Teng County, Guangxi, Qing Empire
|Died||7 August 1864
Jiangning, Nanjing, Qing Empire
|Allegiance||Qing Empire (to 1849)
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (to 1864)
|Years of service||1852–1864|
Li Xiucheng (Chinese: 李秀成; pinyin: Lǐ Xiùchéng; 1823 – August 7, 1864) was a military commander during the Taiping Rebellion. Born to a peasant family, he was known as the Loyal King (忠王) by the end of his life. This title was bestowed after he refused a bribe from a Qing general officer to kill Hong Xiuquan, the founder and leader of the rebellion. As a general, he led Taiping forces to several victories. After his capture and interrogation at the third and final Battle in Nanjing in 1864, he was executed by Zeng Guofan. Li was the most important military leader of the rebel forces by the end of the Taiping Rebellion.
Notable victories against the Qing military forces
Second rout of the Jiangnan Army Group
Army Group Jiangnan (江南大營) was an important Qing army barracks in Nanjing. Forces led by Li Xiucheng besieged the barracks in an attempt to force its occupants to surrender. Li Xiucheng, besides; in the second encirclement, the Qing army commanded 200,000 soldiers to fight with Taiping forces from March 1858, but they were routed by Li Xiucheng in May 1860. After that, Li went on to occupy all of Jiangsu provinces except Shanghai.
Two attacks on Shanghai
- Battle of Shanghai (1861) (the second time)
Escaped from Suzhou
Li Xiucheng's palace in Suzhou is the only one from the Taiping Rebellion that exists today. In July 1863, Li ordered his daughter's husband, Tan Shaoguang, to capture Suzhou. But Li Hongzhang led the Huai Army combined by the "Ever Victorious Army," which, having been raised by an American named Frederick Townsend Ward, was placed under the command of Charles George Gordon. With this support, Li Hongzhang gained numerous victories leading to the surrender of Suzhou.
Determining battle: lead defend capital Nanjing
Donkey Jiang (蔣驢子) became the manager of Li Xiucheng's stables. Three months into this relationship in 1864 — and before the fall of Nanjing — Li Xiucheng took his wealth (including much plunder) to Donkey Jiang. At Li's request, Jiang quickly transported that wealth outside the Nanjing area, planning to meet back up with Li later. Jiang delivered on his promise to accompany the transport with 20 horses and an ox, but Li was captured and executed before he could rendezvous with Jiang. Jiang was left with wealth that he was able to bring back to Nanjing after the war.
When Li withdrew from Suzhou, his sword - the symbol of his power - was given to his young brother Li Shixian. Li Shixian took this sword; however it was confiscated when he was captured by Charles George Gordon in Liyang.
On 30 August 1961. the sword ended up in the hands of a history professor at the University of London. In 1981, this sword was returned to China where it is currently stored in the National Museum of China.