Between 1853 and 1858, the militia and hired braves of Luhe county, Jiangsu, distinguished themselves by successfully defending against Taiping attack when surrounding counties and cities all fell. The historian Xu Zi (1810–62) served as a militia leader, commanding a company of troops and working to raise funds to pay for provisions. At the same time, he was writing his history of the Southern Ming Courts: Annals of a Fallen State, With Appended Annotations (Xiaotian jinian fukao). In his history, Xu Zi included anecdotes of his wartime experiences, writing the Taiping War into the history of the Southern Ming. What does history do? Xu Zi hoped it could help establish and maintain the coherence of the forces fighting the Taiping. To that end, he presented exemplary figures from the past for people of his own time to emulate, and he narrated those stories to his fellow soldiers. At the same time, his work suggests that the practices of the historian—including investigation of sources, expressions of emotion, and evaluation of policy—could provide avenues for defeating the Taiping. By writing himself into his history of the Southern Ming, he showed how the past could become a tool of war.