A Yankee Among The War Lords

PrintPrintEmailEmail Although deficient in armament compared to the northerners, the southern army was capable of beating the Tuchun’s “rabble” in any clash, but he predicted they would not be able to operate beyond Hsuchow for lack of rolling stock. They had brought none across the Yangtze, moving supplies by cart and pack animal, but as soon as they could use the railroad they would roll north with no likelihood of firm resistance. Chang Tsung-chang’s army had no fight in it, except for the Russians. “In my opinion a determined southern attack will mean Chang’s collapse.”

At the legation U.S. Minister J. V. A. MacMurray welcomed the first authentic information on the situation. He listened to Stilwell and read his report with “great admiration” for his “intrepid personal qualities.” General Castner gave his commendation for “the highest type of efficiency, military intelligence, splendid determination and courageous conduct”—and for something more. This man of troubled mind understood the true rarity of Stilwell’s exploit: that “courage in battle when accompanied by comrades is often seen but a much higher courage is required by any individual who attempts what Major Stilwell accomplished—the close contact alone and unaided, with hundreds of ignorant, hostile anti-foreign Chinese troops of two contending armies.” Stilwell was probably the only man with the necessary combination of military knowledge, Chinese knowledge, and that “higher courage” who could have carried out the mission to Hsuchow and returned.