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cuation as a consequence of the taking of Kashing fu; but not so did Tso, who, being Chetai of Chekiang, did not much like General Ching, a Kiangsoo official, taking a city in his province. Immediately after this the Rebels evacuated Huhang, and fell back on Wuchu fu, close to the south-west corner of the Taiho Lake. Thus they were cleared almost entirely out of the district to the south of that immense sheet of water; but small parties of them took refuge in the uninhabited mountains which formed the boundary between the provinces of Chekiang and Nganhwui, and which run up by Kuanteche and Liyang all the way from Hangchow to Nanking; for the Imperialists did not care to follow them into the fastnesses of those sterile hills, where starvation awaited them.
We must now return to Colonel Gordon, who had nearly recovered from bis wound, and had put his augmented force in movement in the neighbourhood of Waisoo on the 6th April
. The Tai-pings who had so lately repulsed his force were in a rather dangerous position ; for behind them, on the north, beyond a range of bills, was the river Yangtsze, held by Imperial fleets ; on the east was General Kwo Sung-ling, with a large force of Imperialists ; on the south-east, the disciplined Chinese ; on the south and west were also large Imperialist forces; while to the north-west Kongyin was held by the Imperialists. Between the latter place and the Rebel stockades at Waisoo the road to Tayan passed ; and now the Imperialists held no force upon it, but had broken all its bridges past Kongyin, and had arranged so that the Rebels would imagine this road to be still open for retreat. As his men were rather timid after their recent loss, Colonel Gordon advanced
CAPTURE OF WAISOO.
with the greatest caution towards Waisoo on the 11th April, and found that town surrounded by strong stockades and breastworks. Having opened a fire from the 24-pounder howitzers, he moved the 4th Regiment and two mounted guns to the north of the Rebel position, which was its weakest side. This disconcerted the Tai-pings, who had expected to be attacked only from the south-the direction from which the howitzers were firing. The stockades on the north were taken with very little fighting; and on finding this, the Rebels suddenly vacated the town, and after a little desultory skirmishing began to retreat from the neighbourhood. Li's Imperialist soldiers then followed them up, and drove them in every direction over the country towards Tayan. Waisoo was found full of rice, which had been collected from the surrounding country. In it were discovered the bodies of upwards of 150 of the Liyang men who had been taken prisoners in the affair of the 31st March, and the mutilated corpses of the seven unfortunate European officers were buried with military honours.
Next day, when Colonel Gordon followed up the Rebels in the direction of Kongyin, the villagers of the country turned out to his assistance, armed with every sort of weapon, and showed no mercy to the Rebels, who suffered fearfully among the creeks which abounded, and whose parties were cut up in every direction. It would have been difficult even for a disciplined force to have withstood the attacks of these infuriated peasants, whose houses had been burnt, and whose relatives had been wantonly murdered, by the Tai-ping marauders. Several Chiefs and a great number of ponies were taken. All the Cantonese, Hupeh, and Kwangsi Rebels who were taken were immediately executed. Of the expeditionary force barely 1000 escaped back to Tayan and Chanchu.
Colonel Gordon then collected his entire force, which at this time numbered about 3000 men, and advanced to assist Futai Li and the Imperialist troops who were engaged in besieging Chanchu fu. At this time the Rebellion was very near its last gasp; for in Chekiang the Tai-pings held only the cities of Wuchu and Chang-ching; in Kiangsoo they had only Nanking, Tayan, and Chanchu; in Kiangsi their footing was confined to three towns held by the Che Wang; and in the remainder of China they made no appearance at all. Hence it seemed practicable as well as important to prevent them making their escape from Chanchu to ravage fresh districts ; and Gordon pressed the importance of this upon the Futai, who was noways unwilling to invest the city on all sides, because the garrison, commanded by the Hu Wang and Tso Wang, were mostly Cantonese—desperate old Rebels to whom he was not disposed to show any mercy. The Futai was also very angry with his military Mandarins for having effected nothing against this place though they had been before it since January, and urged on matters by threatening to degrade them if they did not make sharp progress in the siege.
In the preliminary fighting among the stockades before Chanchu, Colonel Gordon lost his best artillery officer, and himself ran a great risk. About midnight on the 25th April, he, along with Major Tapp, was superintending a fatigue party of Imperialists engaged in constructing a battery, who were supported by a strong Imperialist picket on each side, and by a covering party in rear.
This work was nearly completed, when suddenly, without any intelligible reason, the picket on the left fired into the battery. On this the covering
DEATH OF MAJOR TAPP.
party fell back on a bank behind, and also opened fire upon the battery, seeing which, the left picket again fired into it. Roused by this midnight disturbance, the Tai-pings also directed their guns upon the same point; so the astonished party in the battery had to stand a rear and flank fire from their own troops, and a front one from the enemy. Colonel Gordon, with his usual good fortune, escaped untouched, and soon managed to find a little shelter among some ruins; but his companion was shot in the stomach, and died in about ten minutes, while of the handful of sappers in the battery there were several killed and five wounded. It is difficult to believe that this affair was altogether an accident. The troops before Chanchu were not very eager to push on the siege, because they knew that they would meet with a desperate resistance, and that the taking of that place would end the campaign; so it is not impossible that some of them may have desired to try whether or not Gordon actually bore a charmed life.
Major Tapp, who was thus killed, had been a warrant officer in the Royal Navy, and was permitted to purchase his discharge in order to enter the force in 1862. He was a singularly energetic as well as brave officer, and had more influence over the men than any other of the regimental commanders, so his loss was greatly felt. Another fact worthy of notice in the preliminary fighting was, that a number of the Tai-pings who escaped to the city wall when their stockades outside were taken by the Imperialists, were drawn up by ropes to the top of the parapet by their friends inside, and were there and then decapitated pour encourager les autres who might be meditating on the expediency of evacuating any other stockades.
The Futai was very anxious to take Chanchu with his unaided Chinese troops, and ordered Colonel Bailey, who was directing the late General Ching's artillery, to breach the wall between the South and West Gates on the 26th April
. Gordon's artillery was then ordered to open
fire on the town, in order to distract the attention of the garrison, and an assault was made by the Imperialists alone, who were repulsed with great loss. On the 27th Gordon had completed his batteries and opened fire on the south-east angle of the wall, laying under cover of this fire a pontoon bridge across the ditch, which was sixty feet broad and eight in depth. He had arranged that a fresh body of Imperialists should assault at the same time as he did at bis point; and so at i P.M. he advanced two regiments as a storming party. On this the Rebels manned the walls in great numbers, and their leader, Hu Wang, was seen encouraging them in person. The resistance was so desperate that, though ten or twelve of the officers mounted the breach, they were driven back, and the column bad to be recalled. It appeared that, owing to some mishap about their bridges, the Imperialists had not stormed at the time which had been agreed on, so the whole force of the Tai-pings had been at liberty to meet the disciplined Chinese ; but the Futai sent round to Gordon asking him to renew the assault, and a combined movement was then made on the two points which had been breached. Again, however, both the Imperialists and the Ever-Victorious Army were repulsed; the Taipings inside being desperate, owing, doubtless, to Lí’s refusal to show mercy to the Kwangtung and Kwangsi men amongst them. Though Gordon's officers got up on this occasion to the crest of the breach—Colonels Cawte, Howard, and Chapman, and Captain Winstanley greatly distinguishing themselves—yet the men hung