This was a period of somewhat chaotic reform in the Chinese armies. In 1840 the Manchu emperors had two armies – the Army of the Eight Banners was the main standing army, directly descended from the Manchu army that had conquered China in the Seventeenth century, and equipped with many of the same weapons, while the Green Standard Battalions were the local militia units, made up of Han Chinese. Over the last seventy years of Imperial history a series of new forces were formed. First came the 'Brave Battalions', largely volunteer units formed during the many anti-dynasty revolts of the period. In the 1890s a series of modernised armies began to be formed, with a variety of titles – 'Pacification Army', 'Self-Strengthening Army' or 'Resolute Army'. Finally in 1901 the Imperial Government began the formation of the 'New Army', an attempt to reform the entire Chinese military. The New Army absorbed the modernised armies, but the Eight Banners and Green Standard units remained in existence all the way to 1811.
As a result this book covers an unusually wider range of troop types, from bowmen and spearmen right through to machine gunners. As the period went on new armies were created, but the older units were rarely disbanded, so many of these different types of soldiers were serving at the same period. Despite all of the effort that went into reforms, this wasn't a good period for China, with massive internal revolts, defeat at the hands of both the Western powers and of the Japanese, whose own military reforms had been much more effective.
This book probably covers more variety of uniform, equipment and structure than any Osprey covering a similar length of time, and provides a fascinating overview of a complex and somewhat confused period in Chinese military history.
Conflicts with External Enemies
Character of the Imperial Army
Uniforms and Equipment
Author: Philip S. Jowett