|Equipment||Mixture of traditional and modern (19th century) weapons|
|Engagements||Taiping Rebellion, Sino-French War, First Sino-Japanese War|
The Huai Army (Chinese: 淮軍; pinyin: Huái jūn), named for the Huai River, was a military force allied with the Qing dynasty raised to contain the Taiping Rebellion in 1862. It was also called the Anhui Army because it was based in Anhui province. It helped to restore the stability of the Qing dynasty. Unlike the traditional Green Standard Army or Eight Banners forces of the Qing, the Huai Army was largely a militia army, based on personal rather than institutional loyalties. It was armed with a mixture of traditional and modern weapons. Li Hongzhang, a commander in the Xiang Army, created the Huai Army in October 1861. It succeeded Zeng Guofan’s Xiang Army. The Huai Army itself was succeeded by the New Army and the Beiyang Army, which were created in the late 19th century.
Before recovering Anqing in late 1861, Zeng Guofan ordered his student Li Hongzhang to bring some of the Xiang Army back to Anhui, Li's homeland, for military service and to organize an independent force under Li Hongzhang's command. Their total strength was 25,000 soldiers, including some Taiping soldiers in Anqing who had surrendered. Li combined these forces into one army, and after three months of training they fought their first battle, the Battle of Shanghai (1861).
Li Hongzhang was in overall command of the Huai Army, which was part of the new series of regional armies known as the Yong Ying, introduced into China after the Nian Rebellion. Unlike the Manchu Eight Banners or the Green Standard Army, officers in these regional armies were not rotated; they chose the soldiers under their command and formed paternalistic relationships with them. These armies were equipped with modern weapons.
Officers from the Anhwei Army such as Ch'a Lien-piao (Zha Lianbiao) also studied Western military drill overseas in Germany,
Gen. Zhou Shengchuan was the t'ung-ling/tongling (commander) of one of the Anhui Army's best units in Zhihli. He encouraged the purchase of modern, foreign weapons to Li Hongzhang. The Anhwei Army's paternalism and the relationships between soldiers and officers was praised by Gen. Zhou, who also practiced nepotism in his unit.
Western military drill was implemented by Zhou, officers being encouraged to participate. Rewards and punishments were implemented for respectively good and bad marksmanship, with "badges of merit" and money given out.
Zhou was extremely interested in modern technology such as medicine, telegraphs and railways, criticizing British advisor Charles Gordon for not considering the use of them extensively in war. Li Hongzhang's German instructor officers were criticized by Zhou over their lack of knowledge of prone firing and fighting at night time. Westerners and Japanese praised his troops, and they were considered "first-rate". Zhou said that a '"twilight air" had settled upon the force after two decades, and its performance declined.
Non Commissioned officers in the Anhwei Army were given "special training".
Units of the Anhui Army served against the French in Tonkin and Formosa during the Sino-French War. Although they were occasionally victorious, they lost most of the battles in which they were engaged.
Anhui Army troops were stationed in various provinces all across China such as Zhihli, Shanxi, Hubei, Jiangsu, and Shaanxi by the government, around 45,000 in total. They also fought in the First Sino-Japanese War.
When the French attempted to seize Taiwan's Keelung forts, and attack near Tamsui, they were beaten back by the Anhwei soldiers under General Liu.
Most of the Huai army officers did not hold official degrees and titles, since after the modernization introduced into the Chinese military, more common people rather than scholars began to enlist in military service.
By the end of the Nien War in 1868, a new kind of military force had emerged as the Ch'ing dynasty's chief bulwark of security. Often referred to by historians as regional armies, these forces were generally described at the time as yung-ying (lit. "brave battalions"). In the 1860s such forces throughout all the empire totaled more than 300,000 men, They included the remnants of the old Hunan Army (Hsiang-chün) founded by Tseng Kuo-fan, the resuscitated Hunan Army (usually called Ch'u-chün) under Tso Tsung-t'ang, and the Anhwei Army (Huai-chün) coordinated by Li Hung-chang. There were also smaller forces of a similar nature in Honan (Yü-chün), Shantung, (Tung-chün), Yunnan (Tien-chün) and Szechwan (Ch'uan-chün). These forces were distinguished generally by their greater use of Western weapons and they were more costly to maintain. More fundamentally they capitalized for military purposes on the particularistic loyalties of the traditional society. Both the strength and the weakness of the yung-ying were to be found in the close personal bonds that were formed between the higher and lower officers and between officers and men. In this respect they differed from the traditional Ch'ing imperial armies--both the banner forces and the Green Standard Army.
Ch'a Lien-piao, one of several Anhwei Army officers whom Li had sent to Germany for training during the 1870s, received Chou's special praise for expertise in Western drill.
Li seems to have left the training of the Anhwei Army troops to two or three high commanders (t'ung-ling) in Chihli, among whom Chou Sheng-ch'uan (1833-85) was the most energetic and conscientious. A veteran of the Taiping and Nien wars, Chou in the 1870s commanded the best-equipped detachment of the Anhwei Army, with usually more than 10,000 men under him. Like Li, Chou placed great emphasis on modern weapons. Quite knowledgeable about them, he repeatedly recommended that Li purchase Krupp cannon, Remington, Snyder and other modern rifles, Gatling guns and the like. His petitions to Li and instructions to his own troops indicate his awareness of the need not only to acquire and to keep in good condition new Western weapons, but also to provide systematic training in their use.
Chou lauded the paternalism and interpersonal rapport that characterized the Anhwei Army--in fact, he had staffed his detachment with many of his own relatives. Although he himself greatly admired the skill and knowledge of foreign-educated officers such as Ch'a Lien-piao, Chou seldom recommended them for the Green Standard titles and offices so coveted by the yung-ying officers.
Unlike some other yung-ying commanders, Chou was also convinced of the advantages of Western-style instruction and drill. He not only produced manuals, but often personally supervised the drill of his troops and continually exhorted his battalion and company officers to take part in it, too. Money rewards and 'badges of merit' (kung-p'ai) were recommended for superior marksmanship ; poor performance was punished.
Although Chou did not want to employ Western instructors for his force, he often solicited foreign advice. Yet he reacted defensively, at times defiantly, to foreign criticism. He was skeptical, for example, of much of Gordon's military advice when the Victorian hero returned to China during the Ili crisis of 1880, and he even took to task the German officers that Li employed in the 1880s for knowing too little of night fighting and the advantages of prone firing. At times Chou clearly misunderstood the point of foreign advice--for example, when he characterized Gordon's advocacy of mobile, guerrilla-like tactics as laughable. Yet his charge that Gordon underestimated the importance of sophisticated technology seems fair enough. Chou, like Li, had a sustained interest in applied sciences (especially medicine) and modern means of communication, including the telegraph and railway. At least by contemporary Chinese standards, the battalions under Chou's command constituted a first-rate force. Japanese, German, British and American accounts of his troops are basically favorable. Yet several times during the early 1880s Chou himself remarked that the force had declined, that after 20 years it had lost its sharpness and acquired a 'twilight air'. The problem lay not so much in equipment as in the yung-ying system for the selection and promotion of officers. The experienced officers, Chou complained, lacked vigour, while the new ones lacked knowledge. Although Chou repeatedly admonished his battalion and company officers to participate in drill as strenuously as their troops, the officers continued to resist such involvement. It was, they felt, degrading. Chou's own writings as well as independent foreign observations note this crucial
In 1853 Tseng Kuo-fan introduced special training for the non-commissioned officers of his new Hunan Army, emphasizing endurance and discipline. This was later imitated by the Anhwei Army. The technical training of the officer corps along western lines was begun in 1852 at Shanghai and Ningpo, where a few company commanders and their men were trained in the use of Western equipment and tactics by French and English military advisers.
Soon after arriving in Chihli in 1870, Li began to integrate Chihli's Western-trained military forces into his own military organization, hopeful of putting these local resources to more effective use. He began with the 6,000 or so Green Standard lien-chün troops of the province, attempting to provide them with the same kind of drill and instruction as were available to his own men. He also secured the appointment of Anhwei Army commanders as high officers of the province's Green Standard system, in each case with Peking's approval. Ch'ung-hou's foreign arms and cannon corps, which Li inherited, was given retraining. Li refortified Taku and built a strategic walled city fronting the river ten miles form the estuary. He also expanded the Tientsin Arsenal, having been allocated funds for the purpose from the Tientsin maritime customs.107
During the Sino-French War on 1884-5, the Anhwei Army fought in both Tongking and Taiwan,and in the conflict with Japan in 1894-5, Li's troops saw action on every major front.
By 1871, the Anhwei Army numbered nearly 45,000 troops, of which 13,500 were stationed in Chihli. The rest were located, as directed by the throne, in Shansi (3,000), Hupei (3,500), Kiangsu (4,500) and Shensi (20,000). In subsequent years, Li's troops continued to serve as the major defence force not only in Chihli, but also in several other provinces, in each case under the control of the top official of the province. During the Sino-French War on 1884-5, the Anhwei Army fought in both Tongking and Taiwan,and in the conflict with Japan in 1894-5, Li's troops saw action on every major front.
Only on Taiwan were Chinese forces able to hold their own man-for-man against the French, thanks largely to the astute preparations by Liu Ming-ch'uan and the tactical ability of a few Anhwei Army officers.
In early August, forces directed by Liu Ming-ch'uan, the famous Anhwei Army commander, repulsed an assault by Admiral Lespès aimed at the Keelung forts on Taiwan, and in October the French suffered another serious setback near Tamsui.
the cases of Hunan particulartly illustrates this widespread militarization of the scholar class. . .Such was also the case of Liu Ming-ch'uan who rose form smuggling salt to leading an army in Anhwei, and finally to the governorship of the province of Taiwan (see chapter 4). . . Until 1856 most of the officers of the Hunan Army were scholars, The proportion dropped sharply for commissions given after this date. . . Holders of official titles and degrees accounted for only 12 per cent of the military command of the Huai Army, and at most a third of the core of the Huai clique, that is the top commanders of the eleven army corps.