The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China

The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China

Caleb Carr

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0679761284

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A courageous leader who became the first American mandarin, Frederick Townsend Ward won crucial victories for the Emperor of China during the Taiping Rebellion, history's bloodiest civil war. Carr's skills as historian and storyteller come to the fore in this thrilling account of the kind of adventurer the world no longer sees.

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had stopped for one thing or another, and of a sudden the old merchant spoke up, in pidgeon English. What did it matter, he wanted to know, which one of us had by force of arms broken into the temples of the gods? We were disrespectful of the gods, we were like burglars, for all our bravery. And we could never be the first white men to enter a sacred Chinese temple, anyway, because there was Hua, the White God. Hua had been braver than any of us—and he had been good, too. He had come from far

between Buddhist or Taoist idolatry and Christianity: “In every temple,” wrote one anti-Christian pamphleteer, “they [the Christians] are in the habit of worshipping a naked boy five or six inches long.… This ought … to be examined into.” As one modern Taiping expert has written of Hung and the Taiping elite: “Competent leaders, understanding the nature of the opportunity, would have put together a different and more adequate ideology.” None of this, however, changed the fact that, in the

the commander. While Ward understood that such men needed careful preparation before they could face the Taipings, the men themselves would hardly have been likely to acknowledge such a need. Even worse, Ward’s Chinese backers could not be made to see it. Having hired foreigners and supplied them with up-to-date weapons, Wu Hsü and Yang Fang evidently believed that the only thing left to do was find the rebels and defeat them. Ward’s attempts to gain time to prepare what became officially

officials of varying civil and military ranks received word of the approach of the Taipings with visible fright. Some of this fear was inspired by rumors of rebel atrocities, but much of it sprang from the knowledge of what the emperor would do to any man who failed in his appointed task. Simple beheading was the best of these fates; the infamous “death of a thousand cuts”—in which the skin was flayed from a living traitor’s body—was more commonly pronounced. Faced with the manifold dangers of a

at hand and tried to impart a similar dedication to his men. As Dr. Macgowan noted, “In learning drill, the Chinese of Kiangsu proved apt scholars, and being an easy race, a certain amount of discipline was easily established. Commands were given in English, which, with the bugle calls, were soon acquired. They were trained to come into line quickly, irrespective of inverted order. Much time and patience were required to teach them artillery practice; but ultimately they became expert in that

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