Last night at the open mic Mike Romano of the Forest Greens semi-rhetorically asked the audience about the history of General Tso. Langauge guru Matt Winn informed us that General Tso was not a real general and the word Tso meant something about the childlike qualities of a master. He said the name was symbolic of this ideal sort of master.
According to the Washington Post, Matt was blowing smoke up our asses.
General Tso Tsungtang, or as his name is spelled in modern Pinyin, Zuo Zongtang, was born on Nov. 10, 1812, and died on Sept. 5, 1885. He was a frighteningly gifted military leader during the waning of the Qing dynasty, a figure perhaps the Chinese equivalent of the American Civil War commander William Tecumseh Sherman. He served with brilliant distinction during China’s greatest civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, which claimed millions of lives.
Tso was utterly ruthless. He smashed the Taiping rebels in four provinces, put down an unrelated revolt called the Nian Rebellion, then marched west and reconquered Chinese Turkestan from Muslim rebels.