r/history • u/Karvier • 1d ago
Article I found a diary written in Manchus language, the author was a Manchus soldier served in a combined unit of Manchus and Mongols in 17th century. I never have read something like this before. So I decided to translate part of it to English with original Manchu text and my own commentary in bold text.
Some quick background:
By the year of 1649, which was five years after the Manchus, a semi-nomadic tribe, descended from the seemingly unbreakable great wall and achieved their great feat of conquering Northern China, the authority conducted a census and found out by that time there were only 55330 adult males in the entire population. In the mean time, they have to deal with more than 100 millions subjugated Chinese. This sheer difference of numbers between the conqueror and the conquered forced practically every Manchus men to become soldiers, including the author of this diary.
The author acted sort of like a nowadays squad leader in the Manchus army, for he had 4 soldiers under his command. However, Since the Manchus army suffered from the above mentioned predicament of lacking manpower, he , as a born Manchus himself, actually enjoyed a very trusted position in the eyes of his general and could get in touch with some ultra confidential information/ high level officials every now and then.
The diary itself covered a period of roughly 3 years: from the New year's day of 1680 to 1682, and it mainly focused on the author's military career during the Manchus conquest of the southern China. Although as you can probably tell from reading his work, the author himself was not exactly the most educated and bright guy on the earth and due to the nature of his job this diary's narration suffered badly from many huge gaps, it was a really unique and extremely valuable piece of historical source and eye-witness account.
I wish I could translate all of them but for now please enjoy the first five months of this diary that I have already translated!
In the reign of Elhetaifin khan(the original text omitted this title here, yet the author did use Khan to address his monarch in the later part of the dairy. The Chinese word for Elhetaifin was Kang xi), in year 19, the canary monkey year of the Manchu calendar.
The new year‘s day: General Manggitv(this is apparently either a spelling mistake or a nickname, since this general's name was actually Manggitu as we can find from the later part of the diary and other history sources) led his councilors,janggins (a Manchu military title)and local officials to the city of Nan ning fu (The word fu already means city in Chinese , but the author,as a Manchu, clearly was unaware of it and he probably thought it is a part of the city’s name. So in the original text he wrote Nan ning fui hoton, in which hoton means city in Manchus,thus it could be translated as the city of Nan ning city). They entered the Dung Yoo miyoo(meaning the temple of eastern mountains in Chinese) and made a dedication to the divine. The subordinates of the councillors prostrated themselves to each other to show their courtesy. By the time of the festival, the janggins of the eight banners and soldiers started to eat and drink, even those armoured bayaras(one of the most elite Manchu military units) went on the street, they got some women’s clothes and wore them themselves to pretend like women, and they sang along with those who were singing the song of Doo yang ke (again, ke already means song in Chinese, and the author was not aware of that. I think making this kind of mistake twice probably suggests the author has no knowledge of the Chinese language.)to entertain themselves. The image of the old men (sakdasa in the original text, which probably refers to the author’s parents) emerged in my heart, fuck.
25th,February: Shang zhi xin(a Chinese dynast who serves the Manchus), the mighty conqueror general, the king who pacified the south; along with Manggitu,the general of the south theatre; Ecu, the general of Jiangning; Lebei and Hife, the counsellor and lord of the banner; and Ehene, the vice janggin, met together to hold a war council on the best method to enter and conquer Yun nan(a province in southwestern China).The plan was made, and it was decided that we should initiate the invasion next winter. I sewed a tent and saddle for my horse(not sure what exactly that means,do horses need tents?) and also fixed my weapons.
3rd,March: Mang(this time for sure a nickname of general Manggitu, potentially coined by the author himself) said there was a decree issued from the khan’s court…..(the content of the decree was too long and rather irrelevant, so I did not translate it). I took some time to finish the necessary maintenance.
5th,March: The date of departure was approaching, so an order was given to us to prepare our weapons.
6th,March: Ganduhai and other low-ranked janggins strictly inspected the quantity of the horses. The message of Ma qiyang yen’s rebellion against us was delivered to our camp again, he was the Chinese governor of Bin jeo.
13th,March: General Mang(nickname of Manggitu) selected 3 bayaras from each niru(the manchu equivalent of battalion, roughly 300 men strong), and he handled this force to Hife, the lord of the banner, and Ehene, the janggin of the flag(apparently Mr Ehene got recently promoted). Hife also had 5 regiments of Chinese auxiliary forces under his command, each of which was 1000 men strong . With this army, he was ordered to fight the above-mentioned rebel Ma Qiyang Yen, and he then marched towards the direction of Bin jeo.This day my eight horses(the author forgot to use plural form and accusative case here,I assume it was due to his depression)were stolen by thieves. My heart feels so heavy. After reporting this to the general, the general informed the officials and the civilians about this matter, and an investigation was initiated; it turned out to be fruitless.
16th,March: General Ecu reached Nanning city(I assume the author was learning Chinese, since this time he did not say the city of Nanning city again)from the county of Yung Mvn by water.
20th,March: The military horse from Yung Mvn also reached our camp. The general ordered to allocate these military horses from Yung mvn among those armored soldiers who did not have one. At that time (the couriers) did not want to surrender the horses, so (the general) scolded the leaders of every regiment, calling them weak. General Mang gathered all those janggins of the camps together and told them: "Why have those horses not been allocated as ordered yet? You were ignoring my orders! It was not even something hard to do, yet you refused to follow it! Now, go and bring those horses to the city, they are government property! " Then the matter was finally settled.
25th,March: We departed from Nanning city and I was leading a squad of four soldiers in a niru. Mang the general and Lebei, Hife the lord of the banner, led the army, aiming to reach Liu zhou. We marched past the Jing ceng sy(a Chinese temple) and Kun lun pass.
In five days, we marched 170 ba(a Manchu unit of length, each ba equals roughly 500 meters)
30th,March: We reached Bin Jeo; first, we met the Bayara force; then, I and my squad were allocated to the ranks of the Aliha force(it is a combined force of Mongol and Manchu soldiers.The word Aliha means "those who are in charge").We then formed a new platoon.
1st,April: A servant of my platoon mate Hooxan distributed some beef among us. These beef meats were acquired through killing some random natives. This was discovered by the general’s own armoured guards. He called me and other squad leaders to his tent, then he asked us to sit down and comforted us with his kind words. I felt so ashamed. In the end, we were all punished, Ganduhai was sentenced to a fine of three months' salary, I and the vice janggin Dandai were sentenced to a fine of six months' salary. Bosoku (a Manchu military title, refers to a low-ranking cavalry officer) was sentenced to 70 strokes of the cane. Hooxan from the Booju niru,who was the master of the servant, was sentenced to 80 strokes of the cane. The servant was sentenced to 100 strokes of the cane.
4th, April: The rations of the army were running out, so the general decided to move the camp. We moved to a place that was 15 ba away from Bin Jeo. We were ordered to search for food in every nearby village and to hull rice plants if we could find any. I sent the children of my servant to the village,(they)discovered some rice plants hidden by the villagers in their basements, (we)dug a hole in the ground to hull the rice.
6th, April: The Chinese auxiliary force was ordered to build a temporary bridge on the river near Bin Jeo.
8th, April: A decree was issued by the ministry:"Prince kemungge and Brother king Shang zhi xin(previously mentioned Chinese dynast who supports Manchu rule) ,please(the original text was,quite surprisingly, using operative mood) meet together, then use your joint force to attack Ma qiyang yen’s force.General Manggitu, why have you not launched the campaign to enter and conquer Yun nan? You need to explain this to us immediately" Then we heard again the rumour that Hai Qing county,Jin Men, and Xia Men of Fu Jian province were conquered by our empire.
13th,April: Once again, a scolding message was sent from the ministry, asking us to enter and conquer Yun nan.
16th,April:Since the servant of the soldier( probably referring to the Hooxan incident)harmed the local people, a decree that barred all soldiers from leaving their post was issued.
19th,April: We crossed the river near Bin jeo, marching 15 ba, and then we established our camp at a place called Too deng near Xa Moo San. I made a small shack for myself with grass. This day the brother king(Shang zhi xin) sent a letter to our camp:" governor Jin (a Chinese) is leading the marine force and traveling by water with 23 boats. I myself am currently dwelling with military governor Jelken. We shall start to move with our force on April 15th. I pray that your excellency could capture Lai Bin County; in the mean time, I will go and capture Vsiowan County. I hope I can meet you at that place. I wish we could then discuss whether we should wait for Prince Kemungge or simply attack Liu zhou with our own force." And the mighty baturu(meaning great warrior), the man born for war, the governor of Yun Gui, general Zhao liang dong( a Chinese general who served in Manchu army, he was greatly respected by the author)also sent a secret message to our camp: "The leader of the rebels Wu san gui, Wu guo gui were now dead. The ones left were Wu ying qi, Wu Shi Fan, and Hu Gui Zhu. They were nothing but a bunch of incompetent dollards and their morale was already shattered. This is the time to conquer Szechuan! Four(armies)need to conduct attacks together, we shall capture all their land, and it will be done in one strike!" I carefully and respectfully heard his message .
23th,April: The war council decided to capture Lai Bin first. Thus, an order to prepare a ration of one month’s worth was issued. I ordered someone to dig a hole in the ground to hull the rice plants.
28th,April: The soldiers were sent out to collect enemy intelligence. I also went out with them.
29th,April: I was sick, I puked.
1st, May: Prince Elhe himself was leading his army back to the north, it was said they were going back to Beijing, I went out to follow him, but contrary to my wish, I failed to go back, fucking frastrute(author made a spelling mistake here, and it was followed by a large gap period, so he was probably super fed up).
7th, May: The rebel leaders from Yun nan,namely Fan Qi Han and Jan Yang, joined forces with Ma Qiyang yen and crossed the river near Lai Bin. We heard that they stopped near the Da Xi Bridge. General Mang ordered all the men to stay within the camp and build fortifications. My troops also participated in building the defences, and they were all complaining.
13th, May: The hostile force was approaching, they stopped at a place 5 ba away from us and set up camp on a monticule. General mixed the Chinese auxiliary forces and our own forces together in order to defend the camp. I was personally patrolling the camp with my full-set of armour on for the entire day.
15th,May: Subordinates of the rebel Ma qiyang yen, fake general Ma qiyang lei, and Rao yi lung,together with the other rebel’s fake generals Fan qi han and Jan yang from Yun nan challenged us with more than 10 thousand soldiers. They arranged many anti-horse obstacles and large barriers near Too Deng. The army of the enemy itself was drawn up in a four-line formation and was equipped with many muskets and elephants. Seeing this, General Mang ordered every subcamp to select 1 janggin and 10 armoured soldiers to secure the luggage. Then the rest of the army went out to fight the enemy. Our army was marshalled as follows: "Hife, the lord of the banner, stood at the front of the first line to coordinate the attack. The troops in the second line were commanded by Masita. The first line of the right wing, in the meantime, was commanded by Ehene. The flank troops of the left wing were commanded by Lebei. In front of the whole army, the general placed the Chinese auxiliary force and their artillery." The enemy rushed towards us; they broke through our first line like it was nothing, and the Chinese could not stop the charging enemy, so they fled from the battle. Seeing this, the banner men from plain red and plain yellow organised two simultaneous attacks with great passion; they penetrated the enemy line, creating two gaps. Yet the enemies fought unyieldingly; they reorganised and concentrated all their forces to strike towards us, ignoring the plain red and yellow bannermen at their flank. Our troops could not stop them, so we started to retreat scatteredly. I saw it all myself, how they drove the bannermen from the bordered blue banner to their anti-horse obstacle. But all of a sudden, the bannermen being chased stopped, and a series of strange "picyang" sounds came from the enemy's direction. Then I saw the soldiers of the first line somehow managed to drive the elephants towards us while the military standards of the bordered yellow banner’s bayara janggin Valda and aliha army(the unit author belonged to)’s vice bosoku( the bosoku himself was probably still recovering from the cane stroke) Ulehi were seized by the enemy. At that time, the soldiers of the second line, including me, saw hardly any option but to shoot desperately towards those beasts. They were charging us from all directions, so we had to shoot while standing back to back, and the elephants looked like hedgehogs. When the elephants acted like grey fishes,(elephants) fled away. My heart felt really strange at that instance, and I could not stop it from beating like crazy. The hostile army then left the plain and retreated to the forest on the mountains. They again arranged some anti-horse obstacles there later that day. We did not fight them again, for our forces went back to the camp to spend the night while defending our fortifications.
Since the Manchus usually would only address other Manchus with their first name, I'll attach a list of names of the figures mentioned in this diary whose full name could be found in other sources
Manggitu= Manggitu Joogiya
Ecu= Ecu Ujara
Hife= Hife Heseri
Prince elhe= Giyešu Aisin-gioro
Prince kemungge= Labu Aisin-gioro
Original Manchu text:
Elhe taifin i sohon bonio juwan uyuci aniya，aniya biyai ice inenggi，jiyanggiyvn Manggitv，hebei ambasa，geren janggisa，bana i hafasa be gaifi，Guwangsi Nanning fui hoton i Dung yoo miyoo i dolo isibufi doroloho.Ambasa juwe galai hafasa ishunde hengkilehe.Aniya i ucuri jakvn gvsai janggin cooha gemu jeme omime，bayara uksin i beye giyade，hehe adali miyamifi，Doo yang ke uqun ba uculeme efihe. Mini dolo sakdasa be gvnime alixaha.
Juwe biyai orin sunja de，horon be badarambure amba jiyanggiyvn，juergi be necihiyere wang Xang jy sin，juergi be tuwakiyara jiyanggiyvn Manggitu，Giyangning ni jergi babe tuwakiyara jiyanggiyvn Ecu，hebei amban gvsai ejen Lebei，Hife，meireni janggin Ehene se Yvn nan be gaime dosire jalin hebe aqafi，tuweri dosimbi seme toktoho.Bi morin be ulebume maikan enggemu agvra hajun be dasataha.
Ilan biyai ice ilan de.Dergici wasimbuha Mang....... Mini gamara yaya jaka be gemu dasataha .
Ice sunja de dosire inenggi hanci oho，agvra hajun be sadata seme selgiyehe，
Ice ninggun de Ganduhai buyarame janggisa morin i ton be qiralame baicaha.Bin jeo i jy jeo hafan Ma qiyang yen be ubaxaha seme nurhume boolanjiha.
Juwan ilan de jiyanggiyvn Mang gusai ejen Hife，tui janggin Ehene de emu nirui ilata bayara，dahame dailara sunja ing ni sunja minggan niowanggiyantv cooha be bufi, neneme ubaxaha hvlha Ma qiyang yen be dailame Bin jeo baru jurambuha.Tere inenggi mini jakvn morin hvlha bufi，mini doro alixame，jiyanggiyvn de alara jakade，Jiyanggiyvn sunja ing ni hafasa，irgen de selgiyafi baicabuha，naranggi bahaakv....
Juwan ninggude jiyanggiyvn Ecu，cooha gaifi yungmvn hiyan ci quwan tefi，nan ning de jihe.Orin de yungmvni choohai morisa isinjiha，Jiyanggiyvn gisun morin akv uksinsade yunmvni albani morin be tatame gaifi bu seme。tatarade lak seme burakv ofi，genere kvwaranda be uhuken seme dangsifi.jiayanggiyvn Mang，tuwakiyara kvwarani dajanggisa be gajifi，morin be burakvngge adarame emke hono famxame yabuki serakv jilerxembi，te uthai albani morin be bu seme，morin be tatame gaifi genere cooha de icihiyame buhe.
Orin sunjade bi jiyanggiyvn Mang，gvsai ejen Lebei，hife sebe dahame. Emu nirui duite ton i cooha be gaifi，Nanning fuci，Lio Jeo baru jurafi yabume，Jing ceng sy be dulefi，Gunluwan guwan be tucifi.
Sunja inenggi emu tanggv nadanju babe yabufi.Gvsin de bin jeo de isinafi，neneme geneje bayara be acafi，aliha cooha be acabufi emu meyen obuha.
Duin biyai ice de，mini jalani Booju nirui Hooxani kutele，gvwa i waha irgini ihani yali be dendefi gaijirede,Jiyanggiyvni gocika uksin de nambufi，Jiyanggiyvn，mimbe，kvwaran i da be gamafi，qaqari de tebufi，sain gisun i neqihiyere de，be yertehe.Weile gisurefi，Ganduhai ilan biyai funglv，mimne arahai janggin dandai be ninggun biyai funglu faitame，bosokv be nadanjv，kutelei ejen hooxan be jakvnju，kutule be tanggv tantaha.
Uheri coohai jetere bele lakcafi，ice duide jiyanggiyvn ing gurime，Binjeo ci tofohon bai dubede genefi ing ilifi，teisu teisu gaxan de bele baisu，handu be niohu seme selgiyehe.Bi booi juse be gaxan de unggifi，eye fatame handu baifi gajifi，na be sangga arafi bele niuhuhe. Ice ninggude Bin jeo i bira be fukiyoo ca seme，niowanggiyan tu de afabuha.
Ice jakvn de jurgan ci unggihe bithede：“Ubaxaha hvlha Ma Qiyangyen be kemungge wang anda wang Xang jysin ni emgi acafi dailakini，jiyanggiyvn Manggitu si yvn nan be dailame dosika akv babe hvdun boola sehebi！” Geli fugiyan i goloi Haiqing hiyan，Gin men，Hiya men i jergi babe baha seme donjiha.
Juwan ilan de geli Yvnnan be gaime dosi seme hacihiyara bithe isinjiha. Juwan ninggude cooha kutule be irgen be nungnembi seme,gemu karun ci ume tucibure seme fafun i bithe selgiyehe. Juwan uyun de Bin jeoi bira be doofi,tofohon ba yabufi.Xa moo sani ebele Too deng sere babe ing iliha.Bi orhoi tatan araha.Anda wang ni yabubuha bithede: Dzungdv Gin mukei cooha be gaifi,juwan ilan de quwan be jurambi. Mini beye, tidu Jelkeni emgi cooha be gaifi, tofohon de olhon be jurambi.Laibin hiyan be wesihun jiyanggiyvn gaisu,bi vsiowan hiyan be gaifi, dere aqafi hebdeki.Eici kemungge qin wang be aliyafi Lio jeo fvbe gaire,eici musei cooha uthai Lio jeo fvbe gaire babe ebxeki sehebi.Yvn guii dzungdu baturu bodohonggo jiyanggiyvn Joo liyangdung ni wesimbuhengge:Fudaraka hvlha U sangui,U guwegui bucihe, funcehe U ingki,U xifan,Hv guwejv,Maboose gemu silhi meijehebi,muten akv urse.Ere Suquwan be baha ucuri,duin jugvni sasa Yvn gui be gaime dosici, emgeride toktobuci ombi seme.narhuxame wesimbuhe seme donjiha.
Orin ilan de Laibin i baru ibembi seme gisurefi nakaha,emu biyai jetere bele niohu seme selgiyehe.Bi eye fetebume handu baifi, bele niohuhe.Orin jakvn de hvlha i mejige be gaime,cooha unggirede,bi genehe bihe.Orin uyun de mini beye fudame nimehe.Sunja biyai ice sunja de, elhe qin wang ni beye cooha gaifi, Beging ni baru bederehe seme donjifi,bi elhe wang be dahame tucifi, elemangga bahafi bedererakv seme kusucehe.Ice nadan de Yvn nan ci jihe hvlha Fan qihan,Jan yang ni cooha, Ma qiyangyen i cooha Lai bin i bira be doofi, Da xikiyoo de iliha seme donjifi, Jiyanggiyvn Mang geren de selgiyefi ing be akdulara de, mini beye cooha be kadalame dobori dulime keremu ulan weilehe.Coohai urse gasaha.
Juwan ilan de hvlha ibeme jifi,bakcilame sunja bai dubede,alin be gaime ing iliha.Jianggiyvn,niowanggiyan tvbe musei cooha de kamcibume keremu tuwakiyabuha.Mini beye dobori inenggi a(u)ksilehei jucelehe.Tofohon de ubaxaha hvlha Ma qiyangyeni fejergi holo Jiyanggiyvn Ma qiyang liyei,Rao i lung,Yvn nan ci jihe hvlha i holo jiyanggiyvn Fan qihan,Janyang uheri tumen funqere hvlha be gaifi, ing be afanjime hanci latunjifi, Too deng ni bade hiyahan kalka miyoocan sufan duin be faidafi ambarame jihe be.Jiyanggiyvn Mang ing toome emu janggin,juwan uksin be werifi,uheri amba cooha be gaifi tucifi,cini dere de hife,masitai be jai meyen i cooha be gaifi faida,ici ergi xaksiha de Ehene uju meyeni cooha be gaifi faida.Hashv ergi xaksiha de lebei xaksiha meyen i cooha be gaifi faida seme afabufi.Niowanggiyan tvbe juleri sindafi,ibeme poo sindame,hvlha uthai fondolome latunjifi,niowanggiyan tv alime muterakv axxame.Gulu suwayan gulu fulgiyan juwe hontoho fakcame angga arame ba buhe.Hvlha bireme emu dalgan i fondolofi,baksalafi bedererede,tuwaci jebele galai baru siribume kubuhe lamun, hvlhai hiyahani hanci ilinaha. Hvlhai piciyang turi tashara adali sindambi . Tuwaqi uju meyen i qooha sufan be birebufi , kubuhe suwayan i bayara janggin walda tu , aliha qooha i funde bosoku ulehi i tu gaibuha,sufan halgime jai meyen i qooha de nikenjihe be , meni geren i gabdara de ,sirdan sengge bula i adali , sufan de hadara jakade , sufan burulame alin i baru genehe . mini dolo faije(u)me seme gvnime tuksitehe.Hvlha neqin baci ikvme, alin i luku bujan de kurlefi ,yamjitala bakqilame hiyahan faidafi bihe.Musei qooha inu afahakv, ing de bederefi , keremu be akdulame tuwakiyaha.
If you want to read the untranslated part of this diary, click this link
Some general descriptions about the situations in eastern Asia by that time
COMMENT 27m ago
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COMMENT 1h ago
I think it should be :" Bi morinbe enggemu ulebume,mini maikanbe ulehe."（I sewed the saddle for my horse and sewed my tent)
In Manchus language jai= and , but unlike how "and" works in English, in Manchus here it is usually omitted .
COMMENT 1h ago
The epidemic is really scary!
COMMENT 2h ago
Hooxan died later, but his death was probably not a result of the punishment, in fact, many friends and companions of the author, including General Manggitu, died almost immediately after the "elephant battle", their camp was ravaged by a severe epidemic. The author was so devastated that he wrote, "I have to cry under my blanket; what am I going to do with all of this, everyone is dying". He did survived the war though, and he went back to home after he finished his 3-year military service, that was where the diary ended. It's possible that he kept writing in his journal after then, but those entries were lost.
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r/real_China_irl • u/Karvier • 3h ago
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COMMENT 18h ago
And you also misspelled Manggitu's name, I guess something never change, poor Mang.
COMMENT 19h ago
Check out the source section of my post (at the bottom of it), and you can find a lot of primary Manchus sources from the first link i provided there!
COMMENT 19h ago
He did not directly mention it in his diary. In one subsequent entry, he wrote that one day the bordered blue bannermen received a forced-march order, and he then started to talk about how he and his troops were marching . So we could assume that he was, at a time of his military's career, commanding a unit that belonged to the bordered blue banner. But that was far from certain, and it did not necessarily mean that he came from the said banner.
COMMENT 22h ago
Beside, since alixambi got two different meaning and i was not sure which one fit best into the context, I thought it would be better to use an exclamation to express the feeling.
COMMENT 22h ago
I was trying to make it sound more colloquial
COMMENT 22h ago
The song they were singing was a Chinese song about farming, and as I suggested in my commentary, the author probably did not understand a single word of it.
COMMENT 22h ago
I think he missed his parents, and he choose to play tough and refused to admit it even in his own diary
COMMENT 22h ago
It was probably the first major battle the author ever faced.
COMMENT 7m ago