Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tê-hsing-a
TÊ-hsing-a 德興阿 (clan name 喬佳), d. 1867, was a Manchu general and a member of the Plain Yellow Banner, stationed in Heilungkiang. In 1846 he was transferred to Peking to be an imperial guard and in 1852 he was promoted to senior bodyguard of the first rank. After a few months he was ordered to lead his Heilungkiang troops to Honan under the command of Ch'i-shan [q. v.] to oppose the advance of the Taiping Rebels (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan). In 1853 the Taipings took Nanking (March 19), I-chêng (March 29), Kua-chou (March 31) and Yangchow (April 1)—the last three all north of the Yangtze River. Ch‘i-shan was made Imperial Commissioner and commander-in-chief of the cavalry and infantry that were summoned from Chihli, Honan, Shensi and Heilungkiang to withstand the rebels. He reached the suburbs of Yangchow on April 16 and established the Great Camp of Kiangpei (江北大營), whose troops harassed the Taipings from the north bank of the Yangtze for many years. As soon as Ch'i-shan, Tê-hsing-a and others arrived on the scene they fought desperately to recover Yangchow, but did not take the city until December 27, after which the Taipings retired to Kua-chou. In May 1853 Lin Fêng-hsiang [q. v.] took a strong detachment of Taipings from Yangchow for his northern expedition. He was pursued by government forces under Shêng-pao (see under Lin Fêng-hsiang) and others, but for several months successfully conducted his campaign—even reaching the suburbs of Tientsin. Meanwhile Tê-hsing-a continued to harass the Taipings at Kua-chou.
After the death of Ch'i-shan in August 1854 his place as commander-in-chief of the Great Camp of Kiangpei was given to T'o-ming-a 托明阿 (clan name 棟鄂, d. 1865) who was a member of the Plain Red Banner and Manchu general-in-chief at Sui-yüan-ch'êng from 1848 to 1853, after which he was ordered to move against the Taiping northern expedition. But before T'o-ming-a assumed his post, Tê-hsing-a and his forces repulsed with great effectiveness a Taiping attack on Yangchow. In November 1854 the Great Camp of Kiangpei, in co-operation with the Great Camp of Kiangnan (see under Hsiang Jung), attacked many insurgent barracks at Pukow on the Yangtze opposite Nanking. In 1855 the Taipings in Kua-chou were encircled by a long trench. Nevertheless, on April 5, 1856, Yangchow was again taken by combined Taiping forces which sallied out from Kua-chou, Chinkiang, and Nanking. In punishment for his failure to hold the city, T'o-ming-a was deprived of his ranks and he went home on the plea of ill-health. Though other battalions of imperialists at Yangchow were defeated and scattered, Tê-hsing-a's unit continued to fight in good spirit. Consequently he was made lieutenant-general, Imperial Commissioner, and commander-in-chief of the Great Camp of Kiangpei. With the help of Hsiang Jung, Yangchow was recovered by Tê-hsing-a on April 17, 1856, after having been occupied by the Taipings for only twelve days. Thereupon he proceeded to attack Kua-chou. After prolonged fighting, that city was finally taken (December 27, 1857), five years after it had been seized by the Taipings. In reward for his merit, Te-hsing-a was granted the double-eyed peacock feather and the hereditary title of Ch'i-tu-yü. In September 1858, however, his army sustained great reverses at Pukow at the hands of Ch'ên Yü-ch'êng and Li Hsiu-ch'êng [qq. v.]. Yangchow was for a third time taken by the Taipings (October 9) and the city of Liu-ho was also captured (October 24). After his failure at Pukow, Tê-hsing-a was deprived of his rank, and after the fall of Yangchow his hereditary title was cancelled. He was urged to recover Liu-ho, but owing to the collapse of the morale of his troops he could not make headway. Impeached (1858) by a censor and by a general, Ho-ch'un (see under Hsiang Jung), as incompetent in military tactics, he was dismissed and recalled to Peking. Thereafter no commander-in-chief was appointed to the Great Camp of Kiangpei and it became subsidiary to the Great Camp of Kiangnan. Soon after his recall Tê-hsing-a was granted the button of the sixth rank and was assigned to work under the command of Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in [q. v.]. In 1861 he was raised to the third rank and in 1866 was made councilor of military affairs of the Tarbagatai region in Sinkiang, and concurrently deputy lieutenant-general of the Chinese Plain Red Banner. He died in 1867 and was canonized as Wei-k'o 威恪.
[1/409/4b, 6b; 2/50/19a, 44b; Yangchow fu-chih (1874); 江都縣志 Chiang-tu hsien-chih (1875); Hsiang-chün chi (see bibliography of Tsêng Kuo-fan).]