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ged by Rebels. - Varch 1864.
* April + 1863.
- to repet
GORDON'S FURTHER OPERATIONS.
IMPERIALIST SUCCESSES—INACTIVITY OF THE EVER-VICTORIOUS ARMY
-- GORDON'S REASONS FOR RETAKING THE FIELD MR HART's
- A TAIPING LETTER STORMING OF CHANCHU DEATH OF THE HU WANG-CLOSE OF THE SERVICES OF THE E. V. A
AFTER the taking of Soochow, the only cities in the province of Kiangsoo which remained in Rebel occupation were Yesing, Liyang, Chanchu fu, Tayan, Chuyang, and Kintang. The whole of the guns and munition captured at Soochow were given over to General Ching, who had thus plenty of artillery under Major Bailey, one of Gordon's old officers. The first use he made of his strengthened force was to start with 8000 men to attack a strong fort, which was still held by Rebels, eighteen miles south of Soochow, and without difficulty drove them out of it back on Kashing fu. Tan, the
Futai's brother, also carried on some successful operations to the north of Soochow, and managed to recover the steamer Firefly, which had been pirated at Shanghai.
Meanwhile the Ever-Victorious Army was lying idle in garrison at Quinsan. A great many of its officers and men were lying wounded, and various sums of money were to be paid as compensation to these victims of the recent campaign. About 20,000 taels were expended by the Futai in gifts to the wounded, besides the extra month's pay which he had promised on account of the taking of Soochow. The enforced rest, however, did not agree with the temper of this irregular force. “ The officers,” Colonel Schmidt writes, “ did everything to honour Colonel Gordon, and show in how high esteem they held him ; but they were very jealous of each other, and during January quarrelled constantly with each other over the question as to who should succeed to the command in the event of his leaving." Though the fall of Soochow had given the Tai-pings a great blow, they were by no means completely vanquished even in the province of Kiangsoo ; and European rowdies began again to show themselves, perpetrating at this time several cruel murders. It was also rumoured that Foreigners were again joining the Tai-ping ranks ; Rebel sympathisers began to resume their work, and there was even danger that a portion of the Ever-Victorious Army, disgusted with inactivity, might transfer their allegiance to the Rebel cause.
On considering these facts, Colonel Gordon came to the conclusion that, in existing circumstances, it would be best for him to resume offensive operations. The nature of his force did not allow of its being kept inactive, and it could not be managed properly if only engaged in defending Shanghai. Its dissolution, in the
REASONS FOR RETAKING THE FIELD.
unsettled state of the province, would have involved great cruelty to the people of Kiangsoo, who, on the faith of the protection which it afforded, had commenced to reoccupy their cities and resume the cultivation of their fields. Moreover, in the then condition of the Ever-Victorious Army, there was good hope that the province could be cleared of Rebels in two months, and reduced to a state of order and peace; whereas, if the army were dissolved or kept in a state of inactivity at Shanghai, a year would probably elapse before such a consummation could be arrived at. As to the conduct of the Futai, that officer had been warned to consult Colonel Gordon before ordering executions. Even if the Chinese Government had removed him, that would not have much mended matters, as his successor would probably have been quite as objectionable, if not more so, and a willing instrument in any plan for avenging his predecessor's disgrace. In fact, the removal of Lí from his high position at the dictation of Foreigners, was an event to be avoided, because it would have been a serious blow to the independence of the Chinese Empire, and would have caused Tseng Kwo-fan and other powerful Mandarins to disregard Imperial edicts. There was also the danger of the force being reconstituted by Ls, and placed under some other European, in which case the British Government would have had no control over it. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, Colonel Gordon resolved to sacrifice his own personal feelings, which urged him to retire ; and his indignation at the massacre of the Wangs must have somewhat abated from its original intensity when he learned all the circumstances of the case.
This view of Gordon's duty was taken-very strongly by Mr Robert Hart, the head of the Imperial Maritime