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GORDON'S STEAMERS AND GUNBOATS. 135 though not much used by the force, these guns were of great service, when in numbers, to the co-operating Imperialists, by firing with grape. The great use of this part of the flotilla was the means of transport which it afforded. The country being cut up by creeks, these boats enabled an attack to be made with great suddenness from unexpected points. By lowering their masts and taking down their fags they could creep unperceived along the creeks till quite close to the position of the Rebels. Moreover, these latter usually shut themselves up within their camps during the night, and even during the day knew little of what was going on beyond it, having no out-posts or out-sentries, and receiving no reliable information from the villagers they had illtreated; otherwise the boats would have been in great danger of falling into ambuscades.
The Imperialist forces which acted in conjunction with the Anglo-Chinese, were generally composed of men from other provinces, and principally from Honan. They were fine able-bodied men, and were usually kept in a state of very strict discipline. As is usual with the Chinese, they were divided into camps of five hundred men, each under a blue-button military Mandarin ; and each of these regiments was complete in itself. No sooner was a regiment encamped than it began to intrench itself in a square earthwork; and sometimes these forts were rather formidable, though cast up in a very short time. In a few hours, on favourable ground, they could throw up an earthwork that would offer a most effective obstacle to a night-attack; and they never encamped for the night without such a temporary security round them. When making any longer stay in a position, the work was surrounded with ditches and palisades within the space of three days, and stone flags were laid down where it was possible to get material. At night the drawbridge was raised, and six sentinels were placed at each angle, who kept beating bamboos or raising a peculiar cry through the whole night, and by these a very strict watch was kept, the penalty for sleep being death ; whereas, in the Ever-Victorious Army, the sentries were often caught napping, as they had only to fear being bambooed. It has often been said that the Chinese are not a fighting people, and have no genius for military matters; but the celerity with which they raised these earth works, the skill with which they shaped them, the judgment they displayed in choosing positions, the facility with which they raised large bodies of men, and their systematic mode of working these to the best advantage, all went to prove very considerable genius for the art of war within the liinits to which it has been developed amongst them. The long seclusion of the Chinese, and the primitive character of their opponents up to within the last few years, have prevented them from developing this art in any high degree ; but so far as they have gone with it, they have not shown themselves inferior in courage or in military skill to any nation of the world. Among ourselves it is only the rivalry of the different European nations which has developed the art of war to so monstrous a height. Had Europe, like China, been under one rule for the last ten centuries, our weapons would not have been better than those of the Celestials.
The soldiers employed by the Imperialists were badly armed, judged by European usage, but usually they were pretty well clothed, and had inscribed upon their uniform the names of their person, regiment, and province. The Cantonese were considered to be the best fighters, and after them came the men of Honan. The greater num
THE CHINESE AS SOLDIERS.
ber of the military officers who commanded the Imperialist troops had risen from the ranks, and were not much better educated than the rank and file. Ordinarily there was one Mandarin of high rank to every twenty camps or regiments of five hundred men each ; he had complete control over them, and was sometimes a military Mandarin, sometimes a civil one bearing military rank. He generally had attached to him a fleet of thirty or forty gunboats. About twenty or so of these bodies of ten thousand men are often placed under a still higher official, such as the Chetai of Kiangnan, who may thus command a force of two hundred thousand men drawn from several provinces.
As sappers, the Chinese are equal to any Europeans. They work well; are quite cool, from their apathetic nature; and, however great their losses, do not become restless under fire like Europeans. At Chanchu fu, the Mandarin in command was requested by Colonel Gordon to construct trenches of approach at night, up to the edge of the ditch around the city; and, fully understanding what was wanted, he immediately set one thousand men to work, who, despite their number, made the trenches very well and quietly. At Nanking the Imperialists proved they were no contemptible engineers by carrying on mining operations for two hundred yards. In these engineering operations the Ever - Victorious Army took almost no part. Its soldiers could not easily have been made to raise earthworks, and the Foreign officers, with their limited education, were not usually competent to superintend such operations, consequently this force had to remain unintrenched ; and it was a good deal due to the inertness of the Rebels that serious night-attacks were not made upon it in frequent circumstances when such attacks might have been very success
ful. The success it obtained was owing to its compactness, its completeness, the quickness of its movements, its possession of steamers and good artillery, the bravery of its officers, the confidence of its men, the inability of the enemy to move large bodies of troops with rapidity, the nature of the country, the almost intuitive perception with which its commanding officer understood the nature of the country so as to adapt his operations to it, and the untiring energy which he put forth. Colonel Gordon seems to have acted continually on the French principle, to which Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia so ably called attention a few years ago *—of always taking the initiative and acting on the offensive. In war the party thus acting has many points in its favour; for a force on the defensive is perplexed by looking out for and preparing to meet a great number of schemes, any of which its adversary may undertake against it; while he who makes the attack has one well-defined object in view, and his troops are in much higher spirits than those which have to stand still and wait. If, in the Kiangnan campaign, the Tai-pings, with their large numbers, had pushed out in their full strength and fallen on the Ever-Victorious Army, that small force could hardly have stood against them; but this was rendered very difficult by the nature of the country; and when the Rebels did attempt it at Quinsan, they were outmanæuvred, and so nearly annihilated that they never forgot the lesson. Moreover, the jealousy of the different chiefs was an obstacle in the way of formidable combined action, and led to their being overcome in detail. Each Wang, however gallant, was nothing more than the head of a lot of banditti, ignorant of almost everything
* L'Art de Combattre l'Armée Française.' Par le Prince Frédéric Charles de Prusse. Paris, 1860.
COLONEL GORDON'S TACTICS.
pertaining to organised warfare, and thinking only of skirmishing and pillage. As such they fought well, and were capable of acts of very great bravery, but were easily panic-stricken when attacked in rear or in flank, or even when boldly assailed in front. small things with great, the fighting in Kiangnan was something like that wbich has occurred in Bohemia between the Prussians and Austrians. There was on one side the same superiority in arms and in tactics, while on the other there was the same want of cordial cooperation among the chief officers.
the chief officers. But the great point of resemblance is, that in both cases there was, on the one side, a bold, energetic, assailing tactic, which took no thought of defeat, and which, if it had been met by an able general, might have resulted in most complete and disastrous defeat; while, on the other, there was a puzzled expectant attitude which dispirited the troops and paralysed the talent of the commanders.
During Ward's time the Ever-Victorious Army cost, from September 1861 to September 1862, about £360,000. In the three months Burgevine was in command, about £180,000 were expended upon it; and after that it cost about £580,000. Altogether, at the lowest computation, £1,300,000 may be debited to it. If to this be added the half-million sterling expended on the Lay-Osborn flotilla, we have a total of about £1,800,000 paid in specie to Foreigners in their employ within about two years by the Chinese Government, and that exclusive of the large expenditure on the ordinary service of the Imperial maritime customs. Let us also consider here the great and various expenses of the Imperialists besieging Nanking and in the province of Kiangsoo, which may be put down as at least balf a million sterling monthly, and some idea may be formed