Page:Tseng Kuo Fan and the Taiping Rebellion.djvu/66

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many months through the momentum of its great successes, which added thousands of followers; hut, with a lack of suitable leadership, it was doomed to eventual failure when its religious vagaries took the place of wise statesmanship.

On the other hand, imperialist failures at Hsinch'u and the tea districts in 1851 and at Tungan in 1852, when all the cards were in their hands, doomed them to a longdrawn-out duel, destined to last for more than twelve years. We cannot too strongly emphasise what a great revelation of weakness this was. Accurate numbers are lacking in our sources of information. The imperialists are said to have had "several tens of ying,"[1] and we may infer, from the fact that the rebels did not fill out their first army until they had reached Hunan, that they scarcely had more than twelve thousand fighting men. Saishanga may have had four or five times that number in all his commands. He was now cashiered and Hsiang Yung appointed in his place.

Avoiding the well-defended cities, the rebels marched over byways to Kweilin. Their families were with them on the trek; many had literally burned their bridges behind them by setting fire to their homes. The force consisted both of Chinese and Miao tribesmen.[2] Hsiang Tung, realising the danger that threatened Kweilin, hastened thither with all speed to aid the governor in the defence of his capital, and entered the city barely one hour before the siege commenced. Every device known to them was used to force an entrance to the city—high scaling ladders and towers on wheels among other things, but they all failed. The siege lasted thirty-one days be-

  1. The Siang Chun Chi, I, 8b says there were "several tens of ying." If a ying contained 500 men, as was the case later, this would indicate several times five thousand men.
  2. Ibid., I, 9a.