Latest Published Biography:
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Yuan Yingtai 袁應泰 (T. 大來), d. May 11, 1621, Ming general, was a native of Fengxiang, Shaanxi. He took the degree of jinshi in 1595 and became district magistrate of Linchang, Henan. Here he distinguished himself by successfully carrying out a reclamation project involving the building of forty li of dikes along the Chang river, and so bringing irrigation to several hundred thousand acres of land. Transferred to the Board of Works as a second-class secretary, he rose to be a department director in the Board of War and then secretary to the military administrator of northern Jiangsu. After a period of retirement, he was appointed judicial commissioner for Henan with oversight of military affairs, and was active in furnishing troops, supplies, and ammunition to the armies of Xiong Tingbi [q.v.] in Liaodong. In the autumn of 1620 he was sent to Liaodong as governor, replacing Zhou Yongchun 周永春 (T. 孟泰 H. 毓陽, jinshi of 1601), and a month later, while holding concurrently the post of junior vice-president of the Board of War, he took the place of the generalissimo, Xiong Tingbi, who had been recalled.
Yuan was an inferior disciplinarian, quite unfitted for the problems he faced. One of his greatest errors was in accepting the submission of Mongol tribes who, driven by hunger, came pouring over the border, and in settling them extensively in Shenyang and Liaoyang to keep them from joining the Manchus. The hostility which developed between them and the Chinese population had disastrous consequences. After the Manchus took Shenyang through Mongol treachery, May 4, 1621, Yuan attempted to defend Liaoyang. On May 11 the army sent to meet the Manchus was routed, and two days later the enemy entered the city--again, it was suspected, with Mongol connivance. Yuan, carrying out a vow to remain in Liaodong, dressed himself in full regalia and committed suicide. When the report of his death reached the Court he was posthumously elevated to the post of president of the Board of War. In 1776 he was canonized as Zhongjie 忠節.
[ M. 1/259/4b; Fengxiang xianzhi (1767) 6/17b; text of memorial tablet in Lin-chang xianzhi (11907) 12/37a].
GEORGE A. KENNEDY