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THE CHINESE ARMY.

GOO.I) FIGH.TERS IN TWR ROWH. ; During his visjt to China in 1?98» Lord Charlea Beresford made full inquiries as to the strength, efficiency, and organisation of the naval and military .forces of China. In order to find exit how the forces were equipped and maintained, he visited all the arsenals. " No one," he says, " knows the strength of the Chinese, army, not even the Chinese Government itself. The military forces are divided. Some are Manchu, and some are Chinese. The Manchu forces are quite exclusive, no Chinese serving in their ranks ; bu,t the Chinese forces have some Manchu among them. The armies in the north and about Pekin are nearly all cemjnanded by Manchu princes. • The Manchu armies are supposed to be 170,000 strong, but there is no j^anchu army efficient in drill, discipline, or organisation throughout the Empire. 'The ilanchu force is divid&d and quartered in in^t of the 'big towns throughout China, such a« Nanking^ Foochqw, .Canton, and other p'kees: •" : - L' ! ' ' ■ : :v - J ' " All ' tße Manchu armies are * under the command of Manchu ' or Tartar generals. They have considerable privileges over and above those allowed to' the Chinese: Every Manchu, whether in the army or not, is supposed to be given his rice and three taels a month by the Government. If net belonging to the army, he is" likely to be enrolled if required. Nobody knows the amount of Imperial taxation that is devoted .to pay the Manchus. It is variously estimated as from one to three millions. Like other sums dn the hands of the. Government, most of the money finds its way into the pockets of officials, and is not expended as intended, The Viceroys have no command or authority over Manchu armies commanded by Manchu generals. . . " All the armies in the provinces are maintained at the expense of the Viceroys, witn the exception of the Manchu garrisons. In the province of Chih-li General Yuan Shi KaiVarmy and the Imperial troops at and around 'Pekin are'feaahtatoed by the Board of Revenue- out of Imperial taxes. " c . These iS'tate-p" aid r 'arnuies are not* supjioaed to be 'sent away^from" the vicinitjr of Pe'kxn. u Every; ' soldier throughout" the 'Empire^ is supposed to -receive three taels (9s) a month. There are different systems in every 'province- and in every army as to pay, food, and clothing. In some armies the men are paid to' feed .and clothe themselves. In ether armies the men are fed and clothed. This matter is left entirely in the hands of the general commanding. As the. generals, like all other authorities in China, have only a nominal salary, they make large profits or squeezes during their command. "In order to report an instance, I questioned one of those in command when in Pekin. He informed me that he commanded 10,000 men. I ascertained that all he actually . commanded was 800. Has method is common in China. He receives, the money to pay and feed and clothe 10,000 men. If his army was to be inspected, he hires coolies at s£d a day to appear on parade. This is well known to the inspecting officer, bufc he receives a douceur to report that he has inspected the army and has found it in perfect order." The Chinese army is entirely a voluntary service, but when a man has joined it he finds'it difficult, if not impossible, to leave it. . . . . The only complete army in , all details Lofd Charles found in China was that commanded by General Yuan Shi Kai. If all the Chinese generals were like him, the army would mot be in th« condition it is now. The strength of Shi Kai's army is 7400 men, mostly Shantung men. These and the Hunanese are reported to make the best soldiers in China. The infantry were armed with Mauser rifles. .The general had ten *$-gun batteries -of artillery of different calibres, throwing from lib to 6lb projectiles.; The cavalry were armed with lances and a Mauser 'infantry rifle. ' On parade the whole? forces appeared an, exceptionally smart -bedy" of men, of exteenteiy fine physique.— Their" discipline was excellent. With the exception of the artillery and the Maxims, all the equipment was serviceable and. efficient "General Sung, who is reputed to be a very able man, but ds now eighty years old, has ; an.army supposed to-be 20,000 strong, scattered all over along the coast about KinchoT?. As a matter cf fact., Lord Beresford could not make out more than 10,000 men — 5000 at Kinchow, 3000 at Chung-ho-80^ and 2000 at Shanhaikwan. They were" well armed with Mauser rifles, and had Krupp artillery. As to General Soon Ching's army of 15,000 men, said to be at Lutad, there were only between 7000 and 8000. Some Russian officers, who had superseded five Ger-< man officers, had been instructing the men. There was no drill, and very little discipline j among, these men. General Tung Fu Chan's army was mostly a disorderly and undisciplined rabble of about .10,000 Kansuh troops, badfy armed and drilled, but good fighters. Their presence was deemed so dangerous to the foreigners that the Foreign Ministers demanded their withdrawal. General Nieh's army, containing about 13,000 men, had been well drilled by German officers. ' The men were armed with Mausers,' artillery of mixed calibre, and Maxims, but their discipline was lax. There were five Russian instructors with this army. ' The Pekin field force of especially picked men: — 10,000 strong — were well armed, but indifferently drilled. It was reported, Lord Charles states, that there was a very large.army scattered about in- Manchuria. The number was variously estimated as between 8000 and 15,000, and the men were said to ba fairly armed, though undriiled and undisciplined. There were also in Mongolia about 100,000 cavalry — excellent men, rand ruled by their own princes, under a system of feudal tenure. These men are said to be devoted to the present j dynasty. • . . ; ," With the exception," says Lord Charles, "of Yuan Shi Kai's army, all the „armiesabqve:;refeiTed-to have little or no firing practice, and none of them have any organisation for transport. It ..seems incredible, but some M. the soldiers are still practised in shooting with bows and arrows at a target. „ When at Pekin I saw them, practising, in an open space nea"r the' Observatory. Hitting the target is a . detail of .minor importance; the, real merit consists in the pesition or attitude of the bowman when discharging his shaft." Chung Chi Tung has an army of about 6000 troops scattered over his province (Hupei) ,and are of the same character as the ordinary Chinese soldier— undisciplined, but fairly armed. Besides these there are supposed to be 10,000 Manchu troops about 300 miles away, between the $ung Tung Lakeland Ichang^tcT tha north, jindeiv t&W command of a general named Ghing JJeng. THey 'are also "undiscipliiiea; Pand' VeW'badfy armed: , " The Viceroy. Liv Kwen Vi is said to have 20,000 troops under his commajid-, and Lord Charles saw abcut 8000 of them, and he deecribes them as a fine body of. men, many 0? them of-splendid physique; "The infantry were armed with three 'different lands of rifles.' • • ' ■" ;■' ' At Kiangzin, Lord BeresforS f saw-a garrji, son of 3000 men under General Li, and he describes them as a fine lot, well turned- out and well drilled. The Viceroy Hsu Ying Kwei is supposed toiha-veanarmyof some 8000 men, but these men, said the English visitor, could not bo' called soldiers at all. They Avere mostly, coolies. ........"'■ The Viceroy of Canton is said to have about 20,000 men under his command, bufc most of them were undriiled and undisciplined, and many of them unarmed. There is also a Manchu garrison at Canton, but they, are badly armed,, and have no system of organisation whatever. Ins Hunan and Szuchuan th© Viceroy Kwei is said to have an army of 20,000 men, but they were totally undisciplined. At Chengtu is a garrison of 5000 Manchu troops, but they were like the others — undisciplined, undriiled, badly armed, and totally ineffective. . During his visit to the different armies Lord Charges counted fourteen different de-

scriptions of rifles; three. different patterns cf Mausers,' Martini-Henry, Winchester repeating, Mannlicher, Remington, PeabodyHenry, Snider, ' Enfield, Tower Muskets (smooth bore), Berdan, muzzle-loading Gin;gal, breech-loading Gingal. A Gingal is a weapon about 9ft or 10ft long. Their weights vary from 401 b to 601 b. Three men are required to handle them • when in action , tie Gingal is laid along the shoulders of two men, while the third man fires it. • " Many other points were brought to my notice." says Lord Beresford, " which would be ludicrous if they were not so pitiful. The Consul at.Wuchow told me that during the j late riots soldiers were armed with every sort of weapott--guns, rifles, and blunderbusses. They also carried long brass horns and gongs, and other instruments to make discordant noises.. Many were totally unarmed, and carried only a bird cage and fan, being know"; as soldiers by £h«ir military badge. . ' . • " It must not be imaginedTthat the Ghinese would make bad soldiers. From all I have heard and seen I believe they would make ;. splendid soldiers if properly, trained. They have all. the charact jristdes necessary to make a good' soldier." . .

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TS19000728.2.67

Bibliographic details

THE CHINESE ARMY., Star, Issue 6859, 28 July 1900

Word Count
1,538

THE CHINESE ARMY. Star, Issue 6859, 28 July 1900

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