This article is excerpted fromBiographies of Prominent Chinesepublished in Shanghai in c.1925.
Marshall Feng Yu-hsiang was born at Chao Hsien, Anhui Province, in 1880. In 1896, he joined the Piyang Military Academy. Before graduation, in 1898, he left that college and enrolled as a private in the Wu Wei Yu Chun. Subsequently, he was appointed Commander of a Company in the Ninth Division of Nanyang troops. He also attended the Chiang Yu Tang (the lecture hall for training soldiers). Later, he entered the Paoting Military Academy: from whence he was graduated.
In 1910, Marshal Feng became Commander of the Third Regiment, Tenth Battalion, Fifth Brigade, Third Division of the Imperial Army stationed at Fangshan, Chihli. Subsequently, his regiment was reorganized and became the Provost Guard Regiment of the Metropolitan District. In 1913, when General Yuan Shih-kai trained ten new mixed brigades, Marshal Feng’s regiment was reorganized and became the Sixteenth Mixed Brigade. In 1916, Marshal Feng’s Brigade was sent to Anhui by His Excellency Yuan Shih-kai to defend, if necessary, that province against an impending attack of the Republican troops. In July 1917, Marshal Feng was ordered to proceed with his troops to Szechuan: which was being threatened by attacks from Yunnan, where independence had been declared.
After the Chihli-Fengtien struggle, in the summer of 1920, in which Marshal Wu Pei-fu came out victorious and Marshal Feng with his Sixteenth Mixed Brigade played a very important part for Chihli, the two Generals became very close friends. In June 1920, Marshal Feng received the Second Class Tashou Paokuang Chiaho. At the recommendation of Marshal Wu Pei-fu, Marshal Feng was appointed Co-Director for Military Affairs of Shensi: and at the same time his mixed brigade was reorganized to become the Eleventh Division. At the sudden and mysterious death of Marshal Yen Hsiang-wen, Marshal Feng was appointed acting Tuchun of Shensi: though still commanding the Eleventh Division. While in Shensi, he sought a compromise with and between the different contending military leaders: and finally brought about peace in that province.
In the spring of 1922, the civil war between the Chihli and Mukden war lords broke out. Marshal Feng’s troops were transferred to participate in the fight: and he was appointed Commander of the Rear Defence Forces. His troops played a decisive part in this armed struggle which resulted in the victory of the Chihli forces. In May, Marshal Feng was appointed Tuchun of Honan. In July, he was made a Chiangchun, a member of the College of Marshals, and given the title of “Yang Wu”. In October, he was awarded the Second Order of Merit and was appointed Inspector-General of the National Army. Having headquarters then at Peking, he transferred his troops there. These troops, which were estimated to be in excess of forty thousand, were stationed at Nan Yuan, the Imperial Hunting Park to the south of Peking.
In January 1923, Marshal Feng was made a full General. In April 1923, he was awarded the First Class Wenhu decoration. In May, he was appointed Director-General of the Defence of the North-western provinces. Marshal Feng is a Christian, as are many of his soldiers.
In October 1924, co-operating with Marshal Wu Pei-fu in opposition to Marshal Chang Tso-lin, Marshal Feng moved the forty thousand troops under his command to Jeho: but shortly afterward, he decided that he did not wish to aid in prolonging civil strife, and so returned to Peking where he assumed command of what was known as the Peoples Army. He immediately forced the Chihli Party out of power, placing certain of its members under arrest, and issued mandates appointing new cabinet members and other officials. He urged Marshal Tuan Chi-jui to assume control of the Government: and upon the latter’s assumption of office as Chief Executive of the Provisional Government, Marshal Feng resigned his command of the Peoples Army.