CHAPTER XXII. THE REIGN OF KWANGSU

The successes of the Chinese gave their generals and army the confidence and prestige of victory, and the overthrow of the Tungani left them disengaged to deal with a more formidable antagonist. The siege of Manas had been vigorously prosecuted in order that the town might be taken before the army of Yakoob Beg should arrive. The Athalik Ghazi may have believed that Manas could hold out during the winter, for his movements in 1876 were leisurely, and betrayed a confidence that no decisive fighting would take place until the following spring. His hopes were shown to be delusive, but too late for practical remedy. Manas had fallen before he could move to its support. The Chinese had crushed the Tungani, and were in possession of the mountain passes. They were gathering their whole strength to fall upon him, and to drive him out of the state in which he had managed to set up a brief authority. While the events recorded had been in progress, Yakoob Beg had been ruling the state of Kashgaria with sufficient vigor and wisdom to attract the observation of his great neighbors, the governments of England and Russia. He had shown rare skill in adapting circumstances to suit his own ends. The people passively accepted the authority which he was prepared to assert with his Khokandian soldiery, and the independent state of Kashgaria might have continued to exist for a longer period had the Chinese not returned. But in 1875 the arrival of Kinshun at Barkul showed Yakoob Beg that he would have to defend his possessions against their lawful owners, while the overthrow of the Tungani and the capture of their strongholds, in 1876, carried with them a melancholy foreboding of his own fate. The Athalik Ghazi made his preparations to take the field, but there was no certainty in his mind as to where he should make his stand. He moved his army eastward, establishing his camp first at Korla and then moving it on to Turfan, 900 miles distant from Kashgar. The greatest efforts of this ruler only availed to place 15,000 men at the front, and the barrenness of the region compelled him to distribute them. The Ameer was at Turfan with 8,500 men and twenty guns. His second son was at Toksoun, some miles in the rear, at the head of 6,000 more and five guns. There were several smaller detachments between Korla and the front. Opposed to these was the main Chinese army under Kinshun at Urumtsi, while another force had been placed in the field at Hami by the energy of Tso, and intrusted to the direction of a general named Chang Yao. No fighting took place until the month of March, 1877, and then the campaign began with a rapid advance by Chang Yao from Hami to Turfan. The Kashgarians were driven out of Pidjam, and compelled, after a battle, to evacuate Turfan. The Chinese records do not help us to unravel the events of the month of April. The campaign contained no more striking or important episodes, and yet the reports of the generals have been mislaid or consigned to oblivion. The Athalik Ghazi fought a second battle at Toksoun, where he rejoined his son's army, but with no better fortune. He was obliged to flee back to his former camp at Korla. After the capture of Turfan the Chinese armies came to a halt. It was necessary to reorganize the vast territory which they had already recovered, and to do something to replenish their arsenals. During five months the Celestials stayed their further advance, while the cities were being re-peopled and the roads rendered once more secure. Tso Tsung Tang would leave nothing to chance. He had accomplished two of the three parts into which his commission might be naturally divided. He had pacified the northwest and overthrown the Tungani, and he would make sure of his ground before attempting the third and the most difficult of all. And while the Chinese viceroy had, for his own reasons, come to the very sensible conclusion to refresh his army after its arduous labors in the limited productive region situated between two deserts, the stars in their courses fought on his side.