RUSSIAN HISTORICAL JOURNAL
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN THE REVOLUTION EATS UP ITS CHILDREN
In order to take the initiative away from the enemy here, the Taipings prepared the Eastern campaign by the beginning of 1856 - the offensive to the east towards the country's sea coast began on February 1. By mid-March, the warriors of the "Kingdom of Heaven" drove the enemy back from Zhenjiang, and in battles from April 3 to 5, they defeated the Qing camp on the northern bank of the Yangtze, destroying a complex of more than 120 fortified points.
Here the Taipings for the first time acted in alliance with the guerrilla detachments of "nianjuni" (literally - torchbearers) - peasant rebels from the northern provinces of central China, who, opposing the rule of the Manchus, at the same time did not recognize the power of the Nanking "Kingdom of Heaven" ... We'll have to talk about these Chinese "Makhnovists" in more detail a little later.
In the spring battles of 1856, the young Taiping commander Li Xiuchen especially distinguished himself for ensuring the security of Nanking. In three years he went from a private to a corps commander, and soon, along with "I-wan" (Auxiliary Sovereign) Shi Dakai, he was destined to become the best commander of the Taiping.
Commander Shi Dakai himself returned to Nanjing in May from the Western campaign to strengthen the Eastern one. Previously, in order to ensure a calm rear in the west, he once again defeated the troops of the "Hunan fellows" Zeng Guofan near Nanchang. Having set up fires at the stands in the mountain valleys and thereby deceiving the enemy observers, Shi Dakai with a small detachment at night unexpectedly burst into the camp of the outnumbered enemy and put him to flight. Qing soldiers in a panic hid behind the walls of Nanchang, trashing and crippling each other a lot in the crush at the city gates.
In June 1856, the combined forces of the Taiping Western Campaign surrounded and destroyed the Qing army camp on the southern bank of the Yangtze, which consisted of more than 70 field fortifications and forts. By the end of the summer, they had driven the Qing units far from their capital.
And at this moment, when the Taipings, possessing a strategic initiative, were advancing on all fronts, events took place in Nanjing that forever deprived them of their chance of victory and became the beginning of the agony of the Taiping revolution.
The leaders of "Tai-ping Tien-go", like all revolutionaries, people are passionate, fearless and decisive, having won amazing victories - literally taking off "from rags to riches" - could not remain in one sledding. Everything affected: the difference in social and geographical origin, differences in views on the management of the created state, the struggle of ambitions and just a frantic will to power ...
Initially, the Taiping activists formed several compatriots and "factions" around their first leaders. These leaders and their closest associates, as soon as after the first victories the most immediate danger receded and the fever of battles subsided, rather quickly entered into irreconcilable personal and ideological contradictions. And in war, contradictions are resolved as in war - by the irrevocable elimination of what hinders and those who hinder the achievement of the goal.