with Hong Rengan present draped in silk robes wearing an embroidered gold crown. Hong Rengan insisted they do not kowtow nor kneel as this was not the western fashion, but instead give him a hearty handshake, and he dismissed servants so they could talk informally. They talked of old times like old friends about missionary work, they prayed and sang hymns and talked of China's future. Hong Rengan said for his part all he wanted was to lead the Taiping towards a correct understanding of Christianity. The missionaries were delighted by all of this, a man they knew and worked with was in the seat of power and he wanted to bring real christianity to China. By November nearly all of the major missionary organizations in England joined together to sent a letter to the foreign minister calling for Britain to continue its strict policy of neutrality. In many ways the veil of the Taiping had finally been lifted and there gleamed a chance perhaps at some western support. Now let us not forget, while the Taiping forces were launching this massive campaign to break the siege of their capital, the Qing were dealing with another campaign, the second opium war. Lord Elgin was writing back to Britain all the while and he had some interesting points to make. In one letter to Lord Russel in July of 1860 he wrote “We might annex the Empire if we were in the humour to take a second India into hand, or we might change the Dynasty if we knew where to find a better.” According to Putyatin, Elgin had privately said in his presence “Britain should recognize as Chinese Emperor one of the leaders of the rebel movement assuming he would agree to the favorable conditions of the Tianjin treaty.” He argued that it could give Britain the desired trade concessions, end conflict and perhaps prevent future wars. He took it a step further saying “if the capital of China were moved nearer to our military presence like Nanking … England could control the Chinese Empire with four gunboats.Let the north disappear or form a separate government, we don't have any trade interests there.” Meanwhile his brother Bruce was anxious that the Taiping would still march on Shanghai. The two events were simultaneous, the war in the north with Elgins coalition marching upon Beijing and the loomed threat in Shanghai. Luckily for Bruce, Elgin showed up to Shanghai on June 29th of 1860 with a fleet of French and British gunboats. Bruce sighed with relief, surely his brother would look out for their interests in Shanghai. Yet the coalitionary forces had no intention of helping Bruce defend Shanghai, they were going to depart shortly to head north and hit Beijing. They departed and left a scant defensive force of a couple gunboats and some stray divisions of Sikh soldiers. The foreign community of Shanghai lamented they had been abandoned in their hour of need. Despite the work of the missionaries to present Hong Rengan as a friend and not foe, Bruce did not buy it. He assumed the missionaries were being duped, like he had been at the hands of the Qing. Despite his opinions of the Manchu, Bruce told those around him they were still the legitimate authority in China. Many tried to change Bruce's mind on the matter of the Taiping, but none succeeded. In july of 1860 Bruce was brought a sealed letter addressed to the representatives of the US, France and Britain from Li Xiucheng. Bruce apparently refused to even open it. Then he received another letter, this time from Hong Rengan, but Bruce again refused to open it. These letters were fatally important, in the first Li Xiucheng notified the foreign authorities that the Taiping were on they way to Shanghai and intended to take possession of the Chinese held section of the city. He stated the Taiping had no quarrel whatsoever with their “foreign brethren” and pledged no harm to them nor their property. Any Taiping who harmed a foreigner would be put to death and he hoped the foreign representatives would call upon their people to stay indoors and hoist yellow flags above their doors to signify they were foreigners in said homes. In the later afternoon of August 17th, the sky to the west of Shanghai suddenly grew dark with smoke. The next morning saw fleeing Qing soldiers rushing to the Shanghai gates pursued by Taiping cavalry. The British let in a few Qing in before they destroyed the bridge going across the moat. The Taiping advance guard surged forward as suddenly the British and French opened fire with their artillery. Alongside this, the Taiping were fired upon by a hodgepodge of differing muskets, rifles and such. The Taiping force was small, just a few thousand men, lightly armed with a few notable foreign mercenaries with them. The British and French gunners atop the walls, watched the Taiping hide behind buildings and other structures, with clear baffled faces. None of them shot back, then one Taiping detachment tried to advance forward waving Qing flags they had stolen, but they were shot at. Next another detachment rushed forward waving an enormous black flag that the Taiping used to drive reluctant troops with. One very lucky shell lobbed from half a mile smashed right in the middle of the unit flattening the flag bearer into the ground. In a bewildered disarray the Taiping ran into houses for cover, but the wall artillerymen kept firing at them. As the night came upon them, word spread that Qing forces within Shanghai were executing Taiping POW's, prompting the British to demand they be surrendered over to them unmolested. Then the French frustrated it seems by the Taiping using all the houses for cover decided to simply start blowing them down with artillery. The next morning, French troops marched through the city firing their muskets at will. One eye witness reported to the North-China Herald “French soldiers were rushing frantically among the peaceful inhabitants of the place, murdering men, women and children, without the least discrimination. One man, was stabbed right through as he was enjoying his opium-pipe. A woman who had just given birth to a child, was bayoneted without the faintest provocation. Women were ravished and houses plundered by these ruthless marauders without restraint”. Another eye witness estimated the French left tens of thousands of Chinese homeless in the course of defending against 3000 lightly armed Taiping. The Taiping force retreated, but the suburbs of Shanghai burned for days as the Europeans claimed victory. The Taiping attack on Shanghai honestly did more to build sympathy for their cause, the news paper ran rampant stories about how the europeans fired upon a group who called themselves brethren and did not fight back. Now we have not talked about a key player in all of this for awhile. On October 16th of 1860, General Zeng Guofan was in his HQ in Qimen of Anhui province sick out of his mind. He was vomiting heavily, suffering some bad heart palpitations, had a bad case of insomnia, just not doing all that great. At lunch he received a message that the emperor had fled to his hunting grounds in Manchuria and that the British and French armies were literally a few miles from Beijing. There was nothing he could do, he apparently broke down in tears feeling helpless. Zeng Guofan was stuck fighting a protracted rear action campaign against the farthest Taiping stronghold up the Yangtze river. Zhang Guoliang and He Chun were both dead, the siege camps around Nanjing were shattered. He knew he could do nothing to stop the european march on Beijing so he pulled himself together and focused on a task he actually could do something about. Up until 1860, Zeng Guofan's Xiang army on the Yangtze played only a supporting role in the overall Qing campaign. Zhang Guoliang and He Chun's blockade of Nanjing was much more of a focus compared to that of Zeng Guofans offensives. Yet when victory seemed within grasp, Hong Rengan's daring plan was unleashed. The Taiping broke out of the encirclement and ran rampant marching east. In the leadership vacuum that ensued, Zeng Guofan's time had finally come. In June of 1860 Emperor Xianfeng appointed him as the governor general of Anhui, Jiangsu and Jiangxi the provinces most ravaged by the civil war. By late august the emperor named him imperial commissioner in charge of the military affairs in those 3 provinces and the new commander in chief of the Qing dynasty's forces in the Yangtze river valley. Boy oh boy the Chinese love bestowing so many titles on one person, that tradition just keeps living on. The frustrations of having to constantly provide for his Xiang army was beginning to ease as the desperate emperor had no one else to turn to. After years of scrambling to make his army's ends meet, while the Green Standard army enjoyed full funding and support, now Zeng Guofan was in charge of both military and civil administrations for the primary theater of war. His years of service had shown him how ineffective the bureaucrats of the Qing government could be, how inexperienced and self-gratifying they could be, and he would not tolerate them to affect his campaign. He had refused orders in 1859 to chase down Shi Dakai into sichuan, and now in 1860 he was given new orders to abandon his campaign in Anhui and to rush over to instead protect Suzhou and Shanghai. He offered instead the excuse he did not have the forces necessary to help at the moment and would stay put where he was finishing his campaign. The strategy he was performing was one of encirclement. Now back in 1859 Zeng Guofan tried to explain to the Qing court that the dynasty was not facing one kind of rebel force, but rather 2. The roving bandits constantly moving, and the pretender bandits, those who actually sought to attack Beijing and take the dragon throne. Shi Dakai, the Nian rebels and numerous vagabond armies on horseback were roving bandits. The only way to fight roving bandits was to hold a position and try to blunt their momentum. But for the pretender bandits the most important being the Taiping with their capital in Nanjing, you could only defeat them by “severing their branches and leaves”. What he meant by this was you had to cut off their foraging armies, ie: their logistics, before crushing them. He pointed out that the Green stand army had failed to encircle Nanjing completely, there had always been a single pathway open. He argued Nanjing must be completely encircled and once that was met the Qing forces could gradually conquer the fortified cities along the Yangtze one by one. He sought to begin with the Brave Kings base of operations, Anqing in Anhui province. Anqing had been under Taiping control since 1853, and was the farthest stronghold up the Yangtze. It protected both the river and land approaches to Nanjing and thus was a major choke point. As long as it stood, the Taiping in Nanjing could not be properly sieged, Anqing had to be crushed. Now this was not going to be any simple task, in 1860 Zeng Guofan had a force of 60,000 men while the Rebels had vastly more. Zeng Guofan could not contend with them in the open field. His intelligence reports indicated the Taiping were using irregular formations known as “crab formations”. This was a cluster of troops in the middle (the crabs body) and 5 lines reaching out on either side that could rapidly reconfigure itself as 2 columns, 4 columns or a crosslike configuration of 5 phalanxes, depending on the enemy. There was also the “hundred birds formation”, in which a large division would disintegrate into small clusters of 25 soldiers, each roaming freely, making it impossible for their enemies to figure out how large their force was. Then there was “crouching tiger”, usually applied to hill terrains where 10,000 troops would hide close to the ground in total silence and then ambush their enemy as they passed through a valley, suddenly leaping up like a tiger. To defeat these innovative rebels, would require manipulation of the battlefield. In every engagement Zeng described the situation as being either a host or guest. The host always enjoyed the advantage, such as being defenders of a wall city. The same situation could be said of a fortified camp. If two armies were to meet in the open field, it was the first army to reach the site of battle that would be the host. Now having the weaker army, Zeng tried to ensure the Taiping would always be the guest, by trying to lure them into attacking his defensive works or if failing that to try and provoke them to make the first move. To that end he got his men to build up fortified camps always in close proximity to the Taiping in the hopes of drawing them in to make the first move. In June of 1860, when the Taiping were focused on their eastern campaign, Zeng Guofan had moved into Anhui from the west with his brother Zeng Guoquan who began a siege of Anqing. Guoquan had 10,000 Hunanese forces who pitched a camp near Anqing's walls, building high earth walls with 20 foot wide moats. The idea was simple, they protected their fronts to the city and their backs from Taiping relief forces. For further protection against relief forces, a 20,000 strong Manchu cavalry unit led by Duolonga was set up in Tongcheng, 40 miles north of Anqing while Zeng Guofan led naval forces to blockade the Yangtze river just a few miles below the city. In late July, Zeng took the rest of his forces, 30,000 men into the mountains south of Anhui where he formed his HQ in Qimen, which is in a valley around 60 miles southeast of Anqing. However the summer of 1860 changed everything as the new war with the Europeans in the north erupted. Beijing sent orders on October 10th instructing him to send his best field commander, Bao Chao along with 3000 troops to help Prince Seng's banner forces fight the Europeans in the north, but Zeng Guofan believed without these men who would not be able to hold the encirclement of Anqing. It would take Bao Chao until January to reach the area of Beijing, far too late to be of help, thus Zeng reasoned it was useless. Alongside that, if the Taiping were allowed to break out of Anqing they could march upon Wuchang and threaten Hunan again. So Zeng cleverly sent word back to the Emperor asking him to choose another commander to come help in the north, and that message would take 2 weeks to get over to Beijing over 800 miles away thus earning him at least another 4 weeks time. October was quite depressing and cold for Zeng Guofan. The Taiping in Anqing apparently had plentiful stores and could wait quite long for reinforcements. One of his most beloved commanders holding a garrison in the nearby town of Huizhou was overrun by Taiping raiders and reports indicated there were many Taiping forces encircling his base of Qimen. Then on November 6th, he received a letter from a colleague in the north, stating the Europeans had successfully invaded Beijing and burnt down the summer palace . Zeng wrote in his diary “I have no words to describe the depths of this pain,”. The eight banner army lost to the Europeans and now he was all alone commanding a breaking army, all he had left was this damn Anqing campaign. We will come back to the plight of Zeng Guofan soon, but now we will be venturing back to the Shanghai situation. On August 21st, 2 days after his men were sent back from the walls of Shanghai by European grapeshot and shells, the Loyal King Li Xiucheng wrote a very angry letter to the British and American consuls there. “I came to Shanghai to make a treaty in order to see us connected together by trade and commerce. I did not come for the purpose of fighting with you.” Li Xiucheng accused the French of setting up a trap, stating a few of them had come to Suzhou earlier that year inviting the Taiping over to Shanghai to establish relations. He could not believe the French would be deluded by the Qing demons and betray them. He said he heard reports of the Qing sending large amounts of money to the French to defend Shanghai and it seemed they were sharing that money with the Americans and British since they opened fire on his men! He went on to say the event could be forgiven, in the case of his fellow protestants, but not the French, oh no there would be a day of reckoning for them when the Taiping took control of China. Yet he finished his angry letter swallowing his pride and said the Taiping still sought friendly relations with their christian brethren. Though it was a letter from Li Xiucheng, in reality it was sentiment sent by Hong Rengan, whose entire strategy depended on gaining support from the British and Americans in Shanghai. They needed to buy steamships to control the Yangtze river. Yet Li Xiucheng hated Hong Rengan and began to talk within his inner circle about how foolish Hong Rengan was thinking the foreigners would ever help them. The unexpected conflict with them at Shanghai proved his point and thus a rift was widening more so between the 2 leaders. Hong Rengan for his part, blamed Li Xiucheng and not the foreigners, stating they must have heard of Li's belligerent attitude towards them before he showed up and thus they assumed he was going to attack. Despite the 2 men's bickering, they both knew Shanghai needed to be secured for its rich financial stores and to be a point of which the Taiping could purchase weapons from the west. It was now up to Hong Rengan to smooth things over with the foreigners. A letter was sent to the foreigners of Shanghai stating they wanted to open up trade and that they had vast amounts of teas, silks and other desired goods. It asked why not make a treaty, perhaps with the United States? John Griffith went over to Nanjing and returned to Shanghai in December with an edict from the Heavenly King written in imperial vermillion ink on yellow satin, welcoming foreign missionaries to take up residence in Nanjing. An interesting gesture, given the British were so obsessed with having the same in Beijing only to be continuously thwarted by the Qing court. However the missionaries were reluctant to go, because no formal communications had been established between Nanjing and Shanghai, thus to go meant they would be at the mercy of the rebels. On December the 2nd, Lord Elgin returned to Shanghai in triumph after marching upon Beijing and getting Prince Gong to sign the treaty. He quickly learnt from his brother how the Taiping threatened the city. But the treaty had been signed with the Qing and the letters from Hong Rengan and the HEavenly king suggested the Taiping wanted no hostilities with the foreigners at Shanghai. Thus everyone expected no further conflict to occur and the European coalitionary forces that had marched on Beijing were disbanded and sent home. By the end of December, half the British forces were already returning to India and Britain with the others being stationed in Hong Kong, Tianjin and the Taku forts, just incase Beijing decided not to meet their end of the treaty terms yet again. As for Shanghai, by the end of 1860, just 1200 British soldiers were left for the city and Elgin argued they were far too many. Elgin spent a good month in Shanghai before leaving China. Though his work with Beijing was over, he did have one last task before leaving, he wanted to gauge the possibility for Britain to form relations with the Taiping. The Taiping at this time controlled the riverway and thanks to the new treaty with the Qing, trade was finally open for business. Elgin was not too pleased to hear about the supposed defense that his brother erected against the Taiping. He was even more disgusted to find out about the damage caused by the French to the outer suburbs and population of Shanghai. Elgin tried to counsel his younger brother that the Taiping were not necessarily all bad, he said “as bad as the imperials and Taiping both are, the rebels might provide a brighter future. From what I have seen of the regions under their control, they exhibit honesty and power”. He also rebuked his brothers refusal to read the Taiping letters warning not to accede to any Qing requests for Britain to avoid contact with the rebels. “it will never do to come under any obligation not to communicate with them on the Yangtze. It would be wrong in principle … and impossible in practice.” When winter came Elgin had to leave China, he had no time to make another voyage up the Yangtze, so he left orders for Rear admiral Hope to pay a visit to Nanjing to investigate if there might be a basis for relations between the rebels and Britain. Elgin knew it was a delicate situation, they had after all just signed a treaty with the Taipings enemy, thus he added a private note to Hope “at any rate it is clear that we must not become partisans in this civil war”. For his part General Hope after defeating the Manchu, was quite open to forming relations with the Taiping. Meanwhile the Taiping were consolidating their control over China's wealthy eastern province of Jiangsu. By September they controlled every county around Shanghai except for this under the protection of the foreigners. They were capitalizing on the people losing faith in the Manchu. They would make such proclamations as “The emperor of the Qing is the emperor of a lost country, and his ministers are all the ministers of a lost country. They extended their control over Jiangnan which encompassed the confluence of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. Within Jiangsu province they held the capital, Suzhou along with the major cities of Wuxi and Danyang. They held Anqing, the capital of Anhui, and in Zhejiang they had the major trading city of Ningbo. 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. Hong Rengans efforts to gain foreign support were falling to pieces. Zeng Guofan was building up his army hoping to capture Anqing, a major stepping stone to take Nanjing. Who was going to win the battle for the east?
Last time we spoke Shi Dakai went into exile while performing a western expedition, riding out into an eventual oblivion. Hong Xiuquan fell into depression, paranoia and seclusion as he began to only trust his close family members and appointed them to grand positions despite the fact their skills might not be up to par. The Taiping kings were gone, now the new military leadership lay in the hands of Li Xiucheng and Chen Yucheng. The Nian rebels began to work closely with the Taiping to campaign against the Qing, but it was ultimately not working out. The taiping sought foreign support, but things simply were not going well on that front and they were gradually finding themselves being more and more isolated from allies to defeat the Qing. #29 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 6: Rise of the Shield King Hong Rengan 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. Our old friend, the cousin to the Heavenly King, Hong Rengan had heard so much news over the years about his famous cousin and the Taiping. He decided to try and visit the Taiping capital of Tianjin. He left Hong Kong in may of 1858, traveling first to Canton which was at that time under British and French occupation, thus safe to him who was friends with missionaries. From there he set off northeast through Guangdong province along the riverways. For the most part, he ran into travelers trying to sell wares and Qing soldiers patrolling for bandits. He got to a junction at Nanxiong country and turned north upon an ancient stone road that led to the Meiling pass, the gateway dividing the southern part of the empire from the Yangtze valley. Beyond was Jiangxi province and beyond that Nanjing, or as I keep fumbling back and forth, Tianjin. He dressed as a peddler so he would be unremarkable to anyone, especially Qing troops and thus pass without incident. Once he entered Jiangxi he continued northeast along the Gan River where he came to the edge of the active war zone just outside the Taiping realm of control. Many Qing encampments were found along the way, many massive in size. Hong Rengan was able to attach himself quite easily to an outlying unit, joining them on their march eastward towards the porcelain producing city of Jingdezhen. There the Taiping attacked, forcing the Qing into a rout. Within the chaos Hong Rengan was lucky to escape the slaughter, escaping with only his clothes on his back. After escaping the heated battle, he worked his way west for a time, away from the active fighting, then further north towards the Yangtze river towards Hubei province. This territory had been fought over for more than 5 years at this point, being conquered and reconquered by the Qing and Taiping. Countless cities he came across were empty, houses stripped of wood to make cooking fires for passing armies. Even in the more prosperous parts of the province, underpopulated farms were unable to muster enough hands to bring in the harvests. Hong Rengan eventually came across a Qing soldier. THe man told him he sought to purchase goods in the Qing held river town of Longping and then to sell the goods downriver in Nanjing to the rebels. The soldier seemed to have many contacts, thus Hong Rengan gave him a piece of gold leaf he had kept sewn safely into the fabric of his jacket and they partnered up. While the soldier went to Longping to buy the goods, Hong Rengang waited for him in the city of Huangmei around 15 miles northeast with one of the soldiers contacts, a magistrate named Tan. Tan found Hong Rengan's intelligence and education so impressive he offered him a job on the spot as a secretary. It was quite a coveted job for an unemployed scholar,but Hong Rengan was still fixated on getting to Nanjing and gave Tan an ambiguous reply. The soldier did not seem to show up, leaving Hong Rengan with no way to get to Nanjing so he stayed with the magistrate for many months. Hong Rengan began to hear rumors about the Qing encircling the Taiping capital, strangling them into submission. Hong Rengan began to become anxious so he left Huangmei with a letter of introduction and a bit of money given to him by Tan. Hong Rengan took back the mantle of a peddler, but in October a Qing patrol captured him, though they had no idea how valuable a bounty he truly was. He was kept a prisoner for several days, but in the end they simply let him go, sending him on his way to Longping where he found a secret house serving as a way station for Taiping refugees. In December of 1858, he crossed paths with Lord Elgin. From the secret house he heard that foreign ships had been spotted on the Yangtze on their way back to Shanghai. He ventured down the waterfront just in time to see Elgins small fleet at anchor and he soon become acquainted with Thomas Wade, Elgin's interpreter. Turns out he knew the man from Hong Kong and he tried to get board on one of the vessels to receive passage as far as Nanjing. He was unable to get the ride, but he did manage to get a letter delivered to Hong Kong addressed to some missionary friends letting them know he was alive and trying to get to Nanjing. Some months later he found himself in Anhui province in the spring of 1859 where he finally found a Taiping patrol. When he told them his story, they took him for a Qing spy and sent him with armed guard to a garrison in Chentanghe. While under interrogation from the garrison commander, he opened a seam in his jacket providing a scrap of paper describing his family history. It was enough to convince the commander that he was indeed from the same village as the heavenly king. Thus the commander escorted him personally down the river on a Taiping vessel arriving in Nanjing on april 22nd of 1859, nearly a year after Hong Rengan began his journey. Tianjin, was of course Nanjing, one of the greatest Chinese cities in its heyday, the secondary capital and former Ming capital. It was rich in temples, government offices, trading houses and such, a wide metropolis. It was now built for war, with countless fortifications and cannon placements everywhere. When the Taiping took it they burnt the Daoist and Buddhist monasteries, creating something of their own version of Jerusalem. In the Ming days, the city had a population in the millions, but now it seemed rather empty. The civilian residents were allowed to come and go and many had drifted off into the countryside. The Heavenly King's palace was incredible, there were drummers that flanked its main gate, a reception hall with lacquered wood carvings of dragons, walls inlaid with gold and nearly everything that touched the heavenly kings fingers, chopsticks, bowls, brushes and such were fashioned from gold. It is said his chamber pot was made out of silver, Trump would love that one. Behind the main hall lay the vast inner sanctum where Hong Xiuquan and his harem lived. By the time Hong Rengan had come to Nanjing, Hong XIuquan had retreated from public life, spending his days behind the palace walls. Almost no one was allowed to meet with him, save for the women in his service. Hong Rengans reunion with his cousin, as he accounts it was bittersweet. It had been over 8 years since they last saw another and well…a lot had happened to say the least. Hong Rengan had heard the rumors that despite the weakness of the Manchu forces against the Europeans, Nanjing was almost encircled and being bled. The mass of Taiping armies had left the city marching in 3 separate armies on long range foraging expeditions, while the Qing forces concentrated all of their might to strangle Nanjing from its provisions. Hong XIuquan's seclusion from his active leadership role had hindered the Taiping. What Hong Xiuquan needed was an adviser, someone he could trust and that man was to be Hong Rengan. Hong Xiuquan showered his cousin with titles and promoted him swiftly through the Taiping ranks. Little more than 2 weeks since his arrival, Hong Rengan earned the rank of king amongst the Taiping, even though this broke a promise Hong Xiuquan had made to not appoint anymore. Hong Rengangs title was “founder of the dynasty and loyal military adviser, the upholder of heaven and keeper of order in the court” he was henceforth known as the “shield king”. Hong Rengan joined the echelon of Taiping military officials and was in charge of the entire civil government of Nanjing. Basically he became Yang Xiuqing 2.0 and was only second to the heavenly king. His unexpected arrival seemed a sign from god for Hong Xiuquan, but as you would imagine a lot of jealousy and resentment emerged from the Taiping leaders. One particularly resentful man was Li Xiucheng who commanded the defenses of Nanjing. Li Xiucheng proved himself quite capable and a very trustworthy general, but he was not a king. To watch this other man come from out of nowhere and suddenly be promoted above him after so many years of loyal service, well anyone would be jealous. Li would actually gain the rank of King months later as the “loyal king”, but it seems it came too late and the jealousy over Hong Rengan only grew. Hong Xiuquan was well aware of the dissatisfaction over Hong Rengan amongst his officers, so he called a full congregation of Taiping officials to honor the appointment of the Shield King. There he announced all matters in need of decision making were to be referred to the sole authority of the SHield King and as the crowd began to show audible disapproval Hong Rengan tried to turn down the appointment, but Hong Xiuquan whispered to him “all will be well, the wave that crashes with great force, soon spends itself and leaves peace”. Thus Hong Rengan accepted the official seal and began to preach to the crowd. He also began criticizing the policies made by the late Yang Xiuqing, offering improvements. In his own words about their reaction “They saw that I could stand in front of a multitude and hold forth flawlessly on doctrinal issues, and so they accepted me as their model of wisdom.” It was clear to Hong Rengan that commanding the loyalty of the Taiping followers meant more than just giving them spiritual salvation; they also needed earthly rewards, such as the promises of a better state, and that of a better life. Hong Rengan sought a long lasting structure for the future Taiping government and society, for this he needed to weave together threads of Chinese tradition with his knowledge of the industrial societies of the west. He tried to infuse a prototype of ethnic nationalism that had not been seen in China since the Manchu conquered it. His first major proclamation served to fan the flames of ethnic resentment towards the Manchu calling the people to “rejuvenate China and resist the northern barbarians, in order to wipe out the humiliations of two hundred years. We mouth their language … we live together with their members, and our people suffer from the vileness of the Manchu dogs.” The cause to get rid of the Manchu did not only resonate amongst the Taiping, but also many of those on the sidelines. And this was not limited to the Chinese, foreigners also took noticed to this fight against the tyranny of the Manchu. As one American in SHanghai put it “Americans are too firmly attached to the principles on which their government was founded and has flourished, to refuse sympathy for a heroic people battling against foreign thraldom.” Hong Rengan hashed out his vision of the new Taiping state in a document titled “a new work for the aid of government”. Now the traditional dynastic viewpoint had always been that CHina was the center of world civilizations and that barbarians were welcome come and trade, but they must acknowledge China's cultural superiority. Hong Rengan knew full well this annoyed foreigners and that foreign nations like Britain were both militarily powerful and very proud people. So he began to encourage not using the term barbarian and instead express ideas of “equality, friendship, harmony and affect”. Alongside this he thought the tributary model of diplomacy needed to be abandoned as a relic of the past with no use in the contemporary world. He argued that human beings were not willing to be considered inferior and that the foreigners in the past only performed the tributary customs out of force. The new China needed to establish friendly relations and long lasting respect from other nations. Hong Rengans experience with foreigners in Hong Kong showed him China was merely one state among many with much to gain from studying other great powers in the 19th century. He also believed the christian religion was the key to the strength of western nations. He pointed out the Protestant nations of Britain, the US, Germany, the scandinavian nations were all the strongest and most prosperous followed by the slightly weaker French catholics and Orthodox Russians who held onto miracles and mysticism. By his reckoning, Islam or even worse Buddhism were unfiromly weak and nations who abided them found themselves colonized. He argued the Manchus were like Persia, where people accepted their slavelike status without complaint. The most powerful nation to Hong Rengang was Britain whose ruling he thought lasted more than a thousand years making it longer than any dynasty of China. He explained to the masses that Britains strength derived from the intelligence of its populace, a system of laws which China could and should emulate. But Hong Rengans greatest admiration was saved for the United States which was known as the “flowery flag country” to many of the CHinese, because of its flag. He called it “the most righteous and wealthy country of all, she does not encroach upon her neighboring countries. ” Well that last part certainly changed haha. He talked about American democracy, the notion that all people of virtue should have a say in choosing their leaders and setting policy. Hong Rengan began to list his western friends such as British missionary James Legge, the swedish missionary Theodore Hamsberg and countless americans he knew in Shanghai. He proposed to use his connections to help establish cooperation with the west. He proposed CHina tap into the global industrial economy, it was necessary to become strong. He pointed out that Siam had learnt from the west how to build steamships and thereby made itself a “nation of wealth and civilization”. Likewise Japan unlike the Qing rulers of China had opened themselves willings to foreign trade “and will certainly become skillful in the future”. Boy oh boy is that one ominous. This he argued was the path of a Taiping ruled China. Hong Rengans ideas in many ways were a vision of China as a modern industrial power. A lot of what he argues will be adopted by future Chinese leaders, some of whom were currently fighting the Taiping, such as Li Hongzhang. Now before anything could be down, the state needed to be founded and for that the war needed to be won. To establish some central administration, financial and military authority, Hong Rengan needed the backing from military commanders. He could not expect support from Li Xuicheng so he began securing support from the other big heads such as Chen Yucheng. Chen Yucheng seemed quite willing to accept the new system Hong Rengan was advocating for. Shortly after taking the title of Shield King, Chen Yucheng and Li Xiucheng were also made kings; Chen became the Ying Wang and Li Zhong Wang; ie: the brave king and loyal king. These appointments were obviously done to placate any jealousy the generals might feel towards Hong Rengan. These men had been on their own for quite awhile and by no means eager to accept subordination under a newcomer. But for better or worse these 3 men were the top officials who would control Taiping politics and military strategy. Now Li Xiucheng was very ambitious and was the one who sought the most self glory out of the Taiping leaders. His area of command was by his own design, that to protect Nanjing and he made every effort to place himself close to the heavenly king as his protector. Thus far he had managed to become the new Yang Xiuqing, but he did not like Hong Rengan nor was he open much to his ideas. Chen Yucheng on the other hand was more willing to accept a new political leadership role of Hong Rengan and would become his main supporter. Aside from his role as a commander in the field he also helped Hong Rengans governmental reorganization. Chen Yucheng became a member of Hong Rengans board for a newly organized state examinations. Hong Rengan wanted a government based on law and stressed therefore the need of education for the Taiping people. One of Hong Rengans first proclamations was to revamp the examination. Interestingly to do this he advocated to blend confucian classics, the four books and 5 classics with the taiping christian texts. Though none of these texts survived, scholars assumed the general principles of the confucian work were revised heavily before being adopted. Hong Rengan wanted to carry on some of the imperial tradition; to formulate an elite that would be characterized not only by ranks and titles but also exempt from labor service. While the examinations and privileges of those who passed them looked similar to the imperial systems of before, the substance of the system was quite different. The imperial gentry was a statum that took its uniform based on the study of confucian classics, but Hong Rengan wanted a CHristian gentry. Thus the new examinations looked more so at qualifications for official service. At the same time Hong Rengan took the time to clarify “yes thats a good word”, the visions of Hong Xiuquan in a way that would make more sense in traditional christian literature. This was not just for the CHinese, but also for foreigners who were greatly weirded out by the fantasifull aspects of the Taiping doctrine. Hong Rengan was trying to have the Taiping version of christianity mesh more so with the protestant one so foreigners would accept it more. Hong Rengan suggested that foreign missionaries and technical advisers be permitted to come to Nanjing. He was trying to establish some westernization and friendly relations with western powers and many missionaries would come to Nanjing such as T.P Crawford, J.L Holmes, J. Roberts and Hartwell of the American Baptists and Josiah Cox of the British Wesleyans. However the year 1860 brought with it an end to the Second Opium War and the signing of the treaty of Tianjin, thus the western powers had effectively tossed their lot in with the Qing. Hong Rengans hopes of gaining the western aid to defeat the Qing was snatched. In the meantime, while Chen Yucheng proved a valuable ally to his cause, in the absence of having Li Xiucheng on his side, Hong Rengan was unable to overcome the resistance to his authority. Regardless he attempted to take a leading role in planning military campaigns; and his strategies were initially successful. When Hong Xiuquan and his cousin spoke in their younger years they envisioned building a kingdom that did not include the north. Instead it set its foundation in Nanjing and reached down over the 7 southern provinces. It would abandon the larger expanse of the Qing dynasty for something more akin to the Ming. However when the Taiping took Nanjing, they tried to take the south and north failing in the process. Now the Taiping capital was in a dire situation, the had lost most of their southern territory that they acquired in the initial campaign. They still held the strategic city of Anqing upstream, but the Qing had retaken Zhenjiang. Qing forces had established encampments with 10s of thousands of soldiers guarding strategic points north and south of Nanjing keeping them firmly under siege. These encampments represented the leading forces of the Qing empire, the counterparts to Prince Seng's army in the north. The southern camp had dug in just 10 days after the fall of Nanjing to the Taiping and stood its ground almost continually ever since. Zhang Guoliang commanded the southern encampment and He Chun the north. Zhang Guoliang's siege forces were too large to be easily scattered by the Taiping sorties from Nanjing. But at the same time Nanjing was too strong for the besiegers to mount an attack upon it. Thus a stalemate occured for a long time, peppered with Taiping victories in 1856 that did shatter the Qing siege, but then the Taiping internal collapse undid this. 3 years after the Qing rebuilt their ranks and commenced digging trenches below Nanjing that would stretch 45 miles with more than 100 guard camps along the length blocking access to the capital. He Chun and Zhang Guoliang prepared for what they thought would be the final assault to crush the rebel capital. Hong Rengan presented a bold plan to relieve Nanjing. The Taiping would send a small expeditionary force in a wide, sweeping arc beyond the rear guard of the Qing armies within Zhejiang province to attack its weakly defended capital Hangzhou. Hangzhou was 150 miles southeast of Nanjing and was the supply line supporting the southern Qing encampment. Now because He Chun and Zhang Guoliang concentrated all of their forces around Nanjing, there was little real defense left for Hangzhou, so they would be forced to transfer troops from the large encampments around Nanjing to lift a siege of the city. As per Hong Rengans plan, they would recall two roving armies led by Chen Yucheng and the younger cousin of Li Xiucheng, known as the attending King who would return to Nanjing from their distant foraging campaigns. As soon as the Qing forces around Nanjing thinned out sufficiently, the expeditionary force at Hangzhou would secretly retreat as the combined armies of the Brave, loyal and attending King's would sweep in from 3 sides to crush the weakened Qing camps, thus raising the siege. Even Li Xiucheng agreed such a plan might break the siege, but he did question what lasting effect it might accomplish. He argued it would reconcentrate the Taiping forces in Nanjing where they had limited supplies, thus Hong Rengan laid out the full scope of his revised strategy for winning the war. The rice growing southern provinces, sichuan in the west and the Great Wall to the north were over 1000 miles from Nanjing, but to the east were grand and wealthy cities like Suzhou and Hangzhou who had access to the sea. It was to the east they should strike. Once they performed the siege lifting offensive they should turn east and conquer the cities between Nanjing and Suzhou in a swift and precise campaign. With access to the sea they could ensure supplies, arms, wealth and new recruits. If all went well they could get help from foreign allies and using the wealth taken from Suzhou and Hangzhou they could purchase perhaps 20 steam powered ships from the foreigners in shanghai. With such naval forces they could patrol the Yangtze unopposed and begin taking the southern coast along Fujian, Guangdong all the way to Hong Kong. From there they could march on Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei and seize Hankow, solidifying the Taiping control over the entire Yangtze river valley and cutting the Qing empire effectively in 2. By consolidating the south, they could take Sichuan, Shaanxi and the original dream of Hong XIuquan and Hong Rengan would be complete. The former Ming empires borders would be theres and Beijing and the northern provinces would eventually be starved and wither away. The success of his grand plan depended heavily on the support of foreigners in Shanghai, but would they be open to it? On February 10th of 1860, the Loyal King left Nanjing with 6000 handpicked men disguised in Qing uniforms stolen from slain enemies. The coordination between the Green Standard, Yung-Ying armies and local militias was so weak, the Loyal King's force managed to seize several garrison towns along their way before looping around to hit Hangzhou. They surprised the city on March 11th when hundreds of Taiping banners began to be erected around the great city indicating its was under siege. The main Taiping force battered the front gate of Hangzhou using sappers and tunnels and a hole was blasted by march 19th. Hell unleashed upon the city as its untrained militia routed fleeing to their homes in neighboring towns. The leaders of Hangzhou likewise abandoned their offices taking their bodyguards with them, with many also ransacking the city as they fled. Li Xiuchengs men fought against the local residents who stood their ground and the local women did as moral instructions proscribed, they began to kill themselves en masse. The women hanged themselves, poisoned themselves, stabbed themselves and threw themselves into wells to drown. The Manchu commander of Hangzhou fled with his troops back into the inner garrison holding out against the fierce Taiping invaders. Li's men were unable to break into the Manchu garrison after 6 days, so he abandoned the attack and began the retreat back to Nanjing. He had accomplished his objective and the plan would work out perfectly. Zhang Guoliang received reports of the attack on Hangzhou, without any clear indication of the size of the Taiping force. He shifted nearly a quarter of his total siege forces to relieve Hangzhou as a result while the Loyal King and his men took to their Qing disguises yet again easily slipping past Zhang Guoliangs men. Zhang's force arrived to Hangzhou to find no Taiping, nor any civil government, so they looted the city hahahaah. By April the main Taiping armies of the Brave and Attending kings went to the outskirts of Nanjing and join up with the Loyal Kings forces to throw their combined weight on the weakest point of the southern QIng encampment. The southern camp fell apart in a rout as 100,000 Taiping overran them from 3 different directions. Li's cavalry smashed into the Qing rear lines crushing the men under their own defensive works. Thousands were cut down with their bodies left in the trenches they had dug. The waterways overflowed their banks raising corpses everywhere. The routed Qing dropped their weapons as they fled, but the Taiping pursued them for weeks cutting more and more down. Soon the Taiping overran the city of Danyang, 45 miles to the east of Nanjing. General He Chun committed suicide by eating raw opium and Zhang Guoliang drowned while trying to escape from Danyang. Thus in the central theater of the war, no more capable Qing commanders were left. In the spring of 1860, suddenly the Taiping came out like a scourge from their capital marching to the east. Local militias fled before them, Jiangsu province was swarmed, countless cities fell without a fight. By mid may the Taiping captured Changzhou a few days later Wuxi. Then the Taiping plucked one of the greatest cities, Suzhou which held a population of 2 million, providing them with a vast source of new recruits and plunder. The Taiping's momentum was unbreakable, Suzhou simply opened the gates to them. For those who were in the path of the Taiping choices were always the same, be brave and fight to protect your homes, or cut your manchu queues and join them. Many peasants tried to appease both sides by growing their hair long on top when the Taiping took over, but kept their Manchu braid wound up underneath their long hair in case the Qing came back. Soon the Taiping spread past Jiangsu to Zhejiang forcing countless to flee to the protection of the international city of Shanghai. Yet rumors spread to those in Shanghai that an army of 100,000 Taiping was going to march upon Shanghai with a flotilla of 10,000 boats so large it would take 3 days to fully pass the river. The treaty port of Shanghai held half a million Chinese inhabitants, a figure growing daily with refugees. Shanghai was divided into 4 sections; the east going to Jiangsu province; the south was the old Chinese city with a circular defensive wall 25 feet high governed by the Qing holding most of Shanghais population; to the north was the French and British concessions and to the east was the Suzhou creek where past that was the American concession. The foreign population numbered around 2000 settled people and shipping crews numbering another 2000 or so. The British dominated the community, seconded by the French, leaving the Americans a minority. It was not a beautiful city. Countless newcomers had grand visions of “an El dorado of wealth, hope and fortune, only to find a dirty, overcrowded settlement with “ill built houses reeking with impurities and fevers and vile stenches”. One missionary said of the city “one of the filthiest in this world. I have seen nothing to be compared to it in dirt and filth, it surpasses everything.” Shanghai had access to the sea and the Yangtze river making it an ideal point of trade for tea and silk from China's interior. Shanghai quite frankly was built specifically for the purpose of dominating the China trade. As the Taiping edged down the river, British authorities in Shanghai issued an injunction from trading with the rebels and fear set into the foreign community that their immensely profitable commerce was about to be destroyed. The top ranking British official in Shanghai was our old friend Frederick Bruce, the younger brother to Lord Elgin. After failing at his job to get the Qing to abide by their treaty, he left his brother to finish that work up as he took up the mantle to manage Shanghai. Because of his experiences he sought to walk a very fine line when it came to his new role and he was determined to remain neutral towards the civil war. He issued the trade injunction believing to even trade with the Taiping was breaking neutrality. He also simultaneously tried to avoid aiding the Qing, but Britain had interests with the Qing and the Qing knew how to twist an arm. The Qing had an official named Wu Xu who hounded Bruce for British support in defending Shanghai from a possible Taiping attack. Wu Xu warned if the Taiping took Shanghai, it would shut down all trade and the British would be cast out. Bruce began to hear rumors about horrible dealings in Hangzhou by the hands of Li Xiuchengs men and began to worry what might unfold in Shanghai. It was not just the Taiping that were a threat, there were legions of renegade Qing forces who had taken up residence in Shanghai who had fled from Suzhou and Hangzhou. Bruce wrote “the defeated imperialists have revenged themselves for their defeat by pillaging the defenceless villages on their line of retreat. The beaten troops, the victorious insurgents, and the vagabonds of the city itself, all join in plundering the wealthy and respectable inhabitants.” There were continuous false alarms being made that the Taiping were attacking Shanghai causing the city to become a powder keg. Weighing the options, Bruce decided it was Britain's moral duty to protect Shanghai, but not just the foreign settlements, also the Chinese city under the Qing civil governments control. He made it clear any British defense of Shanghai would strictly be limited to the city itself. Wu Xu tried to press Bruce that a preemptive British led force at Suzhou to halt the Taiping would be a good idea, but Bruce rejected this immediately. The French however heard reports that another French catholic missionary had been murdered by the Taiping, and they decided to rally a force of 3000 men to march on Suzhou, but Bruce was able to scuttle the mission. The British merchants began to hound Bruce to mount a sturdy defense of the city, but Bruce had to wait, probably months for Britain to give him permission to deploy defenses. Thus in the meantime Bruce began calling up volunteers, and only a handful of cannons were dragged together with a few hundred inexperienced men to man the walls to face if rumors were true, legend of Taiping. 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. Hong Rengan went on a great pilgrimage to Nanjing and became the Shield King. His reforms were grand, but he drew ire from his fellow the Loyal King. Could Hong Rengan turn the movement around?
Last time we spoke tension was brewing within the Taiping capital between the the heavenly king and his subordinate kings. The Foreigners were debating who would win the civil war for China and who would be the best bet for trade. The new Yung-Ying armies, such as the Xiang army of Zeng Guofan began to encircle Nanjing in an effort to strangle the Taiping. Within the Taiping capital, conflict finally broke out and Yang Xiuqing was murdered by his comrade King Wei Changhui. When Shi Dakai found out he demanded blood, leading to Wei Changhui's death and almost his own, but he fled Nanjing, taking a large army with him to campaign in exile. Now Hong Xiuquan fell into a depression and fell into seclusion, who would lead the movement now that the great taiping kings were all gone? #28 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 5: Out with the old kings, in with the new 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. With Shi Dakai's departure, Hong was put in quite a pickle, as one of his commanders, General Li said “morale declined and there was no unified policy. Each went his own way. The Sovereign did not place complete confidence in anyone. He had been frightened by the East, North and Flank Kings and dared not trust other ministers, but placed all his trust in members of his own clan”. Thus the Taiping fortune had turned dramatically, the period of swift campaigns and sweeping victories had ended. They would not be able to exploit the blitzkrieg like momentum they once held. Now the Qing provincial armies would organize and begin the process of wrestling back control over vital and strategic territories in the upper Yangtze valley. Hong Xiuquan was alone in Nanjing with none of his original comrades to pick up the much needed leadership roles. As bad as Yang XIuqing had been, he was at least effective as an organizer and strategist. On the other side of the coin, the Qing were unable to take advantage of all the Taiping upheaval. Their main besieging camps around Nanjing were smashed in 1856 and they faced two other large threats. The first ws another rebellion taking place in northern CHina, that of the Nian rebellion. The Nian rebellion was severing lines of communications from north to south making it extremely difficult to coordinate against the Taiping. The second was of course the second Opium war which threatened the eastern coast and cut off contact with the sea, effectively leaving local regional commanders in the south and center of China to have to formulate their own strategies against the Taiping. The financial records show at this time Emperor Xianfengs treasuries were significantly reduced. The Qing court had begun suspending orders for silk and porcelain and these sort of goods were necessary to showcase imperial glory. Alongside this, weddings and funeral stipends for Manchu Banner troops were canceled, golden bells, buddhist statues and other items made of gold, silver and such were melted down to make coins. The Qing court forced officials to reduce staff, canceled repairs to palace buildings and by 1857 some Imperial Banner families had reached starvation levels of just a few pounds of relief grain per month. The Emperor was allowing his Banner troops to use their own banks and rice stores in an attempt to shield military personnel from the effects of inflation. Despite the economic hard times, and enemies left right and center, the Qing armies could have crushed the Taiping altogether during this turbulent time, had it not been for the Qing leaders insistence on the policy of having veteran Taiping troops executed if captured without exception. There was really little incentive to stop serving the Taiping. Now Hong Xiuquan did not stop at just placing his two brothers in high positions. There was Hong's sister, his wife Lai and his children, the 8 sons of his eldest brother, 2 from his second eldest brother. Hong also had 8 daughters from various consorts, many of whom were married. Hong also had a dozen or so cousins, the Hong family had roots in Guangdong and Guangxi and many had made the trek from Thistle mountain to Nanjing. Now that Yang was dead, Hong was able to do things with less scrutiny, thus he began to extend his family as he saw fit. Hong's palace was run entirely by women under his general supervision. Allegedly 2000 women worked for him divided into 3 categories, female ministers and bureaucrats, maids and attendants and the women of his immediate family. That last group included consorts of which according to his son Tiangui, Hong Xiuquan had 88 consorts in Nanjing. Tiangui was around 9 years old in 1857 is told he is too old to remain in the palace and is forced to live in an outer palace and given 4 wives. He is forbidden from seeing his mother or sisters, bound by stern rules set forth by his father. Hong Xiuquan dictated at four, his sons are no longer allowed close contact with their older sisters; at seven, they can no longer sleep in their mothers' or other consorts' beds; they must also stay ten feet or more away from their sisters, and learn to bathe themselves; by nine they should not even see their grandmothers. Their sisters' separation from their brothers is similar: after five, they must never be touched by their brothers, and after nine they stay entirely with the women and are not meant to see even their younger brothers any more. In 1857, a year after the assasination ordeal, Hong Xiuquan issued the only official publication of the time known as “poems by the heavenly father”. They show us how Hong Xiuquan concerned himself with maintaining order and harmony among his hundreds of concubines and maids in his giant harem. He then explained “heavenly principles” admonishing his women to please their master and to follow his ordained rules. The mixture of fantastic ideas and fanatical beliefs in these writing to his women showcase the decline of the heavenly king. He was so concerned with having his own personal religious experience, that to ascent to heaven, rather than focus on the Taiping revolution. Whatever governmental structure existed was handled by Hong Xiuquans family rather than him, most at the hands of Hong Rengfa/Rengfu. Later on when one of the leading Taiping commanders, General Li Xiucheng is captured by Zeng Guofan he tells him “In Nanjing there was no one at court to carry on the government, the morale of the soldiers and people was broken and troubled. The military leaders were greatly displeased with the Hong brothers as both men were deficient in talent and had no plans”. Yet the Hong clan did not seem to have anyone who could pull everything together. Hong Renfa and Renfu were said to be “deficient in talent and military tactics. THey were obstinately bent on carrying out their own views, and were obsessed with the notion that Heaven would support them in everything”. Shi Dakai was the last real hope for the revolution and when he left he also took with a significant part of the military and some of the best commanders. When the Qing court received news of Shi Dakai's departure they instructed Zeng Guofan to invite Shi Dakai into the fold. Shi Dakai refused to surrender to the Qing and instead marched his army through Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian and then westward into Hunan. From Hunan he tried to gain entry to Sichuan. Shi Dakai had thus conducted a ceaseless and exhausting campaign across 15 different provinces over a distance of more than 6000 miles, seeking first a permanent base, and then it became more of a game of survival. Countless troops got sick, died or deserted. By June, Shi Dakai found himself cornered, helpless and exhausted, so he simply walked into the encampment of the commanding Qing general pursuing him and gave himself up. He hoped by forfeiting his life he could have 2000 other Taiping veterans be pardoned. He prepared for all of this by having having his 5 wives commit suicide and his drowned, to save them from the inevitable shame and agony they would have faced at the hands of the Qing troops. He was interrogated for over 6 months by Luo Bingzhang who had directed the defenses at Changsha which killed the west king. Shi Dakai was executed slowly via dismemberment and his 2000 of his most loyal followers who had been held under guard at a local temple were slaughtered. Though Shi Dakai had assumed new titles and gave many to his commanders, he never promulgated any new political programs, nor did he have any grand purpose for his military campaign, and thus he was more of a military adventurer rather than a revolutionary leader in the end. Shi's forces would remain a threat to the Qing and Zeng Guofan's Hunan forces. Shi had permitted many of his men to leave for home and the Taiping who went back to Guangxi province would survive to the end of the rebellion, slaughtering many more Qing. Shi also continuously recruiting as he marched his forces, in 1858 Shi's forces were said to be several hundred thousand strong before Zeng Guofans armies decimated them. Shi Dakai's force was quite the diversionary campaign, forcing Zeng Guofan to dispatch many of his best commanders to deal with him, but he was never distracted from his main target, the Taiping stronghold of Nanjing. Initially when the Qing ordered Zeng Guofan to march into Sichuan to stop Shi's invasion of the provin, he refused the follow the Qing strategy. He argued with the Qing court stating the difference between the rebels who occupied and developed strategic areas for economic bases, ie: the main Taiping force in the lower Yangtze versus what he called the “roaming bandits” who never settled down. Those roamers were Shi Dakai and the Nian rebels. The real threat he insisted was the Taiping in Nanjing and Anhwei and they must be dealt with first. The Qing government…well they had no real way to coerce Zeng Guofan at this point and just followed his advice. Meanwhile in Nanjing, Hong Xiuquan's choice to appoint his own kin as officials was backfiring. He had made this appointment in the hopes of re-establishing a working organization. However the proliferation of titles contributed to disorganization and chaos. He had appointed Meng De'en as chief of staff. Meng had been a member of the administrative staff and Taiping documents indicate he was an official responsible for providing women for the heavenly king's harem but had no experience in military matters. And despite his nominal role in the central administration and his new military authority he really held no real influence over either the courts or the armies. Alongside this Hong's brothers were using their positions to amass wealth and live lives of luxury. So the field commanders became the only ones making actually military decisions. The attitudes of these commanders towards the new appoints in Nanjing can be seen strongly be the remarks of Li Xiucheng who again as a prisoner under Zeng Guofan wrote “there was no one at court to carry on the government, the morale of the soldiers and people was broken and troubled”. From his perspective, the military leaders were very dissatisfied with the Hong brothers and distrustful of Meng who in his words “was a great favorite of the heavenly king and had not been outside the capital. He alongside his second in command Li Kaifang were both men without ability and moreover kept in hand by the Hong brothers”. Its easy to see the Taiping were in a major crisis and Li Xiucheng wrote one passage that shows us that it could have very well fallen to pieces by 1858. “The feeling of the people has undergone a great change. Government affairs were in disorder, and each man was pursuing his own course. The sovereign had become mistrustful of others. The affairs between the kings had so alarmed him that he was distrustful of ministers of other surnames and put his confidence in his own family and relations. There was a unanimous desire at this time to separate. However, they did not dare to separate on their own, since they had heard that whenever the Qing generals and soldiers capture Guangxi men they decapitated them, not sparing a single one. Hence they banded closely together instead of dispersing. Had the Qing dynasty been willing at this early date to spare Guangxi men, a breakup would have taken place long ago”. A very revealing passage to be sure. The inability of the Hong brothers and Meng De'en to manage military campaigns forced Hong Xiuquan to give the military leaders a free hand and he even created new titles and positions for them within the Taiping hierarchy. The first two important men to emerge in 1856 were Chen Yucheng and Li Xiucheng who received the titles of second chief commandant and deputy commandant. Left to their own by the useless Taiping court, they were forced to make their own strategic decisions and coordinate based on their need for self preservation. The military situation for the Taiping was critical. Control over the Yangtze had been lost to Zeng Guofan's Xiang army and with it came the loss of transportation for military supplies and provisions. In december of 1856, Wuhan had been recovered by the Qing which threatened Taiping control over the south Yangtze areas. The 2 Taiping commander thus came together in January of 1857 at a conference in Anqing to figure out how to coordinate a campaign. This led to a joint strategy to strengthen the Taiping military position in the Yangtze area. Now neither commander had played a large role in the Taiping campaigns prior to taking Nanjing. Chen Yucheng was too young to take an active role during the march from Guangxi to Nanjing. At Nanjing he was appointed to the rank of corps superintendent in charge of provisions for the Taiping left fourth army, to be blunt it was a desk job. By 1854 he petitioned for combat duty and got his wish in june that year to occupy Wuchang. He distinguished himself as the 38th commander then the 13 senior secretary commanding the Taiping rear 13th army and front 4th army of river troops. His military achievements and personal bravery earned him fame amongst the Taiping, and he also became well known to the Qing who targeted him as an important Taiping commander. Li Xiucheng was a fellow villager of Chen Yucheng. He did fight during the march from Guangxi to Nanjing, but was not promoted to important military positions until later on. At Nanjing he became an assistant to another Taiping leader, Hu I-Kuang before receiving an appointment by Yang Xuiqing as a new corps general and later corps superintendents leading troops in 1853. Before the power struggle, Li had been sent with other Taiping officers to Chenchiang in Guangxi. After the power struggle Li was in command at Tongcheng in Anhwei and found himself in quite a struggle. He had a small force of less than 3000 men in a city isolated by Qing forces, he was surrounded, by his own account by over 10,000 Qing troops in over a 100 camps. To break out of this terrible position, Li cooperated with Chen Yucheng and collaborated with a Nian rebel force. I have not spoken too much about the Nian, but at this time the area of northern Anhwei along the borders of Henan, Shandong and Jiangsu were under their control. They had started as groups of local corps formed during all the disarray of the 1840's and 1850's. They rose up to defend their villages against local bandits and raids from neighboring forces. By the mid 1850's these groups banded together into a regional force held together by a secret society affiliation and by support from some local gentry clans. They held a formidable cavalry force and used a system of defense in depth, allowing them to perform campaigns into neighboring areas. They were anti-Qing and thus rebels, making it easy for them to cooperate with the Taiping when possible. Honestly I am contemplating writing an episode on the Nian rebellion and on many of the other lesser known rebellions of the 19th century, but my god there are many and its easy to become sidetracked. Who knows maybe at some point I will have to make a patreon to produce exclusive content, wink wink, anyone who might be interested in such things let me know, comment on my private channel, the pacific war channel or catch me in the KNG discord perhaps, really want to hear from you guys and gals what you want to hear more about. There does not seem to be significant coordination between the Nian and Taiping prior to this, and perhaps that can be explained by a simple difference in goals of the two movements. The Nian were a local rebel group that had little program nor major political purpose beyond control and exploitation of the area their forces dominated. They did not hold the ambition to establish a new dynasty, let alone some sort of proto-marxist revolution like the Taiping sought. The Taiping for their part had little interest in local bandit or rebel groups who were unwilling to submit to the Taiping faith. At the start of the Taiping rebellion in Guangxi province they had already alienated many secret society and bandit groups who were quasi interested in the Taiping cause. Yang Xiuqing in Nanjing did little to change this policy. But after the breakdown of centralized command in Nanjing, men like Li Xuicheng who held purely military interests to heart saw joint action with groups like the Nian. Thus the first significant joint action between the Taiping and Nian came about in early 1856 when the Nian leader Li Chaozhou from southern Huai area joined up with Li Xiucheng to perform a campaign in Chenchiang. When Li's position was in crisis at Tongcheng he quickly tried to establish contact with Li Chaozhou the southern Nian leader, but also the northern Nian leader Zhang Luoxing. Zhang pledged collaboration with the Taiping forces under Li Xiucheng, claiming the Nian forces under his control to be a million strong. This forced the Qing in northern Anhwei to go on the defensive easing the pressure upon Li Xiuchang. The military alliance also raised Li Xiuchangs status amongst the Taiping, earning him a promotion in rank. The joint military campaign led to a number of cities in the Huai area to be taken between 1857 and 1859. But this cooperation remained purley on a military basis and would not last. It never extended beyond the Huai area and even within the area it was quite nominal in scale as a result of the Nian not having any real political structure. The Nian were more of a federation of autonomous communal units and the incapability with the Taiping ideology made any further integration impossible. The southern Nian leaders such as Li Chaozhou who had been the chief collaborators with Li Xiucheng could not be trusted for very long. They were not Guangxi men like Li Xiucheng, and thus could surrender to the Qing and keep their heads, which they eventually did. The cities they were defending were handed over much to Li Xiuchengs despair. Li ascribed their surrender to be a result of undisciplined troops stating “Li Chaozhous troops were a disorderly lot; they were constantly troubling the people and plundering any city that was taken, and when this could not be effected they vented their rage on the peoples themselves. Li chastised the assistant generals of the districts until he was ashamed to meet me and finally sent his submission to the Qing”. Li was also dissatisfied with the northern Nian leader Zhang Luoxing who according to him “His men were only interested in promotions but not in serving when called”. Li was angered by the lack of cooperation or to be more blunt the fact the Nian's disobeyed Taiping directions as to why the Taiping campaigns failed. However the push to perform joint actions led to Taiping victories in the central Yangtze area which most definitely helped their cause. For one thing the joint actions led the Nian to hit Qing supply lines which further contributed to a major victory over the Qing at Tongcheng on february 24th of 1857. After this victory the Taiping leaders pursued the retreating Qing forces northwards alongside their Nian allies. But then many Nian forces attempted a western campaign and lost ground in Hubei. There were 2 major thrusts made in April and september of 1857 and then april and may of 1858, but both were frustrated by the Xiang army and other Qing forces. The Nian began a general retreat back into northern Anhwei which was their economic base. Meanwhile Li Xiucheng acquired a base closer to Nanjing establishing supply lines and from then on took on a key role defending the Nanjing region. Though the Taiping/Nian joint operations slowed the advance of the Xiang army in Hunan, Zeng Guofan's strategic plan still proved itself and his forces slowly but surely advanced in the Yangtze area. In may of 1858 contingents of the Xiang army recovered the city of JiuJiang which was the last remaining Taiping strategic base in the center of the Yangtze area. It was a vital base that provided them with resources from the provinces of Jiangxi and Hunan as well as a major recruitment point. From Jiujiang, Zeng Guofans army could prepare to march into Anhwei. Zeng Guofan also sought to advance forces into the upper Yangtze area to strangle the Taiping, while other Qing forces rebuilt the camps that were surrounding Nanjing in 1856. The northern and southern blockading camps were rebuilt in 1857 under the command of the Manchu generals He Chun and Zhang Guoliang. By the end of 1857 their forces were marching upon the city of Chenchiang which the Taiping had been holding since 1853. To face the new threat, a Taiping military conference was held and alongside Li Xiucheng and Chen Yucheng a number of other Taiping generals gained prominence. Two of the most important were Yang Fuqing and Li Shixian. Yang was actually a cousin of Yang Xiuqing who escaped the slaughter by being in Jiangxi province performing a military campaign. Li Shixian wsa a cousin of Li Xiucheng and fought under him, until 1858 when he assumed his own command campaigning in southern Anhwei. The Taiping government depended on the loyalty of these key generals rather than any efforts made by Meng De'en and other useless Taiping administrators within Nanjing. In August of 1858 when the Qing began to strangle Nanjing, Hong Xiuquan gave the military commanders new titles and assignments. Now ever since the Yong'an campaign way back when, the Taiping military was more or less divided as such: the forward army, rear army, central army and left army. Chen Yucheng was appointed chief general of the forward army, which originally had been Feng Yunshans title; Li Xiucheng became chief general of the rear army; Yang Fuqing became the chief general of the center army, but was forced to share this position with Meng De'en who somehow was going to command men from Nanjing; and last Li Shixian was made chief general of the left army previously held by Shi Dakai. At the conference Li Xiucheng called for unified action, here is some of what he said in his own words “I then wrote to the garrison generals of the different places, calling on all officers of the Heavenly dynasty to hold a council of war on an appointed day at Ts'ung-yang near Anqing. The generals and officers of the various places responded to my call…we each took an oath that we would support each other and agreed to join forces in the conflict before us”. The result of the conference led Chen Yucheng to march upon Shuch'eng, luzhou, chuzhou, then to link up with Li Xiucheng at the Anhwei-Jiangsu border to hit the Qing forces at Wuxi and Pukou dealing a complete defeat to the northern Qing camp trying to strangle Nanjing. The Taiping broke the northern half of the Qing blockading forces ending a large threat to Nanjing. However these forces the Taiping defeated at the northern blockade were regular Qing forces. Fresh from that victory the Taiping now had to face the Xiang army who were marching into Anhwei. These forces were being led by Li Xubin who was accompanied by Zeng Guofans brother, Zeng Guohua. Their Xiang army was threatening the entire Taiping position in Anhwei and to face it Chen Yucheng rushed his army over to its defense, followed by Li Xiucheng. A major battle occurred on November 15th of 1858, resulting in the complete annihilation of the Xiang force and the deaths of Li Xubin and Zeng Guohua. Thus the Taiping control over Anhwei remained firm and Zeng Guofan suffered a terrible setback. Chen Yucheng and Li Xiucheng quickly recaptured all the lost territories in Anhwei and parted ways. Chen Yucheng chose to establish a base in the northern and western parts of Anhwei around Anqing, while Li Xiucheng took the eastern section closer to Nanjing. Because Li Xiucheng was closer to Nanjing he was able to assert more control and began to introduce some order to the chaotic Taiping capital. According to his own account Li Xiucheng requested of the heavenly king ‘to select men according to talent, enact laws for the relief of the people, promulgate strict decrees, renovate court discipline, enforce rewards and punishments, treat the people with compassion, reduce taxes in grain and money”. Apparently the only response he got was a demotion, though he was soon promoted right back. A demotion really did nothing to affect any of the field generals actual power as they were basically the only ones doing anything. Later in 1858 when Nanjing was yet again under siege, Li Xiucheng went to Nanjing where he claimed he succeeded in re-establishing order and control. He convinced the heavenly king that to save Tianjin, they must collect forces outside for its relief. Each of the leaders continued thus to hold their own areas of supply, until messengers from Nanjing showed up demanding their armies come help break another blockade against Nanjing at the cities of Chianpu and Pukou. Now during the years of 1856 to 1859, the Taiping were firmly on the defensive. Their military actions were almost always done by commanders working amongst themselves without any regard for the Nanjing government. These commanders thought in military terms and were no longer really concerned with the Taiping ideology, thus their revolutionary purpose was dying. This also resulted in each commander becoming shortsighted and their focus shifted simply to their own respective regions. They only coordinated with each other during times of immediate threat and had proven themselves capable of defeating not just the regular Qing forces, but that of Zeng Guofan. No attempt was made by the Taiping leaders to regain the initiative and the disintegration of central control was crumbling Nanjing. Transporting supplies to Nanjing had become an issue as Zeng Guofan began attacking riverways, especially along the Yangtze. Earlier, Tianjin enjoyed dominion over the Yangtze river and supplies poured in from 50-100 miles away inland. Yet by 1856 the Yangtze and other lakes were severed from Tianjin, and this resulted in a large loss for communication and the supply network. Even though the Taiping held numerous important cities on the banks of the Yangtze, the waterway itself was denied to them. The general decline of the Taiping became quite apparent to foreign observers, between the years of 1857 and 1859 only one significant foreign mission would journey up the Yangtze and it was led by Lord Elgin. Yes if you remember from our Second Opium War series, Elgin tried to go up the Yangtze to navigate the commercial prospects of the region and to investigate the political situation. Elgin departed from the new treaty port of Hankou which was in the hands of the Qing and the furthest up the Yangtze river. Elgin wanted to test if the Chinese authorities would respect the status of the British flag under the new treaty of Tianjin, but it was also a chance to investigate the Taiping. Elgin had only heard rumors in SHanghai about the rebels and he wanted to gauge them first hand. As Elgin wrote to the foreign secretary “As we have seen fit to affect neutrality between the Emperor of China and the rebels. We could not, of course, without absurdity, require him to give us rights and protection in places actually occupied by a Power which we treat with the same respect as his own.” When Elgin could see from the bridge of his ship, the Furious and a few inland excursions, it looked like the civil war was more devastating than any rumors in SHanghai led one to believe. He reported this about the state of the city of Zhenjiang “I never before saw such a scene of desolation. heaps of ruins, intersected by a few straggling streets.“[We] might have imagined ourselves in Pompeii. We walked along deserted streets, between roofless houses, and walls overgrown with rank, tangled weeds; heaps of rubbish blocked up the thoroughfares, but they obstructed nobody.In order to save repetition I may here observe, once for all, that with certain differences of degree, this was the condition of every city which I visited on my voyage up and down the Yang-tze.” Elgins first direct contact with the Taiping came in the form of a cannonball that roared over the deck of his ship as they passed by Nanjing on November 20th. Elgin did not expect hostilities and thought they would merely pass by unmolested. In response he sent a few gunships back downriver to hammer the rebel forts. The Taiping then sent messengers offering an apology for firing upon Elgins ships and asked for aid in fighting the Qing dynasty. A month later on Christmas day of 1858, as Elgins fleet was passing the city of Anqing on their way back to Shanghai he received a letter from Hong Xiuquan inviting him to join the Taiping in their divine mission to destroy the Manchu. “The Father and the Elder Brother led me to rule the Heavenly Kingdom, to sweep away and exterminate the devilish spirits, bestowing on me great honor. Foreign younger brothers of the western ocean, listen to my words. Join us in doing service to the Father and Elder Brother and extinguishing the stinking reptiles.” There were many attempts at communication and trade. Many individual Taiping commanders sent letters expressing hope to procure foreign rifles and cannons, but the British continuously stated they were abiding by a neutrality stance. Many of the Taiping tried to appeal to the British on the basis of their shared religion. “are both sons of the Heavenly Father, God, and are both younger brothers of the Heavenly Elder Brother, Jesus. Our feelings towards each other are like those of brothers, and our friendship is as intimate as that of two brothers of the same parentage.” The shared christianity between the two remained a sticky situation. There were many in Britain who pointed out the need to help the Christians in China. At a time when Britain and France were at war with the Qing, it seemed like there was quite a rationale for simply allying with the Taiping. But there were two major obstacles in the way, the first being the principle of neutrality. If they helped the Taiping, they may lose any relations they had left with the Qing. The second issue was that it was hard to understand if the Taiping were really christian or not. Multiple missionaries tried to investigate this matter and they were not convinced. It also did not help that the Heavenly King began sending the foreigners a manifesto demanding their come pay their respects to him as god's son. The foreigners in the end would have little sympathy for the Taiping cause and it would actually lead to them contributing to the Qing side of the war in the end. The rationale for this was to secure the treaties they signed with the Qing and quite honestly, the Taiping did not look like they were going to win the war by the late 1850s. But were the Taiping defeated? Many would argue this is not the case, they could have reorganized and revamped their revolutionary purpose, and in 1859 a man arrived to Nanjing to do just that. 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 Taiping found new leadership figures in Li Xiucheng and Chen Yucheng. The Nian rebels proved valuable allies initially, but in the end it simply was not working out. The Taiping desperately needed foreign support but were burning those bridges.
Last time we spoke the Heavenly King established his new capital Tianjing, the heavenly kingdom. Dramatic reforms were made, soldiers were recruited and armies were made to perform grand campaigns. The Taiping performed the Northern expedition, but instead of throwing the kitchen sink and potentially taking the dragon throne, it failed. The western expedition proved more fruitful and soon large swathes of territory fell to the Taiping enlarging their new empire. Yet not all was well in the heavenly kingdom, Yang Xiuqing, the mouth of the heavenly father began to abuse the heavenly king and draw the god worshipers under his thumb. Alongside this Zeng Guofan was created a brand new type of army that could challenge the Taiping and quell China of their rebellion once and for all. #27 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 4: Murder amongst the Taiping Kings 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. While the Taiping at Nanjing were beginning to lose their political and military initiative to the Qing and Yung-ying forces, they were also losing something vitally important outside of China, western support. Western forces definitely would play a crucial role in the Taiping Qing war and western attitudes would shift dramatically from pro Taiping to anti Taiping. The first major rumblings about the Taiping came to westerners when they captured Nanjing. Overall the impression of the Taiping was quite favorable, reports indicated they were a well disciplined group of Christian character. There were many westerners who thought the Taiping might be a better alternative than the Manchu whose attitudes towards western missionaries and economic activities were aggravating. Western dissatisfaction with the Qing government really came down to their unwillingness to abide by the treaty of Nanjing in full. Thus as you can imagine quite a few missions were sent by Westerners to the new Taiping capital in Nanjing to evaluate the situation. The first official mission that went to Nanjing was sent by the British. Sir George Bonham accompanied by Captain Fishbourne and T.T Meadows sailed to Nanjing aboard the Hermes. Bonham was egged into the mission by influential British merchants in Shanghai who were worried by the disruption in commerce. Most of the information on the Taiping that came to westerners was during the Yongan occupation and the information was quite vague and contradictory. Issachar Roberts who knew Hong Xiuquan wrote to local newspapers describing the man “ “He is a man of ordinary appearance, about five feet four or five inches high; well built, round faced, regular featured, rather handsome, about middle age, and gentlemanly in his manners. he is trying to be something in the capacity of a prophet and appears to be struggling for religious liberty.” What the British really wanted to know, was about the trading interests and investments in SHanghai which amounted to around 25 million pounds sterling at the time. The foreigners in Shanghai wanted to know if the Taiping would offer greater chances for stability and trade expansion than their QIng counterpart. While enroute they ran into the Taiping leader named Lo Ta-kang in Chen-chiang in april of 1853. The man told him the Taiping were friendly to foreigners and would not interfere with any commercial relations. Yet when Bonham reached Nanjing he quickly found that the Taiping government like the Qing, regarded foreign governments as subordinates to their rule. While the Qing believed their mandate was that of heaven, likewise the Taiping assumed their heavenly king held an equal position within the globe. Yang Xiuqing sent a formal letter to the British and here is some of what it said and I am strongly paraphrases as its a very long letter. “Now that you distant English “have not deemed myriads of miles too far to come” and acknowledge our sovereignty; not only are the soldiers and officers of our Celestial dynasty delighted and gratified thereby, but even in high heaven itself Our Celestial Father and Elder Brother will also admire this manifestation of your fidelity and truth. We therefore issue this special decree, permitting you, the English Chief, to lead your brethren out or in, backwards or forwards, in full accordance with your own will or wish, whether to aid us in exterminating our impish foes, or to carry on your commercial operations as usual; and it is our earnest hope that you will, with us, earn the merit of diligently serving our royal master, and, with us, recompense the goodness of the Father of Spirits. Wherefore we promulgate this new decree of (our Sovereign) Taiping for the information of you English, so that all the human race may learn to worship Our Heavenly Father and Celestial Elder Brother, and that all may know that, wherever our royal master is, there men unite in congratulating him on having obtained the decree to rule” The implication was that the British were subordinates to the Taiping. Bonham rejected the document stating it was incredibly difficult to understand and that if the Taiping “presume to injure, in any manner, the persons or property of British subjects, immediate steps will be taken to resent the injury in the same manner as similar injuries were resented ten years ago, resulting in the capture of Chinkiang, Nanking, and the neighbouring cities.” So needless to say Bonham's mind was made up. The French likewise would send a mission to Nanjing, concerned by news of maltreatment and killings of Catholic chinese by the Taiping. In December of 1853 the French minister Anton de Bourboulon made an official visit to Nanjing aboard the steamship Cassini. The Cassini found itself boarded by many Taiping emissaries, dressed in red and yellow robes with their long hair flowing freely. The French are eventually brought ashore and they find somethings that impress them, such as the severed heads of opium smokers; printing presses hard at work and examinations taking place based on religious texts. When the French are brought to an audience hall to meet with Taiping officials they are startled by the contrast between the rundown streets and palace. They see the officials wearing rich robes with fanciful gold. They call the frenchmen friends and brothers. Qin Rigang, a close confidant to Hong Xiuquan meets them, but he is placed on a single seat higher above the ones given to the french, something they note as a slight. Bourboulon enquires if the Taiping will guarantee the well being of Chinese catholics, reminding the man of Frances neutrality towards the civil war. In the end the French talked about the treaties they have with Emperor Xianfeng, and upon hearing the emperors name spoken the Taiping become livid. The Taiping say this to them “if the French revere the Qing ruler Xianfeng so much, they must be his friends; if they are Xianfeng's friends, they must see the Taiping as rebels; if they see the Taiping as rebels, then they are the Taiping's enemies; and so, in conclusion, “the better to help your friend you have come to spy on us, and to acquaint yourselves with the strengths and weaknesses of our position.” The Taiping follow this up with days of silence as the French sat aboard Cassini until a new message was brought on december 13th. The message “ordered” the French to visit the palace of the North King so they could receive his verbal instructions. De Bourboulon rejected this and simply left accepting the mission as a failure. De Bourboulon comes back with this to say about the Taiping “What stands out most for me from all that I have seen is the strength of this revolutionary movement, which promises nothing less than to accomplish a complete transformation, at once religious, social and political in this immense Empire, by tradition a land of custom and immobility. Whatever doubts may exist about its ultimate success, whatever obstacles the indifference of the masses and the resources of the Tartar dynasty may yet oppose to the rebellion's triumph, it is clear to me that this revolt is one of formidable character and proportions; that it is led by men who, be they fanatical or ambitious, have faith in the success of their venture, and who, besides their audacity, have in their favour ideas, a strength of organisation, tactics, in short a moral force which gives them great superiority over their adversaries. . .” In May of 1854 the US sent commissioner Robert McLand, Captain Buchanan and E.C Bridgman to Nanjing aboard the Susquehanna and later in June the British sent representative Sir John Bowring to Nanjing. The American attempts at speaking with the Taiping does not go well, for one thing the Taiping dont recognize the US flag and fire upon their ships at first, pretty much ruining potential talks. Then the Taiping follow it up by sending similar letters they had sent the British and French indicating their stance on foreigners. An american missionary, Dr. Charles Taylor also went to Chen-chiang in June of 1853 and spoke to Lo Ta-Kang whom told him the Taiping would favor commercial relations with the foreigners once they toppled the Manchu. After these visits the British paper, North China Herald wrote about the Taiping attitudes towards foreigners and their treaties and it sort of summarizes the feelings of western nations towards them. “That whatever mingling of Christianity there might be among the leaders of the great insurrectionary movement and their followers they would be found veritably Chinese in their relations with foreigners; and that whenever the time came for seriously engaging in negotiations, we should encounter precisely the same difficulties we have always before experienced with the government and officials of the Tartar dynasty. In regard to the Taiping respecting existing treaties, most assuredly they will not, except on compulsion, or unless they willingly descend from their high position. Their ‘second son' of the most high God, and his royal associates, they and they alone are to be the dispensers of all authority and all instruction”. Thus the years between 1854-1856 marked a decisive turning point for the fate of the Taiping on multiple fronts. The northern expedition against Beijing was a failure; the western expedition only met nominal success, but was turned back putting them on a defensive footing. Now those like Zeng Guofan were creating private armies that were proving effective against them and were turning Chinese society against the Taiping based on traditional order. The chance at receiving support from the west was largely being missed. The Taipings main political and military leader Yang Xiuqing had been a brilliant organizer and strategist. He attempted to assume the role of ideological leader as well, but the way in which he did so was not very effective. Humiliating the Heavenly King and degrading his fellow kings and princes aroused a fear and hostility that would eventually cause a violent power struggle. The Taiping capital was slowly being surrounded by two Yung-Ying army encampments that had been established by Qing government forces near Nanjing. These were a northern and southern encampment; with one at Chiang-nan and the other in Chiang-pei. The Taiping supply began to be threatened, leading a large number of non-combatants in september of 1854 to leave Nanjing searching for food. Then in march of 1855 to deal with the growing desertions, Yang Xiuqing reversed the policy of separating men and women, permitting marriages among the Taiping. The pressure of the Nanjing blockade by the northern and southern encampments forced Yang Xiuqing to withdraw many of his forces from the battle against Zeng Guofans forces to break the blockade. Thus the Taiping commander Qin Rigang was ordered to turn back from his battles against the Xiang army and to hit the northern encampment at Chiang-nan. Qin Rigang ended up defeating their forces while Shi Dakai who had also been recalled from his offensives in Jiangxi to attack the southern encampment at Chiang-pei in June of 1856. The battles were an overwhelming Taiping victory, the southern camp routed with its commander, the Taipings infamous rival Xiang Rong becoming wounded and he would die of the wounds several days later. Honestly this guy Xiang Rong from basically day one, chased the Taiping all the way to Nanjing and never stopped fighting. The poor guy just kept getting smashed. Now back within Nanjing, the leadership system of the Taiping had been over complex and quite ambiguous from the start. The loose structure, sort of a quasi collective leadership left the door open to power struggle. There were two main principals to the leadership system: 1) the leadership was sanctioned by a divine mandate. Hong Xiuquan had received the Taiping mission as he claimed, from heaven under orders from God the father to fight the demons to establish the heavenly kingdom on earth. Yang Xiuqing claimed to derive his own authority from the fact that he had suffered for mankind and that God the father spoke through him in the form of the holy ghost. Before his death Xiao Chaogui claimed to represent the voice of Jesus Christ, thus now there were only 2 claimants to hold divine authority. There was no clear defined relationship between the 2 claimants, the Heavenly King was himself the son of God, a younger brother to Jesus Christ while Yang Xiuqing was nothing of that kind, he was just the instrument for gods voice. Yang Xiuqing could only maintain this role however under his trances when he needed to exceed the authority of Hong Xiuquan. 2) was the system of brotherhood amongst the Taiping. The Taiping held a concept that all of them were brothers and sisters, but they made a distinction amongst those followers who had been around at the very beginning versus newcomers. Put simply, those who shared the dangers of the rebellion reaped the rewards. At first Hong Xiuquan held a special and exalted position, but it seems pressure from Yang Xiuqing and a few others eventually forced him to give up that concentrated holiness, and now the Taiping drew a distinction between God the father and Jesus christ who alone were holy, and Hong was just a sovereign head of the movement of brothers. Every leadership brother had associated staff. And Even though Hong Xiuquan and his staff were the sovereign and in theory handled all things at the highest level, in practice it was actually Yang Xiuqing and his staff that became the real central bureaucracy who were making the decisions and channeling them through Hong Xiuquan and his staff. The administrative structure abided by the brotherhood system and its equality amongst the top leaders. Yang Xiuqing just kept using his trance voice ability to undermine and interfere with the personal life of Hong Xiuquan. Once Xiang Rong and his blockade forces were defeated, it seems Yang Xiuqing saw the opportunity to finally seize control of Tianjing. Yang Xiuqing went into one of his classic stances and summoned Hong Xiuquan to his palace. Yang said to Hong "You and the East King are both my sons. The East King has made significant contributions, so why is he still being hailed as *'Long Live for Nine Thousand Years' instead of 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years'?" Hong Xiuquan replied, "The East King has indeed made significant contributions by conquering an empire, so he should be hailed as 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years'." Yang Xiuqing then went into another trance and said "Should the East King's son be hailed as 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years'?" Hong Xiuquan replied, "Since the East King is hailed as 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years', his son and his descendants should also be hailed as 'Long Live for Ten Thousand Years' as well." To all of this Yang went into another stance and proclaimed "I'm returning to heaven." Obviously Hong Xiuquan opposed the challenged to his role, but there was also opposition from the two remaining kings, the North king Wei Changhui and the flank king Shi Dakai. They had gradually been forced to submit to the directions of Yang and no longer played any real part in policy making. There were a ton of personal attacks as well. Once Yang had Wei flogged after one of his subordinates offended him. Another time a relative of Wei had a property dispute with one of Yang's relatives pissing off Yang and he called upon Wei to decide the punishment for Wei's relative together. Wei's reply apparently was that his own relative should be torn into five parts, wow. Another time Shi Dakai's father in law, Huang Yukun offended Yang and received 300 flogs, had his title removed and was demoted. The major issue for these 2 was unlike Yang they never claimed any divine inspiration, they had no trances or voices to fall upon. All they could really do to challenge Yang was straight up old violence, ie: assasination. Thus a conspiracy against Yang was brewing. It also seems by 1856, Yang Xiuqing was becoming unpopular with the Taiping forces. He was ruthless and mistreated officers of the other kings or anyone who did not kowtow to him. There was an air of fear and disrespect. His harem was allegedly the largest of any of the Taiping leaders and in the words of one Taiping government informant “people laugh behind his back”. Now before Yang Xiuqing pulled his maneuver to receive the Ten Thousand Years title, he dispatched Wei Changhui, Shi Dakai and Qin Rigang to 3 separate provinces. Hong rightfully saw Yang's requests as blatant treasons and he sent word alerting the 3 generals to return at once. Qin Rigang was the first to arrive followed by Wei Changhui by September 1st of 1856 alongside 3000 troops. The 2 men met with Hong Xiuquan and they decided to act before Shi Dakai arrived and before Yang Xiuqing can rally more than 6000 troops in the city who were believed to be loyal to him. On september 2nd, Wei and Qin led the troops to storm Yangs residence where they slaughtered every member of his family and followers, male and female, and of any rank or age. Yang was cut down trying to flee and his severed head was hung on a pole in the street. It is unknown whether Hong Xiuquan gave the order to kill Yang or Wei Changhui just went ahead with it. There is one version of the tale that indicates Hong Xiuquan ordered Wei only to kill Yang and to leave the others unmolested. Regardless of the versions, Wei Changhui was pinned for being the decision maker. Hong Xiuquan in an angry edict denounces the slaying of Yangs family and followers and the bloodbath and looting that occurred. He has Wei and Qin arrested and forces them to kneel with chains around their necks in front of his palace gate. Hong's female servants then issue a huge proclamation written in vermillion ink on a large piece of yellow silk 7-8 feet long. The edict sentence the 2 men to a savage punishment of 500 blows, the same punishment dealt to traitors during the Thistle mountain days. All of Yang's surviving followers are invited to witness the beatings, which are administered inside the walls of Hong's enormous palace. It is said Yang's surviving followers make their way through the crowd, get to the gate where they leave their arms and enter the palace ground to get a closer look. Once all of them enter, the doors and gates are shut, the beatings stop and Yangs followers are all trapped. Amongst those who witnessed this event were some western mercenaries believe it or not, one Irishman had this to tell Next morning at daylight the doors and windows of these prisons were opened, and several powder bags thrown in on the prisoners, while the entrance was strongly guarded. In one house the soldiers entered with little resistance and massacred the whole, but in the other the prisoners fought with the bricks from the walls and partitions, most desperately for upwards of six hours before they were got under. In addition to musketry, a two pounder discharged grape at them.—These poor devils then stripped themselves, and many were seen to fall from sheer exhaustion. At last [Wei and Qin] called upon their men to draw their right arms from their sleeves, so as to distinguish them from No. 2's men; they then rushed in and massacred the remainder— We shortly after entered, and, good heavens! such a scene, the dead bodies were in some places five and six deep; some had hung themselves and others were severely scorched from the explosions of the powder bags thrown in.—These bodies were removed from this to a field and remained uncovered.—After this every master of a house in the city had to give an account of how many men, women and children were residing under his roof, to every one of whom was given a small chop [seal imprint] which they wore on their breast, and if they found any of No. 2's men they were to secure them—For several weeks these people were brought to the execution ground in parcels of fives, tens, hundreds, and thousands, who were all beheaded. All the women and children also, any one who had eaten of No. 2's rice suffered. Wei and Qin are apparently unsatisfied and continue killing people for over 3 months, with estimates being in the thousands, including 500 of Yang's former palace women and female retainers. Now at the time of the assasination, Shi Dakai was fighting a campaign in Hubei and had far more to travel than Wei or Qin to reach Nanjing. He was far up the Yangtze river, near Wuchang and despite leaving immediately upon hearing the news only managed to get to Nanjing by early October. He was informing on the way of the slaughter and was revolted and furious. Shi met with Wei whom he blamed for the killing and warned him that such actions could only lead to a Qing victory over their cause. Wei was furious in turn and suggested that perhaps Shi was in league with Yang Xiuqing, or perhaps a traitor to the Qing. Sources vary, but some claim Wei sought to make a sweep of it all before Shi even made it to Nanjing, electing to assassinate him. Afterall Shi Dakai's army was still in the field. Regardless, Shi Dakai was warned by mutual friends that he too might be assassinated and upon finding gates closed against him, Shi secretly broke out of the city the same day he had returned to it. Late within that night both Wei and Qin surrounded Shi's palace, the same way they had done to Yang's, they forced their way past some of his guards but Shi has already given them the slip. One source claims Shi cleverly escaped by being lowered over the city wall in a basket. Wei and Qin thus turned their attention on his poor wife and children whom they murdered. Shi Dakai moved upriver west of Nanjing, rallying troops loyal to him alongside all those who were dissatisfied with the current Taiping leadership clique. It should be noted many of these dissatisfied forces were in fact Triad organizations. Shi Dakai proved to be the most popular of the Taiping commanders and consolidated close to 100,000 men. With such a huge force he returned by river back to Nanjing sending word to Hong Xiuquan that only the heads of Wei and Qin could satisfy his revenge. Alerted to the danger, Wei dispatched General Qin to block Shi's march and ends up blowing up the hallowed porcelain tower to deny Shi's artillery a commanding height to fire shells into the city. Some sources claim Wei simultaneously had plans to imprison Hong Xiuquan, but before this could unfold Hong Xiuquan assembled his loyal and elite bodyguard killing Wei Changhui and sends his head to Shi. Likewise Hong Xiuquan uses a clever ploy to lure General Qin back into the city and has him killed. Thus Shi Dakai and his army march into Nanjing, not as slaughterers, but as heroes, welcomed by Hong Xiuquan with open arms. All of this became known as the Tianjing incident, and perhaps surprisingly, the deceased Yang Xiuqing is given amnesty and acquitted of his crimes against the Taiping throne. Yangs death is literally marked as “the east king ascends to heaven”, Hong never fails to publicly revere him. In proclamations for the remaining years of the Taiping rebellion, Yang's role as the voice of god is remembered, and one of Yang's brothers who miraculously survived the slaughter is honored as a noble. All of Yang's sons die, but Hong gives his second son, Tianyou to the east king posthumously as an adopted son, keeping Yang's family line alive. This means that Jesus too can have his line maintained on earth as well as in heaven. Hong likewise names his eldest son, Tiangui, the Taiping heir apparent to be Jesus's adopted son. Now the slaughter in the Nanjing removed 3 Taiping leaders and a large number of their followers. Only Hong Xiuquan, his family and Shi Dakai remain of the original Taiping leaders. Hong Xiuquan turns to his two eldest brothers, Hong Renfa and Hong Renda to fill some of the power vacuum. With Shi Dakai being the only survivor of the 5 kings, he begins promoting these brothers to make up for the lack of kings. Renfa becomes the Peace King and Renda becomes the blessings king, also known as the An Prince and Fu Prince. As for Shi Dakai, to make sure this did not look like some sort of slight against him, Hong raises his title from flank king to righteous king. Shi Dakai refuses the honor putting Hong in a surprising quandary. Thus Hong offers to add to his flank king title instead making it “lightning of the holy spirit” which matched the once held title of Yang. This compromise seems to have done nothing, Shi Dakai resents the power given to Hong's family members, whom he believes are morons. Likewise the Hong brothers resent Shi Dakai's status and do everything they can to undercut his power. Thus for nearly half a year in 1857, Shi Dakai rules most of the Nanjing region, and it is a sad and lonely existence. His family is dead, it is reported he lives in complete seclusion, not receiving oral messages, but only those in writing. He answers written messages during the night and has his staff bring them out in the morning. When he came back to the capital rumors spread in Nanjing that the people actually wanted Shi Dakai to rule the government, but it was Hong Xiuquan unpleased with him who employed his brothers to thwart this. The people at the Taiping court were displeased with Hong Xiuquan for this because the 2 brothers were neither talented, not well versed in heavenly doctrines. According to one General Li Xiucheng all of these variables, but most in particular the 2 brothers “suspicions and obstructions forced Shi Dakai to leave Nanjing, a defection that left no one in charge at court”. And so Shi Dakai left Nanjing in the summer of 1857, peacefully with his most loyal troops by his side. Whatever his animosity towards the two Hong brothers may have been, he did not put it in clear words, and he seems to have remained loyal to Hong Xiuquan. He posted a manifesto throughout the cities he passes giving his reason for leaving as his desire to continue with the western expedition. This is part of the manifesto “Last year, amidst the disaster and turbulence, I hurried in anguish back to the Capital. Confident that my unwavering loyalty Would be clearly understood by my Holy Ruler. However, things were not quite so, And imperial edicts were issued one after another. Dark suspicions abounded on all sides, How can my own brush record them all? Because of this, I am determined to exert my utmost, To lead a military campaign and reemphasize my sincerity. I shall endeavor to reward those who walk with God, In order to repay the Sovereign's grace and goodness”. 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. Yang Xiuqing and Wei Changhui were killed, Shi Dakai left Nanjing in exile taking a large army of Taiping with him. Nanjing has lost its kings, Hong Xiuquan falls into a depression and isolates himself, who will really lead the movement now?
Last time we spoke Hong Xiuquan had gathered a rabble of peasants, named them the god worshippers and declared war upon the Qing dynasty. He gave titles to his closest comrades forming the North, South, East, West and Flank Kings who led the great Taiping armies on a march towards the secondary capital of China, Nanjing. Countless cities fell the Taiping and the Qing desperately tried to encircle and quell the menace. But the Taiping never stayed in any given place long enough to be captured and even when they were dealt significant losses, they simply moved on and recruited more and more to their cause. Their armies grew exponentially and so did their conquests until they reached the secondary capital of China, Nanjing. Nanjing was put through a brutal siege and taken, her citizens put to the sword and now the Taiping held a grand capital city. #26 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 3: The Heavenly Kingdom of Tianjing 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. 14 years after his first vision, Hong Xiuquan alongside an incredible 2 million followers had captured the secondary capital of China, Nanjing. Hong Xiuquan, the heavenly king, Yang Xiuqing the East King and the surviving Taiping leadership had developed their military based on the work of the late Feng Yunshan and their combined experiences from the march from the Thistle Mountains all the way to Nanjing. Much like the military structure the new capital would have 4 families linked to every corporal's family and 25 family units linked under every sergeant. These communities would build the public granaries, chapels for worship and so forth. The sergeants would dwell in chapels, the corporals would take their family and those families under their command to sabbath to worship. Every sabbath day, all senior officers, from generals to captains would visit one of the great churches of the sergeants to pray and work hard obeying the Ten commandments. By day people would work the land, all serving in some form, whether it was pottery, ironwork, carpentry, masonry, whatever according to their skills. The land under Taiping rule was divided up amongst all with one full share for every man and women aged 16 and older and half a share for children below 16. All of the land was graded according to its productivity and when land was insufficient for the peoples needs, the people were moved to land that was plentiful. Of the products of labor, each corporal saw to it that every family under him had food, but all the rest went to the public treasuries. Sergeants checked the books and tallied the accounts, presenting records to superiors “ for all people on this earth are as the family of the Lord their God on High, and when people of this earth keep nothing for their private use but give all things to God for all to use in common, then in the whole land every place shall have equal shares, and every one be clothed and fed. This was why the Lord God expressly sent the Taiping Heavenly Lord to come down and save the world.” The public treasuries would give gifts to every family at times of birth, marriage and death according their needs, but never in excess of one thousand copper cash or one hundred catties of grain. Surpluses had to be maintained incase of famine or war. Every family unit with a living male head had to give a soldier to the army, but the Taiping would not take widowers, widows, orphans or childless, nor weak or sick. With births came new families and every 5th family gave a new corporal, and every 25th a new sergeant and so on. All officers and officials, even the highest would be reviewed every 3 years and promoted or demoted according to performance. This was the system pushed out upon Nanjing when it was taken. As you can imagine it was a goliath task to meet these demands, thus the system could not actually be implemented all at once, but they were diligent to starting the listing and recording keeping to establish it. Not everyone flocked eagerly to the Taiping ranks. Many households were reluctant to register their members and hid for weeks, countless fled Nanjing. The Taiping burnt down countless Taoist and Buddhist architecture, smashed statues and image and stripped or killed priests. Everyone was to conform to the new Taiping religion. Notably though the Chinese Muslims in Nanjing were not attacked and their mosques were allowed to stand. One group in Nanjing that were in a position of particular ambiguity were the catholics who numbered around 200. At least 30 catholics were burned in their homes or cut down in the streets during the early chaos. The Taiping found the catholic survivors in a catholic church, but when pressed they refused to recite Taiping liturgy. The Taiping authorities gave them 3 days to comply, then they burst into the church and destroyed the cross and overturned their altar. 70-80 catholic men had their arms tied behind their backs and were given a trial before a Taiping judge and condemned to death unless they said Taiping prayers. They refused opting for martyrdom, but in the end 25 eventually recited the Taiping prayers and the rest were sent to be vanguard forces in the army. In order to push the movement, the Taiping had to seize the Nanjing printing industry to distribute their sacred texts to all the sergeants for reading and preaching. Back when the Taiping captured Yangzhou in april of 1853 they acquired printing press craftsmen, so they brought them to Nanjing. Hong Xiuquan makes 3 major strategic decisions, the first was to select Nanjing as the new Taiping Capital now known as Tianjing, the second was to create the printing system to promote the Taiping program and the 3rd was to alter name places in China. Hong Xiuquan proclaimed henceforth the city of Beijing was to be named “Yaoxue- demon's den” and the province of Zhili “criminal's province”. When all the Manchu demons were destroyed, Beijing's name could be restored and Zhili once its people repented for their sins and began worshiping the heavenly father. “The world has long been deluded by these demonic Tartars, and it is imperative that they be soon destroyed. But before we destroy these people, we must first destroy their bases. And before we can destroy the power of their bases, we must first destroy the bases' names.” Emperor Xianfeng by definition was the leader of earthly demons and Hong Xiuquan changed his name that meant “united in glory” to have a dog component added and he also did this to terms referring to Manchu. The Taiping followers in Nanjing were told the time to end sexual separation had not come yet, any men who forced themselves on women, whether they be veterans or new would be executed. Those who worked as prostitutes would not only be executed, but also their families. Male homosexuality was severly punished, if partner were both aged 13 or older they would be beheaded. If you were under 13 you could be spared unless it was proven you were an active partner. The city of Nanjing was divided similar to what the Taiping did in Wuchang, with blocks for men and those for women and children. Those skilled in specific types of labor lived amongst another, for example carpenters with carpenters tailors with tailors. Hong Xiuquan had a ceremonial hat made with a fan shaped front, decorated with twin dragons and twin phoenixes. The other kings were allowed to have twin dragons as well but only one phoenix. On the upper part of Hong Xiuquans hat he alone had written “the mountains and river are unified and the heavens are filled with stars”. The 3 surviving kings each had one line embroidered on their hats; for the East king Yang Xiuqing “long phoenix perching in the clouds”, for the north king Wei Changhui “long phoenix perching on the mountain peak” and for the flank king Shi Dakai “lone phoenix perching on the peony”. Hong Xiuquan had 10,000 people work for 6 months to built him a palace in the former site of the governor generals mansion in the center of the northern side of the main residential city. Within mere days of taking Nanjing, the Qing began counter attacks leading to the gates of Nanjing being reinforced with additional gates built in front or behind the existing ones. Cannon emplacements and palisades for gunners are created en masse. Forward defensive encampments, wooden watch towers as high as 30 or even 40 feet are created. Smaller towns surrounded nanjing are reinforced. Large swathes of area have ditches dug, palisades erected, felled, honeycombed networked of small round holes with straw placed over them and bamboo spikes underneath. Its a regional fortress built with the purpose of overthrowing the Qing. Now until the capture of Nanjing, the Taiping had been a mobile force whose success for a large part was simply because they would seize a major city and move on before the Qing could get them. The establishment of their Tianjing Capital meant the core of the Taiping movement, its leadership and central army were now in a fixed position. The Qing could finally plan and coordinate large scale action directed at their capital. Interestingly enough, the decision to hunker down in Nanjing is what many scholars regard as the crucial reason for their eventual failure. If they had simply done what they done best and took Nanjing for perhaps a month or so and moved on to Beijing they could have very well toppled the Qing. None the less, the Taiping were in a good position in Nanjing compared to that on Beijing. It is estimated in 1853 Nanjing held 18 million taels of silver, while Beijing was depleted to a possible 3 million. The Nanjing granaries by the end of 1853 totalled 1,270,000 piculs of unhulled rice and 750,000 hulled rice, sufficient to feed the Taiping for many months. An American missionary named E.C Bridgman visited Nanjing in may of 1854 and reported “all the people we saw were well-clad, well fed and well provided for in every way. They all seemed content, and in high spirits as if sure of success”. The surrounding areas continued to supply Nanjing with grain and the Yangtze river continued to serve as its artery of communication and trade. Now once they had Nanjing the Taiping set out to accomplish their ultimate goal, the final defeat of the Manchu demons in Beijing. But when the Taiping took Nanjing a lot of internal strife began to grow. While Hong Xiuquan was the bonafide religious and political leader to the Taiping, he was never alone and although many of the great figureheads had died, a few large ones remained. Yang Xiuqing the east king, Wei Changhui the north king and Shi Dakai the flank king were the 3 largest leaders alongside Hong Xiuquan. Yang Xiuqing established himself as the highest ideological leader, above that of Wei Changhui and in many aspects above hong Xiuquan. When Xiao Chaogui the West King died, Hong Xiuquan made a proclamation that granted Yang a supervisory power over the 4 other kings, clearly promoting him above the rest. When Xiao Chaogui died, Shi Dakai sort of filled the dead kings space in many ways and when Nanjing was captured he was the only king constantly occupied in the field, directing and personally leading western campaigns. Hong Xiuquan as the spiritual leader, began to gradually isolate himself within his palace only acting through proclamations. Wei Changhui the north king, acted as the coordinator for the defense of the region around the capital and was responsible for food supplies. This left general administrative supervision in the hands of Yang Xiuqing who also acted as the coordinator of all military campaigns. Now Yang Xiuqing back in the early days of 1851 had coalesced the Taiping when he began in trance-like states to state he was the mouthpiece of God the father. Likewise Xiao Chaogui had these trances where he said he was the mouthpiece of Jesus, hmmmmm. Oh and there was a lot of roleplay in this by the way, when Xiao Chaogui spoke to Hong Xiuquan in a trance state he would refer to him as “younger brother” like wise Yang would refer to him as son. Both Yang and Xiao it seems were in league with another using this unique trance behavior to raise their status. But when Xiao died, there was a lot of confusion, leading Yang to stop messing around for awhile as the voice of god the father. But in december of 1853 Yang once again began to speak publicly as the voice of god. Yang began a campaign where he attempted to humiliate the heavenly king using trances as the voice of god. Yang begins a campaign to humiliate Hong where he uses the voice of god to accuse the Heavenly King of growing to be too harsh and indulgent with his power. That he is harsh to women who serve him and far too indulgent of his 4 year old son. One accusation in particular was that 4 of Hong's palace women were treated so badly that they should be released from Hong's palace and instead should live at Yang's palace. Yang says Hong orders women under him to work in rain or snow and allows his concubines to sneer and scold the other women, oh yes despite all the laws and such Hong and many of the Taiping leaders have concubines. Remember when I said the Taiping rebellion was like a proto marxist one? Yes just like any good marxist they dont live the way they preach, shots fired. Yang continues to argue the women officials are prevented from their duties by the mean concubines and that Hong Xiuquan had even kicked some of them in anger and punished pregnant concubines similarly, something that is a serious crime. You don't kick pregnant women. He follows this up saying in God's voice that the heavenly king should receive 40 blows of the rod for his derelictions. To this Hong publicly prostrated himself to receive said blows, so god would forgive him. Hong's 4 year old son is said to be too self-indulgent and willful because he plays in the rain, and smashes presents given to him…..weird. God states he must stop all of this because it will lead him to abuse the people in the future when he leads. Yang Xiuqing did not stop at attacking Hong, he also went after two others in particular: the north king Wei Chanhui and marquis Qin Rigang, both men who had been with Hong since the earliest days at Thistle mountain. Wei was an educated man, Qin was a miner who studied military arts and proved himself a formidable strategist. For years both men handled key military assignments for Hong, Qin was regarded as the senior ranking Taiping officer after the surviving kings. Yang began to use the voice of god to humiliate Wei in many ways. Whenever his trances began, Yang's woman attendants would summon Wei at once using drum calls and if Wei was late the women would berate him. Wei was forced to kowtow to Yang when he was in trance and when Yang was in trance he moved by sedan chair while Wei was forced to walk beside it. Yang kept his attendants on Wei's ass also disturbing him. Qin had to endure similar humiliations and was forced to help carry Yangs sedan chair up the palace stairs a few times. To give some more flavor, here is one story about a clash that occurred in december between Yang and Wei. Yang one day in public suggested that Hong had more than enough embroideries and robes in his palace and should economize for a time instead of getting more. Wei ignored what Yang said and told Hong “You, our second elder brother, are the true Sovereign of all nations of the world, and you are rich in the possession of all within the four seas; although robes and garments are sufficient, it will still be necessary to be constantly engaged in making up more.” Upon hearing this Yang responded “I beseech you, our second elder brother, to pardon this younger brother's crime and permit this younger brother to memorialize straightforwardly. If apparel were insufficient, then it would be necessary to make up more; but if it is said it is sufficient, it will be better to delay the making up of more, and then we can see the second elder brother's virtues of economy and love of man. Why should our younger brother Zheng [the North King] memorialize on the necessity of constantly making up more clothing?” To both of them Hong replied “Brother [Yang Xiu]Qing! You are certainly what the ancients called a bold and outspoken minister. And you, brother Zheng, although you may have a sincere regard for your elder brother, are not so straightforward and open in your statements as our brother Qing; for which he is to be much more commended. Later, in the reign of the Young Monarch, all who are ministers should imitate the example of our brother Qing in speaking straightforwardly as he has done this day; thus will they fulfill their duty as ministers.” Some of the events I just talked about occur a bit later on, but I wanted to give you the idea that in the background, Yang was humiliating others and doing whatever he could to take more and more power. Now of the 5 kings, 3 survived and the administrative staffs of the former 2 simply were distributed amongst the 3 survivors. But after Nanjing was captured the kings would not be the solo ruling leaders anymore. Additional “princes” were added, they were similar to the kings, just lesser so. They held lesser rank than the kings, but were above the Taiping military rank structure. They come about at different times but there would be the Zhong price: Li Xiucheng, Ying prince: Chen Yucheng, Jun Prince: Lai Wenkwok, Fu Prince: Hong Renda, An Prince: Hong Renfa, Yong Prince: Hong Rengui, Fu Prince: Hong Renfu and the Gan Prince: Hong Rengan, yes our old friend Rengan will come to this story but much later on. It seems Yang orchestrated the creation of these princes and the multiplicity of administrative staffs to make it easier for him to weaken the authority of his most senior rivals. Yang Xiuqing acting as commander in chief of the Taiping military sent out 4 offensives, 2 towards the north against Beijing and 2 up the Yangtze river into western China. Yang Xiuqings overall plan was to use the northern and western expeditionary forces to create a large pincer to capture the whole of northern and western China. According to Missionary Bridgman “ The Taiping had four armies in the field, carrying on active aggressive operations: 2 of these had gone northwards: they were designed to cooperate and after storming and destroying Peking, to turn westwards and march through Shanxi, Shensi, Kansuh, into Szechuan, where they are expected to meet their other 2 armies, which from Kingsi and the Lake provinces are to move up the great river and along through the regions on its southern bank'. The northern expedition of around 80,000 men was led by 2 commanders, Li Kaifang and Lin Fengxiang who led the vanguard to take Yangchow on April the 1st. By May the 8th they left Yangchow after receiving reinforcements and advanced towards Ch'u-chou in Anhwei province. As their forces went into Anhwei and Henan province they were bolstered by local bandits, particularly the Nian rebels, who were performing the Nian rebellion simultaneously. Following the same strategy applied to the Hunan campaign and the Yangtze valley, they moved rapidly through Anhwei and Henan without leaving behind garrisons nor supply stations. At first, they did not attempt to take any city that proved to be well defended. However at Huaiqing in Henan at the border of Shanxi, they used their 80,000 strong force to besiege the prefectural city, believing it held rich military supplies. The siege lasted 2 months, but the Taiping failed to capture it and had to move on. The delay in their march as the result of failing at Huaiqing seems to be a decisive turning point for the northern expedition as a whole. The Taiping suffered terrible losses in both shock troops and officers, while the Qing court in Beijing gained valuable time to prepare against the impending Taiping attacks. The Taiping gradually penetrated Zhili via Shanxi province and reached the suburbs of Tianjin, and it was here another large mistake was made for the second time. The Taiping could have simply marched on Beijing, but yet against chose to attack a secondary target. The northern expeditionary force was tiny compared to that of the entire Taiping army which should have been consolidated and marched upon Beijing. The Taiping were greatly hindered by northern chinas winters, because do remember most of the Taiping were from southern china. The Qing had begun a war of attrition, making sure to take away food stuffs in the path of the northern expedition. The Taiping found it extremely hard to forage and on top of this the Qing even broke dikes in the grand canal to flood the Taiping out. Emperor Xianfeng also released what would be his greatest weapon, the Mongolian prince Senggelinqin. Prince Seng was from the Horqin left back banner of inner Mongolia and a member of the Borjiqin clan. He was a 26th generation descendant of Qasar brother to Genghis Khan. His name Sengge Rinchen was made up of two tibetan words meaning Lion and Treasure. When he was just a child he was adopted by Sodnamdorji a Jasagh “head of a mongol banner” of the Horqin left back banner and Junwang, second rank prince under the Qing dynasty. He would inherit his adoptive fathers titles during the reign of Emperor Daoguang. It was at the 1853 battle for Tianjin where Prince Seng would earn his fame. The Taiping expeditionary force had fought its way bitterly from Nanjing to Tianjin, leaving just 80 miles between them and Beijing. Prince Seng rushed to the scene aided greatly by a valuable ally, winter. The winter ravaged the Taiping, many of them had never seen snow in their lives and this forced them to fall upon a village fortification to survive it causing an immediate stalemate. When the weather broke in spring, Prince Seng ordered his troops to build a dirt and stone wall to encircle the entire Taiping army camp from a distance while a crew of 1000 laborers spent a month digging a series of trenches to connect it, via a dry riverbed to the grand canal over 40 miles away. When they broke the dikes, the canal water rushed in flooding the Taiping camp to its rooftops, drowning a considerable amount of the army and forcing their submission. Being a Mongol, Prince Seng and those he commanded preferred the bow and arrow as their chief weapon, something they had overwhelming supremacy over the southern chinese. The Taiping could have overwhelmed Prince Sengs cavalry units, if they had western firearms, but they did not. The Taiping forces were dispersed and destroyed. Lin Fengxiang was captured at Lichen in Zhili province on march 7th of 1855 and Li Kaifang was captured at Fengkuat'un in Shandong on March the 31st of 1855. This was the ultimate end to the north expedition. Had the Taiping marched on Beijing at the rate they were going, it is argued they could have taken down the Qing. Tactical blunders, logistical issues, severe weather and the capability of Qing commanders such as Prince Seng ultimately put an end to the Taiping threat to Beijing, though they were certainly nowhere near defeated. While the northern expedition was going on there was also a western expedition that left Nanjing on May 19th of 1853, just 11 days after the northern expedition launched from Yangzhou. The objective of the western expedition as conceived by Yang Xiuqing was to follow the Yangtze river and ultimately meet up with the northern expedition in Sichuan province. This would have resulted in a pincer maneuver that could swallow up all of western and northern China. On June 10th the western forces recaptured the vital city of Anqing which had been taken back by Qing forces. They were able to provision up from there and divided the force into several armies to march through the Yangtze valley. One army was commanded by Hu Yiguang who set out north of the Yangtze to conquer Anhwei province. Lai Hanyang took another army south to conquer Jiangxi. A 3rd mobile force led by Zeng Tianyang began to independently attack cities south of the Yangtze. Hu Yiguang's force got as far as Luzhou, the new capital of Anhwei province at the time. Luzhou was guarded by one of the most capable Qing commanders, Jiang Zhongyuan, a Hunanese native from Xinning. He became the magistrate of Xiushi and Lishui, earning a reputation for being a great scholar and military leader. Zeng Guofan recommended Jiang for a higher office in 1850 to Emperor Xianfeng, but when he was supposed to leave for Beijing his father died and he had to return home to mourn. When the Taiping rebellion began, Jiang was appointed to assist the Grand secretary Sha-Shan-a in quelling the insurrection. Jiang began a campaign of gathering Hunanese volunteers who for the first time fought outside Hunan. It was one of the first waves of local forces led by a gentry class to fight the Taiping menace, something that influenced future Yung-Ying armies. Jiang won a great battle in Guangxi and was promoted to the rank of first class sub prefect. When the Taiping were invading Guilin in 1852, Jiang led his men from his home of Xinning to attack them. He won 3 major battles and managed to lift the Taiping siege of Guilin earning the rank of prefect. After this Jiang thwarted a Taiping naval invasion of Hunan province. He dammed the Xiang river near Suoyi ford and ambushed the Taiping Navy causing massive casualties upon them. It was the battle I mentioned where 10,000 Taiping men and Feng Yunshan perished. He thwarted the Taiping overland invasion of Hunan and besieged the Taiping stronghold of Chenzhou for a month before they fled to attack Changsha, the capital of Hunan. Jiang was one of those who helped defend Changsha earning the promotion of provincial judge of Hubei and then by 1853 assistant commander of the Qing armies in Jiangnan. He then aided in the defense of Nanchang which was besieged from June 22 to september 24th of 1853. For this he was appointed governor of Anhui which is what led him to the battle over Luzhou. When word came that the Taiping sought to attack Luzhou, Jiang rushed over with a small force to try and defend the new capital. He found himself outnumbered and outgunned, especially in siege mining technology that the Taiping had dramatically improved by this point in time. The Taiping took the city by January the 15th and in the process Jiang was wounded and he opted to commit suicide by drowning himself. The Qing lost an important capital city and one of their finest commanders who had proven himself successful at defeating Taiping using local militia forces. Lai Hanying's army besieged Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi from june to september of 1853, but ultimately failed to take the city. This resulted in Lai losing his command and his army divided in 2 to hit Hubei and Hunan under the leadership of Wei Jun and Shi Zhenxiang. The high point of their campaigns led to the capture of Xiangtan on April 24th of 1854. After a year of taking Nanjing, the Taipings expeditions had run out of momentum. The northern expedition was a failure, the western had gained limited success, but not enough to extend their reach to the upper Yangtze and that of western china. The Taiping riverine forces dominated the Yangtze up into Hunan allowing them to use it for provisioning, logistics and most importantly further recruiting. But the original lightning speed drive of the Taiping had faded and the Qing were beginning to recover from the blitzkrieg. Now the offensives became see-saw's which allowed the Qing more time to recover, reorganize and build up new leadership that could effectively face the Taiping menace. Being a Pacific War specialist, its very much like the situation during the Guadalcanal campaign. Prior to this, the Japanese ran rampant on offensive controlling the when and where actions would occur, but after the horrible loss at Midway and Guadalcanal, the Japanese had gone past their logistical capabilities and lost the initiative, for the rest of the Pacific War the allies controlled the initiative. This is what we call the turning point, and it was here a year after taking Nanjing and losing the window of opportunity to take Beijing that was the Taiping rebellion's turning point. It is not to say they could not win the war, but the initiative was now in the hands of the Qing. Although the campaign to take Beijing failed and the western campaign only held limited successes near the Yangtze, the Taiping were steadily extending their territory and thus were gaining additional manpower and supplies from the greater Yangtze region. The Taiping were struggling to consolidate their gains to establish better rule. Their offensives were being hampered by both political and religious confusion, often orchestrated by the efforts of Yang Xiuqing. The Taiping structure threatened Chinese traditions and saw backlash particularly from the Gentry class. I would note the gentry and landowner types probably were not the keenist on a group who sought land/wealth redistribution haha. The Taiping were a threat to Chinese social order as much as it was a threat to the Qing rule. Thus the gentry of China began to put their resources together to help the war effort resulting in a large push to the creation of Yung-ying militia groups such as Zeng Guofan's Xiang army. On top of the external actors trying to destroy the Taiping, the Taiping were having a ton of inner conflict as well. A violent and bloody power struggle had emerged destroying the unified political and military command established under Yang Xiuqing. Now although I spoke about the formation of the new armies, I need to go into it a bit further, especially in regards to Zeng Guofan. While I explained how Zeng Guofan created his force, I did not talk about how this all looked from the Qing dynasties point of few. In late 1852 and early 1853 a number of edicts were made by Emperor Xianfeng leading to the appointment of 43 supervisors of new local corps in the provinces of Hunan, Anhwei, Jiangsu, Zhili, Henan, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Fujian. Amongst the appointed was Zeng Guofan. The Qing government sought to have these organized smaller forces led by the gentry class so they could be loyal and relied upon. These forces were set up in each district to contest the Taiping. Zeng Guofan's Xiang army proved themselves to be highly effective, but Zeng Guofan chose to be very cautious when reporting back to the Qing court. This was because his military organizational building was strongly autonomous and could be seen as a threat to the Qing military. There had been numerous local militia groups that shifted from pro-government to banditry. The establishment of these armies was obviously a last resort means, and definitely could be a threat to the dynasty, they were not so unalike to the bandit armies created in the 17th century to fight the Daxi or Dashun armies afterall. Zeng Guofan did not state exactly what he was doing to the Qing court, in one of his first memorial he simply reported back that he was enlisting men from the countryside to establish a large military corps at its capital to be trained. It looked like Zeng Guofan was building a personal army, one that could be led on campaigns outside its local area. He sent more memorials stating that local corpsmen could not be relied upon in critical moments and that it was better to recruit from these local corpsmen an official militia, whose rations could be paid from public funds. When he was building the Xiang army he was consciously departing from the Qing courts authorization. He realized that local defense corps that had sprung up all over China were useful against local bandits and small raiders, but they were not large nor strong enough to withstand attacks from larger organized armies such as the Taiping. The Taiping were only growing larger, more organized, better armed. They simply could not be stopped by just local corps, what the Qing needed was a mobile army that could be used for offensive campaigns throughout larger areas. Now the way Zeng Guofan made the Xiang army was based strongly on personal loyalty, the units were recruited, led and paid for by their commander. The commanders were loyal to Zeng Guofan, thus more or less the Xiang army was a personal army at his command. Zeng Guofan also assembled a number of future leaders who would go on to create their own versions of the Xiang army. Such men were Zeng Zongtang and Li Hongzhang of Anhwei province. By the end of the century, Zeng Guofan's example led to most provinces being dominated by regional forces under military organizations over whom the Qing central government had only minimal control. In many ways Zeng Guofan was a symptom of the ailing dynasty, the Qing were gradually losing control and there was emerging a threat to the political and social order in china. Zeng Guofan say the Taiping menace as a threat to traditional chinese society. He made many proclamations stating as such. “The Taiping rebels have stolen the ways of the foreign barbarians when they distort family relations by calling all people brothers and sisters, when they declare that all land belongs to the heavenly king and that all profit also belongs to him. They force scholars to give up the COnfucian classics to read instead the so called teaching of Jesus. They wipe away our moral standards, the very way we conduct ourselves as humans, the classics, and the institutions that have existed in CHina for several thousands of years. This is not only a tragedy for the Qing dynasty but a great tragedy for the whole of “ming-chiao” Chinese tradition and causes confucius and Mencius to weep bitterly in the underworld. How could any educated person remain sitting, hands in sleeves, without doing something about it”. Zeng Guofan kept bringing up how the Taiping destroyed Buddhist and Taoist temples, that they were angering the gods who would take revenge. To right these terrible wrongs he said he was under Qing orders to advance his troops by land and water, not just to ease the Qing monarchs but also to console Confucious and Mencius, to avenge the slaughter of millions of Chinese. Appealing to the masses, Zeng Guofan began to ask for recruits, financial support and the surrender of any who decided to join the Taiping. Now I said he paid his army handsomely compared to that of the Green standards and such, but a lot of the funds were not under Qing control. The Gentry class were strongly supporting those like Zeng Guofan. Zeng Guofan began to ask and obtain permission from the Qing government to sell certificates of academic degrees, official titles and office appointments to sell to these said Gentry. The sale of all these degrees and titles increased gentry contributions, but also increased their influence and it began to build a new gentry role in leadership. Another major source of income for the Xiang army was new internal custom taxes introduced in 1853. And although the Qing government permitted this new tax, it held no control or supervision over it. Zeng Guofan and other commanders of regional armies were gaining control over regular provincial taxes and were using them to build their armies. The combined income from the gentry class and regional taxes made men like Zeng Guofan basically warlords. Their forces were not really governmental troops although they were fighting for said government. The other side, the Taiping failed to gain any support from the Gentry class because of their alienating religious and economic beliefs. Fundamentally the Taiping were a revolutionary group breaking the stratum of Chinese society, and a large part of that was the Chinese gentry class. Now Zeng Guofan began with a army of just a thousand men in 1853, composing 3 battalions. When they began to really clash with the Taiping they were soon 20,000 strong with naval and cavalry units. Later on they would become 120,000 men strong and Zeng Guofan had planned to use them for a long drawn out campaign despite pressure coming from Beijing to smash the rebels. Now the first major engagement between the Xiang army and the Taiping came in early 1854 and the Taiping defeated them. But on May 1st of 1854, the Xiang army defeated the Taiping at Xiangtan forcing them to withdraw. Then in a battle at Yuzhou in Hunan in July, the Xiang army on land and river gained a major victory. This victory gained Zeng Guofan great prestige and demonstrated the effectiveness of his army. The battle cost the Taiping more than half their fleet of boats and thus the loss of control over the central Yangtze river area. It was the first serious setback for the Taiping and it reduced their perimeter of military operations. Following up this victory, the Xiang army entered Hubei province and quickly recaptured Wuchang and Hanyang by october of 1854. Soon Zeng Guofans forces began to penetrate into Hubei and Jiangxi provinces marking the failure and end to the Taiping western expedition. 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 Northern expedition was a complete bust, the Taiping had lost the opportunity to claim the dragon throne. But the western expedition proved fruitful and gradually the heavenly kingdom was growing, and perhaps it could eclipse the Qing.
Last time we spoke Hong Xiuquan attempted four times to pass the imperial examination, but was met each time with failure. The stress put upon him was too much, causing him to have multiple mental breakdowns and to see visions leading him to realize he was the brother of Jesus Christ. God and the elder brother Jesus taught Hong Xiuquan had to fight demons and gave him a magical sword to rid the world of them. Hong Xiuquan knew the Manchu were demons and it was he who could usher in a heavenly kingdom on earth. He began to preach to the masses gathering those he called god worshippers and this began to raise concerns with the Qing officials who sought to stamp out what looked like the White Lotus Rebellion 2.0. Now the Qing forces led by Xiang Rong were trying to surround the god worshippers to end the menace before it became an even larger problem. #25 This episode is The Taiping Rebellion part 2: The March to Nanjing 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 Taiping had taken Jintai, but were being pursued constantly by multiple Qing armies always seeking to encircle and quell the rebellion. By this point the Taiping numbered around 60,000 men and they sought to seize the first major town, that of Yong'an, present day Mengshan town. Now before I get to this I just want to describe a bit the forces at play. The Taiping like I said were around 60,000 strong and were as you can imagine more of a peasantry type of group. They did not have much in the way of firearms, most were armed with spears ranging from 8-18feet long halberds, knives or swords such as the Liuyidao. There were those with bows and arrows, but archery in this time period was more specialized in northern china than southern china. For example the eight banner army had manchu and mongols who were extremely proficient in archery, but in the south it was simply not as great. There were some firearms, consisting of the usual suspects, firelock muskets and the every hilarious jingalls. Women took part in the initial battles, such as at Jintian, but there is pretty much no evidence of Taiping women fighting battles after 1853, it seems it was a necessity in the beginning but later on it was not employed. Later on in 1858 there would be an official women garrison under the Taiping, but they seem to be a ceremonial group. Now the Qing military is quite complex at this point and although I have described it a bit in the past I would like to refresh memories here because the Qing military will evolve during this conflict. In the 1850's, the Qing military was roughly 3.4 million strong, quelling the Taiping rebellion while simultaneously fighting the Europeans during the second opium war. The eight banner army consisted of Manchu's, Mongolians and Han Chinese, roughly 250,000 men strong. They were much more of an imperial guard and stationed around Beijing. Then there was the Green Standard army consisted pretty much exclusively of Han Chinese. They were around 600,000 strong and were the real military might of the empire. Their creation was mostly because of the lack of efficiency within the eight banner army and ironically another type of military force would be created later on in this story because of the Green Standard armies lack of efficiency. There would also be varying groups of Europeans involved in this conflict, but that all comes later. Now the last time we spoke, the Taiping were fleeing their stronghold in the Thistle Mountains, and sought to attack Yong'an. With their large force of 60,000 they took Yong'an easily on September 24th of 1851. A large reason Yong'an fell so easily was because there was an extreme lack of coordination on the part of the Qing forces. Meanwhile the Taiping had their 5 king system, the north,south,west,east and flank kings who were coordinating their military efforts quite well to fend off encirclement efforts by the Qing. It was at Yong'an that Hong Xiuquan enacted a lot of reforms. One of them was to replace the classic lunar calendar with a solar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the moon's phases while the solar calendar's dates are based on the position of the sun, ie; seasons. Hong Xiuquan also began to develop many social reforms that we will talk about later. Now by 1852 the Taiping were gradually driven out of Yong'an by the Qing military who was encircling them and this led to them losing 20% of their forces. Now while this was a large loss, do remember anyone the Taiping go, they are increasing in number, because they are targeting the countryside, the peasants, all those who are dissatisfied with the Qing dynasty. Hong Xiuquan led the god worshipers out of the encirclement at Yong'an and then marched into Guangxi province. Now in the earliest days of the rebellion, while Hong Xiuquan was the leader, it was actually Feng Yunshan, the south king who was the military mastermind. It was also Feng Yunshan who was the first leader of the god worshippers who called for an open revolt. He was the chief military strategist and administrator amongst them. He was the man who came up with the military configuration, a formidable mind. Now on May 24th the Taiping marched near Quanzhou in Guangxi province, but they had no intention of invading the city. It seems Feng Yunshan made an egregious mistake as his sedan chair was close enough to the city whereupon a Qing gunner, or I guess better said sharpshooter fatally wounded him. Hong Xiuquan was outraged one of his closest comrades was hurt and he quickly rallied the Taiping forces to surround Quanzhou and within just 2 days they breached its walls and butchered all its citizens who did not flee or join the cause. The south king Feng Yunshan became the first high ranking leader of the Taiping to die when he succumbed to his wounds in June of 1852. Now in June the main bulk of the Taiping began to head north in Hunan province where they captured Jeonju and began traveling along the Xiang river planning to attack the hinterlands of Hunan by land and river. The idea behind this was to find paths that were quick, because at all times multiple Qing armies were trying to encircle them. While they traversed the Xiang River they came to the Suoyi ford where they were finally ambushed by a Qing army. The Qing army repelled their northern march and in the process killed approximately 10,000 taiping. After this large setback, the Taiping turned their attention to lesser targets seizing Daozhou, Yongming, Jianghua, Jiahe, Guiyang and Chenzhou. The Taiping faced another Qing encirclement by Qing forces led by Xiang rong in Guangxi but managed to thwart him and escape. At this point the Taiping were operating on a very large scale threatening Hunan, absolutely terrifying the Qing court who hastile mobilized a large army to gather in the area of Hengyang and Chenzhou. The Qing sought to block the march of the Taiping in Hunan. Xiang rong led the Qing the 2 Qing forces to make a northern and southern strike upon the Taiping completely annihilating a Taiping force in the Shonan region. The Taiping leaders were frustrated again and again by encirclement maneuvers by the Qing military. They were unable to break through the Qing blockades, but then they began to notice the Qing had distributed the majority of their forces in the Shonan region, leaving the hinterland of Hunan fairly open. The West king, Xiao Chaogui detached from the bulk of the Taiping forces and bypassed the Qing army holding the city of Chenzhou and made a direct march upon Changsha. When they reached Changsha, Xiao Chaogui ordered a siege of the city. The Taiping began to dig siege tunnels in order to blow up parts of its defensive walls using mines. Meanwhile the Taiping fanned out capturing the surrounding area to make sure the city could receive no provisions via land or river. The former governor of Hunan, Luo Bingzhang was about to leave that said post to receive a new appointment in Beijing when the situation erupted. He spoke to the deputy in charge of military affairs, Luo Huodian who was placed in charge of the city's defense. At this time the new governor of Hunan, Zhang Liangji had yet to arrive, thus Changsha was in quite a predicament, there was really no one to command its defenses since it was surrounded. Within the city were 8000 defenders, while Xiao Chaogui held 3000 light cavalry and a few thousand other infantry, some of whom were garrisoning at Yongxing. When Xiao Chaoguis forces arrived to Changsha on September 11th, they found a force of Green Standard army and militia forces led by Liuyang. The Taiping fought them out in the field exacting 900 Qing casualties and publicly beheaded the general Fu Cheng and the deputy general Yin Peili. This led the garrison commander Zhu Han to flee and abandon a ton of military equipment. From September 12th to the 18th, Xiao Chaogui continuously mounted attacks upon the city while the defenders inside desperately hurled burning oil, arrows and rocks at them. Now Xiao Chaogui only had roughly 4000 men with him, more were enroute but came in piecemeals. With only 4000 men he was unable to mount a powerful enough attack to breach the walls of the city. For example if he took all his men to the south of Changsha, the defenders would simply concentrate their 7000 or so men south. It seems in an effort to bolster morale, Xiao Chaogui decided to personally hoist some Taiping banners while wearing royal robes on the battlefield. Well he was easily spotted by a Qing sharpshooter or artillery shell shot him dead. Alongside this the Qing militia force led by Deng Shaoliang attacked the Taipings rear by surprise and this effectively stopped the siege, forcing the Taiping to withdraw further away from the city walls. Meanwhile the Qing court was freaking out over the reports Changsha, a significant city was under siege and they dispatched a force of up to 50,000 men to concentrate in the area. Upon hearing the news of the incoming Qing forces and the death of the west King, Hong Xiuquan and Yang Xiuqing led the bulk of the Taiping forces out of Chenzhou overnight, rushing over to Changsha by October 5th. The next day the Taiping made a large offensive out in the field near the tomb of Cai Gong against a Qing force led by Ren Dagui. The Taiping won the battle, killed General Ren Dagui and wounded his deputy general De'an. On October 11th Hong Xiuquan launched an assault on Changsha hitting 3 sides of its walls, but the Qing defenders managed to hold on. Then on October 15th a Qing army coming from the direction of Chenzhou managed to reinforce Changsha, fighting skirmishes with the Taiping along the way. Despite their numbers the Taiping were failing to make progress against the city and as time went by more and more of the dispatched Qing forces were arriving to its aid. In order to break the stalemate, the Taiping leaders decided to cross the Xiang River and open up an attack upon Changsha's western portion. On October 17th, Shi Dakai the flank king led thousands of Taiping to cross the river and attack Zhu Zhangdu, Nanjinggang, Hexi and the line of Monkey stone catching the Qing off guard. The infuriated General Xiang Rong who was commanding some of the Qing forces and at this point had become something of a rival to the Taiping launched an attack against Hexi, but was ambushed. This led the Qing to send more forces to retake Hexi, but Shi Dakai's men dug in and repelled them. Xiang Rong was humiliated and this led him on October 30th to personally lead 3000 Qing infantry and cavalry to attack the Taiping at Hexi with the intent of cutting them off from the rest of the Taiping army. Xiang Rong was ambushed yet again, suffered heavy casualties and was forced to flee. While the battle over Hexi was raging, the battle on the south of Changsha with the bulk of the Taiping continued. Throughout October and November large scale siege assaults were made. The Taiping tried to detonate mines in tunnels to breach the walls, but counter tunneling by the defenders thwarted their best efforts. At one point a breach was made in the wall, but the Qing commander Zuo Zongtang proclaimed to the defenders of the city that he would pay an enormous sum of money to anyone who helped hurl large stone and rock to close any gaps made by the Taiping and this proved to be highly effective. The citizens and defenders quickly hurled everything they could at the Taiping and the gap quickly closing the breach. Zuo Zongtang won quite a lot of fame for this, and would become an important player later on. If you did not know, Zuo Zongtang is quite famous for something else in our world, something I certainly am grateful for as I cook it now and then, General Tso Chicken. Haha I can't really get into the bizarre and long history of this one, but the American-Chinese dish introduced in the 1970's in New York city was inspired by another dish called Peng Chuang-kuei, by a Taiwanese chef who specialized in Hunanese cuisine. Peng named the dish in honour of Zuo Zongtang. Honestly people who know more about this history know what I just said is just one of many many stories as to how the dish came to be, its quite a rabbit hole. The Taiping's efforts were not working fast enough and soon the Qing reinforcements were arriving en masse, yet again threatening to encircle them. In view of the deteriorating situation, Hong Xiuquan and Yang Xiuqing both agreed the battle for Changsha was meaningless and that they should withdraw and take a much more important city. So the Taiping left in the middle of a rainstorm at night after fighting a bitter 3 month campaign over Changsha and its surrounding area. Despite the failure at Changsha, the Taiping were still in a great position and confident. The Qing had thrown countless armies at them, but they always managed to escape encirclements and were able to pick and choose when they fought. The Qing were slow to react and it was difficult to pinpoint where the Taiping would concentrate their forces. Hong Xiuquan and Yang Xiuqing chose the formidable city of Wuchang as the next target. The Qing it seems did believe the Taiping would march upon Wuchang, because they left the path to it quite empty. The Taiping took very deceptive maneuvers to try and hide their march on Wuchang. They went along the Xia