CHINESE GOVERNMENT UNDER THE MANCHUS
While the Taiping rebellion was still in the process of incubation, when as yet small companies of prowling bandits or congregations of religious enthusiasts were too weak to threaten the empire or even upset a province, the authorities would be expected to bend every effort to check them. But they seemed to be completely paralysed. The imperial soldiery proved utterly incapable of checking the bands of lawless men that ravaged the countrysides of southern Hunan, Kwangtung, and Kwangsi at will. Yet on paper at least the viceroy of the Two Kwang had at his command eighty-nine thousand soldiers exclusive of officers, 22,532 in Kwangsi and 66,907 in Kwangtung. In fairness we must add that 55,401 were enrolled particularly for garrison or police duty; but even so almost 34,000 infantry and cavalry remained to form a field army—sufficient to drive out all the bandits that had appeared before 1849.
The explanation of this weakness lies in the studied division of power which had been made by the reigning
- In the preparation of this account of the army I have relied chiefly on the articles of Thomas F. Wade in vol. XX of the Chinese Repository. Wade drew largely from Chinese sources, and at the very time the rehellion was breaking out. Parker in his China also has a good account of the army.