As the spring months came to a close, the sun just began to ascend into the Chinese sky on the morning of June 17, 1854. On that day, in a tiny town about 75 miles west of Hong Kong called Taishan, a war between rival clans broke out that would result in over a million deaths over the next twelve years.
The roots of the conflict date back nearly 200 years, when the Qing Dynasty usurped the throne of China from the Ming royal family. Loyalists to the overthrown king, displaced to Taiwan, immediately began to plot a coup of their own to restore control to the Ming line. Unsettled by the possibility, Kangxi, the Qing Emperor, ordered residents of the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Fujian to move a little more than 15 miles in from the sea.
At the time, the Punti (known to us today by their native language, Cantonese) inhabited the area. In the transition between their seaside home and new territory in the mountains during 1661 and 1662, a large percentage of the clan died. Seven years later, when the declarations were nullified, less than 1700 of the Punti returned. Desperate to see the area brimming with people once again, Emperor Kangxi provided incentives for new settlement. …(Read more)