2009年5月22日星期五

The Defenders of Danshui

(清軍The Qing Army during the Sino-French war - in ceremonial uniforms)

Early Qing army consisted of the Army of Eight Flags, i.e., the 八旗軍. Their fighting spirits and prowess diminished considerably with time. Another army, the 綠營 (the Green Battalion), was then formed. And again, with time, it degenerated into loosely organized units with practically no military leadership that would never have been capable of putting down domestic revolts or defending against foreign invasions. The provincial armies such as the Xiang湘軍 and the Huai淮軍 had subsequently risen to take its place. These were the true fighting forces in the 19th Century China.

The standard uniform of an infantryman at that time had a large circle in front. And within the circle, a letter 兵 (for 綠營) or 勇 (for 防軍) was inscribed; although this might not have been universally true. A good example is the Black Flag Army (黑旗軍 or Pavillons noirs) with such a uniform without the lettering (see photo on the top left). And the reason was probably because this army was neither 兵, nor 勇 of the regular army (see below, also the broad-rimmed hat was probably an adaptation to the local, tropical weather.)

The Guerre Franco-Chinoise of course started out in Tonkin (North Vietnam) and later moved up north (including Danshui) and back. The Black Flag Army was commanded by Liu Yong-Fu (劉永福), as stated above, not as part of the Qing army, but rather as a mercenary force invited in and backed by the Vietnamese Emperor/government. It had fought numerous battles, often victorious, against the French Tonkin Expeditionary Force.

The soldier in the photo above was holding a Flag of Command (令旗) but without carrying any weapons. The French fusiliers marins captured such a flag in the battle of Hoa Moc on March 2, 1885. It is now on display in the the Musée de l'Armée in Paris. A closeup is shown below.

Earlier, in the battle of 南定 Nam Dinh on March 27, 1883, the soldiers of the two sides fought with rather primitive weapons.

Such a hand-to-hand combat scene is depicted below - with one Black Flag soldier using a spear (who was being shot) and another lying on the ground (with a spear next to him), and the French with axes and swords. These were in addition to bayonets, rifles, and pistols. No doubt the same was re-played on the beaches of the Fisherman's Wharf in Danshui a year later, in 1884 - with the French on the receiving end of the onslaught .
The equipment of the Qing soldiers, both the infantry and the artillery, who participated in the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf in Danshui remains unclear. Judging from the command structure, it would have been similar if not identical to that of the Huai淮 Army. The defenders of Keelung were known to the French as "tall and sturdy" and wore dark blue uniforms with loose shirts and baggy pants (down to the calves) , plus leggings and felt-soled slippers. They were equipped with Lee rifles with abundant ammunition.

Even before the Sino-French war, the Qing military was already quite well-equipped. As far as the hardware, there was a mention of [later the Governor of Taiwan] 劉銘傳Liu Ming-Chuan's 7,000+ troops with 4,000 "western rifles" (recorded in June, 1864). Liu was one of the leading commanders of the Huai Army. And by the 1870s, rifles from England, France, Germany and the US had already been imported to replenish the Huai Army arsenal:

淮軍在1864年6月進攻蘇、常太平軍時,郭松林、楊鼎勳、劉士奇、王永勝四軍萬餘人,已有洋槍萬餘枝,劉銘傳部7000多人,有洋槍4000枝。到次年 底與捻軍作戰時,"計出省及留防陸軍5萬餘人,約有洋槍三四萬桿"。其砲兵到1864年也建立了6個開花砲隊,裝備了12磅至108磅不等的火砲。已經基 本上淘汰了冷兵器和土槍、土炮。然而,此時淮軍裝備的尚是前膛槍砲。 70年代以後,西方更為先進的後膛槍砲開始輸入,導致淮軍裝備的又一次更新。英國的馬梯尼[Martini]士乃德 [Snider or Schneider]法國的哈乞開司[Hotchkiss]德國的老毛瑟[Mauser]美國的林明敦 [Remington]黎意 [Lee]等槍種,均進入淮軍部隊。

And by 1884, the artillery was already out-fitted with more than 370 rear-loaded guns of British- and German-made models:

在砲兵裝備上,淮軍主要有英國的阿姆斯特郎式[Armstrong]格魯森式[?]和德國的克虜伯式[Krupp]後膛砲。僅1871年至1873年,李鴻章就購置了德國克虜伯後膛四磅鋼砲141門,到1884年淮軍配備的後膛鋼砲已達370多門。

The defenders of Danshui would have enjoyed the same fire power.

A modern day Danshui-ren's journey south

It took 19 days for George Leslie Mackay to travel 220 miles from Danshui to Tainan. Now it takes only half a day from Danshui to the southern tip of Taiwan:

東港 TungKang is now famous for its 烏鮪魚文化觀光節. The first pair of the blue-fin tunas caught each season trigger this very well-coordinated event. The fish are paraded around town first with great fanfare and then auctioned off at the fish market, for upwards of NT$ 2 Million - for the pair, sometimes for just one. So, instead of exporting to Japan on the cheap as in the past, the blue-fin tuna (toro, not maguro) is now in great demand in Taiwan. The harvest is only a few hundred each year, because the fish seem in a hurry; they migrate north from the Philippines, go pass 蘭嶼, then disappear mysteriously somewhere deep into the Pacific. Only to return around the same time next year. And they are the fattest, at the most flavorful stage, when the fish reach the outskirts of Taiwan.

Well, how to get to 東港 comfortably and see everything along the way. By car of course.

How is this done? From Danshui, you simply take the 台二高 from Taipei, i.e., the second highway of Taiwan; although the official name is 國道三號高速公路 or the No 3 Freeway (except it is not for free). There are 10 toll booths all together. NT$40 for each.

The best parts of this highway arguably are the rest areas. Very well-maintained typically with a shopping area, a restaurant, a children's play area, and a food court. Except for a lack of paper towels (true everywhere in Taiwan), these rest areas are even better than the ones in New England.

This is the 南投服務區, also known as the Lamungan (原住民語) Service Area. There is the 西湖服務區 in 新竹 before this one and another later at 關廟 near Tainan.

There is a distinct change of vegetation to the tropical varieties as you travel south. Many more 椰子樹, even more 檳榔樹. Soon after passing Tainan, you enter the 屏東平原 and the sun begins to shine. The climate is far warmer and more humid than the north.

Once entering 東港, one notices very few tall buildings. Most are lower than four stories if not less. KFC, MacDonald's and 永和豆漿, the usual suspects are all here in town.

The fishing port has a commuter boat line to 小琉球, a 30-min ride. Inside the small port, there is a large fish market. Here, the frozen fish lie on the floor waiting to be sold. Presumably, even the tourists can bid. In fact, rumor has it that one such person made the mistake of bidding on a nice looking tuna for NT$5,000 - thinking that it was for the whole fish and it turned out to be for per kg. At around 200kg per fish, he was in for a big shock.

Across from this area, there is a row of small sashimi-eating places. And the sliced tuna is almost like ice-cream, 入口即化. For lunch, the seafood restaurants here serve dishes prepared from different parts of the tuna, including two with fish eyes. There were also 油魚子 (not 烏魚子), crabs, 金針,魚翅, sakura shrimp fried rice, etc. The sakura shrimp 櫻蝦 looks almost like the whale food, the krills 磷蝦, except the former is 10 times more expensive owing to limits set by the 漁會. 東港 is the only place where the sakura shrimp thrive outside of Japan's 駿河灣. The tiny shrimp does have a very distinct flavor, kind of hard to describe.

Here in this photo, half a truckload of frozen fish, to be shipped to all over Taiwan. Interestingly, because of the much improved highway system, other fishing ports can no longer compete with 東港 . With its low wages, low costs for storage and maintenance, 東港 is now the premier supplier of fish in Taiwan. This is much like the HSR's impact on domestic airline industry, also fast and deep. An unavoidable evolution of sorts.

This seaport is similar to Gloucester in Massachusetts (of The Perfect Storm fame). The same type of ships catching the same types of fish - except the fishermen here are now mostly 外勞 (from Indonesia).

This photo shows a typical fishing vessel of 東港 . With the GPS and communications systems now widely available, even a small steel-hulled ship such as this one can sail out to as far as Guam. At the beginning of the tuna season, ships are positioned along the migration route. The first ship that catches one or two promptly reports back to the 漁會 thus preempting other claims.

It takes 5.5 hours from Taipei to 東港, similar to that from Boston to Philadelphia. In the more recent past, even by train, it still took forever. One must admire what Mackay et al did, on foot, in 1885.

2009年5月20日星期三

Disappearance of the delta - 浮線

Mr ChoSan mentioned the disappearance of the old delta (the 浮線) which indeed used to be in the middle of the river. In this undated old photo of Danshui (most likely taken before the Sino-French war) looking into GuanDu, a trace of it can still be seen - to the right of the picture in the river. It later might have built up into a true delta, possibly a result of ships deliberately sunk at the mouth of the river to prevent the French Navy from entering that had greatly impeded the out flow.
張三先生注意到淡水河中的浮線(或沙埔)現時己經不見蹤影了.左方的老照片(很可能是中法戰爭前所攝)右手河中還可看見部份浮線.而且關渡口似乎有另一浮島.現在看來,淡水河中的浮島與時變化,並非常景.

In the 50s, many older boys swam up to it, usually on a dare. No one seems to remember what the girls did for fun.
50年代男孩們會被同伴們挑戰,游水到島上.女孩們玩些什麼遊戲就不得而知了.

There have been many different theories on how the delta disappeared. For example, dredging - which did go on but only for a very brief while. The most convincing one is that after the narrow GuanDu passage was blasted open in 1964, at the suggestion of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the water rushed downstream and washed the delta away. That might have been; however, the true reason is prior to that, some 8 to 10 sand and gravel companies set up shops in Bali along the shoreline and began to siphon the river water 24/7 - to recover the sandy sediments. The sand was sold for profit of course. And this continued for several years until the delta was totally gone. No one knew if this activity was authorized by whomever. Widening the GuanDu passage probably also has contributed to the wash out later, but it was not the main cause.
至於浮線為何消失,與 1964 年關渡拓寬倒是無甚關係,而是之前八里的 8-10 家砂石公司無日無夜的作業給抽光了.

The idea of resuscitating Danshui's shipping industry has been bandied about for decades. No dice so far - sedimentation is the perennial issue.
很可惜,這個長久的淤沙問題使淡水一直無法回復到上一世紀國際港的盛況.

2009年5月9日星期六

法國海軍陸戰槍兵 Fusiliers marins

在漁人碼頭戰爭中,法軍陸戰隊是何許人物,裝備又是如何呢.
So who were these French soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf and how were they equipped?

原來是他們是 Fusiliers marins (英文為 Navy riflemen 或 Marine infantrymen),乃法國陸戰隊中的一支特種部隊,於1856年6月5日建軍.是海軍士兵經陸戰訓練而成,每一連編制70人,由一名海軍中尉軍官 [連長] 及兩名少尉 [排長] 率領.他們是中法戰爭中,在越南和臺灣的攻擊主力.
They were the Fusiliers marins, a special branch of the French Marines, created on June 5, 1856. They were sailors trained in ground battles. Each company had 70 men led by one lieutenant and two lieutenants JGs. They were the main attacking forces in both Tonkin and Taiwan during the Sino-French War.

下左是一 Fusilier marin 的畫像 (年代不詳).
Bottom left is the portrait of a Fusilier marin (of unknown date).

從描畫法軍進攻東京 (北越) 的北寧與劉永福的黑旗軍大戰 (03/12/1884) 時的圖片,可以看到軍服應是:
They were equipped thus (cf color picture below):

深藍水手帽加紅纓頂 (Dark blue sailor's beret with a red fuzzy ball on top)
水手披肩 (Seaman's collar)
深藍紅裡外衣 (Dark blue tunic with red lining)
淺藍長褲 (Light blue trousers)
綁腿靴 (Boots with leggings)
此外,步槍一 (plus a long rifle)
兩條披肩帶(可能掛水壺及彈藥盒各一) (Two shoulder straps each with a canteen and an ammunition pouch/case attached)

法軍官則全身深藍,上衣紅內裡,馬褲白條邊,裹紅布腰帶,戴米色防暑盔,登黑長靴,左右手各執手槍及指揮刀.馮子材的相片中佩帶的法國軍刀,應是當年的戰利品.北寧之戰時也有東非兵團 (下圖最左黑人兵) 及外籍軍團參戰.
The French officer wore dark blue uniform with red lining, a red sash around his waist, and a beige pith helmet, holding a pistol in the left and a sword in the right hand. A photo of Sun Kai-Hua showed the commander posturing with a French saber which was probably a trophy from the battle taken from one of the French lieutenants. The African Battalion (the left most figure in the picture below) and the Foreign Legion both participated in the battle of Bac-Ninh (March 12, 1884), fighting the Chinese Black Flag Army commanded by General Liu Yong-Fu.
至於Fusilier marin 所用步槍是單發式 Fusil Gras M80 Modèle 1874:
The rifle used by Fusilier marin was the single-shot Fusil Gras M80 model 1874:
其長 1.31 公尺,重 4.15 公斤, 口徑 11 mm, 裝有三角形切面刺刀,由聖倚天 St Etienne 兵工廠製造.
It was a 11-mm caliber rifle manufactured by the St Etienne Military Works, measuring 1.31 m in length, weighing 4.15 kg and it also had a bayonet with triangular-shaped blade (in cross-section).

傳統 Fusilier marin 的軍歌:
The Fusilier marin chant:
video
歌詞首部 - 法文加翻譯如次(可以想像到漁人碼頭之戰法軍登陸後列隊前進的情景):
The beginning lyrics - with translation (possibly sung after landing and beginning to march on the beach at Fisherman's Wharf):

Les fusiliers partent pour l’aventure (陸戰槍兵開始玩命)
Soleil couchant les salut (連日頭都會來致敬)
Chez l’ennemie la vie sera très dure (敵人日子不會好過囉)
Pour ceux qui pillent et qui tuent (特別是搶劫殺人的那一群)

上引 video 唱的是合唱部:
And the refrains sung in the above video:

France o ma France très belle (我美麗的法蘭西)
Pour toi je ferai bataille (我為妳而戰)
Je quitterai père et mère (我離開了爸爸和媽媽)
Sans espoir de les revoir jamais (也許就不能再見到他們的面了)

En pagayant sur la mer toujours belle (在美麗的海上航行)
Ils songeront à leur vie (會想到生命的意義)
Ils peuvent demain devenir éternels (是要永世流芳)
Ils tomberont dans l’oubli (還是默默無聞)

Si d’aventure la mort les refusent (命也玩了而死神也拒收)
Ils rentreront dans leur port (返回到出發港口)
Et ils boiront le champagne qui fuse (痛飲香檳酒)
A la santé de leurs morts (祝戰歿同伴們健康)