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  Taiping advance into the Yangtze Valley 1851-53 

 

 

 

Taiping army on the move

from : The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

tv series 2000  CCTV

 

Taiping forces, which by now  numbered more than 40,000 begin a 33 day siege of the city of Guilin. Upon their failure to achieve this city, they resume their northern march. It is during this journey that Feng Yunshan (South King) is killed by a sniper. As retribution for the loss of one of their  greatest leaders the Taipings attack the city of Quanzhou 全州 and slaughter most of the residents. After sacking Quanzhou, Hong and his followers continue their travels by way of the Xiang River. It is during this part of their journey that they are ambushed by Qing forces and over 10,000 members are either killed in battle or drowned. Many of those dead are the original God-worshipers from the province of Guangxi who had given the movement its strength.

 

Up to this time the Taiping Wang confined his actions to Guangxi, now he felt strong enough to advance into the empire and marched on to neighboring Hunan . Chen Zhou 郴州, Hunan was taken with almost no imperial resistance . With the Taiping rebellion spinning out of control, Saishang-a was sacked and recalled to Beijing and executed along with his four sons . The Mongol Saishang-a was used to fighting in the northern plains, not the tropical south . After the failure of Saishang-a, the court used local provincial officials who were more knowledgeable of local conditions . With this in mind, the court chose the govenor of the two Guangs - Guangxi and Guangzhou , Xu Guangin.  He had recently captured the Red Turban chief Ling Shiba, a key ally of the Taipings .

 

The Manchus, concentrating forces against England and France, had few troops to spare for the interior . Yet, as the Taiping army moves through Hunan province more than 50,000 new converts join their ranks. Many of these latter recruits see the movement not so much as a religious crusade as an attempt to relieve unfair social conditions and redistribute land.

 

Nourished by this influx of new recruits, the Taiping army now laid siege to the city of Changsha in 1852 . By this time their ranks had grown to an estimated 120,000 . It is during this action that the voice of Jesus is silenced permanently when Xiao Chaogui (West King) is picked off by a marksmen . Despite mining the city walls,  this siege is unsuccessful and abandoned in November 1852, it is only two months later that the

For failing to stop the Taiping advance, Xu Guangin is recalled to Beijing and sentenced to a delayed execution . The next person to fill this dangerous position of commander was Xiang Rong ( 1801 -1856 ), commander in chief of Hunan . And the rebellion moved, more commanders where put in the field such as Lu Jianying ( 1776 - 1853 ), the Viceroy of Liangjiang (  Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Anhui ) was to led troops from Nanjing . He was killed when the Taipings took Nanjing on March 19, 1853, one of highest rank governors killed in action . The governor of Henan, Qishan 琦善 ( 1786 -  1854 ) a veteran Manchu official, would gather forces in Henan to stop the Taipings in northern Hubei . He was killed fighing the Taipings in Jiangsu in 1854 .

 

Taiping claim their largest prize to date when the city of Wuhan, Hebei province fall to them on January 12, 1853. All wealth is removed from the homes of Qing officials and other citizen who have fled and is placed in a common treasury. When Taiping forces leave Wuchang on February 10, 1853, they take with them gold, treasure, 10,000 more followers, and 2,000 more boats to be added to their ever-growing navy. They now begin a six hundred-mile journey toward the city of Nanjing by way of the Yangtze River  ( 长江 Cháng Jiāng ) with armed columns of soldiers following the armada on shore.

 

Large map of the Taiping advance

from Guangxi to Nanjing 1851 - 1853 .

From : Ti-Ping Tien-Kwoh The History of

 the Ti-Ping Revolution

Augustus F. Lindley  1866

Click on map for larger image .

 

Taoist and Buddhist priests were warned to leave their

temples or face beheading, Moslem mosques are allowed to

remain, out of support for the ongoing Muslim revolts against the Qing .

The Taipings at this time did not try to hold the cities they captured, but

moved on. The goal was to take the Yangtze river and then strike at the

capital .The Taipings arrived on the Yangtze at Yoh-chau, close to the

great lake of Tung-Ting and placed tolls upon the commerce raising a

great deal of funds .By the winter of 1852-3, they were masters of  the

rich cities of Hanyang and Wu-chang .In Wu-chang they seize over

1,000,000 ounces of silver.

 

The Taipings banned footbinding and unbound the feet

of those in their territory, which was quite painful ;

 

 Photo of Footbinding

By Lai Afong 1870

 

On Feb 10, 1853, they depart Wu-Chang, the army sailing in a armada of some 2,000 ships and soldiers marching columns on the shore .They also take Yochow and it arsenal, which provided them with an abundance of weapons . Daoist and Buddhist monks are threatened with beheading if found in their temples. The property of the temples are confiscated and given to the poor. The booty of the Taipings was immense, and it was not unusual to see common soldiers dressed in fine silks .Wu-chang, gave resistance to the Taipings, and there was a great slaughter of the people of the city when it was taken . It is estimated that the Taipings at this point had 18 million teals, more than the imperial treasury . On Feb 18, 1853, the Taipings took JiuJiang 九江in Jiangxi, next to Lake Boyang .

 

Thirty days after leaving Wuchang, the Taiping advance force reach Nanjing. In the spring of 1853, the Taipings had reached the prosperous Jiangnan 江南, the downstream of the Yangtze, an area which included the rich productive areas of Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang and Shanghai. Xiang Rong's Jiangnan Army was constantly defeated by the Taiping rebel army outside Nanking, the old Ming capital.

 

The Taking of the old Ming Capital Nanjing 1853 

 

 

 

 

The city walls of Nanjing were 25 miles in circumference and

over 40 feet high, one of the largest city walls in the world. However, their massive length made it hard to defend with limited troops .

All the time the Taiping forces were increasing . The viceroy, Lu-keen-ying had been sent with a fleet of war junks to stop the Taipings, but returned to Nanjing on Feb 25, reporting that his force was too weak to take on the Taipings. The population of Nanking began to panic and flee the city, and afterwards so did the imperialist forces. No more is heard of viceroy Lu .On March 8, the banners of the Taipings were seen from the walls of Nanjing . The Taipings, with a force of 60,000, summoned the city to surrender . After attacking for 7 days, on March 19, the Tapings made a breach in the city walls in the northwest and took the city by tunneling under the city walls using Hunan coal miners and breaking through the Yifeng Gate . Paper cutouts were used to deceive  the imperial troops, and attacked from another side . The Manchus in the city, totaling about 20,000 were put to the sword. The native population was spared .

 

 

On March 29, Xiuquan is carried into Nanjing on a golden palanquin wearing a yellow robe .Taiping civil service exams began soon after taking Nanking, with a format similar to the Qing, but consisting of Christian themes .The Taiping official system was made up of hereditary nobility (the kings) and 11 grades of officials who had military and civil duties .The Tian wang did not feel his force strong enough to take Beijing, and determined to build up his force in the old capital of the Ming  and cut off the supplies of the capital from the south via the Grand Canal .To do this, it was necessary  take Chin-Kiang-fu 40 miles away, which was taken without a shot after the imperial commander fled . Now, no supplies could reach Beijing via the canal .

 

The city was divided into men's and women's quarters, there was a prohibition on sexual love till the demons in Beijing have been defeated .The ban on married couples meeting is lifted in 1855 .  Hong and other leaders however, maintained groups of concubines. As in Guangxi, people are instructed to keep nothing for their private use, but to give all to God for the common good, The penalty for hoarding was beheading .  This was an early form of communalism based on the ancient Book of Zhou or Rites, a utopian work attributed to the Duke of Zhou. The population of the city at this time was around 240,000 . A Taiping currency was issued, and trade with foreign countries continued on a small scale . Slavery was made illegal, as was footbinding . Woman have more rights than those in Qing ruled China, they can take civil service exams and serve in their own military units.

 

The palace of Hong Xiuqing, the former of Office of the

 Viceroy of Liangjiang . Turned into the

Palace of the Heavenly King, or Tianwang Fu.

 

Model of the Palace of the Heavenly King,

most of it was destroyed when Nanjing was retaken in 1864 .

It was rebuilt and housed the Office of the President of the

Republic of China from 1927 until the republic was relocated to

Taiwan in 1949.

 

 Ming Dynasty Zhan Garden and residence of Yang Xiuqing .

 Destroyed in the sack of Nanjing . Rebuilt and now home

 to the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum .

 

In theory all land under Taiping control was to be redistributed to groups of 25 families ( guan ) in the under control of a liang-ssu-ma or master sergeant .  The liang-ssu-ma  also handled civil matters such as marriages, taxes, etc . Children would go to school everyday to study the Old and New Testament . These were usually organized by trade Groups of 500 families would be under control of  a brigade commander . This was also a military grouping, the families who farmed together would also fight together . Every Sunday all would go to church, men seperated from women . Hymns were sung eulogizing the Heavenly Father . Surplus food was to be given over to the state . Because of the stress of constant war, the expediency of using the local gentry was used to govern  . The Taipings now controlled parts of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang . These were turned into two Taiping provinces called Sufu 蘇福  and Tianping 天平 .

 

The Heavenly king in Tianjing 天京  ( Nanjing )

The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

tv series 2000  CCTV

 

Taoist and Buddhist temples in Nanjing are destroyed, yet, Moslem mosques remained untouched to show support for the growing Chinese Moslem ( Hui people 回族  Huizi) agitation against the Qing which would soon erupt in  the Panthay rebellion (1856–1873) in Yunnan and the Dungan Revolt  ( 1862 - 77 ) in Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang against the Qing . After conquering Nanjing, Xiuyuan withdrew from all government affairs for long periods of time, spending his time with his harem or in religious introspection. This was to have fatal consequences for the Taipings .

 

 

 Taiping throne in Nanjing, patterned after the

Imperial throne in Beijing .

 

 

 

 

 

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