Chen Yucheng

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Chen Yucheng
Nickname(s) Four-eyed dog
Born (1837-12-00)0 December 1837
Teng County, Guangxi, Qing Empire
Died 1 May 1862(1862-05-01) (aged 25)
near Xinxiang, Henan
Allegiance Qing Empire (to 1849)
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (to 1862)
Years of service 1848–1862
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars

Eastern Front

Western Front

Awards King Ying
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Chen.

Chen Yucheng (c. 1837 – May 1862) (simplified Chinese: 陈玉成; traditional Chinese: 陳玉成; pinyin: Chén Yùchéng; Wade–Giles: Ch'en Yü-ch'eng), born Chen Picheng (simplified Chinese: 陈丕成; traditional Chinese: 陳丕成; pinyin: Chén Pīchéng), was a Chinese general during the Taiping Rebellion and later served as the Heroic (Ying) Prince of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in the later stages of the rebellion, his famous nickname was "Four-eyed Dog" because of two prominent moles below his eyes. His two moles resembled eyes from afar, and it spooked some Qing soldiers.

Born to a peasant family in Guangxi around 1836, Chen Yucheng joined Taiping rebel forces during the March to the Yangtze in 1851. Although only 15 at the time of his enlistment, Chen would quickly rise through the ranks because of his bravery and demonstrated tactical skills. By 1856, in the aftermath of an internal power struggle within the Taiping leadership, Chen was promoted to a general. He was awarded the E An in 1857.

After commanding a series of successful military operations west of Nanking (Nanjing) between 1856 and 1858, Chen was given the title of Prince Ying by the Taiping Kings in the following year. Together with fellow Taiping General Li Xiucheng, Chen organized a second siege of Nanking in 1860. He later advanced northwest, leading one half of a pincer movement in an offensive against Imperial forces in 1861. However, due to the poor coordination among the Taiping forces, Chen was forced to be on the defensive and eventually forced to withdraw. Following this defeat, Chen was later betrayed and executed by Imperial Qing forces in May 1862.

Chen's considerable military and tactical abilities prompted the Qing authorities to offer him a post. However Chen declined the offer. Before he was executed, he reportedly sighed with emotion saying, "I worried that the Taiping will lose whole areas of northern Yangtze River after I die!". Unluckily for the Taiping rebels, his last words came true.

Wuhan: strategic mistake[edit]

In February 1861, Chen Yucheng led 100,000 troops in a preparation to attack Wuhan, but Harry Smith Parkes, who was in Wuhan, put up a strong, robust defense. The Taiping troops eventually gave up the attack. The resulting retreat was a grave strategic mistake, because the Xiang Army was able to subsequently concentrate all their forces to attack Anqing. If Chen's Taiping troops would have captured Wuhan, that would have effectively cut off the Xiang Army's rear.

References[edit]

  • Hummel, Arthur W., ed., Eminent Chinese of the Ch'en Period (1644-1912), Washington, D.C., 1944.
  • Michael, Franz. The Taiping Rebellion: History and Documents (Vol. II/III), Seattle, 1971.
  • Michael, Franz and Chang Chung-li, The Taiping Rebellion: History and Documents (Vol. I), Seattle, 1966.
  • Teng, Ssu-yu. New Light on the Taiping Rebellion, Cambridge, Mass., 1950.