This article is excerpted fromBiographies of Prominent Chinesepublished in Shanghai in c.1925.
General Chang Hsun (deceased 1924) was born at Fengsin Hsien, Kiangsi Province, in 1857. He started his military career as an ordinary soldier, but showed unusual bravery in encounters with bandits. He was gradually promoted to be first the Commander of a Regiment, and then a Defence Commissioner.
Upon the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, General Chang, being then one of the commanders of the Provincial Army at Fengtien, moved his troops to Chang Tu Fu, for defence purposes. In February 1908, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Yunnan Provincial Army,—but did not assume the office. In September of the same year he was made Commander-in-Chief of the Kansu Provincial Army.
In 1911, General Chang was transferred to be Commander-in-Chief of the Kiangnan (south of the Yangtze) forces, with headquarters at Nanking. He was then given permission to wear the Yellow Jacket, a great honor bestowed by the Imperial Family at that time.
General Chang Hsun was in command at Nanking when the first revolution broke out, and that city was attacked by the revolutionary forces. He effected a masterly retreat to the northern bank of the Yangtze, although he had no warships at his disposal. Thereafter, he commandeered practically all available rolling stock of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway, using it as a portable camp for his forces. He was made Viceroy of the Liang Kiang Provinces as an inducement to reconquer them for the Imperial Family. He continued to occupy important points upon the railway, for months after the abdication of the Manchus, although he was offered commands in Tibet, and elsewhere.
Upon the outbreak of the second revolution, in July 1913, General Chang was appointed, by President Yuan Shih-kai, Pacificator of Kiangsu; and he recaptured Nanking from the revolutionary forces, on September 1st, 1913. Two days later he was appointed Tutuh of Kiangsu, and was subsequently promoted to full General.
In December 1913, General Chang was succeeded by the late President Feng Kuo-chang as Tutuh of Kiangsu, and he himself was promoted to be High Military Inspector of the Yangtze Provinces. This position he held until July 1917. In June 1914, he was appointed Field Marshal.
In December 1915, General Chang was made Duke of the First Order, by Yuan Shih-kai was then at the zenith of his attempt to make himself Emperor of China. In April 1916, General Chang was appointed to hold the position of Director-General of Military Affairs of Anhui Province. Two months later, when the Tuchun system was initiated to take the place of Director-General, he was appointed Tuchun of Anhui, with headquarters at Hsuchowfu, on the Tientsin-Pukow line.
In May 1917, when Marshal Tuan Chi-jui was relieved of the premiership, and the provincial militarists stood against President Li Yuan-hung, General Chang was summoned to Peking to help solve the situation. Representing the militarists, he insisted upon the dissolution of Parliament. This was actually carried out.
General Chang, taking advantage of this opportunity proclaimed the restoration of the Manchu Dynasty, and seated the boy-emperor on the throne again, in July 1917. President Li took refuge in the Legation Quarters, and Marshal Tuan was secretly ordered, by a Presidential Mandate, to assume command of available troops in Peking to stand out against the monarchical forces. General Chang’s forces in Peking were overwhelmed, after a short encounter, and he was deprived of all ranks and honors and ordered to be brought to trial. He took refuge in the Dutch Legation, where he remained until he was pardoned by President Hsu Shih-chang, on October 23rd, 1918.
After being pardoned, General Chang lived in retirement in Tientsin, where he owned several palatial residences. He was, however, appointed Commissioner of Forestry and Agriculture for Jehol in 1921.
A.R. Burt, J.B. Powell and Carl Crow, editors,Biographies of Prominent Chinese(Shanghai: Biographical Publishing Company Inc., c.1925). 10.