2010年2月26日 星期五

The missing 500 - Part 3

[The famed rattan shields]

In 1628, the Russians first invaded the homeland of the Buryats, west of Lake Baikal, and the settlers then moved steadily eastward to the great alarm of the Chinese governments. There have been many conflicts between Russia and China over the possession of the northern territories including Siberia ever since.

It was in one of these armed conflicts, 500 藤牌兵 from Taiwan were recalled and sent to northern China to join in the fight. The order came directly from Emperor 康熙Kang-xi himself; although the suggestion most likely was put forth by a Han Chinese [Shi Lang?] The intrigued Emperor summoned an aging 林興珠Lin Hsing-Ju for a demonstration of the fighting strategy and skills of the 藤牌兵. Lin had served in Koxiga's military and twice surrendered to Qing as a faithful follower of his two previous commanders. 康熙 was suitably impressed by Lin's performance and an order to activate the infantrymen from Taiwan was issued.

On June 23, 1685, 彭春Pengcum led 3,000 Qing soldiers in an attack on 雅克薩Albazin. First Peng read to the Russian defenders Emperor 康熙's edict demanding their surrender. Then the Qing army laid siege to Albazin and blocked the access of the Russian artillerymen to their guns inside the fort. Two days later, a Russian reinforcement unit sailed east on the Amur黑龍江 on board of wooden rafts to reach Albazin. They were intercepted by the 藤牌兵 submerged in the river covered under their round rattan shields. The Russians panicked at the sight of soldiers with "huge hats" who came out of water to chop off their feet. Half of the Russian men were killed. The siege ended very quickly when the Qing soldiers set fire to the walls of Albazin. During the negotiations for surrender, >600 (almost all) of the Russians requested permission to go back to Nerchinsk. 康熙 received the news of the victory on July 5, 1685, while visiting his ancestral land in Manchuria. The Qing army and the Taiwanese soldiers then returned triumphantly to 璦琿. However, shortly after, on Aug 27, the Russians came back to harvest the crops and to brazenly re-build Albazin. In 1686, 2,000 Qing soldiers and 100 藤牌兵 were again dispatched to re-take the fort. In both campaigns, the 藤牌兵 suffered no casualties which was probably not what the scheming Han Chinese had anticipated.

What followed was a mystery. There was no mention in any official history of the 藤牌兵's safe return to their farming settlements. Some suggested that they were simply murdered by the Qing to totally wipe out the last remnants of the Ming-Cheng military. This does not seem likely because in 1696, 林興珠 and his men went on another campaign to fight against Mongolian rebels. He was well-rewarded and putatively died of old age in Beijing. In fact, a secret directive from 康熙 was to treat these infantrymen from Taiwan nicely.

There are other unofficial versions as far as the fate of the 500:

Version one: They settled in 齊齊哈爾Qiqihar in 黑龍江 Province.

According to 魏毓蘭's 《龍城舊聞》:“水師營兵,皆調自福建。今道署附近之土著,其先世皆福建人。若莆田林姓、同安陳姓,在福建本巨族,徙塞上仍大姓也。雅克薩之役,建義侯林興珠平羅剎,為閩人立功塞外之祖。故當日水師之權勢,雖不得比於滿洲,以視屯、站漢人,殊為優越。” This "Old Tales of the Dragon City" states that the soldiers of the Naval Camp in the city of Qiqihar all came from Hokkien. They were led by 林興珠 and had won the battle against the Russians at Abazin and were the ancestors of the natives now living near the Camp. They came with prominent Hokkien family names such as Lin of Pu-tien and Chen of Tung-An - now common local last names...

[Note: The info above was provided by a friend nicked-named Fishdoc.]

And Version two: They migrated to Cambodia.

According to 劉文海(?)'s 《西行奇見聞》:"曾聞安南西屬[即柬埔寨]有異人自海上入,劃地為界,乃不能制,[求]援於安南,[安南]王怪其無禮,遣軍擊之,異人手持墨棉 [即藤牌],兵刃不能損,以火觸之即燃。曾擒之,與其談,語不能通也,鏖戰經月,不可復制,安南國王遣使與談,約以[互]不[相]擾。因其為首者名「拎主[林興珠?]」故當地稱兩地之界為【拎邊】。" [Source: here] In other words, 林興珠 [拎主 appears a compressed 林興珠 when pronounced in Hokkien] and the 500 men [together with their families possibly totaling about 1,000] seemed to have escaped from China and ended up in the now Cambodia, then a client state of Viet Nam. According to this book, "Odd stories on the journey west", the King of Viet Nam came to the aid of Cambodia but was unable to defeat these "strangers" from overseas who were armed with sword-proof but inflammable rattan shields. It was also impossible to communicate with a captive/them who spoke a different language. The King, through an emissary, reached an agreement for both sides not to disturb each other and to keep within their own borders...

[Note: The author of Version two did admit that he had concocted the story.]

Often the unofficial stories contain grains of truth. It probably does not matter which version is more credible. Most important is that these 500 men seemed to have survived and had carried on unhindered as all Taiwanese would do in the face of great adversity.

2010年2月25日 星期四

The missing 500 - Part 2

(In this 1710 map published in Japan, Taiwan is still identified as 東寧, possibly in remembrance of Koxinga whose mother was Japanese.)

The classic Chinese historical novel 三國演義 (published in the 14th century covering the tumultuous late Han period of 169-280AD) has a haunting episode. In which 諸葛亮Tsu-ge Liang (also known as 孔明Kung Ming, 181-234AD) captured and then purposely released the trouble-making Southern Savage leader 孟獲Meng-Huo. Who finally gave up after the 7th capture and became a most faithful ally. Meng's friend, a chieftain named 兀突骨WuTuGu had led an army of 藤牌兵 in support of Meng that had caused much damage to Tsu-ge's Sze-chuan army. These infantrymen were equipped with round shields and body armors all as strong as iron made from rattan cured in (probably Tong) oil. They were trapped in a dead-end valley and set on fire by Tsu-ge's army and every single one died. For this, Tsu-ge knew he had gone too far in taking lives in this manner and would not be permitted by Heaven to live to a ripe old age. He was right.

Because of the tactical effectiveness in battle against the cavalries, 藤牌兵 has become a special force throughout the ages, especially in Southern China where rattan plants were abundant. Often, however, they were deployed on suicide missions - to perform the first frontal assault of each battle at great losses. The British 18th Infantry Regiment had run into such a fearless group when they attacked Xiamen on Aug 26, 1841. By then, unfortunately, the rattan shields were no longer effective against the gun fire.

Koxinga's military was quite formidable both at sea and on land. His infantry to a man was trained in the use of the sword and rattan shield, a martial art still in practice in Taiwan (and Southern Hokkien) today. And in addition, he had organized a very special force, the elite 鐵人部隊Iron-men corps (or heavily-armored 藤牌兵) as the main attacking force. At the first encounter in 1661 with the Dutch then based in Zeelandia (Tainan), the Iron-men troop defeated the Dutch musketeers led by Thomas Pedel; half of the 240 men including Pedel himself were slaughtered. This began the siege of Zeelandia and the last governor of the Dutch colony in Taiwan Frederick Coyette finally called it quits on Feb 10, 1662. He retreated to Batavia and was promptly tried and imprisoned for losing the colony.

In trying to recover Ming territories, Koxinga's 藤牌兵 first demonstrated their prowess in 1651 in the battle of 海澄 and went on to defeat the Qing army in another major battle in 漳州 in 1652. And in 1659, they were deployed in the battle of 銀山 against the Qing cavalry. History recorded that these infantrymen were organized in 3-man teams. One held the shield to protect the other two, the second man was responsible for chopping down the horseman and the third, slicing the war horse in two - both with a heavy sword, known as the 雲南馬刀 (see below). The Qing could not come up with a defense strategy and again suffered heavy losses.
With the surrender of the Ming-Cheng dynasty, these 藤牌兵were not allowed to stay in Taiwan. In fact, all Cheng officials and soldiers were banished to mainland China to become farmers in desolate areas in HeNan, Shantung, and Shanxi provinces. The strong ones were drafted to serve in the Qing flag-armies and the old and the feeble were purposely left behind to quietly die. The ones exiled to Beijing were the six (probably 5, see below) sons of Koxinga, the nine sons of 鄭經Cheng Jing (Koxinga's first son) including 鄭克塽, plus the families of 鄭克塽's advisers, 劉國軒 and 馮錫範, as well as that of the Ming heir 朱桓. The sixth son of Koxinga had escaped and gone into hiding. Shi-lang had spent years tracking him down to no avail. This sole surviving branch is now into the 13th generation. The tombs of Koxinga and 鄭經 were relocated to Nan-An in Hokkien; those of the other high officials were secretly razed to the ground and the remains destroyed. And any memorials to the Ming-Cheng were either erased or converted into temples. This was the Qing Court's 以漢制漢 (Han controlling Han) policy in action - the Manchu people apparently knew that the Han Chinese were very good at exacting revenges from the Han Taiwanese.

In a strange twist of fate, 500 Hokkien/Taiwanese 藤牌兵 were recalled from the settlements to fight in 1685 in the Sino-Russian border wars. They were naturally victorious. Then the 500 mysteriously disappeared. Did they really? Stay tuned.

2010年2月24日 星期三

The missing 500 - Part 1

(A statue of 鄭成功Cheng Chen-Gong - known to the West as Koxinga國姓爺, in 皓月園, 鼓浪嶼Gulangyu, Xiamen City)

On the 18th day of the 8th month (lunar calendar) in 1683, the Ming-Cheng Dynasty ceased to exist. This was the statement from the 14-year-old ruler of Taiwan, Koxinga's 2nd grandson 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-shuang, to turncoat 施琅Shi-lang who had just defeated Cheng's Navy in Peng-hu and was ready to attack Taiwan proper. It was authored by 鄭德瀟Cheng De-Shiaw on behalf of the boy-king:



然思皇靈之赫濯,信知天命有攸歸。逆者亡、順者昌,迺覆載待物之廣大;貳而討、服而舍,諒聖王與人之甚寬。用遵往時之成命,爰 邀此日之殊恩。冀守宗祧以勿失,永作屏翰於東方。業有修表具奏外,及接提督臣施琅來書,以復居故土,不敢主張。臣 思既傾心而向化,何難納土以輸誠。茲特繕具本章,并延平王印一顆、冊一副及武平侯臣劉國軒印一顆、忠誠伯臣馮錫范印一顆,敬遣副使劉國昌、馮錫韓齎赴軍前繳奏;謹籍土地人民,待命境上。數千里之封疆悉歸王宇,百餘萬之戶口並屬版圖。遵海而南,永息波濤之警;普天之 下,均沾雨露之濡。實聖德之漸被無方,斯遐區之襁負恐後。  


至於明室宗親,格外優待;通邦士庶,軫念綏柔;文武諸官,加恩遷擢;前附將領,一體垂仁;夙昔仇怨,盡與蠲除;籍沒產業,俱行賜復。尤期廣推寬大之仁,明布維新之令。使夫群情允愜,共鼓舞於春風;萬彙熙恬,同泳游於化日。斯又微臣 無厭之請,徼望朝廷不次之恩者也。為此,激切具本奏聞,伏候勑旨。

Essentially, it states: "... I am young and ignorant and should have capitulated sooner in the presence of the immense power of Your Majesty [the Qing emperor]... I hereby renounce my titles and rights and together with my subordinates surrender to you. Attached please find the seals of mine and those of my trusted advisers. Have mercy on us and the household of the Royal Ming Court ..."

In it, Cheng requested that he and his family be sent back to Hokkien [instead of Beijing] because a southerner could not adapt to life in northern China and that he be granted residences and lands and a stipend to live on in reasonable comfort.

The Qing Court naturally would not have any of these. Instead, Cheng was held hostage in Beijing, given an empty title of 漢軍公(the Duke of Han Army - sarcastically of course) as part of the 正黃旗Formal Yellow-flag Army [one of the eight flag-armies of Qing]. And his army disbanded totally.

It has been only 327 years since the surrender; the aftermath while little known was actually very well-recorded. The systematic destruction of anything Cheng by the Qing Court was nothing short of spectacular. We will now look at what had happened to the 東寧王朝Tung-Ning Dynasty survivors. One of the examples is the 藤牌兵 or the Rattan-shield Infantrymen who were recruited from 龍溪縣Long-shi Prefecture of 漳州府ChangChowFu in Hokkien - the same birthplace of the ancestors of many Danshui-ren.

2010年2月14日 星期日

Danshui 1627-1637 - Part 2

[A 1654 map of Keelung and Danshui - looking from north. Danshui River is on the right and Keelung Island on the left.]

It is a story known to all Taiwanese: the very first time Portuguese sailors set their eyes on this beautiful island, they exclaimed excitedly, "Ilha Formosa!" Actually, the Portuguese were probably very easily impressed as they had called many other places Formosa. The one for Taiwan, however, stuck and became the best-known in the World. Those Portuguese were most likely among the first to sail north to Japan. The many maritime routes along the east coast of China to Japan all went closely by Taiwan making the latter an ideal re-supply station [see map below].
[South East Asia European routes in the 1630s by José E. Borao]

Those involved in the Far East trade had long understood the geopolitical importance of this island. This was also the reason why Taiwan or parts of it had changed hands so many times throughout history. The 徳川家康Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogunate of Japan (1543-1616) at one point had also contemplated subjugating Taiwan, disregarded only after Tokugawa's death. [Note: They eventually succeeded in 1895.] On the other hand, even though the Ming Court (1368-1644) claimed sovereignty over it, Taiwan was never in the firm grip of China, often because of turmoils within China itself leaving little for the proper governance of Taiwan. It was more a hot [sweet] potato, to be handled gingerly or tossed entirely, than a prized possession.

"Parts of Taiwan" naturally included Danshui.

After the murder of Antonio de Vera et al in Danshui, the remaining Spanish soldiers hastily retreated to Keelung. By that time, Rosario, the re-supply ship, had arrived from Manila. The occupation force joined in by sailors from the Rosario totaling 100 men boarded 4 Chinese junks and sailed into Danshui River to avenge the deaths of Antonio de Vera and his men. After a lopsided battle, the 圭柔社Senar people gave up their tribal leaders and entered a peace agreement with the Spaniards that included an apology for the misdeed and a promise to deliver rice. Danshui thus became the second Spanish territory in Taiwan in early 1628.

The Spaniards then built Fort Santo Domigo with large driftwood recovered from Danshui River. They drove wooden poles into the ground and paved the floors with stones. In the 1635 report of Spanish Colonial Gov of Taiwan, Alonso Garcia Romero, this fortress was described as to consist of a watch tower and three straw-roofed wooden buildings - all surrounded by a wooden stockade fence. These structures were actually fire hazards, only to be rebuilt with stones in 1636 when the fort was torched by the Aborigines revolting against excessive taxation. This new fortress was reluctantly dismantled two years later when the Spanish occupation force was ordered by Governor General of the Philippines, Don Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera, to prepare to abandon territories in Taiwan and return to Manila. [Note: The same site, now a tourist's attraction, was occupied by the Dutch, Koxinga's army, and then the British until 1980.]

Throughout the 16th and the 17th centuries, besides plundering and pillaging, one of the principal missions of Spanish expeditions was to spread Catholicism. The military was always accompanied by priests who, once a land was conquered, commenced to convert the natives. The same was done in Danshui, quite successfully, too.

According to the Dominican priests, there were 8-9 small Senar farming villages near Fort Santo Domingo. There was also the 八里坌社Pantao people living in Bali, the traditional enemy of the Senar. The Pantao claimed to be the descendants of ship-wrecked Spaniards and had therefore quickly established a cordial relation with the priests. The Senar tribesmen were willing converts as well. A church, the Nuestra Señora del Rosario was built in the Santo Domingo area to accommodate the Senar people. However, the Senar were also suspicious of the intimate relation between the Pantao and the Spaniards. In March, 1636, in an unfortunate incident, Fr Francisco Vaez was killed by the Senar with a spear, his right hand cut off, and his head cut through the jaws - on the day he was to meet up with the Pantao to build another church. These Senar people were led by Pila who had just been freed from prison through the intervention of Fr Vaez (Pila was arrested and imprisoned for his role in the earlier uprising). And 3 years later, Fr Luis Muro and 25 others were murdered in Paktau (now 北投) by Fr Vaez's assassins. Fr Muro was accompanying the soldiers on a mission to buy rice and ironically to also inform the assassins that they were pardoned by the colonial gov't. He was shot dead with more than 500 arrows. Such were the perils of preaching in a foreign land.

The priests were often the only contacts between the natives and the Spaniards. They had left behind invaluable records of the lives and the customs of the Aborigines. One of them, Fr Jacinto Esquivel even compiled a dictionary of the native languages.

Apparently there were also Spanish-local inter-marriages complete with dowries, in Spanish silver dollars, for the Aboriginal brides. And a rudimentary legal system was in place to mediate local disputes and handle complaints against the Spanish soldiers.

Besides the Aboriginal residents, there were also Han settlers in Danshui who raised sugarcane and rice crops. Record showed that they had openly welcomed the immigration of Japanese farmers when asked by the Spaniards; although it is unclear if any Japanese ever did settle in Danshui. [Note: Some, supposedly pirates, did settle in Keelung area.]

By 1638-41, with the hostile head-hunting Aborigines lurking nearby, skirmishes with the Dutch, and a large Dutch contingent approaching from the south, the Spanish occupation was no longer sustainable, not without the continuing long-distance reinforcement and logistical support from the Philippines. The Spanish colonization of Taiwan finally came to an end in 1642 when the last garrison in Keelung surrendered to the Dutch. The priests and the POWs were all sent to Batavia.

In a short span of 10 years (1627-37), Danshui, through the efforts of the dedicated Spanish priests, entered the realm of recorded history which is to continue uninterrupted to this day.

2010年2月12日 星期五

Danshui 1627-1637 - Part 1

(A 1640 map of Taiwan)

The invasion of Asia, in various forms, by European powers started one century after Christopher Columbus landed in S America.

First, in 1557, the Portuguese, after years of attempts, finally were allowed by the Ming Court to establish a home base in Macau. And the trade between Macau and Japan flourished in addition to other trading locations.

The riches of the Orient had not escaped the attention of other seafaring nations. The Spaniards arrived in Manila in 1571 and were content to trade with merchant ships regularly sailing from Hokkien. That is, until the entrance of the Dutch who proceeded to build up Batavia, take over the Malacca islands, confiscate silver-laden Spanish ships from Mexico, and intercept merchant ships from Hokkien. In 1624, after failing to dislodge the Portuguese from Macau, the Dutch retreated to the Pescadores and were eventually asked by the Chinese Gov't to settle in Tainan in southern Taiwan instead. To counter the Dutch expansion, the Spaniards must therefore move northward from the Philippines and the logical choice of destination was northern Taiwan.

In April, 1625, a fierce sea battle finally broke out near Manila between the Spaniards and the Dutch. This had hastened the Spanish move onto Taiwan. In Feb, 1626, the Spanish interim Governor General Fernando de Silva assembled a fleet consisting of two galera [single-deck tall ships] and a few sampans/junks with 3 companies of 200 soldiers on board that sailed from the Manila Bay, first to Luzon to quell a local unrest, then onward to northeast Taiwan landing near Santiago, later called San-Diaw三貂 by the Han settlers, on May 5, 1626. And on May 16, the Spaniards declared Keelung a Spanish territory, naming it Santisima Trinidad and started constructing Fort San Salvador on the now Heping Island, away from hostile Aboriginal settlements. A 1626 map on the upper left by Pedro de Vera shows "aqui se fortifica", i.e., fortifications are built here [Heping Island]. And the appearance of Fort San Salvador can be seen in this 1629 map by Gerbrantsz Black [below]. Curiously, a Dutch ship, the Domburch was seen [at least its masts] nearby:
By the end of 1627, the supply ship from Manila was late in arrival. To sustain the occupation force, the Spaniards sought to replenish the dwindling food supply. They were invited by the Aborigines, the seemingly friendly Senar Tribe [圭柔社] from Danshui for a visit to purchase rice. Danshui was geographically known to the Spaniards by then. In 1597, possibly based on information provided by the traders, Hernando de los Ríos Coronel, also a Spaniard, had actually made a map that showed not only the Philippines and parts of coastal China but also Formosa including Keelung and Danshui. Commander Antonio de Vera then led 20 men arriving in Danshui on a small boat hoping to gain access to the much needed foodstuff. Unfortunately, Antonio de Vera and 7 others were killed in a plot hatched jointly by the tribal leaders of the Senar and the Pantao [八里坌社], the latter resided in Bali across the river from Danshui. These two tribes instead of attacking each other as in the past were now united to drive out the foreign invasion.

This incident prompted a reprisal that marked the beginning of the 10-year occupation of Danshui by the Spaniards.