You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > People > Others

Zuo Zongtang

Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠) (November 10, 1812-September 5, 1885), spelled Tso Tsung-t'ang in Wade-Giles and known simply as General Tso to Westerners, was a gifted China|Chinese military leader born in Wenjialong, north of Changsha in Hunan province, during the waning of the Qing Dynasty. He served with brilliant distinction during China's most important civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, in which at least 30 million people lost their lives.

Zuo's career got an inauspicious start when as a young man he flunked the Imperial examination|official court exams three times. All but giving up on public life, Zuo returned to his home by the River Hsiang in Hunan and resigned himself to a quiet life farming silkworms and tea.

When the Taiping Rebellion broke out in 1850, Zuo, then 38 years old, was hired as an adviser to the governor of Hunan. In 1860, Zuo was given command of a force of 5,000 volunteers, and in September of that year he drove the Taiping rebels out of Hunan and Guangxi provinces, into coastal Zhejiang. Zuo captured the large city of Shaoxing, and from there pushed south into Fujian and Guangdong provinces, where the revolt had first begun. In August of 1864 Zuo dethroned the Taiping king, Hong Tianguifu, and brought an end to the rebellion.

Zuo's successes would continue. He succeeded in putting down another uprising, the Nian Rebellion (捻軍起義) in 1868, and subsequently marched west, winning many victories against the Muslims of Xinjiang|Chinese Turkestan in the 1870s.

The Tso in General Tso is often mispronounced "Cho". This confusion arises because "Ts'" in Postal Pinyin is pronounced as "Ch". The correct pronunciation is "So".

Quick Navigation

New Article