Cai E 蔡锷

A national hero


Chinese Name: 蔡锷

English Name: Cai E

Other Names: Cai Songpo 蔡松坡, Cai Genyin 蔡艮寅

Born: December 19, 1882

Died: November 8, 1916


Take part in an uprising against the Qing Dynasty 参加反清起义

Organize and lead the uprising to protect the country 组织和领导护国起义

Main Works:

Collection of Mr Cai Songpo’s legacy 蔡松坡先生遗集

Cai E 蔡锷
Cai E 蔡锷

Brief Biography of Cai E

Cai E, was a great patriot in modern times, a famous politician, militarist, democratic revolutionary, and an outstanding military leader in the early years of the Republic of China 中华民国.

Cai E, formerly known as Genyin 艮寅, with the courtesy name 字 Songpo 松坡, was born on December 18, 1882 (the 8th year of Guangxu 光绪 of the Qing Dynasty 清朝) in Shaoyang 邵阳, Hunan 湖南 (Cai E village, Cai E Township, Daxiang District 大祥区, Shaoyang City 邵阳市). He studied in a private school when he was young.

At the age of 15, he was admitted to Changsha 长沙‘s current affairs school and was taught by Liang Qichao 梁启超 and Tan Sitong 谭嗣同. He was appreciated by Liang Qichao and established a deep friendship. Later, he studied at Shanghai Nanyang public school 上海南洋公学(later renamed “national Jiaotong University 国立交通大学”, which is the predecessor of “Shanghai Jiaotong University 上海交通大学” and “Xi’an Jiaotong University 西安交通大学“).

From 1899 to 1904, he studied at Tokyo 东京 Datong University 东京大同高等学校, Yokohama 横滨 East Asia Business School 横滨东亚商业学校 and Tokyo army sergeant school 东京陆军士官学校. At that time, under the corrupt rule of the Qing Dynasty, China had an unprecedented national crisis. While learning military knowledge, Cai E thought about ways to save China.

At that time, although Cai E hoped to change China, he had not yet established the revolutionary thought of overthrowing the Qing Dynasty by violence. He still held the ideal of helping the Qing government get rid of malpractice by reforming the military, so as to achieve the goal of enriching the country and strengthening the army.

In 1904, Cai E returned from Japan 日本.

In 1911 (the third year of Xuantong 宣统 of the Qing Dynasty ), Li Jingxi 李经羲, the governor of Yunnan 云南 and Guizhou 贵州, hired him to serve as a military officer in Yunnan.

On October 30, 1911 (the ninth day of the ninth lunar month), Li Genyuan 李根源 and other revolutionaries led the new army in Kunming 昆明 to respond to the Wuchang Uprising 武昌起义. At noon the next day, the army successfully captured the Yunnan Guizhou governor 云贵总督’s office.

In October 1913, Cai E was transferred to Beijing 北京 by Yuan Shikai 袁世凯 to be seduced and monitored. During this period, he gradually saw Yuan Shikai’s reactionary face.

Cai E 蔡锷
Yuan Shikai 袁世凯

In 1915, Yuan Shikai restored the imperial system and abolished the Republic of China. In the same year, Cai E secretly left Beijing for Tianjin 天津, crossed to Japan in the name of medical treatment, and then arrived in Kunming on December 19 through Taiwan 台湾, Hong Kong 香港 and Vietnam 越南. He declared Yunnan’s independence with Tang Jiyao 唐继尧 and others on December 25, organized the national defense army and launched the national defense war.

On March 22nd, 1916, Yuan Shikai was forced to announce the abolition of the monarchy. Zhang Jingyao 张敬尧, commander in chief of Luzhou 泸州 front line, also reached an armistice agreement with Cai E on March 31, 1916.

On July 6, 1916, Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 appointed Cai E as governor of Sichuan 四川.

Cai E 蔡锷
Li Yuanhong 黎元洪

On the morning of November 8, 1916, Cai E died of illness in Fukuoka 福冈, Japan at the age of 34.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Fight against the Qing Dynasty

After graduating from the Tokyo army sergeant school 东京陆军士官学校 and returning to China in 1904, he trained the new army in Hunan 湖南, Guangxi 广西, Yunnan and other provinces.

In 1911, Cai E was transferred to Yunnan and became the 37th associate general of the 19th town of the new army. After he took office, he actively updated personnel, eliminated corrupt policies, reorganized finance, reduced the army, set up education, and developed industries, which made Yunnan a vibrant scene.

On October 30, 1911 (the ninth day of the ninth lunar month), he led the new army to respond to the Wuchang Uprising 武昌起义 in Kunming with revolutionary party member Genyuan. Cai E was promoted as the interim commander in chief of the revolution. At noon the next day, the army successfully captured the Yunnan Guizhou governor’s office. Since October 30 is the Double Ninth Festival 重阳节, it is also known as the “Double Ninth uprising 重九起义” in history.

Cai E 蔡锷
Cai E statue 蔡锷塑像

On November 1, 1911, the Yunnan military governor’s office of Greater China was established, and Cai E was elected governor. A few days later, the feudal rule of the Qing government in Yunnan was completely overthrown.

During his tenure as governor of Yunnan, Cai E vigorously promoted the new deal, developed the economy and improved people’s livelihood. He was deeply loved by the military and the people so that the idea of democracy and republicanism was deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. He always adhered to the principles of national unity on the ever-changing political stage.

Organize and lead the uprising to protect the country

From May 1915, Yuan Shikai began to prepare for the restoration of the imperial system, which made Cai E extremely angry.

In December 1915, Cai E and Tang Jiyao announced Yunnan’s independence, organized the national defense army and launched the national defense war.

In the spring of 1916, Cai E led his troops to defeat the superior Yuan army in Sichuan and forced Yuan Shikai to abolish the monarchy. After Yuan’s death, Cai E was appointed governor of Sichuan.

Cai E 蔡锷
Organize and lead the uprising to protect the country 蔡锷组织和发动了护国运动

The national protection army, with a force weaker than the enemy, fought with the so-called elite Beiyang army 北洋军 for several months under the condition of lack of ammunition and wages and intermittent support in the rear. Although it did not occupy Luzhou, it restrained the main force of the enemy, prevented the advance of the enemy, effectively cooperated with the actions of other armies, and promoted the development and expansion of the national anti-imperialist movement.

Cai E’s thought of ruling the army

Cai E governed the army strictly and set an example. During his tenure as governor of Yunnan Province, he ordered the general staff to review Chinese and foreign laws and regulations, and formulated and issued 47 articles of the concise military law, which are divided into 11 chapters, including “rebellion”, “unauthorized authority”, “disgrace of duty”, “disobedience”, “riot coercion”, “insult”, “escape”, “damage the military goods”, “plunder”, “crime of captivity” and “violation of orders”. It clearly stipulates that “after the announcement, it shall be implemented”.

The national protection army has strict military discipline, requiring that “all military disciplines should be strictly observed and keep maintained”; No “random entry into the people’s homes”; “The purchase should be made public, and the pressure should not be assessed according to the situation.” Such an army was deeply supported by the people, the first army for the protection of the country “has not recruited any redundant soldiers or collected any money since its departure, and the soldiers have not taken any grass or trees from the people without authorization”. Cai E’s spirit of hard struggle and taking the lead inspired the officers who fought for the Republic and won the victory against the Yuan.

Cai E 蔡锷
Former residence of Cai E 蔡锷故居

In his life, Cai E paid attention to distinguishing the political situation, conformed to the historical trend and devoted himself to the revolutionary movement. He has made outstanding contributions to both military theory and war practice. Especially in the war of protecting the country, he took part in the war in spite of illness, commanded the inferior army to resist the attack of the superior enemy, forced the enemy to stop fighting and negotiate peace, and demonstrated his unswerving spirit of fearlessness in the face of danger and his heroic spirit of fighting to the end for the country and the people.

Video: The Fall of Emperor Yuan Shih-kai 蔡锷北伐袁世凯

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