Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

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Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 01 Feb 2015 05:31

In reading The Life of General Yang Hucheng by Mi Zanchen, I came across a description of a battle fought between the Provisional 21st Division under Yang's command and forces of Gu Zhen some 15 kilometers southeast of Zucheng, Shandong Province, in 1929. Other than what's mentioned in the book, there appears to be basically nothing else in English on the battle. I have two questions concerning this:

(1) What was the name or unit designation of Gu Zhen's force that participated in the battle?

(2) What was the exact date of the battle in 1929? From the chronology in the back of Mi's book, I would guess that it was prior to May because the chronology lists Yang's campaign against Gu Zhen and Liu Guitang as starting before the Jinan incident, which was between May 3 and May 11, 1929, but nothing regarding the specific battle.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 02 Feb 2015 21:28

Gu Zhen was commander of the 13th division (shi 师) of the 1. Armycorps (juntuan 军团) of Zhang Zongchang (1882-1932) of the Fengtian-Warlord-Clique.

Yang Hucheng took Zhucheng in March 1929.

Battles against Gu Zhen took place in late february 1929.

Yang Hucheng and his troops of came from Juzhou, where Liu Guitang hold garrisson and fled on 22th February 1929. The next day they hunted Liu Guitang and where attacked surprisingly by Gu Zhen's forces, which came from Zhucheng, in Guanshuai (管帅) in the district of Wulian (五连) and suffered losses, but attacked back, and won victory against Gu Zhen's forces. Gu fled with 200 soldiers to Po'ercun (泊尔村) and rested, but Yang Hucheng's soldiers raided on them again and they surrendered and put down their weapons. Gu managed to hide/flee.

Gu Zhen's "boss", Zhang Zongchang, used to be military governer of the province Shandong, who during the northern expedition of the nationalists around Chiang Kaishek, tried to hold command of the province and, togehter with warlord Sun Chuanfang in northern Jiangsu, organized the so called national pacification army (anguojun 安国军) against the northern expedition, which Gu Zhen and his troops then were part of. But the situation in Shandong during 1928 and 1929 was much more complex. A lot of bandits (like Liu Guitang), fleeing and maraudeuring soldiers and, from district to district different, local military leaders struggled to hold power during the chaos and switched their loyalities serveral times. Beside that the "christian" warlord Feng Yuxiang (from time o time ally of Chiang Kaishek) tried to get hold of the province and installed his highest commander Sun Liangcheng as military governor of Shandong (from May 1928 til April 1929). Also the Japanese pushed in and committed the Ji'nan Massacre (6000 Chinese were on 3th of may 1928) slaughtered in the provincial capital), and hold the Qinggao-Ji'nan railway-line (in the north of the province from east to west) and several coal mines under control.

Gu Zhen first acted in Jiangsu province, then in december 1927 took his troops and came to Shandong, there he took the district town of Juzhou (莒县) for a short time, and step by step fled the troops of the northern expedition via Zhucheng (诸城) and Rizhao (日照). Until the beginning of 1929 he pulled back his troops to Zhucheng and around the Jiazhou-bay, near Qingdao at the eastern coast of Shandong province.

First as follower of Feng Yuxiang and with the backing of Feng Yuxiang's governor Sun Liangcheng and then as part of the northern expeditioneers Yang Hucheng and his 21th division, from the southern town of Linyi (in there since december 1928), launched "bandit annihilation" and "pacification campaigns" to the north and northeast.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 03 Feb 2015 00:58

Thank you very much! That was exactly the kind of information I was looking for -- the battle at Po'ercun is almost certainly what Mi was describing in the book because he mentions Yang pursuing Gu's men after an initial battle, surprising them while they were unprepared, and Gu managing to escape.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 03 Feb 2015 08:04

It is advisable to be critical to the Yang-Hucheng-biographies written in mainland China, like that of Mi, because later Yang became pro-communist and was one of the protagonists during the so called Xi'an incident in december 1936, when Chiang Kaishek was captured and forced to cooperate with the communists in a united front against Japan. So also Yangs earlier deeds are posthumly glorified and, often so called "battles" in reality weren't battles at all. For example Liu Guitang: Yang just managed, that he pulled back to northern Shandong without great losses, not more. A lot of other "bandits" and sodateska also just were weakened, for example Shi Zengfu in den area of the Meng-Mountains (蒙山), in the north of Linyi, but continued to bully the people. And: the locals had to pay and suffer a lot during Yangs "bandit annihilation campaigns". The local gazeteer of Juzhou (1936) says: "Hucheng just stayed half of a year in Ju. He was a disciplined hunter of robbers. . .But we had to contribute immensely, and he claimed and demanded exorbitantly. This place (the district of Ju) til today is suffering because of the losses (of those days)."

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 05 Feb 2015 06:03

I will keep that point in mind. I had noticed that Mi has takes on several other historical events that could be charitably characterized as "unconventional" relative to most other sources about the same subject (e.g., his discussion of the Sun Dianying incident), but at the same time my research here is much more for purposes of personal interest rather than trying to construct an academically sound history of the period.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 05 Feb 2015 13:36

The Seeker wrote:It is advisable to be critical to the Yang-Hucheng-biographies written in mainland China, like that of Mi, because later Yang became pro-communist and was one of the protagonists during the so called Xi'an incident in december 1936, when Chiang Kaishek was captured and forced to cooperate with the communists in a united front against Japan. So also Yangs earlier deeds are posthumly glorified and, often so called "battles" in reality weren't battles at all. For example Liu Guitang: Yang just managed, that he pulled back to northern Shandong without great losses, not more. A lot of other "bandits" and sodateska also just were weakened, for example Shi Zengfu in den area of the Meng-Mountains (蒙山), in the north of Linyi, but continued to bully the people. And: the locals had to pay and suffer a lot during Yangs "bandit annihilation campaigns". The local gazeteer of Juzhou (1936) says: "Hucheng just stayed half of a year in Ju. He was a disciplined hunter of robbers. . .But we had to contribute immensely, and he claimed and demanded exorbitantly. This place (the district of Ju) til today is suffering because of the losses (of those days)."
Wow, very interesting information on bandits activities in Shandong! What are the sources of these information, or where can I read more about them? I lived near the area mentioned when I was a child, so I'm quite interested in this part of history.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 05 Feb 2015 20:13

Hi, Mr. Chen,
the information is from a Liu-Guitang-biography, but it's in German. In English there are only a few books or articles about banditry during the republican period (1911-1949), i guess. The standard book seems to be Phil Billingsley: Bandits in Republican China, Standford University Press, 1988. But he concentrates on Henan and the bandit-leaders White Wolf and Lao Yangren. He only writes some details about Shandong banditry and Liu Guitang, who later collaborated with the Japanese invaders. I found a few articles about banditry in the magazine "Modern China" (Sage Publications), like Elizabeth Perry: "Social banditry revisited: The case of Bai Lang - A Chinese Brigand", in: Modern China Vol 9, No.3, July 1983, pp.355-382; or R.G. Tiedemann: "The Persistence of Banditry - Incidents in Border Districts of the North China Plain", in: Modern China, Vol. 8, No. 4, October 1982, pp. 395-433.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 06 Feb 2015 19:52

But as you are Chinese, perhaps it's easier for you to get these two publications, which I highly recommend to get inside of the topic "banditry" and how the Japanese invaders used local bandits as collaborating armies:

1. The historical materials No. 2 of the home-district Fei of bandit-leader Liu Guitang in Shandong: 費縣文史資料, No. 2 (1987). It bears 65 articles on 373 pages just about Liu Guitang (Liu Black Seven), about his background, his life, his crimes and his military-like career. Especially interesting, because Liu not only surfed the wave of the Japanese invasion of Jehol (Rehe 熱河) in 1932/1933, but also after 1937 the Japanese campaigns in Shandong province during the Second Sino-Japanese War and WWII.

2. The chronology of historical events in the Linyi 臨沂 prefecture (former 沂州) in south Shandong has a lot of information about other bandits in Shandong too: 臨沂百年大事記,山東人民出版社, 1989.

If you are in China it should be no problem to buy these books on the antiquariat-internet-plattform 孔夫子舊書网: http://www.kongfz.com/
Last edited by The Seeker on 07 Feb 2015 18:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 07 Feb 2015 13:13

Thanks a lot for these information! I have read Phil Billingsley's book, and it doesn't have much detail on Shandong. It is amazing to know that there's a biography of Liu Guitang in German...

As for the Chinese books you recommended, there's no problem fro me to get these books.

BTW, so you are a scholar studying the bandits in Shandong? :wink:

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 07 Feb 2015 18:15

Aren't we all scholars?:) Well, I'm interested in the history of China, especially in social history, underclasses, criminology, popular culture, rebellions and military, and especially during the Chinese Republic (1911-1949). So banditry is one aspect of it. But I'm just doing private research as sort of hobby.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 09 Feb 2015 12:19

Yes I'm also just doing private research as a hobby... So thank you again for your information and good luck with your research! Happy Chinese New Year!

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 23 Feb 2015 09:21

Have read some articles on Liu Guitang, including the book recommended by The Seeker. Also in 日照文史资料 No.3 are detailed articles on Liu's raid of the town of Rizhao(where I lived as a child) in 1931.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by The Seeker » 01 Mar 2015 11:36

Hi Mr. Chen, I can tell a little bit more about Liu Guitang in Rizhao:

Liu Guitang hold garrison in Juzhou 莒州 from september 1928 until Februar 1929, this in the name of the northern expedition, seemingly he became division commander of Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi) via blessing of Chiangs general He Yingqin. From Juzhou he made raids to near towns like Rizhao 日照. In september he took Rizhao by force of 1000-3000 soldiers without notable fighting and since then also controlled the coastal towns Shijiusuo 石臼所 and Taoluo 涛雒, and also Beikuo 碑廓 and Andongwei 安東衛 - all near the coast in the southeast of Shandong province. Strategically important for Liu Guitang, because now he could use smuggling routes by boat to Japanese munition and weaponry dealers in Qingdao - as the following account in the Central daily news (Zhongyang ribao 中央日報) prooves. The account is speaking about contacts with "people of a certain nation" (某國人), which in republican times normally means Japan :wink:
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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 01 Mar 2015 12:32

Very interesting! Shijiusuo was the main coast of Rizhao (and still is today), so it is highly possible that Liu used the coast to obtain weapons. However, did Liu really have connections with Zhang Zongchang? I have read that Zhang was planning to land on Shijiusuo in early 1930s under Japanese support and after contacting some local bandits in order to regain control of Shandong(later the plan was not carried out).

P.S. A small thing: 莒州 had been changed to 莒县 in 1913, as can be seen in the newspaper report. If I'm not mistaken, all the 州 administrative level was abolished in early Republican period.

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Re: Yang Hucheng vs. Gu Zhen

Post by YC Chen » 01 Mar 2015 13:30

Here I upload a very interesting photo - the south gate of Juxian(Juzhou) town wall. Today the town wall of Rizhao is nowhere to be seen, while those in Juxian and Zhucheng(诸城) still partly remain. These poor defense were in no position to stand against Liu Guitang's overwhelming military force...

The photo is from the book 山水莒县(Mountains and Waters of Juxian) and I retained the caption.
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