Chinese forces during Boxer Rebellion

Discussions on all aspects of China, from the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War till the end of the Chinese Civil War. Hosted by YC Chen.
Posts: 17
Joined: 21 Sep 2013 11:27

Chinese forces during Boxer Rebellion

Post by bradley101 » 08 Mar 2015 05:10

Does anyone have any information on the equipment, training, numbers and dispositions of the Chinese forces during the Boxer Rebellion? I know some troops had Mauser rifles and Krupp field guns, but how many, did they only equip part of the formations, and what were there ammunition stocks like?

Posts: 263
Joined: 07 Jul 2013 05:08

Re: Chinese forces during Boxer Rebellion

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 08 Mar 2015 18:11


Osprey has done some books that would provide at least part of the information you're looking for. These ones are in print: ... 0850453356

Also, while I haven't read it, I would suspect that the British Official Account of the Military Operations in China 1900-1901 ( ... -1901.html) would be another good English language source.

User avatar
The 51st Division
Posts: 44
Joined: 25 Mar 2015 05:39
Location: Beijing, China

Re: Chinese forces during Boxer Rebellion

Post by The 51st Division » 26 Mar 2015 01:08


The structure of the Imperial Chinese Army was extremely complicated and clumsy, and all the dazzling Classical Chinese terms certainly does not help. But since you asked about the guys with Mauser rifles and Krupp guns, here's some general information about Qing China's elite German-trained Wuwei Troop Front Division (武卫前军)...that I know of (WARNING: crazy translations ahead)

*The Wuwei Troop was the most elite force of China, reformed in 1899 (the year of the Rebellion) from the already-pretty-elite Beiyang Army after the Sino-Japanese War, it was arguably the first modern army of China. The Wuwei Troop consisted of 5 "Divisions" (军): Front, Rear, Left, Right, and Centre, of them all, the European-trained and German-equipped Front Division led by general Nie Zhicheng was probably the most elite.

*The Front Division consisted of about 16,200 combat personnels and about 4000 non-combatants.

*The Division was then sub-divided into 5 "Routes" (路): Front, Rear, Left, Right, and Centre. The Centre Routes consisted of 7 "battalions" (营)--one artillery and 6 infantry. The rest 4 routes each consisted of one artillery battalions and 4 infantry battalions. Each routes had its supporting branches and were counted as an independent combat unit.

*Each infantry battalion had four "companies" (哨), which in turn had three "platoons" (排), which in turn had three "squads" (棚) each consisting of a leader and 12 soldiers. Considering all the non-combatants, each standard battalion should have about 700 men.

*Infantry's primary weapon was mainly the Austrian Mannalicher M1985 rifles, and--allegedly, I'm not sure--a limited amount of Kar98, take note that this is not the Kar98k, but its less famous and less successful predecessor. I'm not too sure about the number of these Kar98s, the internet says it's around 100 or so.

*According to Wang Shengling's--Front Division's head of logistic--account 芦杨剩稿 (which I won't even bother to translate), the artillery battalions in the Division in total possessed "16 pieces of 7.5cm 12-pdr Krupp guns, 32 pieces of 6cm 7-pdr rear-loading Krupp guns, 32 pieces of 5.7cm 6-pdr Gruson quick-firing guns (an un-famous German field gun with nearly no English information available), as well as a number of 3.7cm 2-pdr Krupp guns and 8.7cm 20-pdr rear-loading guns (wtf is this?). There were also two pieces of 7mm92 Maxim auto cannons (aka machine guns) among the rank."

*The Right Division under the command of Yuan Shikai was also western-trained and quite formidable (you'd know a lot about this guy if you study Chinese modern history), the rest of the divisions... not so much. The other three divisions were less well equipped and still under the traditional Eight Banners System.

*The Front Division, as well as the Centre and Rear Divisions, engaged rather valiantly with the Eight Nations Alliance during the Boxer Rebellion and suffered severe casualties and later disbanded. This comes back to the old Chinese saying "You can't carve on rotten wood". The problem of Qing Dynasty China was not its military, but its government.
"The nation might be powerful, yet it shall be destroyed if it seeks war; the world might be peaceful, yet it shall be doomed if it forgets war."
--The Method of the Sima, Qin Dynasty Chinese Military Classic

Return to “China at War 1895-1949”