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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #91
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    Anqing City was strategically like the gate to Nanking City. Anyone who could control Anqing City area could control Nanking City area. Now the leaders of the Peaceful Army felt that their duties were to defend what had left, especially to defend Anqing City and Nanking City. This was really a wrong strategy, but it was the history. Since Anqing City was still occupied by the Peaceful Army, the government army couldn't surround Nanking City, because the Peaceful Army in Anqing City would come to rescue by assaulting the encircling government army from behind. So Elder Zeng laid out a strategy to take Anqing City first. He gave the difficult task to another brother of his, the younger Zeng as mentioned before. So the Peaceful Army exercised a stubborn and brutal resistance against the fierce attack of Xiang Army headed by Younger Zeng. Shrewdness King had sent a strong reinforcement to its rescue, but had been beaten. In September 5, 1861, Xiang Army occupied Anqing City and marched along the Yangtze River both on land and by water to assault Nanking City, the capital of the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. West Empress Dowager appointed Elder Zeng as the Two River General Governor (A general governor governed more than one province while a governor ruled only in one province.) in total charge of the warfare against the Peaceful Army. Younger Zeng launched waves after waves of assail on Nanking City, which was in a crucial situation. Since Shrewdness King had died, Heavenly King had called for Loyalty King back to the capital to defend it. But Loyalty King had his tactics. He led his army of some ten thousands strong to advance towards Shaoxing City and soon took it and then occupied another city, Ningbo. Thus Hangzhou City, the capital of Zhejiang Province, was exposed before the Peaceful Army, which surrounded it accordingly and cut off the supply of food to the city. As the rations were scarce, almost thirty thousand people died from starvation in the city. A government reinforcement army came to the rescue from another province, but was blockaded somewhere between Jiangxi Province and Zhejiang Province and was at last defeated by the Peaceful Army. Hangzhou City fell into the hands of Loyalty King. Many government high-rank officials and officers either fought to death or committed suicide, because even if they managed to flee from the war zone, they would be arrested as cowards and probably sentence to death. That's the martial law. That way, they would lose both the life and the good reputation. When they fought to death or made suicide, they had at least a good reputation to keep as a brave person and their families could get money from the government and live easily.

  2. #92
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    When the Peaceful Army had surrounded Hangzhou City, the governor of Zhejiang Province had asked Elder Zeng to send troops to his rescue, but Zeng hadn't complied, because the governor hadn? supplied his Xiang Army with rations according to the arrangement by the Secretarial Bureau. So when Hangzhou City had been taken by Loyalty King, the governor had made suicide.
    The goal of Loyalty King to attack these cities was to draw away the government troops that were assailing Nanking City, thus to make the situation there not so critical to the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. But in January, 1862, West Empress Dowager appointed Zuo Zongtang as the governor of Zhejiang Province and in February Zuo led his troops into the province to fight the Peaceful Army. The strategy of Loyalty King failed.
    While Governor Zuo took over town by town, city by city, originally occupied by the Peaceful Army, Loyalty King led his army towards Shanghai. West Empress Dowager wanted Younger Zeng to go to defend Shanghai, but Younger Zeng wished to take Nanking City. He thought that it was more important to take the capital of the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom than to defend Shanghai. So in February West Empress Dowager had to order Li Hongzhuang to reinforce Shanghai. Zuo and Li were both scholars and worked under Elder Zeng and Li was Zeng's pupil. But both Zuo and Li didn's completely obey Elder Zeng after they were respectively made the governors. In March, Governor Li organized his own army under the aid of Elder Zeng, which was equipped with new weapons and called Huai Army.

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    Some wealthy people in Shanghai were afraid of the Peaceful Army and wanted Governor Li to come as soon as possible. They rented some foreign steam ships to fetch the Huai Army. Governor Li arrived in Shanghai in April and vanquished the Peaceful Army. In June Governor Zuo wiped out more of the Peaceful Army in Zhejiang Province and was appointed General Governor of Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province.
    Heavenly King ordered Loyalty King to come back to defend the capital. In September, 1862, Loyalty King gathered all his troops of twenty thousand strong and marched west to attack Younger Zeng, but couldn't beat him. He entered Nanking city with his troops. Meanwhile, the Huai Army continued to assault the Peaceful Army still fighting in that area. When Loyalty King was back to the capital, he suggested to Heavenly King that they should desert Nanking City and fight their way out to somewhere else for further development, but Heavenly King rebuffed his proposal. Heavenly King didn't know anything about strategies. If he was surrounded in the city, he would be like a fish in a bowl waiting to be butchered. If he could fight his way out of the encirclement, he would be like a fish in the ocean. Wrong strategy always means failure.
    When the Peaceful Army had attacked Shanghai, there lived many foreigners. After the treaty had been signed in Peking as the result of the Second Opium War, some foreigners organized armies to fight against the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom for the Qing government. They helped the Huai Army. In November,1862, Governor Li took Suzhou City. In December, West Empress Dowager appointed him as the governor of Jiangsu Province. But later Suzhou city was reoccupied by Admiration King of the Peaceful Army.

  4. #94
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    In 1863, Wing King moved into Sichuan Province, but was defeated and killed there by the government army. In December, 1863, Admiration King of the Peaceful Army in Suzhou City was betrayed and killed. In March, 1864, Governor Zuo took Jiaxing City and Hangzhou City, the last two cities under the control of the Peaceful Army in that province. In June 1, 1864, Heavenly King died of some kind of disease. (Some history book says that he committed suicide by swallowing poison in despair.) In July 19, 1864, Xiang Army exploded open a part of the city wall and rushed in. The Peaceful Army wouldn? surrender and defend alley by alley till most of them died in the fight. That night, disguised as soldiers of the government army, Loyalty King took the son of Heavenly King and escaped from the city gate opposite to where the government army entered. But they were separated in the chaos. Loyalty King hid in a temple outside the city, but the government troops was searching everywhere and found him in the temple. So he was escorted to where Elder Zeng camped and was executed there on August 7, 1864. The son of Heavenly King fled with some of his attendants to Fujian Province. There were two different rumors about what became of him. One was that he was captured later and killed. This digressed into another rumor that the boy executed was not the real son. The real son was hidden somewhere no one could find him. The other rumor was that some attendants took him on board a steam ship and went to live in San Francisco and later joined the revolutionary movement.

  5. #95
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    The Peaceful Army was annihilated during 1864, but the Nian Army kept fighting against the government. The difficulty with the Nian Army was that they didn't have a settlement to be surrounded. So West Empress Dowager ordered Elder Zeng to take over the charge to battle the Nian Army. Elder Zeng stationed all the troops under his command in a huge loose circle around the area that the Nian Army moved and then shrank the circle to press the Nian Army into the focus in hopes to wipe it out in the focus. The stratagem sounded good, but it took time to bring it into realization. When in a long time he didn't send in any report of success, some critique officials handed in some critique reports saying that Elder Zeng was trifling with his duties and must be removed from this post. Their deduction was based on that since the stronger Peaceful Army had been wiped out, why the comparatively not so strong Nian Army was still there. They thought that it should be conquered by then. They didn't know that the mobile Nian Army was more difficult to deal with. However, West Empress
    Dowager ordered Governor Li, Elder Zeng's pupil, to take over the charge and Elder Zeng to resume his former position as the Two River General Governor.
    At that time, the Nian Army had split into two parts. The part went west was called West Nian Army and the part left where they had been was called East Nian Army. Governor Li was to fight the East Nian Army and West Empress Dowager ordered Governor Zuo to move his troops west to combat the West Nian Army. Then she gave Zuo's post to Provisions Governor Wu Tang, who had at last some province to govern.
    Governor Li had to follow his tutor's tactics because the situation looked that way and any other strategy wouldn't work. Only now the Nian Army had split and their strength had lessened. That's an advantage to him. The East Nian Army was forced to retreat into a small area between two rivers, where the government army launched a sudden attack at night and annihilated the East Nian Army entirely. Now the West Nian Army moved northbound towards the capital. Once when they got very close to the capital, West Empress Dowager was in a panic and ordered Ronglu to bring his troops to block the advance of the West Nian Army, which then made their way south. Part of the West Nian Army went further south and was subdued in Yangzhou City area and its leader was executed on January 5, 1868. The other part went to Shandong Province and was vanquished there in August of that year. The end of the Nian Army.

  6. #96
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    In the north beyond the Great Wall, it was the original habitat of the Mandarin Clan, where were all the tombs of the emperors of Qing Dynasty. There was a vast stretch of plain used as pasture for horses. So all the horses for the government cavalry came from there. But robbers in that area also rode on horseback. They came and were gone very fast after the robbery. So they were called Horseback Robbers. It turned out to be a real headache to the local government. When the local government got the message of their whereabouts and sent cavalry there, the horseback robbers already did their job and disappeared. Now five hundreds of them were approached the imperial sepulchers. If any royal mausoleum was dug open and the treasure buried inside was robbed, the local government chief officials would all be put to death. So an urgent report came to the notice of the empress dowagers. West Empress Dowager had serious discussion with the secretaries. As no army could be spared from the south where battles were still being waged against the rebellions at that time, they had to dispatch a newly trained division, which was equipped with rifles. Prince Yihuan was in charge of this special division. Ronglu was his aide with the title of Wing General. Secretary Wenqiang proposed that he himself would head a detachment selected from that division. The empress dowagers consented to his proposal. Secretary Wenqiang told Ronglu to choose the soldiers from the division to form a detachment.

  7. #97
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    Ronglu was born of Mandarin Clan. His grandfather and father both died in Guangxi Province fighting the Peaceful Army when it had just begun its mutiny. As a reward to their family and an appreciation of the feats they had performed, Ronglu had been given a post as an official in Construction Ministry. When Sushun had been the minister, Ronglu had nearly been put into jail under the false accusation of embezzlement. When Wenqiang had been made the minister there, he had greatly appreciated the ability of Ronglu in handling the ministerial business. When Prince Yihuan wanted to reorganize the special division and strengthen its discipline and needed someone to help him, Secretary Wenqiang recommended Ronglu to him. Ronglu was appointed Wing General just like a bird needs wings. Ronglu knew who's who and what's what in that division. That's why Wenqiang told Ronglu to form the detachment for him. He would take the detachment to arrest horseback robbers, with Ronglu as his aide.
    As that division was notorious for its non-discipline and inability to fight, West Empress Dowager was anxious to make sure how things stood with it. So she sent Little An to have a look. Little An went there in plain clothes. He saw quite a few uniformed men carrying bird cages and others eating food bought from vendors. The scene looked like either a market place or an amusement spot. West Empress Dowager made Secretary Wenqiang acquainted with her fear, but Wenqiang soothed her by saying that it was because those men were living in the big city, too much luxurious things to distract them from their duties and if they were put in difficult conditions, they would adjust themselves to the situation. So Secretary Wenqiang led his detachment to guard the mausoleums of the former emperors against the horseback robbers, who already ran away before the detachment arrived. Secretary Wenqiang helped the local government to reorganized the local defensive forces and then let Ronglu take charge of the detachment to chase the robbers. He himself came back to the capital and reported to the empress dowagers that the imperial graves were safe now.

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    Chapter 21

    The ancestors of Qing Dynasty had set up a few rules to prohibit eunuchs to do certain things, like to interfere where his duties were not involved, to go outside the capital on whatever excuses, etc. Offense of any of the rules was penalty of death. So no eunuch in Qing Dynasty dared to do anything against the rules except the two eunuchs under the reign of West Empress Dowager. One of the two eunuchs was Little An. The other was Li Lianying. Both were head eunuchs of West Empress Dowager. The latter succeeded the former.
    Little An (1844-1869) had no respect not only for the young emperor but also for East Empress Dowager, who disliked him, but didn't want to quarrel with West Empress Dowager on account of Little An, which made Little An all the more arrogant and bold.
    Once when the late emperor was alive, his son, the future emperor, was answering a question put by his mother, still Concubine Yan then, Little An interrupted, which was deemed an offense, though a minor one, and which added to the detestation the son had already conceived for him, because Little An often interrupted when the son was talking to his mother. Someone who hated Little An taught the son how to punish him. So this time the son yelled, “Shut up.” Everyone in the room, the maids, the eunuchs, even his mother, were surprised. It was not expected from a boy of six.

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    Little An felt awkward. He forced a smile and said, “Why is Big Brother (In Qing Dynasty the emperor's sons were addressed as Brother and the son who was supposed to be the future emperor was called Big Brother.) angry with me?”
    The son pretended to be a grown-up and said, “How dare you to speak to me like that?” Then he wanted to summon the head eunuch of the palace. It meant that he wanted to punish Little An for his impertinence. Little An knew that his behavior towards the emperor's son was really against the rule. He had thought that the son was merely a boy. He had interrupted just to throw in some witty words to please the mother. But this time he was ensnared. Even Concubine Yan could not protect him when the head eunuch came. So he went down on his knees.
    “Slap your own face.” The boy got angry and ordered. Concubine Yan could not say anything in his behalf since he made the wrong move in front of so many people. And it was an obvious offense. Therefore, he could not but slap his own face.
    “Slap hard. One hundred.” The son commanded.
    He had to slap himself hard. Another eunuch counted till one hundred. He had to thank Big Brother for ordering him to slap himself on the face. It was also the tradition of Qing Dynasty. At night when he went back to his own bedroom he looked at his swollen face. He wanted to revenge on the son by saying the false things about him to his mother. He often did it, especially after Concubine Yan became West Empress Dowager, to make her angry with anyone he wanted to slander.

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    As East Empress Dowager was not ambitious and let West Empress Dowager handle the state affairs, Little An was encouraged to do things against law, under the protection of West Empress Dowager. He took bribery like he was picking apples from the tree. The place he frequented was the Royal Family Affairs Management, because he often went there to demand things for West Empress Dowager. One evening after West Empress Dowager went to bed, he stole out of the Forbidden City and dropped in there. There were already some eunuchs, mingling with some clerks there. That was their gathering place. They drank and gambled there. Their favorite game was dice. When Little An made his appearance, everyone inside got on their feet to greet him. Someone asked him to sit at the table to play for a while. Generally when Little An played, gamblers would always let him win. They called it bribery in disguise. But today, Clerk Telu, very intimate with Little An, pulled him aside, whispering to him. They sat at another table covered with food and wine. They drank and ate while talking about business. Their business was how to help some person to solve his problems and take the bribery. They even bargained how much the person should give them like buying things in the market.
    “Somebody likes to have a painting by West Empress Dowager.” said Clerk Telu, “He will pay fifty taels of silver.”
    “Just that? You call it business?” Little An didn't care about such a small sum.
    “What? the bonus.” Clerk Telu winked at Little An, “And here's the big business.”
    Official Zhao had had an assignment to collect taxes and would have sent the completed collection to the South River Camp as a military support. Then the South River Camp had been vanquished and the commander had died. He should have sent the collection to Elder Zeng, who had been made a general governor. A general governor was above other governors in rank and governed more than one province. Elder Zeng had been put in charge of four provinces, where the Peaceful Army had still been fighting at that time. There were two rivers in this area. So his title was Two River General Governor.

  11. #101
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    Official Zhao had had a blackmailing and embezzling case against him and had been wanted by the local government. He had hidden in Peking ever since. Now after so many years, although his case was still open, no one would really look for him. However, he could not always stay in hiding. He wanted to bribe someone powerful enough to close his case and better to get him a position like a mayor in a rich town. But first he wanted to wash himself clean of the dirt. His exact words.
    “He's a clever guy, hiding in the capital.” commented Little An, “Who will notice him in this big city?”
    “He is willing to pay twenty thousand taels of silver when it's done.” Clerk Telu revealed with an alluring smile like a real businessman.
    Twenty thousand taels was not a small sum. Little An's heart beat a bit faster as if he were having a palpitation. Being always at the side of West Empress Dowager when she was reading reports, Little An was familiar with procedures how these things were handled. He knew that the case must be closed first, and after that, the assignment. To achieve this, someone relevant to his case should send in a report about the case. Then he could do something to make the case closed. But as far as Little An could remember, all the high-rank officials related to the case were dead. So he asked Clerk Telu whether the guy had joined the army. The reply was in negative. He knew that if the guy had been in the army, he would have had his share of some kinds of rewards, which could be used to offset his offenses.

  12. #102
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    Now for twenty thousand taels of silver, he had to cudgel his brains. Suddenly he thought of Wu Tang, the Provisions Governor, who did not have a province to govern and whose responsibilities were to gather provisions for the government army. Provisions governor Wu was West Empress Dowager's favorite governor. If he could write a report and throw in a few good words for the guy, everything would be fine. So he mentioned Provisions Governor Wu to Clerk Telu, who shook his head, saying that it was Provisions Governor Wu who had wanted him. Now the real problem. But he saw in his mind's eye the money dangling before his face. (At that time in China, there were many Money Shops, just like banks in the western countries. They took in the silver taels and wrote out slips of paper called Silver Notes, bearing the sum: ten taels, twenty taels, fifty taels, hundred taels, thousand taels or larger numbers as needed, just like banknotes. If any customer liked, he could cash the silver any time.)
    Then Clerk Telu made an arrangement for Little An to meet the guy in his house. When Little An arrived, the guy was not there yet. Clerk Telu said, “I've told him to come a bit late. So we can talk.”
    “What about?” asked Little An.
    “ told him to bring a down-payment of 1000 taels.” He smiled to Little An.
    “That sounds great.Little An smiled back. They could understand each other through their smiles.
    “But when the guy comes, Second Esquire An'd better tell him some palace secrets so that he will have confidence that I've found him the right person to solve his problems.” (We have in Chinese all the words to use to respectfully address people of different social status, but I can't find a corresponding word in English for the Chinese word to use here. I have to borrow the word Esquire for the purpose. The ordinal number used here before Esquire denotes that Little An was the second son in his family. If people met his eldest brother, they would address him as First Esquire An. If he was the only son in the family, we don't need to add an ordinal number before that.)

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    “No problem. All here.” Little An patted on his own head to show that all such knowledge was in here.
    When the guy came, Clerk Telu made the introduction. “This is Second Esquire An, the superintendent of West Empress Dowager. (Little An was really the head eunuch. But no one would mention the word eunuch directly before one. So Clerk Telu used the word superintendent instead.) The guy put his left foot half a step backward and bent his right knee half way down (the left knee was naturally bent, too) with his right arm straight downward, the finger tips almost touching the floor, an act of salute of a subordinate to his superiors in Qing Dynasty, while saying, “Superintendent An!” Little An just nodded his acknowledgment as if that guy was really his immediate subordinate. Then Clerk Telu turned to Little An, saying, “This is Fourth Esquire Zhao.(He was the fourth son of his family. Because he was an official, Clerk Telu must call him Esquire, too.) The guy interrupted hastily, “Just call me Fourth Zhao.” (This was to show his modesty. Anyone who could call him fourth Zhao was either his elders, or his superiors, or his intimate friends, somewhat like in English to use just the first name.) Then they sat down to dinner. They talked while eating.
    “It's your luck that I can invite Superintendent An here. Superintendent An is very busy, seldom free. Can Superintendent An tell us something about West Empress Dowager to open our eyes, or shall I say to open our ears?” Clerk Telu wanted to be witty to show his intimacy with Little An.

  14. #104
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    So Little An told them how West Empress Dowager had sent him on a life-and-death errand to carry a secret letter to the capital and how they (Little An meant that he had had a part in it.) had brought down the counselors from power. Even Clerk Telu didn't know it as he was working so close to the Forbidden City. Both the listeners showed more esteem than he deserved. After a few cups of wine (No glass yet at that time. A china cup was used to hold wine), Little An began to brag how powerful he was, being the favorite eunuch of West Empress Dowager, which gave the guy more confidence than he really felt. After dinner, Clerk Telu made the guy tell Little An directly about his problems and requests, which Little An had already known from Clerk Telu. But It was the procedures. When the recap finished, Clerk Telu pulled Little An aside to consult each other. Since the guy was an official, he should know such things and they couldn't pull the wool over his eyes. They should at least hint to him through which channel they would manage his problems. Clerk Telu wanted to mention somebody working in the Secretarial Bureau, but Little An objected to it. He feared that if word got out, Yixin would want his skin. He decided to mention Provisions Governor Wu Tang, because if word spread into his ears, he didn't dare to say anything since he owed everything he had got to West Empress Dowager and he was her head eunuch.
    But the name of Provisions Governor Wu made the guy nervous and he quavered out his fear, “His Excellency Wu is the person who wants me. If His Excellency Wu knows where I am, His Excellency Wu will have me arrested.”
    “Don't worry.” Little An soothed him. “I will manage it. You just wait and see.” By now everyone in the officialdom had known that Provisions Governor Wu was West Empress Dowager's favorite because of the good turn his servant had done for him by mistake to her family many years before. The guy thought that Provisions Governor Wu couldn't reject anything demanded by West Empress Dowager, but he didn't know that Little An never dared to mention such a thing to West Empress Dowager. He planned to achieve it all by himself, in the name of West Empress Dowager. The guy did bring a Silver Note of one thousand taels and gave it to Little An as down-payment.

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    Little An was not contented with twenty thousand taels. He said to Clerk Telu, “You tell the guy if he pays thirty thousand taels, I'll get him a very gook position?” Clerk Telu said, “Sure. I'll let him know.” Next day when they met, Clerk Telu informed, “The guy said okay. But he doesn't have so much money in hand right now. He must borrow and will pay when he gets the appointment notice and documents.” Little An knew that the guy didn't trust in him. He really wanted to wait and see. Then Clerk Telu was saying something while he was indulging in his own contemplation. He gathered himself and listened. . . . “That the one thousand taels is the festival gift, not the down-payment. If we can't succeed, we don't need to return it.”
    Now Little An put on his thinking cap. He should make a plan how to get the deal done. It was not everyday that he could earn thirty thousand taels of silver. His monthly salary was only twenty taels. But there was a rule in the Forbidden City that a eunuch or a maid could get fined for breaking something or making some offense. The fine would be deducted from the salary. But they had free board and food.
    The reputation of Provisions Governor Wu was not so good recently that West Empress Dowager often got reports of criticisms of him, but she flooded them to protect him. (To flood a report meant that the emperor, now the empress dowagers, kept a report, which might cause some unnecessary trouble. Generally after the emperor, now the empress dowagers, read the report, it must go to the Secretarial Bureau for discussion and the secretaries would suggest what decisions should be made. When a report was flooded, it would not go to the Secretarial Bureau and no result would come for it.) Little An knew all this. He went to the Internal Registrar to make copies of them. (All the reports that came in must be registered there. The records showed who handed in the reports to criticize whom for what reasons.) Little An thought that if Provisions Governor Wu became aware how West Empress Dowager had protected him, he would do anything as she wished, or he wished in her name. But how could he get the message over to Provisions Governor Wu? Before long, an opportunity presented itself to him.

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