An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiangjunji 湘軍記

Jan 7, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiangjunji 湘軍記 "Records of the Hunan Army" is a description of the Hunan Army built up to fight the Taiping rebels 太平. It was written by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Wang Ding'an 王定安 (1833-1898), courtesy name Dingcheng 鼎丞, who hailed from Donghu 東湖 (modern Yichang 宜昌, Hubei) and was an official of the entourage of Zeng Guofan 曾國藩 (1811-1872) and his brother Zeng Guoquan 曾國荃 (1824-1890) and so had a deep personal experience of the history of the wars the Hunan Army was involved in.

The 20-juan long book was compiled because an earlier writing on the Hunan Army, Wang Kaiyun's 王闓運 Xiangjunzhi 湘軍志, had the tendency to criticize the institution of this new type of army. Wang Ding'an's book was intended to stress the importance of the Hunan Army for the surviving of the dynasty, and to add points Wang Kaiyun's book was missing.

It covers the time from 1850, when the Taiping uprising began, to 1887, when Xinjiang 新疆 was incorporated into the empire as a regular province. As a comprehensive history of the Hunan Army, that was the creation of Zeng Guofan, it is at the same time a praise for the general's efforts to support the Qing dynasty. The book is written chronologically, and each chapter describes step by step the advance of the Hunan Army in the efforts to repel the rebels. After the final conquest of the "Heavenly" capital Tianjing 天京 (Nanjing 南京, Jiangsu) it continues with the reconquest of southeastern and southern China and the suppression of the Nian and of the Muslim rebels in the west. The last chapter describes the organisation of the the new army and navy.

The main sources for the Xiangjunji were memorials to the court, as well as private reports of the progress of the war. The literary quality of the Xiangjunji is not as high as that of the Xiangjunzhi, but it is more detailed and historically more reliable than the earlier work. It was first printed in 1889 by the Jiangnan Shuju Press 江南書局, an edition that was republished in 1983 by the Yuelu Shushe Press 岳麓書社 in Changsha, together with the Xiangjunzhi, in the series Xiangjunshi zhuanke 湘軍史專刊.

Table 1. Contents of the Xiangjunji 湘軍記
1 湘粵戰守篇 Xiang-Yue zhanshou Battles in Hunan and Guangdong
2 湖南防御篇 Hunan fangyu The successful defence of Hunan
3 規復湖北篇 Guifu Hubei The reconquista of Hubei
4 援守江西篇 Yuanshou Jiangxi The defence of Jiangxi
5 規復安徽篇 Guifu Anhui The reconquista of Anhui
6 綏輯淮甸篇 Suiji Huaidian The conquest of the River Huai region
7 圍攻金陵篇 Weigong Jinling The attack on Mt. Jinling [i.e. Nanjing]
8 謀蘇篇 Mou Su Strategies [to reconquer] Jiangsu
9 謀浙篇 Mou Zhe Strategies [to reconquer] Zhejiang
10 援廣閩篇 Yuan Guang-Min Rescuing Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian
11 援川陜篇 Yuan Chuan-Shaan Rescuing Sichuan and Shaanxi
12 平黔篇 Ping Qian The pacification of Guizhou
13 平滇篇 Ping Dian The pacification of Yunnan
14 平捻篇 Ping Nian The pacification of the Nian rebels
15 平回篇 Ping Hui The pacification of the Muslim rebels
16 戡定西域篇 Kanding Xiyu Bringing to peace the Western Territories
17 水陸營制篇 Shuilu yingzhi The military system of the army and navy
Chen Zhenli 陳珍棣 (1995). "Xiangjunji 湘軍記", in Guo Yisheng 郭毅生, Shi Shi 史式, ed. Taiping tianguo da cidian 太平天國大辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe), 982.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 923.
Wan Li 萬里, ed. (2006). Hu-Xiang wenhua da cidian 湖湘文化大辭典 (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe), Vol. 1, 633.
Wang Songling 王松齡, ed. (1991). Shiyong Zhongguo lishi zhishi cidian 實用中國歷史知識辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 740.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 859.
Zhongguo fanglüe congshu 中國方略叢書 (Chengwen Publishing),