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Battles And Sieges

The War With The Sultan

The Story Of Hujaku

Grand Celebrations

The Monguls

Progress Of The Quarrel

Dominions Of Genghis Khan

The Fall Of Bokhara

The First Battle

Rupture With Vang Khan

The Death Of Vang Khan

Idikut

Vang Khan

Temujin In Exile

Victorious Campaigns

The Death Of Yemuka

Establishment Of The Empire

Death Of The Sultan

Conquests In China

Yezonkai Khan


Battles And Sieges





1219-1220

Continuation of the war.--Saganak.--Hassan.--The murdered
embassador.--Jughi's revenge.--Jughi's general policy.--Account of
a stratagem.--The town taken.--A beautiful city.--Toukat.--Toukat
taken.--Arrangements for plundering it.--Kojend.--Timur Melek.--His
preparations for defense.--Engines and battering-rams.--The floating
batteries.--The morass.--Obstinate conflict.--The pretended
deserters.--No more stones.--Building of the jetty.--The horsemen in
the water.--Timur's boats.--The fire-proof awnings.--The fire-boats
and the bridge.--The bridge burned.--Pursuit.--Battle in the
river.--The boats aground.--Timur's adventures.--He finally
escapes.--The governor's family.--Kojend surrendered.


After the fall of Bokhara and Otrar, the war was continued for two
years with great vigor by Genghis Khan and the Monguls, and the poor
sultan was driven from place to place by his merciless enemies, until
at last his cause was wholly lost, and he himself, as will appear in
the next chapter, came to a miserable end.

During the two years while Genghis Khan continued the war against him,
a great many incidents occurred illustrating the modes of warfare
practiced in those days, and the sufferings which were endured by the
mass of the people in consequence of these terrible struggles between
rival despots contending for the privilege of governing them.

At one time Genghis Khan sent his son Jughi with a large detachment to
besiege and take a certain town named Saganak. As soon as Jughi
arrived before the place, he sent in a flag of truce to call upon the
people of the town to surrender, promising, at the same time, to
treat them kindly if they would do so.

The bearer of the flag was a Mohammedan named Hassan. Jughi probably
thought that the message would be better received by the people of the
town if brought to them by one of their own countrymen, but he made a
great mistake in this. The people, instead of being pleased with the
messenger because he was a Mohammedan, were very much exasperated
against him. They considered him a renegade and a traitor; and,
although the governor had solemnly promised that he should be allowed
to go and come in safety, so great a tumult arose that the governor
found it impossible to protect him, and the poor man was torn to
pieces by the mob.

Jughi immediately assaulted the town with all his force, and as soon
as he got possession of it he slaughtered without mercy all the
officers and soldiers of the garrison, and killed also about one half
of the inhabitants, in order to avenge the death of his murdered
messenger. He also caused a handsome monument to be erected to his
memory in the principal square of the town.

Jughi treated the inhabitants of every town that dared to resist with
extreme severity, while those that yielded at once were, in some
degree, spared and protected. The consequence of this policy was that
the people of many of the towns surrendered without attempting to
defend themselves at all. In one case the magistrates and other
principal inhabitants of a town came out to meet him a distance of two
days' journey from them, bringing with them the keys of the town, and
a great quantity of magnificent presents, all of which they laid at
the conqueror's feet, and implored his mercy.

There was one town which Jughi's force took by a kind of stratagem. A
certain engineer, whom he employed to make a reconnoissance of the
fortifications, reported that there was a place on one side of the
town where there was a ditch full of water outside of the wall, which
made the access to the wall there so difficult that the garrison would
not be at all likely to expect an attack on that side. The engineer
proposed a plan for building some light bridges, which the soldiers
were to throw over the ditch in the night, after having drawn off the
attention of the garrison to some other quarter, and then, mounting
upon the walls by means of ladders, to get into the town. This plan
was adopted. The bridges and the ladders were prepared, and then, when
the appointed night came, a feigned attack was made in the opposite
part of the town. The garrison were then all called off to repel this
pretended attack, and in this way the wall opposite to the ditch was
left undefended. The soldiers then threw the bridges over the ditch,
and planted the ladders against the wall, and before the garrison
could get intelligence of what they were doing they had made their way
into the town, and had opened one of the gates, and by this means the
whole army got in. The engineer himself, who had proposed the plan,
went up first on the first ladder that was planted against the wall.
To take the lead in such an escalade required great coolness and
courage, for it was dark, and no one knew, in going up the ladder, how
many enemies he might have to encounter at the top of it.

The next place which the army of Jughi approached was a quiet and
beautiful town, the seat of several institutions of learning, and the
residence of learned men and men of leisure. It was a very pleasant
place, full of fountains, gardens, and delightful pleasure-grounds,
with many charming public and private promenades. The name of this
place was Toukat, and the beauty and attractiveness of it were
proverbial through all the country.

Toukat was a place rather of pleasure than of strength, and yet it
was surrounded by a wall, and the governor of it determined to make an
effort to defend it. The garrison fought bravely, and they kept the
besiegers off for three days. At the end of that time the engines of
the Monguls had made so many breaches in the walls that the governor
was convinced that they would soon get in, and so he sent to Jughi to
ask for the terms on which he would allow them to surrender. Jughi
replied that he would not now make any terms with him at all. It was
too late. He ought to have surrendered at the beginning.

So the Mongul army forced its way into the town, and slaughtered the
whole garrison without mercy. Jughi then ordered all the inhabitants,
men, women, and children, to repair to a certain place on the plain
outside the walls. In obedience to this command, all the people went
to the appointed place. They went with fear and trembling, expecting
that they were all to be killed. But they found, in the end, that the
object of Jughi in bringing them thus out of the town was not to kill
them, but only to call them away from the houses, so that the soldiers
could plunder them more conveniently while the owners were away. After
being kept out of the town for a time they were allowed to return,
and when they went back to their houses they found that they had been
pillaged and stripped of every thing that the soldiers could carry
away.

There was another large and important town named Kojend. It was
situated two or three hundred miles to the northward of Samarcand, on
the River Sir, which flows into Aral Lake. The governor of this city
was Timur Melek. He was a very powerful chieftain, and a man of great
military renown, having often been in active service under the sultan
as one of the principal generals of his army. When Timur heard of the
fall of Toukat, he presumed that his city of Kojend would be next
attacked, as it seemed to come next in the way of the Mongul army; so
he began to make vigorous preparations for defense. He broke up all
the roads leading toward the town, and destroyed the bridges. He also
laid in great supplies of food to maintain the inhabitants in case of
a protracted siege, and he ordered all the corn, fruits, and cattle of
the surrounding country, which he did not require for this purpose, to
be taken away and stowed in secret places at a distance, to prevent
their falling into the hands of the enemy.

Jughi did not himself attack this town, but sent a large detachment
under the orders of a general named Elak Nevian. Elak advanced toward
the city and commenced his operations. The first thing that was to be
done was to rebuild a bridge over the river, so as to enable him to
gain access to the town, which was on the opposite bank. Then he set
up immense engines at different points along the line, some of which
were employed to batter down the walls, and others, at the same time,
to throw stones, darts, and arrows over the parapets, in order to
drive the garrison back from them. These engines did great execution.
Those built to batter down the walls were of great size and power.
Some of them, it was said, threw stones over the wall as big as
millstones.

Timur Melek was equally active in the defense of the town. He built a
number of flat-bottomed boats, which might be called floating
batteries, since they were constructed for throwing missiles of all
sorts into the camp of the enemy. These batteries, it is said, were
covered over on the top to protect the men, and they had port-holes in
the sides, like a modern man-of-war, out of which, not cannon balls
and bomb-shells indeed, but arrows, darts, javelins, and stones were
projected. The boats were sent out, some on the upper side of the
town and some on the lower, and were placed in stations where they
could most effectually reach the Mongul works. They were the means of
killing and wounding great multitudes of men, and they greatly
disturbed and hindered the besiegers' operations.

Still Elak persevered. He endeavored to shut up the city on every side
as closely as possible; but there was on one side a large morass or
jungle which he could not guard, and Timur received a great many
re-enforcements, to take the place of the men who were killed on the
walls, by that way. In the mean time, however, Elak was continually
receiving re-enforcements too from Prince Jughi, who was not at a
great distance, and thus the struggle was continued with great fury.

At last Timur contrived an ingenious stratagem, by which he hoped to
cause his enemy to fall into a snare. It seems that there was a small
island in the river, not far from the walls of the city, on which,
before the siege commenced, Timur had built a fortress, to be held as
a sort of advanced post, and had garrisoned the fortress with about
one thousand men. Timur now, in order to divert the attention of the
Monguls from the city itself, sent a number of men out from the city,
who pretended to be deserters, and went immediately to the Mongul
camp. Of course, Elak questioned them about the defenses of the city,
in order to learn where the weak points were for him to attack. The
pretended deserters advised him to attack this fortress on the island,
saying that it could very easily be taken, and that its situation was
such that, when it was taken, the city itself must surrender, for it
completely commanded the place.

So Elak caused his principal engines to be removed to the bank of the
river, opposite the island, and employed all his energies and spent
all his ammunition in shooting at the fortress; but the river was so
wide, and the walls of the fortress wore so thick and so high, that he
made very little impression. At last his whole supply of stones--for
stones served in those days instead of cannon balls--was exhausted,
and as the town was situated in an alluvial district, in which no
stones were to be found, he was obliged to send ten or twelve miles to
the upland to procure a fresh supply of ammunition. All this consumed
much time, and enabled the garrison to recruit themselves a great deal
and to strengthen their defenses.

The operations of the siege were in a great measure suspended while
the men were obtaining a new supply of stones, and the whole
disposable force of the army was employed in going back and forth to
bring them. At length an immense quantity were collected; but then the
Mongul general changed his plan. Instead of throwing the stones from
his engines toward the fortress on the island, which it had been
proved was beyond his reach, he determined to build out a jetty into
the river toward it, so as to get a stand-point for his engines nearer
the walls, where they could have some chance of doing execution. So he
set his men at work to prepare fascines, and bundles, and rafts of
timber, which were to be loaded with the stones and sunk in the river
to form the foundation for the proposed bank. The men would bring the
stones down to the bank in their hands, and then horsemen, who were
ready on the brink, would take them, and, resting them on the saddle,
would drive their horses in until they came near the place where the
stones were to go, when they would throw them down and then return for
others. In this way they could work upon the jetty in many parts at
once, some being employed in building at the end where it abutted on
the shore, while the horsemen were laying the foundations at the same
time out in the middle of the stream. The work of the horsemen was
very difficult and dangerous, on account of holes in the sandy bottom
of the river, into which they were continually sinking. Besides this,
the garrison on the walls were doing their utmost all the time to
impede the work by shooting arrows, javelins, stones, and fiery darts
among the workmen, by which means vast numbers, both of men and
horses, were killed.

The Monguls, however, persevered, and, notwithstanding all the
opposition which the garrison made, they succeeded in advancing the
mole which they were building so far that Timur was convinced that
they would soon gain so advantageous a position that it would be
impossible for him to hold out against them. So he determined to
attempt to make his escape. His plan was to embark on board his boats,
with all his men, and go down the river in the night.

In order to prepare for this undertaking, he employed his men secretly
in building more boats, until he had in all more than seventy. These
boats were kept out of sight, in hidden places in the river, until all
were ready. Each of them was covered with a sort of heavy awning or
roof, made of wet felt, which was plastered over with a coating of
clay and vinegar. This covering was intended both to defend the men
from missiles and the boats themselves from being set on fire.

There was one obstacle to the escape of the boats which it was
necessary to remove beforehand, and that was the bridge which the
Monguls had built across the river, just below the town, when they
first came to besiege it. To destroy this bridge, Timur one night made
a sally from one of the gates, and attacked the men who were stationed
to guard the bridge. At the same time he sent down the current of the
river a number of great flat-bottomed boats, filled with combustibles
of various kinds, mixed with tar and naphtha. These combustibles were
set on fire before they were launched, and, as the current of the
river bore them down one after another against the bridge, they set
the wooden piers and posts that supported it on fire, while the guard,
being engaged with the party which had sallied from the town, could
not go to extinguish the flames, and thus the bridge was consumed.

The way being thus opened, Timur Melek very soon afterward embarked
his family and the greater part of his army on board the boats in the
night; and, while the Monguls had no suspicion of what was going on,
the boats were launched, and sent off one after another swiftly down
the stream. Before morning came all traces of the party had passed
away.

Very soon, however, the Mongul general heard how his intended prey had
escaped him, and he immediately sent off a strong detachment to follow
the southern bank of the river and pursue the fugitives. The
detachment soon overtook them, and then a furious battle ensued
between the Mongul horsemen on the banks and in the margin of the
water and the men in the boats, who kept the boats all the time as
near as possible to the northern shore.

Sometimes, however, when the stream was narrow, or when a rocky point
projected from the northern shore, so as to drive the boats nearer to
the Mongul side, the battle became very fierce and bloody. The Monguls
drove their horses far into the water, so as to be as near as possible
to the boats, and threw arrows, javelins, and fiery darts at them,
while the Mohammedans defended themselves as well as they could from
their windows or port-holes.

Things went on in this way for some time, until, at length, the boats
arrived at a part of the river where the water was so shallow--being
obstructed by sand-bars and shoals--that the boats fell aground. There
was nothing now for Timur to do but to abandon the boats and escape
with his men to the land. This he succeeded in doing; and, after
reaching the shore, he was able to form his men in array, on an
elevated piece of ground, before Elak could bring up a sufficient
number of men to attack him.

When the Monguls at length came to attack him, he beat them off in the
first instance, but he was obliged soon afterward to leave the field
and continue his retreat. Of course, he was hotly pursued by the
Monguls. His men became rapidly thinned in number, some being killed,
and others getting separated from the main body in the confusion of
the flight, until, at last, Timur was left almost alone. At last he
was himself on the very point of being taken. There were three Monguls
closely pursuing him. He turned round and shot an arrow at the
foremost of the pursuers. The arrow struck the Mongul in the eye. The
agony which the wounded man felt was so great that the two others
stopped to assist him, and in the mean time Timur got out of the way.
In due time, and after meeting with some other hairbreadth escapes, he
reached the camp of the sultan, who received him very joyfully, loaded
him with praises for the indomitable spirit which he had evinced, and
immediately made him governor of another city.

In the mean time, some of the boats which had been abandoned by the
soldiers were got off by the men who had been left in charge of
them--one especially, which contained the family of Timur. This boat
went quietly down the river, and conveyed the family to a place of
safety.

The city of Kojend, from which Timur and his men had fled, was, of
course, now without any means of defense, and it surrendered the very
next day to the Monguls.





Next: Death Of The Sultan

Previous: The Fall Of Bokhara



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