This Day In History: The Dogmeat General, China's Basest Warlord

By Ned Kelly, September 3, 2020

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On September 3, 1932 shots rang out on platform 3 of Jinan Railway Station, Shangdong province and a tall figure slumped to the ground. The dead man was the notorious Zhang Zongchang, dubbed by Time "China's basest warlord.”

He wasn’t just one of the most brutal and ruthless though, he was also one of the most colorful. A man of many monikers, he was known as the Dogmeat General due to a fondness for the gambling game pai gow, or ‘eating dog meat.’ His international cast of concubines – including Koreans, Japanese, Russians, French and Americans – were so numerous he could not remember their names, so they were simply given numbers.


Dogmeat liked a concubine... or nine. Image via Sina

Zhang’s army was said to number some 50,000, including 4,600 White Russian refugees, complete with pseudo-Tsarist uniforms and regalia. During one of his campaigns, he publicly announced he would win the battle or come home in his coffin. When his troops were forced back he was true to his word, parading through the streets sitting in his coffin and smoking a large cigar.

Victory came more often than defeat though. In April 1925 he conquered Shanghai and then Nanjing, and was subsequently appointed governor of Shandong (he still traveled to Shanghai for carousing and opium smoking sessions). His rule was infamously corrupt, however, and it came back to haunt him: his assassin turned out to be the nephew of one of his many victims.


For more This Day in History stories, click here.

[Top image via Wikimedia Commons]

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