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While the War Between the States raged...

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Rachen, Jul 14, 2008.

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  1. Rachen

    Rachen member

    Mar 16, 2006
    New York

    Please enjoy.

    Song is sung by Han Lei. Opening scene of TAIPING TIEN GUO (Taiping Heavenly Kingdom)

    Founded in 1849 by a failed scholar and religious visionary named Hong Xiuquan, the Taiping rebelled against the corrupt Qing Dynasty, and soon defeated it's vast forces in a series of devastating battles, winning control of vast amounts of southern China.

    All of the Taiping founders, including the four Kings, the East, West, North, and South Kings who began the uprising in Guangxi, prior to the open declaration of war against the Qing in 1851, violated the Qing policy against weapons possession. All of them stashed various things, and although they liked guns, and had plenty of them, they preferred broadswords and halberds, but they also had millions of pounds of gunpowder stored in nearby caves. Originally they were prepared to fight the British in case they marched inland, but then the Qing, forced to ally with the British, and also ruled by corrupt mandarins started moving against them and robbing the peasants of food.
    When the Qing military governor of the Guanlubu region discovered the Taiping strength in the December of 1851, the Taipings knew they had to start the war earlier than usual. At Jintian, while only half the Taipings were even prepared to fight the well armed Qing banner army, the Taiping absolutely destroyed the Manchus. The Dragon carried the day.
    During the Battle of Jintian on December 9th, 1851, a largely outnumbered and outgunned Taiping Army faced a vast Imperial force led by one of the Qing Dynasty's most vaunted and skilled generals: Commander Ikedanbu. Partially for the reason of the Taipings being outnumbered is because most of the other Taiping units were elsewhere in the province, scattered in the mountains and abandoned coal mines, making gunpowder and smelting steel to build howitzers. The only Taiping units present at Jintian were the ones commanded by Hong Xiuquan's closest disciple Feng Yunshan, Xiao Chaoghui, and Yang Xiuqing. Also commanding another Taiping division was 14 year old Tan Shaokuang, a skilled martial arts practicioner and extremely skilled marksman. The total number of Taiping troops on scene during this fight was less than 20,000. However, Ikedanbu had almost 40,000 men under his command, and almost 10,000 of them were Manchu and Mongol cavalry, straight from the northern steppes, the best horsemen the world has ever seen. It was absolutely hot and hazy that day, the afternoon sun bathing the earth with a blazing yellow glare, as the two armies faced each other across hills right outise the village of Jintian.
    Almost at once, the Qing batteries opened up, shells exploding all over the Taiping ranks, killing some of them and wounding many. However, the Taipings did not open fire, yet. They simply waited. As the Qing barrage ended, thousands of Imperial troops began to march down the hill, thousands upon thousands of halberds and rifles. The Taiping waited until the Manchus were within 500 yards. Then the order to fire was given. Suddenly, hundreds of cannons opened up, their fire aimed directly at the Manchu ranks before them. Brutal and accurate, the Taiping fire absolutely destroyed the battle formations. Exploding shells and shrapnel from canister ripped into the imperial ranks like scissors ripping through curtain fabric. Thousands upon thousands of Qing troops lay dead or dying. Nearby, thousands of dead cavalrymen lay on the bloodied ground, while the horses that escaped the terrific cannonade screamed and stampeded about.
    Now, the order to charge was finally given. Almost 20,000 Taipings rushed the field at the same time. To the left of Ikedanbu's main column, Tan Shaokuang's division smashed straight into his unprotected left flank. Now the battle had become a melee. Swords, halberds, spears, bayonets and rifle butts. The Taiping fought mainly with their broadswords, hacking through the imperial ranks as quickly as they could mend them. Within an hour, the battle was over. Almost 35,000 Qing troops, including their commander Ikedanbu, lay dead, while over 15,000 Taipings are killed.

    By 1853, the Taiping had captured Nanjing, the seat of power of the Ming Dynasty almost two centuries before, driving the shattered and devastated remnants of the Qing back towards their ancestral homelands in Manchuria. However, even before Hong Xiuquan had taken his seat on the throne of a new empire, internal strife was beginning to tear the Taipings apart. A series of hostilities between the four Kings finally cumulated to the dreadful and cold blooded slaughter of the North King Wei Changhui's entire family at the hands of Yang Xiuqing, the ambitious and brutal East King. In the fighting that followed afterward, Wei Changhui sought revenge, and his army attacked Yang Xiuqing's palace a week later, massacring every single soldier that served under the East King's command, including his entire family as well. The internal fighting killed almost 20,000 people, most of them veteran Taiping warriors and cammanders. In disgust, another veteran Taiping commander, Prince Shi Dakai retreated from Nanjing, taking 5,000 soldiers with him. He traveled more than 4,000 miles north, all the way to Sichuan Province, where he intended to establish an independant kingdom. Shi Dakai's ragtag force was surrounded a year later by imperial Qing forces and slaughtered.

    In 1861, in response to the outbreak of the civil war in the United States, Hong Xiuquan ordered an attack on the port city of Shanghai. Shanghai was a commerce center, and if he is able to capture that city, it would enable him to trade with the Confederate States of America, a regime that he recognized as another anti-imperialist revolution. However, the Taipings were already weakened greatly by the endless waves of internal strife, and were defeated at the outskirts of the city by a combination of British and French colonial soldiers, and Qing banner troops.

    Meanwhile in Nanjing, the Qing had regrouped, and were now inching ever closer to the walls of the city. By 1862, the Qing banner army under the command of Zheng Guofan was shelling Nanjing nonstop, day and night. Along with the ceaseless explosions, the city's residents were starved to the point of eating rats and wild weeds. On July 20th, 1864, the Qing launched their final attack on the doomed capital. Despite their suffering endured for over three years of siege, the Taiping defenders of the city kept to their word and fought to the death, street by street, house by house. Over 100,000 Qing troops died as well. Not one Taiping defender remained alive during the battle of Nanjing.

    The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was a brutal story of rebellion, foreign imperialism, and patriotism during a time of the most grevious suffering. When the aroma of gunpowder lingers in the early morning air, it is a specter, a ghost, of the epic struggles of an epic era.


    This is the bravery of the final remaining defenders of the Taiping as they faced their Qing conquerors.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  2. Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Coastal Georgia
    Don't you mean "The War of Northern Aggression"??? :D
  3. arcticap

    arcticap Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Central Connecticut
    How about calling it the "War of the Worlds",
    or even better, the "War of the Words". :neener:

    I watched an interesting naval battle scene.
    Thanks for sharing Rachen! :)
  4. Rachen

    Rachen member

    Mar 16, 2006
    New York
    Just imagine how the course of history would have changed if the Taiping were able to capture Shanghai.

    Hong Xiuquan intended to establish a permanent trading route between the Taiping Empire and the Confederate States when the War broke out in USA.
    In response to the Confederate victory at Manassas, Hong Xiuquan ordered Prince Li Xiucheng to advance eastwards and crush the European colonies in Shanghai and the lower Chang Jiang River. Li Xiucheng captured Suzhou in three days of fighting and reached the outskirts of Shanghai by the fourth day. There, he waited for the riverboats to arrive with more supplies before proceeding with the assault on the city.

    However, the messenger never told him about the dire situation in Nanjing, and the fearful slaughter of over 20,000 Taipings in a wave of brutal internal fighting a couple of years before, or of Shi Dakai's departure from Nanjing. The city was already under siege by Zheng Guofan's army and supplies were never able to reach the Taipings at Suzhou.

    On July 28, 1861, Li Xiucheng ordered the first assault upon Shanghai. After two hours of bombardment with artillery, Tan Shaokuang led over 13,000 Taiping troops into the city, attacking from the city's northern suburb of Zhijiawei. Over 7,000 Qing and British colonial troops defending Zhijiawei were slaughtered. In 1861, many parts of Shanghai were already controlled by the Triads, another anti-Qing and anti-foreign rebel group based in Guangzhou. In Shanghai, hundreds of heavily armed Triad gunmen patrolled the Chinese sector of the city. Li Xiucheng initially planned to capture the western region of Shanghai, the negotiate with the Triads for a joint attack upon the heavily guarded European colonial centers along the Huangpu River.

    However, the Triads did not want anything to do with the Taipings because the Taiping worshipped puritannical ideals. Gambling, opium smoking, prostitution, and adultery were strictly prohibited under Taiping rule. The Shanghai Triads were originally a free roving partly criminal enterprise who just recently turned into a patriotic, nationalistic political force, but it's warlord leaders refused to conform to the ideologies of the Taiping.

    As a result, Li Xiucheng was forced to attempt the second phase of the assault all by himself. The Triads had deserted him, and the Nian deserted him a year earlier. The Nian was also another anti-Qing group, their rule consolidated over many parts of Huabei, Anhui, and Anqing. They were allies with the Taiping from the beginning, having fought alongside them against the Qing Imperial army since Jintian. However, when the Nian learned about what happened in Nanjing, they became disgusted and disheartened with the Taiping cause and also deserted them.

    By July 29th, Tan Shaokuang had reached the downtown area of Shanghai, what is present day Huahai Road and Nanjing Road. Over 5000 Taipings were killed in repeated assaults against the fortified British and French positions, but he did not let up. After the third assault was repelled, Tan Shaokuang ordered his artillery to open up on the British lines with explosive shot and napalm. Within minutes, the British colonial headquarters were reduced to a mass of flaming rubble, with hundreds of dead and dying soldiers littered all over the place, wounded men thrashing and screaming amidst the explosions. At nightfall, another 3,000 Taipings, this time personally led by Tan Shaokuang, stormed the fortifications. They penetrated the British lines easily, smashing into the French and Japanese quarters with terrific ferocity. The Taipings fired one single volley into the foreign ranks, then charged with halberds and broadswords. They destroyed the French quarter in 2 hours of intense fighting. Over 500 French Marines, including their leader, Admiral Protet, were killed, along with hundreds of other Europeans in that particular sector. Tan Shaokuang huimself personally hacked over 100 enemy fighters to death with his broadsword as the Heavenly Army fought their way towards the Huangpu River.

    By mid-morning, Tan Shaokuang stood at the devastated remains of the European Quarter, surveying the carnage of the previous night. One of his men also brought him a souvenir, a 4 power naval telescope, taken from the lifeless body of Admiral Protet. "It is sure a dreadful fight", remarked the Taiping soldier to tan Shaokuang, as they observed the French admiral's bloated body draped over the redoubt's walls, stained with the blood of hundreds of other slain enemies.

    Tan Shaokuang could have attacked even further towards the ocean, capturing countless amounts of silver and gold from the Qing reserves, enabling them to finance even larger campaigns, but his resources were already strangled to the point of total annihilation by the next day. Qing forces under the leadership of scholar-general Li Hongzhang were approaching from the west. Elsewhere, the European forces were rallying again, preparing for a counterattack against the victorious, but severely damaged Taiping Army.

    As a result, Tan Shaokuang withdrew back to Zhijiawei. His forces held onto several parts of Shanghai for over month, until news came in on August 9th, 1861, that another Taiping garrison had fallen to the Qing. On August 5, 1861, Prince Chen Yiucheng, commander of the Anqing outpost, was betrayed by two of his former comrades. The two men were jealous that Chen Yiucheng had been knighted by Emperor Hong Xiuquan, and given the title of Heavenly Prince. First, they attempted to assassinate him a couple of times, but when the attempts failed, they defected to the approaching Qing banner army of Li Hongzhang. Using cunning messages, they invited Chen Yiucheng to attend a banquet hosted by two Taiping defectors. The defectors claimed in their message that they had successfully destroyed a Qing army on the Chang Jiang River and were also given princely titles. Convinced that the message was true, Chen Yiucheng departed for the banquet, despite the protests of his closest advisors. When Chen Yiucheng arrived at the castle where the banquet was reported being held, alone, armed only with a pistol and his sword, he was surrounded by over 15,000 Qing banner troops. Chen Yiucheng, once one of the greatest military commanders ever, and Emperor Hong Xiuquan's favorite, was now stripped of his magnificent yellow dragon robes, crown, pistol and sword, beaten terribly by his Qing captors, and thrown into a filthy bamboo cage, it's floor covered with the blood and excrment of hundreds of other condemned prisoners who previously rode this cage to their trials and executions at the hands of the Qing magistrates.

    Chen Yiucheng was convicted of treason against the Imperial Court, and sentenced to death by slow decapitation. On the morning of August 23, 1861, as Chen Yiucheng was being led to the killing ground, a crowd of more than 100,000 angry and tearful local peasants gathered. They cursed the Qing leaders, shouted threats, and cried cries of vengeance. They almost broke through the throng of Qing guards that held them back. Chen Yiucheng was bloodied, wounded, and caked from head to toe with dried blood and mud, but he still stood up and addressed the crowd with the same fervor as he was before his capture. "Listen to me, my fellow countrymen!" He cried.
    "The Qing Dynasty had violated their Mandate of Heaven by committing treason, selling away this country to the foreign imperialists, and selling it's own people into the throes and sufferings of opium addiction and despair. Remember! Traitors and Tyrants will not live long! The Qing will be destroyed! Their cruelty and cowardly acts have ignited waves of countless wars and devastation for years to come, and they will ultimately meet their own destruction soon! While my life is only one life amongst millions of heroes, the Qing demons have slaughtered millions of innocents! And it will be the blood of the innocents they will drown in ultimately!"
    Chen Yiucheng turned, his long, matted hair falling away from his face, revealing an expression of utmost defiance in the rays of the morning sun. He stopped when he faced Li Hongzhang, sitting in his magistrate's throne high above the Imperial ranks.
    "You have chosen to ignite the inferno of this bloodshed!" He cried.
    "And it will be you who will pay for it in the end!"
    Li Hongzhang's face was suddenly contorted by fear, uncontrollable fear.
    "Kill him now!", he screamed, drawing his sword.
    At once, six Imperial executioners, clad in scarlet robes, advanced up to the podium where Chen Yiucheng was standing. The crowd below roared their opposition, screaming insults and threats at the Qing magistates before them. Only a thin brace of Imperial spears and bayonets held them back as Li Hongzhang waved his sword and yelled, his words completely drowned out by the roar of the crowd below him.

    The executioners had reached the podium now. Chen Yiucheng stood up, facing the crowd in a final gesture of defiance. Raising a fist towards the sky, he bellowed "TAIPING TIENGUO WANSUEI!!! ZHONG HUA RENMIN WANSUEI!!!". (Long live the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom! Long live the Chinese nation!)

    With these words, he suddenly lunged foward and directed a massive flat-handed chop at the neck of the first executioner. The powerful blow completely shattered his spine. With his other hand, Chen Yiucheng seized the executioner's sword. With one single motion, he thrusted the blade through the neck of the second executioner, killing him as well. Li Hongzhang yelled in terror as Chen Yiucheng took a running leap, then jumped high into the air, his body twirling as he thundered down towards the rest of the executioners. With a single, vicious spin as he landed, he decapitated two more of the red robed killers. The two remaining executioners fled, but Chen Yiucheng instantly leapt after them, killing one with one swipe of his sword. The remaining man turned to fight, thrusting his sword at Chen Yiucheng, or where he was a split second ago. Chen Yiucheng dodged the blade, slashing down on the enemy's sword with his own. The blow shattered his own sword but he simply threw the remains aside, seizing his enemy's arm and twisting him around with one hand, and shattering his neck with his second hand.
    "I won't die a coward!!!", he bellowed, as he hurled the dead executioner onto the ground in front of him.
    Just that moment, a rifle shot rang out from the Imperial ranks. A hole opened up in Chen Yiucheng's bosom, blood spurting in every direction. He spun around towards the shooter, not flinching, or even recoiling. A second shot exploded forth, followed by a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Chen Yiucheng collapsed to the ground, trembling with rage and pain. "Cowards!", he muttered, as his breath ebbed away. Below him, the cries of anguish from 100,000 people pierced the sky.

    When the news of Chen Yiucheng's death reached Li Xiucheng, he ordered Tan Shaokuang to withdraw completely from Shanghai....................

    Somewhere within the ranks of Qing troops besieging the doomed fortress of Nanjing, Zheng Guofan was looking at several maps spread out along his table, illuminated by a single lantern hanging from a lanyard. Artillery, he thought. Artillery mounted atop several hundred riverboats. He looked out through the flaps of his tent at the towering walls of the Taiping fortress several thousand yards away. How would the guns be floated within range?, he thought.
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    The "younger brother of Jesus" didn't have a chance once the Europeans sided with the Manchus.
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