Wuwei Corps

Last updated

Troops of the Wuwei Corps led by Yuan Shikai escorting Empress Dowager Cixi back to the Forbidden City in 1902 Wuwei Right Troop1.jpg
Troops of the Wuwei Corps led by Yuan Shikai escorting Empress Dowager Cixi back to the Forbidden City in 1902

The Wuwei Corps [1] (simplified Chinese : ; traditional Chinese : ; pinyin :Wǔwèijūn; Wade–Giles :Wu-wei chün) [2] or Guards Army [2] [3] was a modernised army unit of the Qing dynasty. Made up of infantry, cavalry and artillery, it was formed in May [3] or June 1899 and trained by western military advisers. The guard took responsibility for the security of Peking (Beijing) and the Forbidden City, with Ronglu as its supreme commander. This move was an attempt by the Qing imperial court to create a western-style army equipped with modern weaponry following the Qing Empire's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. Three out of the five divisions of the Wuwei Corps were disbanded after two years due to attrition caused by the Boxer Rebellion.

Contents

Formation

Empress Dowager Cixi held supreme power at the Qing imperial court after she placed the Guangxu Emperor under house arrest. Ronglu, who controlled the Grand Council and the Ministry of Defence, subsequently received orders to recruit a 90,000-men army drawn from various units under the control of Nie Shicheng, Song Qing, Dong Fuxiang and Yuan Shikai. [4] [5] [6]

Five Divisions of the Wuwei

The corps consisted of five "divisions" described as "regiments" by some sources: [1] Left, Right, Front, Rear, and Center [2] [3] [lower-alpha 1]

Wuwei Divisions
DivisionCommander
FrontNie Shicheng
Rear Dong Fuxiang
LeftSong Qing
Right Yuan Shikai
CentreRonglu

Of these, "by far the strongest" [2] was Yuan Shikai's Right Division, which was merely a rebranding of his existing New Army formed in 1895, [3] while Nie Shicheng's Front Division, trained by German military advisers, ranked as second best. [7] These two divisions enjoyed the advantage of a modernised infantry military system and training, while the other three divisions still employed the traditional Manchu Banners Army system. Differences in the prowess of the divisions became apparent during training, even though the entire Guards Army had the same modern weaponry.

Prior to the creation of the Wuwei Corps, Nie Shicheng's Front Division was known as the "Tenacious Army" ( Wuyi jun, [lower-alpha 2] ), [2] while Song Qing's troops previously bore the name "Resolute Army" (毅軍 Yi jun). [8] These armies were similarly armed with Mauser rifles and Maxim machine guns. [2]

Dong Fuxiang (Tung Fu-hsiang) led an army of Muslim warriors, dubbed "the 10,000 Islamic rabble" in the West at the time. [7] In China, Dong's troops were familiarly known as the "Gan army" (甘軍 [lower-alpha 3] ) which used the abbreviated name of Gansu Province where many of these soldiers originated. "Gan army" is a literal translation, but English sources usually use the paraphrased name "Kansu Braves". [7]

By imperial edict, Ronglu received nominal command of the entire Wuwei Corps. [9] His initial task was to incorporate the four pre-existing divisions within the new structure of the Wuwei Corps. [9] Ronglu later added the Centre Division with himself as commander, a unit composed mostly of Manchu bannermen. [9] [lower-alpha 4]

Boxer Uprising

During the war against the Eight-Nation Alliance, the Front Division, Rear Division and the Center Division suffered heavy casualties and were disbanded following signature of the Boxer Protocol. The Right Division and the Left Division remained in Shandong Province to suppress a group of Boxers known as the Yihetuan rebels. Both these units remained at full strength as they had not come up against troops of the foreign powers.

From March 1899 onwards at the height of the Boxer conflict, Ma Yukun (馬玉崑) and Jiang Guiti became co-commanders alongside Song Qing at the head of the Left Division. [10]

Explanatory notes

  1. Although the Chinese names for these units featured the stem jun, literally "corps" or "army", recent studies in English appear to coalesce around referring to these units as "divisions" (Purcell 2010, Wang 1995, etc. probably after Powell 1972). The transition from "army" to "divisions" was expressed in one study as follows: "Jung-lu [Ronglu] then proceeded to reorganize the four armies (now divisions)".Purcell 2010 , p. 29
  2. ; Wǔyì jūn; Wu-i chün
  3. 甘军; 甘軍; Gān Jūn; Kan Chün
  4. During this period, despite his appointment to the Grand Council, Ronglu retained command of the Beiyang Army that defended the capital region. [2]

Citations

  1. 1 2 Ding 1986, p. 47.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Powell 1972, pp. 102–103.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Wang 1995, p.  71: "In May 1899, Yuan Shikai, commander of China's strongest army, the Wuwei Youjun or the Right Division (new name for Yuan's Newly Created Army) of the Guards Army [Note: The Guards Army or Wuwei Jun included Left, Right, Front, Rear, and Center Divisions]..."
  4. Liu 1978.
  5. Guo Hui 郭辉 (2009). "An Account of Ronglu's Military Activities" 荣禄军事活动述论 (Thesis) (in Chinese). M.A. Thesis, Hebei University.
  6. "The specifics of 'Cixi's westward journey' ("慈禧西行"始末)". Xinhai Net (辛亥革命网) (in Chinese). 2010-12-06. Archived from the original on 2012-08-12. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
  7. 1 2 3 Bodin 1979, p. 26.
  8. Powell 1972, pp. 102–103; Bodin 1979, p. 26.
  9. 1 2 3 Purcell 2010, p. 29.
  10. Ding 1986, p. 47 ("On the Chinese side, the left regiment of the Wuwei division led by Ma Yukun and the Lian division of Zhili led by He Yongsheng were putting up a stubborn defence within the city"; Rhoads 2011, p. 82 ("It looked to Jian Guiti (1843-1922), commander of the Left Division of the Guards Army"; Liu 1978, p. 98 ("時間:光緒二十五年二月至宣統三年九月(1899年3月至1911年12月)... 總統: 宋慶 馬玉崑 姜桂題 二十一~三十五營 武衛左軍" [translation: "Time: March 1899 to December 1911, commander: Song Qing, Ma Yukun, Jiang Guiti. 21–35 battalions. Guards Army's Left Division"].

Related Research Articles

Yuan Shikai Chinese military and government official (1859-1916)

Yuan Shikai was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty, becoming the Emperor of the Empire of China (1915–1916). He tried to save the dynasty with a number of modernization projects including bureaucratic, fiscal, judicial, educational, and other reforms, despite playing a key part in the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform. He established the first modern army and a more efficient provincial government in North China in the last years of the Qing dynasty before the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Through negotiation, he became the first official president of the Republic of China in 1912. This army and bureaucratic control were the foundation of his autocratic rule as the first formal President of the Republic of China. He was frustrated in a short-lived attempt to restore hereditary monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor. His death shortly after his abdication formalized the fragmentation of the Chinese political system and the end of the Beiyang government as China's central authority.

Boxer Rebellion Anti-imperialist uprising which took place in China

The Boxer Rebellion (拳亂), Boxer Uprising, or Yihetuan Movement (義和團運動) was an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising in China between 1899 and 1901, towards the end of the Qing dynasty.

Wuchang Uprising

The Wuchang Uprising was an armed rebellion against the ruling Qing dynasty that took place in Wuchang, Hubei, China on 10 October 1911, which was the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution that successfully overthrew China's last imperial dynasty. It was led by elements of the New Army, influenced by revolutionary ideas from Tongmenghui. The uprising and the eventual revolution directly led to the downfall of the Qing dynasty with almost three centuries of imperial rule, and the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC), which commemorates the anniversary of the uprising's starting date of 10 October as the National Day of the Republic of China.

New Army Qing dynasty modernised army in response to the first Sino-Japanese war

The New Armies, more fully called the Newly Created Army, was the modernized army corps formed under the Qing dynasty in December 1895, following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. It was envisioned as militia fully trained and equipped according to Western standards.

Beiyang Army Military faction dominating much of Republic of China and Warlord Era politics, originally established to modernize the Qing dynasty army

The Beiyang Army, named after the Beiyang region, was a powerful, Western-style Imperial Chinese Army established by the Qing Dynasty government in the late 19th century. It was the centerpiece of a general reconstruction of Qing China's military system. The Beiyang Army played a major role in Chinese politics for at least three decades and arguably right up to 1949. It made the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 possible, and, by dividing into warlord factions known as the Beiyang Clique, ushered in a period of regional division.

Nie Shicheng

Nie Shicheng was a Chinese general who served the Imperial government during the Boxer Rebellion. Rising from obscure origins from Hefei, Anhui Province, in the early 1850s, Nie Shicheng managed to pass the county examinations for bureaucratic positions, but due to the Taiping rebellion he was forced to abandon a bureaucratic career and become a soldier.

Ronglu Qing dynasty politician and military leader

Ronglu, courtesy name Zhonghua, was a Manchu political and military leader of the late Qing dynasty. He was born in the Guwalgiya clan, which was under the Plain White Banner of the Manchu Eight Banners. Deeply favoured by Empress Dowager Cixi, he served in a number of important civil and military positions in the Qing government, including the Zongli Yamen, Grand Council, Grand Secretary, Viceroy of Zhili, Beiyang Trade Minister, Secretary of Defence, Nine Gates Infantry Commander, and Wuwei Corps Commander. He was also the maternal grandfather of Puyi, the last Emperor of China and the Qing dynasty.

Baoding Military Academy

Baoding Military Academy or Paoting Military Academy was a military academy based in Baoding, Republican China, in the first two decades of the 20th century. For a time, it was the most important military academy in China, and its cadets played prominent roles in the political and military history of the Republic of China. The Baoding Military Academy closed in 1923, but served as a model for the Whampoa Military Academy, which was founded in Guangzhou in 1924. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, half of 300 divisions in China's armed forces were commanded by Whampoa graduates and one-third were Baoding cadets.

Guards army may refer to:

Dong Fuxiang

Dong Fuxiang (1839–1908), courtesy name Xingwu (星五), was a Chinese military general who lived in the late Qing dynasty. He was born in the western Chinese province of Gansu. He commanded an army of Hui soldiers, which included the later Ma clique generals Ma Anliang and Ma Fuxiang. According to the Western calendar, his birth date is in 1839.

He Fenglin

He Fenglin was a general in the Republic of China. He belonged to the Anhui clique and the Fengtian clique.

Duan Qirui

Duan Qirui was a Chinese warlord and politician, a commander of the Beiyang Army and the acting Chief Executive of the Republic of China from 1924 to 1926. He was also the Premier of the Republic of China on four occasions between 1913 and 1918. He was arguably the most powerful man in China from 1916 to 1920.

Battle of Yangxia

The Battle of Yangxia, also known as the Defense of Yangxia, was the largest military engagement of the Xinhai Revolution and was fought from October 18-December 1, 1911, between the revolutionaries of the Wuchang Uprising and the loyalist armies of the Qing Dynasty. The battle was waged in Hankou and Hanyang, which along with Wuchang collectively form the tri-cities of Wuhan in central China. Though outnumbered by the Qing armies and possessing inferior arms, the revolutionaries fought valiantly in defense of Hankou and Hanyang. After heavy and bloody fighting, the stronger loyalist forces eventually prevailed by taking over both cities, but 41 days of determined resistance by the Revolutionary Army allowed the revolution to strengthen elsewhere as other provinces defied the Qing Dynasty. The fighting ended after the commander-in-chief of the Qing forces, Gen. Yuan Shikai, agreed to a cease-fire and sent envoys to peace talks with the revolutionaries. Political negotiations eventually led to the abdication of the Last Emperor, the end of the Qing Dynasty and the formation of a unity government for the newly established Republic of China.

The Imperial Decree on events leading to the signing of Boxer Protocol is an imperial decree issued by the government of the Qing dynasty in the name of the Guangxu Emperor, as an official imperial statement on historical events such as Boxer Rebellion, Eight-Nation Alliance and Battle of Peking and Siege of the International Legations, detailing instructions given to Prince Qing and Li Hongzhang as the full representatives of the imperial court in negotiating a peace treaty with the foreign powers, prior to the official signing of the Boxer Protocol on 7 September 1901. This Imperial Decree was officially issued in the name of the Guangxu Emperor, bearing his official Imperial Seal, who was in reality under house arrest, ordered by Empress Dowager Cixi at that time, as the full administrative power was in the hand of the Empress Dowager.

The Nine Gates Infantry Commander was a military appointment used in the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) of China. The officer holding this appointment was in charge of safeguarding and monitoring traffic, and overseeing the opening times of the nine gates of the imperial capital, Beijing. The nine gates were Zhengyang Gate, Chongwen Gate, Anding Gate, Fucheng Gate, Xizhi Gate, Dongzhi Gate, Xuanwu Gate, Desheng Gate, and Chaoyang Gate. The officer's judicial responsibilities included night patrol, fire fighting, security checks of civilians, the apprehension and arrest of criminals, and prison keeping. He was also responsible for the security of the Forbidden City. Throughout the history of the Qing dynasty, the position was always held by Manchus rather than Han Chinese.

Yinchang

Yin Chang or In-ch'ang was a military official, ambassador to Germany, and educational reformer in the Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China. He was appointed the nation's first Minister of War in the late Qing Dynasty. Later, he also became the military Chief of Staff in the Beiyang Government. He was ethnic Manchu, and his family belonged to the Plain White Banner Clan of the Manchu Military Organization (滿洲正白旗); he held the title of Prince of that clan; at court he was addressed as Wu-lou.

Yin Changheng

Yin Changheng was a military leader in the Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China. He was a member of the Tongmenghui, and on the outbreak of the Xinhai Revolution he became one of the leaders of the revolutionary army in Sichuan. He was the first Military Governor of Sichuan Province and one of the founders of the Sichuan Army. His former name was Changyi (昌儀). Courtesy name was Shuo Quan (碩権). He was born in Peng District, Sichuan.

Mutual Protection of Southeast China

The Mutual Protection of Southeast China was an agreement made in the summer of 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion by governors of the provinces in southern, eastern and central China when the Eight Power Expedition invaded North China. The governors, including Li Hongzhang, Xu Yingkui, Liu Kunyi, Zhang Zhidong and Yuan Shikai, refused to carry out the imperial decree promulgated by the Qing dynasty to declare war on 11 foreign nations, with the aim of preserving peace in their own provinces.

Wang Yingkai

Wang Yingkai, whose courtesy name was Shaochen (紹宸), was a Chinese general in the Beiyang Army and first rank official of the late Qing dynasty, who served as the Vice President of the Ministry of War and Vice-Commander-in-Chief of the Plain White Banner. Wang graduated from the Tianjin Military Academy (天津武備學堂), also known as Beiyang Wubei Xuetang (北洋武備學堂), and fought with distinction in the First Sino-Japanese War. After China lost the war, he joined the Beiyang Army established by Yuan Shikai and became one of leading commanders of the army. However, during subsequent political struggles he sided with the court party against Yuan. Sun Chuanfang, who later became one of the most important warlords in the early Republican years, was his brother-in-law and protégée. Wang Yingkai died in Beijing in 1908.

The Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor was an official order issued by the Empress Dowager Longyu on behalf of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor, who was the monarch of the Qing dynasty, on 12 February 1912, as a response to the Xinhai Revolution which started in Wuhan. The revolution led to the self-declared independence of 13 southern Chinese provinces and the sequent peace negotiation between the rest of Imperial China with the collective of the southern provinces. The issuance of the Imperial Edict ended the Qing dynasty of China, which lasted 276 years, and the era of imperial rule in China, which lasted 2,132 years.

References