Since I’m not currently finishing figures (although I’m half-finishing loads) and my last game was set against the background of the Boxer Rebellion, I thought it was maybe about time I posted something on the wargames forces I’ve got for this conflict (and it is something I’ve planned to do for a while). The logical way to present these forces is to look at Chinese and Allied troops separately – this means splitting it into two posts but, unfortunately, it means they still might be a bit on the long side (particularly this one).
So, this post covers my 20mm Chinese forces, both Boxers and Chinese army units (some of them are shown in their storage box above). I’m not going to go into depth on these and am doing this from memory, so lets hope it makes sense! There are pictures further down for the impatient among you! I started painting Boxer Rebellion minis in 1996 and am still going strong.
Early 19th Century Chinese armies were composed of Bannermen and Green Standard troops, but the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s/60s showed them to be quite ineffectual. Volunteer units of Braves (yung) and subsequently Brave Battalions (yung-ying), owing allegiance to their commanding officers, were raised and these proved much more capable troops. In the 1870s/80s Disciplined Armies (lien-chün) were formed by amalgamating some Green Standard troops and Braves, but these formations could not generally be considered the equivalent of European regular troops. Finally, following China’s defeat at the hands of the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894/5, steps were taken to form and train units based on European models, and I’ll refer to them here as Westernised units.
The Boxer movement was a popular movement essentially promoting “China for the Chinese”! Might sound strange, but by 1900 the European nations (and I include the USA and Japan within that term for convenience) had all “negotiated” treaties with China that let them basically exploit the country, so foreigners were gradually seen as more unwelcome (the Boxers originally demanded the overthrow of the ruling Ch’ing dynasty as well, since it originated in Manchuria and was also considered foreign). With poor harvests in China at the end of the 19th Century, and the spread of Christian missionaries and native Chinese converting to Christianity, the Boxers started to cause trouble which the authorities generally seemed to turn a blind eye to (although some Chinese provincial governors did take harsh measures against the Boxers when necessary).
In 1900, the European powers (and I’ll refer to them subsequently as Allies) called up small numbers of troops to increase the security of their legations in Peking, but in June they found themselves besieged by Boxer forces (at least tacitly supported by the Chinese authorities and military). Fearing for the safety of their nationals in Peking, the Allies dispatched further forces to improve security in the Chinese capital, but these forces failed to get through and became besieged themselves. Allied commanders in the warships gathered in the Gulf of Chihli at this point decided that more troops were required, so they landed troops and captured the Taku forts to provide a secure base to advance inland. At that point, China declared war on the Allies.
Shown above are my Boxers. I’ve got 33 figures with another seven I can add from my Sino-French War forces, giving me four units of 10 men each.
The group above are Kennington Miniatures (currently SHQ, but being offered for sale) and Lancashire games figures. The Boxers generally favoured traditional Chinese weapons.
The bunch above are Kennington Miniatures. I tended to vary the colours of these first units, but would probably now concentrate more on black, blue and dark-coloured clothing.
The last group of Boxers (above) are plastic figures by Orion and I think are very nice figures. Boxers tended to wear red turbans and sashes.
Moving onto Chinese army troops, first up are the bulk of my units (above) that can be used as Bannermen, Green Standard troops, Braves or Disciplined Armies (I’ve lightened photos on my Chromebook, so sometimes the flesh tones look a bit pale – they’re not meant to be zombies). There are four infantry units, an HQ and two light gun batteries.
Infantry above are Kennington Miniatures again.
And Again! The guns are scratchbuilt and the gunners are converted from Irregular Miniatures Very Useful Gun Crew with turbans, also shown below.
Next up are some Chinese regular support weapons.
A Maxim machine gun, Hale rocket launcher team and field gun. A mix of figures here. Next figures (below) are Chinese Westernised troops.
A field gun and crew, HQ and infantry unit. The figures are B&B Miniatures Russian Civil War troops with caps without peaks (two of the gunners. They’re based on an illustration in the Osprey Men At Arms Boxer Rebellion book, but I’ve not seen the uniforms shown elsewhere.
As far as volunteer units are concerned, I’ve got some Kansu Braves (above), mostly Kennington Miniatures.
Jingal teams are Britannia Miniatures Viet Cong with some Orion plastic Boxers in charge. These Braves also have a scratchbuilt Hale rocket launcher.
The cavalry (above) are converted Newline Designs ACW cavalry with plastic/Milliput bamboo sun hats! These were painted as two groups of three figures painted years apart, which is why the bases and hats are different.
I’ve got some regular troops armed with spears and bows and supported by some tigermen (above). Despite looking a bit comical, the tigermen’s shields are based on those shown in the Osprey book and were painted freehand (back in 1996, when I could paint freehand)!
I’ve got two further units of Tigermen (above), converted from Elheim Miniatures WW2 Russians in snowsuits! Last units feature are my Mongol irregulars (below).
The Jingal teams are converted Strelets plastic Cossacks, the cavalry are Kennington Miniatures Turcoman riders from their Crusades range and the mounted officer is a B&B Miniatures RCW Russian officer with a Milliput bamboo hat!
If you’ve got this far, well done! Next post will hopefully cover Allied troops, based on the assumption that I won’t have got anything new painted in the meantime.