Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
   Home - Mongol History

More Genghis Khan / Mongol History Articles

Grand Celebrations


The Story Of Hujaku

Battles And Sieges

Conquests In China

The War With The Sultan

The Death Of Vang Khan

Dominions Of Genghis Khan

The Sultan Mohammed

Adventures Of Prince Kushluk

Yezonkai Khan

Progress Of The Quarrel

The Monguls

The Death Of Yemuka

Temujin In Exile

Death Of The Sultan

The First Battle

Pastoral Life In Asia

Victorious Campaigns

Vang Khan

Progress Of The Quarrel


The ambuscade.--The wood and the brook.--The guard left
behind.--Arrival of Vang Khan's army.--False hopes.--Assault
upon the vacant camp.--Advance of the assailants.--The
ambuscade.--Temujin's victory.--Preparations for open
war.--Temujin makes alliances.--Turkili.--Solemn league and
covenant.--Bitter water.--Recollection of the ceremony.--Temujin's
strength.--His letter to Vang Khan.--Effect of the letter.--Sankum's
anger.--Great accessions to Temujin's army.--Mongolistan.--Final
attempt at negotiation.--Sankum's answer.--Skirmishes.

Temujin's stratagem succeeded admirably. As soon as he had decided
upon it he began to put it into execution. He caused every thing of
value to be taken out of his tent and carried away to a place of
safety. He sent away the women and children, too, to the same place.
He then marshaled all his men, excepting the small guard that he was
going to leave behind until evening, and led them off to the ambuscade
which he had chosen for them. The place was about two leagues distant
from his camp. Temujin concealed himself here in a narrow dell among
the mountains, not far from the road where Vang Khan would have to
pass along. The dell was narrow, and was protected by precipitous
rocks on each side. There was a wood at the entrance to it also, which
concealed those that were hidden in it from view, and a brook which
flowed by near the entrance, so that, in going in or coming out, it
was necessary to ford the brook.

Temujin, on arriving at the spot, went with all his troops into the
dell, and concealed himself there.

In the mean time, the guard that had been left behind in the camp had
been instructed to kindle up the camp-fires as soon as the evening
came on, according to the usual custom, and to set lights in the
tents, so as to give the camp the appearance, when seen from a little
distance in the night, of being occupied, as usual, by the army. They
were to wait, and watch the fires and lights until they perceived
signs of the approach of the enemy to attack the camp, when they were
secretly to retire on the farther side, and so make their escape.

These preparations, and the march of Temujin's troops to the place of
ambuscade, occupied almost the whole of the day, and it was near
evening before the last of the troops had entered the dell.

They had scarce accomplished this manoeuvre before Vang Khan's army
arrived. Vang Khan himself was not with them. He had intrusted the
expedition to the command of Sankum and Yemuka. Indeed, it is probable
that they were the real originators and contrivers of it, and that
Vang Khan had only been induced to give his consent to it--and that
perhaps reluctantly--by their persuasions. Sankum and Yemuka advanced
cautiously at the head of their columns, and when they saw the
illumination of the camp produced by the lights and the camp-fires,
they thought at once that all was right, and that their old enemy and
rival was now, at last, within their reach and at their mercy.

They brought up the men as near to the camp as they could come without
being observed, and then, drawing their bows and making their arrows
ready, they advanced furiously to the onset, and discharged an immense
shower of arrows in among the tents. They expected to see thousands of
men come rushing out from the tents, or starting up from the ground at
this sudden assault, but, to their utter astonishment, all was as
silent and motionless after the falling of the arrows as before. They
then discharged more arrows, and, finding that they could not awaken
any signs of life, they began to advance cautiously and enter the
camp. They found, of course, that it had been entirely evacuated. They
then rode round and round the inclosure, examining the ground with
flambeaux and torches to find the tracks which Temujin's army had made
in going away. The tracks were soon discovered. Those who first saw
them immediately set off in pursuit of the fugitives, as they supposed
them, shouting, at the same time, for the rest to follow. Some did
follow immediately. Others, who had strayed away to greater or less
distances on either side of the camp in search of the tracks, fell in
by degrees as they received the order, while others still remained
among the tents, where they were to be seen riding to and fro,
endeavoring to make discoveries, or gathering together in groups to
express to one another their astonishment, or to inquire what was next
to be done. They, however, all gradually fell into the ranks of those
who were following the track which had been found, and the whole body
went on as fast as they could go, and in great confusion. They all
supposed that Temujin and his troops were making a precipitate
retreat, and were expecting every moment to come up to him in his
rear, in which case he would be taken at great disadvantage, and would
be easily overwhelmed.

Instead of this, Temujin was just coming forward from his
hiding-place, with his squadrons all in perfect order, and advancing
in a firm, steady, and compact column, all being ready at the word of
command to charge in good order, but with terrible impetuosity, upon
the advancing enemy. In this way the two armies came together. The
shock of the encounter was terrific. Temujin, as might have been
expected, was completely victorious. The confused masses of Vang
Khan's army were overborne, thrown into dreadful confusion, and
trampled under foot. Great numbers were killed. Those that escaped
being killed at once turned and fled. Sankum was wounded in the face
by an arrow, but he still was able to keep his seat upon his horse,
and so galloped away. Those that succeeded in saving themselves got
back as soon as they could into the road by which they came, and so
made their way, in detached and open parties, home to Karakorom.

Of course, after this, Vang Khan could no longer dissimulate his
hostility to Temujin, and both parties prepared for open war.

The different historians through whom we derive our information in
respect to the life and adventures of Genghis Khan have related the
transactions which occurred after this open outbreak between Temujin
and Vang Khan somewhat differently. Combining their accounts, we learn
that both parties, after the battle, opened negotiations with such
neighboring tribes as they supposed likely to take sides in the
conflict, each endeavoring to gain as many adherents as possible to
his own cause. Temujin obtained the alliance and co-operation of a
great number of Tartar princes who ruled over hordes that dwelt in
that part of the country, or among the mountains around. Some of these
chieftains were his relatives. Others were induced to join him by
being convinced that he would, in the end, prove to be stronger than
Vang Khan, and being, in some sense, politicians as well as warriors,
they wished to be sure of coming out at the close of the contest on
the victorious side.

There was a certain khan, named Turkili, who was a relative of
Temujin, and who commanded a very powerful tribe. On approaching the
confines of his territory, Temujin, not being certain of Turkili's
disposition toward him, sent forward an embassador to announce his
approach, and to ask if Turkili still retained the friendship which
had long subsisted between them. Turkili might, perhaps, have
hesitated which side to join, but the presence of Temujin with his
whole troop upon his frontier seems to have determined him, so he sent
a favorable answer, and at once espoused Temujin's cause.

Many other chieftains joined Temujin in much the same way, and thus
the forces under his command were constantly increased. At length, in
his progress across the country, he came with his troop of followers
to a place where there was a stream of salt or bitter water which was
unfit to drink. Temujin encamped on the shores of this stream, and
performed a grand ceremony, in which he himself and his allies banded
themselves together in the most solemn manner. In the course of the
ceremony a horse was sacrificed on the shores of the stream. Temujin
also took up some of the water from the brook and drank it, invoking
heaven, at the same time, to witness a solemn vow which he made, that,
as long as he lived, he would share with his officers and soldiers the
bitter as well as the sweet, and imprecating curses upon himself if he
should ever violate his oath. All his allies and officers did the same
after him.

This ceremony was long remembered in the army, all those who had been
present and had taken part in it cherishing the recollection of it
with pride and pleasure; and long afterward, when Temujin had attained
to the height of his power and glory, his generals considered their
having been present at this first solemn league and covenant as
conferring upon them a sort of title of nobility, by which they and
their descendants were to be distinguished forever above all those
whose adhesion to the cause of the conqueror dated from a later time.

By this time Temujin began to feel quite strong. He moved on with his
army till he came to the borders of a lake which was not a great way
from Vang Khan's dominions. Here he encamped, and, before proceeding
any farther, he determined to try the effect, upon the mind of Vang
Khan, of a letter of expostulation and remonstrance; so he wrote to
him, substantially, as follows:

"A great many years ago, in the time of my father, when you
were driven from your throne by your enemies, my father came
to your aid, defeated your enemies, and restored you.

"At a later time, after I had come into your dominions, your
brother conspired against you with the Markats and the
Naymans. I defeated them, and helped you to recover your
power. When you were reduced to great distress, I shared
with you my flocks and every thing that I had.

"At another time, when you were in circumstances of great
danger and distress, you sent to me to ask that my four
intrepids might go and rescue you. I sent them according to
your request, and they delivered you from a most imminent
danger. They helped you to conquer your enemies, and to
recover an immense booty from them.

"In many other instances, when the khans have combined
against you, I have given you most effectual aid in subduing

"How is it, then, after receiving all these benefits from me
for a period of so many years, that you form plans to
destroy me in so base and treacherous a manner?"

This letter seems to have produced some impression upon Vang Khan's
mind; but he was now, it seems, so much under the influence of Sankum
and Yemuka that he could decide nothing for himself. He sent the
letter to Sankum to ask him what answer should be returned. But
Sankum, in addition to his former feelings of envy and jealousy
against Temujin, was now irritated and angry in consequence of the
wound that he had received, and determined to have his revenge. He
would not hear of any accommodation.

In the mean time, the khans of all the Tartar and Mongul tribes that
lived in the countries bordering on Vang Khan's dominions, hearing of
the rupture between Vang Khan and Temujin, and aware of the great
struggle for the mastery between these two potentates that was about
to take place, became more and more interested in the quarrel. Temujin
was very active in opening negotiations with them, and in endeavoring
to induce them to take his side. He was a comparatively young and
rising man, while Vang Khan was becoming advanced in years, and was
now almost wholly under the influence of Sankum and Yemuka. Temujin,
moreover, had already acquired great fame and great popularity as a
commander, and his reputation was increasing every day, while Vang
Khan's glory was evidently on the wane. A great number of the khans
were, of course, predisposed to take Temujin's side. Others he
compelled to join him by force, and others he persuaded by promising
to release them from the exactions and the tyranny which Vang Khan had
exercised over them, and declaring that he was a messenger especially
sent from heaven to accomplish their deliverance. Those Asiatic tribes
were always ready to believe in military messengers sent from heaven
to make conquests for their benefit.

Among other nations who joined Temujin at this time were the people of
his own country of Mongolistan Proper. He was received very joyfully
by his stepfather, who was in command there, and by all his former
subjects, and they all promised to sustain him in the coming war.

After a time, when Temujin had by these and similar means greatly
increased the number of his adherents, and proportionately
strengthened his position, he sent an embassador again to Vang Khan to
propose some accommodation. Vang Khan called a council to consider the
proposal. But Sankum and Yemuka persisted in refusing to allow any
accommodation to be made. They declared that they would not listen to
proposals of peace on any other condition than that of the absolute
surrender of Temujin, and of all who were confederate with him, to
Vang Khan as their lawful sovereign. Sankum himself delivered the
message to the embassador.

"Tell the rebel Monguls," said he, "that they are to expect no peace
but by submitting absolutely to the khan's will; and as for Temujin, I
will never see him again till I come to him sword in hand to kill

Immediately after this Sankum and Yemuka sent off some small
plundering expeditions into the Mongul country, but they were driven
back by Temujin's troops without effecting their purpose. The result
of these skirmishes was, however, greatly to exasperate both parties,
and to lead them to prepare in earnest for open war.

Next: The Death Of Vang Khan

Previous: Rupture With Vang Khan

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 4503