Page images


and hand with the Forces of the Chinese Government against the Rebels.

On the 11th of the 5th moon of the 3d year of Tung-che [11th June 1864), Li, the Governor of Kiangsoo, in a memorial reporting a series of distinguished services rendered in action by Gordon now a Tsung-Ping, with the title of Ti-Tu, together with the particulars of his conduct and discipline of the Ever-Victorious Army, requested his Majesty the Emperor to be pleased to commend him; and on the same day the Grand Secretariat had the honour to receive the following decree :

“On the occasion of the recovery of Chanchu We issued a decree conferring on Gordon, Provisional General of Division of the Army of Kiangsoo, for his co-operation with the force he commanded, the title of Ti-Tu [Commander-in-Chief of a provincial army); and We further presented him with banners and decorations of honour. This was to distinguish his extraordinary merit, and Li Hung-chang was to address Us again whenever he (Gordon) should have brought the Ever-Victorious Battalions under his command into a satisfactory state of drill and discipline, and to request Us to signify Our approval of his conduct in laudatory terms. Li Hung-chang now writes to say that, both as regards its movements and its discipline, the Ever-Victorious Battalion under Gordon is in a very satisfactory state, and to request Us to signify Our pleasure accordivgly.

“Since the spring of last year Gordon has distinguished himself in a series of actions with the Ever-Victorious Force under his command; he has co-operated with the Forces of Government (with such effect that] Fushan has been recovered, the siege of Chanzu has been raised, and the sub-prefectural city of Taitsan, with the district cities of Quinsan and Wokong, have also been retaken, as well as the provincial capital of Soochow. This year he has retaken Ihing and Liyang; he has driven off the Rebels who had worked their way to Yangshê, and he has recaptured Chanchu He has now brought the Ever-Victorious Force to such a degree of improvement that it will prove a body of enduring utility. Not only has he shown himself throughout both brave and energetic, but his thorough appreciation of that important question, a friendly understanding between China and Foreign nations, is also deserving of the highest praise.

“We command that Gordon be rewarded with a yellow ridingjacket * to be worn on his person, and a peacock's feather to be carried on his cap; also that there be bestowed on him four suits of the uniform proper to his rank of Ti-Tu, in token of Our favour and desire to do him honour. Respect this.”

A copy of the above having been reverently made and forwarded to the Tsung-li Yamun, the Prince and the Ministers, members of it, have to observe that General Gordon, ever since he began to co-operate with the Forces of the Chinese Government against the Rebels, has been alike remarkable for his courage and intelligence, and displayed extraordinary energy. But the fact that he was further able to improve the drill and discipline of the Ever-Victorious Force shows him to be in very eminent degree both able and respectable, while his success in supporting the friendly policy of the British Government, whose subject he is, entitles him to the admission that he has not shown himself unworthy of the language ever held by the British Minister regarding him.

In respectful obedience to the will of his Imperial Majesty, the Yamun is preparing the uniforms and other articles for transmission to him. The banners and decorations will be cared for by Li, the Governor of Kiangsoo.

Meanwhile it becomes the duty of the Prince to address the British Minister, that his Excellency may bring these things to the notice of her Majesty the Queen of England, in evidence of the desire of the Chinese Government, by its consideration of Colonel Gordon's] merits, and its bestowal of rewards, to strengthen the entente cordiale.

General Gordon's title, Ti-Tu, gives him the highest rank in the Chinese Army; but the Prince trusts that if, on his return home, it be possible for the British Government to bestow promotion or reward on General Gordon, the British Minister will bring the matter forward, that all may know that his achievements and his character are equally deserving of praise. June 16, 1864.

The dissolution of the Ever-Victorious Army was viewed with some concern by Sir Harry Parkes, who

* The Yellow Jacket is a high distinction conferred only rarely on Chinese officers



thought that he, as Consul at Shanghai, or at least that the British Minister, ought to have been consulted on the subject. Accordingly he wrote somewhat sharply to Lí, Futai, upon the subject, complaining that Shanghai might be again exposed to Tai-ping assaults, and received from Lí a letter dated the 23d May 1864, from which I make the following extracts, without changing the rather peculiar English of the native Chinese interpreter who penned it, as they serve to illustrate the Futai's own view of his share in the victories of the preceding year; and this view, whether correct or not, should be taken into account before commenting on the general subject of Gordon's achievements :

When the force was first raised by Colonel Ward it numbered less than 1000 men, which number was gradually added to till it reached several thousand. It went on like this till 1862, when, in consequence of the failure of the Nanking expedition, and the defection of Burgevine, I settled that it should be weeded out, and 3000 only retained. The command then passed into the hands of Holland and Gordon, who being willing to consult me, the force, with the co-operation of some tens of thousands of the Imperial army, kept the field for a year or so, and finally achieved the glorious capture of Soochow.

During this time a large number of the old soldiers deserted, tired by their long service, and the bravest of the force were disabled by death or wounds; and as the vacancies have been supplied in many cases by Rebels who had newly come over, the force could not be expected to perform as well in future, should it be necessary to employ it. Colonel Gordon, accordingly, desiring to return to England, proposed that the force should be disbanded, that the revenues may be relieved of the expenses of its support, and his future reputation be secured.

The measure being a felicitous idea of Colonel Gordon's, and not an underhand project of mine. However, as the force has been a long time in the field, I am unwilling to disband it without notice, and I propose to retain the artillery corps, numbering 600, 300 picked men of infantry, and the complement of the



Hyson, being one-third of the whole force. I also give the Foreign officers I dismiss considerable gratifications, in consideration of their service; and I shall similarly see the privates properly rewarded. The measures, therefore, which have been quietly considered by Colonel Gordon and myself on the spot, would appear sound, and the reduction practicable, as far as the force itself is concerned.

You refer in your letter to the three attacks on Shanghai before 1861, which occurred before my arrival at Shanghai ; but, though not present, I think you must have heard of the progress of the campaign since 1862–how at the commencement of the summer of which year I arrived in Shanghai with 6000 infantry only, the whole country, save some three miles E. and W. of the river, being infested with Rebel armies 100,000 strong. Army replaced army. Kading and Tsipoo, which had been recovered, were lost; and although we were most fortunate in the protection afforded the place, and great assistance was given by your officers and men, it was not till I took the field in person, and by my victories slaughtered some 10,000 of the Rebels, and abated their pride, that Shanghai could spread out, or even be considered safe itself. Reinforcements then coming down, and my army having been at length brought up to some strength, I divided my force, and despatched it E. and W.-the eastern division, under General Ching, numbering 20,000 men, acting with Gordon's force, and capturing Wokong, Chanzu, Taitsan, and Quinsan, and clearing the way to Soochow; the western division, under Generals Li Lin and Kwo, numbering some 20,000, proceeding west, and capturing Kongyin, Wusieh, clearing the way to Chanchu. A third army, under Pau, Futai, after clearing out Nanhui, Kinsan, and Pootung generally, eventually recovered Pingwang, Pinghui, and Chapu

This year General Ching recovered the prefectural city of Kashing; and I, in person, with some 40,000 men, with Gordon's assistance, recovered Chanchu, and Colonel Gordon, an eyewitness, can testify to the bravery of both. Such is the brief history of the campaign-how the Imperial army, sometimes co-operating with Gordon's force, sometimes acting by itself, has achieved complete success

I have entered thus into the details that the position may be clear to you.




Again, as although the Rebels are now twice as formidable as they were in 1854though they fight desperately, whether in attack or when defending themselves—my troops have been a match for them, they [i. e., “my troops ") should not be named in the same day with the old Imperial forces. I would point out that even when Burgevine's tribe gave them (the Rebels) every aid in their power, when they purchased steamers at exorbitant rates, my troops burnt the first at Kachiao, the second at Peninin, and the third at Kashing, besides capturing innumerable Foreign muskets and guns in every victory, whereas now the Rebels are reduced to the depths of poverty, and it is not expecting too much to look forward to the speedy capture of Nankin and Hoochow (Wuchu), to assist in reducing which I am sending a considerable force.

The eastern frontier - Pingwang, the Taibo Lake, and Kashing-[being] held by 10,000 odd men, there is no fear of the Hoochow Rebels breaking out; and the western frontierChangchow, Tinghu, Chinshan, Piao Yang, and Kiu Yangbeing held by 30,000 odd men, an eruption of the Nanking Rebels is not to be apprehended. At Soochow, again, my own force, amounting, between soldiers and marines, to 10,000 odd men, is stationed ready to march at a moment's notice, and there is not a single spot left open, not an inch uncovered. Shanghai, therefore, as it is a long way behind all these, and its approaches are guarded by victorious troops, can repose calmly; and when you consider that, although in 1862 I had but the one city of Shanghai and some three miles round, I was able to make head against the Rebels, till now Soochow and Chanchu are clear of them, and they possess two places, only both many hundred li from Shanghai, and the country is held by first-class troops, you will have, I think, little cause fur apprehension; and it certainly appears to me that the measures you say in your letter should be taken to secure the future peace and tranquillity of Shanghai may be seen in operation, and it would be taking a very one-sided view to say that Gordon's force is the only one on which reliance could be placed, and that the tens of thousands of tried Imperial troops are not sufficient. I refer you, however, to Gordon, who is well acquainted with the matter from having been present with the army, while I repeat, I do not intend to disband the force

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »