Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yang Yü-ch'un

YANG Yü-ch'un 楊遇春 (T. 時齋), Jan. 19, 1762–1837, Apr. 3, general, the first Marquis Chao-yung (昭勇侯), was a native of Ch'ung-ch'ing, Szechwan, west of Chengtu. Becoming a military chü-jên in 1779, he started his career in 1780 as a non-commissioned officer in a battalion under the command of the governor-general of Szechwan. In 1781 he began to serve under Fu-k'ang-an [q. v.] whom he followed in battles against the Mohammedan rebels in Kansu (1784), against insurgents in Formosa (1788–89), against the Gurkas in Nepal (1792–93), and against the Miao tribesmen in Hunan and Kweichow (1795–96). By 1796 he was promoted to the rank of a colonel. Then he fought under Ê-lê-têng-pao [q. v.] against the rebels known as the White Lily Sect and was made a brigadegeneral (1797). In 1800 he was recommended by his superior as capable of commanding a separate force and was made provincial commander-inchief at Kan-chou, Kansu. Thereafter he fought insurgents on the borders of Kansu, Shensi, and Szechwan, and for his various victories was given, early in 1803, the hereditary rank of a Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü of the second class. From 1803 to 1805 he stayed mostly at Han-chung, Shensi, making an end of small groups of bandits in the mountains. In 1806, when on his way to Peking, he heard about the mutiny of a part of the garrison at Ning-shan (see under Yang Fang) and at once collected an army at Sian to subdue it. For permitting Yang Fang to effect a surrender of the mutineers, instead of annihilating them, Yang Yü-ch'un was degraded, early in 1807, to a brigade-general, stationed at Ning-shan. In 1808 he was appointed to the post of provincial commander-in-chief, stationed at Ku-yüan, Kansu; and in 1813 was ordered to Honan to fight the rebels at Hua-hsien (see under Na-yen-ch'êng). Owing primarily to his efforts, they were pacified within three months. Early in 1814 he was rewarded with the hereditary rank of a baron of the second class. In the same year, after helping Ch'ang-ling [q. v.] annihilate a band of rebellious lumbermen in Shensi, Yang Yü-ch'un's hereditary rank was raised to a first class baron. He was warmly received at Court and was told by the Emperor to be prepared for important tasks. We are told that the Emperor admired in particular his long beard.

In 1825, after serving seventeen years as provincial commander-in-chief at Ku-yüan, Yang Yü-ch'un was appointed acting governor-general of Shensi and Kansu. In 1826, after Jehangir (see under Ch'ang-ling) had taken Kashgar and other cities, Yang was made assistant commander under Ch'ang-ling with orders to recover them. By dint of skillful strategy, and real bravery, the invaders were defeated in several battles, and Kashgar was recovered. But owing to the escape of Jehangir and the subsequent futile search for him, Yang Yü-ch'un was ordered to lead a large part of his army back to China, leaving affairs at Kashgar to Ch'ang-ling. When, early in 1828, the capture of Jehangir was effected (see under Yang Fang), Yang Yü-ch'un was highly praised, his post as governor-general of Shensi and Kansu was confirmed, and his portrait was hung in the Tzŭ-kuang ko (see under Chao-hui) among those of the victorious generals and statesmen who had prosecuted the campaign in Chinese Turkestan. Owing to advanced age and illness, he retired in 1835, but before he went home he was granted an audience with Emperor Hsüan-tsung and, in addition to other honors, was made a marquis of the first class with the designation Chao-yung. He made his home at Chengtu where he died, and was canonized as Chung-wu 忠武. His name was entered in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

In the collected works of Ho Yüeh-yü 何曰愈 (T. 子持, H. 雲垓, 1793–1872), entitled 存誠齋文集 Tsun-ch'êng chai wên-chi, it is stated that Yang Yü-ch'un was tall and stout, and that he usually tied his long beard into a knot when he led his men into battle. Many famous generals of the first half of the nineteenth century owed their rise to the help which Yang gave them; the most celebrated being Yang Fang. They were referred to jointly as "The Two Yangs" (二揚) and, though they were not relatives, Yang Fang styled Yang Yü-ch'un "uncle".

The second son of Yang Yü-ch'un, named Yang Kuo-chân 楊國楨 (T. 海梁, 1782–1849, chü-jên of 1804), succeeded to his father's hereditary rank. In his official career he rose to be governor of Honan (1827–34) and of Shensi (1839–41).

[1/353/1a; 2/37/19a; 3/192/1a pu-lu; 5/22/14b; Yang Kuo-chên tzŭ-ting nien-p'u; Ch'ung-ch'ing chou-chih (1877); Ch'ung-ch'ing hsien-chih (1926) supplement entitled Chiang-yüan wên-chêng].

Fang Chao-ying