Born in Xiangxiang, Hunan province, Zeng Guofan was a *Mandarin scholar-official, a writer and poet. He was responsible in 1853 for raising a local force in Hunan, the *Xiang Army, to halt the *Taiping advance. Its successes there and elsewhere led to Zeng’s appointment as Viceroy of Liangjiang (1860–4), and in 1862 as assistant Grand Secretary of State. Further victories against the Taiping led to Zeng’s dispatch in 1864 against the *Nian Rebellion in Shandong, where he was partially successful. He was made Viceroy of Zhili (1868–70), before taking semi-retirement as Viceroy of Liangjiang from 1870–2.