CHAPTER IX. THE MANCHU CONQUEST OF CHINA
The capture of Leaouyang signified the surrender of the remaining places in Leaoutung, which became a Manchu possession, and Noorhachu, to celebrate his triumph, and also to facilitate his plans for the further humiliation of the Chinese, transferred his capital from Moukden to Leaouyang. Misfortunes never come singly. In Szchuen a local chief had raised a force of 30,000 men for service on the frontier in the wars with the Manchus, and the viceroy of the province not only declined to utilize their services, but dismissed them without reward or even recognition of their loyalty. These slighted and disbanded braves easily changed themselves into brigands, and as the government would not have them as supporters, they determined to make it feel their enmity, Chetsong Ming, the chief who had raised them, placed himself at their head, and attracted a large number of the inhabitants to his standard. The local garrisons were crushed, the viceroy killed, and general disorder prevailed among the people of what was the most fertile and prosperous province of the empire. Chetsong attempted to set up an administration, but he does not seem to have possessed the capacity or the knowledge to establish a regular government. While he headed the rebellious movement, a woman named Tsinleang, the hereditary chieftainess of a small district, placed herself at the head of the loyalists in the state, and, leading them herself, succeeded in recovering the principal cities and in driving Chetsong out of the province. She has been not inappropriately called by one of the missionary historians the Chinese Penthesilea. The success she met with in pacifying Szchuen after a two years' struggle was not attained in other directions without a greater effort and at a still heavier cost. In Kweichow and Yunnan a rebel named Ganpangyen raised an insurrection on a large scale, and if his power had not been broken by the long siege of a strong fortress, obstinately defended by a valiant governor, there is no telling to what success he might not have attained. But his followers were disheartened by the delay in carrying this place, and they abandoned him as soon as they found that he could not command success. In Shantung another rising occurred; but after two years' disturbance the rebel leader was captured and executed. These internal disorders, produced by the corruption and inertness of the officials as much as by a prevalent sense of the embarrassment of the Mings, distracted the attention of the central government from Manchuria, and weakened its preparations against Noorhachu.
For a time Noorhachu showed no disposition to cross the River Leaou, and confined his attention to consolidating his position in his new conquest. But it was clear that this lull would not long continue, and the Chinese emperor, Tienki, endeavored to meet the coming storm by once more intrusting the defense of the frontier to Tingbi. That general devised a simple and what might have proved an efficacious line of defense, but his colleague, with more powerful influence at court, would have none of it, and insisted on his own plan being adopted. Noorhachu divined that the councils of the Chinese were divided, and that Tingbi was hampered. He promptly took advantage of the divergence of opinion, and, crossing the frontier, drove the Chinese behind the Great Wall. Even that barrier would not have arrested his progress but for the stubborn resistance offered by the fortress of Ningyuen - a town about seventy miles northeast of Shanhaikwan, once of great importance, but now, for many years past, in ruins. When he reached that place he found that Tingbi had fallen into disgrace and been executed, not for devising his own plan of campaign, but for animadverting on that of his colleague in satirical terms. The Chinese had made every preparation for the resolute defense of Ningyuen, and when Noorhachu sat down before it, its resolute defender, Chungwan, defied him to do his worst, although all the Chinese troops had been compelled to retreat, and there was no hope of re-enforcement or rescue. At first Noorhachu did not conduct the siege of Ningyuen in person. It promised to be an affair of no great importance, and he intrusted it to his lieutenants, but he soon perceived that Chungwan was a resolute soldier, and that the possession of Ningyuen was essential to the realization of his future plans. Therefore, he collected all his forces and sat down before Ningyuen with the full determination to capture it at all costs. But the garrison was resolute, its commander capable, and on the walls were arranged the cannon of European construction. Noorhachu led two assaults in person, both of which were repulsed, and it is said that this result was mainly due to the volleys of the European artillery. At last, Noorhachu was compelled to withdraw his troops, and although he obtained some successes in other parts of the country, he was so chagrined at this repulse that he fell ill and died some months later at Moukden, in September, 1626.