Posted 17 April 2008 - 02:20 AM
Recently a new theory begins to gain popularity in many Chinese history forums, bringing a new very different view of Yuan Chonghuan. The theory argues that Yuan in fact did more damage than good, and he was just a puppet for the propaganda used by Manchurian emperors.
First of all Yuan was known to speak in superlatives, for example while emperor Chongzhen asked him how many years he needs to finish Manchurians off and reestablish the Ming control of Liaodong, Yuan said he needed 5. This proclaims was the key to Chongzhen’s trust, which turned out to be nothing but big talks.
2. The success of Battle of Ningyuan was highly doubted by the Ming government, and the result of the battle seemed irrational, since the Jin casualty is told to be over 10.000, only 200 heads was notated by the official(the Ming soldiers uses the cut head of the enemy to prove their achievement) . According to Yuan, the reason why the 9.800 heads missed is because the Jins had a ‘tradition’ to take back their fallen comrade’s bodies, thus making many bodies impossible to notate. What is strange is that in Yuan’s report to the emperor, he mentioned that he defeated the Jins three times on the open field. If we are to believe that, then Yuan had more than plenty of fallen Jin soldiers to cut their heads, thus making a number of only 200 doubtable. Another question about Battle of Ningyuan is the mysterious death of Nurhachi, whom according to Yuan died by a hit from a cannonball shot by Ming soldiers. This event could be pure luck, but the unbelievable thing is that Nurhachi died 5 months after the Battle of Ningyuan. So unless his body is hard as steel or he transformed to superman, he couldn't possibly survive the canon hit and then live for another 5 months. (In an age of 68, he battled three major battles personaly within three month, perhaps the main cause of his death)
3. When Jin attacked Korea, Yuan did nothing to help his allied, even though he had a direct order from the emperor to attack Mukden whcih will ease the pressure of Korea and Mao Wenlong. In Yuan’s reply he argued for his denial, saying that the Jin’s are laying traps in Mukden with 100.000 professional soldiers. But in another letter he told the emperor that the amount of Jin soldiers in Korean campaign are more than 150.000. If he spoke true in both letters, then Jin will have an army of 250.000 professional. A number that is even more than the total population of Manchurians! The result of Yuan’s stand aside was that the Ming Empire lost its most important ally, plus the total defeat of Mao, a skilled Ming general whom had won many victories against Jin.
4. The strategy used by Yuan to defend against Jin was to build a hundreds of fortresses in large area, thus making Jin unable to sneak attack without being detected. The emperor agreed the solution. The Yuan then used half of his budget and three years to build the fortresses, just to abandon them all in 1626, wasting a huge number of time, manpower and money for nothing good.
5. By the order of Chongzhen, Yuan was allowed to execute all officers under rank 3 (Yuan himself was given rank 2). This allowance was used later as an argument for executing Mao Wenlong, a general of rank 1! Furthermore, the arguments for executing Mao are both incredible and foolish. For example, one of the arguments was that Mao had all the support he needed, but he didn't yet regain any former Ming territories. This is a lie, since the Mao created his bases and army from nothing, and was even close to retake Mukden! Another example of Yuan’s foolish argument was that Mao had secretly worshipped the eunuch Wei Zhongxian, in a secret island where no one but Mao knew. The problem is then, how did Yuan found it out, when no one knew about it, and he couldn't give an exact location of the island? Despise the retarded arguments Yuan executed Mao, one of the general who had cut of most heads of Jin, regained most territories, won most battles, and had the most important stragical position.
6. Yuan was trading iron and corns with some Mongolian clans, whom turned out to be allies of Jin. When asked why he supported the allies of the enemy with food and weapon, Yuan answered that his moves will ultimately convince the Mongolian clans to stop collaborating with Jin. It later showed that instead of being ‘convinced’, the Mongolian tribe supported Jin with food and weapon bought from Ming.
7. Yuan was given direct command of the defense of the Great Wall. When asked why he reinforced his already well-doing Guanning army from soldiers of Great Wall, he answered that the soldiers are doing nothing on Great Wall, and it was a waste of resource to keep them there. However two months after the main forces leaved the Great Wall, Huang Taiji broke through it. An event that was ‘unknown’ to Yuan, even though he and his army was only 20 km. from the Jin army! He was then ‘informed’ two days after the breakthrough. After the breakthrough he was then given command to all the northern Ming army and garrisons. A wrongness that turned to a disaster, as Yuan ordered every soldier and garrison to assembly in Yuzhou, making the way clear for Huang Taiji to surpass the Ming strongholds and cities without a fight!
8. The diplomacy that Yuan used was directly against the laws of Ming, as he tried to sign a peace treaty with Jin by following terms: Ming will treat Jin as equals, Ming must each year pay 10% of its taxes and 20.000 dan grain as a gift to Jin, Ming must declaim its sovereign of Mongolia and transfer it to Jin, and Ming should declaim all its former territories in Liaoxi, Jianzhou and Liaodong. Fortunately Yuan was forced to stop the peace-progress by harsh warnings of the emperor. The result was a huge depression amongst Ming army, as many of them lost family members to Jin and had a bitter hatred against Manchurians. This also led that the Mongolians allied with Ming lost their trust to Ming, as the peace-progress was hold in secret and without their present.
The supporters of this theory see Yuan rather as an idiotic and useless governor and general than a patriot, and he should be held directly responsible for the Ming failures in Liaodong, and the ultimate end of Ming dynasty.