Author Topic: General Tso's cash  (Read 1854 times)

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Offline bgriff99

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General Tso's cash
« on: January 08, 2015, 11:56:17 AM »
In 1878, after the reconquest of Sinkiang, General Tso Tsung-tang began having provisional cash made at Kuche.   Curiously most of them used the past reign title of Chien-lung, not the current one of Kuang-hsu.   A couple very rare late varieties do have it on the obverse.    Only this one type with "Kang Shui" in Uighur (more or less Arabic), sideways on the reverse used it in any quantity.

The reverse is shown rotated 90 degrees left.   Many of the provisional issues copied regular brass cash from China.   This copies one from the board of Revenue of the 12th year of Chien-lung, 1748.

I don't know, but may infer some political statement there, that Kuang-hsu should be ignored...   "Well then, you may report to the Dowager Empress that I will obey her command and place the proper nien hao on the cash."    On the back, in the language of the "stupid turban heads", sideways disguised as a mintmark.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 10:11:40 PM »
Needless to say I had never seen this coin. A fantastic piece of history. I have a personal interest in Yakub Beg's revolt, as his troops included a large contingent of Uzbeks (Andijanis). Kuqa is on a straight route to Kashgar and from there to Samarqand.

To me, it is evident that general Zuo, who seems to have been educated and smart, had political ambitions. After all, the empress dowager's choice of successor was controversial, not in accordance with tradition and as a Han, he must have had dreams of dislodging the Manchu. By treating the people of Xinjiang fairly, he developed a power base, alongside his Xiang army, that had the modern arms the Manchu army units did not have. A power grab must have seemed possible in his mind. Another possibility is that he eyed a buffer state between China and Russia, with himself as ruler. The turning point seems to have been in 1880, when he gave up his post in the grand secretariat for that of viceroy of Liangjiang.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2015, 11:05:45 PM »
Peter, I have tried to, and not found any discussion regarding General Tso's politics or desire to take over China himself.   He was kept busy out west, putting down rebellions, securing Shensi and Kansu.   He was made governor-general in 1874.   So he was not anywhere near Beijing when Kuang-hsu was put in place.    In the 1890's he was criticized by progressive Chinese for NOT taking over, and working so hard to keep Cixi in power.   

Offline Figleaf

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2015, 05:56:49 PM »
Of course I am just speculating. In my last job, I was required to speculate all the time and I was well paid for it :)

Being far away from Beijing is not a disadvantage, but an advantage if your power base is in Xinjiang and you are better armed than your potential adversary. One of his options would have been to use the Xiang army for a long march on Beijing, calling for a "just succession to the throne" and acquiring Han support on the way, aiming at having the Manchu forces melt away. The coin you show seems to say he doesn't agree with the succession. The addition of the nien hao in Uigur can only be explained as a show of contempt for Cixi and her protégé.

What may have kept him from doing so? He describes Yakub Beg's forces as fairly well equipped but cowardly. That's general-speak for having good arms but being untrained. This is where my theory of the buffer state comes in. Zuo considered Russia as weak and China as politically unstable. [speculation]If he could have created a Muslim buffer state between the two, made of Chinese and Russian territory (neither China nor Russia being predominantly Muslim), he could have convinced both to leave him alone and he could have taken a military interest in the Central Asian Khanates that eventually fell to Russia. However, that would not work if Beijing had stabilised and the locals could not fight well. Maybe that is what convinced the old strategist to throw in his lot with the Qing, where he did quite well, financially.[/speculation]

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2015, 11:25:03 PM »
From what I have seen, Yakub Beg's operation was already in tatters when the Chinese arrived.    He had knocked out a couple smaller rivals to be in charge, and there was no more booty for his followers to take.   He was struggling to get ammunition from places like Turkey.   At best he had rifled muskets.    The Chinese had breech loaders but not very good ones.   

I did not know General Tso was made governor-general of Liang-Kiang.   At the time of the Boxer Rebellion the person in that position controlled the most powerful independent base outside of Yuan Shih-kai and Cixi herself.   He openly defied her, effectively siding with the enemy (which was us).   For General Tso to have been given that position, knowing his organizational abilities, to me seems to indicate a good deal of trust in his loyalty.

I also was not aware of his friendliness toward Muslims.   Rather he is renowned for using extermination of entire populations (except for the young women) as a pacification means.   Which had been used before to good effect in Sinkiang (e.g. getting rid of the Oirat by smallpox, starvation and freezing the ones they couldn't chase down directly).

Offline Figleaf

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2015, 12:14:34 AM »
First the arms. A breechloader is a rifle. Musket are loaded through the barrel. Early rifles were also loaded through the barrel (it took longer to load a rifle than a musket), but when the all-in-one rifle bullet came about, the rifle had to be breech-loaded. When rifles are around, musketeers are dead meat. A musket is less efficient than a longbow, in reach, in being able to aim its projectile and in time it takes to reload. In 1875, any army worth the name had rifles. For a rifle, the precision of the barrel is everything. A well fitting, uncompromisingly straight and precision rifled barrel will give optimum results. Yakub Beg reportedly had rifles (which does not mean he could not be short of ammunition, of course). The Xiang army was equipped with needle rifles; they are described as superior to those of the army. The muslim Manchu forces supporting Zuo still had musket units.

I didn't claim Zuo was friendly, but that he was fair (by the standards of his time.) Wiki backs me up:
Quote
General Zuo implemented a conciliatory policy toward the Muslim rebels, pardoning those who did not rebel and those who surrendered if they had joined in only for religious reasons. If rebels assisted the government against the rebel Muslims they received rewards. In contrast to General Zuo, the Manchu leader Dorongga sought to massacre all the Muslims and saw them all as the enemy. Zuo also instructed General Zhang Yao that 'The Andijanis are tyrannical to their people; government troops should comfort them with benevolence. The Andijanis are greedy in extorting from the people; the government troops should rectify this by being generous.', telling him to not mistreat the Turkic Muslim natives of Xinjiang. Zuo wrote that the main targets were only the 'die-hard partisans' and their leaders, Yaqub Beg and Bai Yanhu. The natives were not blamed or mistreated by the Qing troops, a Russian wrote that soldiers under General Liu 'acted very judiciously with regard to the prisoners whom he took . . . . His treatment of these men was calculated to have a good influence in favour of the Empire of the Great Qing' .

Zuo became viceroy near the end of life, when the choice for the Qing had long been definitive. He couldn't stand the bureaucratic backstabbing in Beijing and was releaved of his post in the Grand Council at his request.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bgriff99

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Re: General Tso's cash
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2015, 03:47:12 AM »
Lest we get even farther off track talking about 19th century arms....  there is one famous instance in British colonial history of a rematch with Manchu forces armed with their formidable composite bows.   They routed a redcoat force who shouldered flintlock smoothbores and could not even get in range to use them.    A couple years later, the rematch, in the rain to boot (which disables glued-together bows), British with rifled percussion Enfields.   Sturdy and precision leaf sights to 900 yards.    Mowed down the Manchus like a scythe in ripe hay.    In the US Civil War, effective infantry regiments were rewarded by getting those to replace their American-made rifles.   As you say, the quality of the barrel, which is not obvious to the eye, makes all the difference.

General Tso had set up the arsenals himself to make those knockoff Dreyse needle guns.   That was exactly what I meant by not very good breech loaders.   Yakub Beg was frantic in the early 1870's to get better weapons.   We don't have any very detailed reports of what they actually had.   If anything like just good and not overly worn out muzzle loading rifles, using minie balls, then he was in good shape.   I would guess he started his rebellion with antiquated weapons which his men already owned.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 08:28:43 PM by bgriff99 »