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1863 and 1864, brought home intelligence that Major (now Colonel) Gordon had taken another town from the Tai-pings and handed it over to the Imperialists. Hence this latter period has for us the double interest arising from the restoration to order of a great country with which we are commercially connected, and of the military service in it of British officers to that end.
My information on this subject bas been drawn chiefly from unpublished sources. More than a year after his connection with the Chinese Government had ended, Colonel Gordon offered me his Private Journal and Correspondence relating to that connection, and other papers illustrative of Tai-ping history, with full permission to make any use of them I pleased, but expressing at the same time a strong wish that in anything published on the subject he should not be made the hero of a work in which so many other officers were engaged, who had, in his opinion, as much to do with the suppression of the Rebellion as himself, and that any relation of his services in China should be subordinated to what he considered the more important object of presenting a true account of the recent course of events in that country. He was induced to place in me this valued confidence chiefly by the perusal, after his return to England, of a pamphlet on our policy in China, which I issued at Hongkong in 1860, proposing and advocating that change of policy towards the Celestial Empire which was afterwards so ably carried out at Peking by Sir Frederick Bruce, her Majesty's Plenipotentiary; at Shanghai by Mr Hart, the head of the Imperial Maritime Customs; and by Colonel Gordon in the field.
Though I never had the slightest connection, directly
or indirectly, with the Celestial Government, or derived any special benefit from it, yet, having lived a good deal among the Chinese in their own Flowery Land, and being deeply impressed with the convictions that the interests of China and of Great Britain are at present identical, and that a right understanding of the former country may be of very great use in the new phase of political matters into which we are ourselves entering, I felt inclined to enter on the task thus committed to me. Considering Colonel Gordon's wishes, the absence in his Journal of all details of personal adventure, and the uninteresting nature of small military operations after the recent great wars in America and on the Continent, it seemed clear that the best course to pursue would be to draw up a brief general history of the suppression of the Tai-ping Rebellion, taking, only as a central figure, the Foreign-officered Imperialist force officially called the Ch’ang Sheng Chi’un or “Ever-Victorious Army," which was originated in 1860 by Ward, an American adventurer, and which, under Colonel Gordon, did essential service in clearing the province of Kiangsoo of Tai-pings, and leading to the fall of Nanking, the Rebel capital
The completion of this design has been delayed and partially interfered with by very severe and prolonged illness; but the delay is not a matter of regret, for no events of great importance have very recently occurred in China, and the lapse of time has allowed idle reports about the continuance of the Tai-ping Rebellion to die away. I do not plead my state of health in excuse of any errors or defects in this short history, but only to explain why some of the earlier chapters are more elaborate than may seem necessary as an introduction to
those which follow. I had planned the work on a larger scale, and with the intention of more perfect execution, but, having been reduced to writing by dictation, have been compelled to content myself with presenting matter which is either entirely new, or is of essential importance to a right understanding of recent events in China
About a third of this volume has already appeared in the
pages of • Blackwood's Magazine;' but the remainder is entirely new matter, with the exception of a few sentences which I may have used when commenting in the 'Daily News,' or 'Pall Mall Gazette,' on passing events in the East.
I have to acknowledge my obligations for various documents and information to Major-General W. G. Brown ; Staff Assistant-Surgeon A. Moffitt; Captain Roderick Dew, R.N.; Mr Dick of Tientsin ; Mr James Macdonald, formerly Secretary of the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce ; Dr W. Dickson, late of Canton; and
especially to Colonel Gordon, with whom, however, I have had no communication in regard to matters of opinion, and who is in no way responsible for this work further than for the correctness of my account of the operations which he conducted.
My own experience in China and acquaintance with Ward when he started the Ever-Victorious Army have proved useful, as also the statements of gentlemen who had opportunities of observing some of the operations under Gordon; and I may say that all the information now available regarding the suppression of the Tai-ping Rebellion has been examined and considered, but the materials of this work have been chiefly drawn from the following sources :
1. The Private Journal and Correspondence of Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, C.B., relating to his Chinese Campaign.
2. A MS. Narrative of Gordon's Campaign, compiled under the direction of Major-General Brown, who commanded H.M.'s troops in China in 1863-64, and whose brother, Major Brown, was Gordon's A.D.C.
3. A confidential “Memorandum on the Quin-san Force," or Gordon's Contingent, printed by H.M.'s Government, but never published.
4. The Private Journal kept by Captain Roderick Dew, R.N., of his operations against the Tai-pings in the province of Chekiang.
5. Imperial Decrees and other official Chinese documents, and Tai-ping Manifestoes.
6. The Autobiographies of the Tai-ping Chiefs, the Chung Wang or Faithful King, the Kan Wang or Shield King, and the son of the Rebel Monarch, who, before being put to death by the Imperial authorities after their capture at, or shortly after, the fall of Napking, were permitted to employ the brief remainder of their lives in writing out accounts of their history.
7. Intercepted Rebel Despatches and the Letters and Depositions of unfortunate Foreigners who served with the Tai-pings.
8. “Notes kept by” Colonel Schmidt, “ an officer who served under Ward, Burgevine, Holland, and Gordon,” which were published in the 'Friend of China' a paper notorious for its Tai-ping sympathies.
9. A Medical Report on Gordon's Campaign by Staff Assistant-Surgeon A. Moffitt.
10. The Correspondence on our Relations with China
published in Parliamentary Blue-Books, and the Diplomatic Correspondence issued by the President of the United States.
11. The Chinese Classics.
In regard to several of the maps which accompany this book, I have to acknowledge my obligations, for valuable assistance rendered in the preparation of them, to Captain Sanford of the Royal Engineers, who is personally well acquainted with the country in the neighbourhood of Shanghai, having been engaged on the survey of it, and having also taken a part in the British operations against the Tai-pings. The “Sketchmap of the Operations against the Rebels in 1862-64" will be found necessary to explain Colonel Gordon's Campaign, and has been reduced from a large military plan constructed by himself and by other officers of her Majesty's army. The “ Map illustrating the Operations of the Chung and Ying Wangs” is explanatory of the attempts, as described in Chap. V., of the Tai-pings to relieve Hankow. In the "Sketch-map of the Routes taken by the Rebel Forces from 1851 to 1865," advantage has been taken of the lines illustrating the early Taiping movements given by Mr Meadows in the map accompanying his work on the Rebellion ; but the later more important movements of the Tai-pings, up to the time of their extinction, are also shown, together with the lines established by Li Hung-chang, in 1857, to destroy the Nien-fei. The “Sketch of Taitsan and Quinsan” may serve to explain the capture of the latter town, as described in Chap. IX.; and the “Sketch of Country ravaged by Rebels, March 1864,” illustrates Col