100 Days Until Totality! 63 Days Left – Eclipses and a British General

In the 19th century a civil war broke out in China. The war started from the Qing dynasty persecuting members of a sect of Christianity.. The rebellion started in the province of Guangxi. The rebels gained significant ground but by 1860 the main Chinese government had contacted Britain for support. Major General Charles Gordon was sent to China and helped repel an attack by the Taiping rebels on Shanghai. The forces under Gordon’s command became known as the “Ever Victorious Army”.

On November 25, 1863 CE, Gordon was defending against a siege of the city of Suzhou in the Jiangsu province. During the siege a partial lunar eclipse occurred and frightened the “Ever Victorious Army”. The Chinese saw this as a bad omen for the emperor and ended the battle by making peace with the Taiping rebels. The city was not lost but this surrender can be seen as Gordon’s first defeat.

In 1886, he was in charge of the defense of Khartoum, the capital of the Sudan. Gordon was defending the city against an invading Islamic army in another religious war. Gordon became obsessed with martyrdom and disobeyed orders to evacuate the city instead staying to fight. A solar eclipse occurred during the battle for the city demoralized Gordon’s troops. The city was taken before British reinforcements could arrive. In a way Gordon still got what he wanted.

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