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an experience and a local knowledge which his side had not possessed in the earlier wars. The proposed plan rested on the assumption that the capture of the strong and important city of Sianyang should form the starting-point in the conquest of the Sungs. This was held to be not only necessary in a military but justifiable in a moral sense, because it had once been in the possession of the Mongols. Sianyang is still an important town on the southern bank of the Han river in the province of Hupeh. At this period it was strongly fortified, the capital of a well-populated and prosperous district, and it also commanded the main road from the province of Shensi. To the south of Tunkwan it completed, on the western frontier, the defences still left in the possession of the Chinese. Its capture proved to be the difficult task which the importance attached to it by the Sungs indicated. But the advantages that would accrue from its fall had not been exaggerated. Sianyang once captured, the navigation of the Han would be at the mercy of the Mongols, who could then devote all their efforts towards making their power supreme on the Kiang river itself. When both these objects were accomplished there would be practically an end to the authority of the Sungs.
In A.D. 1268 Kublai's army, computed to consist of sixty thousand veteran troops, with a large number of auxiliaries, and commanded by two generals, appeared before the walls of Sianyang. They occupied all the surrounding heights, which they fortified, and their entrenched camp extended over a line of ten miles. Having cut off all communications by land, they next took steps for intercepting the supplies sent up the Han river by water ; and this portion of their task was the more difficult because they had to construct their own war vessels. They set themselves to the work with their usual determination, and in a very short time fifty junks of larger build than those used by the Sungs were equipped and ready to contest the passage of the Han river.
Meanwhile, Lieouwen Hoan, the governor of the two cities of Sianyang and Fanching, which communicated with each other by means of several bridges, was holding out with good cheer, neglecting no precaution to improve his position,
and opposing the Mongol attacks with steady and unflinching courage. Confident in the strength of the place--surrounded by thick walls and a deep fosse—in the number of his garrison, and in the copious supply of provisions stored in the granaries-capable, it was said, of meeting all wants “for a period of ten years”—Lieouwen Hoan met defiance with defiance, and answered threat by threat. Warned by the Mongols of the fate that awaited an obstinate and vain defence, Lieouwen Hoan retorted by threatening to drag their renegade general in chains into the presence of the master he had abandoned. The bitterness of the struggle developed greater intensity underneath the ramparts of Sianyang
Although the Mongol army was constantly reinforced by bodies of fresh troops, and notwithstanding that Kublai himseif devoted much of his attention to the subject, the siege of this Sung stronghold made very little progress. Several times were his generals compelled to change their position, to extend their lines at one point and to curtail them at another. But still Lieouwen Hoan's fortitude remained unshaken, and Kublai’s lieutenants were baffled on every side. The Mongols succeeded in intercepting and driving back, with considerable loss to the Chinese, a flotilla of store ships; but even this success did not bring them nearer a satisfactory result, because Lieouwen Hoan's supplies were still sufficient for all his wants. The siege was beginning to languish, and seemed about to lose the special interest that had attached to it, when at the very same moment Kublai resolved to press it with greater vigour than ever, and the Sung minister, Kiassetao, came to the determination that it was necessary to do something towards effecting its relief. The main power of the two hostile states was therefore converging, by a common impulse, upon the same point. The siege had already lasted three years, and the events about to be described happened in the year AD), 1270.
Kiassetao placed a large army in the field, but he entrusted the command to an incapable and inexperienced officer named Fanwenhu. The movements of this force were dilatory, and the timidity of the general did not afford much
promise of any vigorous attempt being made to succour Sianyang, and drive away the Mongols. Fortunately, there were some braver spirits in the Chinese army than the miserable and pusillanimous personages occupying the highest places in the realm. Litingchi, the governor of Ganlo, a town south of Sianyang, and also on the Han river, was one of the most determined of them, and he resolved to do something towards helping his colleague, Lieouwen Hoan. At this time Fanwenhu's great army was still engaged making its tardy march from the Eastern provinces; but Litingchi, knowing that in war promptitude counts for everything, came to the decision to strike a blow with the small force at his disposal. He collected three thousand men, who devoted themselves to the dangerous but honourable task he proposed to them; and having bade all those depart who did not feel equal to the perilous attempt, he completed his arrangements for throwing into Sianyang this reinforcement, with a large convoy of supplies in which Lieouwen Hoan had informed him that he was deficient. Several hundred vessels, escorted by this brave band, commanded by Changkua and Changchun, advanced in two divisions down a tributary of the Han, upon Sianyang. The Mongols had impeded navigation by chains and other barriers; but the Chinese war-junks broke through them and forced their way onwards. The Mongols were apparently surprised, but fighting from their superior positions on the heights above the river, they were recovering the ground they had lost when the division under Changchun, devoting itself to destruction for the attainment of a great end, charged, and kept occupied for some hours the whole Mongol fleet. The store-ships escorted by Changkua passed safely on to Sianyang, where they were received with acclamations of profound joy. The relief at this reopening of communication with the outer world, after a confinement of three years, was intense. In their excitement, the garrison forgot the beleaguering foe outside, and threw the gates open as if the Mongols had given up the siege, and were in full retreat for their own northern regions. The iron ring was, however, still tightly drawn round Sianyang, and the disfigured body of the hero Changchun,
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found floating past their walls, reminded them that the Mongols were as formidable as ever, and as resolute to attain their ends. After this successful reinforcement of the garrison, the Mongol lines were reformed, and nearer to the city ramparts. Both Lieouwen Hoan and Changkua were imprisoned in Sianyang, and the Sungs were too poor in brave men to spare two for the same place. Litingchi was also hovering in the neighbourhood at the head of a lightly equipped force of five thousand men. With so small a body of troops, he could attempt nothing serious against the numerous and skilfully placed army of the Mongols. Changkua had effected his purpose when he supplied the most pressing wants of Lieouwen Hoan and his garrison. It was no part of his mission to remain in idleness at Sianyang, and after a short rest he prepared to cut his way back through the Mongol force to join Litingchi in some other design for the harassing of Kublai's army. He mustered the companions of his former exploit to raise their courage anew, by extolling the glory that was already theirs, and by pointing out how it might be increased; but whilst addressing them he perceived that one of the band was missing, and immediately comprehended that he had deserted to the Mongols, to warn them of the attempt he was about to make. It was not by considerations of personal peril that the Chinese hero was to be turned back from the enterprise he had in view. During the night he departed in the few war-junks that had escaped the encounter with the Mongols, and, having burst the chains placed across the river, cut his way through the first line of the Mongol fleet. It seemed at one moment as if he had accomplished his object; the straight course of the river showed apparently unguarded before him, and a beaten Mongol squadron lay behind. The morning light gave promise to Changkua of a safe issue for his daring feat. But it was not to be. In his path stood another fleet, whose ensigns showed that it was part of the Mongol force, and on the banks on either hand were the thousands of Kublai's army in readiness to overwhelm his handful. The odds against him were irresistible. There was no choice between surrender and a hopeless struggle; but Changkua never WOL. I. Z
hesitated to adopt the nobler part. So long as a ship held together, or as he could find an archer to bend a bow, or a spearman to use his spear, he fought on, and, when he was left the last of all his band, he refused to accept further favour at the hands of the Mongols than his death. Whether in admiration of his conduct, or out of a spirit of refined cruelty, the conqueror sent his body into Sianyang, where it was received with loud lamentations. The courageous Lieouwen Hoan caused it to be placed beside that of Changchun; and the two heroes, who had been partners in as gallant a feat of arms as any recorded in history, were divided in neither their glory nor their death.
After this incident, the lines of the Mongols were drawn more closely round Sianyang, and greater resolution was shown in pressing the siege. Up to this point the Mongols had devoted their main attention to the city of Sianyang, but henceforth they included Fanching as well. By the advice of Alihaya, one of Kublai's generals, engineers accustomed to the use of machines capable of hurling vast stones with precision were brought from Persia. With these formidable engines the Mongols succeeded in demolishing many of the chief defences of Sianyang, and in destroying the bridges by which communication was maintained between that town and Fanching. No sooner was this accomplished than the Mongols concentrated all their efforts on the capture of Fanching, and after a prolonged bombardment delivered an assault which, although bravely resisted, proved successful. The garrison fought with the most determined courage and marvellous devotion. The battle raged from street to street, from house to house; and, when there was no longer any possibility of continuing the contest, the officers, sooner than surrender, slew themselves, in which they were imitated by their men. The Mongols had indeed captured Fanching, but their triumph was only over a city of ruins and ashes.
With increased fury Alihaya turned all his engines against the ramparts of Sianyang, where Lieouwen Hoan still held bravely out, although the garrison was greatly discouraged by the capture of Fanching, and by succour not arriving from Kiassetao. But Lieouwen Hoan saw that his powers of