Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chiang Chung-yüan

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3635437Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Chiang Chung-yüanTêng Ssŭ-yü

CHIANG Chung-yüan 江忠源 (T. 常孺, H. 岷樵), Aug. 1, 1812–1854, Jan. 15, a native of Hsin-ning, Hunan, was the organizer of a detachment of Hunan volunteers known as Ch'u Yung 楚勇 in who fought against the Taiping rebels. A chü-jên of 1837, he lived in Peking for several years until 1844 when he took the, special examination (大挑) granted to those who had failed three times for the chin-shih degree. After passing the examination he was made an expectant director of district schools. Upon his return to his native place he perceived that rebellion was imminent and began to train volunteers to combat it. In 1847 an uprising took place in Hsin-ning which he put down with the help of volunteers. He was rewarded with an expectant magistracy and later received appointment to Hsiu-shui (1849–50) as acting magistrate, and then to Li-shui as magistrate. As all high officials were requested, at the accession of Emperor Wên-tsung (1850), to recommend persons worthy of important office, Chiang was so recommended by his friend, Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.]. But instead of proceeding to Peking, he returned home to observe the period of mourning for the death of his father.

About this time Hung Hsiu-ch'üan [q. v.] initiated his rebellion in Kwangsi. Grand Secretary Sai-shang-a (see under Ch'ung-ch'i) was sent to quell the insurgents and Chiang Chung-yüan was called from mourning to assist at the front. His volunteers became known in Kwangsi as the Ch'u Yung and were the first contingent of Hunanese to fight outside their province in the Taiping war. As the war progressed in Kwangsi Chiang won a battle and was rewarded with the promise of an appointment as first-class sub-prefect, after his period of mourning was ended. Involved in disagreement among the generals about military tactics (see under Hsiang Jung), he became discouraged and retired for a time from active service. But in 1852, when the Taipings threatened Kuei-lin, he summoned a detachment of 1,000 recruits and rushed from Hsin-ning to the front. After winning three battles the siege of Kuei-lin was raised and Chiang was rewarded with the rank of a prefect (1852). When the Taipings retreated to Ch'üan-chou with the intention of invading Hunan by boat, he held them for a time, but soon they altered their plans and proceeded to Hunan overland, taking Tao-chou, Chiang-hua and other districts. Although Chiang besieged some of them at Ch'ên-chou for more than a month, the Taipings forced their way through and advanced on Changsha, the capital of Hunan. There Chiang helped to defend the city. Later the Taipings abandoned the siege of Changsha but advanced northward through Yochow to Wuchang and other places on the Yangtze. Chiang and his men remained in Hunan in the winter of 1852 to suppress small uprisings. The following year, as a reward for his prowess in defending Changsha, he was elevated to the rank of an intendant and then was appointed provincial judge of Hupeh where he rendered good service. Later in the same year (1853) he was made an assistant commander of the armies in Kiangnan (Kiangsu and Anhwei). Before proceeding to his headquarters in Kiangnan (see under Hsiang Jung) he submitted an eight point memorial to the throne about the military situation, suggesting among other matters the enforcement of military law and disciplinary measures. When he reached Kiukiang on his way to Kiangnan he learned that the Taipings had left P'êng-tsê to attack Nanchang. He at once changed his plans and proceeded to the rescue of that city, arriving there one day ahead of the Taipings. He was besieged at Nanchang from June 22 to September 24, 1853. When the siege was raised by Lo Tsê-nan [q. v.] and others, Chiang was appointed governor of Anhwei. At this time the capital of that province was in the hands of the rebels, and the new capital, Lu-chou, was threatened. With a small force and insufficient provisions he hurried to the defense of Lu-chou. Besieged by the enemy, he fought desperately against an overwhelming majority. Though very ill and severely wounded, he resisted the attack to his last breath. When Lu-chou was eventually captured he ended his life by drowning.

Chiang Chung-yüan was posthumously given the rank of a governor-general, was canonized as Chung-lieh 忠烈 and was granted the minor hereditary ranks of Ch'i-tu yü and Yün-ch'i yü. In 1864 his rank was raised to a Ch'ing-ch'ê tu yü of the third class. He was generous, brave and far-sighted; and kind and sincere to his officers and soldiers who admired him, obeyed him, and were ready to die for him. A collection of his literary works, entitled 江忠烈公遺集 Chiang Chung-lieh kung i-chi, 1 chüan, appeared in 1856. A revised edition in 3 chüan, including a biography of him by Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.], was printed in 1898.

Chiang Chung-yüan was the eldest of four brothers. These brothers and several cousins participated in the campaign against the Taipings. One brother, Chiang Chung-chi 江忠濟 (T. 汝舟, 1819–1856), was killed in action against the bandits of T'ung-ch'êng, Hupeh, and was canonized as Chuang-chieh 壯節. A cousin, Chiang Chung-i 江忠義 (T. 味根, 1834?–1863), diistinguished himself in many battles and suceeded Chiang Chung-yüan as commander of a part of the Ch'u Yung volunteers. In 1861 Chiang Chung-i defeated Shih Ta-k'ai [q. v.] in Hupeh and forced the war into Szechwan. His operations, in 1863, in Kiangsi and southern Anhwei were very successful, but he soon became ill and died. Although only thirty sui he was posthumously given the rank of president of a Board, was canonized as Ch'êng-k'o 誠恪, and in 1885 was given the title of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent.

[1/413/1a; 1/435/1a; 2/43/1a; 5/51/20a; 5/55/14b; 5/58/12a; 7/26/1a; 8/3上1a; Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.], Yang-chih shu-wu wên-chi 17/1a; Huang P'êng-nien [q. v.] T'ao-lou wên-ch'ao (1923) 7/10b.]

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