Armies of the 19th Century: Asia - CHINA
Armies of the 19th Century: Asia
by Ian Heath
Despite the fact that the very longevity of their ancient civilisation had led to stagnation, the 19th-century Chinese still regarded themselves as the world’s only truly civilised people, and held all other countries in contempt. This attitude and the Celestial Empire’s traditional distrust of all foreigners, exacerbated by misunderstandings and high-handed behaviour on both sides, guaranteed that relations between the Empire and the Western world could only deteriorate as the century wore on, and resulted in war, invasion, and political humiliation. Defeat in its wars with the British in 1839–42 and 1858–60 underlined the utter ineffectiveness of China’s antiquated armed forces and inspired a series of bloody insurrections between the 1850s and 1870s which resulted in the loss of tens of millions of lives. Every war against a foreign power ended in ignominious defeat, and in 1900 Peking itself was occupied by a multi-national expeditionary force sent in to rescue its nationals from xenophobic Boxer rebels. In this book Ian Heath provides an illustrated study of the Empire’s armed forces during this turbulent period, including its complex organisational structure, its arms and uniforms, and its tactics. Such foreign-officered units as the Ever-Victorious Army (led by American Frederick Ward and later by Charles Gordon of subsequent Khartoum fame) are also covered, as are the armies of the many revolutionary movements, including the Taipings, Boxers, Panthays, Miao, Tungans, and Nien. Illustrations include 183 drawings of warriors and soldiers, 39 other illustrations, and six maps.