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had not merely to beat a victorious enemy, and to restore the confidence and discipline of his defeated troops ; but he had also to advance the objects of the English Government, and to redeem the rights of a long-outraged people. Unlike his predecessors, he had no personal aims for himself, he did not wish to displace or weaken the authority of the Chinese officials, and his paramount thought was how to rescue the unfortunate inhabitants of Kiangsu from the calamities which had desolated their hearths, and driven whole towns and districts to the verge of destruction and despair.
On the 24th of March Gordon, now given the brevet rank of major, left Shanghai, reaching Sunkiang on the following day. There was some fear of an immediate outbreak after his arrival ; but the men had no leader, and Major Gordon established himself at head-quarters without opposition. An order issued on the following day to the effect that nothing would be done to injure their position served to quiet the officers and their men; and the resumption of active operations fortunately diverted the current of their thoughts. The danger of keeping such a body of men inactive was obvious ; and the perilous condition of the garrison at Chanzu, which Major Tapp had failed to relieve a month before by his attack on Fushan, rendered a prompt movement on the part of the force absolutely necessary. Three days after his first appearance at Sunkiang, Major Gordon was back in Shanghai purchasing extra ammunition in preparation for his march northwards. On the last day of March the expedition, consisting of one regiment and some artillery, sailed in two steamers for Fushan, where they found the Imperial troops strongly encamped near the shore. Major Tapp had already joined them at the head of another portion of the contingent.
The rebels were in possession of two stockades some miles inland ; but although they were in great numbers, their position did not strike the English officer as being strong. The advanced posts of the Imperialists, consisting of Tapp's men, were within half a mile of these stockades. The old town of Fushan lay unoccupied on the left hand. Major Gordon at once seized it for the purpose of using the walls as a battery. A heavy gun was placed on the rampart, and
four smaller ones in front, all of which began to fire on the
Major Gordon returned to Sunkiang, where he employed
His journey to Pekin had not been in vain.
On the 24th of April the force left Sunkiang for Quinsan, the infantry proceeding by land, the artillery by water with the steamer Hyson. On that very day Major Gordon had VOL. II.
received a long communication from Li Hung Chang informing him of the proceedings in connection with Burgevine, but stating his final decision not to restore him to the command of the Ward force, a decision which reflected the greatest credit on Li's firmness and perspicuity. He also gave Major Gordon all the credit he deserved for what he had already done, stating that “the people and place were charmed with him," and that he had petitioned the Board at Pekin to confer upon him the rank of Tsungping or BrigadierGeneral. This despatch of the Futai was intended to undo and repair the mischief that would have been caused by the hasty and ill-considered resolve of the Ministers at Pekin, if carried into execution. General Brown, who had succeeded General Staveley in the command at Shanghai, fortunately took a correct view of the situation, and refused to recognize Burgevine unless the Futai reappointed him. Li was most careful to repudiate at the very earliest moment all intention of doing so, a decision which he had signified to Major Gordon in his letter of the 24th of April. The Tsungli Yamen had shown extraordinary favour towards foreigners, he said ; but Li had only to consider the efficiency of the army and the welfare of the State. These demanded the retention of Gordon and the exclusion of Burgevine.
The force which had left Sunkiang with the intention of attacking Quinsan was compelled to suddenly alter its march by the news of an act of treachery at Taitsan which entailed the loss of 1500 Imperialists. The commandant had feigned a desire to surrender the place, and the Chinese, deceived by his representations, had allowed themselves to be entrapped into a false position, when the rebels, coming down in overwhelming strength, had slaughtered them to the number named. It became necessary to retrieve this disaster without delay, more especially as all hope of taking Quinsan had for the moment to be abandoned.
Major Gordon at once altered the direction of his march, and joining en route General Ching, who had, on the news, broken up his camp before Quinsan, hastened as rapidly as possible to Taitsan, where he arrived on the 29th of April. Bad weather obliged him to defer the attack until the 1st
of May, when two stockades on the west side were carried, and their defenders compelled to flee, not into the town as they would have wished, but away from it towards Chanzu. On the following day, the attack was resumed on the north side, while the armed boats proceeded to assault the place from the creek. The firing continued from nine in the morning until five in the evening, when a breach seemed to be practicable, and two regiments were ordered to the assault. The rebels showed great courage and fortitude, swarming in the breach and pouring a heavy and well-directed fire upon the troops. The attack was momentarily checked; but while the stormers remained under such cover as they could find, the shells of two howitzers were playing over their heads and causing frightful havoc among the Taepings in the breach. But for these guns, Major Gordon did not think that the place would have been carried at all ; but after some minutes of this firing at close quarters, the rebels began to show signs of wavering. A party of troops gained the wall, a fresh regiment advanced towards the breach, and the disappearance of the snake flags showed that the Taeping leaders had given up the fight. Taitsan was thus captured, and the three previous disasters before it retrieved.
On the 4th of May the victorious force appeared before Quinsan, a place of considerable strength and possessing a formidable artillery directed by an European. The town was evidently too strong to be carried by an immediate attack, and Major Gordon's movements
further hampered by the conduct of his own men, who, upon their arrival at Quinsan, hurried off in detachments to Sunkiang for the purpose of disposing of their spoil. Ammunition had also fallen short, and the commander was consequently obliged to return to refit and to rally his men.
At Sunkiang worse confusion followed, for the men, or rather the officers, broke out into mutiny on the occasion of Major Gordon appointing an English officer with the rank of lieutenant-colonel to the control of the commissariat, which had been completely neglected. Those who had served with Ward and Burgevine objected to their being passed over, and openly refused to obey orders. Fortunately the stores and ammunition were collected,
and Major Gordon announced that he would march in the following morning, whether with or without the mutineers mattered nothing to him. Those who did not answer to their names at the end of the first half-march would be dismissed, and he spoke with the authority of one in complete accord with the Chinese authorities themselves. The native soldiers obeyed him as a Chinese official, and the foreign officers feared to disobey him as they would have liked on account of his commanding the source whence they were paid. The mutineers fell in, and a force of nearly 3000 men, well-equipped and anxious for the fray, returned to Quinsan, where General Ching had, in the meanwhile, kept the rebels in close watch from a strong position defended by several stockades, and supported by the Hyson.
Immediately after his arrival, Major Gordon moved out his force to attack the stockades which the rebels had constructed on their right wing. These were strongly built ; but as soon as the defenders perceived that the assailants had gained their flank they precipitately withdrew into Quinsan itself. General Ching wished the attack to be made on the Eastern Gate, opposite to which he had raised his own entrenchments, and by which he had announced his intention of forcing his way; but a brief inspection showed Major Gordon that that was the strongest point of the town, and that a direct attack upon it could only succeed, if at all, by a very considerable sacrifice of men. Like a prudent commander, Major Gordon determined to reconnoitre; and, after much grumbling on the part of General Ching, he decided that the most hopeful plan was to carry some stockades situated seven miles west of the town, and thence assail Quinsan on the Soochow side, which was weaker than the others. These stockades were at a village called Chumze. On the 30th of May the force detailed for this work proceeded to carry it out. The Hyson and fisty Imperial gun-boats conveyed the land force, which consisted of one regiment, some guns, and a large body of Imperialists. The rebels at Chumze offered hardly the least resistance, whether it was that they were dismayed at