|Ever Victorious Army|
|Engagements||Nian Rebellion and Taiping Rebellions.|
|Ever Victorious Army|
The Ever Victorious Army (Chinese :常勝軍) was the name given to a small imperial army that fought rebels in late-19th-century China. It was directed and trained by Europeans. The Ever Victorious Army fought for the Qing Dynasty against the rebels of the Nian and Taiping Rebellions.
Though the Army was only active for a few years, from 1860 to 1864, it was instrumental in putting down the Taiping Rebellion. It was the first Chinese army which was trained in European techniques, tactics, and strategy. As such, it became a model for later Chinese armies.
The Ever Victorious Army had its beginnings as a force formed under the command of Frederick Townsend Ward in 1860, assisted by the local strategic support of the French diplomat Albert-Édouard Levieux de Caligny called "le breton" by the Chinese in the Shanghai French Concession. The Ever-Victorious Army repulsed another attack on Shanghai in 1862 and helped to defend other treaty ports such as Ningbo. They also aided imperial troops in reconquering Taiping strongholds along the Yangtze River. Qing forces were reorganised under the command of Zeng Guofan, Zuo Zongtang and Li Hongzhang, and the Qing reconquest began in earnest. By early 1864, Qing control in most areas was reestablished. Townsend Ward introduced what were for the time radical ideas involving force structure, training, discipline, and weaponry (though there are historians[ who? ] who question whether his lieutenant and confidant Li Hongzhang was also responsible for some of the then-unique ideas that forged the Ever Victorious Army). He believed in a more flexible command structure, and that well trained, disciplined, mobile units could defeat larger forces lacking these qualities. Following several early victories, the Qing dynasty officially bestowed the title "Ever Victorious Army" on the corps in March 1862.
The new force originally comprised about 200 mostly European mercenaries, enlisted in the Shanghai area from sailors, deserters and adventurers. Many were dismissed in the summer of 1861, but the remainder became the officers of 1,200 Chinese soldiers recruited by Ward in and around Sungkiang. The Chinese troops were increased to 3,000 by May 1862, all equipped with Western firearms and equipment by the British authorities in Shanghai. Throughout its four-year existence the Ever Victorious Army was mainly to operate within a thirty-mile radius of Shanghai.
The Ever Victorious Army numbered around 5,000 soldiers at its height. It often defeated rebel forces which were numerically much larger because it was better armed, better commanded, and better trained. It was the first Chinese army to incorporate western style training and tactics, modern weaponry, and most important, the concept of light infantry units which could move faster than their opponents.
Following Ward's death in September 1862 after the Battle of Cixi, command of the Ever Victorious Army passed, after a short period of time, to Charles George Gordon, known as "Chinese" Gordon. Under Gordon the Ever Victorious Army, in collaboration with the Chinese Imperial forces, would fight some of the final and decisive battles that ended the Taiping Rebellion. Li Hongzhang said of Gordon: "What a sight it is for tired eyes, what an elixir for a weary heart to watch this Englishman fight. Planning by day, executing by night, planning by night, executing by day; he is a glorious fellow."
The infantry of the Ever Victorious Army was organised into battalions, usually referred to during the period of Gordon's command as regiments. By 1864 there were six regiments numbering between 250 and 650 men. Each comprised six companies, with a nominal establishment of two foreign officers, seven Chinese non-commissioned officers and up to 80 Chinese privates. There was one Chinese interpreter per regiment, although commands were given exclusively in English which had to be learnt by rote.
Ward created a separate Bodyguard of Filipinos numbering 200–300. Under Gordon this force comprised a company of foreigners (including both Africans and Europeans) and 100 handpicked Chinese soldiers.
By 1863 the Ever Victorious Army included a separate artillery arm, comprising six batteries of Heavy and Light Artillery. Each had an establishment of five foreign officers, 19 Chinese non-commissioned officers and 120–150 Chinese gunners.
Ward bought and chartered a flotilla of about twelve armed paddle steamers, supported by 30–50 Chinese gunboats. Under Gordon this small navy dwindled to two steamers, subsequently increased to six. Both steamers and gunboats were fitted with 9- or 12-pounder bow-guns. The largest vessel was the Hyson , which was 90 feet long and carried a 32-pounder gun as well as a 12-pounder howitzer.
According to the North China Herald, the Bodyguard wore blue uniforms with scarlet facings and green shoulder straps bearing unit identification in Chinese characters. Artillerymen wore light blue uniforms with red facings and trouser stripes. Infantry wore dark green in winter dress with red facings and shoulder straps in regimental colours. In summer all branches wore white uniforms with scarlet facings. All units wore green turbans.
Gordon's stringent discipline led to an increase in desertions and several small scale mutinies.[ citation needed ] Accordingly, by June 1863 the force had declined in numbers to 1,700 men. In the final year of its existence, the Ever Victorious Army was largely recruited from former Taiping rebels who had been taken prisoner and persuaded to change sides. By April 1864 the Army had become less effective and had suffered several setbacks. It was disbanded in May 1864 with 104 foreign officers and 2,288 Chinese soldiers being paid off. The bulk of the artillery and some infantry transferred to the Chinese Imperial forces.
Robert Jordan named the Seanchan army in his Wheel of Time fantasy series after the Ever Victorious Army.
Ward turns up in George MacDonald Fraser's fictional The Flashman Papers series novel Flashman and the Dragon as a Yangtse opium smuggler (apocryphal) and as the leader of the embryonic Ever Victorious Army.
Ward appears as Fletcher Thorson Wood in the novel Yang Shen by James Lande, which relates the tale of the first three years of the Ever Victorious Army, from its beginning as the Foreign Rifles in 1860 through September 1862.
Red refers to Blue and the Ever Victorious Army burning down a palace in the time-travel novel This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
Gordon and the Ever-Victorious Army are mentioned in the George Lancing novel 'Imperial Motherhood'.
The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion or civil war that was waged in China from 1850 to 1864, between the established Qing dynasty and the theocratic Taiping Heavenly Kingdom - though following the fall of Nanjing the last rebel army was not wiped out until 1871. After fighting the bloodiest civil war in world history, with some historians believing fatalities to be as high as 70 million, the established Qing government won decisively, although the outcome is considered a pyrrhic victory.
Li Hongzhang, Marquess Suyi was a Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late Qing dynasty. He quelled several major rebellions and served in important positions in the Qing imperial court, including the Viceroy of Zhili, Huguang and Liangguang.
Zeng Guofan, Marquis Yiyong, birth name Zeng Zicheng, courtesy name Bohan, was a Chinese statesman, military general, and Confucian scholar of the late Qing dynasty. He is best known for raising and organizing the Xiang Army to aid the Qing military in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion and restoring the stability of the Qing Empire. Along with other prominent figures such as Zuo Zongtang and Li Hongzhang of his time, Zeng set the scene for the Tongzhi Restoration, an attempt to arrest the decline of the Qing dynasty. Zeng was known for his strategic perception, administrative skill and noble personality on Confucian practice, but also for his ruthlessness in repressing rebellions.
Li Xiucheng was a military rebel commander opposing the Qing dynasty during the Taiping Rebellion. He was born to a peasant family. In 1864, he was captured and interrogated at the third and final Battle of Nanjing. He was then executed by Zeng Guofan.
Frederick Townsend Ward was an American sailor and soldier of fortune known for his military service in Imperial China during the Taiping Rebellion.
The Nian Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in northern China from 1851 to 1868, contemporaneously with Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) in South China. The rebellion failed to topple the Qing dynasty, but caused immense economic devastation and loss of life that became major long-term factors in the collapse of the Qing regime in the early 20th century.
The Battle of Cixi or Battle of Tzeki (慈溪之戰) was a victory for Qing imperial forces led by American soldier of fortune Frederick Townsend Ward against Taiping Rebels in late Qing Dynasty China. By 1862 Ward, who recently scored several victories for the imperial forces, had raised an army for the defense of Shanghai. On 20 September he attacked the walled city of Cixi (Tzeki) ten miles outside Ningbo. During the attack Ward was mortally wounded but remained in the field until victory was assured. He died the next day and command of his army: British COL Forrester,, declined the honor to lead the Forces.
Flashman and the Dragon is a 1985 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the eighth of the Flashman novels.
The Xiang Army or Hunan Army was a standing army organized by Zeng Guofan from existing regional and village militia forces called tuanlian to contain the Taiping Rebellion in Qing China. The name is taken from the Hunan region where the Army was raised. The Army was financed through local nobles and gentry, as opposed to through the centralized Manchu-led Qing dynasty. The army was mostly disbanded by Zeng after the re-capture of the Taiping capital at Nanking.
Cheng Xueqi (Chinese: 程學啟; courtesy name Fangzhong 方忠; born in Tongcheng, Anhui, was a general of the Taiping Rebellion who surrendered to the Qing dynasty in 1861 with Ding Ruchang. He was an eminent Han Chinese official and a Captain General in the army of the late Qing dynasty. He led the Huai Army to fight effectively against the Taiping rebels and helped to restore the stability of Qing, along with other prominent figures, including Li Hongzhang and Zeng Guofan, setting the scene for the successful defense of Shanghai and the Suzhou Massacre POW Incident. The Tongzhi Emperor praised Cheng as "intelligent and brave".
Henry Andres Burgevine (1836–1865) was an American sailor of French ancestry, mercenary and soldier of fortune, who became famous for his military victories for Imperial China during the Taiping Rebellion.
The Battle of Shanghai (太平軍二攻上海) was a major engagement of the Taiping Rebellion that occurred from June 1861 to July 1862. British and French troops used modern artillery on a large scale for the first time in China. Cannon fire inflicted heavy casualties on the Taiping forces, whose commander Li Xiucheng was wounded in the left leg by a shot fired from a cannon.
The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, later shortened to Heavenly Kingdom or Heavenly Dynasty, was an unrecognized oppositional state in China and Chinese Christian theocratic absolute monarchy from 1851 to 1864, supporting the overthrow of the Qing dynasty by Hong Xiuquan and his followers. The unsuccessful war it waged against the Qing is known as the Taiping Rebellion. Its capital was at Tianjing.
Tan Shaoguang was a military leader of the Taiping Rebellion. During his military tenure he was known as the King of Mu (慕王). As a young soldier he joined the Jintian Uprising. After several years he was promoted to general, and led the Taiping forces to many military victories. He was awarded the E An in 1861. He was murdered by traitors after an interrogation in 1863.
The Qing dynasty (1636–1912) was established by conquest and maintained by armed force. The founding emperors personally organized and led the armies, and the continued cultural and political legitimacy of the dynasty depended on the ability to defend the country from invasion and expand its territory. Therefore, military institutions, leadership, and finance were fundamental to the dynasty's initial success and ultimate decay. The early military system centered on the Eight Banners, a hybrid institution that also played social, economic, and political roles. The Banner system was developed on an informal basis as early as 1601, and formally established in 1615 by Jurchen leader Nurhaci (1559–1626), the retrospectively recognized founder of the Qing. His son Hong Taiji (1592–1643), who renamed the Jurchens "Manchus," created eight Mongol banners to mirror the Manchu ones and eight "Han-martial" banners manned by Chinese who surrendered to the Qing before the full-fledged conquest of China proper began in 1644. After 1644, the Ming Chinese troops that surrendered to the Qing were integrated into the Green Standard Army, a corps that eventually outnumbered the Banners by three to one.
Events from the year 1860 in China.
Events from the year 1862 in China.
Confucius was an early armed riverboat of the Qing Dynasty, and one of the earliest modern vessels of China.
Hyson is an early gunboat of the Qing Dynasty.
Firefly is an armed steamer of the Ever Victorious Army, who fought for the Qing Dynasty against the rebels of the Taiping Rebellion in 1860 to 1864. She was briefly captured by Taiping troops and renamed Ti-ping under their service.