Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

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The Seeker
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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 01 Mar 2015 13:55

Wow, cool, thanks for the photo. All the district towns these days had to have huge stone walls because of the pandemic banditry. But gentry and notables of district towns mostly tried to let overwhelming bandit forces or militarists "peacefully" in without fighting or defending, or they paid "fees" in advance, that they would pass by, to avoid manslaughter and destruction.

Actually I got a vivid description of a german missionary, who met Liu Guitang in Juxian. If you're interested, I will translate it for you in english. But that would take some time. . .

The Zhang Zongchang-Liu Guitang-connection: Yeah, you're right, the Zhongyang ribao states, Liu acted in behalf of Zhang Zongchang's orders. I'll research it in the german Liu Guitang-biography. For the beginning, one might presume spontaneously, that the Zhongyang ribao was a pro Guomindang, pro Chiang Kaishek newspaper, so it never would openly admit, that a robber king and criminal like Liu had been enlisted by Chiang Kaishek's general He Yingqin. So it could also have been fake propaganda. I'll research it. Give me a second :D
Last edited by The Seeker on 01 Mar 2015 15:47, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 01 Mar 2015 15:23

The Liu-Guitang-biography in German (Graefe, Nils: Liu Guitang - Einer der größten Banditen der chinesischen Republikzeit,Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008) states the following:

It's quite complicated and not easy to recapitulate a chronology of Liu Guitang's army enlistings and side-switches, because often Liu was riding on different horses the same time or did not follow orders. Enlistings for him were just a way to gain more soldiers, munition, weaponry and power. Nevertheless here follows a sort of an enlisting chronology for Liu Guitang:

--- In the late 1910's Liu was enlisted in the army of Zhang Jingyao 張敬堯 and was soldier of Zhang's 7th division in Hunan. Liu himself stated that to a journalist of the Shenbao 申報 in 1932 (Graefe cites a Shenbao-report of 1. January 1932). Zhang failed in Hunan and his troops were partly wiped out or disarmed and disbanded. Liu fled back to Shandong and joined the bandit milieu of Baodugu 抱犢崮.

--- In the early 1920's: The Zhili-Clique of Wu Peifu 吳佩孚 , who had been winner over the Anhui-Clique of Duan Qirui and the mentioned Zhang Jingyao,tried to enlist Liu and his followers. But again and in the end they were disarmed and disbanded in his home district Feixian 費縣 (source: the same Shenbao-report). Liu again joined the bandit milieu of Baodugu, especially the bandit leader Liu Qingyuan 劉清元 (under Sun Meiyao 孫美瑤). Liu allegedly even had been body guard of Sun Meiyao himself.

--- 1923: After the train robbery of Lincheng 臨城, when Sun Meiyao and his men captured foreigners and hold them for ransom on the mountain Baodugu, Sun Meiyao and followers were, as a "reward" for freeing the foreigners, enlisted as a brigade of Shandong local military of the Zhili-Clique. Liu was enlisted too. But the honour lasted shortly. Sun Meiyao was beheaded in late 1923 and the rest was disarmored or managed to flee. Liu went for banditry again and became "the" leader of south Shandong banditry, committed a lot of massacres in the mid 1920's, and became a local powerholder.

--- In the late 1920's a lot of different military leaders tried to recruit him. First the Fengtian-Clique, and so Zhang Zongchang, military governor of Shandong. Actually there had been contact between forces of Zhang Zongchang, namely troops of Chu Yupu 禇玉璞, which had officially the order to annihilate the bandits, but stealthly made business with them. The bandits gave opium, the soldiers took it, shooted bullets in the sky to deceive the people, and the soldiers gave the bandits munition. At the end, in 1927, Liu Guitang was enlisted in the rows of Xu Kun 許錕, who was the commander of the 7th Army corps of Zhang Zongchang. At the same time one important follower of Liu Guitang and his bandit group, namely Li Tanggang 李堂剛, was enlisted as brigade commander of the 13th divison of the 1. Army corps of Zhan Zongchang. And, by the way, the commander of this 13th division was Gu Zhen (!!!).

--- The end of 1927, beginning of 1928, brought the northern expedition into Shandong. So Feng Yuxiang, who competed with Chiang Kaishek for the control of Shandong, and Chiang Kaishek tried to enlist Liu Guitang and his local forces. Feng Yuxiang's follower Han Fuju 韓復榘 in Henan (20th division of Feng, later Han switched side to Chiang Kaishek) contacted Liu via a mediator. Liu just took 17000 silver dollars and 2000 bags of flour, but did not care about Han anymore.

--- 1928: This year is quite complicated for a chronology, because, Liu seemingly stayed in the area of Xuchang 許昌 in Henan as divison commander of Feng Yuxiang, whom he met personally, and at the same time stayed in south Shandong, where he was enlisted as division commander of Chiang Kaishek's general He Yingqin and as a spearhead of the northern expedition (namely "北伐先遣軍"). Perhaps he traveled back and forth and deceived both Feng and He. Liu was a poker player. Everything, which helped for his power, he would do. So it is also possible, that he still even had secret ties to Zhang Zongchang and that he waited for the end of the northern expedition battles, to jump on the horse of the winner.

--- In August 1928 he ransacked the district town of Feixian 費縣 and took garrison there, in the name of the northern expedition. End of August he pulled his troops toward the prefecture town Linyi 臨沂. The town heads payed huge fees, so Liu just passed by and took the town of Juxian 莒縣. There he took garrison until february 1929 and til Yang Hucheng's troops came. . .

--- Liu retreated to the northern depression of Shandong province and in mid 1929 was transferred by train to Henan province, where he battled for Chiang Kaishek as "commander of the 4th division" of the central army of Chiang Kaishek in the "the great war of the Chinese plain" (中原大戰) of 1930 against a warlord cooperation around Feng Yuxiang 馮玉祥, Yan Xishan 閻錫山 etc.

.... to be continued. . . :|

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 01 Mar 2015 16:53

The Seeker wrote:Wow, cool, thanks for the photo. All the district towns these days had to have huge stone walls because of the pandemic banditry. But gentry and notables of district towns mostly tried to let overwhelming bandit forces or militarists "peacefully" in without fighting or defending, or they paid "fees" in advance, that they would pass by, to avoid manslaughter and destruction.

Actually I got a vivid description of a german missionary, who met Liu Guitang in Juxian. If you're interested, I will translate it for you in english. But that would take some time. . .

The Zhang Zongchang-Liu Guitang-connection: Yeah, you're right, the Zhongyang ribao states, Liu acted in behalf of Zhang Zongchang's orders. I'll research it in the german Liu Guitang-biography. For the beginning, one might presume spontaneously, that the Zhongyang ribao was a pro Guomindang, pro Chiang Kaishek newspaper, so it never would openly admit, that a robber king and criminal like Liu had been enlisted by Chiang Kaishek's general He Yingqin. So it could also have been fake propaganda. I'll research it. Give me a second :D
Not only district towns, but also many larger villages had to built defensive walls and towers against bandits. But this was often ineffective as the villagers had only homemade firearms. However the walls are usually rather battered earth than stone walls, see here (Zhucheng): http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_502e6d350100iyh1.html

Yes I'm very interested in the German missionary's discription, if you have time to translate and post it here it will be advantage for all forum members... :D

BTW, just in case anyone is interested, the father of my own grandmother was a head of bandits; but he wasn't in Shandong but was active in the vicinty of the town of Jiangpu(江浦县, where I was born) to the north of the Yangtze and not far from Nanjing. His last name was also Chen but he had no connection with my father's family and in fact no one knows his place of origin. He had only about 60-70 men under him and few good equipment(according to the elders) but as many bandits his wife(my grandmother's mother, who lived well into 1990s) was a girl that he "robbed" while raiding the villages. He was said to be killed in a clash with Communist-led partisans in 1949 ahead of(or during?) Communists' attack to Jiangpu, Pukou and Nanjing.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 06 Mar 2015 05:47

Thank you both, The Seeker and YC Chen, for the additional historical background. I'm glad my question was able to spark a productive line of discussion! :milsmile:

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 07 Mar 2015 23:44

So here's the translation of the account of the german missionary, who met Liu Guitang in Juxian. . .

But first the historical backround (source: Graefe: Liu Guitang, pp. 156–160):
Liu Guitang hold control of Juxian (southeastern Shandong) and bullied the inhabitants from september 1928 until february 1929, while Yang Hucheng, follower of the christian warlord Feng Yuxiang (later Yang switched sides to Chiang Kaishek) took garrison of the near prefecture-town Linyi in december 1928 and started "bandit annihilation campaigns" in southern Shandong. District notables of Juxian send emissaries to Linyi to beg Yang for help against the robber king Liu Guitang. Liu began to build defensive positions in the south of Juxian 莒县, in the areas of Dadian 大店 and Xiazhuang 夏庄 and let his commanders Jing Dequan 井得泉 (景德泉) and Shi Yicheng 史义成 hold these positions, while staying in and near Juxian with most of his probably 10.000 men. Jing and Shi ended as cannon fodder. They waited in vain for help from Liu and were partly wiped out by Yang's troops on 21. february, the rest managed to flee. In the battle of Dadian 280 robber soldiers died and 41 soldiers on the side of the 21. divison of Yang Hucheng. When news from the lost battle reached Juxian on the morning of 22. february chaos broke out in the city. Liu Guitang feared treason and let his men disarm the police, garrison troops and militias, so he could confiscate a lot of more weapons! The city notables managed to persuade Liu, that the battle of Dadian hadn't been their fault and that he would not take revenge in the city of Juxian. Nevertheless the whole day Liu's men were plundering and bullying the people.

Also one dozen bandit soldiers broke in the compound of the german missionary Karl Hentrich (SVD, Societatis Verbi Divini, Steyler Mission, Switzerland) in Juxian and wanted to rob Hentrich's horse. Hentrich's chinese gate keeper insisted, the horse was belonging to a foreigner, and he was a priest and needed it to reach quite far away christian communities in the surrounding countryside. Unexpectedly the robber soldiers gave the horse back, but they remembered this foreigner and Liu later gave command to force Hentrich to see him. While the most of Liu's men built a trek to the north and fled Yang's troops during the day of 22. february, Liu and his inner circle stayed until the evening. Hentrich recorded how the meeting with Liu took place (his account was published in the SVD-own magazine Steyler Missionsbote (Vol. 56, No. 10, July 1929, p. 219). I tried to translate it in English:

"In the afternoon the local bigwig Liu sent an adjutant with ten heavily armed men to the mission compound with the following command: They would leave the town in the evening, and Liu wanted to take me with him in his car to "protect" me (!?); after all the chaos would be over, I could return again. I explained them, I was not allowed to leave without the permission of my superiors – So, I had to go to see the commander personally. I went. Ten armed men and my chinese gate keeper escorted me."

"In the small farmstead of the chieftain there was a great muddle everywhere. Heavily armed robber soldiers were chilling and sitting around or stood in groups; they were smoking, feasting, prattling, slurping, gaping and staring. Soon I reached Liu's anteroom. To the left there was one room, where notables and wealthy of the city were imprisoned; a couple of guards with Mauser pistols in front of the door. Hostages, I thought. This for sure was also the aim of bringing me here, they also wanted to blackmail money from me. To the right there was one room, where a small guy with frail body and disproportionately huge head was lying on a blue-silken four-poster (bed): a very ugly picture. He was waving around his legs in the air; a lamp beside him: The local bigwig Liu! He was smoking opium."

"His behaved half friendly, half scornfully and didn't stand up from his sofa. He let me sit down on a chair and asked question after question: 'Where are you coming from? What are you doing in China?...' I let my chinese gate keeper, whose Chinese is better than mine, speak for me. And I was listening only with one ear, praying continuously to the Holy Ghost. I came from Germany, my gate keeper told, had neither wife nor child, came here to spread the believe, to preach, to teach, to help the sick and spend all of my money to do good to the poor. – But, why did I left Germany? And, Liu added scornfully: 'Do they don't want him anymore?! Do they don't care for him anymore?!' – ‘Who will protect you, when we have left here' – 'God will protect me', I answered. He hesitated a while, then said: 'Go back!' I said goodbye and bowed before him with respect."

"After that my gate keeper confessed: 'Priest, I wasn't afraid at all when talking to him!' I, myself, was feeling also quite calm. – God's protection. – But the danger hadn't disappeared yet. Like all other inhabitants we also barricaded the gate of our compound. In the streets deathly silence. The robber soldiers opened the prison and increased the riff-raff by 50 fiends. We didn't expect good for the night. I therefore in the evening took the most holy things and concealed them, then, wearing all clothes, I went to bed. At eight o clock we heard gun-shooting. Liu Guitang pulled his robbers and his noble hostages, who didn't pay the demanded thousands of dollars, out of the city through the northern gate, without plundering. At the same time the new southerners (Yang Hucheng's troops) marched in." (End of the missionary's account)

In the evening of 22 february 1929 the vanguard of Yang Hucheng's 21. divison, namely the bataillon of commander Wang Rong 王荣 (Wang Yunxie 王云谐) marched from the south towards the city of Juxian and began with artillery fire, until the city notables on the walls could make clear, that Liu already left the town, not until then the artillery fire ceased. They opened the gate, Wang's soldiers flooded in and began with dissipated looting and incursions, which were enduring the whole night. At daybreak of 23. february Yang Hucheng with his core troops marched in and stopped the incursions, shot several plunderers, started street patrols, and restored the public security in the city of Juxian.

In the following days Yang Hucheng and his troops hunted Liu Guitang's trek to the north, but just managed to drive them away into the northern depression of Shandong province. And during the "hunting" Yang's troops were attacked by Gu Zhen, as had been discussed at the beginning of this forum thread. . .

That's all for today
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