Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/62

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perial commissioner with full powers. The latter carried with him two million taels of silver. Troops from the capital were sent through Hunan under Generals Pachingteh and Tahunga; and the governor was ordered to hand over civil affairs in Kwangsi to the treasurer and to bend all his energies to suppress the insurgents in his province.

During the spring and summer many battles took place between detachments of imperial and Taiping forces, but none of them were conclusive. The new imperial commissioner, Saishanga, on his arrival July 3, decided that the greatest chance for success lay in the recruiting of 'braves' rather than in trusting to the regulars. In consequence, about thirty thousand of these were recruited and distributed through the disaffected regions.[1]

We are unfortunately left without means of determining just how many were now engaged on each side. Despite the poor quality of the imperial soldiery there must have been a very considerable force of them available for the attack on Siangchow which took place on July 25, when seven successive battles caused the rebels so much distress that they were forced to escape to Hsinch'u, having lost two or three thousand men.

In their new headquarters the rebels arranged themselves in strategic positions among the hills, with Hsinch'u in front and two mountains as outposts on each flank. The imperialists made careful preparations for the attack. Tahunga was placed to the southeast; Wulant'ai and Tsou Ting-san to the northwest; Lieutenant Generals Li Hung-ch'ing and Ching Wen-tai were east and southeast, leaving Generals Pach'ingteh and Hsiang Yung to take the road over the Purple Thorn hills. The plan for some reason failed, though the different gen-

  1. The material for these paragraphs is from the P'ing-ting Yueh-fei Chi-lueh, I, 8 ff. Cf. Taiping T'ien Kuo Yeh-shi, I, 2 f.