Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shih K'o-fa

SHIH K'o-fa 史可法 (T. 憲之, H. 道鄰), d. 1645, Ming loyalist general, was a native of Hsiang-fu, Honan. Passing his chin-shih examination in 1628, he was appointed police magistrate of Sian, Shensi, where he gained a high reputation for administrative talent in both civil and military affairs. Put in command of the troops in the western part of Kiangnan in the autumn of 1635, he assisted Lu Hsiang-shêng 盧象昇 (T. 建斗, H. 九台, 1600–1639) in his efforts to drive Chang Hsien-chung [q. v.] and his bandits from the province. Before they succeeded in this, however, Lu was transferred to another post, and Shih K'o-fa was made governor of the western part of Kiangnan with parts of Honan, Hu-kuang, and Kiangsi under his jurisdiction. It is said that he was a man of small stature, dark complexion, flashing eyes and dauntless heart who shared his men's hardships, and in return had their utmost loyalty.

In 1639, after the defeat of a bandit leader, Shih was allowed to observe a few months of mourning for his father, but was soon recalled to take the vice-presidency of the Board of Revenue. Not long thereafter he was made director-general of Grain Transport, and later governor-general of Fêng-yang, Huai-an, and Yangchow prefectures. In 1643 he was appointed president of the Board of War at Nanking. In May 1644 he raised an army in the hope of defeating Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.], but he had no more than crossed the Yangtze when he learned of the Ming emperor's death and the fall of Peking. Dressed in mourning, he returned to Nanking to take part in choosing the new emperor. He urged that the Prince of Lu (see under Chu I-hai) be made emperor, but his plan was opposed by Ma Shih-ying and Juan Ta-ch'êng [qq. v.] who succeeded in placing the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) on the throne instead. Ma's ambition to become a powerful Grand Secretary could not be fulfilled unless Shih left the Court. Hence he persuaded Shih to take command of the troops at Yangchow. On leaving Nanking the titles of Grand Secretary and President of the Board of War were conferred upon Shih, despite his repeated refusals. Arriving at Yangchow, he tried by every means at his disposal to bring about a reconciliation between the Four Guardian Generals (see Huang Tê-kung, Liu Tsê-ch'ing, Kao Chieh, and Liu Liang-tso) who were warring among themselves and outraging the people of their districts. Shih K'o-fa never gave up hope of taking vengeance on Li Tzŭ-ch'êng and repeatedly, but vainly, urged the emperor to act against him.

However, all of Shih's loyalty and bravery could not stem the tide of events. Early in 1645 the Ch'ing army threatened the first line of defense of the Ming forces at Yangchow, where a shortage of provisions had occurred owing to the blocking of the roads by heavy snow. In spite of Shih's strenuous efforts, the city of Yangchow was surrounded on May 13 by the forces of Dodo [q. v.] and fell after a seven days' siege. Failing in his attempt at suicide, Shih was being escorted out of the city by an aide-de-camp when both were overtaken by Ch'ing soldiers. Defiantly rejecting every offer of amity, Shih was killed. Less than a month after his death Nanking fell to the Ch'ing forces. Shih was given the posthumous names, Chung-ching 忠靖, by the Ming Prince of T'ang (see Chu Yü-chien) and Chung-chêng 忠正 by Emperor Kao-tsung, A letter which he received from Dorgon [q. v.], and his own reply, are often reprinted in Chinese school books and have been translated into German (see below). After his death the Manchus plundered and slaughtered the inhabitants of Yangchow for ten days (May 20 to 29). When chaos subsided, his corpse could not be found and only his garments were buried at Mei-hua-ling 梅花嶺 outside the north gate of Yangchow. In 1768 a temple to his memory was erected beside the tomb.

There are several accounts of the ten days' massacre at Yangchow, one a very vivid description by an eye-witness, Wang Hsiu-ch'u 王秀楚, entitled 揚州十日記 Yangchow shih-jih chi (for translation see below). Others are: 維揚殉節記略 Wei-Yang hsün-chieh chi-lüeh, by Shih Tê-wei 史得威, adopted son of Shih K'o-fa; 弘光乙酉揚州城守記 Hung-kuang i-yu Yangchow chêng-shou chi, by Tai Ming-shih [q. v.]; and Shêng-ch'ao hsün Yang lu, by Liu Pao-nan [q. v.].


[M.1/274/1a; M.35/7/1a; M.59/10/1a; Lu-ch'iao chi-wên (see under Wu Wei-yeh), shang 9b; Ming-chi pei-lüeh, 13/3b, and Ming-chi nan-lüeh, passim (for both see bibliography under Ma Shih-ying); Shih Chung-chêng kung chi (公集) in Chi-fu ts'ung-shu (see under Ts'ui Shu); Yangchowfu chih (1810), 25/29a; Wilhelm, Hellmut, "Ein Briefwecksel zwischen Durgan und Schi Ko-fa", Sinica, VIII, 5/6, pp. 239–45; "A Memoir of Ten Days' Massacre in Yangchow", a translation of the Yangchow shih-jih chi, by Lucien Mao, published in T'ien Hsia Monthly (1937), pp. 515–37; "Journal d'un bourgeois de Yang-tcheou (1645)", trans. of the same by P. Aucourt, published in B.E.F.E.O. (1907), p. 297–312; Backhouse and Bland, Annals and Memoirs of the Court of Peking, pp. 187–208, another translation.]

Tomoo Numata