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yielded to the advice of those who had urged him to summon to the defence of the capital the troops stationed on the north-eastern frontier; and Wou Sankwei had been ordered to evacuate Ningyuen, leave a sufficient garrison at Shanhaikwan, and march in all haste with his remaining troops to Pekin. Wou Sankwei had little more than completed half the necessary arrangements when the news reached him that Pekin had fallen into the hands of Li Tseching, and that the last of the Ming emperors had been slain. There remained for a faithful subject and soldier no master to assist, but only one to avenge. Li Tseching made overtures and sent lavish promises to Wou Sankwei for his support, but they were all rejected. Placed between two opponents Wou Sankwei had only a choice of evils, but he decided that it was preferable to ask the aid of the Manchus in chastising a rebel than to become a partner in the crime of placing the Empire at the mercy of a robber like Li Tseching.
The Manchus themselves, to whom the main interest in the story again turns, had watched with feelings of delight the retirement of the Chinese from the fortress which had baffled them for so many years; and Wou Sankwei's troops had not long quitted Ningyuen when their place was taken by Manchus sent across the Leaou. It was thus made evident that, although these Tartars had lost their prince and were under the nominal rule of a boy, they had not given up their old ambition, and also that they were as resolute as ever to take advantage of every symptom of declining vigour on the part of the Chinese. There was, therefore, no room for Wou Sankwei to flatter himself that the Manchus would remain passive while he tried conclusions with the robber Li. They were evidently determined to make the most of his embarrassments; and he could not hope to resist their attack on Shanhaikwan with the few troops that he could spare for its defence, should he undertake an active campaign against Li Tseching.
The Chinese general did not waste time in coming to a decision. The situation was urgent, and he at once sent off a letter to the Manchu court requesting it to send an army to join his in putting down Li's rebellion, and in restoring TO PEKIN. 543
peace and tranquillity to the Empire. The request was at once granted, for the Manchus saw at a glance that their opportunity had arrived. The man, who, more than any other, had kept them out of China during these later wars, had sent them an invitation to enter that country as his friends and as the champions of the oppressed. Not merely did they thus obtain his services and those of his brave troops, but they also gained an easy and bloodless possession both of the Great Wall, and of the two principal and only remaining fortresses constituting the famous Quadrilateral which had alone prevented their conquering those northern provinces of China that they had so frequently plundered and devastated under their leader Taitsong. Wou Sankwei's letter was barely perused before orders were given for the march to Shanhaikwan of those of their troops who were already in the field, and for the immediate assembly of the whole fighting force of the nation. It was no longer for a mere marauding expedition, or for a trying and unsuccessful siege, that the summons went forth to the Manchus to gather round the banners of their chiefs. The campaign for which they were called to arms was one presenting every likelihood of success for the conquest of China, and in the towns and camps of these Tartars and their allies the cry was raised with a common voice, "To Pekin!"
The first brunt of the fighting fell upon Wou Sankwei and his small but veteran force; for when he heard that a Manchu contingent was on the march to join him he delayed no longer, but set out for Pekin. Li Tseching, who remained in the capital to enjoy the power and dignity which he had won, sent a portion of his army to meet Wou Sankwei, under an officer whose instructions were to negotiate rather than to fight . Against this corps Wou marched with all rapidity, and the superior discipline of his men combined with his own skilful dispositions turned the fortunes of the day in his favour. As is always the case with a body of men who are subjected to none of the restraints of a severe discipline, the instant Li's men, although accustomed to victory by a series of unbroken successes, found that the day was going against them, they lost all heart and broke into hopeless confusion. The battle became a scene of butchery. Wou Sankwei's troops gave no quarter, and more than twenty thousand rebels encumbered the plain. The news of this preliminary disaster came as a warning to Li Tseching; but, as he still possessed an army greatly exceeding that of his adversary in numbers, there was no reason why he should yet despair of the result. So far as we are aware Li Tseching then knew nothing of Wou Sankwei's arrangement with the Manchus, or of the concentration and approach of a Tartar army.
Li Tseching left Pekin in person at the head of 60,000 men, the pick of his army, and taking with him the two eldest of the Ming princes and Wou Siang, the father of Wou Sankwei. On the news of the advance of this formidable force, Wou Sankwei halted at Yungping, near the scene of his first victory, where he made all the preparations he could to resist the enemy, and whence he sent urgent messages to his Tartar allies to hasten their advance. The town of Yungping is situated only a short distance south-west of Shanhaikwan, and lies a few miles from the northern bank of the Lanho, a stream difficult to cross at certain seasons of the year. The details of the battle that have come down to us leave obscure the part which this river played in the fortunes of the day, but it must have been considerable. Wou Sankwei's army was greatly outnumbered, and it is probable that he had to meet threefold odds, while the Manchu troops although known to be near at hand had not joined him. Under these circumstances it was Wou's policy to defer the action, but Li was no less eager to commence the attack. The latter adopted the traditional tactics laid down in the standard military treatise of forming his line in the shape of a horn or crescent and overlapping the wings of the enemy. By compressing the extremities, the opposing force is not merely outflanked but almost surrounded. Wou Sankwei was no inexpert or craven captain to allow a foe to acquire an advantage which either skill or courage could prevent; but here he found himself unable to check the movement of his more numerous enemy, who had soon the satisfaction of perceiving, from the hill where he had taken his stand with BATTLE OF YUNGPING. 545
his state prisoners, that his army completely surrounded Wou Sankwei's small force. Victory seemed to be within his grasp, for, although Wou's troops resisted valiantly, it was clear that they could not long hold out against the very superior numbers of their assailants; when the fortunate arrival and impetuous charge of a Manchu corps carried terror into the ranks of Li's troops, and converted what promised to be a decisive victory into a signal overthrow. Li Tseching escaped with a few hundred horsemen from the fray, but thirty thousand of his best men had fallen. The defeat of Yungping destroyed at a single blow all the plans which Li had been forming for the consolidation of his authority throughout China. He escaped to Pekin, where his authority was still recognized; but it was evident that he was in no position either to stand a siege at the capital or to risk a second battle in its neighbourhood.
After the victory of Yungping, the arrival of fresh Manchu troops was continuous, and Wou Sankwei, who still retained the principal command, was able to follow hard upon the traces of the defeated Li. Again did the baffled robber strive to induce Wou to detach himself from the side of the Manchus, but the latter received all his overtures with silent disdain. When Wou reached Pckin and pitched his camp over against the eastern ramparts, he was greeted with the spectacle of his father's head upon the wall, Li having wreaked his vengeance and disappointment on the person of Wou Siang. From that time a new bitterness was imparted to the struggle, and thenceforth any reconciliation between these two leaders became altogether impossible.
Li Tseching made no attempt to defend the city which had witnessed his coronation and brief reign, but confined all his efforts to escaping from Pckin with as much of the plunder which he had accumulated there as he could collect and convey. Li's flight was precipitate, but it was not conducted with sufficient rapidity to enable him to escape the attack of his vigorous and energetic opponent . Wou Sankwei pressed hard upon the retreating force, and, making a detour round the city, came up with Li Tseching's rear-guard at the bridge of Likao. The soldiers of Wou Sankwei and their VOL I. 2 N
Manchu allies threw themselves with fury on those to whom the charge of the unwieldy baggage train had been entrusted, but the resistance they encountered was made with only a faint heart. More than ten thousand of Li's followers were then slaughtered to the manes of Wou Siang.
Li's line of retreat lay along the main high-road into Shansi, and, as he retired, his ranks were strengthened by the junction with him of the garrisons which he had placed in the different fortified towns of Pechihli. At Paoting in particular he was joined by a considerable detachment, but it was not until he reached Chingting that he felt able to make a fresh stand and to face his pursuers. The reasons which induced Li to again tempt fortune on the field of battle, when he held in his possession so advantageous a scene for renewing the contest as the western provinces, were more probably due to disappointed vanity than to any fear of his force disbanding. The latter danger was the more remote, because his followers knew that little sympathy was felt towards them by the mass of the Chinese people, in whose eyes they were nothing more than marauders and swashbucklers. When Wou Sankwei discovered his enemy in position near Chingting, he was not grieved to find him ready and willing to accept battle, for his own army had been raised by the arrival of eighty thousand Manchus and by numerous Chinese levies to close upon two hundred thousand men. Li's troops began the battle by a desperate charge led by their chief in person, and then the contest became general. Both sides fought with extraordinary courage and marked bitterness, and even Wou himself was compelled to express admiration at the fortitude of his adversary, who, after three reverses, appeared as eager for the fray as ever. Night closed on the struggle without leaving to either party a decisive advantage over the other; but the loss of forty thousand men, among whom were numbered many of his bravest and most faithful officers, compelled Li Tseching to order a retreat during the night . From Chingting he retired with such rapidity that he and his exhausted troops gained Shansi without further molestation.
With his defeat at Chingting Li's fate was virtually