In the 5th moon of 1281 the Mongols raided us on a wholesale scale. Our troops were unsuccessful in resisting them at Iki and Tsushima.
Continuing Japan Repels the Mongols,
our selection from A Thousand Years of the Tartars by Edward H Parker published in 1895. The selection is presented in three easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Japan Repels the Mongols.
When the army, after a week’s sail from Tinghai, reached the islands of Ku-tsi (off Masanpho) and Tsushima, some Japanese stranded fishermen were caught and forced to sketch a map of the localities; and meanwhile it had been agreed that the island of Iki was a better rendezvous than “Kin Chou in Korea,” on account of the then prevailing winds. From the Japanese sailors’ sketch it appeared that a little west of the Dazai Fu was the island of Hirado, which, being surrounded on all sides with plenty of water, afforded a good anchorage for the ships. It was decided–subject, apparently, to Kublai’s approval–to occupy Hirado first, and then summon General Hung, etc., from Iki, to join in a general attack. Kublai replied by the messenger in effect: “I cannot judge here of the situation there. I presume Alouhan and his colleagues ought to know, and they must decide for themselves.”
Meanwhile Alouhan — written also Alahan–had fallen sick, and died at Ningpo, and another Mongol, named Atahai — written also Antahai — was sent to replace him. Now comes the sudden collapse of the whole expedition, recorded, unfortunately, in most laconic and unsatisfactory terms.
I give the various extracts in extenso:
1. Chapter on Japan.–“Eighth moon. The generals, having before coming in sight of the enemy lost their entire force, got back. They said that, ‘having reached Japan, they wished to attack Dazai Fu, but that a violent wind smashed the ships. That they were still bent on discussing operations, when three of the commanders [Chinese names] declined to accept their orders any more, and made off. The provincial staff conveyed the rest of the army to Hoh P’u [probably = Masanpho], whence they were dismissed back to their homes.’ But one of the defeated soldiers, who succeeded in escaping home, gave the following account: ‘The imperial armies in the 6th moon put to sea. In the 7th moon they reached Hirado Island, and then moved to Five Dragon Mountains [the Japanese pronunciation would be Go-riu Shima, or Yama, and perhaps it means the Goto Islands]. On the 1st of the 8th moon the wind smashed the ships. On the 5th day Fan Wen-hu and the other generals each made selection of the soundest and best boats, and got into them, and abandoned the soldiers, to the number of over one hundred thousand, at the foot of the hills. The soldiers then agreed to select the centurion Chang as general in command, and styled him ‘General Chang,’ submitting themselves to his orders. They were just engaged in cutting down trees to make boats to come back in, when, on the 7th day, the Japanese came and gave battle. All were killed except 20,000 or 30,000 who were carried off prisoners. On the 9th day these got to the Eight Horn Islands [the Japanese pronunciation would be Hakkaku Shima], where all the Mongols, Koreans, and men of Han [–North China] were massacred. As it was understood that the newly recruited army consisted of men of T’ang [= Cantonese, etc.], they were not killed, but turned into slaves, of whom deponent was one. The trouble arose from want of harmony and subordination in the general staff, in consequence of which they abandoned the troops and returned. After some time two other stragglers got back; that is out of a host of 100,000 only three ever returned.'”
2. Chapter on the Ouigour General, Siang-wei.–“In 1281 the sea-force of 100,000 men under Fan Wen-hu, etc., took seven days and nights to reach Bamboo Island [the Japanese pronunciation would be Chikushima; perhaps is another form of Tsushima], where they effected a junction with the forces of the provincial staff from Liao-yang. It was the intention to first attack the Dazai Fu, but there was vacillation and indecision. On the 1st day of the 8th moon a great typhoon raged, and 60 or 70 per cent. of the army perished. The Emperor was furious, etc.”
3. Chapter on Li T’ing, a Shan Tung man, who was on Fan Wen-hu’s staff.–“In 1281 the army encamped on Bamboo Island, but, a storm arising, the vessels were all smashed. Li T’ing escaped ashore on a piece of wreckage, collected the remains of the host, and returned via Korea to Peking. Only 10 to 20 per cent. of the soldiers escaped alive [apparently referring to the 40,000, not to the 100,000].”
4. Chapter on the Chih-Li-man-Chang-Hi.–“He accompanied Fan Wen-hu and Li T’ing with the naval force which crossed the sea against Japan. Chang Hi, on arrival, at once left his boats, and set to work entrenching on the island of Hirado. He also kept his war-ships at anchor at a cable’s length from each other, so as to avoid the destructive action of wind and waves. When the great typhoon arose in the 8th moon, the galleons of Fan and Li were all smashed; only Chang Hi’s escaped uninjured. When Fan Wen-hu, etc., suggested going back, Chang Hi said: ‘Half the soldiers are drowned, but those who have escaped death are all sturdy troops. Surely it is better for us to take advantage of this moment, before they have begun to think regretfully of home, to live on the enemy’s country and advance?’ Fan Wen-hu, etc., would not agree to this and said: ‘When we see the Emperor, we will bear all the blame; you have no share in it.’ Chang Hi gave them a number of his boats. At that instant there were 4,000 soldiers encamped on Hirado Island without any boats. Chang Hi said, ‘How can I bear to leave them?’ And then he jettisoned all the seventy horses in the boats in order to enable them to get back. When they got to Peking, Fan Wen-hu, etc., were all disgraced. Only Chang Hi escaped punishment.”
5. Chapter on Ch’u Ting, an An Hwei man.–“He was with Fan Wen-hu’s force when the sudden storm arose. His craft was smashed, but Ch’u Ting got hold of a piece of wreckage, and drifted about for three days and three nights, until he fell in with Fan Wen-hu’s ship at a certain island, and was thus able to get to Kin Chou in Korea. The soldiers encamped in the Hoh P’u bay also drifted in, and were collected and taken home by him.”
Chapter on Hung Tsun-k’i, alias Hung Ts’a-k’iu, a Korean of ancient Chinese descent.–“[After recounting how Kublai placed him in charge of the well-disposed Korean troops, how he served in the Korean and Quelpaert campaigns, and against Japan in 1274 and 1277, the Mongol History goes on:] In 1281, in company with Hintu [a Ouigour], he led a naval force of 40,000 men via Kin Chou and Hoh-P’u in Korea to join the 100,000 men coming by sea from Ningpo under Fan Wen-hu. Forces were joined at the Iki, Hirado, and other islands of Japan; but before the hostile forces were encountered, in the 8th month, a storm smashed the ships, and he returned.”
Extract from Japanese Riokuji, or Historical Handbook. — “In the 5th moon of 1281 the Mongols raided us on a wholesale scale. Our troops were unsuccessful in resisting them at Iki and Tsushima. The enemy advanced and occupied Five Dragon Mountains in Hizen. The Hojo-tandai led the troops bravely to the fight. The enemy retired upon Takashima. In the intercalary 7th moon a great wind blew. The enemy’s war-ships were all broken to pieces. Our troops energetically attacked and cut them up, the sea being covered with prostrate corpses. Of the Mongol army of 100,000 only three men got back alive. Henceforward the Mongols were unable to pry about our coasts again.”
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