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An Incident of the Great Taiping Rebellion.
In the latter part of 1862 I left Shanghai on my usual voyage to Hankow. This port is six hundred miles up the Yangtse River. After we had got about sixty miles up the river, which is here about ten miles wide, our attention was drawn to a number of human bodies floating down the river, most of them mutilated. This lasted about thirty hours. As we steamed along near the shore, the farmers, with their families, were for miles gathered here and there, gesticulating, prostrating themselves, and praying for us to take them on board. The poor creatures were between the Imperialist soldiers and the rebels, or Taipings. Both of these parties were ravaging, devastating, and destroying all before them, and the poor peasants had a very hard time. We could not help these poor creatures, and had to pass on our way.
On the third day we passed a city called Taiping Foo, "foo" meaning "city" in Chinese. We afterwards learned that for some months the inhabitants of the city had withstood a siege from both belligerents, and one day the Imperialist general conferred with the Taotai, or mayor, and said that it was well known that the inhabitants had been very good and had not favored the rebels, and now if they would open their gates to the Imperial soldiers, he would promise them kind treatment; and the people were weak enough to believe him and opened the city gates, and in a few hours nearly the whole population was butchered and thrown into the river, and those were they whom we had seen floating in clusters a few days before.