Imatges de pàgina

of demanding the reparation necessary for the satisfaction of the military honour of his country. Kanghi continued to collect troops, and held several meetings with the chief of the Kortsin Mongols, the most powerful tribe of Mongolia, to arrange for a joint expedition against Galdan. These interviews took place in the year 1695, when Kanghi had so far lost patience with his neighbour that he had resolved to effect his complete overthrow. Nothing short of the utter and irretrievable ruin of Galdan would satisfy the imperial wrath.

While Kanghi thus sought to lead his enemy into a trap, the extensive preparations he made for war showed that his determination was fixed to compass the destruction of Galdan —even at the cost of an extensive and hazardous expedition into the recesses of Central Asia. It was not until the year 1696 that he had perfected his arrangements and brought together a force specially raised and equipped for a protracted war beyond the frontier. The principal command of this great army was entrusted to Feyanku, who left his post on the frontier to receive from his sovereign the personal instructions he desired to give for the conduct of the war. The importance of the occasion was marked by an imposing ceremony at Pekin on the eve of the great national holiday, known as the Feast of Lanterns, when China old and young gives itself over to rejoicings and festivities that recall the Saturnalia of the ancients.

All the mandarins to be employed in the war, the special corps of artillery, cavalry, and infantry upon whose efficiency so much care and forethought had been expended, and the body of commissaries who had been trained for the supply services with much prudence and knowledge of war, were assembled in a double line along a parade extending between the principal gates of the city. The Emperor, surrounded by his court functionaries and the principal officials of his Government, took up his position on a raised platform, from which the whole scene could be surveyed. His heart might well have swelled with pride at this spectacle of the chivalry of the brave Manchu race, and at the power displayed before him of a great Empire. When Kanghi had carefully surveyed the KUKUKOTO. 613

serried lines of his troops, and the attentive and respectful groups of his ministers and generals, and as soon as the noise of the trumpets, proclaiming to the capital the presence of the Emperor, had ceased, Feyanku approached his sovereign. Then Kanghi handed him the cup of wine, which Feyanku received on his knees, and which, having descended from the steps of the throne, he quaffed in the full view of the thousands of spectators. Having thus drunk success to his master's cause and confusion to all his enemies, Feyanku retired. Precisely the same ceremony was performed by each of his lieutenant-generals, and then by the subordinate officers of the army, who, ten at a time, approached the steps of the throne. Success having been thus drunk to the army charged with the overthrow of Galdan, the final preparations for the opening of the war were completed. Feyanku left the capital with his reinforcements to assume the active command in the field, and Kanghi, eager to compass the overthrow of his enemy, set to work to raise a second army, of which he proposed to take the command in person.

While Feyanku was hurrying towards the West to begin operations from the side of Kansuh, Kanghi was busily employed in drawing together from the garrison of Pekin, and also from the Manchu Banners, another army, with which he proclaimed his intention of himself proceeding against the Eleuths. That opinions were divided among his ministers on the subject of these campaigns in a remote and little-known region may be judged from the open disapprobation with which the latter announcement was received. The censors, ministers of state, and other great functionaries, proceeded in a body to impress upon Kanghi the inadvisability of his taking the field. They were thanked for their solicitude, but the Emperor's intentions remained unchanged. The departure of the second army, which was to follow the route through Kukukoto, a place of great strategical importance beyond the Wall, was fixed for the day month after the ceremony attending the appointment of Feyanku.

The difficulties incident to campaigning in a sterile country compelled the further division of the expedition, and the task of effecting the overthrow of Galdan was finally entrusted to four armies, of which Feyanku commanded the Western and Kanghi in person the Eastern. Of the march across the desert from Kukukoto towards Kobdo, where Galdan had established his head-quarters, we fortunately possess details from the narrative of the priest Gerbillon, who was among the personal attendants of the Emperor on this occasion. Despite the difficulties encountered, and the vastness of the distances to be traversed in this portion of the campaign, the Chinese armies succeeded in making good their way to the upper course of the Kerulon, where they were in the immediate vicinity of Galdan's territory. Several thousands of lives had been lost, and more than one detachment had been compelled to call a halt or even to beat a retreat; but notwithstanding these disadvantages, an overwhelming force of Chinese had made good their way across the desert. Galdan's main defence had been shown to be of little avail, and, unless he could establish some more solid claim to success on the field of battle, it was clear that his ruin was a matter that could not be long averted. Feyanku, after a march through the desert of more than three months' duration, had pitched his camp near the source of the Tula. Only 10,000 soldiers remained available for active service, and this body was reinforced by 2000 more troops, who represented all that remained of another corps. These 12,000 men were placed by their able and gallant commander in a fortified position within the Mongol camping-district of Chowmodo.

Galdan has been represented in the character of a formidable antagonist, and the question naturally suggests itself, what had he been doing while this storm was developing portentous proportions upon his eastern borders? We have seen that he had retired to a certain distance from the limits of his possessions. The Chinese found on the banks of the affluents of the Amour the traces of the camps which he had destroyed in order to concentrate his resources for the defence of the permanent camp or town of Kobdo. Either before or about this time Galdan had endeavoured to incite the powerful chief of the Kortsin Mongols to join him in a general Mongol league against Kanghi. The scheme was rejected by either the good sense or the fidelity of that prince, who, it A DESPERATE SITUATION. 615

will be remembered, had been put up to simulate a sympathy with the plans of the Eleuth. But in consequence of the open state of war, Kanghi had abandoned that intrigue, and now Galdan's schemes only served to increase his indignation and to whet his ardour. But it was towards Russia that Galdan mainly looked for the support which would enable him to make head against the superior power of China. He even went so far as to draw up a scheme for the invasion and conquest of the latter country, but the essential part of the arrangement was that Russia should send a contingent of 60,000 men. In this century we have known something of the slight control possessed at St. Petersburg over the authorities in Central Asia. In the days of Kanghi there was not so much as the pretence of that control exercised; yet it is not to be supposed that the mere handful of Russian colonists in the Siberian solitudes ever seriously entertained the idea of entering upon hostilities on a large scale with the Chinese. To humour Galdan supplied an easy means of occupying the attention of their neighbours, and Galdan's own wants and apprehensions led him to augur from the observations made by the few Russians with whom he came into contact that the amount of support he might expect from them was much greater than could by any possibility have been afforded to him. The hopes of Russian support were soon shown to be delusive, and Galdan could find no better hope than in the difficulties of the desert barrier which protected his territories, and in such resistance as his band of followers, weakened by the indifference of Tse Wang Rabdan, could oppose. The progress of the Chinese armies across the desert, made though it was at the cost of a great expenditure of life, showed him that the former hope was no longer tenable, and that it only remained for him to make the most of the forces at his disposal, and to resist with all his strength the invader.

The situation was indeed desperate; but there still remained a possibility that the Chinese might be so far exhausted by the labour of having traversed the barren region of Gobi that it would be possible for Galdan to overwhelm one of their detachments before the whole of the army had been able to combine on the banks of the Kerulon. In a prompt attack lay Galdan's sole chance of safety, and, while Kanghi was employed in recruiting his troops in the country of the Northern Khalkas, the Eleuth chieftain advanced as fast as he could from Kobdo, and threw himself upon the Chinese entrenchments at Chowmodo.

At the very moment when Galdan formed this desperate resolve the Chinese commanders were so much embarrassed by the difficulty of obtaining supplies that it seemed impossible for them to maintain their positions. The advisability of retreat was under discussion when Galdan's movement rescued Feyanku from a dilemma in which it seemed next to impossible to save both his military honour and the lives of his soldiers. Few of the incidents of this battle have been preserved. Little more is known of its details than that Galdan assumed the offensive, while Feyanku, having dismounted his cavalry, long contented himself with standing on the defensive. The battle had lasted for nearly three hours when Feyanku gave the signal for attack. The Eleuths made but a brief stand against the onset of their more disciplined opponents, and Galdan, seeing that the day was lost, fled with a mere handful of his followers, leaving his camp and baggage in the hands of the victor. Two thousand Eleuths were slain, and the character of the struggle may be inferred from the fact that the Chinese took only one hundred prisoners, of whom most were women and children. The principal wife of Galdan was among the killed, his army was scattered and reduced in numbers, while that chief himself, after aspiring to be the undisputed ruler on the steppe, became a fugitive glad to hide himself in its remote recesses.

The victory of Chowmodo came like an unexpected Godsend to the Celestials, for, on the very eve of its attainment, it seemed as if all the expense and trouble to which Kanghi had been put were to result in nothing decisive. Feyanku's success removed further cause of disquietude, and enabled Kanghi to return to Pekin, leaving behind him the order to pursue Galdan with the utmost vigour, as the results of the war could only be considered partial so long as he remained at large.

The overthrow at Chowmodo marked the destruction of

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