An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiangjunzhi 湘軍志

Jan 7, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiangjunzhi 湘軍志 "A treatise on 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 Kaiyun 王闓運 (1833-1916), courtesy name Renqiu 壬秋, style Xiangqi 湘綺.

Wang Kaiyun hailed from Xiangtan 湘潭, Hunan, and was a young official in the staff of Zeng Guofan 曾國藩 (1811-1872), who built up the Hunan Army. After the war he was a teacher in various academies, in Chengdu 成都, Sichuan, Changsha 長沙, Hunan, and Hengzhou 衡州 (modern Hengyang 衡陽). At the end of the Qing period he was examining editor of the Hanlin Academy (Hanlinyuan jiantao 翰林院檢討), with the brevet title of Reader-in-waiting (shidu 侍讀). During the early years of the Republic (1912-1949), Wang Kaiyun was director of the Institute of the History of the Qing (Qingshiguan 清史館). Apart form the Xiangjunzhi, he wrote a diary called Xiangqilou riji 湘綺樓日記, and various poems and prose writings, published a selection of poems, the Badai shixuan 八代詩選, and was interested in the Confucian Classic Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳.

The 16-juan and chapters long book Xiangjunzhi was written on demand by Zeng Jize 曾紀澤 (1839-1890), a son of Zeng Guofan, and is highly critical particularly towards the military style of Zeng Guoquan 曾國荃 (1824-1890), the youngest brother of Zeng Guofan. The book is written from the perspective of an eye-witness and is therefore of great value for the study of the history of the suppression of the rebellions of the Taiping and the Nian 捻. The Xiangjunzhi is highly selective and does not provide a comprehensive overview of the war and the history of the Hunan Army.

The book was first printed in Chengdu by the Zunjing Academy 尊經書院, 1885 in Changsha by the Jiaowei Studio 斠微齋 and in 1886 in Chengdu by the Moxiang Studio 墨香書屋. In 1983 the Yuelu Press 岳麓書社 in Changsha published a series called Xiangjunshi zhuankan 湘軍史專刊 containing a facsimile of the 1885 edition of the Xiangjunzhi that was critically compared with the Zunjing edition and an edition from Shanghai in the collection Xiangjun shuilu zhanji 湘軍水陸戰紀.

Table 1. Contents of the Xiangjunzhi 湘軍志
1. 湖南防守篇 Hunan fangshou The defence of Hunan
2. 曾軍篇 Zengjun Zeng Guofan's army I
3. 湖北篇 Hubei The province of Hubei
4. 江西篇 Jiangxi The province of Jiangxi I
5. 曾軍後篇 Zengjun houpian Zeng Guofan's army II
6. 水師篇 Shuishi The navy
7. 浙江篇 Zhejiang The province of Zhejiang
8. 江西後篇 Jiangxi houpian The province of Jiangxi II
9. 臨淮篇 Lin Huai Facing River Huai
10. 援江西篇 Yuan Jiangxi Rescuing the province of Jiangxi
11. 援廣西篇 Yuan Guangxi Rescuing the province of Guangxi
12. 援貴州篇 Yuan Guizhou Rescuing the province of Guizhou
13. 援川陜篇 Yuan Chuan-Shaan Rescuing the provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi
14. 平捻篇 Ping Nian The pacification of the Nian rebels
15. 營制篇 Yingzhi The military system [of the Hunan Army]
16. 籌餉篇等 Chouxiang The supply system [of the Hunan Army]

Xiangjunzhi pingyi 湘軍志評議

After the publication of the Xiangjunzhi, Zeng Guoquan and Guo Songtao 郭嵩燾 (1818-1891) heavily protested because they were not content with many statements in the book. Guo and his younger brother Guo Kuntao 郭崑燾 (1823-1882) therefore wrote down their comments on the text. Kuntao's grandson Guo Zhenyong 郭振墉 published these critical comments together with the official text, with the title Xiangjunzhi pingyi 湘軍志評議. It was printed in 1916 by Guo's Qingwenshan Studio 清聞山館. It is included in the series Xiangjun shi zhuankan 湘軍史專刊 from 1983.

Xu Xiangjunzhi 續湘軍志

The Xiangjunzhi is not a full history of the Hunan Army, but only describes its origins and the supression of the Taiping and Nian rebellions. The achievements of the Hunan Army in Zuo Zongtang's 左宗棠 (1812-1885) western campaign against the Muslim insurgencies in Xinjiang are not described. Zhu Dechang 朱德裳 (1874-1936), courtesy name Shihui 師晦, from Xiangtan 湘潭, wrote a 4-juan long continuation of the book called Xu Xiangjunzhi 續湘軍志. It is divided into the chapters Pacification of the Muslims I and II (Ping Hui qianbian, houbian 平回前篇、后篇), Military Supply (Bingxiang 兵餉篇), the Liberation of Ili (Huan Yili 還伊犁篇), Overview Table of Events (Dashi biao 大事表), Persons (Renwu biao 人物表), Commanders (Jiangling biao 將領表), Killed Officers (Xunnan biao 殉難表), Muslim Commanders (Huishou biao 回首表), Foreign Commanders (Yiqiu biao 夷酋表), and Surrendering Muslim Commanders (Jianghui biao 降回表). The book is also included in the series Xiangjun shi zhuankan.

Xiangjunbing zhi 湘軍兵志

Xiangjunbing zhi 湘軍兵志, also called Xiangjun xinzhi 湘軍新志, is a modern book on the Hunan Army published by Luo Ergang 羅爾綱 in 1939 (Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館). Luo is also author of Lüyingbing zhi 綠營兵志, a treatise on the Green Standard Armies (lüyingbing 綠營兵). The book has 13 chapters reporting on the background, the creation of the Hunan Army, its leaders, the military system, garrisons, supply, recruitment and dismissal, promotion, training and tactics. The text is mainly based on documents of Zeng Guofan and Hu Linyi 胡林翼 (1812-1861) or other commanders. The author stresses the importance of this novel army as a replacement of the traditional Green Standard troops.

The book was republished in modern typesetting in 1984 by the Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局.

Chen Zhenli 陳珍棣 (1995). "Xiangjunzhi pingyi 湘軍志平議", in Guo Yishi 郭毅生 et al., ed. Taiping tianguo da cidian 太平天國大辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe), 982.
Chen Zhenli 陳珍棣 (1995). "Xu Xiangjunzhi 續湘軍志", in Guo Yishi 郭毅生 et al., ed. Taiping tianguo da cidian 太平天國大辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe), 975.
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, 922.
Wan Li 萬里, ed. (2006). Hu-Xiang wenhua da cidian 湖湘文化大辭典 (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe), Vol. 1, 637.
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), 737.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 826, 859.
Wu Shanzhong 吳善中 (1995). "Xiangjunzhi 湘軍志", 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.
Xing Fenglin 邢鳳麟 (1995). "Xiangjunbing zhi 湘軍兵志", in Guo Yishi 郭毅生 et al., ed. Taiping tianguo da cidian 太平天國大辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe), 982.
Zhang Junfeng 張軍鋒 (1993). "Xiangjunbing zhi 湘軍兵志", in Fang Ming 方鳴 et al, ed. Ershi shiji Zhongguo xueshu yaoji da cidian 二十世紀中國學術要籍大辭典 (Beijing: Zhonggong zhongyang dangxiao chubanshe), 513.
Zhongguo fanglüe congshu 中國方略叢書 (Chengwen Publishing),