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In the waning years of the civil war, the Shanghai municipal government confronted a thorny and unprecedented problem: tens of thousands of Subei refugees had taken shelter in the coffin repositories and temporary burial facilities owned by the city's native place associations. This article examines how the situation became a lightning rod of controversy in the context of the civil war. Drawing on new archival sources that capture the experiences of Subei refugees in their own words, it shows how a previously marginalized group invoked claims of righteous resistance to counter allegations of immoral and unlawful behavior. In doing so, Subei refugees asserted themselves at the center of debates about social rights and the legitimacy of the Nationalist government.