2009年6月27日 星期六

Defense build-up in Danshui 1884

(Left: La Triomphante, one of the French warships that attacked Danshui.)

Prior to the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf, there were already about 1,000 regular army in Danshui under the command of Generals 孫開華Sun Kai-Hua (an officer of the 湘軍Xiang Army, commanding the 擢勝左營) and 章高元Zhang Kao-Yuan (of the 淮軍Huai Army).

Sun, by all accounts, was an extraordinarily brave man, treated his solders well and was loved and respected in return. He was also a relatively uncorrupted official, a rarity among those who were sent to Taiwan to govern (or steal, i.e., in the form of officially sanctioned bribery). His successful defense of Danshui was later maligned by 劉銘傳Liu Min Ch'uan. In the latter's report to the Qing Court, General Sun was falsely accused of leaving the construction of the gun batteries in Danshui unfinished. Liu himself, after the defeat in Keelung on Oct 1, 1884, retreated to Taipei in disgrace, roughed up by the locals residing in Manka (now Wan-hua). And yet he claimed victory in his official reports. Liu later became the Governor of Taiwan and Sun was sent back to lead an army in Hokkien. And after a series of demotions, he died on the job in 1893, at age 55. All his honors were restored posthumously, however.

At the beginning, in anticipation of the French's attacking northern Taiwan, Liu did send 2,500 men to guard Keelung (where the French indeed made their first move on Aug 5, 1884), while retaining another 2,500 as the reserve to station in Taipei - with 1,000 later sent to Danshui.

The military build-up in Danshui continued unabated throughout September, 1884:

Sep 8: After Liu Ming Ch'uan inspected the artillery defenses of Danshui, 100 artillerymen were quickly dispatched from Taipei to man the coastal batteries.

Sep 17: About 500 militiamen (similar to the Minutemen of Massachusetts in the battles of Lexington and Concord), organized by a local para-military leader 張李成Tio Li-xieng congregating in the Customs Office area in Danshui. They were probably either Mountain Hakkas dressed as the Aborigines or the actual Aboriginal warriors (the clothing suggested either 平埔番Pinpuhuan or the 泰雅Atayal tribesmen), or a mix of both.

Sep 20: 550 and 50 men on board of British commercial transport ships Waverley and 萬利Wan-li, respectively, arrived in Danshui. Because of the typhoon, after 100+ had disembarked, Waverley went out to sea to sit out the storm but eventually returned to Shanghai. And the Wan-li entered the port on Sep 21 to let off the "passengers". These men were actually soldiers in plainclothes to avoid interception by the French. Their weapons had already been shipped in through the eastern and southern ports of Taiwan.

Sep 26: French gunboat the Vipere drove away the transport Sea Dragon because on board were 150 suspiciously looking men arriving from Shanghai. They were in fact the third reinforcement contingent sent from China.

Sep 27: The transport 華安輪Hua-An with 300 men on board was forced out to sea by the Vipere. It landed in 新竹Hsin-Chu the next day.

The defenders of Taiwan during the Sino-French war were either from 安徽(An-huei) in eastern China (the 淮軍Huai Army) or 湖南(Hunan) in south-central China (the 湘軍Xiang Army) . In Danshui, most seemed to be 湘軍, or 湖南勇 (O-Lam Youn) from 湖南善化縣. The locals called them 河南勇 (Ho-Lam Youn), a confusion resulting from the language barrier - the many different spoken dialects in town did not help. These men turned out to be a hardy bunch. Even the most severely wounded after being cared for at the Mackay Clinic for a few days ran back to the camp - to the amazement of the physicians. And one or two wounded tried to pay the doctors, with the last dollars that they had, for services rendered (politely declined by the MDs). The doctors in attendance were Dr CH Johansen from Germany and Dr Browne, the ship surgeon of British gun boat Cockchafer. About 200 soldiers were treated by these two gentlemen.

The bombardment of Danshui started at 10AM on Oct 2, 1884. By then the defense was ready.

2009年6月26日 星期五

French Model 1874 "Gras" sword bayonet

這就是中法戰爭之中,法軍裝備的刺刀. 與1874 Gras 步槍配合使用.
This bayonet was made to fit the French Model 1874 "Gras" Infantry Rifle. It has a solid brass pommel with a push-button/spring-steel latch. It was used extensively in the Sino-French war.

From a description on this site:

"Grips are wood. Crossguard is steel, usually "blued," with upper guard being the muzzle-ring, lower guard forming a hooked "blade-breaker" quillon.

"Blades are steel - well made - and triangular (3-edge) in form (very sturdy as a thrusting weapon). The blades are usually marked on the back-edge (opposite the bottom cutting edge) with the arsenal, month, and year of manufacture; this is done in engraved cursive fashion and will appear something like, "Mre d' Armes de St. Etienne Janvier 1874" or perhaps "Mre d' Armes de Chatellerault Juin 1882". Contrary to novice speculation, this is not the name of a lieutenant or major, nor is it a presentation date; in reality - as previously stated - it is the the exact month, year, and location of manufacture...

"The scabbards are usually blued sheet-rolled steel, semi-oval, tubular, with a ball finial."

2009年6月23日 星期二

Harbor Pilot Carozzi

(Left: A view of Danshui River - date unknown.)

It is odd that some Brit by the name of Carozzi should become a bit player in the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf. Carozzi, after all, is an Italian name. An Italian or an Italian-British national, perhaps? And whom did he work for? Read on.

Because the Qing Court was ignorant of the navigational sovereignty ceding not only the navigational rights to foreign powers but the river and harbor pilot posts were filled by almost all foreign nationals. Some of these pilots later worked for the French in attacking Chinese ports. And Carozzi was one of them.

According to the communications of John Dodd (collected in the Journal of a Blockaded Resident in North Formosa, 1888), Carozzi's real name was Bentley, who was indeed from England. Dodd, a Scot and a long-time resident of Danshui (27 years from 1863), was known as the Father of Taiwan Oolong tea and the owner of Dodd & Co (寶順洋行). He had befriended all foreigners then living/working in Danshui, be they consular officers, ship captains or crews, traders, or missionaries. In fact, he had arranged Dr George Leslie Mackay's first rental residence (in a horse stall) and later attended Mackay's wedding. As a leader of the expat community, Dodd must also have known Bentley and probably most his secrets, too.

Bentley started working as a pilot in Keelung who later relocated to Danshui. He lived in the Pilots' Village in 油車口 and worked closely with another pilot, Tan A-Koon (陳阿坤). To fortify the defense of Danshui River, the Qing military had asked Bentley (who might have served in the British military) to design and construct 10 large mines strung across the river to deter the entry of the French fleet.

Interestingly, in the evening of Sept 3, 1884, a French gunboat (probably the Lutin) showed up at the mouth of Danshui River and signaled for a harbor pilot. Which was naturally ignored. On the next day, it signaled the British gunboat docked inside Danshui Harbor, the Cockchafer金龜子, asking specifically for Bentley (suggesting that the French already knew of him). That request was denied by Captain Boteler (more on order of British Consul Alexander Frater). By then or soon after, Bentley might have already sneaked to Hong Kong to peddle his services. Because of his detailed knowledge of Danshui Harbor and the mines, Adm Courbet hired him (apparently under the assumed name, Capt Carozzi) with a pay of 50,000 Francs/year. And on Oct 2, Bentley was actually on board the gun boat Vipere trying to help disable those mines that he had built. It was ultimately unsuccessful.

There was also a spy scandal that involved John Dodd and Bentley's friend (also Dodd's disgruntled ex-employee), Tan A-Koon. When the French started landing in the Fisherman's Wharf area, two Chinese spies were caught by the defending Qing army. These two implicated Tan who then tried to pin the charges on Dodd, in vain. It is possible that John Dodd might have known too much; for example, he knew Carozzi was actually Bentley. In the end, Tan, after an interrogation far worse than water-boarding, was executed on Oct 26 in Danshui for the crime of espionage. Bentley continued to serve his new master. On April 11, 1885 (4 days before the blockade of Danshui ended), he even informed the French to intercept transport ship 平安輪Ping-On, on board were 753 Qing soldiers and 10,500 silver dollars. His subsequent whereabouts remain unknown to this day. John Dodd went back to Scotland in 1890 never to see Danshui again.

Such were some examples of the lives in Danshui during the Sino-French war.

John Dodd's book has now been translated into Chinese and edited by Mr 陳政三 (Jackson Tan), published by 台灣古籍 in Taipei, under the title of "泡茶走西仔反──清法戰爭台灣外記" (Nov 13, 2007).

2009年6月20日 星期六


(Left: a Fusilier Marin attached to the French flagship Le Bayard.)

In all wars, uncivilized and even atrocious acts unfortunately do occur. The incidence of the severed heads of the French fusiliers marins took place on Oct 8, 1884, and which was recorded thus:
一八八四年十月八日,法軍攻擊滬尾失敗後,發生把斬獲法人的首級高懸於竹竿上示眾的事情。林呈蓉主編的〈述報法兵侵臺紀事殘輯.淡水戰事詳述〉《臺北縣史料彙編.淡水篇》(宜蘭﹕佛光人文社會學院編譯出版中心,2001 年出版),頁324-325對這件事的引述如次﹕

{Note: This is apparently a second-hand account, the writer however claimed highly credible sources. A partial translation here:
"Some [Qing soldiers] spotted a few French hiding in the bushes [note: most likely those who fell into the sea during retreat back to the warships]. The latter were captured and killed [for their heads]... On the day of the victory, the Qing soldiers had returned to their camps. Since it was near dusk, there was no time to identify and count the enemy dead. Some about-to-receive-the-award soldiers hung the heads on a tree outside the Ma-Zu temple for all to see. The French fleet on the other hand flew white flags in mourning. The soldiers were quite happy after finally receiving their rewards, and smiled at one another, exclaiming that "these are for the enemy heads!"...
The Aboriginal warriors then proceeded to mutilate the bodies..."}

孫開華提督 heeding the pleas from the British Consul Alexander Frater did put a stop to this barbarism and allowed a proper Christian burial of the [17] heads [in the 淡水外僑墓園Danshui Foreigners' Cemetery]. This is probably also the first ever known record of the participation of Aboriginal warriors (i.e., the 熟番 mentioned in the Chinese report) in the Sino-French war. The "onlookers" were absolutely disgusted, shocked, and even frightened by the gruesome display of such 生番 behavior.

At that time, the official price put on a French head was 50 silver taels (i.e., 兩, worth about 350 Francs). Some hapless non-combatant French did lose theirs during the occupation of Keelung - often lured into traps when purchasing local foodstuff. It was a logistic nightmare for the French in this protracted war - shortage of everything particularly fresh food. Dealing with local vendors was often risky but necessary. Also in Keelung, three Taiwanese women were summarily executed for allegedly springing another type of trap for the same purpose. The locals sometimes robbed French graves and stole the heads for rewards. It was quite a chaotic scene, not to mention the total destruction of Keelung itself. Common household items, idols of deities, books, broken furniture strewn about and littered the streets all over town.

The situation improved somewhat in early 1885 when supply ships began to arrive and the French started re-building parts of Keelung.

2009年6月14日 星期日

Kinkaseki 金瓜石 POW Camp

Soldiers in defeat were sent to POW camps where they stayed in limbo until the end of the war. Some then went home. Some never did. When the end is is of course dictated by the victors.

After (not during) the Pacific War, many Taiwanese conscripts were detained in POW camps in Indonesia and Singapore until cleared of any war crimes before being sent home. Those who were stranded on Hainan Island had even more difficult time coming home. Many perished and were simply gone from the pages of history.

A more "conventional" during-the-war POW camp is located in 金瓜石Kinkaseki (one of 16 in Taiwan). The above photo shows a memorial dedicated by a private organization on Nov 19, 2006.

Between 1942-45, 523 POWs from the British Commonwealth were imprisoned here and forced to work in a nearby copper mine. The locals called this camp, 督鼻仔寮. Only 89 survived the ordeal. They were part of the 1,100 transported via the England Maru from Singapore, arriving in Keelung on Nov 14, 1942. The rest went on by train, to the Karenko花蓮港 Camp. Our contributor Mr ChoSan, as a kid, has witnessed their arrival with General Percival at the head of the procession.
(Above: a map of the Kinkaseki POW camp site金瓜石戰俘營地圖 - for an aerial view, please visit http://blog.taiwanairpower.org )

This photo (click to enlarge) shows the now abandoned 13-story processing plant of the Taiwan Metal Mining Co sitting on top of a small hill. The narrow road to its right leads up the hill. And after several twists and turns, it finally winds down to a very steep decline onto where the Kinkaseki POW camp was.

This plant or its predecessors started operation in 1882. Both gold and later copper were extracted here. It most likely had processed the copper ore harvested under extremely harsh conditions by the British and Commonwealth POWs. In the 70s, the metal deposits began to run out. And the plant was shut down in 1987 after an industrial accident, a sulfuric acid spill.

2009年6月8日 星期一

The Lee rifles

The above shows a Remington-Lee rifle (length: 1340mm and weight: 4.1kg; range: 100-1,200 yards) and its accompanying bayonet. This was the standard issue of Qing soldiers during the Sino-French war. Its caliber was listed as the .43 Spanish type (or 11-mm). The cartridges were packed with black powder.
上圖是林明敦-黎意步槍 (全长1340mm, 重4.1kg, 射程100一1200码) 及刺刀.乃中法戰爭中清軍標準裝備.其口徑為11米(.43西班牙式).彈殼內裝的是黑火藥.
(Above: .43 Spanish cartridges manufactured by Union Metallic Cartridge Co, Bridgeport, Conn, USA)

On May 6, 1884, The Qing Government entered a purchase agreement (shown above) with Remington & Sons, for 3,900-4,000 Lee rifles (model M1879), at a cost of US$29,840. This batch was tested in the Battle of Bang Bo (known in China as 鎮南關之役), between Mar 25-28, 1885, on the French Foreign Legion 2nd Battalion. In this battle, the French casualties totaled 463, marking for the first time in modern history, a Chinese victory through superior fire power over a foreign invader.
一八八四年5月6日,清廷以美金29,840元的代價向Remington & Sons公司購買了3,900-4,000把M1879型黎意步槍(合同如上).這批步槍在鎮南關之役(1885年3月25-28日)大為發威,把對敵的法國外籍兵團第二營打得落花流水,傷亡463人.這是近代史上,中國首次以優勢火力打敗了外國侵略者.

In early 1884, the Chinese had already bought more than 9,000 Model M1882 Lee rifles (serial number 14,000- 21,000 and 23,000-25,000) which were branded "林明敦廠製造 瑞生洋行經承" on the bullet chamber. 林明敦廠 was the Remington & Sons Co and 瑞生洋行 was a German import-export company, the "Buchheister and Co".
早先在一八八四年初,清廷已購入了9,000枝M1882型的黎意步槍(序列號14,000-21,000及23,000-25,000). 槍膛上刻有"林明敦廠製造 瑞生洋行經承"字樣. 林明敦廠即Remington & Sons公司, 瑞生洋行則是一家德國進出口商 "Buchheister and Co".

The Qing officials had mistakenly assumed that Lee was the Chinese family name 李 (pronounced Li), hence these purchases. Remington rifles in fact had already been very popular in China since the 1870s. For example, about 14,400 Remington No 1 Rolling Block rifles were imported between 1871-1874.
購買這些黎意步槍,是因為清廷官員誤以為Lee為李鴻章之李.不過林明敦步槍在1870年代在中國已很受歡迎,比如在1871-1874年間就進口了14,400枝第壹號Rolling Block步槍.

In the Battle of the Fisherman's Wharf in Danshui, the defending Qing regular army would have carried the same Lee rifles and .43 Spanish cartridges.

2009年6月7日 星期日

The Battle of Keelung 1884-1885

On top of this hill, to the west of Keelung, there is the 大武崙砲臺 which had also played an important role in defending Keelung during the Sino-French War. One look at the terrain, it is immediately clear that the rough drawing shown below is in fact a realistic portrayal of the landing of French Fusiliers Marins on Oct 1, 1884. Indeed, there were no landing areas to speak of. It was all an uphill struggle for the French.
In this campaign, the 1,800 French were led by Lieutenant-Colonel Bertaux-Levillain. The Corps expéditionnaire de Formose consisted of three battalions of Fusiliers Marins (4 companies in each battalion), a marine artillery battery, and a battery of two 80-mm mountain guns and 4 Hotchkiss canons-revolvers. And Liu Ming-Ch'uan led 2,000 troops in defense.

Previously on Aug 5, two French warships, La Galissonnière and Villars, and gunboat Lutin, bombarded and disabled Keelung's three coastal batteries, 大沙灣砲台, 二沙灣砲台, and 仙洞砲台 (located on 火號山). A small landing force (120 men) then attacked Keelung. This Admiral Lespès's attempt of occupying Keelung was, however, thwarted by the arrival of an overwhelming number of Chinese troops (around 2,500 men) and the fusiliers marins had to retreat back on board the warships on Aug 6.

The French, after failing to capture Keelung, set their sight on the nearby Danshui. This set the background for Adm Lespès's second defeat.
(Looking westward to Danshui, where the sun sets, from 大武崙山 in Keelung)

The Battle of Keelung continued, from Jan into Mar/Apr, 1885, after the reinforcement arrived from Tonkin which consisted also of the 3rd African Light infantry Battalion (arriving on Jan 6) and the 4th Foreign Legion Battalion (on Jan 20).

Starting in Jan, the locals had also participated in the battles. Lim DiawDon林朝棟 had raised a Hakka militia of 500 men to defend 獅球嶺 - the gateway to Taipei. They engaged the French in two fierce battles (known as the 月眉山戰役), the first on Jan 25 - Feb 1, and the second on Mar 3-7 (the latter to come to the rescue of the Qing regular army then in somewhat of a disarray). The French must have regretted for snickering at the poorly equipped Hakka militia at first (e.g., "boys throwing stones can do better than that"). The Mountain Hakkas were actually very experienced fighters who had done battles with the Aborigines numerous times before. They also had a unique way of handling their flintlock rifles - by lying supine firing over their toes. The enemies often did not even know where the Hakkas were firing from.