DOUGLAS PO CH

ARS OF
WARS OF EMPIRE
WARS OF EMPIRE
Douglas Porch
General Editor: John Keegan
CASSELL&CO
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First published 2000
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ISBN 0-304-35271-3
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This is a book about an aspect of warfare that is often regarded as a secondary,
even irrelevant, to the general development of conflict in the modern era.
Contemporary, technologically sophisticated armies pitted against primitive
opponents offered little more than a recipe for a slow march to an inevitable
conclusion. This judgement requires re-evaluation. First, for an allegedly minor
mode of warfare, imperial conflict proved a persistent feature of military activity
from the mid eighteenth century to the First World War and beyond. No other
aspect of this period of European and American history was more obviously
heroic than the conquest of vast empires. Wars of empire helped to make Wolfe
and Montcalm, Clive and Dupleix, Wellington and Tipu Sultan, Gordon and
Kitchener, Custer and Sitting Bull, Gallieni and Lyautey household names.
'Renown,' said Tacitus, 'is easier won among perils.' Furthermore, the imperial
general was also a proconsul, forced to rely on his political skills as much as his
operational expertise to prevail. War, Clausewitz reminds us, is politics, and
nowhere was this more accurate than in the imperial arena. Imperial warfare
determined winners and losers among developed nations in the struggle for world
standing and in the fulfilment of national aspirations. It also sealed the fate of
indigenous regimes and determined the destiny of great stretches of the globe.
Finally, the end of the Cold War has witnessed the resurrection of operations that
travel under the name of 'peacekeeping', 'peacemaking', or 'stability and
support', all lineal descendants of wars of empire. Imperialism was never popular
in its own d a ~ Every good imperial commander knew that he must deliver
military success at low cost. History is not about supplying 'lessons' for the
future. It tells its own s t o r ~ But no modern commander in Kosovo or East Timor
can ignore the perils of conducting operations, far from home, with a narrow
political base of support, any more than could his predecessors in earlier
centuries in Africa or Asia.
I would like to thank John Keegan for offering me the opportunity to write
this volume, and Penny Gardiner for shepherding it through to publication.
Finally, I am deeply indebted to my agent, Gill Coleridge, for her support,
encouragement and enthusiasm over the years.
DOUGLAS PORCH
Monterey
A 4.7 naval gun fires at Boer trenches at Magersfontein in December 1899.
CONTENTS
---... ...---
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
5
3
SMALL EXPEDITIONS OF
MAP LIST
9
MOUNTED MEN: THE HIGH
CHRONOLOGY 10
RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
INTRODUCTION
Importance of mounted forces; Difficulties of
FROM TRADE TO CONQUEST
logistics; Firepower: Maxim gun and artillery;
Flying columns; Indigenous response; Resistance
Expansion of trade and the clash of civilizations; to imperialism
99
European rivalry and imperial expansion;
Problems of imperialism 1
5
4
UPPING THE STAKES: THE
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
I
The increasing cost of imperial warfare; The Boer
The economic dynamism of imperialism; Colonies
War; The Russo-Japanese War; The conquest
as outlets for nationalism and sources of prestige;
of Morocco 1
57
Political and practical difficulties; Russian and
US imperialism; The strategic imperative 2
5
5
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE
Rising nationalism and insurgent victories; The
2
changing nature of world conflict; Insurgency
PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE into civil war; The revival of imperialism 1
95
Callwell; Bugeaud; The balance of military power;
The naval advantage; Asymmetrical warfare; BIOGRAPHIES 21
4
Importance of leadership; Difficulties of alliance; FURTHER READING 218
Modernization of native forces; Opium War; INDEX 220
Decisive victory versus attritional strategies
53
PICTURE CREDITS 224
KEY TO MAPS
Military units-size
xxxxx
CJ
army group
xxxx
CJ
army
xxx
CJ
corps
xx
CJ
division
x
CJ
brigade
III
CJ
regiment
II
CJ
battalion
Military movements
attack
-y retreat
air attack
X battle
1M fortress
Geographical symbols
urban area
road
railway
river
seasonal river
canal
border
_ bridge or pass
MAP LIST
I. IMPERIAL AGE EMPIRES c.1700 28-9
2. THE BRITISH EMPIRE 1914
3
8
-9

THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 1860-1914
4
6
-7

THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC 62-3

THE BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE
7
2
-3
6. THE INDIAN MUTINY
79

THE ANGLO-FRENCH STRUGGLE FOR NORTH AMERICA 81
8. SOUTH AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS C. 1820
87

CHINA, DRUG WARS AND REBELLION 1840-1873
9
2
10. AFRICA C.1875 101
II. THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN 102-3
12. THE BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA 120-1
13·
THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 126
14 AMERINDIAN WARS 1860-90
14
2
15·
AFRICAN RESISTANCE TO 1914
144
16. THE MAHDIST EMPIRE 1898
15
0
17·
OMDURMAN 1898
15
2
-3
18. THE BOER WAR 1895-1902
159
19·
THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR 1894-5
177
20. THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR 1904-5
178
21. THE DECLINE OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 1683-1914 196-7
22. THE FRENCH EMPIRE 1914 200-1
WARS OF EMPIRE
CHRONOLOGY
1742 Beginning of War of Austrian 1759 Fall of Quebec to Wolfe; confluence of Blue and
Succession. French abandon Forts Carillon White Niles; Captain Cook
1744 King George's War. and St Frederic; battle of leaves England on second
1745 Louisbourg captured. Quiberon Bay in November voyage of circumnavigation
1746 Choctaw Revolt; French fleet cripples French fleet and (1772-5).
fails to retake Louisbourg; prevents reinforcements; 1773 East India Company
Dupleix seizes Madras. British capture Guadeloupe; Regulating Act; Boston Tea
1747 Bostonians rebel at British French abandon siege of
attempts to impress sailors. Madras. 1774 Coercive Acts passed against
1748 Treaty of Aix-Ia-Chapelle 1760 Battle of Sainte-Fay (28 April) Massachusetts; Continental
ends War of Austrian ends French attempt to retake Congress meets in
Succession; Louisbourg Quebec; Montreal and French Philadelphia.
returned to France; first Canada falls to Amherst; Eyre 1775 American Revolution begins;
British commander-in-chief Coote drives French back to British defeat at Lexington
appointed for India. followed by costly victory at
1749 Halifax established in Nova 1761 British forces continue to seize Bunker Hill outside Boston;
Scotia to mask Louisbourg French possessions in India, Second Continental Congress
and intimidate the Acadians; the West Indies and West assembles at Philadelphia;
English traders appear in the Africa. American attack on Quebec
Ohio valley; French expedition 1762 Capture of Havana, fails.
under CeIeron de Blainville Martinique, St Lucia, Grenada 1776 Declaration of Independence;
attempts to establish French and St Vincent by the British; Washington escapes
sovereignty in the Ohio British expedition sailed from destruction at battle of Long
1753 Duquesne builds three forts on Madras to capture Manila. Island; Washington defeats
Allegheny river; Amerindians 1763 Treaty of Paris ends Seven British at Trenton on
ask Virginia colonists for help Years War. Britain returns Christmas Eve; Cook's third
in expelling them. French West Indies in voyage to the Pacific begins;
1754 Expedition to Ohio Forks exchange for Canada; Havana Adam Smith publishes Wealth
under Washington ambushed restored to Spain in return for of Nations which condemns
a French force and Florida. mercantile theory of colonial
subsequently surrendered to a 1764 Mutiny of East India economICS.
larger French force at Fort Company's Bengal army is 1777 Lafayette arrives in America;
Necessity; British dispatched crushed. Washington drives British out
reinforcements to America 1765 Declaratory Act affirms of New Jersey; British defeat
under Edward Braddock; first Britain's right to tax American Washington at Brandywine
royal regiment sent to India; colonies; northern Circars and and seize Philadelphia;
Dupleix recalled to France. Madras ceded to East India Burgoyne capitulates at
1755 French reinforced Quebec with Saratoga; Washington retires
forces under Baron Dieskau; 1766 Robert Clive leaves India; First to Valley Forge, Pa.
Braddock's force ambushed on Mysore War (1766-9); Louis 1778 American colonies sign
way to Fort Duquesne; Dieskau de Bougainville begins voyage treaties with France and
wounded at the battle of Lake to the Pacific that will result in Holland, reject British offer of
George and abandoned by his the discoveries of Tahiti, the peace; British evacuate
Mohawk allies. Solomon Islands and New Philadelphia for New York;
1756 British reinforce American Guinea. French troops under
garrisons; Montcalm besieges 1768 Secretary of State for Colonies Rochambeau arrive in
Oswego; Black Hole of appointed in Britain; Gurkhas Newport, RI; Warren
Calcutta incident (20 June). conquer Nepal; Cook sets out Hastings captures
1757 'Massacre' of Fort William on his first voyage of Chandernagore in Bengal;
Henry garrison; Clive defeats circumnavigation (1768-71). Cook discovers Hawaii.
an Indian-French force at 1769 Privy Council in London 1779 Spain declares war on Britain
Plassey in Bengal. affirms retention of tea duty and lays siege to Gibraltar
1758 British seize Louisbourg and in American colonies. (1779-83); British campaign
Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg); fail 1770 'Boston Massacre'; Cook against the Maratha (1779-82)
to take Fort Carillon discovers Australia. begins in India; Cook
(Ticonderoga) . 1772 J ames Bruce reaches murdered in Hawaii.
10
CHRO OLOGY
1780 Military stalemate in Toussaint l'Ouverture 1815 Argentine army takes PotosI.
American Revolutionary War; consolidates rule over Saint 1816 Britain restores Java to the
Charleston, SC, falls to the Domingue. Netherlands; British bombard
British; Cornwallis defeats 1798 Treaty of Hyderabad signed Algiers; Argentine provinces
Americans at Camden; Second between Britain and the declare independence.
Mysore War (1780-84). Nizam; Napoleon captures 1817 San Martin crosses Andes into
1781 Greene leads British on an Egypt. Chile; defeats Spanish at
exhausting chase through 1799 Tipu Sultan killed at Chacubuco.
South Carolina, North Seringapatam; Arthur 1818 End of Maratha Wars; Rajput
Carolina and Virginia; British Wellesley (the future Duke) States and Poona come under
capitulation at Yorktown, and named governor of Mysore. British rule; Martin defeats
evacuation of Charleston and 1800 British capture Malta; defeat Spanish at Maip6; Chile
Savannah effectively ends war French at Aboukir. declares independence; border
of the American Revolution. 1801 Department of War and between Canada and the
1782 Peace talks open between Colonies made responsible for United States agreed upon at
Britain and the American colonial p o l i c ~ the forty-ninth parallel.
revolutionaries; Spain captures 1802 West India docks built in 1819 East India Company
Minorca from the British; London; French expedition establishes settlement at
Maratha War ends; Tipu arrives in Saint Domingue. Singapore; Bolivar establishes
Sultan becomes sultan of 1803 Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842) greater Colombia.
Mysore; Admiral Howe invents the fragmentation 1820 Spanish troops en route to
relieves Gibraltar; Spain shell; Arthur Wellesley defeats colonies rebel in Cadiz.
completes conquest of Marathas at battle of Assaye; 1821 San Martin declares Peruvian
Florida; Rodney wins battle of death of Toussaint independence; Venezuelan
the Saintes assuring British l'Ouverture. independence confirmed by
naval supremacy in American 1804 War between British and Bolivar's defeat of Spanish
waters. Holkar of Indore. forces at the battle of
1783 Peace of Versailles ends War 1805 Modern Egypt established Carabobo; Guatemala,
of the American Revolution. with Mehemet Ali as Pasha; Mexico, Panama and Santo
1784 William Pitt the Younger's Wellesley departs India; Battle Domingo achieve
India Act substantially of Trafalgar. independence from Spain.
increases the government's 1806 First English invasion of 1822 Bolivar and San Martin meet
control over the East India Buenos Aires. at Guayaquil; Ecuador,
Company. 1807 Second English invasion of Colombia and Venezuela form
1785 Warren Hastings resigns as Buenos Aires; slave trade to a single state; Brazil achieves
Governor General of India. British colonies prohibited; independence from Portugal.
1786 Cornwallis made Governor- United States bans 1823 Monroe Doctrine effectively
General of India. importation of slaves. prevents new colonial
1789 Outbreak of French 1808 Napoleonic invasion of Spain; settlements in the Western
Revolution; Tipu Sultan source of Ganges discovered. hemisphere by European
invades Travancore. 1809 British capture Martinique imperial powers.
1790 Third Mysore War (1790-92) and Cayenne from French; 1824 First Burmese War (1824-6);
1791 Toussaint l'Ouverture joins Revolutions in La Paz and British capture Rangoon;
insurgency against French in Quinto. battle of Ayacucho
Saint Domingue. 1810 British capture Guadaloupe; (9 December) ends wars
1792 Thomas Paine publishes Revolutions in Buenos Aires of South American
Rights of Man; Tipu Sultan and Bogota. Second revolution independence.
defeated by Cornwallis. in Quinto; Simon Bolivar 1825 Bolivia declares independence.
1795 Dutch surrender Ceylon to the emerges as 'The Liberator'. 1827 Dey of Algiers hits French
British; British occupy Cape of 1811 British occupy Java; Paraguay consul with a fly whisk.
Good Hope; Mungo Park and Venezuela declare 1829 Suttee (burning of Hindu
explores the Niger river. independence. widows) abolished in Bengal.
1796 Chinese authorities forbid the 1812 Spanish royalists retake 1830 Mysore added to British
importation of opium; East Quinto. possessions in India; French
India Company's forces 1813 East India Company's invade Algiers to avenge insult
reorganized. monopoly abolished; Bolivar to consul.
1797 Lord Richard Wellesley proclaims war to the death 1831 Darwin begins-his voyage on
(1760-1842), brother of the against Spain; Russia seizes The Beagle.
future duke, appointed Dagestan. 1832 Britain occupies Falkland
Governor-General of India; 1814 Ferdinand VII regains throne Islands; Abd el-Kader
aval battle of St Vincent; in Spain. becomes emir of Mascara.
II
WARS OF EMPIRE
1833 Abolition of slavery 1848 Second British-Sikh War; 1868 British forces invade
throughout British Empire. France abolishes slavery in Abyssinia; campaigns on
1834 Mehemet Ali founds a dynasty West Indies. north-west frontier of India.
in Egypt that will last until 1849 British annex Punjab. 1869 Red River Rebellion in Canada;
1952; Shamil elected imam of 1850 Taiping rebellion in China. opening of the Suez Canal.
Dagestan. 1851 Beginning of Burma War. 1870 British force under Wolseley
1835 French defeated by Abd el- 1852 The South African Republic ends Red River Rebellion;
Kader at Macta Marshes; (the Transvaal) established; Franco-Prussian War
Second Seminole War begins Second Burmese War (1870-71).
(1835-42). (1852-3). 1871 Britain annexes diamond
1836 'The Great Trek' begins north 1853 East India Company annexes fields of Kimberley.
from Cape; Bugeaud defeats Nagpur. 1872 Cape Colony granted
Abd el-Kader at Sikkak river. 1854 Outbreak of Crimean War self-government.
1837 Revolts in Upper and Lower (1854-6); Ferdinand de 1873 Ashanti War (1873-4).
Canada; Osceola seized under Lesseps granted concession 1874 Disraeli becomes Prime
a flag of truce. by Egypt to construct the Minister.
1838 Afrikaners defeat the Zulus at Suez Canal; Faidherbe named 1875 British government buys
the battle of Blood river in Governor-General of Senegal. khedive of Egypt's shares in
Natal; First British-Afghan 1855 Taiping rebellion ends. the Suez Canal Company.
War (1838-42); first 1856 British East India Company 1876 Victoria proclaimed Empress
steamships cross Atlantic annexes Oudh; Natal of India; Custer annihilated at
from Britain to the United established as a Crown the Little Bighorn (25 June).
States; Russians take Shamil's colony. 1877 British annexation of
capital at Ahuglo. 1857 Indian Mutiny (1857-8); Transvaal.
1839 First Opium War (1839-42); British destroy Chinese fleet. 1878 Second Afghan War
Afrikaner trekkers found 1858 East India Company forces (1878-80).
republic of Natal; British transferred to the British 1879 Zulu Wars end in British
invade Afghanistan. Crown; campaigns on north- victory after humiliating
1840 Lower and Upper Canada west frontier of India; Treaty defeat at Isandlwana;
united; Abd el-Kader attacks of Tientsin ends Britain deposes Ismail,
French settlers on Mitidja Anglo-Chinese War; Suez khedive of Egypt.
Plain. Company formed. 1880 Transvaal declares itself
1841 British proclaim sovereignty 1859 Work on Suez Canal begins; independent of Britain,
over Hong Kong; New Shamil surrenders to Russians. igniting First South African
Zealand recognized as a 1860 Second Maori War (1860-70); (Boer) War; Roberts defeats
British colony; Napier arrives Anglo-French forces defeat Ayub Khan near Qandahar
in Sind; Bugeaud returns to Chinese at Pa-li Chau. Treaty (1 September).
Algiers. of Peking signed; 1881 Transvaal rebels defeat British
1842 Treaty of Nanking ends amalgamation of the Indian at Majuba Hill; Britain
Opium War; Afrikaner Army; reorganization of recognizes Transvaal
trekkers establish Orange Free Bengal, Madras and Bombay independence; French occupy
State; British began armIes. Tunis; French offensive against
withdrawal from Kabul. 1861 Sikkim campaign. Samori.
1843 Natal annexed by Britain; 1862 R. ]. Gatling (1818-1903) 1882 British invade Egypt; occupy
Sind campaign ends in constructs the gun that bears Cairo and canal zone.
conquest and annexation; his name; French troops 1883 British decide to evacuate
Maori revolts in New invade Mexico. Sudan in face of nationalist
Zealand. 1863 Battle of Camerone in uprising led by the Mahdi;
1844 Southern Maratha campaign; Mexico. Paul Kruger becomes
Bugeaud defeats Abd el-Kader 1864 French take Cochin-China President of the South African
at Isly. (Vietnam). Republic (the Transvaal);
1845 First British-Sikh War begins; 1865 War between Orange Free French invade Annam and
further Maori uprisings in State and the Basuto (1865-6). Tonkin.
New Zealand. 1866 Fenian raids in Canada; 1884 General Gordon reaches
1846 Treaty of Lahore ends First British campaign against Khartoum; Germany occupies
Sikh War; Seventh Kaffir War Indians of British Honduras. South-West Africa; Berlin
(1846-7) begins in South 1867 British North America Act Congress decides on 'effective
Africa. establishes dominion of occupation' as prerequisite to
1847 Bugeaud resigns as governor Canada; diamonds discovered colonial claims.
general of Algeria; Abd el- in South Africa; French depart 1885 Death of Gordon at
Kader surrenders to French. Mexico. Khartoum; British and
12
CHRO OLOGY
Egyptian forces evacuate the 1896 Jameson Raid crushed; Kaiser of Tuareg of the Algerian
Sudan; invasion of Upper sends 'Kruger telegram' in Sahara.
Burma; suppression of Riel's support of Transvaal; Rhodes 1903 Reorganization of British
rebellion in north-west resigns as premier of Cape; forces into a single Indian
Canada; Germany annexes Transvaal and Orange Free Army; Britain completed
Tanganyika and Zanzibar; the State form a military alliance; conquest of northern Nigeria;
Congo becomes the personal Italian forces defeated by Lyautey reports as
possession of King Leopold of Abyssinians at Adowa; commander of Sud-Oranais
the Belgians; abortive French Kitchener begins reconquest on Moroccan-Algerian
attempt to take Madagascar; of the Sudan; Matabele revolt border.
French setback at Lang Son suppressed; Federated Malay 1904 Anglo-French entente
(Tonkin) results in overthrow States formed; Bechuanaland exchanges free hand for
of the Ferry government. expedition; first edition of French in Morocco against
1886 First meeting of Indian C. E. Callwell's Small Wars; dropping French claims in
ational Congress; Burma Marchand mission sets out Egypt; Russo-Japanese War
incorporated in Indian from the mouth of the Congo (1904-5); Marchand resigns
Empire; capture of Geronimo. flver. from the French Arm):
1887 First Colonial Conference 1897 Colonial Conference in 1905 Louis Botha demands
opens in London; British East London. responsible self-government
Africa Company chartered. 1898 Kruger re-elected president of for Transvaal; Kaiser
1888 Sikkim War; Matabele accept the Transvaal; Britain obtains recognizes Moroccan
British protection and grant ninety-nine-year lease on independence at Tangier in an
Cecil Rhodes mining rights; Kowloon and New Territories attempt to split Anglo-French
Sarawak becomes a British adjacent to Hong Kong; entente; Port Arthur
protectorate; rebellion Kitchener wins Omdurman surrenders (2 January); battle
against Samori in part of and sails to Fashoda to of Tsushima Strait (27 May).
his empire. confront Marchand; Boxer 1906 British force Turkey to cede
1889 Ghost Dance movement uprising in China against the Sinai to Egypt; Britain and
revived among Amerindians foreign interference; United China agree to a reduction in
during solar eclipse in January. States declares war on Spain, opium production; Algeciras
1890 Britain exchanges Heligoland occupies Cuba, Guam, Puerto conference over future of
with Germany for Zanzibar Rico and the Philippines; Morocco.
and Pemba; Cecil Rhodes Samori captured by the 1907 Britain and France agree to
becomes Prime Minister of French; Voulet-Chanoine guarantee Siamese
Cape Colony; publication of Mission (1898-9). independence.
Alfred Thayer Mahan's The 1899 Anglo-Egyptian Sudan 1908 French and Spanish troops
Influence of Sea Power upon Convention; Sudan becomes a occupy Casablanca after riots
History; battle of Wounded condominium; outbreak of against Europeans there;
Knee (South Dakota) Boer War witnesses British Anglo-Russian entente.
(29 December) ends Ghost defeats of 'Black Week'; 1909 Act for the Union of South
Dance movement among Roberts becomes commander- Africa passed by British
Sioux. in-chief in December with Parliament; Indian Councils
1891 Pan-German League founded; Kitchener as Chief of Staff; Act extends the franchise.
French offensive against Aguinaldo elected president of 1910 Union of South Africa
Samori. the Philippine Republic achieved; Charles Mangin
1892 Gladstone becomes Prime (23 January). publishes La force noire.
Minister; French invade 1900 Relief of Mafeking and 1911 Delhi durbar of the King-
Dahome): Ladysmith, annexation of the Emperor George V; Agadir
1893 Matebele expedition. Orange Free State and the crisis precipitated by French
1894 British South Africa Company Transvaal; beginning of occupation of Fez.
completes occupation of guerrilla war; Kitchener 1912 French begin to occupy much
Matabeleland; Uganda becomes commander-in-chief of Morocco; Mangin captures
becomes a British in December; Lamy killed in Marrakesh.
protectorate; Gambia the conquest of Lake Chad; 1913 Balkan Wars; fighting
expedition; Bonnier Boxer Rebellion. continues in Morocco.
massacred after reaching 1901 Guerrilla warfare intensifies in 1914 Outbreak of First World War.
Timbuktu. South Africa; Aguinaldo
1895 Abolition of separate armies captured (23 March) in Luzon.
in India; territory south of 1902 Boer War ends. J. A. Hobson
Zambezi renamed Rhodesia; publishes Imperialism; battle
French invade Madagascar; of Tit assures French control
13
INTRODUCTION
---......---:;:;,.;.;;:==:=-...:x!J:........ ......---
FROM TRADE
TO CONQUEST
DOM ALIAS PRINCE HENRY THE NAVIGATOR
the impresario of the itge of Discovery'.
His base at Sagres became a centre where
map ship expLorers and venture
capitaLists pLotted the circumvention of the IsLamic worLd.
PapaL Bulls sanctioned the masterfuL attitude adopted by
the and subsequently all towards
races beyond the paLe of Christendom.
WARS OF EMPIRE
FROM TRADE TO CONQUEST
Departure of caravels from
Lisbon for Brazil, Africa and
the East Indies in 1562. The
lateen-rigged caravel could
sail closer to the wind than
any other type of European
vessel. It was small enough
to sail up river estuaries, yet
sturdy enough to withstand
Atlantic storms.
16
I
N THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH of Soviet Communism's collapse,
victorious 'Cold Warriors' expressed the optimistic view that
a new world order based on the triumph of Western values
would replace the ideological frontiers which had earlier divided
the world. Not everyone agreed. The American political scientist,
Samuel Huntington, led a chorus of academics and journalists
who put forward a counter-opinion, that the abolition of the
ideological divisions of the Cold War would unleash tensions and
animosities repressed during the half century of Soviet-Western
conflict. Any 'new world order', Huntington 'argued, would
be likely to resemble a previous world's disorder, a relapse
into chaos anchored in antique animosities swathed in the
certainties of religion, custom and tradition. In fact, what
Huntington and others have suggested is that the end of the
Cold War has resurrected a situation similar to that faced by
nineteenth-century imperialists. These were people who believed
that the expansion of trade, Christianity and the scientific
knowledge and administrative skills of the West would expand
the boundaries of civilization and reduce zones of conflict.
Through imperialism, poverty would be transformed into
prosperity, the savage would be saved, superstition would vanish
into enlightenment, and order would be imposed where once only
turmoil and barbarism reigned.
Imperialism provoked a clash of civilizations not unlike that
observed by Huntington in today's international system. As in the
modern era, there were places in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries where chaos was not in Western interests. It disrupted
trade patterns or threatened the 'oil spots' of Western settlement.
The barbarism of foreign beliefs, customs and practices
sometimes offended the West's humanitarian instincts. As today,
crisis resolution then often required armed intervention. The peace operations
and humanitarian interventions of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries
may be seen as a revival, albeit in a less violent form, of yesterday's 'savage wars
of peace'. The ultimate goal was similar: fling markets open to the global
economy, bring government to the hitherto ungovernable, end tribal conflict and
ethnic cleansing, and recruit converts for the West's way of life.
This book is about those earlier clashes of civilizations, wars fought between
peoples of radically different mentalities, different levels of political organization
and of contrasting technological capabilities. The wars spawned by Western
imperialism were more than mere clashes of arms. They were also clashes of
I TRODUCTIO
culture expressed in the violence of the military idiom. Each Portuguese caravel
which, in the fifteenth century, deserted familiar waters to navigate the coasts of
Africa and the seas beyond, was a missile fired in this conflict, a declaration of
hostilities in a confrontation the objectives of which were both political and
economic. Henry the Navigator's search for Christians and spices kindled a
competition between Europeans and indigenous peoples as each attempted to
respond to the cb· Henges of new foes and conditions. This competition, and the
procession of conflicts it produced, was part of a protracted interaction between
the West and the wider world of which the wars of Empire compose a mere
chapter. And although it is a chapter the narrative of which appears to be one of
I7
WARS OF EMPIRE
Mombasa c. 1646. While
Spanish conquistadors
expanded inland in the
Western hemisphere, in
Africa and India the
Portuguese largely remained
confined to coastal
fortifications like Mina or
Goa, whose dual object was
to defend the trade in slaves,
gold, ivory and spices from
other European interlopers
and to overawe Black or
Indian potentates through
whom goods were acquired.
irresistible European ascendancy, that ascendancy was hardly an automatic
process. 'Victory' was purchased at a cost of significant hardship and occasional
failure. And some of those failures were quite spectacular.
From its earliest period, imperial warfare was considered a hazardous and
difficult enterprise. Although in the Americas Europeans advanced inland almost
from the beginning, their conquest was facilitated as much (if not more) by an
advance guard of disease as by military superiority per se. And even then,
Amerindian hostility meant that frontier posts like Montreal maintained a
precarious existence. In the East and in Africa, Europeans remained seabound,
clutching a tenuous lifeline to the homeland, content to export spices, gold and
slaves from coastal 'factories'.
Three things caused this to change over the course of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries: political instability in Africa and Asia, European rivalries
played out in the wider world, and officers and officials driven by patriotism and
personal ambition, eager to claim vast stretches of territory for the fatherland. All
of these factors were interrelated. Imperialism was, among other things, the
creation of a global e c o n o m ~ The demand for certain commodities - slaves,
spices, gold, and eventually sugar, tobacco, coffee, palm oil, furs and opium -
touched off economic revolutions in the hinterlands of vast and hitherto self-
contained continents. Economic changes soon became political ones as local
18
rulers struggled to control commodities which could be bartered to Europeans.
Quite naturally, European nations locked together on a crowded and factious
continent, searching for advantage over their neighbours, however marginal, came
to view the wealth of the imperial world as a force multiplier, like alliances or
Gold from the New World permitted Philip II to raise vast fleets and
armies to control an empire which stretched from Antwerp to Lima. Spain's
empire did not long remain uncontested, as upstart nations struggled to carve out
a market niche, to sever and eventually dominate the sea lanes which were used to
flood Europe with the plunder of the Inca, Aztec and Mayan empires and the
'groceries' of the East and the Caribbean. Dynastic rivalries became national
ones, and national competition soon personalized into vendettas of honour,
ambition and greed among vain and proud men. Imperial expansion, and the
wars it spawned, was a cultural clash, certainly. But it was also an enterprise of
supremely personal dimensions, a magnification, frequently a mutilation, of the
human spirit. Personal ambition - self-confident, gnawing, desperate - became
not merely a factor in imperial expansion, but in many cases it was imperialism's
. .
primary engine.
Imperial expansion began in part as a series of trade wars. But the term, then
as now, is both contentious and misleading. It is contentious because classic
liberal theory argues that the words 'trade' and 'war' are incompatible, that trade
I TRODUCTIO
Gold llama offering figure
from Peru. By 1540, the
Spanish had plundered the
wealth of the Inca Empire
and begun mining for ore.
Precious metals, principally
silver, from Potosi (in what
is now Bolivia) and New
Spain (Mexico) financed an
expansion of Spanish power
in the sixteenth century that
in turn invited European
rivalries.
WARS OF EMPIRE
20
flourishes in conditions of peace. But that is too simple a view. Many of the early
imperialists were merchant adventurers, fighters willing to trade, and traders
willing to fight to gain access to markets. All wanted precious metals or spices.
The problem was that imperial authorities, operating on theories of mercantilism
and narrow, legalistic definitions of empire, tended to view anyone who attempted
to breach the restricted bounds of trade regulations as pirates. Therefore, in the
colonial context, trade and warfare went hand in hand from the beginning. The
process of differentiating a warship from a merchantman was a slow one. Most
ships and their crews were expected to be able both to charge a gun and to know
the price that silk or tobacco would fetch in London or Amsterdam. But this
changed over time, which is why the term 'trade war' is also misleading. Although
trade and economic advantage were to be had abroad, imperialism was not
primarily about trade. The merchant adventurer gradually became the naval
captain and colonial soldier - Drake and Hawkins transmogrified into Clive,
Dupleix, Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) and Kitchener - and the army of
John Company (the East India Company) evolved into a force raised by the
government and supported by tax revenue, not company profits.
But merchant or soldier, the problem for all men on the outer edge of the
imperial advance was the same: their enemies were many, while their own
numbers were inconsequential. As a result, imperial soldiers faced operational
challenges of the sort which had confronted Cortes from the moment he fired his
boats at Veracruz - how was a relative handful of Europeans with limited
technological means to traverse an inaccessible country, to conquer a numerically
superior enemy, and pacify a new empire? While these challenges remained
difficult, over time European soldiers mastered them to the point that imperial
conquest came to be regarded as little more than a technical problem to be solved.
For instance, to the end of his career, Wellington, who had directed what was
regarded as Europe's toughest fighting in Spain between 1808 and 1813, who had
held Europe's fate in his hands in the cauldron of Waterloo, maintained that
Assaye, his 1803 victory over Marathan forces, was 'the bloodiest for the numbers
that I ever saw', and the best thing that he ever did in the way of fighting. By the
end of the nineteenth century, however, the British writer, Colonel C. E. Callwell's
classic, Small Wars, or the less well-known Observations sur les guerres dans les
colonies, by the French Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Ditte, c;ould adopt a very
prescriptive approach to colonial warfare.
Wars of Empire chronicles the period during which Europeans gradually
bested their indigenous foes. That said, however, the image of an irresistible
combination of European firepower, discipline and logistics concentrated against
sometimes fanatical, but hopelessly outclassed, indigenous forces is a deceptive
one. It certainly oversimplifies a more complex interaction of cultural confusion,
conflicting political goals and shifting military alliances, not to mention the more
stable factors of terrain and technology: The adaptive response of Western
soldiers to the challenges of imperial warfare was more apparent in some areas
than others, and clearly accelerated as the nineteenth century drew to a close.
This volurne will seek to accomplish three tasks: first, to examine the
problems posed by the conditions of warfare outside Europe on the European
military systems, and how European, and eventually American, soldiers adapted
to them. From the earliest days of imperial expansion it was clear to most that
warfare outside Europe required special skills and qualities, and that the military
organizations of European forces had to prove flexible enough to incorporate
those changes while maintaining the advantages of systems developed for war
between civilized armies.
Second, as war is an interactive process, European adaptation was
conditioned in part by the native response to European invasions. Therefore, one
must ask why it was that in most cases, indigenous societies failed to organize a
successful resistance. The stock explanation is that native resistance was
outgunned. Sometimes - usually, even - it certainly was. However, this book will
argue that any theory of imperial advance grounded solely in the technological
lag of the defeated is inadequate. While native armies were usually at a
technological disadvantage against a European invader, a lack of firepower was
not their only, or even their major, disadvantage. On occasion, poorly armed
indigenous forces defeated technologically superior European troops because
they employed terrain, tactics or surprise to their advantage. British armies fell
victim to small Franco-Amerindian forces between 1757 and 1763; to American
rebels at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781; to Afghans in 1841-2; and to
Indian mutineers in 1857. Chelmsford at Isandlwana in 1879, Hicks 'Pasha' on
the Nile in 1883, and Black Week in South Africa in 1899 demonstrated the
vulnerability of British commanders who were insufficiently cautious. The French
were desperately overstretched during the first decade of the Algerian invasion.
They suffered defeat at the Macta Marshes in 1835 and were forced into a
devastating retreat from the walls of Constantine the following year. General
F r a n ~ o i s de Negrier was sent packing by Chinese forces at Lang Son in 1885,
while Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Bonnier's small force was wiped out by Tuareg
near Timbuktu in January 1894. The Russians suffered humiliating reversals in
the Caucasus in the 1840s. General George Custer's demise on the Little Bighorn
in 1876 nearly matched in drama if not in scale that of the Italians at Adowa
in 1896. Even the lightly armed Herero people could, on occasion, inflict a
reversal on heavily armed German columns, as they did on Major Glasenapp in
1904 at Owikokero in South-West Africa. However, while sometimes victorious in
a dramatic battle, these societies were seldom able to sustain lengthy wars against
a determined European invader. In fact, the confrontation with a European
invader caused problems of adaptation with which indigenous societies were
unable to cope.
Finally, Wars of Empire will conclude with brief observations which contrast
the success of imperial soldiers before 1914 with the relative success of
indigenous insurgencies after 1918. A detailed study of modern insurgencies is
INTRODUCTION
21
WARS OF EMPIRE
22
beyond the scope of this work, and will be dealt with in a subsequent volume in
the series. This volume is an attempt to preface the problem with the observation
that, although imperial military success appeared virtually inevitable and
unstoppable before the First World War, in fact it was built on a brittle
foundation, both militarily and politically. The tenuous success of imperial
conquest before 1914 would become apparent as the First World War was being
fought, and even more so in its aftermath.
Even as imperialism rolled forward like an unstoppable juggernaut, clever
indigenous commanders like Abd el-Kader in Algeria, Shamil in the Caucasus,
Samori in West Africa or de Wet in the Transvaal, despite being poorly armed,
were able to resist effectively European encroachment for years, even decades, by
engaging in guerrilla warfare. The problem, then, was not one of tactics but one
of creating the cohesion in the indigenous society to be able to sustain a war of
attrition against the invader, to raise the price of conquest beyond that which he
was willing to p a ~ Because support for imperialism had never run deep in
European societies, it was not too difficult after 1945 to convince many imperial
countries to vacate the premises; that colonial empires, which, it was now
revealed, were vast drains on national exchequers, were simply not worth the
effort required to maintain them. In many respects, this was the gift of European
imperialism to Africa and Asia. Colonial occupation welded diverse peoples
together, gave them the cohesion, if only temporarily, to behave like nations, and
educated a leadership capable of focusing national expression and creating a
strategy for independence. But that was in the future. To be liberated, empires
had first to be conquered. How military men adapted to the challenges of
imperial warfare in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is the
story of this book.
INTRODUCTION
Retreat from Constantine
(Algeria), 1836.
Technological superiority
cannot account for the
success of European arms in
the pre-industrial age. Until
the advent of magazine-fed
rifles and ultimately
machine guns, European
expeditions into the
hinterland of Africa, India
or China ran a serious risk
of being overwhelmed.
CHAPTER ONE
...
THE CONTEXT:
WHY EMPIRE?
IMPERIAL WARFARE required all armies to enlist native
levies, like this mounted soldier recruited by the
Russians to fight in the Caucasus against Shamil in the
1830s. Native soldiers offered the dual advantages of
mobility and economy. However, they were seldom
disciplined to the level of European units.
WARS OF EMPIRE
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
Cecil Rhodes and the board
of directors of De Beers in
1895. prominence
in the exploitation of the
diamond mines of South
Africa and in the origins of
the Second South African
(Boer) War (1899-1902) led
Lenin to conclude that
imperial and the
wars this were
the last gasp of a moribund
capitalist system.
I
MPERIALISM HAS LONG PROVED a subject of significant historical
That the origins of the historical debate have their roots in the very wars
engendered by European expansion is hardly surprising when one realizes that
from the beginning, expansion met at best indifference, at worst hostility, in the
populations of imperial nations. That hostility acquired an economic rationale
when ]. A. Hobson, a Liberal MP and economist, denounced the Second South
African War of 1899-1902 as a scam perpetrated on the British people by a clutch
of patriotic parasites led by Cecil Rhodes. The military resources of England had
been mobilized for the personal gain of a few capitalists eager to seize the gold
and diamonds of South Africa. Why? Because, according to Hobson, home
markets were saturated, and capitalists required new territories in which to invest
excess capital safely and It fell to Lenin, however, to lift the specific
circumstance of the Boer War into the realm of dogma. While Hobson viewed
imperialism as an unproductive economic activity for nations, a movement
concocted by conspiratorial confederacies of capitalists to divert vast sums into
their own pockets, Lenin insisted in 1916 that imperialism was a logical evolution
of capitalism, its 'highest stage'. Capitalists, whose Malthusian policies
invariably drove their societies toward social and financial catastrophe, sought to
delay the inevitable reckoning through conquests of cheap and reliable sources of
raw materials, as well as markets for the products of European industries.
The economic dynamism of imperialism was far more evident during the
early empires. It was a period when slave labour produced 'groceries' and
Amerindians collected furs, and was not an era of wage labour upon which
industrial capitalism was based. And even these old empires were largely barren
of profit for the nations, even for the merchant companies, which conquered and
maintained them. As the British historian of empires, D. K. Fieldhouse, has
argued, the mercantilist theory which underpinned the economies of empire was
simply old European protectionism extended abroad. Nor, in fact, did
mercantilism succeed either as a theory of econo.mic organization or of political
control. 'American empires rested on a nice and quite accidental balance between
imperial restrictions and the capacity of the colonists to evade them,' he wrote.
The result was a financial and administrative burden which allowed Adam Smith
to write in 1776 that 'Britain derives nothing but loss from the dominion which
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
CThe Diamond Diggings,
South Africa'. This 1872
illustration depicts the free-
booting atmosphere that
reigned in the diamond
mines of the Orange Free
State. This was replicated
in the Transvaal when gold
was discovered there.
The influx of British
immigrants led to tensions
with the conservative Boer
population that contributed
to the outbreak of war
in 1899.
27
WARS OF EMPIRE
she assumes over her colonies'. When Britain attempted to tighten trade
restrictions so that she could recoup some of the enormous costs required to
administer and defend her North American colonies, she succeeded only in
provoking rebellion.
By the nineteenth century, imperialists, at least in Britain, were moving away
from mercantilism and toward a system of free trade. The outriders of British
IMPERIAL AGE EMPIRES
c. 1700
The New World was
exhausted, the trade in
'groceries' - spices, sugar,
and coffee - slaves, fish and
furs made fortunes for
individuals, but seldom for
the merchant companies that
organized the trade nor for
the governments that
chartered them and defended
their interests.
Cape Verde If·"" 0

Fernand
I
expansion to the coasts of China in the mid nineteenth century were
businessmen. By demanding open markets free of government regulation or
monopolistic restriction, traders like Jardine, Mattheson and Dent helped to
transform the emerging imperial consciousness into an ideology that equated free
trade with the spread of Western civilization and the rule of law. In this way,
imperialism was a revival of the Roman concept of dominion as a moral and
s.:
Imperial Age Empires
c.1700
D Spanish possessions
Portuguese possessions
British possessions
French possessions
Dutch possessions
Danish possessions
Russian possessions
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
OVERLEAF: The Battle of
Bunker Hill, Massachusetts
17 June 1775. The costs of
imperial defence during the
French and Indian (Seven
Years) War (1756-63) caused
the British crown to insist
that its American colonists
assume their fair share of
the financial burden. The
colonists resorted to
rebellion once their
capacity to evade
imperial
restrictions was
curtailed.
lJ
WARS OF EMPIRE

THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
WARS OF EMPIRE
CThe Reception of an
English Envoy at the Court
of Peking' (17·92). European
ambassadors insisted on free
trade and diplomatic
equality. But potentates only
condescended to receive
them as barbarians.
military ascendancy over inferior peoples. Merchants were simply to be the initial
beneficiaries. But few businessmen saw great profit in the colonies. Capital flowed
from Britain and Europe, not to the colonies but to North and South America,
the white dominions of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and to develop the
gold and diamond mines of the Boer republics. Britain's greatest push to acquire
colonies came at the very moment when its economic position had begun to
decline. And while some individuals profited from colonial expansion, nations
seldom did. In the last years of the nineteenth century the British Empire was a
revenue drain. The French paid huge subsidies to garrison and develop their
unproductive colonies which accounted for less than 10 per cent of French
overseas trade by 1900. The future Marshal of France, Hubert Lyautey, lamented
in the 1890s that French Indo-China, practically barren of businessmen, was rich
in bureaucrats and soldiers. The only German colony which claimed an export
worth entering on a balance sheet was Togo, and its palm oil was exploited by
British, not German, merchants. The merchant companies which Bismarck hoped
in 1884 would manage the German colonies on the model of Britain's East India
Company required only one short decade to collapse. By 1914, the German
colonial empire cost the German government £50 million in direct subsidies, and
probably double that if indirect subsidies and low-interest loans are factored in,
against a trade volume of £14 million; it accounted for only 0.5 per cent of
Germany's external trade. Indeed, German Social Democrats were fond of
pointing out that Germany's trade with Norway was more significant than that
with her colonies. While there was a shiver of commercial interest in the British
colonies, it weighed lightly in Britain's external trade: a mere 1.2 per cent with her
tropical colonies at the turn of the century.
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
Hubert Lyautey, an
enthusiastic promoter of
French imperialism and first
Resident General of
Morocco in 1912, lamented
the fact that the French
empire was propped up by
government subsidies and
military occupation, and
remained largely barren of
business investment.
33
WARS OF EMPIRE
American naval captain
A. T. Mahans The Influence
of Sea Power upon History
(1890) argued that sea
control and empire formed
the twin pillars of national
prosperity. Though Mahan
based his argument on the
British imperial experience,
navalists and imperialists
everywhere cited Mahan as
a justification for large fleets
and imperial expansion.
34
Nor does the economic explanation for imperial expansion
apply to two other imperial powers: Russia and the United
States. The Russian and, until 1898, American empires
were continental ones with moving frontiers, and
therefore were more obviously military constructions.
In each case, settlers and traders had flowed into
sparsely populated lands. The state had merely
followed. However, by the end of the century, the
rationale for each was becoming more obviously
economic, similar to arguments made in Britain
about the requirement for empire to protect the
British worker against foreign competition. In
part, the economic arguments began because each
country was reacting to events in China. Sergei
Witte, finance minister under Tsar Alexander III,
sometimes called the 'Cecil Rhodes of Russia',
believed at the turn of the century that Manchuria,
Korea and Siberia could be squeezed for capital to
transform Russia into a first-class industrial power.
Likewise, after 1898, American imperialism distinguished
itself from the European version, at least in its own mind,
because it saw its island colonies as stepping stones to larger markets
in China and the Far East, rather than as ends in themselves. That said, the
stepping stones did much better out of America, which guaranteed them a secure
market for their products, than America did out of her colonies, which were able
to absorb only 3.8 per cent of US exports by 1920. Nor did markets in Latin
America and China to which the colonies were meant to facilitate access ever
prove lucrative. In 1885, for instance, Latin America absorbed only 3.74 per cent
of American exports. So, although individual traders, investors and exporters
made money in empire, nations never did.
In general, capitalists made indifferent imperialists, and vice versa. The most
successful were merchants of death, men who unloaded an estimated 16 million
mostly obsolete firearms on Africa in the course of the nineteenth c e n t u r ~
Businessmen preferred to deal with established governments, not invest scarce
capital in conquest and infrastructure development. Colonies devoured
metropolitan subsidies and generated large defence and administrative
requirements, against a return of prestige and the distant promise of an economic
pay-off.
Imperialism was not the highest stage of capitalism, as Lenin believed, but
the highest stage of nationalism. The trouble was that, while imperialists were
nationalists, not all nationalists were imperialists. Imperialism's natural
constituency was small, confined largely to men of military or journalistic
disposition who grasped at empire as an antidote for national decline or as a
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
vision of a new world order. Founded in 1882, the Kolonialverein (colonial
society) counted 17,000 members by 1889. French colonial groups counted less
than half that number, many of whom were schoolboys. Even in Britain, the
official mind of imperialism offered a vision by a clutch of leaders who shared
similar origins, education and values, rather than an ideology able to unite a mass
movement. Imperialists attracted some crossover support on grounds of ideology
or group interests: missionaries eager for souls to convert; a handful of
businessmen with colonial interests; social Darwinists for whom imperialism
offered irrefutable evidence of the survival of the fittest; members of
geographical societies who believed exploration a prelude to conquest. A. T.
Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, published in 1890, gave rise
to navalism, which on occasion allied with imperialism. Mahan, an American
naval captain, equated mastery of the seas with national prosperity, which could
be exploited by imperialists who demanded naval bases to protect trade routes
and provide coaling stations to give fleets global reach. But as Europe slithered
towards war in 1914, navalists focused on fleet-on-fleet engagements, battles of
steel-hulled mammoths like that which had helped settle the Russo-Japanese War
at Tsushima in 1905, and which they believed would characterize the coming
Armageddon in the North Atlantic. Dispatching light cruisers and frigates to
occupy islands, or tiny gunboats to navigate malarial rivers to blast half-naked
potentates were tasks too modest to extend the attention span of these
The Russo-Japanese War of
1904-5 was the product of
the collision of Russian and
Japanese imperialism. A
fleet-an-fleet engagement
in the Tsushima Strait on
27 May 1905 marked the
climax of that war and was
hailed both as a vindication
of Mahan and a preview of
the expected naval
Armageddon in the North
Sea between Germany and
Britain.
35
WARS OF EMPIRE
Dreadnought-besotted patriots beyond the second
glass of port.
Because imperialism's support base was
limited to pockets of elite opinion, politicians who
relied on it for electoral success risked political
extinction. No early Victorian prime minister
believed that empire was anything other than an
accessory to national prosperity and prestige. It is
alleged that even Palmerston, a connoisseur of
gunboat diplomacy, was unable to locate many of
the places where he ordered his navy to intervene
on a map. Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister from
1874 to 1880, attempted to elevate empire into a
province of the national imagination and, in the
process, transform the Tories into the party of
empire, forging the link between empire and
ional greatness in the popular mind. Disraeli's
1 lace'speech of. June 1872 offered the
electora e, S 011 i 1867 by the addition
'eb
Britain the envy of the world. In 1875 he bought
into the Compagnie de Suez to guarantee British
control of the Suez Canal, that important link with
India and the East, and the following year
proclaimed Queen Victoria Empress of India. He
travelled personally to Berlin in 1878 to support the
Ottoman Empire against Russian encroachment.
In the process, he secured Cyprus for Britain as an
anchor for Suez and a further stepping stone to the
East. However, Disraeli's ministry established the
rule that those who live by empire perish by it. The
executioner of Disraeli's imperial strategy was
none other than his rival and leader of the Liberal
Party, William Gladstone. Gladstone's Midlothian
campaign of 1879 offered a denunciation of
imperialism as Disraelian theatre, a counterfeit
pageant which camouflaged a felonious enterprise.
Gladstone denounced the Afghan War of 1878-80
and the Zulu War of 1879-80 as little short of
criminal assaults on innocent peoples, helpless
against the firepower of Redcoats. 'Remember the
rights of the savage!', Gladstone intoned.
imperialism was re.latively
popular. Yet even Gladstone
learned that Om erial .
territorie nee acquired,
virtual impossible to
THE CO TEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
WARS OF EMPIRE
'Remember the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan, among the
winter snows, is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own!'
His invective worked. In 1880, Disraeli crashed in flames and retired.
THE RISKS OF IMPERIALISM
Although Gladstone was the primary beneficiary of Disraeli's fall, he could not
escape the burden of imperial He was severely embarrassed by the
plight of Charles 'Chinese' Gordon at Khartoum in 1884-5, aJ:?d suspected that
he had been intentionally set up by his colonial proconsul. Moralists lurked,
ready to pounce on the inevitable Later, the Second South African War
nourished a vocal anti-war movement in Britain led by Lloyd George and Emily
Hobhouse. And while pro-war nationalists successfully contained them during
the war, subsequently governments ran shy of imperial ventures. Liberals cooled
on imperialism, while within the emerging Labour Party, imperialism was vilified
as a subject of partisan abuse.
If British politicians, secure In the 'splendid isolation' of their island, in
possession of the world's greatest navy, found imperialism a hard sell, what could
Continental leaders expect but public cynicism. The primary concerns of
Continental powers were, by definition, European. Imperial conquest was an add-
St Helena

Islands

South
Georgia
THE BRITISH EMPIRE 1914
It was said that the British
Empire had been acquired "in
a fit of absence of mind'.
Rather, the process of
acquisition in Britain) as for
other imperial nations) was a
lengthy one driven largely by
men on the periphery -
explorers) merchants) sailors)
soldiers - who gradually
claimed) conquered)
purchased or suborned pieces
of territory which they
presented to London as faits
accomplis. Once acquired)
however, each island and
each territory was viewed as
a piece of a strategic jigsaw
vital for the integrity of the
whole.
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
on, a leisure actIvIty to be undertaken only when it did not jeopardize one's
fundamental interests at home. Any politician who thought about it for more than
five minutes should have concluded that he would get little credit when imperial
expansion succeeded, and all of the blame when an expedition encountered
setbacks. This was true even in France, a country with a long, and at times,
glorious colonial history: The launching in 1830 of an expedition to capture
Algiers was the Bourbon Restoration's desperate effort to glean popularity from
imperial military success. But Algiers' fall failed to postpone that of the Bourbon
Restoration, which collapsed in July 1830 in the face of a popular revolution.
The Bourbons were followed by their Orleanist cousins who, after a period of
hesitation, adopted a policy of total conquest of Algeria. However, this proved
difficult against an enemy who adopted a guerrilla strategy: Therefore, General
Thomas Bugeaud, the French commander-in-chief in Algeria from 1841, elevated
the or raid, into a strategy of brutal economic warfare against the Muslim
population. Soon blackened fields, ravaged fruit orchards and devastated villages
marked the passage of French columns. General Castellane, who visited Algeria
in this period, defended the razzia: 'in Europe, once [you are] master of two or
three large cities, the entire country is yours,' he wrote. 'But in Africa, how do you
act against a population whose only link with the land is the pegs of their tents?
British Empire 1914
area of British influence
e
So....
Islnds
New

r;;
Tropit of (oncer
British colonies
other colonial states and
their possessions
other territories
and states
Tasma,{j;
o
D
D

It---H-""!:__ Mauritius. _
39
WARS OF EMPIRE
General Thomas-Robert
Bugeaud secured an
uncertain French mandate
over Algeria in the 1840s.
While Bugeaud's
incorporation of lightly
armed troops into mobile
(lying columns was regarded
as tactically innovative, his
scorched earth methods
employed against Muslims
drew criticism in France.
The only way is to take the grain which feeds them, the flocks which clothe them.
For this reason, we make war on silos, war on cattle, the razzia.'
The growing savagery of the war hit its nadir in June 1845, when Colonel
Amable Pelissier trapped a group of Arabs in the caves of Dahra in the coastal
mountains north of Cheliff. After desultory negotiations, Pelissier ordered a fire
built in the cave mouth. Five hundred Muslim men, women and children were
asphyxiated. When Pelissier's report, describing the atrocity in lurid and self-
congratulatory prose, was released to the Chamber of Peers, a storm of protest
broke out in France. But far from condemning his subordinate, Bugeaud praised
Pelissier and even suggested that the action might be repeated. In August of that
year, Colonel Saint-Arnaud entombed a large number of Muslims who had
sought refuge in a cave: 'There are five hundred brigands down there who will
never again butcher Frenchmen,' he trumpeted. Other mass liquidations followed
over the next two years. In 1846, Alexis de Tocqueville returned from Algeria
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
Abd el-Kader proved to be
France's greatest adversary
in Algeria. He enjoyed
considerable success from
1832 until Bugeaud's arrival
in 1840. Worn down by
Bugeaud's brutal war of
attrition, abandoned by the
Sultan of Morocco after
1844, Abd el-Kader
surrendered to French
General Lamoriciere on
23 December 1847.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte,
the nephew of the great
Napoleon, assumed office in
1848 with the idea of
extracting France from
Algeria. Instead, he became
an ardent imperialist,
annexing Cochin-China (the
southern province of
Vietnam), and dispatching
troops to Mexico between
1862 and 1867.
horrified by the excesses of the military regime there - he later described the
officers of the Algerian army as 'imbecilic'.
The imperial schemes of Napoleon III, which included participating in a joint
Anglo-French expedition against China in 1858-60, and a brief flirtation with
establishing an Arab empire in the Levant, were stillborn. However, his decision
to invade Mexico and use it as a springboard to the extension of French influence
in Latin America proved to be an unpopular and expensive fiasco which helped to
weaken a regime ultimately destroyed by Prussian bayonets. The Third Republic,
born in 1870, appeared at first to have learned its lesson about the risks of
imperial adventures. It cut colonial expenditure to the bone and concentrated on
building up its metropolitan arm)!. However, in 1881, Prime Minister Jules Ferry
launched a campaign to seize Tunisia. The political protests that erupted in a
country which, Ferry recognized, was disgusted by the imperial adventures of
Napoleon III, threw him out of office. His successor, Charles de Freycinet, lost his
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
French Prime Minister Ferry
receives the governors of the
French colonies. Although
one of the Third
most accomplished
he was hounded
out of office in 1885 after a
minor colonial defeat.
43
WARS OF EMPIRE
Carl Peters (1856-1918)
pressed inland toward the
Great Lakes region to claim
what was to become
German East Africa) claims
later acknowledged by
German Chancellor Otto
von Bismarck. According to
Lord Salisbury) the arrogant
attitude of 'cheap and nasty
officials' like Peters
provoked the 1888 revolt in
German East Africa.
Otto von Bismarck's 1884
decision to lay claim to
African lands caught his
contemporaries by surprise.
The subsequent Berlin
Congress of 1884-5
established the principle of
'effective occupation' of a
territory before it could be
claimed) touching off the
great imperial land rush
that Jules Ferry called
'the steeplechase to the
unknown'.
44
portfolio when he merely suggested that France might participate with Britain in
the suppression of the Egyptian revolt of 1882. Ferry was next hounded from
office in 1885 by braying mobs shouting 'Ferry Tonkin!', after French forces
suffered a reversal at Lang Son, on the Tonkin-Chinese border. Having
repudiated Ferry's policy of expansion in Indo-China, parliament threw
out Ferry's successor, Henri Brisson, when he attempted to extend credits
to maintain the expeditionary force there.
In many respects, German imperialism was the most eccentric
because it was so divorced from Germany's strategic or economIC
interests. The German empire came about in 1884 as the result of
Bismarck's order to his consul in Cape Town to lay claim to South-West
Africa and Togo. Later, he recognized the claims made in the name of
Germany in East Africa by the German explorer Carl Peters in the mid
1880s. Bismarck's motives continue to baffle historians. He appears to have
wanted colonies as diplomatic pawns and to please minority interests. His
annexations precipitated the Congo Congress in Berlin of 1884-5, which
established the principle of effective occupation as the prerequisite for colonial
claims, and in the process touched off the great African land rush which
dominated the last two decades of the c e n t u r ~ Whatever his motives for claiming
pieces of Africa, the German chancellor rapidly lost interest in imperial
expansion, especially when the chartered companies which he believed would
administer the colonies either failed to materialize or went bust. The
disillusionment with empire was fixed in 1904-6 with the brutal suppression of
the Herero and Maji-Maji rebellions in South-West Africa and German East
Africa. The Reichstag was dissolved in 1906 after opposition politicians protested
against the brutality of these wars by refusing to vote in the budget. In the
aftermath of this crisis, Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow created a colonial office
and undertook to create a corps of professional administrators to avoid a
repetition of such public relations disasters.
Russian expansion was of an entirely different nature to that of other imperial
nations. In the first place, it was a continental not a maritime enterprise. It was a
continuation of the defensive expansion of Muscovy, and such strategic concerns
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
In this 1889 lithograph, the
leader of an uprising in East
Africa is executed by
German marines. The
conquest of imperial
populations was often a
source of dissension both
within countries and
between them. However, by
wrapping themselves in the
banner of nationalism,
imperialists could surmount
the problem of fragile
popular support for
imperialism.
45
WARS OF EMPIRE
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
1860-191 4
was a
rather than a
empire. It expanded largely
because, with the exception
of the Caucasus, it met
minimal resistance. That
would change in the early
twentieth century as the
collapse of China brought
Russia into conflict with
Japan in Manchuria and
Korea.
supplied the most coherent rationale. Second, nationalism played almost no part.
No equivalent of the 'White Man's Burden' existed in Russia. The most
important support for Russian imperialism came from Pan-Slavism, but this was
never a mass movement and was only influential during the Russo-Turkish War of
1877-8. Third, as elsewhere, economic considerations were, at best, marginal.
There was some belief that the conquest of Central Asia would encourage trade
from India. There was also population pressure to move Russians into the
conquered areas. But basically, the Russian frontier moved forward
because, apart from in the Caucasus, the advance met minimal
resistance. In the eighteenth century, Russia moved to
consolidate its southern frontiers on the Kazakh
steppe, the Ukraine and White Russia, on the Black
Sea coast and in the Crimea. After that, Russian
imperialism turned offensive: eastern Poland
was annexed in 1795, Finland in 1807
and Armenian areas in the first quarter
of the nineteenth century: The
northern Caucasus was absorbed
between 1859 and 1864, and the
Kazakh steppe consolidated
from China to the Caspian.
The Uzbek states, Kokand,
Bukhara and Khiva, were
overwhelmed between 1864-73,
while Turkestan fell in the 1880s.
Although the British feared that the
Russian presence in Asia was a prelude to
an invasion of the tsars never seriously
entertained that ambition.
Towards the century's end, Russia shifted its
attentions to the Far East. The flight of serfs into Siberia had
enticed the government to follow in the eighteenth century: Vladivostok
was established in 1857 and the Amur and Ussuri regions were annexed in 1860.
However, St Petersburg's apathy towards Siberia was rattled by the Sino-Japanese
War of 1894-5, which opened Manchuria to Russian penetration. Tsar Nicholas
II allowed himself to be seduced by the Asian vision of his finance minister, Sergei
Witte. Witte convinced his sovereign that Russia's destiny lay in the Far East.
Manchuria, Witte insisted, could be exploited for the cash required to
industrialize western Russia. But the Russian case offers an example of how an
imperial power merely drifted, unmindful of the potentially disastrous
consequences, into a vacuum created by the decomposition of the Celestial
Empire, and quickly found itself overextended. The intervention of Russia,
Germany and Britain to strip Japan of many of the spoils of its victory over
C H
000
400km
China in 1895, and the subsequent Russian invasion of Manchuria and Korea, set
off alarm bells in Tokyo. Japan prepared to assert its claims to territories on the
Asian mainland which it regarded as being within its sphere of imperial interests.
At the same time, Witte's dreams of a Russian empire in the Far East were shared
by few of his compatriots, who nourished hopes that their country would evolve
as a Western, not an Oriental, power. Appalling mismanagement of the Russo-
Japanese War of 1904-5 confirmed the disinclination of Russians to fight for
Manchuria to the point that it spawned the revolution of 1905. Revolution,
combined with the loss of the Russian fleet at Tsushima in 1905, convinced the
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
The Russian Empire
1860-1914
Russian Empire 1598
acquisitions 1598-1855
acquisitions 1855-1900
Russian sphere of influence
in Mongolia, China (1900-14)
and in Persia (1907-21)
strategic railways into Asia
constructed by 1900
areas of dispute or political
friction with the Ottoman,
British, Chinese and
Japanese empires
47
WARS OF EMPIRE
THE TROUBLE IN CUBA.
U eLK A --:" I'v had my y on that mors 1 for a Ion time; I'll have to l k it in !'
tsar to cut his losses and concede an unfavourable peace with the Japanese in 1905.
American imperialism is usually thought to be an accidental product of the
USA's victory over Spain in 1898. And while it is true that the United States
suddenly found itself in possession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, by 1898
Americans were intellectually prepared to assume the 'White Man's Burden'.
From early in the nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny, the belief that the
American people must extend US sovereignty to its natural frontiers, established a
vision of the United States dominating the North American continent from ocean
to ocean, and hence had served as the political rationale which underpinned a
continental expansion similar, though not identical, to that of the Russian
empire. The Monroe Doctrine of 1824 also caused Washington to look upon
Latin America as a special protectorate. The United States had aided the Juaristas
in their campaign to oust Maximilian and the French from Mexico in 1867. There
had been periodic calls for the annexation of Cuba or Santo Domingo, based in
part on the reactive fear that Britain or Germany might take advantage of
disorder there to extend their empires. The American historian and political
theorist Frederick Jackson Turner reflected the assumptions of his age when
he argued that the closing of the American frontier by 1890 would result in
an increase in strikes and social tensions. Without the safety valve of free
land which allowed workers to desert fetid cities for the open spaces of
the American West, the pattern of American social relations would
come to replicate tumultuous European ones. Finally, Mahan and the
navalists argued for keeping the islands to serve as coaling stations on
the route to the markets of Asia. Intellectually, then, the United
States was receptive to empire.
The groundwork for American expansion beyond its shores
had also been laid politically: William Henry Seward, the Secretary of
State who purchased Alaska in 1867 and annexed Midway Island in
the same year as a strategic base for Pacific expansion, is often seen as
the founder of American imperialism. Nevertheless, when, in 1892-3,
Americans in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy there and demanded
annexation, President Grover Cleveland hesitated as annexation went
against the wishes of the Hawaiian people. However, the tide began to
turn with the election of William McKinley in 1896. But when
Washington suddenly found itself in possession of islands as the
result of the defeat of Spain in 1898, no one quite knew what to
do with them. Cuba was occupied, and later abandoned to a
new regime. Few Americans knew where the Philippines
were, or even what they were - one senator thought they
were canned goods. But the usual reasons were evoked as
an excuse to maintain them under American control - if
America did not take the Philippines, Germany or
Japan would. Like Hawaii, the Philippines offered
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
OPPOSITE: The 1824 Monroe
Doctrine, 'Manifest
Destiny', fear of European
encroachment in the
Caribbean, and later
Mahan's navalism combined
to create the intellectual
framework for imperialism
in the'anti-imperialist'
United States.
William Seward's purchase
of Alaska and annexation
of Midway Island in 1867 as
a basis of Pacific expansion
made him, in the minds of
many, the father of
American imperialism.
WARS OF EMPIRE

stepping stones and naval bases to extend US trade and influence to the East.
Missionaries, forgetting or ignoring that the Philippines were already Catholic,
wanted to secure them for Christianity. The acceptance of a seaborne empire
confirmed the views of those who argued that America must take its place as a
world power, an extension of Manifest Destiny beyond the shoreline. American
theorists became like men of religion who, having preached the virtues of
evangelical poverty, suddenly discover the benefits of ministering to a well-heeled
parish. They had to work overtime to harmonize their capitalist, anti-imperialist
dogma with preferential tariffs and the moral dilemma of ruling subject peoples.
Once empire was acquired, its retention acquired a strategic rationale.
Historians have concluded that an official mind of imperialism formed in Britain,
a strategic awareness that vital choke points along the route to India and the Far
East must remain under British control. And while Paris was also aware that its
interests in Algeria and Indo-China also had strategic requirements, British
historian Christopher Andrew has suggested that the imperial mind in France
was purely unofficial - reluctant, reactive, and a hostage to Gallic xenophobia.
And because the chancelleries of Europe were peopled on the whole by reluctant
imperialists, imperialists malgre eux, for the most part, they reacted to initiatives
undertaken by men on the periphery which they appeared practically powerless to
control. Men, mainly soldiers, expanded the bounds of empire without orders,
and often against orders. This was a phenomenon as old as imperialism itself. It
was difficult, if not impossible, to control the expansion of empire. In London,
Paris, St Petersburg, or Berlin, many ministers knew little of the places conquered
and cared less. Empires were often appallingly administered, allowing those with
energy and initiative a freedom limited only by the ability of indigenous peoples
to resist their encroachment.
Much of British expansion in India occurred during the French Revolutionary
and Napoleonic wars when the British government was otherwise preoccupied.
Although the Industrial Revolution gradually closed the communications gap,
European capitals were still weeks, if not months, distant. When, in 1843,
General Sir Charles Napier executed, by his own admission, 'a very
advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality' to capture Sind in the climactic
battle of Hyderabad, Punch magazine suggested that the only battle report which
could convey a proper sense of remorse would be the Latin Peccavi or 'I have
sinned'. Of course, Napier was no more remorseful than was his French
contemporary Bugeaud, who informed his government in 1847 that he intended
to advance the frontiers of French control in Algeria into the Kabylia despite
orders to the contrary. 'It is obvious that I must take the full responsibility,' he
wrote, 'I accept it without hesitation.'
By the late nineteenth century, French soldiers had become masters of
deception, failing to inform Paris of their advances, even altering maps and place
names to camouflage their conquests from prying politicians. When, for instance,
in 1903, French General Hubert Lyautey moved from Algeria to occupy the
THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?
Moroccan city of Bechar, he promptly renamed it Colomb 'to spare diplomatic
susceptibilities'. Indeed, government orders to inhibit military action could
actually precipitate it; in 1912, when a wire arrived from Paris forbidding Lyautey
from seizing Marrakesh, the French commander folded it, slipped it into his back
pocket, sat down and ordered General Charles Mangin to seize Marrakesh.
He 'received' the wire only after Mangin entered the city. Although the
German case is somewhat different, in that Bismarck ordered German
representatives to lay claims to South-West Africa, Togo and the Cameroon, he
did choose to acknowledge the treaties signed in the name of the German Empire
by the explorer Carl Peters in East Africa in the 1880s. Russian expansion in
Central Asia was a series of military faits accomplis - 'General Chernyaev has
taken Tashkent,' Interior Minister Valuev noted in July 1865, 'and nobody
knows why.'
In short, beneath the sermons of missionaries, the schemes of traders, and
the pride of nationalists in the vastness and virility of empire, imperialism boiled
down to a military phenomenon encouraged by a vocal but numerically
insignificant minority. To understand the dynamic of imperial expansion, one
must examine its primary component - imperial warfare.
'Colonef Theodore
Roosevelt led a troop of
volunteer 'Rough R i d e r s ~ in
Cuba in 1898. As US
president from September
1901, Roosevelt assured
American control of the
Panama Canal, sent troops
to the Dominican Republic
(1905) and to Cuba (1906),
and mediated the end of the
Russo-Japanese War in
1905, for which he was
awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize.
51
CHAPTER TWO
.... ••
COLONIAL WARFARE
IN THE
PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
MEXICAN TROOPS DEFEATED THE FRENCH at the battle of
Puebla,5 May 1862. Although Mexican forces were
subsequently driven into the south-western United States,
the elements of ultimate Mexican success are apparent in
the virtual equality of weapons, and the fact that the
mounted insurgents possessed a mobility that French
troops, overwhelmingly infantry, were unable to match.
WARS OF EMPIRE
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE
PRE- INDUSTRIAL AGE
I
N 1896, C. E. CALLWELL published Small Wars, a book which offered an almost
encyclopedic survey of wars that pitted European armies against weak,
irregular opponents, beginning with Hoche's suppression of the Vendee revolt
during the French Revolution. Callwell was well placed to comment on the
development of imperial warfare. Of Anglo-Irish extraction, schooled at
Haileybury (which specialized in educating the sons of colonial soldiers and civil
servants) and the Royal Military College, he was commissioned into the Royal
Artillery in 1878. He fought in the Afghan War of 1880, and the First South
African War in the following year. After passing through the Staff College in
1886, he served five years in the intelligence branch of the War Office. It may have
been in these years that Callwell began collecting his notes for Small Wars.
Small Wars was destined to become a minor classic of military literature. It
reflects the era in which Callwell wrote, the 'high renaissance' of imperialism. By
the end of the nineteenth century, the advantage in small wars had swung
definitively in the invader's favour. Yet it had not always been so. Until the mid
nineteenth century, imperial soldiers were seldom more advantaged in technology
than Cortes, with his tiny arsenal of firearms, three centuries earlier. Indeed, in
the East especially, European invaders were at best only equal to their opponents,
and sometimes even inferior in firepower against an indigenous enemy able to
produce his own muskets and artillery.
In colonial North America, the British had few if any qualitative
technological advantages over their Amerindian, French or American opponents.
Indeed, early on, the adaptive response of Amerindians to technological change
outstripped that of the European arrivals. The transition from the bow and arrow
to flintlock was a natural one for Amerindian men adept at hunting game,
shooting at individual targets, and raised in a warfare culture that placed
principal value on stealth and surprise. Amerindian life was a permanent
mobilization, a perpetual levee en masse. Young men were eager to join proven
war leaders for ambushes and raids whose ostensible purposes were to dominate
weaker neighbours, extort tribute, extend hunting or fishing rights, control trade
or avenge an insult. But the real goal was prestige, and this flowed to those who
closed with the enemy, often with club or axe: 'all that are slain are commonly
slain with great valour and courage,' wrote the New England pioneer Roger
Williams, 'for the conqueror ventures into the thickest, and brings away the head
of his enemy.'
Against the warfare culture of Amerindians, technology gave the colonists
only marginal advantage. The folklore of the deadeyed marksmanship of intrepid
North American frontiersman is mainly just that - a myth. In Europe, weapons
were a quasi-monopoly of the landed classes and poachers, so that few colonists
54
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
were expert in their use upon arrival. In some marginal agricultural areas like
New France, some colonists chose the unencumbered life of the courreurs de bois
or 'mountain men', followed the fur trade and lived as did the Amerindians. In
New England, however, agricultural and artisan pursuits allowed scarce time to
acquire hunting and marksmanship skills equivalent to those of the Amerindians.
Nor was there any need to learn, as Amerindians proved more than willing to
earn extra cash by selling venison and turkey to settlers, or by shooting
wolves who preyed on livestock. Archaeological excavations suggest that
hunting game other than birds was infrequent, at least in the New
England colonies.
So while Amerindians were quick to adopt the flintlock musket,
the persistence among Europeans in North America of the
matchlock, inferior to the bow and arrow for hunting but adequate
for the volley-firing drills of village militias, disadvantaged the new
arrivals well into the seventeenth century. The longevity of the
matchlock was also encouraged in some measure by the sentiment that
taking aim at individuals was neither chivalrous nor Christian. Efforts by
the colonists to staunch the technological transfer of muskets and later
rifles to the indigenous population inevitably collapsed because the
English, French and Spanish, thin on the ground, were forced to arm
Amerindian allies. Also, traders were eager to swap weapons for furs in
the north, and deerskins, Apalachee horses and Amerindian slaves in the
south. Amerindians also learned to repair weapons and manufacture
shot, after edicts placed that market off-limits to colonial craftsmen.
Their biggest lacuna, however, was powder, which was not manufactured
in North America but had to be imported. In this respect, the end of the
French and Indian War in 1763 severely curtailed Amerindian
resistance, for it dried up their alternative sources of powder. Even
in the Second Seminole War which began in 1835, American
soldiers complained that their smooth-bore muskets were of little
use against Seminoles armed with rifles. The downside of improved technology
for Amerindians was an escalation in lethality. The acquisition of weapons to
protect against rival tribes made fights to control the fur trade or to protect the
village from merciless settler encroachment literally struggles for survival.
Amerindian combat increased in desperation as both muskets and friction with
colonists transformed indigenous warfare from a largely ritualistic
demonstration in personal courage into something close to total war.
Before the introduction of the breech-loading rifle in the 1860s, matching
Europeans in firepower posed little problem in the Far East. The states of India
could manufacture their own muskets, powder and bullets, and even artillery at a
pinch. Indian sepoys who turned their weapons against their employers in 1857
did not fail for lack of arms - on the contrary, the British were positively shot to
pieces at places like Cawnpore and Lucknow. The Mutiny failed for lack of good
A courreur de bois, French
traders and trappers who
ranged from the Saint
Lawrence valley to the
Rocky Mountains in search
of furs. The European desire
for furs in the north, or
Apalachee horses or
Amerindian slaves in the
south, propelled the arming
of the indigenous
populations of North
America.
55
WARS OF EMPIRE
leadership, nor was there an ideology powerful enough to unite India's many
ethnic and religious groups into a unified movement.
The French in Algeria discovered, in the 1830s, that their short-range muskets
offered only a marginal defence against long-barrelled and longer-range Arab
jezails. The mountaineers' mastery of tactics, rather than small-arm superiority,
made the invasion of the Caucasus a Calvary for the Russians. In 1854, Turks and
English shipped late-model rifles to Shamil in the hope that he would draw off
Russian forces from the Crimea. But by then, Shamil's rebellion had begun
to show serious signs of disintegration. The Brown Bess and the 1777 model
Spanish musket were favourites in the South American war for independence. But
humidity and lack of powder and flints compounded the usual inefficiency of
these weapons, to the point that executing prisoners by firing squad was regarded
as a profligate expenditure of precious munitions. Among South American
Indians fighting for both sides, clubs and even poisoned arrows remained
the weapons of choice. Skirmishes in the Andes were often won by the side which
could gain the high ground and roll boulders Gown on the opposition. Not a
shot was fired in anger during the penultimate battle of the war, fought at
]unin in August 1824, which was exclusively an affair of the armes blanches
(swords). The Tokolor empire of aI-Hajj Umar, which by the 1860s stretched
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY WEAPONRY
Eighteenth-century
muskets were relatively
simple mechanisms,
often made by local
gunsmiths, easily
maintained and repaired
by Amerindians. The
greatest problem for the
Amerindians was to
acquire flints and powder,
especially after the fall of
Quebec in 1759 ended
the requirement for the
French and British to arm
their native allies.
BRITISH FERGUSON RIFLE 1775
AMERICA COLO IAL MUSKET C. 1775-6
FRENCH MUSKET C. 1777
BROW BESS C. 1780
from Senegal to Timbuktu, used the gold of West
Africa to purchase arms in Sierra Leone, and
recruited Africans from European colonies to serve
as soldiers and gunsmiths.
Artillery might give the invaders an advantage,
but not invariably so. Two brass field cannon
hoisted up the cliffs on to the Plains of Abraham
helped Wolfe to gain victory over Montcalm, who
attacked before his artillery - indeed, before the
bulk of his force - was in place. Wellesley
discovered that 6-pounders, which he distributed
two per battalion, were particularly effective in
India because the enemy tended to swarm in dense,
target-worthy packs which dissolved in bloody
panic after a few discharges of grapeshot. He also
found artillery useful In attacking Indian
fortifications like Tipu's capital at Seringapatam,
which were low-walled and poorly designed, as were
those of Central Asia besieged by Russians in the mid
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Amerindians examine
weapons in a Hudson's Bay
Company trading post in
1845. Indigenous peoples
seldom had a problem
acquiring modern weapons
in the pre-industrial age, so
long as they had trading
goods of value to exchange.
Afghans armed with long-
barrelled jezails, whose
range easily outdistanced
European muskets in the
early nineteenth century.
European armies found that
the close-order formations
and volley-firing techniques
that worked well in a
European setting were
impotent against indigenous
peoples firing from
concealed positions.
57
WARS OF EMPIRE
The retreat from
Constantine, 1836. The
square, a standard tactical
formation in European
warfare in the early
nineteenth century,
survived in colonial warfare
into the twentieth century.
However, indigenous
fighters usually required
only one defeat before they
understood the futility of
attacking squares, and
reverted to guerrilla tactics.
58
nineteenth c e n t u r ~ Artillery allowed the French to seize Constantine in 1837,
although the defenders inexplicably mined their own curtain wall, thus allowing
the French to storm through the breach. But battles were seldom decided on the
basis of superior firepower - Marathan and Sikh forces were well supplied with
artillery, for example, although heterogeneous and eccentrically organized, and
employed European instructors to train their gunners in the latest European
techniques. English volunteers organized artillery regiments in Venezuela after
1817. Artillery gave Bolivar an important edge against royalist troops at
Pichincha in May 1822. Russian deserters, many probably Polish or Georgian,
manned Shamil's artillery in the Caucasus. In 1857, Indian mutineers
unsportingly kept the artillery for themselves, so that subsequently the British
admitted only white soldiers into that arm. In 1858, artillery prevented aI-Hajj
Umar's 20,000 sofas (warriors) with their siege ladders from approaching the
walls of the French fortress at Medine on the Senegal river, a bloody failure which
initiated the decline of the Tokolor empire.
However, the remoteness of imperial battlefields invariably made artillery
COLO IAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
something of a liability, especially the heavier variety employed in the eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries. If the weight of gun carriages were reduced for
mobility, only a few rounds could be fired before the wood began to split. If the
carriages were solidly designed, mobility became a problem - forty bullocks and
a female elephant were required to haul one of Wellesley's 18-pounders in India.
Getting a siege train to Constantine in 1836, and again the following year,
required considerable logistical effort, which is one reason why Bugeaud limited
the artillery in his flying columns to two guns when he became commander-in-
chief in Algeria in 1840. But more important, Bugeaud discovered that the
offensive spirit of his troops diminished in direct proportion to the defensive
firepower of their a r t i l l e r ~ 'You drag thousands of wagons and heavy artillery
with you which slows your movements', Bugeaud told the officers under his
command. This was going to change: to begin with, 'no more heavy artillery, no
more of these heavy wagons, no more of these enormous forage trains. The
convoys will be on mule back and the only cannons permitted will be light ones'.
So disturbed were Bugeaud's officers by a new order of battle, which looked to
59
WARS OF EMPIRE
Seminoles ambush supply
wagons escorted by US
Marines at 12-Mile Swamp
near St Augustine, Florida in
1812. The thick, jungle-like
foliage of central Florida
made the enemy difficult to
locate and rendered artillery
virtually useless.
them more like a recipe for collective suicide, that they delegated the senior
colonel to talk their new commander out of this folly. Bugeaud sent him packing.
Americans in the Seminole Wars found artillery effective as a means of softening
up Amerindian villages as a prelude to a bayonet attack - if they could find the
villages! In open warfare, the thick, jungle-like foliage of central Florida simply
absorbed the shot of light mountain guns. The difficulties of manhandling
artillery through remote Caucasus passes was such that, in 1845, General
Vorontsov was forced to destroy his guns when most of his artillery horses had
died. The only guns he kept were light field and mountain guns, developed
especially for use in the Caucasus and introduced in 1842.
The real technological edge enjoyed by the West in this period was naval.
There was no real equivalent in the non-Western world to Europe's naval
superiority, which bestowed at least three advantages on the invaders. The first
was power projection. If Europe discovered the world from the fifteenth century,
and not vice versa, it was because the capability in the form of well-built ships
had married the motivation to sail forth and conquer. Navies gave the West
strategic reach, a means of passage to the most distant corners of the earth
opposed only by the caprice of nature and the ships of rival European navies. As
A.T. Mahan noted in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 'if Britain could
be declared the winner in the imperial race, the credit, or blame, resided with the
superiority of the Royal Navy'. A second benefit of naval superiority for
60
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
imperialists was security: In the early days when Europeans were on the defensive
on land, especially in Africa and the East, they seized coastal enclaves, often
islands like Goa, St Louis de Senegal, Hong Kong or Singapore, which they could
defend and supply by sea. Precarious frontier posts like Montreal might have
succumbed to Amerindian constriction had their communications depended
exclusively on overland routes.
Finally, sea power meant operational and even tactical mobility, which could
translate into strategic advantage. Sea power was the force multiplier for the
British. The British ability to shift their troops up and down the coast in India
was an important element in their victory over the French there. In 1762, British
maritime expeditions sent to punish Spain for her alliance with France in the
Seven Years War seized both Manila and Havana. In North America, the Royal
Navy gave Britain the decisive edge over France, a country with three times the
population and ten times the army: Maritime expeditions swept up French
settlements around the Bay of Fundy in 1710, captured Louisbourg in 1745 (and
again in 1758), and imposed a blockade which, by stemming the supply of
gunpowder, munitions and muskets, began the unravelling of France's
Amerindian alliances as far inland as the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and
Louisiana. A seaborne strike in 1759, behind a screen of men-of-war blockading
French ports, allowed Britain to pierce the heart of New France at Quebec,
rescuing what, until then, had been a fumbling campaign of attrition against the
Circassians repel Russians
near Achatl in 1841.
Mountain warfare limited
the advantages of
technology, and required
tactical skills that the
Russians were slow to
master in the Caucasus.
6r
WARS OF EMPIRE
British General Wolfe's troops
scaled the cliffs from the St
Lawrence river to the Plains
of Abraham in 1759 to attack
Quebec from the land side.
Two brass cannon helped to
deliver victory against a
French garrison that rushed
from the walls to give battle
fore it was fully mu teredo
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC
The Royal Navy extended
the reach of British
imperial power and gave
London a decisive edge in
eighteenth-century Franco-
British imperial wars.
France's relative maritime
inferiority invariably
challenged Paris's ability
simultaneously to protect
its far-flung empire in
India, the Caribbean and
North America during the
Seven ,Years War. Both
Louispourg on Cape
Breton Island and Quebec
fell to British seaborne
expeditions. La Royale
returned the compliment
at Yorktown in 1781.
e
d
e
A British force of some 200 men
f1\ scale the cliffs and drive off a French
~ company of 100. The British land a
further 4,500 men who deploy on the
Plains of Abraham
Montcalm chose to attack
immediately, leaving the defences of
ti\ Quebec, and advances towards the
~ British. His forces angle to the right,
allowing the British to fire measured
and accurate volleys which
disorganize the French formations
The French force is without artillery
support as the Governor of Quebec
t2\ will not release the guns. The British
~ wait until the French units are
within some 100ft before opening a
deadly artillery barrage. The French
infantry columns disintegrate and
the survivors retreat toward Quebec
WARS OF EMPIRE
Seminole chief Osceola led
a tenacious insurgency in
central Florida in the 1830s.
However, United States
troops and volunteers
regained operational
mobility through the use of
flat-bottomed Mackinaw
boats on the numerous
rivers and tributaries of the
region, and by luring away
former Black slaves fighting
with Osceola with promises
of freedom.
southern glacis of French Canada. And although the French Navy - La Royale -
returned the favour twenty-two years later at Yorktown, sea power had made land
operations against New France a leisurely march to a foregone conclusion. British
maritime expeditions had harvested so many islands of the French Antilles by
1762 that British diplomats attempting to negotiate a peace were embarrassed by
their nation's military success. British sea power forced Napoleon to abandon the
reconquest of Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1803.
Dominance of the Pacific was essential for the victory of the rebellious
South American colonies, who promoted Lord Cochrane, a disgraced Scottish
aristocrat, to the rank of admiral, and launched a successful amphibious
assault on Lima, an oasis in the desert, from Valparaiso in Chile in 1820.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Foreign corsairs organized a small fleet to assault Spanish ships in the Caribbean.
Brown-water operations were also a feature of imperial warfare. Lake
Champlain and the Richelieu river provided a classic invasion route into and out
of New France. During the Second Seminole War, the United States Navy
operated steamboats on the larger rivers while oared, flat-bottomed Mackinaw
boats, capable of carrying twenty, moved men along the tributaries. This
permitted American troops and volunteers to re-establish their presence in central
Florida, abandoned to the Seminole chief Osceola in 1835. Without the support
of the Russian navy, the string of posts along the Black Sea created to sever
supplies from Turkey to Shamil would undoubtedly have fallen to Murid attacks.
Following the Crimean War, these maritime outposts served as bases of
British frigates approach
Canton on the Pearl river
during the Opium War of
1839-42. Chinese junks were
unable to prevent British
vessels from attacking
coastal fortifications, or
from cutting the vital Grand
Canal that carried much of
China's north-south trade.
British smugglers quashed
Chinese efforts to keep
opium out of the country.
operations against the Cherkess population of the western Caucasus. British
victory in the Opium War with China (1839-42) demonstrated how relatively
small naval forces could impose their will even on a vast continental empire. Sea
power allowed the British to transform what the imperial court in Beijing viewed
as a distant dispute in Canton into a struggle which directly threatened the
economic health and political stability of the empire itself. Junks and poorly
defended Chinese coastal fortifications offered scant defence against twenty-five
Royal Navy ships of the line, fourteen steamers, and nine support vessels carrying
WARS OF EMPIRE
66
10,000 troops. With this relatively small force, the British seized four important
coastal trading centres, sailed up the Yangtze river to block the Grand Canal
which carried much of the Celestial Empire's north-south commercial traffic,
and threatened Nanking. This was enough to bring the Chinese to the peace
table. However, in 1884-5 the French were far less successful in employing their
navy to wring concessions from the Chinese when they attacked Formosa which,
clearly, Beijing did not believe vital to its interests. The creation of a gunboat
force was critical in allowing the Celestial Empire to defeat the Taiping and Nien
rebellions, sparked by European encroachment, in the 1860s. Naval artillery made
the walled cities held by the Taipings along the Yangtze untenable. Gun sampans
and eventually gunboats on the Yellow river and Grand Canal escorted grain
convoys, and linked a defensive chain of fortifications created to keep Nien forces
from breaking out across the Yellow river, much as the British in the Boer War of
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
1899-1902 used railways to link barriers of blockhouses built to contain Boer
commandos. The French pioneered river flotillas to advance up the Senegal river
toward the Niger from the 1850s.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Callwell could write that while climate
and terrain ceded strategic advantage to the enemy, tactical advantage invariably
fell to the invaders. In the pre-industrial period, however, the invaders might not
even possess a tactical advantage, especially if the indigenous enemy declined to
fight in a manner that favoured the close-order drill of Western armies of the
period. Ambush was the tactic of choice of Amerindians, who noted that English
colonists moving through the forest 'always kept in a heap together, so it was as
easy to hit them as to hit a house'. Lacking European notions of chivalry, they
regarded a white chief, distinguished by his clothing and his horse, the prime
target. The colonists, with their leaders down and a substantial number of their
Chinese artillery sinks a
French gunboat at Fuchou
in 1884. On the whole,
however, it was the
European ability to attack
coastal towns and penetrate
China's interior, in
particular the Yangtze along
which many of the most
important towns lay, that
gave relatively small
European forces the ability
to influence Chinese policy.
WARS OF EMPIRE
The major advantage of
European forces in imperial
warfare was not so much
their firepower as their
discipline. If European
troops, like these French in
the mountainous Kabylia
region of Algeria in 1851,
could recover from their
initial surprise, indigenous
attackers seldom had the
ability to overwhelm them.
comrades killed or wounded by Amerindians concealed in the bush, were often
too disorganized to recover from the initial surprise. For General Edward
Braddock, this came as the ultimate lesson in July 1755 on the Monongahela,
when his East Anglian and American troops were swarmed upon, decimated and
their remnants put to flight by a small expedition of French frontiersmen and
their Amerindian allies untutored in, and unintimidated by, the shoulder-to-
shoulder volley-firing tactics of the Anglo-Saxons. The power of these volleys
might be diminished also because soldiers tended to skimp on powder to lessen
the force of the musket's recoil.
Bugeaud, who first went to Algeria in 1836, criticized the French for forming
massive squares of up to 3,000 men, several lines deep. Arabs seldom attempted
to overwhelm squares, and the men in the interior ranks were wasted because
they were unable to fire. Instead, he advocated small squares with overlapping
fields of fire to give mutual support. Volleys, he believed, should be regular, and
firing withheld for as long as possible to allow the enemy to get close enough to
do him real damage. In 1836, Bugeaud achieved a major victory when he formed
his troops into a 'pig's head', and marched them on to a plateau above the Sikkak
river. Bugeaud's formation confused the Arabs, because it offered no vulnerable
68
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Bugeaud's 'Tete de Pore'
front or rear guard to attack. When they threw themselves at the French, they
were repulsed by massed musket fire, made more deadly by a technique perfected
by harassed French troops in Spain. A musket ball was cut into four parts and
rammed down the barrel on top of the already introduced ball to create a sort of
small-arms grapeshot - very useful against an enemy that liked to work in close,
at knife-point. Bugeaud then ordered his men to drop packs and attack, driving a
large number of Arabs over a bluff to their deaths in the Sikkak river below.
Another 500, cornered at the foot of a rock outcropping, surrendered, the first
time the French had bagged so many POWs in Algeria.
When Europeans had triumphed in these set-piece battles, as at Assaye in
1803, at the Sikkak river in 1836 or at Isly in 1844, it was superior discipline and
tactics rather than firepower that assured their Indeed, in India
Wellesley's favorite tactic was to loose a single volley followed by a charge. The
trouble with European tactics, especially successful applications of them, was
that the enemy quickly learned not to fight Europeans on their own terms.
Bugeaud's success on the Sikkak was not repeated because his opponent, Abd el-
Kader, now knew better than to rush massed French troops. By refusing battle,
drawing an invading force deep into the country where it became overextended
and vulnerable, an intelligent enemy might negate European tactical
A reversal, even a withdrawal after a successful operation, could be 'If you
were forced to retreat through these people, you could be certain of having them
constantly around you,' the Hessian Johann Ewald remembered of the American
Revolution, a memory no doubt shared by Burgoyne and Cornwallis. The French
discovered as much in Algeria at the Macta Marshes in 1835 and the following
THE 'TETE DE PORe'

formation delivered a
victory when Abd el-Kader
impetuously attacked it on
the Sikkak river in 1836.
Most imperial armies
adopted a variant of this
which offered
an all-round defence and
shielded the vital convoy in
hostile territory. In
however, such tight
formations were difficult
to maintain in broken
or wooded terrain (see
page 113).
WARS OF EMPIRE
Last stand of the 44th at
Gandamak. The disastrous
British retreat from Kabul in
1842 was fairly illustrative
of what might happen to
imperial forces retreating
through hostile
increasingly slowed by
casualties and
vulnerable to well-crafted
ambushes. This was a fate
shared on occasion by
British forces in North
the French in
Algeria and the Russians in
the Caucasus.

year at Constantine, as did the British in Afghanistan in 1842. In the Caucasus,
Shamil became expert at allowing the Russians to meander through valleys,
sacking town after deserted town, and then cutting them to ribbons when they
attempted to return to base, as was done following the Russian victory at
Akhulgo in the eastern Caucasus in 1839. Shamil's great triumph, however, came
in 1845 as Prince Vorontsov's flying column withdrew through the Chechnian
forests toward his base. The Russians were able to cover only 30 miles in one
week, in the process abandoning baggage and wounded and losing 3,321 men,
186 officers, and three generals to Shamil's attacks. Similarly, Osceola kept
American forces off-balance with well-crafted ambushes during the Second
Seminole War.
Without obvious technological or tactical advantage, the best commanders
sought to give themselves what in twentieth-century terms would be called an
'operational edge'. The foundation of Wellesley's success in India was
organizational. Earlier commanders in India like Clive had fought close to base
because they lacked the logistical capacity to strike deep into the enemy
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Prince Vorontsov was one of
Shamifs chief victims when
his 'flying column' toiled
through the Chechnian
forests in 1845, losing 186
officers including three
generals and over three
thousand men, as well as
most of his equipment.
7
1
WARS OF EMPIRE
1792-1805
Other territories
British annexation
Bay of Bengal
b e
N A
INDIAN OCEAN
H
I
200 miles
Islands
Laccadive Is.
200km
I
N
t
heartland. In India, as elsewhere in colonial warfare, it was an axiom that a large
force starved while a small one risked defeat. On his arrival in India, Wellesley
discovered that British expeditions resembled migrating people rather than an
a r m ~ As many as 20,000 troops organized in a single force lumbered over the
countryside, averaging 10 miles on a good day, but requiring one day's rest in
three, and forced to meander to find food
and fodder. Wellesley recognized
that strategic success could
result only after his army
was reorganized along lines
that would allow greater
dependant state
1815-60
boundary of British India c. 1890
1860-90
under British supervision,
later annexed
territory added 1900-14
minor dependant state
territory added 1890-1900
D
~
D
D
D
D
BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE
British Indian Empire
conquest and expansion 1753-1914
• Portuguese
• French
Arabian Sea
British India wqs a
patchwork of conquests
carried out by officers on the
spot, afraid that, if Britain
did not dominate a territory,
then the French, and later
the Russians, certainly
would. The Crown's
reluctance to assume the
financial burden of the
Indian dominions forced
colonial entrepreneurs
to sell Indian
opium to
China.
• 1753-75
I
\)
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
In his campaign against Dhoondiah in Mysore, Wellesley divided his
forces into four armies, which kept his opponent guessing and allowed the British
to march up to 26 miles a day to achieve surprise.
Wellesley's experience was repeated elsewhere as French, British, American,
even Russian and Chinese commanders moved to light or flying columns - Hoche
used them in the Vendee and Bugeaud in Algeria. Indeed, when he returned to
Algeria as Governor General in 1840, Bugeaud was nearly overwhelmed by a
sense of deja vu - the French army was repeating the mistakes which this
Napoleonic veteran had seen it make in Spain during the Peninsular War. Most of
the soldiers were tied down to fixed positions and tormented by the Arabs who
raided their supply wagons and destroyed crops and supplies behind the lines.
Attempts to launch reprisal raids faltered in the absence of any clear objectives.
Columns of thousands of men, weighed down by artillery and supply wagons,
toiled over a stark and blistered countryside in search of their foe. The enemy
retreated before them, refusing battle but slashing at flanks, supply convoys, and
stragglers. After a few weeks of campaigning in this manner, French
expeditions, like Russian ones in the Caucasus in the same
period, would return to base exhausted, with very little to
show for their efforts.
Bugeaud set out to remodel his listless and demoralized
command: 'we must forget those orchestrated and dramatic
battles that civilized peoples fight against one another',
I ndia proved a valuable
training ground for Sir
Arthur the future
Duke of Wellington.
like that
of Bugeaud in
relied principally on his
organization and tactical
rather than on
technological superiority.
He maximized the use of
strategic surprise by
increasing the mobility and
striking power of his forces.
,,'Andaman Is.
1857

f
.. .'
73
WARS OF EMPIRE
Abd or
extended entourage, was
surprised by French troops
commanded by the Duc
in May 1843. This
was an outcome of
'search and
tactics carried out
by mobile 'flying
shorn of artillery and other
impedimenta, with supplies
carried by mules rather than
by men or on wagons.
74
he proclaimed to his troops, 'and realize that unconventional tactics are the soul
of this war'. Bugeaud based his reforms on four principles: mobility, morale,
leadership and firepower. In place of fortifications, which had been the principal
French method of controlling the countryside, he emphasized the value of
scouting parties and intelligence reports in locating enemy forces against which
troops could be rapidly deployed. Mobile columns numbering from a few
hundred to a few thousand men, shorn of artillery and heavy wagons, could fan
out over the countryside to converge from different directions on a previously
selected objective. In this way, Bugeaud was able to penetrate areas that before
had been immune to attack, carry the fight to the enemy and give them no rest.
But Bugeaud's mobility, like that instilled by Wellesley in India, depended on
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
sound operational innovations. The medical services were reformed to improve
the health of his troops. Equipment was redesigned, and the load of the foot
soldier considerably lightened; supplies were carried by mules instead of men or
wagons. His light columns were expected to survive by plundering the grain silos
or raiding the flocks of the Arabs.
Light columns were not invariably a formula for success. Without good
intelligence, columns might wander the countryside, striking into thin air. They
also defied military wisdom by dividing one's forces in the face of the enemy. The
division of forces was a less risky option in the imperial context, however, as the
enemy seldom had the capacity to overwhelm well-armed troops. However, this
was not invariably so. A mobile enemy might easily concentrate against the
u
75
WARS OF EMPIRE
General Achille Bazaine
enters Mexico City at the
head of French troops on
7 June 1863. Unfortunately
for the French, the ability to
control cities proved of
minimal advantage in
Mexico, as it had been for
the British in North
America, for it spread
occupying forces in penny
packets and left the
insurgency free to dominate
the countryside.
weakest column, as the Americans discovered in the Seminole Wars, the French in
Algeria, and the Russians in the Caucasus.
Of course, in war tactics and operations are for naught if the strategy is
flawed. British General Sir Garnet Wolseley encouraged colonial commanders to
seize what the enemy prized most. Callwell counselled offensive action and
dramatic battles because he believed it the best way to demonstrate the 'moral
superiority' of the European. This worked best against a foe with a fairly cohesive
system - a capital, a king, a standing army, a religious bond - some symbol of
authority or legitimacy which, once overthrown, discouraged further resistance.
But that was easier said than done. Indigenous societies might be too primitive to
have a centralized political or military system, or to assign value to the seizure of
a city like Algiers or Kabul. Insurrections against both English and Spanish rule
in the New World began in the cities. However, the ability to control major cities
did not win the war for either power, and in fact weakened them by forcing them
to scatter their forces. Shamil would pull his population deep into the mountains
and force the Russians to attack fortified villages organized in depth, while he
simultaneously slashed at their greatly extended supply lines, a tactic which Mao
successfully replicated against Chiang's 'encirclement' campaigns of the early
1930s. And while the Russians might eventually take these villages after desperate
fighting, their casualties were such that victory was gutted of strategic
significance and they were inevitably forced to retreat through hostile country:
The French quickly seized most of the towns in Mexico soon after their invasion
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
in 1862. But that merely caused them to spread their forces in penny packets and
gave the Mexican resistance virtually a free hand to roam the countryside,
concentrating and striking at will against isolated French garrisons. So, the towns
might become prisons for invading armies rather than bases for offensive
operations. Yet, urban centres often had to be defended because the fall to the
rebels of a town like Philadelphia or Lima would invariably be hailed by the
insurgents as a measure of progress toward v i c t o r ~
A charismatic leader might be important to the success of the resistance, but
his capture or death would seldom by itself collapse opposition. One can
speculate about the destinies of the revolutions in North and South America had
Washington or Bolivar been neutralized, thus eliminating a symbol, a strategist,
and a set of political skills required to keep insurrection alive. Certainly,
Toussaint L'Ouverture's treacherous capture in 1803 while he was dining with
French General Charles Leclerc, failed to extinguish the island rebellion. On the
other hand, although the 1857 Mutiny is regarded by Indian nationalists as an
expression of popular resistance to British rule, it failed largely because it lacked
a leadership and a nationalist ideology capable of uniting diverse social and
religious groups. Many, if not most, Indians preferred British government to
domination by indigenous rivals. French pressure, which forced Abd el-Kader to
seek refuge in Morocco from 1843, did not put an end to Algerian resistance. In
One problem of winning a
guerrilla campaign is how to
measure progress. The
French seizure of Puebla in
1863 avenged their defeat
there the previous year. Yet
seizing cities and towns did
not bring them closer to
mastering the country,
which was simply too vast
for a relatively small French-
led force to control.
77
WARS OF EMPIRE
Abd el-Kader proved a
formidable opponent for
the French from 1832 to
his capture in 1847. In the
long run, however, his
Algerian insurgency, like
most resistance
movements, proved to be
a fragile coalition of
tribes and sub-chiefs
which a clever European
commander might split
with a combination of
force and incentives.
Abd el-Kader, French officers created a symbol of a unified conspiracy against
imperial advance. In doing so, they credited the Arab leader with an authority
over his own people that he probably did not possess. Shamil's leadership
dramatically increased the effectiveness of resistance in the Caucasus between
1840 and 1845. But, with or without Shamil, the Caucasus offered the Russians
nothing but the prospect of desperately hard campaigning. Over time, Shamil's
presence actually began to benefit the invaders as it fragmented his following of
independent mountaineers, especially the less fanatical Cherkes in the western
Caucasus, who chafed under his draconian discipline and Murid beliefs, and who
opposed Shamil's attempts to establish a family dynasty by having his son
recognized as Imam. Decapitating the leadership might even prove
counterproductive, because it shattered the opposition into a host of petty
chieftains who had to be dealt with piecemeal, as Wellesley discovered in India
after the death of Tipu.
Most resistance movements in the pre-nationalist period were no more than
fragile coalitions. The wise commander, like Wellesley, realized that the most
effective method of conquest was political, that the resistance must be offered a
reward for submission beyond that of the sheer terror of the alternative. Wellesley
was fairly lenient with Hindu polygars who ruled from hill forts, allowing them
local autonomy so long as they accepted British policy and did not deal with the
French. Outside areas of substantial colonial settlement, like
Mediterranean Algeria, the French favoured a policy of
indirect rule, appointing caids or chiefs willing to do
their bidding, although as the century progressed
they tightened their administrative grip on
their colonial dominions. This was a policy
forced on the invaders by necessity, as they
seldom had the capacity to occupy and police
the entire countr): Even the Russians, in the
wake of Vorontsov's disastrous 1845
campaign, realized that they would not
win the Caucasus by force of arms
alone. They began to restore the powers
of tribal leaders jealous of the authority
lost to Shamil, curtail the introduction of
Russian law, customs and immigrants, allow
native courts to adjudicate tribal disputes, and
cultivate economic relationships. Although these
policies were applied inconsistently and little
influenced the heartland of resistance, they
fragmented Shamil's coalition on the margins and
pacified base areas so that the Russians could free up
more troops for offensive operations.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Tropkof(Ullcer
~ British campaigns
border of British controlled
territory c. 1857
The Indian Mutiny 1857-58
*major centre of uprising
area affected by the Indian
mutiny 1857
Arabian Sea
Because the Americas were, from the beginning, colonies of settlement,
alliances between the indigenous population and the invaders could be no more
than temporary ones. American mythology holds that the early colonists survived
because they adopted Amerindian agricultural techniques. They did more than
that - they also adopted and adapted native war tactics. In seventeenth-century
New England, colonists discovered military disaster was best avoided by
employing Amerindians to act as scouts, allies in combat, and instructors in
tactics. The Connecticut Council advised the Bay Colony 'to grant [the
Amerindian allies] all plunder, and give them victuals, with ammunition, and a
soldier's pay during the time they are out'. But suspicion of the loyalties of
indigenous peoples accused of selling their powder, warning their fellow
Amerindians of an approaching column, and of desultory fighting, and a
persistent belief that skulking modes of warfare were dishonourable, died hard in
New England. Unlike their Yankee counterparts, however, English colonists in the
south showed few qualms about organizing war parties numbering in the
THE INDIAN MUTINY
Although the Mutiny is seen
by Indian nationalists as the
expression of an emerging
national conscience, in fact
its failure demonstrated the
absence of a spirit of
national resistance to British
encroachment. A
spontaneous, leaderless
uprising, it failed for lack of
support among a
heterogeneous people, many
of whom preferred British
rule to that- of Hindus or
other indigenous groups.
79
WARS OF EMPIRE
ANGLO-FRENCH STRUGGLE
FOR NORTH AMERICA
Franco- British conflict was
a permanent feature of
warfare in eighteenth-
century North America to
the fall of Quebec in 1759.
Both sides enlisted
Amerindians to dominate
the fur trade and as allies in
war. In the end, sea power
and the larger population
tilted the advantage to the
British.
General Edward Braddocks
defeat at the hands of a
small Franco-Amerindian
force near Fort Duquesne
(Pittsburg) in 1755
illustrated the value of
Amerindians as scouts and
allies. However, colonial
commanders also discovered
that Amerindian allies
shared neither their strategic
goals nor their tactical
methods, and were difficult
to manage on campaign.
80
hundreds for war against the Spanish and French along the Gulf Coast, or against
troublesome tribes, the pay-off for assistance being the swarms of captives which
their Amerindian allies could ransom or sell as slaves.
Amerindians did have their limitations as soldiers and allies. Colonial wars of
conquest were decided by sieges, set-piece battles and sea power, not by the
guerrilla tactics of ambush and raid. The 1,200 Amerindians serving with the
French at Quebec in 1759 saved neither the town nor the empire for France. Many
colonial commanders concluded that Amerindian allies were more trouble than
they were worth, and encouraged the development of ranger units of white
frontiersmen. Expeditionary forces in the French and Indian wars, the North
American offspring of the Seven Years War, were volatile mixes of regular
European, colonial volunteer and Amerindian forces who shared neither political
goals, tactical methods, nor common notions of discipline. Amerindians might
be useful on the margins of a campaign in the same way that partisans supported
main force action in European war: for example, had he bothered to recruit them,
Amerindian scouts might have diverted Braddock from decimation at the hands
of a Franco-Amerindian force half his size on the path to Fort Duquesne
(Pittsburg) in July 1755. It was the French, however, outnumbered in the North
American theatre, who had greater need of Amerindians than did their British
opponents. This created a dependence which could be as fatal as having no
Amerindian auxiliaries at all. Braddock's disaster was in part offset by the failure
of the French counter-offensive against Fort Edward in September 1755. The
French commander, Baron Dieskau, found his Amerindian allies reluctant to
invade English territory, and positively mutinous when he ordered them to assault
fortified English positions. Amerindians viewed the European preference for
G u If
Hudson Bay
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
o 200km
~
I I
o 200 miles
Anglo-French struggle for
North America
1700-63
British campaign
French campaign
........ Spanish campaign
X battle
III British fort
III French fort
European territorial claims 1750
~
British
~
French
~
Spanish
8r
WARS OF EMPIRE
Toussaint was
a remarkable politician and
general. N
victories
depended on the contingent
circumstances of French
disarray caused by the
yellow fever
which decimated the French
and British sea power
which forced the French to
lift their siege of the island
in 1803.
sieges as wasteful and having little to do with the real goals of war, which were to
enhance personal honour and wealth by taking scalps and seizing captives.
Formalized conventions of European warfare were so incomprehensible to them
as to border on the grotesque. When, for instance, the Marquis de Montcalm
accorded the garrison at Fort William Henry the honours of war in 1757, the
2,000 or so Amerindians, who had been mere spectators to the siege, pounced on
the English prisoners, killing and scalping over 200 men.
No fools, the Amerindians also realized that contact with Europeans brought
fevers and death. Amerindians stayed away in droves from French expeditions
during the smallpox years of 1756 and 1758, a factor which helped to keep the
French on the strategic defensive. One result of the Anglo-French wars was to
lessen the combativeness of the tribes. Evidence suggests that, after 1755,
Amerindian allies of both French and British had come to a tacit agreement not
to fight each other, precisely the same charge levelled against them by New
England colonists a century earlier. In the short term, the combination of disease
and an agreement to pull their punches hurt the French more than the British, for
New France was more dependent on Amerindian support than were the English
colonies.
The real value of recruiting Amerindians was political and psychological, not
tactical. Amerindian resistance to European encroachment was in reality a series
of temporary and fragile coalitions of groups who shared scant notion that
survival lay in co-operation. Recruiting some of their number fragmented their
response and helped to demoralize diehard resisters. In the 1830s, the Seminoles
were brought to heel in part by recruiting friendly Seminoles and Creeks, and by
enticing Black slaves who had joined the rebellious Amerindians into the service
of the US army against the promise of freedom. Not only did this deprive
Osceola of much of his military capability, as Blacks were among his best
military leaders, but acting as scouts from 1836, ex-slaves also led General
Thomas Sidney Jesup to the Seminole villages whose destruction, together with
the treacherous capture of Osceola and other Seminole chiefs under a flag of
truce, helped to cripple the resistance.
Examples of successful indigenous resistance were few, even in the pre-
industrial era. The victory of the American revolutionaries, while impressive,
was facilitated by powerful French and Spanish intervention, which, for the
British, reduced North America to a secondary front in an Atlantic war. Whether
or not the American revolutionaries could have won without French intervention
is an open question. But French support in the form of cash, an expeditionary
force, and naval assistance gave heart to the insurgents and speeded the
conclusion of the hostilities by co-ordinating Cornwallis's defeat at Yorktown
in 1781. Yorktown may be termed a decisive victory, even though the war
limped on for another two years, for it convinced the British to cut their losses on
an indecisive North America front, and to salvage their Caribbean and
Mediterranean assets.
COLO IAL WARFARE I THE PRE-I DUSTRIAL AGE
WARS OF EMPIRE
Slaves frequently fled to
'Maroon republics' that
were practically impossible
to eradicate on the larger
Caribbean islands, like
Cuba and Puerto Rico, and
the South American
mainland in the eighteenth
century. In some cases,
as on Jamaica and Saint
Domingue, colonial
governors were forced
reluctantly to sign treaties
with them.
In some respects, Toussaint L'Ouverture's rebellion against the French in
Saint Domingue can be seen as the most spectacular and successful of slave
rebellions which became a permanent feature of the Caribbean once Africans
were imported to replace Arawaks in the sixteenth century: Runaway slaves, called
Maroons, were able to defend remote and inaccessible islands or portions of
islands and of the South American mainland against white attempts to reclaim
them. These rebellions were led by African warriors captured in battle and sold
by African potentates into the backbreaking work of the canefields. As forests
disappeared under the relentless progress of sugarcane cultivation after 1700,
Maroon bands survived only on the larger islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico and
Jamaica. So fierce was Maroon resistance on Jamaica that in 1738 Governor
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Edward Trelawney was forced to recognize two Maroon homelands on the island.
A similar situation prevailed on Saint Domingue where the French governor
signed a treaty with a Maroon named Le Manuel, whom he could not defeat,
who had occupied the forested highlands between Saint Domingue and Spanish
Santo Domingo. But in general, slave rebellions, even spectacular ones like that
which controlled the Danish islands of Saint John for six months in 1733 and the
1760 revolt in Jamaica which required a year and a half to quell, while violent,
were short lived.
Toussaint L'Ouverture's success resided in a number of contingent factors
quite apart from his talent as a general. First, French legislation and practice had,
since the beginning in the 1730s, increasingly alienated the elite of mixed-race
The French freed the slaves
on Saint Domingue in 1793,
and then made the mistake
of reversing course under
the influence of Josephine,
Bonaparte's wife and a
native of Martinique.
Former slaves on Saint
Domingue offered no
quarter to French-led troops
sent to reimpose servitude
on them in 1802.
WARS OF EMPIRE
86
Creoles - of which Toussaint was a member - from the island's White
establishment, thus splitting a White-Coloured alliance that was critical in
keeping slaves in check on other islands. Second, the French Revolution of 1789
provoked a civil war among Whites on the islands. As government authority
collapsed, a slave rebellion broke out near Cap Fran<;ais on August 1791 and
quickly spread. Third, a French governor, Leger Sonthonax, arrived in September
1792 who, firm in the Jacobin conviction that the White planters were royalist
reactionaries, allied with the Coloured militias against the Whites. As civil war
raged on the island, in June 1793, Sonthonax, desperate for support, declared the
abolition of slavery, a local initiative confirmed by the National Convention in
Paris on 4 February 1794. Blacks rallied to Sonthonax. Offered a choice between
death or exile, most of Saint Domingue's 30,000 Whites fled.
In London, a group of Saint Domingue planters persuaded Prime Minister
William Pitt to dispatch a British army of 20,000 soldiers to Saint Domingue.
This initiated an inconclusive five-year intervention in which a rump of French
troops, Spanish soldiers from Santo Domingo and the British battled for control
of the French portion of the island through the haze of a malaria-ridden
campaign. Toussaint, a Creole slave from the North Province, manoeuvred
adroitly among the warring factions, first having allied himself with the Spanish
who helped him recruit a force of 4,000 Blacks, and then casting his lot with the
French in 1794. By the following year the Spanish had retired to their half of the
island. In 1798, British General Thomas Maitland tired of Toussaint's guerilla
tactics and sailed away with the feverish remnants of his force. Toussaint then
turned his army, which numbered around 55,000 Blacks, against the Coloured
militias in the south.
A French force of 20,000 Swiss and Polish conscripts returned to re-establish
French rule in February 1802. Toussaint was captured and perished miserably in
a French dungeon in April 1803. Saint Domingue's brief flirtation with
independence might have ended there had it not been for the combination of
French political blunders and British sea power. The re-imposition of slavery by
the French sparked a vicious rebellion among a population otherwise exhausted
by war and alienated by Toussaint's heavy-handed and authoritarian government.
As in North America, a combination of fierce local resistance led by Toussaint's
lieutenants, which the French Army, decimated by yellow fever, was unable to
master, and the appearance of a British fleet in the summer of 1803 precipitated a
French withdrawal. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of Toussaint's generals,
proclaimed Saint Domingue independent under the name of Haiti, an aboriginal
word meaning 'the land of the mountains', and promptly assumed the title
of emperor.
Latin American rebels successfully threw off the yoke of Spain, aided in part
by over 5,000 English soldiers of fortune who imported many skills into Bolivar's
army and navy. But the retention of her South American colonies was simply
beyond the power of a country devastated by the Napoleonic invasion of 1808
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
o 600km

I I
o 600 miles

1820 occupied by Brazil
1825-8 disputea between Brazil
and Argentina
1825 declared its independence
1852 recognized
SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN
40°
1
Islas Malvinas
1770-1820 Spanish
1820-33 Argentine
From 1833 British
to Chile

Chile
Puerto
T-----.....
,.-"lI\',:lo- QV
Guadeloupe
Dominica

PACIFIC
OCEAN
South American Revolutions
c.1820
D
Spanish territory c. 1800

Portuguese territory c. 1800

date of independence
@0 date of separate statehood

Spanish territory after 1830

Spanish base up to 1826
British territory
8
British claimed
0
French territory

Dutch territory
0
independent American
state

Simon Bolivar's campaign
of 1822-4

San Martin's campaign
of 1817-22
SOUTH AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS C. 1820
Several factors contributed
to the success of the South
American independence
movement. Among them
were a Spanish mother
country debilitated by war
and occupation during the
Napoleonic Wars and hence
unable to apply sufficient
repressive force; Bolivar and
San Martin, two charismatic
leaders able to supply a
strategic vision to the
rebellion; and last, sea power
contributed principally by
British sailors demobilized
after the Napoleonic Wars,
which supplied strategic
mobility and logistical
support to the rebellion.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Simon Bolivar (1783-1830),
known as 'The Liberator',
was proclaimed president of
the Republic of Colombia
in 1819. After defeating the
Spaniards in his home state
in 1822, he took part in the
final campaign in Peru in
1824. Bolivar's rule was
increasingly contested and
he was forced to resign and
go into exile in 1830.
88
and by the civil war which followed. When insurrection erupted in 1817, only
10,000 Spanish troops garrisoned the widely dispersed South American ports.
Madrid was able to spare only 27,000 reinforcements by 1821, and as many as
two-thirds of these quickly succumbed to tropical diseases. Insurrection in Spain,
touched off by soldiers at Cadiz in 1823 who refused to embark for the colonies,
meant that the defence of Spanish interests was shouldered principally by South
American royalists. And while some of these men proved able commanders, their
focus was local and their troops tended to desert if they were marched beyond
their recruitment area. While Bolivar was able to devise a strategic vision for the
independence movement, which covered all of South America, Madrid's strategy
could only be reactive, defensive and unco-ordinated.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Other imperial resistance movements, with the possible exception of
Afghanistan, were less successful in persuading the invaders that the game was
not worth the candle. Abd el-Kader gave the French a good innings, as did Shamil
the Russians. But both were ultimately ground down and defeated. In Mexico, the
Juaristas ultimately succeeded in expelling the French in 1867. But French
intervention of 1862 must be viewed in the context of a long-running civil war
between conservatives and reformers in Mexico. Napoleon Ill's intervention had
been possible in the first place only because the United States, engulfed in a civil
war of its own, was unable to prevent it. The forces of intervention, which
included French, Austrian and even Egyptian troops, never numbered more than
37,000, too few to occupy such a vast c o u n t r ~ Napoleon III counted on local
Napoleon Ills decision to
anoint Maximilian as
Emperor of Mexico was a
significant political blunder.
The Austrian proved a well-
meaning but a naive and
inept strategist. The
presence of a foreign prince
rallied opposition against
French imperial designs on
Mexico. Maximilian refused
to depart with the French in
1867, was captured and
executed.
support, or indifference, and initially received enough of both. Indeed, there had
been no popular uprising when the United States invaded Mexico in 1848. The
Mexican population was generally content to allow the Mexican-American War
to remain a clash of regular forces and did little to harass the lengthy supply
columns of the invading American armies. However, the French succeeded in
provoking a national insurrection where the United States had failed. By creating
a throne for the Austrian, Maximilian, Louis-Napoleon demonstrated that his
goals for Mexico extended far beyond those of the United States, which had laid
claim only to the sparsely populated north and whose forces withdrew
WARS OF EMPIRE
immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Nor could Mexico nurture hope of
outside support for continued resistance against the United States. Hardly had
the ashes of the Confederacy gone cold in 1865, however, than Napoleon III came
to realize that he was desperately overextended. Washington began actively to
stimulate the insurgency with an infusion of surplus weapons and immigrants,
many of whom were demobilized soldiers, freed Black slaves, or simply bandits
eager to profit from the growing chaos south of the border. The French army was
largely light infantry, organized to fight in Algeria where horses were expensive
and relatively rare. As a result, the French were unable to cope with the gangs of
mounted guerrillas who, taking advantage of their strategic mobility, dismantled
France's control over the Mexican countryside and locked them into scattered
towns. French attempts to take to horseback, and recruit mounted units of
Amerindians with cadres drawn from the Foreign Legion, were too little too late.
Still, one may argue that the decisive battle for Mexico was won by the Prussian
Army at Koniggratz in 1866, for it served notice that France needed to repatriate
its army to prepare for a showdown with Prussia.
Even in the pre-industrial era when they had a better chance to match, even
best, the invaders technologically and numerically, few societies were able to do
so. One adaptive response, given the obvious superiority of European discipline
and methods of warfare, was to modernize local forces to match European
standards of skill and professionalism. In India, the process of creating armies on
a Europeanized model began in imitation of the Sepoy units created by Clive and
Dupleix during the Seven Years War. Many of these units, under the command of
European or half-caste soldiers of fortune, achieved respectable levels of
proficiency in the Indian context. But against a European opponent, even one
relying to a large degree on its own locally recruited units, they appear to have
been at a disadvantage because the Indian potentates proved reluctant to alter
their semi-feudal social structure to accommodate a modern So Indian
armies, though superficially modernized, lacked a coherent officer corps and
administrative structure to support them. Worse, in the case of the Sikhs, for
example, the new army became such an intrusive political force that some Sikh
sidars or lords actively conspired to have it defeated by the British.
Chinese efforts to modernize to meet the Western challenge in the first six
decades of the nineteenth century were also stillborn. Modernization was bound
to be an uphill task in an empire imbued with an unshakeable faith in its own
superiority over the barbarian, a profound ignorance of foreign realities, and a
belief that defeat was the consequence of moral decline, not material weakness.
The emperor was a father figure, the 'Son of Heaven', whose task was to issue
moral pronouncements to his people. Civil servants were scholar officials, who
grew long fingernails and spent their days writing poetry and mastering
Their reports to the emperor were in the form of memorials, which
the emperor perused for errors in calligraphy and composition. Confucianism,
which emphasized a harmonious social order of hierarchy and status, was the
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Sepoy was a corruption of
Sip-ah, Persian for army.
British, French and
Portuguese in India
recruited native soldiers
who were gradually
organized into formal
regiments. Without
indigenous troops, the
imperial powers would have
been unable to conquer and
maintain their vast empires.
ideology of empire. Any attempt to introduce efficiency into this traditional
system, to convince the emperor to drop his pretensions, initiate normal
diplomatic relations, and promote men able to administer and lead modern
armies inevitably rocked it to its very foundations, for it challenged the moral
basis of the regime.
Chinese forces at the outset of the Opium War of 1839-42 consisted of
twenty-four Banners stationed at strategic points throughout the These
were understrength and largely independent companies of poorly disciplined
peasants, whose training consisted of formalized sword drill, and who posed
more of a threat to the peasantry than to the They were useful for internal
control, but incapable of forming an expeditionary force to deal with the British
WARS OF EMPIRE
China, drug wars and
rebellions 1840-73
CHINA, DRUG WARS AND
REBELLION 1840-1873
threat. No surprise, then, when in 1840, the governor of Canton, Lin Tse-hsu,
was confronted by a British invasion, he evinced little faith in the regular a r m ~
Instead, he recruited local militias, imported Western arms, and even a modern
ship, after British frigates blew seventy-four Chinese junks out of the water in the
Pearl river. He translated foreign newspapers to assess foreign reaction to the
British encroachment. Imperial officials were horrified. The traditional Chinese
response in the face of a barbarian who possessed clear military superiority was
to appease: manipulate him with a combination of trade and gifts, demonstrate
the superiority of Chinese culture, and convince him to perform the kowtow,
thus acknowledging the imperial view of the universe. The militia threatened
their ability to do this, and were largely regarded as 20,000 troublemakers. In
their view, the demands of the militia recruits to fight the British would escalate
the conflict and result in a disastrous defeat. Chinese commanders attributed
British military success not to their own incompetence or weaknesses, but to the
Great wall of China
border of Manchu Empire
c.1840
maximum area under the
effective control of the
Taiping rebels, later
period 1857-63
marches of the Taiping
rebels 1850-63
maximum area under the
effective control of the
Nien rebellion 1853-68
other areas affected by
local revolts to 1873
..... British attacks launched
during the Opium War 1840-1
....... Anglo-French attacks
1858-60
British Empire c. 1860
Western encroachment into
China from the early
nineteenth century,
especially the sale of opium
by force, exposed the Ch'ing
dynasty's weakness. Western
governments humiliated the
throne in its people's eyes,
then propped it up against
the inevitable internal
rebellions this provoked.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
presence of large numbers of traitors in their own population. Lin was dismissed,
the militias disbanded, the British were paid an indemnity and given an extended
lease on Hong Kong Island as a secure base for the opium trade. Other Western
countries demanded, and received, equal treatment, which included the
admittance of missionaries, and treaty ports, to include Canton and Shanghai,
from which they could trade free from the reach of Chinese law. The British and
French intervened for a second time in 1858-60 to force the Chinese government
to live up to their trade agreements.
The Opium War was followed in China by the Taiping rebellion (1851-64)
and the Nien War (1851-68). While these were not, strictly speaking, imperial
conflicts in the sense that Western forces did not directly confront Chinese ones,
the wars were a direct consequence of the destabilization of China sparked by the
Opium War and the imposition of the unequal treaty system on the Ch'ing
d y n a s t ~ They also offer a test case for the failure of modernization in China, as
American "Generar Ward
dies fighting the Taiping
rebels in 1862. Soldiers of
fortune offered their services
to modernize Chinese forces
in the nineteenth century. As
most of the military reforms
were local, rather than
imperial, initiatives, this
encouraged the rise of the
warlords who proved so
destructive in the twentieth
century.
Western powers followed an ambiguous and contradictory policy there. On the
one hand, they periodically intervened in China to force the government to accept
extraterritoriality and other unfavourable treaty conditions. Then, having done
their best to undermine the credibility of the Ch'ing dynasty in the eyes of the
Chinese population, they hastened to bolster its military strength through
technological upgrades, advisers and occasional naval intervention so that it
93
WARS OF EMPIRE
94
could master the subsequent popular uprIsIngs provoked by Western
encroachment. The Taipings were pseudo-Christians who swept up landless
peasants, Triads (a secret society ostensibly dedicated to a Ming restoration, but
which degenerated into gangsterism), and members of militias disbanded in the
wake of the Opium War. Some 120,000 strong by 1852, they seized Nanking as
a base from which they threatened both Beijing and Shanghai. The Niens began
as a loose alliance of peasant militias, salt smugglers and tax protesters who
evolved a highly mobile mounted army whose speed and skilful tactics
confounded the government's best efforts to deal with it.
As in the Opium War, neither the Banners nor the militias raised by local
gentry proved able to deal with these rebellions. 'The rebels travel like rats and the
soldiers like cows', ran popular wisdom. 'You cannot use cows to catch rats.'
Therefore, successful military resistance was the product of local initiatives, a
process which ultimately contributed to the disintegration of the Ch'ing dynasty
and the rise of warlordism in China. Tseng Kuo-fan, a senior bureaucrat,
organized a force that became known as the Hunan a r m ~ This attempt at
military modernization began as an amalgamation of mercenary bands and
militias, and evolved into a relatively sophisticated force of 132,000 men
organized into regiments, divisions, and corps, united by a clear chain of
command. The basic structure of the Hunan army was a battalion of 650 well-
paid men, competently trained, administered and supplied. Commanders
recruited their own soldiers, and were personally responsible for their
performance. The purpose of these personal links was to filter out the secret
society outlaws, heterodox religious sects (Taipings), bandits and rabble who had
done so much to undermine the political loyalty, military efficiency and discipline
of the militias. Tseng also sought to enlist as officers the disgruntled demi-monde
of unsuccessful candidates for the imperial b u r e a u c r a c ~ Intelligent young men
who had failed to pass the rigorous and multi-layered entrance examination often
found an outlet for their ambitions among the leadership of both rebellions.
In 1862, the Hunan model was exported to Shanghai where it developed as
the Anwhei a r m ~ With the help of 140 Western advisers (a group which included
Charles 'Chinese' Gordon), 15,000 modern rifles, and modern artillery, some of
which was eventually mounted on paddle-wheel river boats, the Anhwei army
became an even more formidable force than its Hunan counterpart. Though each
army was instrumental in crushing the internal revolts, and was recognized as
indispensable, especially after the Banners were destroyed in 1860, neither was
destined to survive. Traditionalists decried foreign influence, especially in the
Anhwei army, as a humiliation. Gordon's 'Ever Victorious Army', a branch of the
Anhwei force, was disbanded in 1864 after he argued with Chinese leaders over
the execution of POWs. Plans to create a modern Chinese navy were put on hold
because it would rely too much on foreigners. Expense was also an issue. China
was simply too inward-looking, too culturally aloof, and too financially destitute,
to adapt effectively to the Western challenge.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
was one of the most
celebrated soldiers of
fortune in China. He helped
to organize the 'Ever
Victorious Army' to oppose
the Taiping rebellion.
However, Gordons force
was disbanded in 1864 after
he opposed the custom of
executing prisoners of war.
95
WARS OF EMPIRE
DECISIVE VICTORY VERSUS ATTRITION STRATEGIES
Decisive military engagements were rare in colonial combat. Prolonged periods
of irregular warfare, sequences of indecisive skirmishes, might follow even
the most ostensibly impressive battlefield v i c t o r ~ In these conditions, even
the best commanders fell back on attrition strategies to bring the enemy to heel,
but only at the price of incredible hardship. Amerindians were worn down by
disease and starvation as colonists burned their corn, destroyed food caches,
drove off their game and kept them from fishing spots. Without powder and
ammunition, their villages were destroyed by colonial expeditions, guided by
Amerindian scouts.
In India, Wellesley burned food and crops and threatened to hang merchants
who supplied food to insurgents fighting on amidst the debris of Tipu's empire.
Callwell maintained that the trump card of the British in India was that they
could always identify and destroy any village that challenged British rule. The
guerrilla war between royalist and independence factions in what is modern-day
Bolivia was especially vicious, with Amerindians on both sides willing to burn
villages and attack missions.
In Algeria, Bugeaud raised the razzia, or raid, to a strategic concept as his
troops destroyed crops, rounded up livestock, and burned villages on the theory
that if the Algerians could not eat, they could not fight.
General Aleksei Ermolov, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars and governor
general of Georgia and the Caucasus, adopted a lines or siege approach to the
resistance in the Caucasus - expeditions moved forward to seize important
positions, which were then fortified as bases for economic warfare, and worse,
against the population. Ermolov justified his harsh pacification policy: 'One
execution saves hundreds of Russians from destruction and thousands of
Muslims from treason.' In the eastern Caucasus, the Russians systematically
cut down forests and denied grazing land to insurgents. In the western Caucasus,
a scorched-earth policy combined with simple eviction forced the migration
of the Cherkes population, followed by resettlement of the area with Cossacks
and Russians. The Russian General M. D. Skobelev held to the principle
that 'in Asia, the harder you hit them, the longer they will remain quiet
afterwards', a philosophy espoused by those fighting the Amerindians who
believed extermination and deportation to be the optimum way to deal
with savages.
This type of economic warfare caused difficulties not only on the ground
but also at home. In the colonies, it served to point up the dilemma that was
to bedevil Western soldiers until the end of the twentieth century - how to
distinguish friend from foe. Resistance to European rule was very seldom
absolute, but involved an extremely complex reaction in which political, religious,
regional, ethnic, tribal and family loyalties all played a role. The safest solution
from a Western perspective was simply to treat all natives as enemies until there
was proof that they were otherwise.
COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE
Bugeaud saw no need to appease his opponents, arguing that only through
the hard hand of war would they accept the yoke of conquest. For Bugeaud, Arab
hostility was unalterable, and therefore they had to be crushed to be controlled.
But even practitioners of harsh methods like Bugeaud acknowledged that they
created much bad blood, and made later reconciliation of the conquered
people to colonial rule very difficult. Callwell recommended that colonial
commanders with an eye on making friends with the enemy afterwards
attempt to overawe rather than aggravate them. He commended Hoche's methods
in the Vendee, a happy combination of clemency with firmness. 'The enemy
should be chastised up to a certain point, but should not be driven to
desperation.' But he nevertheless conceded that 'a spirit of leniency that
diminished the spirit of rebellion among French peasants could not be applied
to uncivilized races (that) attribute leniency to timidity. In small wars, one is
sometimes forced into committing havoc that the laws of regular warfare do
not sanction.'
One risk of such a harsh approach was that, as Callwell suggested, it
exasperated the enemy, thus escalating the conflict. This was certainly the case in
the Caucasus, where Russian brutality pushed the mountaineers into the arms of
Shamil and the Sufi order. It might also invite defeat. The Hessian Johann Ewald
discovered his own inability to distinguish rebel from loyalist in the American
revolution. Yet he recommended that, in any case, 'one make friends in the
middle of enemy country', to avoid the revenge of the locals. As European
reprisals tended to fall on natives close at hand, rather than on the guilty,
indigenous peoples tended to flee when imperial troops appeared on the horizon,
which naturally led the Europeans to the conclusion that deserted villages
meant war.
The 1860s closed an era of imperial expansion. The economic underpinnings
of the old mercantilist empires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had
collapsed in an era of free trade. The industrial and trade revolutions which
spread from Britain to the European and North American continents mocked
the idea that a nation's army must control a piece of land, or its navy rule
the seas, for that nation to profit from it. The costs of both conquest and
subsequent infrastructure development gobbled up any potential profits, as the
French had learned in Algeria and the British in India. Businessmen like
Mattheson and Jardine had pioneered the judicious use of military force to
compel even a huge country like China to trade on terms favourable to outsiders.
Yet, in the 1860s, the world stood on the threshold of a new era of imperial
expansion fuelled by two new developments, one that gave Europe the
motivation, the second that gave it the means. The first was national rivalries that
encouraged nations to conquer territory, not for profit, but for prestige. The
second development was the quickening pace of technology - modern weapons,
transport, improved sanitary and logistical capabilities - which, it was hoped,
would make imperial conquest hardly more than a stroll beneath a tropical sun.
97
CHAPTER THREE
---... ....---
SMALL EXPEDITIONS
OF MOUNTED MEN:
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE
OF IMPERIALISM
THIS FANCIFUL FRENCH illustration of ill-armed Hereros
successfully attacking Germans in South-West Africa in 1903
is more illustrative of the depth of European imperial
rivalries than of the realities of warfare in Africa. In fact,
most of the Hereros were driven by the Germans into the
Kalahari Desert to perish miserably.
WARS OF EMPIRE
SMALL EXPEDITIONS OF MOUNTED MEN:
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
AFRICA C.I875
In 1875, European
colonization of Africa was
hardly more advanced than
it had been two hundred
years earlier. There were
precious few economic
incentives to push inland in
earlier eras when traders
could purchase slaves, gold
and ivory from chiefs on the
coast. With the death of the
slave trade, by the mid
nineteenth century virtually
the only African cash export
was palm oil. European
rivalries following the
Franco-Prussian War of
1870-71, rather than a quest
for riches, touched off a
land rush to stake claims on
the African heartland that
preoccupied the century's
last quarter.
roo
T
HE 'HIGH RENAISSANCE' OF imperialism kicked off in the 1870s and lasted
until about 1905, a period during which Britain, France, the United States
and Russia, and to a lesser extent Portugal, Germany and Japan, collected the
corners of virtually every continent and island still up for grabs. It is no accident
that imperial expansion hit its stride at the very moment when nationalism was
at its apogee, for the former was an articulation of the latter. In Europe, the Wars
of German Unification (1864-71) upset the balance of power and set the major
loser, France, on an aggressive search for compensation abroad for her diminished
status at home. In north and sub-Saharan Africa and in the Far East, France
rattled the complacency of Britain, the grande dame of imperialism, whose fleet
and extensive trade network had guaranteed her unrivalled access to foreign
markets since Wellington sent Napoleon packing at Waterloo in 1815. Germany
entered the imperial race in 1884 when Bismarck staked claims on what is now
Namibia, Togo and Tanzania. A conference called at Berlin in the winter of
1884-5 to establish ground rules for this imperial land grab made matters worse,
not better. Military imperialism, a staple of colonial expansion at least since
Cortes, was sanctified, expanded and institutionalized. Effective occupation as
the validation for colonial claims set off what French prime minister Jules Ferry
called a 'steeplechase to the unknown', as imperial soldiers rushed to explore,
conquer and claim areas where earlier only the most curious, intrepid or
foolhardy whites had dared venture.
The Civil War behind it, the United States was free to continue its continental
expansion, and took to the sea in the aftermath of the Spanish-American war of
1898. Russia pushed into Central Asia and along the Amur river toward
Manchuria. The implosion of China induced by the bullying and humiliation of
unequal treaties signed at the points of foreign bayonets, energized Meiji Japan
into a programme of military modernization and imperial expansion lest it, too,
suffer Beijing's fate.
The altered political context of imperial expansion did not immediately
transform the situation on the ground. As in the earlier period, imperial
expeditions remained campaigns against nature, tests of physical endurance in
which fatigue and disease claimed a greater mortality than did bullets. Imperial
soldiers still struggled to impart mobility and offensive punch into their
operations, to make campaigns more decisive and lessen the requirements for
debilitating attrition strategies. Colonel C. E. Callwell preached the virtues of
small expeditions of mounted men as the best formula for decision. The most
brilliant exploits, he believed, were carried out by mounted troops alone.
'Savages, Asiatics and adversaries of that character have a great dread of the
mounted man.' Callwell attributed the British difficulties in the early stages of the
THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM
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Gulf of Guinea
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ATLANTIC
Portuguese possessions
Ottoman possessions,
direct rule
Ottoman possessions,
Egyptian viceroyalty
British possessions
French possessions
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ror
WARS OF EMPIRE
MONTANA
o 1km
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102
Custer Ridge
THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN
Despite C. E. Callwelfs
preference for ·small expeditions
of mounted men,' Custer's 1876
disaster on the Little Bighorn
demonstrated the limitations
of sending cavalry, in reality
CD Col. CUSTER
o Company F. YATES
o Company 1. KEOGH
8) Company L. CALHOUN
~ Company C. T.W.CUSTER
o Company E. SMITH
® Indians under CRAZY HORSE
® Indians under GALL
mounted infantry, with no
support against indigenous
forces, no matter how
poorly armed. Custer
assumed that Crazy Horse
was trying to flee and set off
in pursuit with a fraction of
his command, only to be
surrounded and annihilated.
Battle of Little Bighorn
25 June 1876
Phase 1
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
Indian Mutiny, and their defeat in the First South African War of 1881, to the
absence of cavalry. That cavalry formed an important component of imperial
expeditions cannot be denied. Horses, mules or camels supplied mobility, vital for
scouting, surprise, and maintaining contact with a rapidly retreating e n e m ~ For
instance, mounted Philippine scouts and cavalry (macabebes) allowed US forces
the advantage of mobility and surprise over Luzon at the turn of the c e n t u r ~ But
the contribution of cavalry to victory in imperial expeditions must not be
exaggerated. Even Callwell confessed that mounted troops alone were not
invariably a formula for success. Not all terrain was favourable to cavalry; it
I
Battle of Little Bighorn
25 June 1876
Phase 2
Custer divides his command of 600
men into three groups, then leads
his own group north-west along
C!) the ridges above the Little Bighorn
river. Meanwhile the other two
groups are beaten off by Indian
forces isolating Custer and his men
Custer's force moves in loose
company formations along the ridge
t::'\ deep in Indian-controlled territory
~ and contact with Reno and Beufeau
is lost. Large Indian forces move
across the Little Bighorn river
Indian forces under Crazy Horse
f3\ and Gall move to surround Custer's
\i!J 212 cavalry men, and begin their
attack
The Indian attack rapidly
overwhelms the companies to the
@ east and south of Custer's position.
The few survivors collect around
Custer for a last stand
1°3
WARS OF EMPIRE
Custer's Last Stand, 25 June
1876. George Custer built a
reputation for iinpetuous
bravery in the American
Civil War, becoming a
brigadier general at the age
of 23. But his impetuousness,
combined with an outsized
ego, caused him to throw
caution to the wind when
faced with immensely
superior forces on the
Little Bighorn.
might be too forested, too dry, or too mountainous. Horses were too expensive
and too fragile to be anything but an auxiliary commodity on most expeditions,
which is why most commanders in the early nineteenth century, and many who
came after, relied principally on i n f a n t r ~ And even in conditions where mounted
soldiers were the arm of choice, as in the American west where horse soldiers
were most likely to close with the enemy, horses tired quickly and, after a week,
the cavalry might be less mobile and have less firepower than the i n f a n t r ~
Cavalry was most effective when it co-operated with artillery and infantry.
However, in conditions of imperial warfare, cavalry commanders might be
tempted to operate on their own, thus exposing their forces to unnecessary risks.
George Armstrong Custer's demise on the Little Bighorn in 1876 offers the most
dramatic and celebrated example of a mounted man's inclination to ride off over
the horizon away from infantry support and get into trouble. It is significant and
ironic that General Nelson A. Miles's relentless, and ultimately successful,
pursuit of Sitting Bull to avenge Custer's defeat was carried out mainly with
i n f a n t r ~ It was precisely to correct the problem of cavalry operating without
infantry support that the French General Fran<;ois de Negrier created mule-
mounted infantry companies in 1881, whose purpose was to provide long-range
support for cavalry operating in the Sud-Oranais of Algeria. Like the cavalry in
1°4
THE HIGH RE AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
Major General Nelson
Miles, a hero of the
American Civil War who
had been awarded the
Medal of Honor at
Chancellorsville, also
proved to be one of
America's most tenacious
Amerindian fighters,
leading campaigns against
the Nez Pierce in 1877 and
Geronimo in 1886.
the American Civil War and in the campaigns In the American West, these
companies learned to fight dismounted after a company of the Foreign Legion
was destroyed trying to fight on mule-back at the Chott Tigri in the Sud-Oranais
of Algeria in April 1882. These mule-mounted companies remained a feature of
Foreign Legion units in North Africa until the Second World War.
The Second South African (Boer) War is regarded as the quintessential
cavalry war, and in many respects it was, at least in its final stages. But it is useful
to remember that the firepower of Boer Mausers during the opening phase of the
l°S
WARS OF EMPIRE
Mounted Boer fighters
dominated the latter phase
of the Second South African
War. They acquired a
mobility that the British
found impossible to match
until, taking a leaf from
Bugeaud's book, they simply
removed anything or anyone
who might supply the
insurgents with a means to
resist.
conflict forced the British cavalry to fight dismounted. As the war slipped into its
guerrilla phase, British cavalry never matched that of the Boer raiders in m o b i l i t ~
Ultimately, the British cavalry became an element in an attrition strategy which
saw it organized into extended lines to drive Boer guerrillas against fixed lines of
barbed wire and blockhouses. And even then, what these cavalry drives succeeded
in doing was to force the Boers to abandon their cumbersome wagons, livestock
and dismounted soldiers, ultimately reducing them to starvation. Finally,
mobility cut both ways. In South-West Africa, Hendrik Witbooi forced Captain
Curt von Frans:ois to come to terms in 1893 after the Nama leader had captured
virtually all the horses around Windhoek in a series of daring raids, thus making
German pursuit impossible. Horses raised on the South African veld, more robust
than the mounts imported by the British, gave the Boers a decided edge in
mobility in the South African War. Likewise, the French in Algeria were never
able to match in mobility raiders out of Morocco or camel-mounted Tuareg in
the Sahara.
Io6
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
Callwell's purpose was not to extend the natural life of an antiquated if noble
arm out of sheer nostalgia. What Callwell, indeed all colonial commanders,
sought was m o b i l i t ~ 'The problem is not to move faster,' General de Negrier
wrote of North African warfare, 'but to go further, for longer. Fire fights are rare
here. We fight with volleys of kilometres. You have to march.' One of de Negrier's
successors in the Sud-Oranais, General Hubert Lyautey, was fond of repeating
that, in Africa, one defends oneself by moving. 'From the days of Clive down to
the present time,' insisted Callwell, 'victory has been achieved by vigor and dash
rather than by force of numbers.' One major advantage of this approach was
political- home governments eager for results favoured a one-blow approach over
more patient strategies which lengthened conflicts and raised the costs, both
financial and political.
As suggested in the previous chapter, the impediments to rapid victory
against an often elusive foe across country which was usually remote and
invariably inhospitable were immense. Disease was one. Until quinine became
Blockhouses, like this one
used in South Africa, were a
variant of the 'lines'
approach used by the
Russians in the Caucasus
and the Spanish in
Morocco. In South Africa,
blockhouses connected by
barbed wire, rail lines in
some cases, and searchlights
formed lines against which
sweeps of British cavalry
would attempt to drive
elusive Boer fighters.
I07
WARS OF EMPIRE
In some respects, the British
invasion of Ethiopia in 1868
may be regarded as the first
modern colonial expedition
in that it included a railway
constructed to supply troops
marching off into the
hinterland. This illustrated
that the main advantage of
technology lay in the
logistical 'tail' of these
expeditions, rather than in
the armed 'teeth'.
available in a distilled form in the 1840s, armies in the Caribbean and West Africa
wasted away from falciparum malaria carried by the anopheline mosquito. The
Aedes aegypti mosquito, endemic to urban areas and military camps, hollowed
out whole expeditions with yellow fever, which consigned 75 per cent of its
victims to delirium, coma and death. Because white troops perished at a much
higher rate from these and other endemic diseases, commanders preferred to
recruit a high percentage of native soldiers for their expeditions.
Logistics were the Achilles' heel of any imperial expedition. The task of
accumulating supplies, not to mention pack animals, in remote areas was a long
and arduous one, which contributed to the expense of a campaign, a condition
which invited opposition, both political and military: Horses were fragile
commodities, and a commander might court disaster if he relied too heavily on
them for the success of an expedition. For instance, the longevity of the Seminole
uprising relied in part on the fact that the small American force sent to master it
in the summer of 1836 lost 600 horses to sickness. As has been noted, in his 1845
expedition in the Caucasus, General Vorontsov had to spike his guns because 400
of the 635 horses used to draw them had perished.
The problem for the commander was how to balance the numbers required
for security and success with the constraints of logistics. From an operational
perspective, expeditions that were too large might have their hands full simply
sustaining themselves on the coast, much less be able to push inland. This was
initially the case in 1868 when 10,000 British troops in Abyssinia required 26,000
Io8
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
pack animals and 12,000 followers to lumber inland. In 1894, French planners
estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 porters and mule drivers would be required to
support a 12,000-man expeditionary force to Madagascar. The inclusion of the
two-wheeled metal voiture Lefevre allowed the number of porters to be reduced
to 7,000 when the French invaded the following year. But the expedition stalled on
the coast as roads and bridges over which the vehicles (called La fievre, or 'fever
wagon' by the troops) could pass had to be constructed. General Charles
Duchesne, his force perishing from disease before even a shot could be fired, was
forced to cut loose from his logistics and march on Tananarive with a light
column of 1,500 men. The French requisitioned 35,000 camels to supply the Tuat
expedition of 1901-2, of which 25,000 perished at the hands of French troops
inexperienced in the finer points of camel handling. As a consequence, the
economy of southern Algeria was devastated and took years to recover. 'I do not
think that there has been a massacre comparable to that of 1901,' the Sahara
expert E. F. Gautier wrote. 'The jackals and the vultures along the way were
overwhelmed with the immensity of their task.' The German governor of South-
West Africa complained in 1894 that the country was so deficient in water and
pasture land that a force of 100 men would pose an almost insoluble supply
problem. 'We would be defeated not by the people, but by Nature.' In 1896,
he actually returned almost a quarter of his force to Germany because he
The 1895 French invasion of
Madagascar nearly came to
grief when General
Duchesne lingered for too
long in the islands malarial
lowlands to construct roads
and bridges to support a
thrust toward Tananarive.
His force melting away from
disease, Duchesne was
obliged to strike inland with
a 1,500-man 'flying column'.
1°9
WARS OF EMPIRE
In the colonies, rivers often
offered the most obvious
routes of advance. The
1892 French invasion of
Dahomey was greatly
facilitated by the gunboat
Topaz, which shadowed
the French advance along
the Queme river and
helped to shatter several
Dahomian attacks.
lacked the horses and oxen to support a force larger than seven hundred men.
Logistical difficulties, which constrained strategic mobility, could be eased in
two ways: the first was, as in the past, to advance along water routes. The Niger
and Congo river networks offered multiple routes of entry into sub-Saharan
Africa, first for explorers, and then for expeditions of armed men. The entire
French strategy for the penetration of the western Sudan was to construct posts
along the Senegal and eventually the Niger rivers. The strategy of those who
opposed them, then, had to be to block those rivers. When, in 1857, aI-Hajj Umar
threw 20,000 Tokolor sofas (warriors) against the French post at Medine, General
110
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
Louis Faidherbe crammed 500 soldiers with artillery on two steamships at
St-Louis de Senegal and, in ten days, sailed 400 miles up the Senegal river to
relieve the siege. The fabled city of Timbuktu fell to a French river flotilla in
January 1894. It is no accident that the intrepid band of Frenchmen led by
Colonel Marchand, who left the mouth of the Congo in 1896 to appear, almost
two years later, on the upper Nile at a place called Fashoda, transported a
disassembled steamboat during the overland part of their trek. Nor is it any
wonder that, when General Kitchener moved south from Khartoum to challenge
them in 1898, he came by steamboat. The French tried to penetrate Cochin-China
Rivers did not invariably
offer the best route of
advance. In Madagascar in
1895, French General
Duchesne rejected a shorter
overland route to
Tananarive in favour of a
lengthy, and disease-ridden,
river line that virtually
spelled disaster for his
expedition.
on the Mekong river in the 1860s because they believed it offered a path into
southern China. When that failed, they tried the Red and Clear rivers into Tonkin
two decades later. When General Negrier abandoned the Red river network to
advance overland to Lang Son on the Chinese border in 1885, he outran his
logistics and got into trouble. General Dodds followed the Oueme river to invade
Dahomey in 1892.
However, the decision to advance along a water line was not invariably a
happy one. For instance, the decision by French planners in Paris to land at
Manjunga on the Madagascar Channel and advance on Tananarive along the
Betsiboka/Ikopa rivers rather than choose a shorter overland route from the port
III
WARS OF EMPIRE
Railways offered one
solution to logistical
problems. However,
railroads had their
drawbacks, all of which
were obvious in the Boer
War: they made for very
predictable lines of advance
that might be blocked; they
required significant
manpower to build and
maintain; they were
vulnerable to attack; finally,
the enemy learned to
concentrate far away from
the railheads.
of Vatomandry on Madagascar's east coast, nearly sunk the expedition. A hidden
coral reef off Manjunga complicated the off-loading of the ships, the ocean
swells on the Betsiboka estuary swamped many river craft, while the rivers,
although unnavigable very far inland, proved to be rich in malarial mosquitoes.
The Pearl, Yellow and Yangtze rivers offered Western gunboats access to the
Chinese heartland, while Russian gunboats approached from the north along
the Amur.
Railways offered a second method of resolving logistical difficulties. The
British imported their own locomotives, cars and track in 1868 for the invasion of
Abyssinia. Railways determined many of the lines of advance chosen by British
forces in the Boer War and linked the blockhouse system built by Kitchener in the
later phase of the war. However, railways had several drawbacks from a military
viewpoint. The first was that they were not plentiful in the undeveloped world,
and the effort expended to build them across desolate or malarial countryside
diverted military assets and desperately increased the costs of a campaign. In the
western Sudan, attempts to construct a railway in the 1880s to support the French
advance from Senegal to the Niger river became an expensive farce which spiked
the costs of the military campaign, invited parliamentary scrutiny of the army's
financial mismanagement and contributed nothing to the security of French
112
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
CD
Goum infantry
CD
Cavalry
CD
Foreign legion
CD
Headquarters
CD
Artillery
(0 General staff
(2) Medical section
CD
Baggage train
CD
Zouave infantry
@ Algerian infantry
@ Algerian rear .... >.,
Unsuccessful column
organization used by
Colonel Innocenti in
Southern Algeria
17 May 1881
. . .
....• ..
, .
goums - irregular tribal
levies - whose resemblance
to the enemy confused the
Innocenti column and caused
them to hold fire until too
late.


of mule-mounted Foreign
Legionnaires and artillery
that could swing to defend
against attack from any
direction) while permitting
the column a more flexible
marching formation over
irregular terrain. Negrier
also dispensed with his
.::r: .
COLUMN ORGANIZATION
In May 1881) Bou Amama
successfully attacked the
Innocenti column at
Moualok in southern Algeria
by enticing the armed
elements forward to break an
obvious ambush) and then
falling upon the lightly
protected convoy. Colonel
(later General) de
Negrier subsequently
reorganized his convoy
defence as a 'mobile echelon
Column organization
used by Colonel Negrier
113
WARS OF EMPIRE
posts. A second problem was that although railways could bring troops and
supplies to the railhead, the effort to shift materiel beyond that point was
immense. Third, unlike western Europe where a profligate rail network offered
commanders strategic mobility, the paucity of rail lines abroad limited strategic
options. British advances along rail lines in the early months of the Boer War
were so predictable that Boers simply had to fortify obvious choke points and
wait for the British to attack. In South-West Africa, the Herero
learned to concentrate far away from the rail lines and force
the Germans to come to them, thereby amplifying the
logistical burden for their enemies.
MAXIM GUN AND CARRIAGE When the push into the hinterland began, supply
114
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
trains slowed the column to a snail's pace, and offered a vulnerable target. This
circumscribed the offensive capacities of expeditions forced to employ a
disproportionate number of troops and artillery to defend supply trains from
hostile attack. For this reason, imperial expeditions were often categorized as
campaigns against nature. As in Wellesley's day, no imperial commander could
hope for success until he had solved his logistical problems.
Unlike Wellesley, however, soldiers in the late nineteenth century could turn
to technology to help them solve their operational and logistical problems.
However, the impact of technology on imperial warfare, indeed on all warfare,
has frequently been misunderstood. Not only was the change a slow one, but also
technology was more important to the logistical tail than at the sharp end of
imperial expeditions. On the surface, at least, the
introduction of breech-loading rifles in the 1860s,
and of machine guns in the 1880s, changed the
equation of colonial battles. But although Hilaire
Belloc could write, 'Whatever happens we have
got/the Maxim gun and they have not', the truth
was that firepower gave Europeans an important,
but by no means a decisive, advantage. For one
thing, technology, like mobility, was available to
both sides. There was no shortage of merchants of
death to sell modern rifles to indigenous peoples; it
is reckoned that over 16 million firearms were
imported by Africans in the course of the
nineteenth c e n t u r ~ Colonial officials, eager to
introduce a fatal touch of chaos to African empires
which dwelt in conditions of scarcely stifled unrest,
might supply weapons to minor chieftains or
pretenders to thrones as a means of undermining
the position of a local ruler. European rivalries also
played a role in arming indigenous resistance - the
governor of French Somaliland supplied Menelik
with a gift of 100,000 rifles and 2 million tons of
ammunition after Britain backed Italy's assertion
of a protectorate over Ethiopia in 1891, rifles used
to good effect against the Italians five years later at
Adowa. The Italians also contributed to the arms
transfer in North Africa when they abandoned
5,000 rifles and crates of ammunition in a
headlong flight back to Tripoli in the face of Sanusi
opposition. in 1915. Although it may safely be
consigned to the 'sore loser' category, survivors of
the Little Bighorn alleged that Sitting Bull had shot
MAXIM GUN AND
CARRIAGE
Hiram Maxim, a native of
Maine, invented the first
machine gun in 1884. A
significant improvement
over the French mitrailleuse
and the unreliable Gatling,
the Maxim became a
standard feature of colonial
military inventories by the
turn of the century. As this
picture of the Rifle Brigade
in training suggests,
however, the Maxim
presented some of the same
mobility problems as did
artillery.
115
WARS OF EMPIRE
French Foreign Legionnaires
successfully withstood a
three-month siege of Tuyen
Quang, a fortress on the
Clear river in Upper Tonkin,
in 1884-5. The attacking
Yunnanese regulars and
their Vietnamese 'Black
Flag' allies were well armed
with modern rifles, artillery
and explosives, and
employed sophisticated
siege and mining techniques.
116
them off the field with Winchester repeaters, while their ability to reply was
muted by single-shot Springfields. These complaints are identical to those of
French soldiers in Tonkin in 1885 about their single-shot 1874-model Gras rifles
with which they faced Chinese troops armed with repeaters. The French
discovered that both the Dahomians in 1892 and the Malagasies in 1895
possessed modern rifles, although they used them badly when they used them at
all. It was reckoned that in 1890-91 alone, the Herero traded almost 20,000 cattle
for weapons and ammunition in South-West Africa. Nevertheless, when rebellion
against the Germans erupted in 1904, fewer than one-third of the warriors were
armed with rifles. It is also likely that the superior weaponry of the imperial
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
invaders convinced many native chiefs that co-operation, rather than
confrontation, offered the most prudent s t r a t e g ~ The accuracy of Boer Mausers
caused the British to alter their tactics in the Second South African War of
1899-1902, as well as to cease the use of expanding dum-dum rounds (named
after the arms factory in India), so effective against the Mahdi's forces at
Omdurman in 1898, as unsuitable to a white man's war.
The advent of machine guns did give Europeans firepower advantages in
defensive situations. It appears that the Russians and Americans were the first to
add them to the inventories of armed expeditions in Central Asia and the
American West. However, their general use in imperial warfare was impeded
117
WARS OF EMPIRE
rr8
by both technical and tactical factors. Early versions like the mitrailleuse and
the Gatling were heavy and unreliable. Most commanders realized that a weapon
which jammed at critical moments posed a distinct danger, which was why
Custer left his Gatling behind when he departed for the Little Bighorn.
Chelmsford carried them into action against the Zulus in 1879, but the Africans
learned to work around them and attack on the flank. So firepower did not save
him at Isandlwana. Conventional wisdom in the early days also assigned these
weapons to the artillery to be used in batteries, rather than distributed to infantry
and cavalry units.
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
The lighter, more reliable Maxim gun began to appear on colonial
battlefields in the 1890s, to be used by the British on the North-West Frontier, and
to best effect in the Matabele War of 1896, when armed police of the Chartered
Company and volunteers simply laagered their wagons and mowed down the
Africans, who charged with reckless courage. But Maxim guns were seldom a
battle winner, for at least two reasons. First, they were not well suited for warfare
in mountains or jungles where the enemy fought dispersed or was invisible.
Pushed too far forward, they might become isolated and their crews
overwhelmed. Second, they remained too few to decide the outcome of a
Despite the appearance of
the Maxim, this Gatling,
though obsolete and
unreliable, defends a laager
in Bulawayo in 1896.
Machine guns worked to
their maximum advantage
during the Matabele War
because the enemy massed
in great numbers to attack
laagers.
119
WARS OF EMPIRE
THE BATTLE OF
ISANDLWANA
Dramatic defeats of
imperial armies by
indigenous forces were
relatively rare in the
imperial era, but not
unknown. Zulu Impis
attacked in a 'cow horns'
formation fairly typical of
the more sophisticated
indigenous African
armies. While this
strategy, developed for
raiding, usually failed
against well-disciplined
imperial forces, the
attackers here saturated
a defence strung out on
too vast a perimeter.
120
campaign - the British possessed only six Maxims
at Omdurman. Maxims were not free of
mechanical problems, as the French discovered
during the Moroccan attack at Menabba in
eastern Morocco in April 1908, when sand
jammed the mechanisms of their machine guns.
During the Boer War of 1899-1902, the Transvaal
government equipped its troops with a number of
Maxims, which they regarded as a cheap and
efficient form of light artillery, while the British
included them in their flying columns. But it was
only the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 which
revealed the value of large numbers of machine-
guns, and their tactical use on the offensive as well
as the defensive. And even then, the machine gun
remained a relatively scarce item in military
inventories well into the First World War.
lsandlwana
o
British column camps at
Isandlwana. At daybreak on the
22 January Lord Chelmsford sends
out a column to intercept a Zulu
force, leaving some 800 troops and
400 native levies to guard the camp
At midday the Zulu attack develops
with the main force rapidly
approaching hastily founded British
positions
Col. Durnford retreats and takes
po ition on the right flank, next to
Bradstreet's company
The Zulu army, some 10,000
strong, closes on the British
positions, and overwhelms the
British line. Only a small number
manage to escape the final
onslaught
Modern firepower was
usually sufficient to
withstand frontal assaults
by poorly armed natives.
However, despite their
significant firepower
advantage, Chelmsford~ s
troops were overwhelmed in
part because the Natal
Kaffirs, who had been
confided a critical portion
of the defence line, were
inadequately armed and
disciplined.
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
121
WARS OF EMPIRE
A French instructor trains
troops of the sultan of
Morocco to fire a 65-mm
mountain gun in 1911. The
following year, these troops
mutinied and slaughtered
many of their instructors.
As in China, Moroccans
were caught in the insoluble
dilemma that they had to
become like Europeans in
order to resist them.
122
The remoteness of colonial battlefields continued to make artillery a
problem. Light mountain guns carried on the backs of mules or camels and able
to be assembled quickly were available from the 1840s, but they did not pack
much of a wallop. In areas where pack animals were scarce, artillery might be
disassembled and carried by porters. But it was burdensome, forfeited surprise,
and was more trouble that it was worth. Artillery might be useful against forts,
walled villages, or defensive enclosures. But after taking high casualties in frontal
assaults, the French in Tonkin, like the British who stormed Maori pahs in ew
Zealand, discovered that dynamite or, better still, a manoeuvre against the line of
retreat was usually sufficient to induce a precipitate evacuation. In any case, it
came almost as a relief if the enemy chose to fight from these defensive positions
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
because it lessened the threat of ambushes or surprise attacks, which the
European soldiers, especially those fighting in dense jungle, feared most.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, small artillery pieces like the
Hotchkiss became part of the inventories of expeditionary forces. Larger guns,
like Creusot 75s, might be used extensively, especially if the battlefield was not
too remote, and the enemy showed a preference for massing to attack, as did
Samori's sofas, the Dahomians in 1892, or the Moroccans at Sidi-Bou Othman,
outside Marrakesh, in September 1912. Native fortifications were easily smashed
by artillery, which also allowed Europeans to break Boxer resistance at Peking
(Beijing) in 1900. Those fighting on the defensive might also be vulnerable. The
British scurried to add heavy artillery to their arsenals during the Boer War.
French warships attack
Chinese ships at Fuchou in
August 1884, part of a
campaign to convince China
to cede Tonkin to France.
Nowhere was the Chinese
failure to modernize its
forces more apparent than
in the navy. This required a
level of technical expertise,
infrastructure and financial
support of which the Ch'ing
dynasty was incapable.
Naval artillery mounted on gunboats supported land operations in Tonkin, on
the Niger, against the Dahomians, on the Nile and, of course, in China. However,
the effect of artillery on the enemy, especially on dispersed, irregular forces, was
more psychological than physical. At Isandlwana, Zulus threw themselves to the
ground each time the gunners sprang back prior to pulling the lanyards, so that
shells from the camp's two artillery pieces screamed harmlessly overhead.
Artillery was used to dissuade Herero tribesmen from attacking German
settlements at the beginning of the rebellions of 1904. German General Lothar
12
3
von Trotha also employed artillery in the offensive phase of operations when he
brought thirty guns and twelve Maxims against Herero tribesmen at Waterberg
on 11-12 1904. Although German inflicted few casualties, 'von
Trotha in his true' purpose, which was to drive the Herero into the
.. Omaheke Desert whe:re hundreds. perished of thirst. The French found that
'shrapnel had little effect on Moroccans, who sought refuge in palm groves or
_behind walls of ksour (fortified villages). However, when in September 1908 a
Moroccan harka concentrated against eighteen guns of a French column before
BOH penib in eastern Morocco, the result was a massacre. But it was always hard
to predict the pr.oper mix, of shrapnel and impact shells to be carried on
campargn.
" lridigertous peoples usually. ha'd success when they attempted to adopt
. artiller): The premise of China's 'Self-Strengthening Movement', spurred by the
1861 occupation of Beijing bY,an Anglo-French expeditionary force, was that,
since Western superiority was based on technology, the adoption of technology
.would bring strength. Unfortunately for the reformers, the hold of tradition
was, such that they· found, it difficult to institutions to
accommodate technolog): The fact that the Chinese had to rely on
in 1882 after
bombar4ment by the
British fleet in response to
a nationalist uprising in
Egypt. Naval artillery was
regularly mustered to
intimidate foreign
potentates to give in to
imperial demands or to
quell rebellion.
WARS OF EMPIRE
British forces crush Egyptian nationalists
at Tel-el-Kebir in 1882. The British
imposition of supervisory officials on the
khedive (viceroy) in 1881 to protect the
Suez Canal angered both Egyptian
nationalists, as well as the French, who
retaliated in 1898 by staking a claim to the
Egyptian Sudan at Fashoda.
Ellena's
reserve
brigade
Arimondi's
advance
Mount
• Eshasho
Baratieri's position
at 9am
~
Hill of ~
Chidane Meret •
according
to Baratieri
Baratieri's main • Mount
defence lines Belah
small
hill
V
Dabormida's
advance
g r. e T
THE BATTLE OF AnOWA
The Italians suffered what
was probably the most
catastrophic defeat of any
imperial army at Adowa in
1896. General Baratieri,
goaded by his subordinate
officers, and by the rebukes
of Francesco Crispi, the
Italian Prime Minister
attacked prematurely. He
ordered his 15,000 troops
forward in three separate
columns, each of which was
overwhelmed piecemeal by
nearly 100,000 Ethiopians.
E T H o A
Battle of Adowa
1 March 1896
I
1mile
N
-+
lkm
,
Mount
• &maiata
...
,
,
\
\
,
- - - -)I--
;;0Abba Gorimo
Italian advance, led by
Dabormida
Italian advance, led by
Arimondi
Italian advance, led by
Albertone
Askari of Albertone retreats
Ethipian lines of attack
Italian battery
--y
126
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
non-lethal blast from one of their antique guns.
These pieces might be important, even decisive,
in conflicts among native groups. Four artillery
pieces captured in skirmishes with the French
allowed aI-Hajj Umar Tal to extend the Tokolor
empire on the southern bank of the Senegal
river in the 1850s, although their impact was
thought to be more psychological than physical.
The rise of the powerful Galoui clan in
southern Morocco can be traced to a 77mm
cannon taken from the sultan's army in 1893.
This artillery piece allowed Madani el Galoui
to bust the fortresses of his rivals who guarded
the passes of the High Atlas, thus making him
the power broker of Marrakesh with whom the
sultan, and ultimately the French, were forced to deal. Cuban revolutionaries
organized artillery units which they employed to chase Spanish troops from
Bayamo in Oriente province and Victoria de las Tunas in 1897. But the Spaniards
appeared little inclined to defend these small provincial towns in any case. As
with small arms, even when indigenous forces counted artillery in their arsenals,
they seldom had sufficient shells to affect a battle's outcome.
Firepower might be a factor in victory if the enemy obligingly tried to
replicate European methods, as did the Indian mutineers in 1857, or Egyptian
troops at Tel-el-Kebir in 1882. Better still, if they massed in a 'holy war' response,
as at Omdurman in 1898, at Bou Denib, Morocco in 1908, or Marrakesh in 1912.
But Europeans had prevailed in pitched battles like Assaye in 1803, on the Sikkak
river in Algeria in 1836, or at Isly in 1844. It was superior tactics and discipline,
rather than firepower, which had assured European victory in these set-piece
engagements. When these elements were absent, as with ill-trained and poorly led
Italian forces at Adowa in 1896, the results could be disastrous. However,
European advantages in firepower, tactics, and discipline might be nullified by
geography and by the e n e m ~
The turning point for Europeans came in the 1860s and 1870s, when
firepower and organizational ability allied with technology to give the Europeans
the advantage. While innovative commanders like Wellesley or Bugeaud always
attempted to organize expeditions efficiently within the confines of pre-industrial
capabilities, the decisive development came, perhaps, with the Abyssinian
expedition of 1868, when the British imported an entire railway to support the
advance into the interior. However, it was General Sir Garnet Wolseley who
probably first achieved the marriage of technology and organization during the
Ashanti campaign of 1873-4. To be sure, Wolseley defeated the Ashanti in battle
thanks to Snider rifles and 7-pounder guns. But the battle was almost incidental
to the success of the campaign, which had been a triumph of administrative
12
7
WARS OF EMPIRE
128
planning. In future, successful commanders, like French General Dodds in
Dahomey (1892), would imitate Wolseley by reducing the size of expeditions to
around 3,500 men, and take care to provide roads, way stations, porterage, pack
animals, tinned food (which increasingly replaced dry provisions like macaroni or
rice which required water to cook), potable water, and quinine for their troops, all
of which would ensure a maximum number of rifles on line and a rapid
conclusion of a campaign.
Admittedly, this lesson was unevenly applied, in part because, although the
Ashanti campaign proved a marvel of technical organization, its success relied
largely on the fact that it was a punitive expedition, not a campaign of conquest.
Because Wolseley rapidly withdrew his force after destroying the Ashanti capital,
the campaign was barren of strategic results. Other commanders seeking more
permanent outcomes were obliged to resort to large expeditions. Russian
expeditions in Central Asia were essentially expeditions cast into the desert to lay
siege to fortified towns, and required what, in effect, were small armies. In
Indo-China in 1884-5 the French required a considerable force to take on a
Chinese army allied with local Black Flag resistance. Logistics remained the weak
spot of all of these operations. When the enemy force was smaller, or fragmented,
then successful commanders could resolve the dilemma of how to combine
mobility with a force sufficiently large to defend itself by reducing their baggage
to a minimum. General George Crook's 1883 Sierra Madre campaign against
Geronimo was considered a model: a small, aggressively led force was guided by
Apache auxiliaries with supplies carried on mule back. Flying columns were most
effective against fixed positions like a village in places where the enemy was too
few to take advantage of their frailties - Burma, Tonkin in the 1890s, Rhodesia,
and against Boer commandos in the latter part of the Second South African War.
General Lothar von Trotha so arranged his converging columns at Waterberg as
to offer the Herero the choice between immediate death in the teeth of his
superior firepower, or slow extinction in the sandveld of the Omaheke. Most
chose the latter.
Flying columns had their drawbacks, however. Co-ordinating the arrival of
these columns from different directions on a single, often elusive, objective was a
difficult task in the era before radio communications. Lyautey complained that
ambitious officers in charge of one prong of converging columns in Tonkin often
sabotaged operations by attempting to be the first to reach the objective, alerting
the enemy and allowing him to flee before his escape route was cut off. 'Each
thought only of stealing the affair from the other, each manoeuvring to escape
the control of the Colonel, to pull off a coup de main, and then cover himself
with a fait accompli,' he complained. As Callwell noted, the supply train could
become a millstone which both slowed down a force, and disorganized it,
especially in broken country, so making it vulnerable to ambush. Poor intelligence
and the poisoning of wells so debilitated Hicks Pasha on the Nile in 1883 that he
fell victim to a Mahdist attack. If the force were too small, it might find itself the
THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM
prey rather than the stalker. This happened in Mexico between 1862 and 1867,
and even in North Africa, where French columns were continually surprised and
sometimes overwhelmed because they were too small to defend themselves.
Similar fates befell Custer in 1876, Chelmsford in 1879, and Hicks Pasha on the
ile in 1883. For these reasons, Callwell regarded light or flying columns as only
a temporary expedient or a minor operation in a larger campaign.
A colonial commander who resorted to flying columns usually did so because
he confronted the most dreaded of all situations - guerrilla warfare. From a
military standpoint, regular armies, even those with substantial colonial
experience, were poorly equipped to deal with it. An elusive enemy could control
the strategic pace of the war, withdraw deep into the country, and nullify the
technological and firepower advantage which should naturally be enjoyed by the
invaders. To match this, European commanders required a substantial reordering
of their military system. This was never easy to do, and officers who advocated
such things as light, mobile, largely locally recruited forces with logistical systems
to match, were regarded as eccentrics whose innovations seldom survived their
departure. A reliable intelligence network was vital for irregular warfare, a field
in which traditionally-minded commanders were usually loathe to work.
evertheless, the British continued a tradition begun by Wellesley, who put
considerable effort into creating reliable intelligence networks both in India and
later in the Peninsula. In North Africa, the French developed the Arab Bureaux,
later renamed the service de renseignement (intelligence service) whose task was
Sir Garnet Wolseley took
care to prepare roads and
way stations, and supply
porters, fresh water, tinned
food and quinine to keep a
relatively small expedition
healthy long enough to
inflict a decisive defeat on
the Ashanti in 1873-4.
While Wolseley's approach
was regarded as a model for
rapid victory, his was a
punitive campaign, not one
of conquest and
occupation.
12
9
WARS OF EMPIRE
13°
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
both to collect intelligence on the tribes, and to administer them in areas
controlled by the Indeed, an essential element of the tache or 'oil
spot' method of pacification pioneered by Gallieni in Tonkin and Madagascar,
and later by Lyautey in eastern Algeria and Morocco, was that the creation of a
market-place would draw in the tribes from whom one could glean intelligence
and recruit locals to act as scouts. In the Philippines, General Frederick Funston
established an intelligence network which relied principally on paying generous
cash bonuses for good information, and on the carelessness of his enemies, a
generally literate group who exhibited an unfortunate tendency to write
everything down, including the identity of their leaders, who could then be
arrested. Working on the basis of intelligence, Funston was able to organize rapid
offensive operations to attack guerrilla bases and capture important rebel leaders.
His most celebrated action combined intelligence and deception. Using captured
documents, he identified the location of the headquarters of insurgent General
Emilio Aguinaldo. Funston disguised his Philippine scouts as guerrillas and their
officers as prisoners, inserted them by sea, and arrived at Aguinaldo's camp
undetected to seize the general.
Some of these problems - stamina, mobility, logistics and costs - could be
OPPOSITE: Major General
Frederick Funston mastered
the Philippine insurgency in
northern Luzon with a
combination of retribution
and rewards. His tour de
force was to masquerade as
a prisoner of war and
capture insurgent leader
Emilio Aguinaldo.
Emilio Aguinaldo (seated
third from bottom
row) in 1896. The Philippine
resistance was led by a
European-educated Luzon
elite, whose
nationalist appeal enjoyed
limited resonance both
among a traditional peasant
society and across a broad
archipelago of islands.
131
WARS OF EMPIRE
Senegalese tirailleurs
present arms as the
Tricolour is raised over
Timbuktu in 1894. Not
only were the Senegalese
essential for the conquest
of the French but
also as French General
Charles Mangin correctly
predicted in a 1910
La force African
soldiers would be vital to
defend France against a
powerful Germany.
132
resolved in part by substituting locally recruited soldiers for Europeans. The
British and the French evolved a formula of one European for two soldiers of
imperial origins. But imperial levies were not an automatic solution, and much
ink was spilled by colonial officers on their best utilization. If a commander
employed irregular levies of cossacks, goums, or simply tribal formations armed
with surplus weapons, he might discover that they were more trouble than they
were worth. Part of the problem lay in a different cultural approach to warfare -
indigenous levies often could not understand the European preference for frontal
assaults and seizing territory or fortresses. For them, the goal of battle was
seldom the extinction of the Rather, battle was primarily an exercise in
personal bravery, a flirtation with danger. The pay-off was the enhancement of
one's personal reputation, and the collection of trophies like female slaves or
livestock. African tribes, like their Amerindian counterparts, often sought to
incorporate villages into their empires and economic systems, and merely saw
European soldiers as a means to that end. For European soldiers, whose goals
were to extend imperial authority, the utilization of native levies in their raw form
under their own headmen was rather like the employment of poison gas or
submarines during the First World War - they made the battlefield a very messy,
disagreeable and dangerous place, but seldom proved a decisive element in
combat. Native levies swarmed all over the battlefield, kicking up dust and
getting in the line of fire of European troops who, soon unable to distinguish
friend from foe, might come in for some nasty surprises. For instance, during the
Bou-Amama revolt of 1881 in the Sud-Oranais region of Algeria, a French
column lost seventy-two soldiers and most of their convoy at Chellala after Arab
horsemen, whom the French believed to be part of a French-organized goum,
were allowed to approach uncontested.
From the perspective of European commanders, indigenous levies were
difficult to control both on and off the battlefield. This was in part linked to pay,
or rather, the lack of it. Colonial expeditions were horribly expensive, a fact
which raised opposition at home. It was in part to circumvent that opposition
that commanders in the colonies struck upon the idea of recruiting soldiers
But indigenous troops might also give imperialism a bad press. Indian
troops under British command repeatedly misbehaved during expeditions in
China. Much of the devastation in western Sudan occurred because the French
relied heavily on tribal levies, or poorly disciplined Senegalese or Soudannais
tirailleurs, who were quick to abandon the firing line to snatch booty and female
slaves. For instance, of 3,600 troops in the French column which captured Segou
in 1890, barely fifty were European, and another 500 were regular native recruits.
The rest were porters and auxiliaries furnished by African allies. Indeed, the
practice of arming and leading native irregulars against other tribes led to one of
the greatest scandals of French expansion in Africa, the destructive and
ultimately mutinous Voulet-Chanoine expedition of 1898. The scouts and the
macabebes (Philippine cavalry) recruited among the Ilocano population by the
THE HIGH RE AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
133
WARS OF EMPIRE
Apache scouts and trackers
enlisted by the US Army to
hunt Geronimo·in Arizona in
1882-3. Imperial soldiers
regularly enlisted native
irregulars as scouts, to gather
intelligence, and on occasion
to serve as a strike force.
General George Crook, who
campaigned against Cochise,
Crazy Horse and Geronimo,
was a staunch advocate of
using Indian to catch Indian.
'Nothing breaks them up like
turning their own people
against them,' he wrote. 'It is
not merely a question of
catching them better with
Indians, but of ... their
disintegration. '
134
US Army on Luzon acquired a reputation for brutality against
Tagalog prisoners and villages. Loyalty might also be an
issue. The Germans used native levies extensively in
South-West Africa. However, they complained of the
lack of bravery among the Herero on their side as
compared with those fighting for the e n e m ~ When the
Herero revolt spread to the Nama in October 1904,
. von Trotha immediately gave orders to disarm his
Nama contingent, who were deported to Togo to
keep them from joining in the rebellion. The Italian
expedition against the Sanusi in Tripolitania in 1915
collapsed when many of the indigenous auxiliaries
turned on Italian troops. The flight of the poorly
armed Natal Kaffirs at Isandlwana left a
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
gap some 300 yards wide in the British lines that fatally compromised the
defence. Thousands of Zulus poured through to take the British companies from
the rear.
Nevertheless, it is no exaggeration to say that without troops recruited in the
colonies, the French and the British could neither have conquered nor garrisoned
their empires. In the American West, Amerindians performed essential service as
scouts - Crook's employment of Apache scouts in Arizona in 1872-3, and his use
of Crows to hound Sitting Bull after Custer's defeat made the difference between
success and failure. In Luzon, General Frederick Funston organized the
Headquarters Scouts, which served as a scouting, intelligence-gathering and
strike force. Disguised as peasants, they surprised and destroyed insurgent
roadblocks set up to collect taxes. Most of the scouts were Ilocanos, whose
traditional distrust of the Tagalogs (who formed the core of the insurrectos)
made them especially reliable.
But Crook's and Funston's experiments found few imitators. American
officers, like their European counterparts, preferred to oblige native levies to
conform to European standards of drill and discipline. This was in part because
they never fully trusted them to perform well or faithfully in less conventional
roles. Invariably, they got mixed results. While some of these units were excellent,
commanders who created coloured versions of European regiments might
discover that recruitment dried up, and that natives lost the rusticity, spontaneity
and resilience that supplied the edge over European troops in mobile operations.
To draw the best from these troops also required an officer corps knowledgeable
in the languages and customs of their men, and willing on campaign to endure a
standard of living that gave new meaning to the concept of misery: For instance,
French officers serving with Saharan troops were not only expected to endure
sandstorms, cantankerous camels and temperatures that would roast a stoker on
a battleship but they were also expected to do this on a starvation diet of dates
and couscous.
INDIGENOUS RESPONSE
So far, we have discussed the problems of European adaptation. How does one
explain the generally inadequate indigenous response to European invasion? The
most obvious area in which the native resistance was deficient was technology:
One reason was that by the second half of the nineteenth century, the
technological revolution in armaments worked against non-Europeans in at least
two ways. Unlike the intermediate technology of muskets which meant that in the
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries indigenous forces might actually have
arms superiority, later developments meant that they lacked the ability to make
spare parts and ammunition. This made them increasingly dependent on
European suppliers, part of a general modernizing trend that drove them into
debt and ironically pushed them into the arms of the very Europeans they were
trying to resist. The encroachment of European influence stimulated social and
135
WARS OF EMPIRE
political disintegration, especially in Egypt, Tunis and Morocco, and China.
Elsewhere, well-armed minor chiefs with private access to arms merchants
challenged central authority. On the battlefield, reliance on outside supply
combined with primitive logistical systems usually translated into desperate
ammunition shortages.
A second problem was that, in most cases, indigenous forces simply
incorporated modern weapons into familiar tactical systems rather than evolving
methods that allowed them to be used to advantage. One of the ironies of
imperial warfare is that the relative political and military sophistication which
made the Zulu, Ashanti or Dahomian empires so formidable in an African
context, or assured Hova domination of Madagascar, rendered them all the more
vulnerable to European conquest. In most of these societies, armies and warfare
were enmeshed in a very precise social or religious structure. For instance, like the
Ashantis, the Dahomian army went into battle in an arc formation. There was
nothing intrinsically dysfunctional about an arc - after all, it had worked for
Hannibal at Cannae, and inspired the Schlieffen Plan used by the Germans
against the French in 1914. However, in the African context, the arc had become a
social as much as a military concept. Each man's (or, in the case of the
Dahomians, woman's) position in the arc was determined by the importance of
his or her chief. To change this would have required a social revolution.
Furthermore, they were armies designed for slave raiding, or for short campaigns
at the end of which the defeated tribe was not annihilated but integrated into the
empire. The arc formation was well adapted to creeping up to a village in the
dead of night and pouncing at first light. It also counted one remarkable success
against Europeans - a Zulu impi in the 'cow horns' configuration enveloped and
annihilated a surprised and straggling British force at Isandlwana in 1879. But the
prospect of fighting a bloody battle, or a series of battles, against a relentless
European invader placed intolerable strains on these armies. Even when the
indigenous resistance could achieve surprise, like the Ashanti at Amoatu or the
Dahomians at Dogba, they were seldom able to profit from it so long as the
defending force kept their discipline. Defeat invited disintegration as armies
whose feudal levies carried about two weeks' rations ran out of food, distant
family members, sometimes with European connivance, advanced rival claims to
the throne, well-armed minor chiefs declared independence, and subject peoples
revolted. Indeed, a combination of these events, triggered by a European
invasion, often did more than European arms to scupper coherent native
resistance.
The inability of indigenous societies to stand toe-to-toe with Western
invaders on the battlefield was ultimately a cultural and political problem. With
the exception of Meiji Japan, even the most advanced civilizations lacked the
ability to adapt to the challenge of Western military encroachment. From the
1860s, Chinese reformers argued that their country should follow the path of self-
strengthening and emulate Western technology if China were to maintain its
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
independence both from barbarian domination and internal disorder. The best of
them realized, however, that the problem was not merely one of acquiring better
technology, but of creating a national structure which could make it effective.
China needed an educational system which could produce engineers to run
arsenals and shipyards. This required a national strategy administered by a
modern civil service whose members were rewarded for something other than a
mastery of poetry and calligraphy. Finally, China needed a class of soldier
superior to the crude, ignorant and careless bannermen. An arsenal and a
shipyard were established in the 1860s that began to turn out guns and ships, as
well as trained apprentices, in the next decade. Schools were created which added
Western languages and mathematics to the traditional Chinese curriculum of
history, literature and composition, and students were sent abroad to Europe,
America and Japan for study. These reforms began a process that promised
success in modernizing China over the long term. In the short term, however,
technical and educational reforms were microscopic experiments dwarfed by the
immensity of Chinese backwardness. The fact that they were often inefficiently
applied opened them to attack by a tradition-bound civil service and a military at
once awed by the power of Western arms, while rejecting them as barbarian
The originally
formed as a bodyguard for
the king of Dahomey from
among captive females. Such
was their prestige that the
kingdoms most important
families soon sought to have
their daughters placed in it.
Amazons resided in the
were forbidden
relations with any but the
and were accorded a
prominent position in the
arced battle line.
137
WARS OF EMPIRE
Meiji Japan successfully
adapted to Western modes
of warfare to defeat China
in 1894-5. However, the
Western powers stripped
Japan of Manchuria and
Korea, setting the stage for
the Russo-Japanese War.
imports. Chinese advocates of innovation were themselves denounced as
traitorous purveyors of economic and cultural imperialism. The administrators
and technicians which these reforms sought to produce challenged a Confucian
vision of a harmonious social order based on hierarchy and standing.
Traditionalists argued that it was impossible to be trained in Western ways and
retain the moral character required for government service. Finally, a self-
strengthening programme, which in the 1860s focused on Chinese defence
capabilities, became diverted into wider concerns of industrial and
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
transportation development. In the end, most of the successful reform
experiments like the Hunan and Anwhei armies, or the Penang navy, were the
product of local initiatives taken not only in the absence of imperial help and
encouragement, but often in an atmosphere of official indifference or even
hostility. These actually contributed to the demise of the Ch'ing dynasty and the
rise of warlordism in twentieth-century China.
Elsewhere, the very primitiveness of some societies, while it may have made
them tenacious military opponents, ultimately doomed their resistance. Few of
139
WARS OF EMPIRE
Hiram Maxim (extreme
right) demonstrates the tree-
harvesting capabzlities of
his machine gun to potential
Chinese purchasers. As with
a r t i l l e r y ~ however, the
Chinese failed to integrate
the machine gun into an
effective military system.
these societies were uniformly hostile to the invader, nor had they the sense of
fighting a war of survival. Divided by geography, by rivalries of caste, tribe, clan
or family, their bonds of common culture weak, a unified response based on a
shared sense of self-interest, when it could be mustered, seldom survived the first
military debacle. For instance, the democratic nature of Amerindian societies
made it very difficult to cobble together a common resistance, each group or clan
deciding whether it was in its interests to fight or make peace. Aggressive
opponents of the Amerindians, like Generals Crook and Miles, exploited these
THE HIGH RE AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
divisions by incorporating Amerindians into their forces. The major advantages
were psychological and political rather than operational. 'Nothing breaks them
up like turning their own people against them,' wrote Crook of his successful
pursuit of Geronimo. 'It is not merely a question of catching them better with
Indians, but of a broader and more enduring aim - their disintegration.' Crook
and Miles were especially adept in using Indians as agents to stimulate dissent
among those eager to continue to fight. Already, the Amerindian response
to Western invasion was individual rather than collective. The battlefield was a
Apache chief Geronimo (on
horse at left) would leave his
family in safety on the
reservation while he
plundered the countryside
J
escaping into Mexico when
closely pursued.
place where the individual warrior sought glory and plunder. No medals were
awarded for discipline and teamwork. The American historian John M. Gates has
noted that 'Amerindians were capable only of sporadic violence, guerrillas who,
though they displayed flashes of tactical brilliance, were bereft of strategic
insight.' This was just as well, as any rational assessment on their part would
have revealed the hopelessness of the Amerindian plight. The great historian of
the Amerindian wars of the American West, Robert Utley, argues that it was the
relentless pressure of European migration, rather than the US Army, which
deprived the Amerindian of the land and the sustenance that left him no
alternative but to submit.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Louisiana I
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ooked Crpek 1857 X : OSAGE

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Northern Pacific Railroads 1883
Central Pacific Railroads-Union
Pacific Railroads 1869
Great Northern Railroads 1893
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe
Railroads 1883
Southern Pacific Railroads 1883
The most formidable empires were often little more than fragile coalitions of
reformers and traditionalists, jihadists and the moderately pious, rulers and
subject peoples, or rival family members and competing economic interests. For
these reasons, a clever commander with a fine sense of politics like Wellesley in
India, Jardine in China, Faidherbe in western Sudan, Gallieni in Tonkin and
Madagascar, or Lyautey in Morocco, was able to exploit these differences. Native
elites could be co-opted into the imperial system, a royal brother bribed, a subject
tribe offered an alliance, all of which injected the virus of disintegration and
lowered the morale of those keen to fight by expanding the power of those
with the foresight to submit to the new imperial unity. Even in societies with
fairly advanced political elites like the Philippines, the contradictions and
divisions of independence movement were significant.
As with successful counter-insurgent
CD
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o
CD
Land sec cessions:
X Amerindian battles with
dates (west of Mississippi)
Amerindian Wars
1860-90
D ceded before 1871-90
D ceded before 1850-70
D ceded before 1850
D never formerly ceded
NAVAJO Amerindian tribe
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
commanders elsewhere, Frederick Funston's success in Luzon relied on a
combination of a hard-hitting military force that harassed and demoralized the
guerrillas, with political initiatives that divided his opposition and isolated the
diehard revolutionaries. Filipino nationalism, confined largely to a European-
educated Luzon elite, was too abstract a concept to serve as a unifying ideology
across an archipelago of islands. Nor were the revolutionaries united behind well-
defined goals. The upper-class leaders wanted democratic reform. To succeed,
however, they needed to mobilize the peasants whose goals were to maintain a
traditional Many also feared that prolonged revolution might end in
military dictatorship. Funston enlisted Ilocano against Tagalog, divided the
ilustrado leadership by offering reformers among them positions in local
government, and appealed to peasant expectations that American rule would
lighten the burden of rapacious landlords by building schools and initiating other
public works projects.
Few resistance leaders were 'bitter-enders', and many sought accommodation
with the European invader, rather than a war to the death. Abd el-Kader was
content to replicate a version of Algeria's relationship with the Ottoman Empire,
permitting the French to control the Algerian coast so long as they left him alone
to organize the tribes of the hinterland. Likewise, by the time Europeans began to
invade sub-Saharan Africa, the old jihad empires of western Sudan had passed
their peak and had begun to break up. And even at their height, these religiously
inspired states had been forced to make compromises to accommodate a diverse
group of peoples, customs and leaders. Ashanti leaders signed a treaty with the
British after Amoafo. Dahomian leaders attempted to negotiate peace with the
French General Dodds who refused because he believed that 'King Behanzin only
looks to trick us and gain time'.
Examples of successful resistance in the late nineteenth century are few and
very much tied to the contingency of local circumstance. Probably the most
remarkable resistance leader in the late nineteenth century, one to rank with Abd
el-Kader and Shamil, was a merchant from the upper Niger basin named Samori
Toure. In 1851 Samori deserted his trade and for the next twenty years lived as a
war chief in the service of several African leaders. In the 1870s, he struck out on
his own, to create an empire that stretched from the right bank of the Niger, south
to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Islam gave Samori's empire a veneer of ideological
But the real solidity of Samori's dominion resided in his formidable military
organization. His territories were divided into ten provinces, eight of which raised
an army corps of 4-5,000 professional sofas or warriors, supplemented by
conscription. In peacetime, all sofas trained for half the year and engaged in
agricultural work the other six months. Samori kept two elite contingents of 500
men in each of the two provinces that he ruled directly, from which he drew his
officers for his provincial corps. The corps, which contained both cavalry and
infantry, were organized down to squad level. On campaign, three army corps
usually advanced in an arc formation, fairly typical for West Africa, while a fourth
AMERINDIAN WARS
1860-90
Clashes between White
settlers and Amerindians
offered a persistent feature
of the opening of the
American West. However,
like other indigenous groups
faced with occupation,
Amerindian hostility was
seldom uniform, but
piecemeal and fragmented,
some groups co-operating
with the invaders, others
choosing to resist.
143
WARS OF EMPIRE
T r o p i ~ of Capricorn
I
T885-1905
resistance to French
INDIAN tv
OCEAN f
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
---- -- r---
I
I
----1---
I
J
I
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I i
o 500 miles
\
\ ----+-------,--
- \ ~ - ~
o 500km
I I
Belgian possessions
German possessions
D Italian possessions
D independent state
principal areas of
African resistance to
colonial rule
African resistance
to 1914
D British possessions
D French possessions
D Spanish possessions
D Portuguese possessions
144
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
corps was held In reserve. This
military empire was sustained by
taxes, usually paid in agricultural
produce. Hard currency to purchase
arms in Sierra Leone was earned by slave
trading and from the gold fields of Bure.
Samori managed to unify an empire
that survived for almost two decades against
repeated French advances. Early in the 1880s,
he understood that French discipline and
firepower made set-piece engagements
suicidal. Therefore, he adopted guerrilla
warfare, shifting his frontiers to allow him to
collect the harvest, while forcing the French to
advance across land depopulated and thoroughly
burned over by his sofas. His troops, masters of the
ambush and equipped with an estimated 8,000
repeating rifles, then struck at the over-extended French
columns. After a particularly bloody skirmish with
Samori's sofas in the Diamanko marshes in January
1892, Colonel Gustave Humbert conceded that Samori's
troops 'fight exactly like Europeans, with less discipline
perhaps, but with much greater determination'.
Samori's scorched-earth tactic evened the odds
against him, because it forced the French to reduce
their columns to around 1,000 men, which was
about all French logistics could support. Logistical
difficulties contributed to the French defeat, with
heavy casualties at the hands of Samori before
Kong in 1895. But remarkable as his political and
military skills were, Samori's accomplishments must not be exaggerated. His
longevity - he was surprised in his camp and captured by a French column only in
1898 - owed more to French disorganization than to his own skill.
French advances came in fits and starts. There were several reasons for this.
There was a constant turnover of French commanders, all of whom
underestimated their opponent. The French advance in West Africa was
characterized by constant friction between Paris, which was not keen to advance
the boundaries of empire, and local commanders who were. Financial constraints
delayed French advances against Samori, as did the requirement that the French,
never numerous, also fight other opponents in the Niger region, in particular the
Tokolor empire. Samori also gained some residual support from the British in
Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Nor was Samori a 'bitter-ender'. He recognized
that eventually he must accept a French protectorate. It was France's
A sofa or warrior in the
army of Samori Toure.
Samori arguably organized
the most successful African
resistance to European
encroachment. His army
was solidly organized, well
armed, and tactically
sophisticated. A
scorched-earth
defence strategy
complemented a
skilful diplomacy
that kept his empire
intact and his French
enemy at bay for
seventeen years.
AFRICAN RESISTANCE
TO 1914
In the last quarter of the
nineteenth century,
European imperialism
achieved an unstoppable
momentum as Africa was
sliced into national
segments by ambitious
soldiers and colonial
administrators. Indigenous
resistance, though often
courageous, was seldom
effective. In fact, more
Africans fought for
European imperialists than
against them. By the turn of
the century, only Abyssinia
and Morocco retained a
tenuous independence.
145
WARS OF EMPIRE
unwillingness to negotiate, rather than Samori's commitment to total war, that
also protracted the struggle.
Ethiopian resistance owed much to a semi-successful adaptation of
technology, to the incompetence of the enemy, and to luck. The influx of modern
arms caused the Ethiopians to abandon their traditional phalanx attack in 1885
in favour of loose formations that approached by fire and encirclement.
Nevertheless, their successful resistance at Adowa owed less to the mastery of
modern tactics by Menelik's largely feudal levies than to the extraordinary
incompetence of General Baratieri, who allowed himself to be goaded into a
premature attack by his subordinate officers and by the stinging rebukes of
Italian Prime Minister Francesco Crispi, who had dispatched his successor from
Italy: Rather than wait a few days until the Ethiopian soldiers inevitably
consumed their meagre rations and would have been forced to disperse, he
ordered his 15,000 troops forward in three separate columns, only for them to be
overwhelmed piecemeal by 100,000 Ethiopians.
After a series of unsuccessful rebellions in the last quarter of the nineteenth
century, Cuban revolutionaries succeeded in shaking off Spanish rule for several
reasons. A severe economic recession, beginning in 1895, had created a climate of
discontent. When, in July 1895, Cuban revolutionaries proclaimed a moratorium
on all economic activity; aimed principally at the planter and commercial classes,
the traditional pillars of Spanish colonialism, the government response was at
once brutal and ineffective. Madrid dispatched General Valeriano Weyler with
reinforcements to swell the Spanish garrison in Cuba to 200,000 troops. Weyler
immediately ordered Cuba's rural population to be reconcentrated in the towns,
and forbade commerce between the towns and the countryside. The Spanish
army scoured the countryside destroying food stocks, slaughtering livestock that
could not be herded towards the towns, and burning villages from which the
insurgents might gain support. Rather than face the prospect of a dismal and
possibly fatal existence in towns where nothing had been prepared to receive
them, many previously neutral peasants fled to the hills to join the insurgents,
whose numbers rose to about 50,000. In the meantime, by concentrating his
forces in defensive positions in the urban areas, Weyler left the plantations
undefended and vulnerable to fa tea - the torch - which was the insurgents'
principal means of intimidation. The result was a military stalemate in a war
where the enemies seldom traded shots: 'the Spanish assaulted the peasants, the
Cubans assailed the planters', one historian writes. 'Both attacked property:'
In the long run, Weyler's strategy was doomed to failure because it did not
have an offensive component, either military or political. His army lacked the size
and striking power to restore control over at least some portions of the
countryside, reanimate economic activity, and isolate and damage rebel forces.
Politically, he alienated a vast middle ground of moderate Autonomist opinion
which traditionally had condemned the abuses of Spanish rule rather than argued
for independence per see Weyler herded them into prison, drove them into exile or
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
into the arms of the independence factions. By 1897, faith in victory had been
shaken even among loyalists who faced financial ruin. No peasants remained to
harvest the sugar crop, and no troops were assigned to protect those plantations
which did attempt to gather crops from fa tea. Planters who could afford it
recruited guards to protect their Those who could not - which was most
of them - left their crops to rot in the fields, or be harvested by the insurgents.
Weyler also managed to alienate the powerful Havana tobacco industry in May
1896 when, in an attempt to punish cigar centres in Florida which were hotbeds
of separatist opinion, he prohibited the export of leaf tobacco to the United
States. Inflation soared as food became scarce and the government recklessly
printed paper
Weyler began to abandon the smaller provincial cities, sometimes in the face
of insurgent assault, and consolidated his forces in the larger towns where
'reconcentrated' peasants were dying by scores. Having pushed the Autonomists
into the arms of the separatists, Weyler tossed loyalists into the arms of the
United States, which they began to see as their only salvation from certain
dispossession by a victorious, socially radical insurgent Therefore, in the
eyes of Cuban nationalist historians at least, US intervention, ostensibly against
Spain, was in reality directed against the insurgency, and snatched a victory which
would have fallen to it in the fullness of time. In reality, however, the motives for
The Ethiopian victory at
Adowa in 1896 owed
something to the adaptation
to modern arms after 1885,
when the traditional
phalanx gave way to loose
formations which
approached by fire and
encirclement. The great
irony, however, was that,

their attack for a few days,
the Ethiopian force would
have consumed their rations
and been forced to disperse.
147
WARS OF EMPIRE
Theodore Roosevelts
CRough fill their
cartridge belts as they
prepare for action in
1898. The Spanish-
American War set the
United States on the road to
a seaborne empire of which
Roosevelt was one of the
greatest protagonists.
American intervention were far more complex and idealistic. Washington would
have been quite content for Spain to continue to administer Cuba, but had
become frustrated over Madrid's inability to resolve peacefully the crises that had
racked the island for almost thirty years. The explosion of the USS Maine in
Havana harbour, although certainly no fault of the Spanish, brought together
very diverse interests to argue for intervention, led by humanitarians outraged by
Weyler's concentration camps. They were joined by those eager to promote
democracy in Latin America, businessmen with property in Cuba, and navalists
upset by Spanish searches of US ships on the high seas and keen to clear
European outposts from the Caribbean in preparation for the building of the
Panama Canal.
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
Boer resistance appears to have been of a tenacity that defies the rule of
unsuccessful resistance to imperial power. On closer examination, however, it
adhered more closely to the common pattern - Amerindian, Algerian or African
- of the fanatical few determined to fight on after the main Boer army had
been defeated and the majority of the Boer people had been reduced to a
state of neutrality. Indeed, the Boer strategy for avoiding national collapse after
Bloemfontein was to shed those whose commitment was lukewarm and to
continue to fight on with only a hard core in the hope that the British would
eventually give up. So skilful was Jakob Morenga in eluding German forces in
South-West Africa between 1904 and 1906 that he earned the nickname of
the 'Black de Wet'. But German pursuit ultimately forced him to seek refuge in
149
0' T I
S a fj a\ r a I
WARS OF EMPIRE
Fezzan
• Murzuq
I
I
I
15°
Benghazi'
Des e
Ottoman Empire c. 1880
Mahdist state 1881-98
occupied by Britain
1882-5
D
to Belgium 1885

to France by 1890
D
to ItaIy by 1889
northern boundary of Free
Trade Zone Berlin Act 1885
Q;)
Ethiopia at its maximum
extent under Menelik of
Shoa (Menelik II) c. 1907
b a
Equator 00
INDIAN
OCEAN
o 100km
L-.........-..J
I i I
o 100 miles
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
the Cape Colony where he was interned, and eventually killed, by the British.
Western invaders had been successful during this phase of imperial warfare
basically because, unlike the American or South American revolutions, or the
Mexican resistance to the French, indigenous societies lacked the power or the
cohesion to resist their persistent encroachment. Also, for most of the nineteenth
century, rival imperial powers refrained from coming to the aid of the indigenous
fighters, beyond selling them a few surplus rifles. So small wars remained small.
The most persistent rivalry was between Britain and France, and in 1898 it nearly
erupted into war. Paris had been particularly irked when the British had occupied
Egypt in 1882 and declared it a protectorate. The southern frontier of Egypt was
somewhat in dispute, however, after the British abandoned the upper Nile to the
Sudanese Mahdi and his successors in 1885. Therefore, the upper Nile was
effectively unoccupied by a European power. In 1896, French colonialists
dispatched Colonel Jean-Baptiste Marchand with a handful of French marine
officers and around 200 hand-picked Senegalese riflemen up the mouth of the
Congo river. Two years and 3,000 miles later, Marchand reached the Nile at
a placed called Fashoda, a small collection of mud buildings several hundred
miles upriver from Khartoum. With as much
ceremony as they could muster, the French broke
out the white dress uniforms which they had
brought for this occasion, and planted their
tricolour flag. France had reasserted her historic
claims on the Nile.
The bellicose colonialist in charge of the
British Colonial Office, Joseph Chamberlain,
was in no mood to tolerate a French attempt to
work its way back into Egypt and threaten
British control of the Suez Canal. Already, a
RIGHT: Kitchener approached Fashoda (lying the
Egyptian (lag and wearing the fez of the Egyptian
khedive to spare Marchands nationalist
susceptibilities. The two soldiers exchanged
courtesies as their governments prepared
for war. Marchand eventually
evacuated via the Red Sea,
rather than accept the
comfortable indignity of
British transport to
Alexandria.
THE MAHDIST EMPIRE
r898
London had greeted news
of the rise of the Mahdist
empire in the early 1880s
with mild indifference.
Charles 'Chinese> Gordon >s
death in Khartoum in 1885
had embarrassed Gladstone,
who had ordered Gordon to
evacuate the garrison, not
perish with it. But, generally
speaking, the death of a
soldier at the hands of
savages, while regrettable,
was treated as an
occupational hazard. The
arrival of the Marchand
expedition at Fashoda in
1898 abruptly changed the
equation. News of a French
rival at Fashoda precipitated
the British advance to
pre-empt a French claim on
the upper Nile.
151
WARS OF EMPIRE
8.30 am: Kitchen r 7
orders the 21st Lancers
to reconnoitre the
plain. Instead, their
commander charges
towards the nearest
enemy position losing
some 70 out of their
400 men. This is the
last cavalry charge
in the history of
the British Army
2 2 September, 6.30 am:
4,000 men under
Ibrahim al Khalil attack
The army of the Black 6
Flag led by the Khalifa
remains hidden behind
the Jabel Surgham and
take no part in the
initial attacks. At around
10.00 am, they launch an
unsuccessful arrack on
the Egyptian brigade as
the British march to
Omdurman begins
N e
6.20 am: 8,000 men
under Oswan Azrak
launch their attack
THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM
5 8.30-9.00 am: the army
of the Green Flag led by
Abd Allah Siwar
withdraw northwards.
At around 10.00 am the
army of the Green Flag
unsuccessfully attacks
the Egyptian brigade on
its way to Omdurman
3 6.30 am: the advancing
Mahdist army comes
under British artillery
fire and suffers severe
casualties
OMDURMAN 1898
Omdurman was a colonial
commander's dream battle.
Massed in a tight defensive
formation, backed by naval
artillery on the N i l e ~
Kitchener merely had to
await the suicidal assault
by the Mahdists.
N e
WARS OF EMPIRE
British-Egyptian expedition had begun to encroach on the Mahdi's empire. On
1 September 1898, General Horatio Kitchener arrived at Omdurman, across the
Nile from Khartoum, with a force of over 20,000 men, gunboats mounting
100 guns, and a vast supply convoy of camels and horses. On the following
morning at dawn, in the shadow of the great dome of the Mahdi's tomb, 50,000
Sudanese tribesmen in a line four miles long attacked the British. They were
massacred. As Kitchener surveyed the 10,000 bodies that lay in piles over the
desert, he was handed an envelope with urgent orders from England to proceed up
the Nile in all haste to dislodge a French force at Fashoda. Kitchener gathered two
battalions of Sudanese, one hundred Cameron Highlanders, a battery of artillery
and four Maxim guns in five riverboats which steamed under an Egyptian flag. As
Kitchener approached Fashoda on 18 September, he sent a messenger with an
invitation for Marchand to dine aboard his flagship. With great courtesy,
Kitchener, wearing an Egyptian fez, complimented the French colonel on his
154
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM
splendid march, but added that he must protest the French presence on the Nile.
The Frenchman replied that he intended to defend himself if attacked. The two
men agreed to allow their respective governments to sort out matters.
The Fashoda crisis was eventually resolved, but not without The
press of the two countries swapped vituperative insults. The French moved
reinforcements to their Mediterranean coast and made plans to defend Corsica,
which they calculated the British would attack if war came. Eventually the French
gave Marchand was in an impossible situation. He struck his colours on
11 December 1898. However, he declined the British offer to exit via a Nile steamer
and instead marched to the Red Sea where his expedition was collected by a French
warship. The Fashoda crisis did have a silver lining for French colonialists,
however. Quiet negotiations between London and Paris eventually culminated
in the signing of the Entente Cordiale of 1904, which bartered British recognition
of a French free hand in Morocco against Parisian acquiescence to London's
domination of Egypt. Yet the fact that the two
greatest colonial powers had nearly gone to war
over a flyblown sand-bank on the upper Nile
was, for many; a wake-up call. 'We have behaved
like madmen in Africa,' French President Felix
Faure complained in the wake of the Fashoda
crisis, 'led astray by irresponsible people called
the colonialists.'
In retrospect, however, Fashoda was the end
of an era. Clashes between competing imperial
powers had been muted because it was in
the interests of no-one to destabilize the
international equilibrium merely to lay claim
to a few thousand acres of scrub, jungle or
desert. Because European expansion abroad
appeared to have only a minimal effect on the
European balance of power, governments were
able to contain the ambitions of their more
exuberant imperialists when they exceeded the
bounds of prudence. Besides, when conflict
arose, there was always enough land to trade to
allow every power to escape with its dignity
intact. But if Faure believed that the madness of
colonialism was a thing of the past, he was
mistaken. As the twentieth century dawned,
imperial warfare would become more, not
less, destructive as rivalries between the great
powers would up the stakes in the game of
imperial conquest.
'The Flight of the Khalifa
after his Defeat at the Battle
of Omdurman, 2 September
1898' by Robert Kelly.
155
CHAPTER FOUR
---.... ...:@:........ ....---
UPPING THE STAKES:
THE LIMITS OF
IMPERIAL WARFARE
BOER BURGHERS FORMED a peoples organized
into commandos of 500 to men behind elected
leaders. They operated as mounted fighting
on fleeing on their ponies when pressed. Armed
with Mauser rifles purchased by the Transvaal
government with the revenues of the gold the
Boers proved remarkable marksmen.
WARS OF EMPIRE
UPPING THE STAKES: THE
LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
P
OLITICALLY, FOR ALMOST thirty years, imperial expansion had been achieved
on the cheap. For a minimum investment of cash and manpower, some
European nations had extended their control over vast stretches of the world. On
the whole, it had been a low-risk venture which European publics could follow
like a sporting event. European governments could indulge at little expense the
soldier's appetite for glory, the missionary's yearning for souls to convert, the
reformer's passion for improvement, and the nationalist's clamour for trophy
lands to invigorate national self-esteem. There was land enough to satisfy every
active imperial power, so that competition was kept to a minimum. As a
Continental power, France was acutely conscious of the dangers of imperial
overstretch. Hence, although French and British interests did clash in Africa in the
1890s, Paris was obliged to resolve each crisis in favour of her European
commitments. Until 1905 Germany seemed content with a fairly small slice of the
imperial pie. The United States focused on consolidating its western frontier until
1898, and barring outsiders from Latin America. Russia had its own near-abroad
in Central Asia to secure. Until the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5, Japan raced to
repair the dilapidation of centuries of self-imposed isolation. While the wars
fought to obtain colonial possessions had often been dramatic, occasionally
bloody, few imperial nations had invested more than a fraction of their military
assets in small wars. A spot of sea power and the occasional punitive expedition
was sufficient to influence the behaviour even of elephantine China. Occasional
military setbacks did occur. But these were hardly more than transient
embarrassments which helped to keep small wars in the forefront of the public
mind by making them seem like dangerous adventures. Because these defeats were
inflicted at the hands of indigenous, rather than European, opponents, national
pride was less likely to be whipped into a
As the nineteenth century neared its finale, however, what had been regarded
as a more or less casual partition of the world between Britain, France and Russia
became far more destabilizing, for two reasons. First, in South Africa Britain
confronted an opponent whose tenacity required a military exertion on a scale
not witnessed since the Napoleonic wars. Because the Second Boer War of
1899-1902 was fought in the context of the evolving security situation in Europe
and the Far East, London for the first time had to deal with the problem of
imperial overstretch in an increasingly complex international environment. The
reason for this was tied to the second factor that made imperial expansion
fraught with risks. The traditional imperial powers of Russia, Britain and France
were challenged by the advent of two new and very aggressive powers eager to
break into their quasi-imperial monopoly - Japan and Since the Meiji
Restoration of 1868, Tokyo had struggled to recover ground lost by centuries of
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
self-imposed isolation. By the 1890s, Japan's modernization programme had put
the country in a position to lay claim to a sphere of influence in the Far East.
Germany, liberated from the moderating influence of Bismarck, demanded a
place in the sun to include a large navy and more colonies in Africa. This
radically altered the politics of imperialism because small wars now risked
becoming large ones. During the nineteenth century the imperial enterprise had
been regarded as a triumph of Western civilization; in the early years of the
twentieth century it seemed that imperial competition might immolate that very
civilization in a gigantic conflagration.
THE BOER WAR
Hardly had the British dodged the bullets of war with France over Fashoda in
1898 than it ploughed into a particularly stubborn enemy in southern Africa.
The Second South African War would require a substantial mobilization of
British land and naval assets, expose the bankruptcy of a foreign policy
anchored in the arrogance of 'splendid isolation', and test popular support for
imperialism in Britain. More than any other imperial opponent, the Boers
stretched the operational and tactical capabilities of the British Army to the limit.
Imperial warfare also revealed its tactical limitations. Callwell noted that, 'in
THE BOER WAR 1895-1902
The Second South African,
or Boer, War was the single
most challenging imperial
conflict fought by Britain
since the eighteenth century.
After the early setbacks of
CBlack Week', the British
army recovered to defeat the
main Boer armies and
occupy the principal towns.
However, 17,000 Boer
Cbitter-enders' took to the
veld to fight a desperate
guerrilla war that lasted
another two years.
Boer War 1895-1902
D Boer republics
Jameson Raid 1895
main line of British
advance
major Boer raids
1899-1901
N
t
Salisbury.
Southern
Rhodesia
battle
159
WARS OF EMPIRE
small wars, guerrilla warfare is what the regular armies always have most to
dread, and when this is directed by a leader with a genius for war, an effective
campaign becomes well-nigh impossible'. Such was the hard lesson learned
by the British in a war which the historian Thomas Pakenham has
called 'the longest, bloodiest, costliest war Britain fought between 1815
and 1914 - and the most humiliating one since George Washington sent
the Redcoats packing in 1783'. Over two and a half years Britain required
£200 million, 448,435 British and imperial troops and 22,000 dead to
master a farmers' rebellion. This was no longer imperial conquest on the
cheap, and British public opinion began to question whether the costs
exceeded the benefits.
The origins of the Second South African War were the subject of a polemic
from the moment it broke out. Anti-imperialists, and subsequently Marxists, saw
the war as the product of a capitalist conspiracy to gain control through force of
arms of the gold and diamonds of the Orange Free State and the
Transvaal. More modern interpretations see British policy as one
hijacked by fervent imperialists led by Cecil Rhodes who feared that the
newly discovered riches of the Boer republics would derail an imperial
scenario which saw the Boer territories eventually absorbed by the
British-controlled Cape Colony: Wealth allowed the Boer republics
to slip the leash of British tutelage and pursue an independent
foreign policy, one that eventually threatened to open the door to
German control over the vital Cape route to India.
Although relations between Cape Town and the Boer
republics for some time had slithered toward breakdown,
the outbreak of war in October 1899 found the
British remarkably unprepared. The Conservative
government of Lord Salisbury feared that even a
whisper of military preparation might transform
the tense situation in South Africa into a
partisan issue. Rather than prepare in secret
for hostilities with the Boers which
monthly appeared more likely to break
out, Whitehall immersed itself in a
bureaucratic war whose main protagonists
were the African troops of the commander-
in-chief Lord Garnet Wolseley, and the Indian
forces of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of
Kandahar. The theatre commander in the Cape,
General Sir Redvers Buller, had neither the
confidence of Wolseley nor of the War Minister, Lord
Lansdowne. Despite the fact that the Boers had inflicted
a humiliating defeat on the British at Majuba Hill
Field Marshal Lord Roberts
of Kandahar assumed
command in South Africa in
the wake of "Black Week'.
Roberts headed a clique of
"Indian' officers whose war
against "Africans',
represented by Redvers
Buller, was as intense as that
pursued against the Boers.
General Sir Redvers Buller's
defeat at Colenso on
15 December 1899 caused him
to be replaced by Roberts
as commander in
South Africa.
Despite later
achieving victory
against Botha's
army in August
1900, Buller
was never
accorded any
official
honour.
I n the 1890s, the German
Krupp and the French Le
Creusot developed rapid
fire, breech-loading cannon.
As war approached, the
Boers made frantic efforts to
import some of these
modern guns, but found a
professional artillery corps
difficult to improvise. British
artillery, like this Armstrong
12-pounder, had little effect
on Boers dug into rifle pits.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
during the First South African War of 1881, the Boer republics were
discounted as serious opponents - British military intelligence thought the
Boers capable only of mustering 3,000 men for small-scale raids into the
Cape Colony and Natal, when, in fact, they proved able to throw nearly
30,000 mounted men into Natal alone. Wolseley believed, and
Lansdowne agreed, that a garrison of 20,000 would more
than suffice to defend British South Africa, half of
which was pre-positioned at Ladysmith and Dundee
occur, thereby isolating the Transvaal. Nearly
everyone on the British side, including the deputy prime minister A. J. Balfour, BREECH-LOADING CANNON
Joseph Chamberlain, the Secretary for the Colonies, and The Times, was ruled
by complacenc)T. The British entered the war with neither a war plan nor
adequate maps of the theatre of operations.
The Boers took the offensive at the outbreak of war, snatching 100 miles of
Cape Colony and moving into Natal as far south as the Tugela river. Mafeking
and Kimberley became British islands in a Boer-dominated veld, while in Natal,
the Dundee garrison was forced back on Ladysmith, and locked in by besieging
Boers. By December 1899, Buller had gathered four divisions totalling 60,000
troops and 150 guns to relieve Kimberley and Ladysmith. On 10 December, a
British column riding for the strategic railway junction at Stormberg was
ambushed by mounted Boers who killed or captured 700 British soldiers. The
next day, a frontal attack backed by artillery was scythed down by entrenched
Boer marksmen at Magersfontein, about 15 miles south of Kimberle)T. Finally, on
15 December at Colenso, 4,000 Boers armed with magazine-fed Mauser rifles and
well entrenched on the heights on the north bank of the Tugela thwarted an
attempt by 16,000 British troops under Buller to break through to Ladysmith.
'Black Week' seemed a totally appropriate name for the five short days during
which British forces had suffered almost 7,000 casualties and achieved no
strategic results.
Shaken from its complacency, the British government dispatched more troops
to South Africa, mobilized the reserves, and called for volunteers, both in Britain
and in the white dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Eventually
almost 450,000 men would serve in the British forces in South Africa, against
around 87,000 Boers. Lord Roberts was dispatched as commander-in-chief, while
Buller's command shrank to the Natal front. In February 1900, Buller succeeded
in his fourth attempt to break through to Ladysmith, the same month that
Roberts took Kimberley, in the process surrounding the Boer army which had
besieged the town. On 13 March, Roberts captured Bloemfontein, capital of the
Orange Free State, and offered an amnesty for all except the Boer leaders.
Johannesburg fell in late May, and Pretoria barely a week later.
r6r
WARS OF EMPIRE
A Boer commando rides
through Johannesburg in a
show of political
intimidation during the
political crisis provoked by
the Jameson Raid of 1896.
Cecil Rhodes orchestrated
the raid in an unsuccessful
attempt to spark a rebellion
against the Transvaal
government by the
substantial number of
British working in the gold
mtnes.
162
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
WARS OF EMPIRE
These Boers camped at
Charlestown in Natal in
1899 demonstrate what was
to become one of their great
weaknesses as the war
progressed - their
attachment to their wagons.
These slowed Boer mobility
and fell easy prey to British
cavalry.
Although ultimately triumphant, the British had demonstrated significant
military weaknesses - tactical, logistical and strategic - in this early phase of the
war. British forces predictably advanced along railway lines until they met the
enemy. Then, they invariably launched unimaginative frontal assaults against
Boer positions. Although frontal assaults had worked well enough against
disorganized and ill-armed Africans, the price exacted by the Boers, who
were both well armed and entrenched, was significant enough to provoke
reflection even among the dullest of British generals. Artillery had proven
powerless to shake the aim of marksmen dug into rifle pits. Indeed, at
Magersfontein the British had suffered numerous casualties from friendly
artillery fire. Once the Boer armies besieging Kimberley had been flushed into the
open, however, artillery contributed to the surrender of Cronje's force, laagered
in a bend in the Modder river and pounded into submission. Logistics and
medical services, the key to the success of both Wolseley in Ashanti and Dodds in
Dahomey, were neglected, reducing British mobility and raising the casualty rate
- 16,168 of 22,000 British dead during the war perished from wounds and
disease. The strategic assumptions of the war had been as faulty as the
operational and tactical ones. Unfortunately for the British, the defeat of the
major Boer armies, the capture of the capitals of the Boer republics and their
annexation into the British Empire did not end resistance. The 17,000 or so Boer
commandos still at large took to the veld to pursue a guerrilla war which was to
last another two years.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
In this type of mobile war, the British faced the usual array of disadvantages
which had plagued European troops in Africa. Their enemies were unified by a
religious belief in the justice of their cause, were extremely self-reliant, hardened
to life in the saddle, and were excellent marksmen. In Botha, Delarey, de Wet and
Smuts, Boer 'bitter-enders' possessed leaders of great competence. In contrast,
British columns were ponderous and lacked adequate co-ordination because of
poor staff work, inadequate maps, and faulty communications. Over 2,000
foreigners travelled to South Africa to join the Boer ranks. And while these
foreign recruits were of marginal military utility, especially as some quickly
became disillusioned by Boer religiosity and racism, their presence indicated a
sympathy for the cause of the Boer underdog in Europe. Throughout the war,
Boer scouting and intelligence gathering remained superior to that of the British.
The imported Australian, English and Argentine horses of the British mounted
troops could not match in rusticity and endurance those of the Boers, who also
took better care of their mounts.
Nevertheless, the Boers had weaknesses: Boer commanders found it difficult
to co-ordinate strategy and exploit success, even to issue simple orders, with
troops who were so fiercely independent. The celebrated Boer commander,
Christiaan de Wet, lamented that it was difficult to sustain operations with men
who constantly insisted on going home to see their families. As British pressure
A 12-span mule cart
belonging to de Wets
commando crosses the
Orange river. After the fall
of Bloemfontein in March
1900, de Wet, considered the
most elusive of Boer
guerrillas, abolished wagon
trains in the Boer army.
Those that remained were
gradually gathered in during
Kitchener's'drives'.
r65
WARS OF EMPIRE
Christiaan de Wet
commanded the Orange
Free State forces in 1899. He
became the most audacious
of the Boer commanders
and the principal architect
of Boer strategy during the
guerrilla phase of the war.
He gave up trying to block
the British advance from the
spring of 1900, and instead
he concentrated on
attacking their lines of
communications, especially
the railroads.
166
mounted, Boer resistance, like resistance to imperial encroachment generally,
fragmented into 17,000 or so 'bitter-enders' and the rest. Five thousand Boers
served British forces as National Scouts, largely from resentment of burgher
domination of Boer society, or to avoid the concentration camps. Even the
vaunted Boer mobility was compromised in part by the reluctance to relinquish
their wagons, and became a wasting asset as the war reduced the supply of horses
and munitions. Some horseless Boers preferred to return home rather than
remain as infantrymen in the company of Afrikaners of a lesser sort. The African
population was uniformly pro-British, and became more so as the hard-pressed
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
Boers raided African settlements for food. Africans served the British as scouts,
intelligence gatherers and teamsters. The British also enjoyed the technological
edge: the steam traction engine (tractor) improved supply beyond the railheads,
field telephones improved co-ordination and searchlights, initially borrowed from
the De Beers diamond mines, bolstered the defence of depots.
From November 1900 when he became commander-in-chief in South Africa,
Kitchener adopted a dual strategy of offensive mobility and attrition of the Boer
economic and political base, a strategy with which Hoche and Bugeaud, or the
Russians in the Caucasus, even Wellesley to a point, would have concurred. The
mobile part of the plan consisted of mounting as many as possible of his men to
match the mobility of mounted Boer riflemen - indeed, at the close of 'Black
Week', Buller had wired for reinforcements drawn from the hunting and shooting
classes who could match Boer martial skills. Replicating the beater/hunt line
technique used by Hoche in the Vendee, Kitchener etched the veld with lines of
galvanized iron blockhouses bound together by barbed wire, and equipped with
telegraphs and telephones. What became known as the 'Great Hunt of de Wet'
began in January 1901, when columns of mounted men, whose goal was to pin
the elusive Boer against the blockhouse and concertina fence line, were stretched
out over a front of 160 miles. Kitchener's 'drives' became progressively more
Steam traction engines
draw British supplies.
This attempt to harness
technology to the war
effort was innovative but
premature. The devices
tended to bog down when
used off road, and were
never a satisfactory
substitute for oxen or
mules.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Removing civilians who
might otherwise help to
sustain a resistance
movement from the war
zone offered a time-
honoured tactic for dealing
with insurgency. But it was a
double-edged sword fOJ; like
the Amerindian
reservations;, it liberated the
men from the obligation to
protect their families and
freed them to fight.
elaborate until, by May 1902, 17,000 men, formed into a continuous line, trotted
toward a string of blockhouses erected along a railway line. Trains equipped with
searchlights shunted back and forth, beams dancing across the darkened veld. But
while dramatic, this tactic produced no great confrontations between British
hunters and Boer quarry, trapped and desperate to break out. Instead, the game
most often ensnared in these 'drives' was cattle, horses and wagons. But the effect
was the same, as· these formed the accoutrements of Boer survival.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
The second element of Kitchener's strategy was equally attritional - the
destruction of Boer farms and the removal of Boer women and children to camps
where they could not support the commandos. Refugee camps for Boer families
displaced by the war had appeared as early as July 1900. However, in December,
Kitchener ordered this system expanded to remove Boer civilians from areas
where commandos were active. Africans were also moved lest they provide
supplies or be impressed for labour by Boer commandos. By 1902, sixty
concentration camps housed 116,000 inmates.
Kitchener's concentration camps were merely a British version of a time-
tested counter-insurgency method. Chinese officials facing the Nien revolt in the
1850s had ordered local authorities to 'clear the fields and strengthen the walls'.
The United States had relied on the reservation as a way to separate out friendly
and hostile Amerindians, not always with success. The premise of Gallieni's tache
strategy in Tonkin, and later Lyautey's in Morocco, was that friendly
natives would settle near French posts for security and prosperity, creating in
effect what Vietnam-era American soldiers would call 'free-fire zones'.
Kitchener's nomenclature was borrowed directly from Spanish General Weyler's
reconcentrado policies applied in Cuba from 1896 when 300,000 peasants were
ordered into cities and to deprive Cuban revolutionaries of a support base.
Indeed, at the very moment when Kitchener was being denounced for this
inhumane policy in South Africa, American soldiers burned villages and
reconcentrated much of the populations of the Abra district of northern Luzon
and on the island of Samar.
The military benefits of concentration were significant, although this was
Kitchener should have been
forewarned by the
huma1Jitarian outcry over
General Weylers
. 'concentration" of the
Cuban population.
Typhoid, measles and
dysentery were the constant
companions of the 154,000
Boer and African civilians
confined to Kitchener"s
camps, in which at least
, 20,000 Boers and 12,000
Africans,.many of them
children, perished.
WARS OF EMPIRE
17°
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
not always apparent in the short term. Kitchener made it clear that the primary
purpose of the camps was to strike a psychological blow at the enemy: 'There is
no doubt the women are keeping up the war and are far more bitter than the
men,' he wrote to Roberts. By confining women to camps, he would work on the
feelings of the men to get back to their farms. In fact, in the short term the camps
may have instilled some discipline in the Boer commandos by liberating their men
from the requirement to visit their families and defend their homes, which were
now non-existent. In this sense, the concentrations camps were similar to
reservations, support systems which freed braves to raid unencumbered by the
impedimenta of families. In the long term, however, the concentration of
populations does appear to have undermined Boer morale. When the Boers
surrendered in May 1902, many cited as their main reason for giving up the
struggle the misery of their women and children in the camps.
To be effective, however, the concentration of populations had to meet
certain basic conditions. To remove the population from the areas of operation
was insufficient by itself to produce strategic results because this was a purely
defensive measure. To succeed, any strategy must have an offensive component.
Kitchener's success relied on a combination of the concentration of the enemy
population and 'drives' to keep die-hard Boers on the run. For his part, Weyler
merely locked himself up in the major provincial towns and left the Cuban
revolutionaries free to roam the deserted countryside, and to attack those
plantations which still dared to operate. While Weyler's militarily passive and
politically repressive policies drove many Cubans into exile or into the arms of
the insurgents, Kitchener's 'drives' left no sanctuaries to which Boer civilians
seeking to avoid concentration could flee. In a similar vein, the American Army
succeeded in pacifying northern Luzon by 1902 with a combination of the
concentration of the populations in the cities and towns, and aggressive strikes
against guerrilla bands in the hinterland.
The second requirement for a successful concentration was that it must
be part of a hearts-and-minds approach to win support for the incumbent
power. Adequate preparations must be made for the care of those evacuated to
the camps. This was not always an easy task in marginal agricultural societies,
where the army was too busy burning farms and destroying crops to prepare
a proper reception for the refugees. The result might be a humanitarian
disaster which could jeopardize v i c t o r ~ This is precisely what happened to
Kitchener, Weyler, and also to German generals in South-West Africa.
Although Joseph Chamberlain defended Kitchener's camps as a humanitarian
solution, the results were disastrous. Because of poor preparation, lack of
sanitation and shelter, at least 20,000 Boers and 12,000 Africans perished,
mostly children under 16 years old. Weyler forced Cuban peasants into towns
unprepared to receive the refugees, who perished by the thousands. Horror at
the appalling loss of life caused by Weyler's reconcentrado was a prime
incitement to America's 1898 intervention. In South-West Africa, the Germans
The second half of
Kitchener's population
concentration policy was to
scorch the earth over which
the guerrillas roamed. Here,
a Boer farm goes up in
flames, at once removing
shelter and sustenance as
well as striking a blow
against insurgent morale.
171
WARS OF EMPIRE
Anti-war demonstrations,
like this one in Trafalgar
Square in July 1899, three
months before war was
declared, were later
inflamed by stories of the
misery of the concentration
camps. However, ultimately
it was the costs of the war,
rather than the moral issues
it raised, that caused the
British government to push
for resolution.
172
confined 17,000 Herero and Nama to camps, almost half of whom perished.
Concentration worked fairly well on Luzon, in part because it was conceived
as part of a positive strategy to win the loyalty of the population, rather than
simply to remove them from the battlefield. Filipinos were fed, organized into
militias, and given a role in municipal government. Like the Chinese officials
fighting the Nien, the Americans on Luzon discovered that the principle benefit
of militias was less as a defence force, than as a way to filter out disloyal elements.
If the population were fed and protected from guerrilla reprisals, it could be
induced to surrender its neutrality and support the Americans. If this were not
done systematically, then the insurgents might infiltrate the towns and camps to
murder or intimidate supporters of the incumbent power, even to create parallel
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
hierarchies, as happened to the French regroupement efforts during the Algerian
war of 1954-62. American success on Luzon was not replicated on the island of
Samar, where American troops destroyed most of the food, and herded the
population into towns which could not support them. So desperate did the
situation become that starving refugees joined with guerrillas to slaughter the US
garrison at Balangiga in September 1901.
Poorly run concentration programmes might prove doubly disastrous for an
imperial commander because they provided ammunition for anti-war groups at
home. Kitchener's camps became a vehicle through which anti-war groups in
Britain attacked the morality of the war. Britain's invasion of the Boer republics
had already left it with a public relations problem. Most of the world preferred to
see the conflict as a confrontation between a simple
farming people victimized by a clique of grasping
capitalists, Boer 'Davids' defending hearth and home
against the imperial British 'Goliath'. An anti-war
demonstration was held in Trafalgar Square on 9 July
1899, three months before war was declared. Irish
nationalists, led by the actress Maude Gonne,
operating on the assumption that Britain's
discomfort was Ireland's opportunity, urged their
countrymen to boycott British recruiting stations.
But though opposition to the war was concentrated
among the working classes and some members of the
Liberal Party, the left was by no means unified in its
opposition. The Boers also had a bad press because
of their shabby treatment of Blacks and of
Uitlanders (white, mainly British, workers in the
diamond and gold mines who faced discrimination
by the Boer republics). Vocal opposition to the war in
foreign newspapers put the anti-war movement in a
delicate position, especially in the wake of 'Black
Week'. The journalist W. T. Stead established a 'Stop-
the-War' movement, and the Liberal politician Lloyd George used the Daily News
as a mouthpiece for his anti-war sentiments. Anti-war meetings were held all over
Britain in 1900, although patriotic mobs succeeded in disrupting most of them.
Their most spectacular success occurred on 18 December 1901 when Lloyd
George, caught in a melee involving over 40,000 people, was forced to flee
Birmingham town hall disguised as a policeman.
Anti-war sentiment declined by the summer of 1900, as the sieges of
Ladysmith and Mafeking were lifted, the Boer capitals were seized, and the war
disintegrated into an inconclusive counter-insurgency campaign whose major
victims were women and children. The Boers had protested the treatment of their
families in the concentration camps almost immediately. But even middle-class
Young Welsh politician
David Lloyd George, who
came to prominence as a
spokesman for the anti-war
movement, almost fell
victim to a pro-war mob in
Birmingham in December
1901. The anti-war
movement divided the
Liberal Party's response to
the war, while it encouraged
Conservatives to rally round
the government.
173
WARS OF EMPIRE
Emily H daughter
of a prominent Liberal
family, was denounced as
'pro-Boer' and a 'screamer'
when she tried to investigate
conditions in Kitchener's
concentration camps. But
her campaign convinced
even the Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain that it
had been a desperate
mistake to entrust the
camps to military direction.
174
British families were divided over the issue. Some organized or joined groups
which visited the camps or those for Boer POWs on the island of St Helena.
The denunciation of the impact of military action on Boer civilians by
Emily Hobhouse, daughter of a family prominent in Liberal politics,
stirred the War Office to dispatch a committee of women to investigate
conditions in the camps. It also stirred the army to arrest and expel
Hobhouse back to Britain in October 1901, an action which only
allowed her to spread revelations of mass deportations, burned-out
farms, and feverish children. The leader of the Liberal Party, Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, was moved, on meeting Hobhouse, to denounce
'these methods of barbarism'.
One must not exaggerate the consequences of opposition to the
Boer War - few anti-war MPs were elected, and enlistment in the army
remained high. Nevertheless, the issue of the concentration camps pointed
to one of imperialism's Achilles' heels: the moral ambivalence of Europeans
toward it. This was hardly a new phenomenon. Already in the 1840s, the
French public had been outraged when news spread that French soldiers
campaigning in the coastal mountains north of Cheliff had made a habit of
building fires in the mouths of caves in which Arabs sought refuge, thereby
asphyxiating them. Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited Algeria in 1846, wrote that
Algerian service had distorted the values of French soldiers, and opened a gulf
between European claims to bring civilization and order to the outside world, and
the bitter realities of conquest. French imperialism was pursued by scandal. In
1899, Captain Paul Voulet and Lieutenant Charles Chanoine, son of an ex-war
minister, murdered their senior officer and led their Senegalese tirailleurs and
native auxiliaries in mutiny during a campaign against the Mossi States on the
upper Volta. 'The events make us blush', the Parisian daily, Le declared,
and hardly reflected credit on the French army which at that very moment was in
the process of re-trying Captain Alfred Dreyfus for the crime of espionage. It was
in part to counter this poor press that Lyautey wrote 'Du role coloniale de
f'armee!> in the prestigious Revue des Deux Mondes in 1900. Lyautey's was an old
theme: the army's primary role in the colonies was a social and economic one.
'The colonial soldier was more than a warrior. He was an administrator, farmer,
architect and engineer. He sacrificed himself, not for personal gain and glory, but
in the cause of developing the economic potential of the colonies.'
No one in France, even on the Left, seriously opposed imperialism. However,
they could be counted on to criticize brutalities carried out by the military in the
name of spreading Western civilization. The same phenomena could be seen in
other countries. Attacks on Amerindian villages by the US Army, even in response
to provocation, would often produce howls of protest in the east. While
American anti-imperialists denounced the devastation of provinces, the shooting
of captives, the torture of prisoners and of unarmed peaceful civilians in the
Philippines, their impact was minimal once McKinley defeated anti-imperialist
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
democrat William Jennings Bryant for the presidency in 1900. The brutal
repression of the Herero and Maji-Maji rebellions provoked an intense debate
over colonial policy in the Reichstag in 1906-7. However, only the Social
Democrats advocated abandoning the colonies. Most critics sought merely to
tighten Berlin's control over the colonies, and to use the colonial issue as a vehicle
for a liberalization of the German political system.
Therefore, the moral issues raised by imperial warfare were insufficient, at
least before 1918, to rattle the confidence of imperial nations in their basic right
to extend the frontiers of empire against the wishes of the inhabitants. The more
important issue flagged first by the Fashoda crisis and subsequently by the Boer
War was that of imperial overstretch. The huge military effort required by
Britain to defeat a handful of Boer farmers, and the international outcry caused
by the war, propelled Britain toward a major re-evaluation of its foreign and
defence policies at the turn of the centu-ry. But if Britain had bumped into a
boulder of resistance in southern Africa, Russian imperialism struck an iceberg in
Manchuria.
THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR
The greatest collision of rival imperial ambitions occurred not in Africa, but in
the Far East. The slow implosion of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty, which was
apparent by the conclusion of the Opium War in 1842, if not before, and
accelerated in mid century with the Taiping and Nien rebellions, found the
A March 1904 Japanese
characterization of Russian
imperialism as a black
octopus, one of whose
tentacles lay across Port
Arthur and the Liaotung
Peninsula that Japan had
occupied but had been
forced by Germany, France
and Russia to surrender at
the end of the Sino-Japanese
War of 1894-5.
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1
75
WARS OF EMPIRE
Members of the Meiji
government discuss the
invasion of Korea,
nominally a Chinese vassal
state, in the mid 1870s.
Only Japan, of the
non-Western countries,
managed successfully to
blend reform and tradition.
However, to resist Western
imperialism and secure the
Meiji reforms, the Japanese
became imperialists
themselves.
Western imperial powers circling vulture-like over the decomposing carcass
of China. Most were content to carve out spheres of influence, coastal enclaves
from which they could pursue trade and maintain pressure on Beijing. However,
two powers, Japan and Russia, nurtured territorial ambitions on the Asian
mainland. Russia's collision with Japan over Manchuria and Korea produced the
most devastating imperial war, one which topped in destruction and casualties
all the colonial conflagrations hitherto fought. The Russo-Japanese War of
1904-5 offered a desolate preview of the war Europe was to experience between
1914 and 1918.
At the turn of the century Japan contained a contradiction. Although the
Meiji Restoration of 1868 was initiated in reaction to Western imperialism, Japan
succumbed to imperialism to the point that the success of reform was measured
in great part by the status which Japan gained through expansion on to the Asian
mainland. Meiji reformers believed that an aggressive foreign policy offered the
best vehicle to build consensus for reform at home. From the 1860s, they argued
that a forward policy in Korea would instantly change Japan's outmoded
customs, set its objectives abroad, promote its industry and technology, and
eliminate jealousy and recrimination among its people. Foreign policy was an
extension of domestic consolidation. By 1876, Japan had begun to imitate
Western-style gunboat diplomacy in Korea, a Chinese vassal state, as a pre-
requisite to establishing Japanese economic, political and military influence over
the peninsula. This divided Korea, and caused conservatives close to the Korean
court to appeal to China as a protector. In 1885, China and Japan agreed to keep
their troops out of Korea. But when the Chinese sent soldiers to crush a rebellion
there in 1894, Tokyo cried foul. In July, Japan landed troops in Korea, Liaotung
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
East
~
~
chitta
+
~
Sea ~ ~ ~
~ ~
c
0
""
~ ~
~ ~ $
~ '"
<t
~ ~
\ ~ o 9 \ t 0\ \'t.\\\te{
OCEAN
China, foreign presence, foreign attack and Chinese reactions 1894-1900
~ movement of Chinese troops Railroad concessions Spheres of influence treaty port by nationality
1894
~ movement of Japanese troops
Russian
~
Russian

British
1894-5

French
D
Japanese Empire c. 1895
British British
0 Japanese
D
ceded to Japan or under
German
~
German

German
Japanese occupation 1895
0 Portuguese
D
Chinese Empire c. 1895
French ~
French

US
Japanese
D
Japanese
<:) Chinese control
Boxer rebellion 1900
under Chinese
control
THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR,
18
94-5
By the 1890s regional and
religious insurgencies,
foreign bullying, failed
reform movements, and
nascent warlordism had
seriously undermined the
authority of the Ch'ing
dynasty. Manoeuvres by
Tokyo and ~ t Petersburg
to capitalize on Chinese
weakness brought them
into conflict over
Manchuria and Korea.
177
WARS OF EMPIRE
Treaty ports
Japanese attack
and Shantung. The Sino-Japanese War succeeded beyond Tokyo's wildest dreams.
By March 1895 Japan had captured Port Arthur, Darien and destroyed most
of the Chinese fleet. The Japanese population was ecstatic. Japan demanded a
large indemnity, most-favoured nation status, and the opening of treaty ports.
The army occupied Liaotung, while the navy seized Taiwan. But hardly was
the ink dry on the treaty that ended the Sino-Japanese War than Germany,
Russian occupied to 1905
to Russian Empire 1858
to Russian Empire 1860
occupied by Japan 1905
Russian zone of influence
1900
major battle
territory taken from
Russian Empire 1905

British

French
0 Japanese

German

US
D
D
~
Russo-Japanese War 1904-5
Russo-Japanese War 1904-5
major Japanese
Navy attack
route of imperial Russian
Baltic fleet
Russian Empire 1850
Russian expansion 1858-1900
THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR,
19°4-5
Japan took a huge risk in
attacking Russia. But Tokyo
concluded that inaction
would result in Japan's
marginalization and the
collapse of the Meiji
experiment. Japan's
principal strategic
advantage lay in sea control.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
France and Russia intervened in order to force Japan to give up Liaotung.
This big power intervention was a setback. But Tokyo vowed to make it only
a temporary one. Industrialization, the growth of trade with China and of the
merchant navy was seen as synonymous with imperial expansion. The American
takeover of the Philippines from 1898, and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, increased
pressure on Japan to act before it had little room left for manoeuvre. In 1901
Japan became one of the Boxer Protocol Powers, with the right to station troops
in Peking-Tientsin. The following year, it signed a treaty with Britain, making
Tokyo London's principal partner in Asia. But Tokyo continued to view control
of the Korean Peninsula as vital for its defence. It tried to negotiate an exchange
of Korea for Manchuria with Russia, but St Petersburg turned a deaf ear. Indeed,
Japan's clumsy policies there, which included the murder of Queen Min, only
drove the Koreans into the arms of the Russians. Tokyo increasingly came to the
view that the only way to defend its aspirations to great power status, to settle the
Manchurian question, and to consolidate its power base at home was to pick a
fight with Russia. If the risks of defeat were great, the risks of doing nothing were
marginalization abroad, the failure of reform at home, and a return to the
anarchy and civil wars of the Shogun era.
Like Japan, Russia was enticed into the Far East by the slow implosion of
China. However, unlike Japan which saw imperialism as the centerpiece of Meiji
reform, Russia's imperial enterprise was unreflective. Russian gunboats had been
on the Amur river, which separated Siberia from Manchuria, since the 1850s. In
1875, Russia had recognized Japanese suzerainty over the Kurile Islands in
exchange for Russian ownership of Sakhalin. Russian officers had arrived in
Korea as military instructors in the 1880s. But Russian interest in the Far East was
only stimulated when Japan seized the Liaotung Peninsula in 1894. Nicholas II
appears to have nurtured the belief that Russia would become an Asian power.
Japan's rapid defeat of China raised the fears that Tokyo would pre-empt that
dream. The Russian foreign minister argued that Tokyo was merely acting as
London's agent. Vladivostok was imperilled. The tsar's finance minister, Sergei
Witte, insisted that vast profits awaited the nation that exploited Manchuria and
China. These profits, Witte argued, could be re-invested in Russian industrial
development.
No one in St Petersburg thought through the strategic consequences when, in
1895, Russia posed as China's benefactor and orchestrated the international
pressure which filched from Japan many of the spoils of its victory over China.
Russia's reward from Beijing was permission to direct the Trans-Siberian Railway
across Manchuria as a shortcut to Vladivostok. The presence of the railway
allowed Russian railway police to patrol the Manchurian lines and, in 1898, to
annex the Liaotung Peninsula with its two important ports, Port Arthur and
D a l n ~ Following the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, Russia brought its military
occupation of Manchuria into the open to guarantee China's good behaviour,
and sent forestry workers into Korea. But Russia's trade deficit with China grew,
179
WARS OF EMPIRE
Japanese troops land in
Korea in 1904. Russian
forces made only an
ineffectual effort to defend
Manchuria on the Yalu, and
instead retreated to Port
Arthur where they were
besieged.
r80
and, as both army and navy leaders pointed out, it lacked the manpower to
defend these far-flung outposts. Russia also seemed blind to the foreign policy
consequences of its Far Eastern deployment - both the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
of 1902 and the open door policy declared by the United States were attempts to
check Russian expansion into China.
But it was Japan which felt most threatened. After Russia refused to reassure
Japan that it harboured no ambitions in Korea, Japan broke off diplomatic
relations on 5 February 1904. Three days later, on the night of 8/9 February,
Admiral Togo sent his torpedo boats against the Russian Pacific squadron
anchored at Port Arthur. The destruction of the Pacific squadron was a vital
objective for the Japanese. Russian ships operating out of Port Arthur could
threaten the sea lines of communication between the Japanese islands and
Japanese troops on the mainland. Also, if Russia decided to dispatch its Baltic
fleet to the Pacific (the Black Sea fleet was prohibited passage through the
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
Bosphorus), Togo's ships would be desperately outnumbered and outgunned in
the ensuing main fleet action. But poor intelligence, faulty tactics and Togo's
desire to preserve his cruisers, which might have finished off the cornered Russian
squadron, meant that only three Russian ships were damaged in the surprise
attack. Nevertheless, Russian naval commanders were unable to profit from their
escape. Their tactics were equally timid, especially after sorties into the Pacific
ended in encounters with mines. The naval war before Port Arthur settled into a
temporary stalemate, as the Russians seemed content to await the arrival of their
Baltic fleet.
Stymied on the sea, the Japanese were forced to attack the Pacific squadron
from the land side. Troops were landed at Chemulpo and broke through Russian
defences on the Yalu river. This Japanese victory was celebrated as the first
victory of Asians over Western forces, although Chinese troops had defeated the
French at Lang Son and checked the French invasion of Formosa in 1885.
ARTHUR
AT '-,
.': .
,
\
Japanese forces moved north toward Liaoyang to cut the railway line leading
down to Port Arthur. Meanwhile, Japanese soldiers landed at Pi-tzu-wo and
moved toward Nanshan, a narrow isthmus which controls the entrance to the
Liaotung Peninsula and Port Arthur. The Russian defences were not well sited,
and only 4,000 Russians manned them against 35,000 Japanese troops supported
Admiral Togo ssurprise
attack on the Russian Pacific
squadron at Port Arthur on
the night of 8-9
1904 aimed to prevent
Russian ships from
impeding Japanese sea lanes
of communication. The
attack failed to neutralize
the Russian
which meant that Port
Arthur had to be at
great by the army.
181
WARS OF EMPIRE
182
by naval None the less, Russian machine guns ripped the close ranks of
attacking Japanese troops to shreds.
By the end of the day, it looked as if the Russian position on the isthmus
would hold, when Japanese soldiers, aided by naval bombardment, gained a
toehold on the western flank of the Russian line. The Russian General Pock
ordered a general retreat which turned into a panic. The Japanese moved south to
capture Thanks mainly to the inaction of the Russian Pacific squadron,
Dalny became a major support base for the siege of Port Arthur.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
The conflict settled into a war of attrition, battles fought between armies that
numbered tens of thousands of men, backed by artillery and machine guns. Time
seemed to be on Russia's side. Its resources in men and materiel were potentially
immense, while those of the Japanese were limited. Although Japan could get its
troops to the front by sea faster than Russia could move their soldiers the 5,500
miles over the single-track Trans-Siberian Railway, Russian engineers began to
add track. Russia also ordered its Baltic fleet to the Far East. But St Petersburg
failed to make time work for them. The Russian commander, Kuropatkin, wanted
The surprise attack on Port
Arthur angered the tsar and
steeled his resolve to defeat
the Japanese. However, the
Japanese concluded that
they had contained the
Russian maritime threat
and bought time to build
up an impregnable
defensive position. They
attempted to apply this
strategy against the United
States at Pearl Harbor on
7 December 1941.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Japanese artillerymen load a
SOO-pound shell into one of
eighteen huge Japunese
coastal defence guns (called
'Osaka Babies' after the
town where they were
made), mustered to pound
Port Arthur into submission.
to delay operations until the Trans-Siberian Railway could ensure the delivery of
reinforcements. But St Petersburg, fearing the fall of Port Arthur and with it the
end of the Pacific squadron, pressured their commanders into battles they
preferred for the moment to avoid. Russian ground forces were poorly led. They
continually abandoned strong positions because their commanders lost their
nerve. Although Russian use of artillery was good, ground forces remained on the
tactical defensive, lacked initiative, and failed to counter-attack when the
Japanese were exhausted and over-extended. The naval forces at Port Arthur and
Vladivostok were also largely passive, when they might have helped their armies
by attacking Japanese sea communications with the home islands.
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
The Japanese, meanwhile, sought to force a decision before Russia could
mobilize the full force of its strength against them. Their plan was quickly to
seize Port Arthur, thus eliminating the Pacific squadron, then turn north and
inflict decisive defeats on the Russians before their reinforcements could arrive.
The Japanese absorbed huge casualties in desperate and unimaginative frontal
assaults against Russian positions at Liaoyang in August 1904, and at Sha ho,
before Mukden, in October. Port Arthur surrendered in January 1905, but the
carnage had been horrific. The Japanese had suffered 60,000 casualties in the
siege of the port - 8,000 alone in the eight-day attempt to seize 204-metre hill- to
about half that many for the defenders. The depressing irony for Tokyo was that
The battle for Mukden
J
which dominated the rail
line to Harbin
J
was fought
on a 1DO-mile front between
21 February and 11 March
1905. Horrific casualties
were suffered on both sides.
Despite Russian military
ineptness
J
the Japanese
J
bereft of manpower and
cashJ were staring at defeat
by the spring of 1905.
Japanese forces had taken Port Arthur from the Chinese in 1894 at the cost of
sixteen soldiers. A Russian counter-offensive south of Mukden at Sandepu in
January 1905 got them nowhere, but cost another 14,000 men. The final major
land battle of the war occurred at Mukden in F e b r u a r ~ The battle lasted three
weeks, was fought along a front of 100 miles, and cost the Russians 61,000
casualties to 41,000 for the Japanese.
The final straw for the Russians came when their Baltic fleet under Admiral
Rozhdestvenskii limped into the Korean Straits on 28 May, only to have his
WARS OF EMPIRE
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
T twice crossed by Admiral Togo; this allowed the Japanese to fire their guns
broadside at the Russian ships, which could only reply with their forward turrets.
The battle of Tsushima was a disastrous end to a long and demoralizing voyage.
Only three ships of the Baltic fleet reached Vladivostok. The Russian decision to
negotiate came just in the nick of time for Tokyo, which was broke, racked by
inflation, and just about out of troops. Russian intelligence reported Japanese
distress to the tsar. But Nicholas decided to throw in the towel. His fleet lay at the
bottom of the Pacific, and his sailors had mutinied at Vladivostok, Sevastopol
and Kronstadt in sympathy with the strikes which had erupted across Russia and
disrupted the Trans-Siberian Railway. Russia's major ally, France, urged him to
cut his losses. He was also worried that the need to send soldiers to the East had
denuded his European defences. Peace was signed at Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, on 5 September 1905.
With victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had achieved the status of a
great power and joined the ranks of imperial powers. It annexed Korea as
a colony in 1910. The collapse of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty in 1912
and the outbreak of the First World War two years later, which caused the
retreat of the Western powers toward Europe, cleared the way for Japan's
aggressive imperialism in the Far East. But if Japan could replicate the success
of the Western imperial powers, it could also duplicate their errors. Japan's
search for security in imperial expansion would only produce insecurity,
isolation, alienation and over-extension as it collided with the rising
nationalism of China and Korea, and eventually with the Pacific interests of the
United States.
THE CONQUEST OF MOROCCO
] apan's desire for recognition of its great power status In the Far East was
matched in Europe by Germany, which moved to thwart French ambitions in
Morocco. On the morning of 31 March 1905, the German liner Hamburg swung
at anchor off Tangier. On board, the kaiser stared across the grey water, whipped
to foam by a persistent force 8 gale, and debated whether to land. At about 11.30
in the morning he re-emerged on deck dressed in a field uniform of the Prussian
Army - silver helmet with chinstrap, polished black boots, red gloves, a revolver
attached to a cord which hung around his neck and a sabre dangling at his side -
was lowered into a whaler, and rowed past two French cruisers, the Du Chayla
and the Linois, towards the shore. Two large German sailors plucked him from
the boat and carried him the last few yards to the wooden steps which he
mounted to the quay. The visitor said something in German to the representative
of the sultan of Morocco, Abd el-Malek, who greeted him. But as Abd el-Malek
spoke no German, and as the kaiser's remarks were inaudible to others, what the
kaiser actually said remains a mystery. The German was hoisted on to a horse
and, his semi-paralysed arm dangling by his side, led through a hedge of French
marines stiff at present arms, and Moroccan askars who approximated a similar
The battle of Tsushima,
27-28 May 1905, was hailed
by sea-power enthusiasts as
the decisive battle of the
war, the event that caused
the tsar to opt for peace. But
other factors such as
mutinies in his forces, strikes
that disrupted the Trans-
Siberian Railway, and fear
of an attack from Germany
were at least as influential in
the tsar's decision.
WARS OF EMPIRE
Kaiser Wilhelm visits
Tangier in 1905 to
emphasize G e r ~ a n y s
support for continued
Moroccan independence.
This clumsy attempt to
crack the Anglo-French
entente of 1904, according
to which Britain recognized
French suzerainty in
Morocco in return for
acknowledgement of British
dominion in Egypt, drove
the two erstwhile imperial
rivals closer together.
188
salute. The party plunged into the narrow streets of Tangier which French
residents, with the encouragement of their legation, had festooned in red, white
and blue bunting. They processed through the Grand Soko where savage-looking
Rif tribesmen shouted and discharged their muskets and pitched them into the air
in welcome, to emerge at the German consulate where the town's diplomats had
sought refuge from the morning's pelting rain. The kaiser entered the building,
muttered some homilies about respecting the interests of German commerce,
made his way back to the shore and sailed away, faintly pursued by the beating of
drums and the ululations of the Moroccan women. The next day, the German
consul in Tangier, Richard von Kuhlmann, announced that the kaiser's visit had
been intended to underscore Germany's commitment to Morocco's continued
independence.
The German declaration stunned both London and Paris, as much as it
delighted the Moroccans. It also represented a bold, even a foolhardy, diplomatic
move on the part of Berlin. By replacing Britain as the guarantor of Moroccan
independence, Germany had declared the Entente Cordiale dead, or so Berlin
thought. In 1904, Britain had bartered Moroccan independence against overdue
French acquiescence to the British domination of Egypt. In seeking an
accommodation with Britain, French colonialists reasoned from an Algerian
perspective. Although the last serious uprising in Algeria had occurred in 1871
while the French army was otherwise occupied fighting the Franco-Prussian war,
the French felt desperately insecure there. In 1881, France had absorbed Tunisia,
thereby guaranteeing the safety of Algeria's eastern borders. In the west, however,
Morocco remained turbulent and unstable, a fireship on the flank of Algeria. The
Entente Cordiale also had a European dimension, although in 1904 it was a latent
one. The French foreign minister, Theophile Delcasse, eager for British friendship
to counterbalance an increasingly powerful and assertive Germany, sought to end
what in his view was a needless and destructive imperial rivalry between two
countries who otherwise had no real conflicts of interest.
German reasons for challenging the Entente Cordiale were complex.
The long-term causes resided in the vague longing for a recognition of Germany's
international status which equalled Berlin's economic and military power.
Kaiser Wilhelm II headed a gaggle of parvenu politicians and military
men desperate for respect from the older, established powers. The German
chancellor, Prince von Bulow, complained that France, Britain and Russia
refused to 'recognize our dignity and our recently acquired authority as a world
power'. Much of this was for home consumption. By playing the nationalist
card the German leadership was merely aping governments elsewhere in
Europe. Status in turn-of-the-century Europe was measured, at least in part,
by the dimensions of one's colonial empire. Unfortunately for Germany,
most of the territory available for colonization had already been snatched
by Britain and France, to a large extent because Bismarck had shown
so little interest in empire building. Morocco remained, however, and it was
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
WARS OF EMPIRE
on this hapless land that this new generation of German leaders adjusted their
sights.
The short-term causes of what became known as the 'Tangier crisis' resided
in the equally ill-fated attempt on the part of von Bulow to isolate France
diplomaticall)!. France's major ally, Russia, was already engaged in a catastrophic
war with Japan. If Germany supported Moroccan independence, the German
chancellor calculated, Britain would back off from her alliance with France.
It was a neat plan, but it contained at least one fallacy - it assumed that Britain
would desert her new all)!. This was unlikel)!. For the British, the Fashoda crisis
followed by the Second South African War had demonstrated all too painfully
how friendless Britain was in the world. The German naval laws of 1898 and
1900, which were a direct challenge to British mastery of the seas, drove this point
forcefully home. By 1904, Britain had found her friend in Europe. She intended to
stick by her. The Tangier crisis of 1905 was the first step in transforming the
colonial entente of 1904 into the European military alliance of 1914.
At the best of times, Morocco would be a difficult country to conquer. The
land was vast, much of it mountain or semi-desert, all of it remote. Its
inhabitants were fiercely independent, although as elsewhere, opposition to the
French was spasmodic and unsustained. The greatest risk to the French was that
an invasion might provoke a German reaction. Twice, in 1905 and again in
1911, French encroachments into Morocco brought Berlin and Paris to the very
brink of war. Aware of the delicate political situation, General Hubert Lyautey
digested eastern Morocco, moving forward by stealth from Algeria to occupy
sites within the territory claimed, but not occupied, by the sultan, renaming
the villages to throw journalists, diplomats and politicians off the scent. In 1907,
the French placed a large force ashore at Casablanca after Europeans were
massacred there, and pursued the conquest of the Chaouia, the hinterland behind
the cit)!. Moroccan tribesmen mounted a briefly effective mobile campaign
against the French columns sent out from Casablanca. However, resistance largely
collapsed in March 1908 after French General Albert d' Amade twice caught the
resisters in their camps against which he brought the full power of French
artillery and small arms.
In eastern Morocco in that year, Lyautey provoked an uprising of the Beni
Snassen when French forces occupied Oudjda on the Algerian frontier. A harka,
or war party, numbering perhaps 4,000 men, imprudently attacked up a narrow
ravine against a concentration of French forces on the Wadi Kiss and was
decimated by artiller)!. A second harka attempted to take Port Say on the
Mediterranean coast and was driven off by naval gunfire. A third harka surprised
a French camp at Mennaba in eastern Morocco at dawn on 17 April 1908. But
despite initial success they fell to looting, which allowed the more disciplined
French forces to counter-attack. Final battles occurred in May at Bou Denib, and
in September at Djorf, where the Moroccans again foolishly massed against
French artillery and machine-guns and were slaughtered in great numbers. The
UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
final French push into Morocco was precipitated in 1911 by a mutiny of the
sultan's askars against their French advisers in Fez. A French expedition launched
to rescue the Europeans and the sultan besieged there touched off an
international crisis which was only extinguished in November 1911, when the
French won the freedom to act in Morocco by giving the Germans territorial
concessions in the Cameroon.
The conquest of Morocco underscored the rising costs to France, both
diplomatic and military, of imperial warfare. If the 1911 accord settled the
Moroccan question, it was only the beginning of France's attempt to impose its
control over the country, the last corner of which did not submit until 1934. In the
aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the French Army counted
15,300 white and 7,420 indigenous troops in its colonial forces, including those
stationed in Algeria. The rebellion against the French takeover of Tunisia had
caused Paris to dispatch 35,000 troops from France in July 1881, most of whom
had to be quickly withdrawn because of disease, and replaced by Algerian units.
The French invasion of Tonkin began with 4,000 troops in 1883, and swelled in
the face of Chinese intervention and popular resistance to 40,000 by 1885. The
Madagascar campaign of 1895 required around 15,000 officers and men. Most of
the expeditions in sub-Saharan African could be accomplished with less than
3,000 men (Dodds took 3,400 to Dahomey in 1892), in part because it was
difficult to support larger numbers logistically, but also because enemy resistance
was seldom overwhelming. The Fashoda crisis so stretched military resources that
in 1898 the army violated French law to place over 12,000 metropolitan conscripts
in the colonial forces. The 60,000 troops dispatched to deal with the crisis of 1911
made Morocco the most costly of all French imperial expeditions. The French
intervention there came at a particularly bad time, for it brought an unwanted
financial burden at the very moment when the government added a third year of
conscript service to match an increase in German army strength. The costs of
Morocco also complicated plans to add heavy artillery to the army's arsenal. The
French commander-in-chief, General Joseph Joffre, feared that the Moroccan
expedition would compromise French mobilization for war against By
the outbreak of the First World War, 42,100 white and 88,108 native troops were
drawing rations in the colonies or France. The French maintained the equivalent
of two army corps to garrison Algeria before 1914. The great cost of occupying
the colonies fuelled the debate between colonialists like General Charles Mangin,
who argued in his 1910 book, La force that the colonies offered
inexhaustible repositories of manpower to defend the homeland, and others, like
Georges Clemenceau, who insisted that colonial expansion subtracted military
strength from the vital north-eastern frontier with Ironically, it was
Clemenceau who, as prime minister from 1917, proved most willing to mobilize
colonial manpower to defend France. Therefore, the greatest benefit of colonies
for France was the million and a half subjects they sent to support the French war
effort between 1914 and 1918.
WARS OF EMPIRE
UPPI G THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE
Colonel Charles Mangin
greets the new French
Resident General 0 (
Morocco, General Hubert
Lyautey, at the gates 0 (
Marrakesh in 1912. Lyautey
instructed Mangin to seize
Marrakesh despite strict
orders (rom Paris to the
contrary.
193
CHAPTER FIVE
---•• .....---
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
CPROGRESS UNDER MAO (1949). The Chinese
Communists argued that they had closed the era of China's
CCentury of at the hands of the imperial
powers and their warlord lackeys in the Kuomintang.
WARS OF EMPIRE
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
MALTA
I
I
I
I
A
FTER 1918, THE PERCEPTION of imperial warfare held by the colonialists
gradually altered, for reasons that had more to do with events in Europe
than with those in the colonies. In Callwell's day, imperial conquest had
come to be seen merely as a technical problem
to be mastered by the application of a
fairly predictable mixture of organization,
technology, and tactical elan. Following the
First World War, however, imperial warfare
was gradually transformed in the minds of
Europeans into an almost unstoppable force,
a revolution nourished by social resentment,
economIC oppressIon and nationalist
fervour. An indication of how much the
perception of warfare outside Europe
had been altered by the First World
War is apparent in the 1929 edition of
the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Although
C. E. Callwell had contributed articles
to the Britannica, the author chosen for
the entry on 'Guerrilla Warfare' was
not Callwell, but T. E. Lawrence. In a
mere four pages, the hero of the Arab
Revolt offered a vision of small wars
which appeared to consign the 559
pages of Callwell's 1906 text, as well
as a century's experience in imperial
warfare, to oblivion. Lawrence
wrote: 'Here is the thesis: given mobility,
security [in the form of denying targets to the enemy], time, and doctrine [the
idea to convert every subject to friendliness], victory will rest with the insurgents,
for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them the
perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.'
Lawrence's praise of the potency of insurgent movements is somewhat
puzzling, because it is grounded in little hard evidence. A century and a half of
imperial warfare had produced some notable insurgent successes. Many of the
colonies of North and South American had gained independence through clever
strategies that denied targets to the e n e m ~ Ideologies of nationalism had united
significant portions of the population, while foreign intervention had both
imported military skills and, in the case of French intervention in the American
Revolution, over-extended the incumbent power. Mexico's success against the
The Decline of the
Ottoman Empire 1683-1914
D territory lost by 1718
D territory lost by 1812
D territory lost by 1881
territory lost by 1914
• Ottoman Empire, 1914
[illIJ date granted autonomy
1830 date of territory lost
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
THE DECLINE OF THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The disorder induced by the
implosion of the Ch'ing
dynasty in the Far East was
replicated in the Balkans
and eastern Mediterranean
by the prolonged agony of
the Ottoman Empire. The
Bosnian crisis of 1909, the
subsequent Balkan Wars and
First World War accelerated
Ottoman decomposition
and stimulated European
imperial rivalries.
o 200 km
L-.....--.J
I I
o 200 miles
197
WARS OF EMPIRE
The success of the 'Arab
Revolt' against the
Turks in the First World
War, and the public's
romantic fascination with
its chief propagandist,
T. E. L a w r e n c e ~ announced
the revival of insurgency as
a potent form of warfare.
In fact, the Arab success
replicated that of Spanish
guerrillas during the
Peninsular War, rather
than announce a new
insurgent era.
French in 1867 relied on a similar combination of factors. Afghanistan had been
invaded, and abandoned, because it was wild, remote, and of little strategic
interest once the British acknowledged Russia's indifference to the place.
Abyssinian independence was preserved at Adowa because successful tactical
adaptations to the firearm coincided with remarkable incompetence on the part
of the Italians. The United States intervened in 1898 to break the stalemate
between rebels and Spanish forces in Cuba. But the list of failed resistance to
Western encroachment was more extensive by far than this brief catalogue of
successes. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a mere
handful of Western soldiers and their indigenous allies had managed to conquer
Africa, India and much of Asia.
Did the insurgent balance sheet change all that much between 1918 and the
outbreak of the Second World War? In 1921, the southern counties of Ireland had
shed their colonial status, at least in part through military means. But interwar
imperial rebellions in India, the Levant and Morocco were crushed. Even Mao
Tse-tung, regarded as the most sophisticated theorist of modern revolutionary
warfare, was notably unsuccessful when he attempted to put his theories into
practice in China in the 1930s. Indeed, Mao may only have become a footnote in
history had not Japanese intervention in China prevented Chiang from
finishing off the Chinese Communist movement when it was weakened
after the Long March of 1935. Lawrence, of course, had played rnidwife to
the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War. But even
Lawrence might be forced to concede that Arab success relied on many of
the same contingent circumstances that brought victory to Spanish
guerrillas who fought Napoleon's armies between 1808 and 1812. Like the
Arabs, Spanish insurgents were aided by an outside army that
prevented the occupying force from concentrating its full energies
against them. Nor does Lawrence explain how an insurgency
whose end result was the replacement of Turkish imperialism
with French and British rule can be called a victory for the
rebellion.
If an Increase In insurgent victories does not explain
Lawrence's assertion, how can one account for it? Although
the era of imperial conquest was a successful one for Western
armies, its achievement contained at least three reasons for its
ultimate demise after 1918. First, before 1914, native
resistance was fragmented because it lacked a common
ideology or sense of self-interest. If the regions that fell
under imperial domination could conjure up a national
consciousness, a sense of identity which eradicated the
seams of race, language, religion, caste and custom, then
they might articulate a coherent ideological and political
response to outside domination. As has been seen, the
British colonies of North America, the Spanish colonies of South America, Saint
Domingue and, to a certain extent, Mexico between 1862 and 1867 had
succeeded in doing this. But these were offshoots of Western imperialism
and so could use the ideology and rhetoric of the West in their own defence. Few
non-Western societies before the First World War had been able to replicate
the success of Meiji japan, to evolve an adaptive response which allowed them
to modernize within the context of their own culture and traditions. Elsewhere,
the very tradition which those resisting sought to protect caused them to reject as
alien to their culture the modernization they required to defend it. The Chinese
attempt to adapt to the Western imperial challenge within the confines of
Confucian norms merely produced defeat and disintegration. The same
reactionary character coloured resistance movements founded on Islamic
precepts. Elsewhere tribalism, and religious and ethnic fragmentation made
resistance to imperial encroachment seem nostalgic, even reactionary, which
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
Mao Tse-tung in 1935. Mao
is regarded as one of the
chief theorists and most
successful practitioners of
insurgency, both on the
tactical level, and as a
strategy of popular
mobilization. Mao broke
with other Communist
theorists by insisting that
revolution should be
fomented among the
peasants, not in the towns.
199
WARS OF EMPIRE
THE FRENCH EMPIRE 1914
European empires proved to
be remarkably fragile
creations. The French Empire,
though second in size only to
Britain's, was in reality an
expression of national
weakness. It was justified by
French officers reacting to
the emergence of Germany
as a powerful rival in Europe,
and was retained as a symbol
of status in a world in which
French culture, language
and influence were in
decline. Furthermore,
France lacked the
power, and the French
people the will, to
defend the empire
against post-
Second World
War challenges
in Indo-China
and North
Africa.
200
doomed even the most spectacular resistance (such as the Indian Mutiny)
to defeat.
It was precisely the beginnings of a process through which indigenous
societies acquired the ideological framework for a more efficient adaptive
response that Lawrence had observed, and upon which his military reputation
was constructed. Lawrence was asked to write about guerrilla warfare, which is a
tactic. His insistence that guerrilla warfare was inevitably successful was rooted
in his belief that indigenous societies had discovered the ideological counter to
imperialism, one that allowed them to achieve the unity which had earlier eluded
them. In short, imperialism, in its desire to improve the native, to raise him to
Western levels of civilization, bore the germs of its own, if not destruction, at
least modification and evolution. Imperial rule was denounced as a triumph of
arrogance and racism. The efficiency of Western rule translated into
discrimination and oppression, justice into a trespass upon local custom and
tradition, economic progress into exploitation, security into wasteful expeditions,
forced conscription and, on the margins, a t r o c i t ~ Imperial schools which
espoused the virtues of citizenship and the 'rights of man' were at odds with the
realities of the inferior status of colonial elites which they aimed to educate. The
experience of living under and serving in imperial administrations, even in
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
European armIes, would generate the national
consciousness hitherto conspicuously lacking. This
rising national consciousness reduced the divisions
and apathy which allowed colonial powers to rule.
It also diminished the ability to recruit native
soldiers, and diminished the combative qualities of
those native soldiers who still consented to serve
the outside power. To this, one might add an
overlay of Marxist ideology - another imperial
import which articulated an analytical
framework for anti-colonial resistance. In the
wrItIngs of Mao Tse-tung, some insurgent
movements discovered a blueprint for revolution.
Second, with the possible exceptions of Russia
and Japan, imperial powers were poorly placed to
respond to this emerging nationalism. Russian
imperialism was tied closely with Continental
s e c u r i t ~ Russian imperial boundaries had been
fleshed out with settlers transplanted to the
French Empire 1914
Ironically, two of the most
enduring imperial legacies
were indigenous nationalism
and Marxism. Ho Chi Minh
took advantage of
resentment over French rule,
the vacuum created by the
Japanese occupation of
Indo-China in the Second
World War, and the Japanese
surrender in August 1945 to
seize power in Hanoi.
Equator
,alty Is.
Tropic of Caprkorn
Tropic of (ancer
other French enclaves
area of French influence
French colonies
other colonial states and
their possessions
other territories
and states

D
D
D
rdamls.
StPaulls.
Kerguelen Is.
tis.
201
WARS OF EMPIRE
202
conquered lands. In Soviet Marxism, Russian imperialism acquired an ideology
which papered over, at least temporarily, the cracks in a vast and diverse empire.
Russia's decolonization crisis was delayed until the collapse of the Soviet Union,
when scores of Russians who had settled in the colonies clamoured for rescue. A
fundamental premise of the Meiji Restoration was that reform, and hence
security from Western imperialism, was linked to the imperial domination of
Korea and economic and military control of Formosa and northern China. ] apan
developed an anti-imperialism to counter the Western imperial influence in the
Far East, and to co-opt local nationalism in places like the Dutch East Indies for
the benefit of Japanese imperialism.
THE DEMISE OF IMPERIALISM
Elsewhere, however, imperialism had never enjoyed widespread popular support
even in its high renaissance. At home, imperial expansion brought the risks of
strategic over-extension, political unpopularity, economic costs, military defeat,
and moral compromise. By the time of the Second South African War, if not
before, even the British had begun to realize
that Western values which combined moral
suasion with the idea of progress were not
everywhere exportable. Although outwardly the
most successful, certainly the most stylish,
imperialists, the British seemed to have wearied
of imperialism's responsibilities even as they
shouldered them, lost faith in its mission even
as they preached its virtues, tired of its wars
even as they fought them. Its benefits were
largely intangible, limited to the ephemeral
satisfaction of painting large areas of the map
pink, blue, yellow or whatever colour was
chosen to denote the greater Fatherland.
Imperialism in its Gallic manifestation
proved more resilient, but hardly bulletproof.
Imperial governance adapted more easily to
France's authoritarian political culture, where
the citizen is considered a moral adolescent in
constant need of control and tutelage by a wise
administration. French humanitarians might
denounce colonial atrocities. But it never
occurred to them - at least not in the pre-
Marxist era - that imperial peoples should be
permitted to forego the opportunity of
becoming or remaining part of the French
empIre simply because they had other
priorItIes. Also, France's vision of national grandeur made imperialism very
much a defensive response by a nation and a culture in relative decline in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With over 1.5 million colonial subjects
contributing to the French war effort between 1914 and 1918, France could rightly
conclude that the empire was a force multiplier vital to bolster France's relatively
precarious position in Europe. Imperialism was also about insuring France's
influence in the world. France's mission civilizatrice was the organized export of
French language and culture, French influence and, above all, French control.
Nevertheless, growing agitation for increased political rights, especially in North
Africa and Indo-China, cast a shadow over the future of empire. Challenged by
Kipling to take up the 'White Man's Burden', Americans were never more than
contrite imperialists. American empire as a formal creation was an unintended
consequence of victory in a war with Spain. The dominion over the Philippines
was rationalized as a naval base to secure trade routes to the Far East. The islands
were pledged independence at the first o p p o r t u n i t ~
The final reason for imperialism's demise involved the changing perception of
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
OVERLEAF: In Vietnam, the
United States assumed that
politics and firepower were
on their side. Unfortunately
for Washington, the
Communists were seen as
the legitimate heirs of the
anti-colonial revolution,
while technology could
never be more than a
secondary factor in
determining the success or
failure of imperial
campaigns.
Japanese troops advance in
Hunan Province. The
Japanese invasion of China
was essential to the success
of Mao's insurgency, which
had proven otherwise
remarkably unsuccessful in
the 1930s. Chiang Kai-shek
was forced to abandon his
pursuit of the Communists
to deal with the Japanese
invaders, who chewed up his
Nationalist forces.
2°3
WARS OF EMPIRE
2°4
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
2°5
WARS OF EMPIRE
Members of the Algerian
Front de Liberation
National pose before Second
World War surplus British
Lewis machine guns in 1957.
The FLN became adept at
setting helicopter ambushes
during the Algerian War of
1954-62.
206
imperial warfare. From a military perspective, imperial warfare came to be seen
as a fleeting problem as Europe entered an age of total war. Armies neglected to
study a subject so remote from 'real war'. Two world wars largely destroyed the
officer corps that had specialized in colonial service, and with them went the
expertise, the corporate memory required to fight what travelled under the
euphemism of 'low-intensity conflict'. As in the earlier era of imperial conquest,
Western armies of the twentieth centuries would prove slow to adapt to the
challenges of unconventional war. There was always the temptation to approach
non-Western warfare as an extension of warfare in Europe. The attitude that 'any
good soldier should be able to handle guerrillas' betrayed the belief that
insurgency was merely a technical problem. An overwhelming application of
firepower or some technology that guaranteed mobility was the solution. Belloc
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
2°7
WARS OF EMPIRE
208
might be updated to read, 'Whatever happens, we have got/The helicopter and
they have not.' The temptation was to operationalize strategy, rather than treat
insurgency, as did Wellesley, as a political problem which required the correct mix
of politics and force. In any case, those nations, like France or Holland, who
insisted on fighting to restore the imperial status quo in Indo-China, Algeria or
Indonesia, were destined to fail.
That said, T. E. Lawrence's prediction of the guerrilla's inevitable victory was
also optimistic. The transfer of nationalism and Marxism to the colonies did no
more than make the playing field more level. Modern insurgencies are civil wars
as much as were their imperial antecedents. A successful insurgency requires a
collective sense of grievance to unite a critical mass of supporters behind a
common cause. Tribal, religious and ethnic divisions work to divide that
response, isolate the insurgents, and forfeit the moral high ground in the modern
era as much as they did in the past. Possession of the mandate of heaven - that is,
legitimacy - is as important to victory in the twenty-first century as it was in the
eighteenth. Nor do strategic principles change over time. The insurgent cause is
greatly advanced if it has outside support. The victory of insurgencies in China,
Vietnam and Algeria owed much to the actions of outside powers. Where
insurgencies lacked outside support, as in the Philippines, Malaya and eventually
Greece after the Second World War, they failed. Time continues to favour the side
which knows how best to use it. In the past, protraction usually, although not
invariably, worked to the advantage of the imperial invader, because the resistance
lacked the organizational structure, social and political cohesion and the
economic base to sustain prolonged campaigns. Even when the resistance
generated a leader of genius able to turn attrition against the invaders - an Abd
el-Kader, Shamil, Samori, or de Wet - indigenous societies seldom possessed the
social and political cohesiveness to sustain that strategy, or make the invaders pay
a price high enough to cause them to leave. There were exceptions to this, of
course. The British abandoned North America, the French, Saint Domingue in
1804, Mexico in 1867, and the Spanish, South America and Cuba in 1898. But
overall, indigenous societies lacked an adequate base of operations, or were too
riven by tribal, ethnic, geographic, even class divisions to be able to come together
for anything more than sporadic violence against the outsider. This may have
changed somewhat in the modern world, when the invader may be tempted to
walk away from a conflict whose cost is too high, merely because the value of the
objective simply does not justify the expenditure of resources.
On a tactical level, the lessons of imperial warfare were surprisingly modern.
While many of the peoples who confronted Western armies might possess superb
skills as warriors, they lacked the discipline to devise tactical systems that would
payoff in operational and strategic terms. The triumph of Western imperial
armies cannot be explained mainly by a superiority in weaponry: On occasion,
firepower might cause an indigenous resistance to pay a devastating price for
tactical mistakes, one which might cause resistance to unravel. But even then,
battlefield victory was seldom decisive - that is, it seldom decided the outcome of
a war - because elements of the resistance would elect to fight on. Indigenous
resistance might find ways to overcome Western superiority in firepower through
the use of surprise and terrain. As in imperial warfare, technology applied in a
counter-insurgency situation is not a war winner by itself. It is merely a facilitator
which improves operational efficiency and might reduce the costs in lives to levels
acceptable at home. Technology gives the incumbent power the capacity to
achieve operational and tactical efficiency, and to sustain attrition strategies.
Successful modern insurgencies, like ancient ones, usually succeeded because
of contingent circumstances. Japanese expansion in Asia before and during the
Second World War allowed relatively weak Communist or nationalist movements
in China, Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies to expand into a vacuum.
Intelligence, surprise, mobility, and the ability to control the strategic pace of a
war were as important in Westmoreland's Vietnam as in Wellesley's India.
General Jacques Massu's use of quadrillage - that is, dividing the battlefield
into manageable segments - in the 1957 battle of Algiers owed much to
General Lazare Hoche's approach to the suppression of the Vendean insurgency
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
A Tamil (Indian) insurgent
surrenders in Malaya in
1950, highlighting the
potential for ethnic divisions
in modern insurgencies, as
in those of the past. While
the Malayan insurgency
recruited overwhelmingly
among Chinese, the Chinese
community in Malaya was
deeply split between
supporters of Chiang Kai-
shek and Mao.
2°9
WARS OF EMPIRE
Australian soldiers, sent to
restore order following
violence in the wake of a
pro-independence vote in
East Timor, round up anti-
independence militiamen
near Dili in September 1999.
Modern peacekeeping and
peacemaking operations can
be viewed as a revival of the
imperial mission to reduce
zones of instability.
210
I n theory, nineteenth-
century imperialism aimed
to export civilized values
and raise standards of living
through the creation of
global markets. Lyautey
would have approved of
activities such as the
distribution of aid carried
out by these Australian
soldiers in East Timor as a
legitimate military tactic.
of 1796. What the French commanders in Algiers neglected to learn from their
illustrious forebears was the importance of the political dimension of counter-
insurgency. Callwell believed Hoche achieved success 'as much by his happy
combination of clemency with firmness, as by his masterly dispositions in the
theatre of war to ensure a lasting peace. The overawing and not the exasperation
of the enemy is the end to be kept in view'. Sir Robert Templer's hearts-and-
minds approach to the Malayan insurgency was no more than updated Hoche.
Generals Joseph Gallieni and Hubert Lyautey operating in Tonkin, Madagascar
and Morocco in the years before the First World War called it 'peaceful
penetration' - using economic and political incentives to gain the loyalty of
the population, reserving the force of arms for the hold-outs. Resettlement
and strategic hamlet strategies used in Malaya, Algeria and Vietnam were simply
the lineal descendants of the 'clear the fields and strengthen the walls' approach
used by Chinese officials to defeat the Taiping and Nien rebellions. These
Chinese officials also realized that the main purpose of the militia was to filter
out and identify disloyal and heterodox elements, rather than to fight per se.
The 'New World Order' pronounced by
American President George Bush in the wake of
the Cold War may be viewed as a revival of
imperialism, a softer, gentler version shorn of its
racist overtones, but imperialism none the less.
That imperialism is enjoying a comeback is
hardly surprising. Imperialism was imbedded in
notions of the superiority of Western culture and
values. The failure of many ex-colonies to create
successful political and economic systems,
together with the collapse of Soviet Communism,
has revived the belief that the spread of
democracy and market economies - 'engagement
and enlargement' in the parlance of the Clinton
administration - is in everyone's interest. The
military implications of this are that Western
armies will increasingly intervene to end famine,
arbitrate ethnic cleansing, and engage in nation
building. Many modern soldiers decry peace
operations, military operations other than war, or
stability and support missions in places like Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia,
Kosovo or East Timor as perversions of the military's true role, which is to fight
and win its nation's wars. However, peace operations would strike men like
Hoche, Gallieni, Lyautey, or Funston very much as business as usual, either as
stand-alone or as part of counter-insurgency strategies. Peace operations are not
so much part of a new world order, but the resurrection of the old world order
which was temporarily suspended during the Cold War.
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
OVERLEAF: Ethnic Albanian
refugees from Kosovo fill
Dutch army vehicles to
travel to camps in southern
Albania in May 1999.
Ethnic cleansing and
genocide have joined a list
of crimes against humanity
that 'engagement and
enlargement' is meant to
curtail.
The Secretary General of
the United Nations, Kofi
Annan. UN operations often
falter due to reluctance by
the major powers to incur
casualties in places where
they have no vital interests.
211
WARS OF EMPIRE
212
IMPERIAL TWILIGHT?
2I3
WARS OF EMPIRE
BIOGRAPHIES
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY NEW WORLD
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-99)
Born Westmoreland County, Virginia, of a prosperous planter
father. Washington saw service in the French and Indian Wars as
commander of all Virginia forces from 1755 and aide-de-camp of
General Edward Braddock. Elected to the First Continental
Congress in 1774 and named commander-in-chief of the
Continental Army in June 1775. He routed British forces at
Trenton on Christmas Eve 1776, held his army together during
the terrible winter at Valley Forge in 1777-8, and defeated
Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, effectively ending the American
Revolution.
LOUIS-JOSEPH DE MONTCALM-GROZON (1712-59)
Born in Condiac, France. He captured the British posts at Oswego
and Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War, and
successfully defended Ticonderoga against a British attack in 1758.
Died defending Quebec against an amphibious attack by General
Wolfe.
JAMES WOLFE (1727-59)
Born in Westerham, Kent. Commissioned in 1741, he campaigned
against the Jacobites in Scotland in 1745-6, and participated in the
second seizure of Louisbourg in 1758. Died at Quebec while
commanding a daring and successful amphibious assault against the
French citadel.
TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE (1746-1803)
Brilliant leader of the ex-slaves who revolted in Saint Domingue in
the wake of the French Revolution. Toussaint successfully
manoeuvred against Spanish, British, French planter and Creole
armies until he was treacherously captured and sent to France, where
he perished miserably in prison.
INDIA
JOSEPH-FRAN<;OIS DUPLEIX (1697-1763)
Son of a director in the French East India Company, Dupleix was
named governor-general of all French establishments in India in
1742. In 1746 he seized Madras, which was returned to Britain by the
1748 treaty ending the War of Austrian Succession. He continued to
intrigue unsuccessfully against his chief British rival Robert Clive to
expand French influence in India. Having met only defeat and in the
process exhausted French finances, he was recalled to Paris in 1754
and died discredited and in obscurity.
ROBERT CLIVE (1725-74)
Clive joined the East India Company in 1743 and, took part
in the battles to avenge the Black Hole of Calcutta, when a number
of British died after being locked up in a small and airless prison by
the nawab of Bengal on 20 June 1756. At Plassey in 1757, Clive
defeated a large Indian-French force, and subsequently became de
facto ruler of Bengal. He was lionized in England on his return in
1760, entered parliament and was elevated to the Irish peerage two
years later. He returned to Calcutta in 1765 to put order into a
company and an army regarded as inefficient and undisciplined.
However, the rigour of his reforms made him many enemies and
resulted in his recall to England in 1767 to appear before a
committee of inquiry.
21
4
TIPU SULTAN (1749-99)
Sultan of Mysore who was a staunch opponent of British
encroachment in India. In 1789, he invaded the British protectorate
of Travancore, provoking a two year conflict during which he was
defeated by Cornwallis. In 1799, he attempted to reverse this verdict
and in the process recover lost territory, but was killed when his
capital city Seringapatam fell to the British.
SIR CHARLES NAPIER (1782-1853)
A soldier who had seen service in Ireland during the rebellion,
Portugal in 1810 and the United States in 1813, Napier participated
in the final campaign against Napoleon in 1815. In 1841 he took
command of British forces in the Sind and defeated the amirs at the
battle of Miani in 1843. As this exceeded his orders, the satirical
magazine Punch suggested that his victory announcement should
read simply 'Peccavi', Latin for 'I have sinned' (i.e. 'I have Sind').
SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY, DUKE OF WELLINGTON (1769-1852)
Of Anglo-Irish background, Wellesley joined the army in 1787 and
was sent to India with his regiment. Named Governor of Mysore in
1799, he participated in the siege of Seringapatam that resulted in
the death of Tipu Sultan. Wellesley defeated the Marathas at the
battle of Assaye in 1803, which, he insisted at the end of his
distinguished career, was 'the bloodiest for the numbers that I ever
saw,' and 'the best thing' he ever did in the way of fighting. He was
knighted in 1804 and returned to England a major general in
September 1805. He applied many of the tactical lessons that he had
learned in India in his campaigns against the French in Spain.
SOUTH AMERICA
SIMON BoLiVAR (1783-1830)
Born in Caracas, Bolivar was proclaimed president of the Republic of
Colombia (which included the modern states of Colombia, Venezuela
and Ecuador) in 1819. After defeating the Spaniards in his home state
in 1822, he took part in the final campaign in Peru in 1824. Although
called 'The Liberator', Bolivar's rule was increasingly contested and
he was forced to resign and go into exile in 1830.
JOSE DE SAN MARTIN (1778-1850)
A native of Argentina, San Martin led an army across the Andes into
Chile in 1817 where he defeated the Spanish at Chacubuco, and
again the following year at Maip6. He captured Lima and was
proclaimed Protector of Peru in 1821. He resigned after
disagreements with Bolivar and finished his life in exile in France.
ALGERIA
THOMAS-RoBERT BUGEAUD (1784-1849)
Bugeaud served with Napoleonic armies in Spain, retiring after 1815
to farm, but returning to the army in 1830 on the fall of the Bourbon
Restoration. Sent to Algeria in 1836, he defeated Abd el-Kader at the
Sikkak river. An outspoken critic of Algerian colonization, he
returned in 1841 to find the French arn1Y making many of the
mistakes he had seen in the Peninsular War. He launched a campaign
of attrition against the dissident Algerian tribes that led to the defeat
of Abd el-Kader at Isly in 1844. He resigned as governor-general in
1847 after the French government failed to support his plans for
military colonization. Commander in Paris in 1848, he unsuccessfully
defended the July Monarchy against the revolution of that year.
ABD EL-KADER (1808-83)
As emir of Mascara, Abd el-Kader gradually consolidated his power
in Oran province from 1832, occupied Miliana and Medea and
routed the French at the Macta Marshes in 1835. Although defeated
by Bugeaud at the Sikkak river in 1836, he skilfully convinced the
general to sign the Treaty of Tafna that actually increased the
territory under his control. By 1838, using a core regular army of
2,000 men supported by tribal levies, Abd el-Kader had extended his
realm from the Moroccan frontier to the Kabylia. The emir's attack
against French settlers on the Mitidja Plain in 1840 touched off a
bitter seven year war that witnessed the return of Bugeaud. The
French general combined mobile columns with scorched earth tactics
to keep the emir's forces both starving and on the run.
Abd el-Kader's defeat at Isly in 1844 caused the Sultan of Morocco
to withdraw his support for the Algerian resistance. The emir
surrendered to the French in 1847, was interned in France and in
1852 exiled to Damascus where he lived out his life in some style on a
generous French pension. In 1871, he disowned one of his sons who
supported the Kabylia revolt against the French.
LOUIS-NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1808-73)
Third son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland and brother of
Napoleon 1. Louis Napoleon grew up in exile after the Bonapartes
were expelled from France in 1816. He returned in 1848 to be elected
President of the Second Republic and, from 1852, Emperor of the
French. His early desire to abandon Algeria came to nothing.
Encouraged by his Spanish-born empress Eugenie, he unwisely
committed French troops to Mexico in 1862. After the Franco-
Prussian War, he went into exile in England. His son, the Prince
Imperial, was killed by the Zulus while serving in the British Army.
CAUCASUS
SHAMIL (1797?-1871)
In 1834, Shamil became leader of the Muridis, a Sufi (mystical
Islamic) brotherhood that had declared a holy war when the
Russians seized Dagestan in 1813. He declared Dagestan an
independent state and led a series of raids on Russian positions in
the Caucasus. An 1838 Russian expedition failed to capture Shamil,
although it seized his capital at Ahulgo. Following the end of the
Crimean War, with aid to Shamil from Turkey and Britain severed,
the Russians launched an ambitious multi-pronged offensive against
his mountain stronghold. His followers exhausted, his citadel at
Vedeno taken in April 1859, Shamil surrendered to the Russians in
September of that year. He was exiled to Kaluga, south of Moscow
and allowed to make a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1870.
CHINA
LIN TSE-HSU (1785-1850)
Son of a poor teacher, Lin passed the highest level of the Chinese
civil service examinations in 1811, after which he joined the Hanlin
Academy, the body that advised the emperor. He subsequently held
some of the most senior administrative po'sts in the empire during
which time he earned the nickname 'Lin the Clear Sky'. In 1838, Lin
was appointed imperial commissioner with extraordinary powers to
deal with opium smuggling. When the British initiated the first
Opium War after Lin destroyed large stocks of opium in Canton, the
emperor reluctantly retired him. Lin was subsequently recalled to
suppress Muslim rebels in Yunnan. He died on his way to deal with
the Taiping rebellion. Lin is viewed as a national hero in China
because of his stance against the British and as a precursor of the
'Self-Strengthening Movement'.
CHARLES 'CHINESE' GORDON (1833-85)
Trained at the Woolwich Academy, Gordon joined the Royal
BIOGRAPHIES
Engineers in 1852. A veteran of the Crimean War, he went to China
where he participated in local army reform and fought against the
Taiping rebellion, in the process earning his nickname. In 1877, he
was appointed Governor of the Sudan, although he resigned that
post in 1880. In 1884, he returned to extract the garrison at
Khartoum, was besieged for ten months, and perished in 1885 when
the Mahdi's troops stormed the city.
UNITED STATES
OSCEOLA (1804-38)
Born in Georgia, Osceola, also known as Powell, began to organize
opposition in 1832 against efforts to remove the Seminoles from
Florida. In 1835, he murdered a chief preparing to emigrate to
Oklahoma with his people as well as a general sent to organize the
departure, thereby touching off the Second Seminole War. For the
next two years, he successfully resisted the troops sent against him
using guerrilla tactics and ambushes. In 1837, he was seized at St
Augustine while under a flag of truce and moved to Fort Moultrie at
Charleston, SC, where he died. The war continued sporadically until
1842.
SITTING BULL (TATANKA YOTANKA) (1831?-90)
Born in present-day South Dakota, his reputation as a warrior and
shaman caused him to become a chief of the Northern Sioux by
1866. The 1868 peace that he signed with the US government broke
down from 1874 after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. He
formed an alliance with the Arapaho and Cheyenne that culminated
in the defeat of Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876, although he was
not present at the battle. He led his people into Canada to escape
retribution, but was forced back into the United States in 1881 and
was arrested. After serving a two-year imprisonment, he joined
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He was arrested for supporting the
Ghost Dance movement and shot by an Amerindian policeman.
GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER (1839-76)
Graduated last in his West Point class of 1861, Custer nevertheless
staked out a brilliant career as a cavalry commander in the American
Civil War, from which he emerged in 1865 as a 23-year-old brigadier
general. Reduced to the rank of captain at the war's end, he
established a reputation as an intrepid, if incautious and egotistical,
Amerindian fighter, as well as an opponent of corruption in the
Indian Bureau. While participating in the campaign to force the
Cheyenne and Sioux on to reservations, he came upon a large
encampment along the Little Bighorn river in the Montana territory
on 25 June 1876. Believing the Indians were about to flee, he divided
his force and set off in pursuit. Instead, the Indians turned on Custer,
annihilating him and over two hundred of his men.
GERONIMO (GOYATHLAY) (1829-1909)
Chiricahua Apache war chief born in present-day Arizona,
Geronimo was engaged in fighting the encroachment of settlers
from Mexico or the United States from an early age. Although
confined to reservations, he constantly escaped and continued to
raid, often out of Mexico. A campaign launched against Geronimo
in 1885 required 5,000 troops and eighteen months to track him and
thirty-five of his followers down. Confined to Florida, he was
eventually allowed to settle on a reservation in Oklahoma, where he
became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. He rode in
President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade in 1905 and
published his autobiography the following year.
GEORGE CROOK (1829-1890)
An 1852 graduate of West Point, Crook led a Union brigade at
Antietam in 1862 and campaigned in the Shenandoah Valley under
Sheridan in 1864. As an Amerindian fighter, he successfully pacified
21
5
WARS OF EMPIRE
the Apaches under Cochise (1871-3), but was defeated by Crazy
Horse at Rosebud Creek in 1876. His troops pursued the Sioux for
almost a year after the Little Bighorn in an operation that became a
severe test of endurance. He campaigned against Geronimo in
Arizona in 1882 and 1883. Despite his reputation as an Amerindian
fighter, Crook was a strong advocate of Amerindian rights.
NELSON A. MILES (1839-1925)
Commissioned in the 22nd Massachusetts at the outbreak of the
Civil War, by 1865 Miles was a brigadier general with a
Congressional Medal of Honor, having fought in almost every major
campaign with the Army of the Potomac. He was Jefferson Davis'
jailer at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He fought against Chief Joseph
(1877) and Geronimo in 1886. He was severely criticized for the
massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee in 1890. He became
commander-in-chief of the US Army in 1895, and led the occupation
of Puerto Rico in 1898, retiring from the army in 1903.
ALFRED THAYER MAHAN (1840-1914)
Son of the celebrated professor of tactics at West Point, Dennis Hart
Mahan, Alfred Thayer served in the US Navy during the American
Civil War, eventually rising to become president of the Naval War
College in Newport, RI. He achieved international prominence with
the 1890 publication of The Influence of Sea Power upon History,
which argued that England's economic prosperity was built on the
foundation of a large navy. By extension, Mahan's argument
assumed the need for colonial naval bases to support an extensive
trade network. He became president of the American Historical
Association in 1902 and retired in 1906 a rear admiral.
FREDERICK FUNSTON (1865-1914)
Son of an Ohio congressman, Funston volunteered to serve with the
Cubans to fight the Spaniards in 1896. When the Spanish American
War broke out he joined the US Army in the Philippines, and was
promoted to brigadier general. He crafted the strategy to defeat the
Philippine insurgents, culminating in the daring raid that captured
Aguinaldo in March 1901. In 1914, he commanded US forces that
seized Vera Cruz during the unrest in Mexico.
EMILIO AGUINALDO (1869-1964)
Of Chinese and Tagalog parentage, he was active in local politics
and leader of a revolutionary society. In 1897, he departed the
Philippines in return for a promise of significant reforms from the
Spanish governor. However, encouraged by the Americans, he
returned to the Philippines to become president of the provisional
government proclaimed on 12 June 1898. When the Philippines were
ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris in December 1898,
Aguinaldo's relations with the Americans deteriorated. When
hostilities broke out in Manila on 4 February 1899, Aguinaldo
declared war on the United States. The war raged for three years
until General Frederick Funston captured Aguinaldo in his secret
headquarters at Palanan in Northern Luzon in March 1901.
Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance and was granted a pension
from the American government. He was defeated when he ran for
president of the Philippines in 1935. The Americans again arrested
him for collaboration with the occupying Japanese in 1945, but he
was subsequently amnestied.
AFRICA
LOUIS FAIDHERBE (1818-89)
Appointed Governor of Senegal in 1854, Faidherbe began the
expansion that transformed Senegal from a coastal base to a colony
with a substantial hinterland. In the process he is given credit for
creating the tirailleurs senegaLais. An unsuccessful general in the
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, he wrote pioneering studies on the
2I6
anthropology of Algiers and the French Sudan and of the Fula and
Berber languages in the post-war years.
CHARLES MANGIN (1866-1925)
Mangin's family opted for French nationality when their hometown
was absorbed into German annexed Lorraine at the conclusion of
the Franco-Prussian War. Commissioned in the colonial infantry out
of St Cyr in 1888, Mangin saw service in the Western Sudan and led
the advanced guard of the Marchand mission that traversed Africa in
1896-8. After further tours in West Africa and Indo-China, Mangin
came to Morocco where he captured Marrakesh in 1912. However,
he quarrelled with Lyautey after his aggressive tactics and high
casualties raised protests in France. Mangin's 1910 book La force
noire passionately advocated the use of Black African troops to
supplement French numerical inferiority vis-a-vis Germany.
Mangin's World War I career was brilliant, if controversial,
especially after his Sixth Army, badly blooded in Mangin's
impetuous offensives, became a centre of the 1917 mutinies. He was
relieved by Clemenceau in 1919 for promoting the Rhenish separatist
movement in occupied Germany.
JOSEPH GALLIENI (1849-1916)
Gallieni graduated from St Cyr into the Franco-Prussian War,
where he participated in the heroic defence by French marines of
Bazailles near Sedan, was wounded and made a POW. He
served in West Africa from 1876. In Tonkin from 1893, he pioneered
the 'oil spot' methods which he saw as the antidote to the
destructive methods of colonial conquest he had witnessed in
Africa. Resident general of Madagascar between 1896 and 1905,
he returned to France as an immensely respected soldier. He rejected
the post of commander-in-chief in 1911, and instead recommended
Joseph Joffre, who had once been his subordinate in the colonies.
Many credit Gallieni with prodding Joffre to take advantage of
German over-extension on the Marne in 1914, and for pioneering
mechanized infantry when he requisitioned Paris taxis and
buses to ferry troops to the front lines. Named war minister in
1915, Gallieni attempted without success to remove Joffre. He
died on the operating table in May 1916, after denouncing Joffre's
failures at Verdun. He was posthumously named Marshal of
France in 1921.
HUBERT LYAUTEY (1854-1934)
A cavalryman of aristocratic background and royalist opinions,
Lyautey's commitment to Social Catholicism caused him in 1890 to
publish a controversial article in the prestigious Revue des Deux
Mondes criticizing officers for, among other things, caring more
about their horses than their men. This, together with other
non-traditional aspects of Lyautey's lifestyle including his
alleged homosexuality, caused him to be assigned to Tonkin, where
he became an enthusiastic promoter of Gallieni's 'oil spot'
methods of 'peaceful penetration.' He followed Gallieni to
Madagascar where he took responsibility for the pacification of the
southern half of the island. In 1903, at the special request of the
governor-general, he was called to southeastern Algeria to deal with
raiders out of Morocco. Lyautey's solution was to create mobile
flying columns a La Bugeaud, and to seize forward bases inside
territory claimed, but not controlled, by the Sultan of Morocco.
Recalled to France in 1910 to command an army corps, he returned
to Morocco as the first resident general from 1912. He served briefly
as war minister (1916-17), was promoted Marshal of France in 1921,
but retired in 1925 over criticism of his handling of the Rif War.
JULES FERRY (1832-1893)
Best known for his 1882 law which resulted in the creation of the
French system of free, secular and compulsory education, Ferry
was also an enthusiastic proponent of imperial expansion. As
prime minister, he promoted France's seizure of Tunisia (1881), the
campaign to take over Tonkin and Annam (1883-5), the French
Congo (1884-5), and an unsuccessful bid for Madagascar (1885).
However, the French setback at Lang Son on the Chinese border in
1885 brought down his ministry. Elected to the Senate, he
continued to be at the centre of controversy and was assassinated
in 1893.
SAMORI TOURE (1830-1900)
Samori abandoned trade to become a warrior in 1851, eventually
establishing an empire on the right bank of the Niger. He used Islam
to insure the cohesion of his empire. But its fundamental strength lay
in the efficiency of his military organization that combined a corps
of elite sofas or warriors with a militia
raised from the provinces of his empire. His armies were well
disciplined, made excellent use of cavalry, and were expert at laying
ambushes. Samori financed arms purchases by taxes paid in
agricultural products, the gold fields of Bure, and by slave trading.
The French campaigned against him in 1881 and 1885. Gallieni
provoked a rebellion in part of his empire in 1888-90. A French
offensive in 1891 forced him to move to the area that includes the
north of the Ivory Coast and part of Ghana. Captured in August
1898, Samori was exiled to Gabon.
BOER WAR
FREDERICK SLEIGH ROBERTS (1832-1914)
Born in Cawnpore, India, and trained at Sandhurst, Roberts won a
Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny. On 1 September 1880, he
defeated Ayub Khan near Qandahar in Afghanistan. He served as
commander-in-chief in India between 1885 and 1893, and was
named field marshal in 1895. He served as supreme commander
during the Boer War between December 1899 and November 1900,
relieving Kimberley. He was made an earl in 1901.
HERBERT KITCHENER (1850-1916)
Of Anglo-Irish descent, Kitchener joined the Royal Engineers in
1871, serving in Palestine, Cyprus and the Sudan. He defeated the
Mahdi's forces at Omdurman in 1898, negotiated Marchand's
departure from Fashoda, and became successfully Chief of Staff and
commander-in-chief in South Africa during the Boer War. Made a
viscount, he became commander-in-chief in India (1902-9) and
consul-general in Egypt (1911). As secretary for war in 1914, he
organized the New Armies. He was lost when the HMS Hampshire
hit a mine off Orkney in 1916.
REDVERS BULLER (1839-1908)
A veteran of service in China (1860), the Red River Expedition
(1870), the Ashanti War (1874), the Kaffir War (1878) and the Zulu
War (1879) during which he won the VC. He served as Chief of Staff
in the First South African War (1881) and briefly as commander-in-
chief during the Second South African War (1899-1900), during
which he raised the siege of Ladysmith.
CECIL RHODES (1853-1902)
Originally sent to South Africa for his health, he made a huge
fortune in the diamond diggings of Kimberley, where he
amalgamated several companies to form the De Beers firm in 1888.
He returned to England to study at Oxford. Elected to the Cape
House of Assembly, he secured Bechuanaland as a protectorate
(1884) and a charter for the British South Africa Company (1889),
whose land was later named Rhodesia. He became prime minister of
the Cape Colony, but was forced to resign in 1896 following the
Jameson Raid. He organized the defences of Kimberley during the
Second South African War.
BIOGRAPHIES
JAN CHRISTIAAN SMUTS (1870-1950)
Born in the Cape Colony, he studied at Cambridge and became a
lawyer. At the outbreak of the Second South African War he joined
the Boers and served as a guerrilla leader. After the war he entered
the House of Assembly, held several cabinet posts, led campaigns
against the Germans in South West Africa and Tanganyika, and
succeeded Botha as premier. He played a prominent role in the
founding of the League of Nations, helped to found the United Party
in 1934, and became Prime Minister of South Africa in 1939.
CHRISTIAAN DE WET (1854-1922)
De Wet fought in the First South African War and commanded the
Orange Free State forces in 1899. He became the most audacious of
the Boer commanders in the Second South African War. After the
war, he was increasingly at odds with Botha's policy of
reconciliation with the British. In 1914, he joined the Afrikaner
insurrection which broke out when Botha organized an invasion of
German South West Africa. De Wet was captured and sentenced to
six years' imprisonment. He was released the following year and
returned to his farm.
LOUIS BOTHA (1862-1919)
A politician who in the 1890s had opposed President Kruger's hostile
policy toward the British, Botha commanded the Boer forces
besieging Ladysmith at the beginning of the war. He succeeded
Joubert as commander-in-chief in March 1900. After the fall of
Pretoria, Botha helped to organize the guerrilla campaign. He was
one of the signatories to the Peace of Vereeniging that ended the war
in May 1902. In 1907, he became prime minister of the Transvaal
colony, and in 1910 the first premier of the Union of South Africa.
RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR
SERGEI WITTE (1849-1915)
Following graduation from university in Odessa, Witte joined the
railway administration. He first came to prominence during the
Russo-Turkish War (1877-8) for his innovative organization of
supply to the front. In subsequent years, he impressed his superiors
with his theories and statistical approach to the use of railways for
economic development. In 1889, Witte joined the ministry of
finance and rose to be its head in 1892. There, he raised huge loans
abroad to finance Russian industrial development and to complete
the Trans-Siberian Railway begun in 1891. He was removed from
office in 1903, but returned in 1905 to negotiate the peace with
Japan, and to become prime minister. However, he was forced to
resign in 1906 following the wake of unrest caused by defeat in that
war. In 1914, he unsuccessfully opposed the entry of Russia into the
First World War.
KOSHAKU TOGO HEIHACHIRO (1848-1934)
Togo studied naval science in England between 1871 and 1878. In
December 1903 he became commander-in-chief of the combined
fleet and was made admiral in 1904. Togo directed the naval
blockade of Port Arthur that ended in its surrender on 2 January
1905. On 27 May he destroyed 33 out of the 35 Russian ships that
appeared in the Tsushima Strait. His manoeuvre to cross the
Russian T on two occasions during the battle became a standard
study in naval staff schools. Togo subsequently became chief of
the Naval General Staff and war counsellor to the emperor. In
1913 he became fleet admiral, and was placed in charge of the
education of Hirohito.
2I7
WARS OF EMPIRE
FURTHER READING
Allen, W E. D. and Muratoff, Paul, Caucasian Battlefields. A History of the Wars on the
Turco-Caucasian Border 1828-1921 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England,
1953)
Baumann, Robert E, 'Russian-Soviet Unconventional Wars in the Caucasus, Central Asia
and Afghanistan', Leavenworth Papers no. 20 (Combat Studies Institute, Fort
Leavenworth, KS, 1993)
Bond, Brian, Victorian Military Campaigns (Praeger, New York, 1967)
BowIe, John, The Imperial Achievement (Little Brown, Boston, 1973)
Broxup, Marie Benningsen (ed.), The North Caucasus Barrier. The Russian Advance
towards the Muslim World (St Martin's Press, New York, 1992)
Callwell, Colonel C. E., Small Wars. Their Principles and Practice (Bison Books, Lincoln,
NE,1996)
Clayton, Anthony, France, Soldiers and Africa (Brassey's, New York and London, 1988)
Demelas, M.-D and Saint-Geours, Y, La vie quotidienne en Amerique du Sud au temps de
Bolivar 1809-1830 (Hachette, Paris, 1987)
Drechsler, Horst, Let Us Die Fighting (Zed Press, London, 1980)
Eccles, W.]., France in America (Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI, 1990)
Evans-Prichard, The Sanusi of Cyrenaica (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1954)
Fieldhouse, D. K., The Colonial Empires (London, 1966)
Fuller, William, Strategy and Policy in Russia 1600-1914 (Free Press, New York, 1992)
Geyer, Dietrich, Russian Imperialism. The Iteration of Domestic and Foreign Policy,
1860-1914 (Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn, 1987)
Gollwitzer, Heinz, Europe in the Age of Imperialism, 1880-1914 (New York, 1969)
Greene, Jerome A., Yellowstone Command. Colonel Nelson A. Miles and the Great Sioux
War 1876-1877 (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1991)
Gump, James 0., The Dust Rose Like Smoke. The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux
(University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1994)
Harries, Meirion and Susie, Soldiers of the Sun. The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese
Army (Random House, New York, 1992)
Hunczak, Taras, Russian Imperialism from Ivan the Great to the Revolution (Rutgers
University Press, New Jersey, 1974)
Ion, A. Hamish and Errington, E. ]., Great Powers and Little Wars. The Limits of Power
(Praeger, Westport, Conn. and London, 1993)
Jansen, Marius B., The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 5, The Nineteenth Century
(Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1993)
Julien, Charles-Andree, Histoire de I'Algerie Contemporaine, vol. I, Conquite et
Colonisation (Presses Universitaire de France, Paris, 1964).
Khalfin, N. A., Russia's Policy in Central Asia 1857-1868 (London, 1964)
Kanya-Forstner, A. S., The Conquest of the Western Sudan. A Study in French Military
Imperialism (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1969)
Kuhn, Philip A., Rebellion and its Enemies in Late Imperial China. Militarization and
Social Structure, 1796-1864 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1970)
LaFeber, Walter, The New Empire. An Interpretation of American Expansion 1860-1898
(Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1971)
Lowie, Robert H., Indians of the Plains (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1982)
Mackesy, Piers, The War for America 1775-1783 (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln,
NE,1992)
218
Mahon, John K., History of the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842 (University of Florida
Press, Gainesville, FL, 1967)
Malone, Patrick M., The Skulking Way of War. Technology and Tactics among the New
England Indians (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1993)
Morris, James, Heavens Command. An Imperial Progress (Harvest Books, New York and
London, 1973)
Pakenham, Thomas, The Boer War (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1979)
Perez, Louis, Cuba. Between Reform and Revolution (Oxford University Press, New York
and Oxford, 1988)
Porch, Douglas, The Conquest of Morocco (Knopf, New York, 1982 and Jonathan Cape,
London, 1986)
Porch, Douglas, The Conquest of the Sahara (Knopf New York, 1984 and Jonathan Cape,
London, 1984)
Porch, Douglas, The French Foreign Legion (Harper Collins, New York, 1991 and
Macmillan, London, 1991)
Porch, Douglas, 'Bugeaud, Gallieni, Lyautey: The Development of French Colonial
Warfare', in Peter Paret (ed.), The Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton University
Press, Princeton, N.]., 1986)
Porch, Douglas, 'Imperial Wars From the Seven Years War to the First World War', in
Charles Townshend (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War (Oxford
University Press, Oxford and New York, 1997)
Rediel, Carl W. (ed.), 'Transformation in Soviet and Russian Military History', Proceedings
of the Twelfth Military History Symposium, United States Air Force Academy, 1-3
October, 1986 (United States Air Force Academy, Office of Air Force History,
Washington, DC, 1990)
Roberts, David, Once They Moved Like the Wind. Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache
Wars (Touchstone Books, New York, 1994)
Schweinitz, Karl de, The Rise and Fall of British India (Methuen, London and New York,
1983)
Smith, Woodruff D., The German Colonial Empire (University of North Carolina Press,
Chapel Hill, NC, 1978)
Spear, Percival, A History of India, vol. 2 (Penguin Books, London, 1978)
Steele, Ian K., Warpaths. Invasions of North America (Oxford University Press, Oxford
and New York, 1994)
Sullivan, Anthony Thrall, Thomas-Robert Bugeaud, France and Algeria 1784-1849: Power,
Politics and the Good Society (Archon Books, Hamden, Conn., 1983)
Teng, S. Y, The Nien Army and their Guerrilla Warfare, 1851-1868 (Mouton, The Hague,
1961)
Trask, David, The War with Spain in 1898 (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1981)
Twitchett, Denis and Fairbank, John K., The Cambridge History of China, vol. 10, Late
Ch'ing, 1800-1911 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 1978)
Utley, Robert, Frontier Regulars, The United States Army and the Indian 1866-1891 (New
York, 1973)
Utley, Robert, The Lance and the Shield. The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (Henry Holt
New York, 1993)
Warwick, Peter (ed.), The South African War. The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Longmans,
London, 1980)
Warner, Denis & Peggy, The Tide at Sunrise. A History of the Russo-Japanese War of
1904-1905 (Charterhouse, New York, 1974)
Weller, Jac, Wellington in India (Longmans, London, 1972)
Westwood, J. N., Russia Against Japan, 1904-05 A New Look at the Russo-Japanese War
(Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1986)
FURTHER READING
21
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A MULTI-VOLUME HISTORY OF WAR AND WARFARE FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN TIMES
E BE E T 0 MPE AL SM WE LA GELY TA G BLE,
LI I 0 TO THE EP EMERAL SATISFACTIO OF PAl TI G LARG
AREAS OF THE MAP PI K, BLUE, YELLOW OR WHATEVE COLOU
WAS CaSE TO DE aTE THE GREATER FATHERLA D.

WARS OF EMPIRE

WARS OF EMPIRE Douglas Porch General Editor: John Keegan CASSELL&CO .

224 constitute an extension to this copyright page. The moral right of the author has been asserted All rights reserved. 125 Strand London WC2R OBB First published 2000 Text copyright © Douglas Porch 2000 Design and layout copyright © Cassell & Co 2000 The picture credits on p. except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright. London W1P 9HE.l. No part of this title may be reproduced or transmitted in any material form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright owner. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library: ISBN 0-304-35271-3 Cartography: Arcadia Editions Picture research: Elaine Willis Design: Martin Hendry Printed in Italy by Printer Trento s. Typeset in Monotype Sabon . Applications for the copyright owner's written permission should be addressed to the publisher. 90 Tottenham Court Road.r.Cassell & Co Wellington House. Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

for an allegedly minor mode of warfare. 'is easier won among perils. the imperial general was also a proconsul. Wellington and Tipu Sultan.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This is a book about an aspect of warfare that is often regarded as a secondary.' said Tacitus. 'Renown. the end of the Cold War has witnessed the resurrection of operations that travel under the name of 'peacekeeping'. I would like to thank John Keegan for offering me the opportunity to write this volume. It tells its own But no modern commander in Kosovo or East Timor can ignore the perils of conducting operations. and nowhere was this more accurate than in the imperial arena.' Furthermore. Clausewitz reminds us. encouragement and enthusiasm over the years. 'peacemaking'. forced to rely on his political skills as much as his operational expertise to prevail. imperial conflict proved a persistent feature of military activity from the mid eighteenth century to the First World War and beyond. Wars of empire helped to make Wolfe and Montcalm. History is not about supplying 'lessons' for the future. Imperial warfare determined winners and losers among developed nations in the struggle for world standing and in the fulfilment of national aspirations. War. It also sealed the fate of indigenous regimes and determined the destiny of great stretches of the globe. This judgement requires re-evaluation. I am deeply indebted to my agent. Clive and Dupleix. Finally. Contemporary. any more than could his predecessors in earlier centuries in Africa or Asia. far from home. Imperialism was never popular in its own da~ Every good imperial commander knew that he must deliver stor~ military success at low cost. Gallieni and Lyautey household names. with a narrow political base of support. No other aspect of this period of European and American history was more obviously heroic than the conquest of vast empires. DOUGLAS PORCH Monterey . Finally. First. to the general development of conflict in the modern era. technologically sophisticated armies pitted against primitive opponents offered little more than a recipe for a slow march to an inevitable conclusion. or 'stability and support'. Custer and Sitting Bull. all lineal descendants of wars of empire. for her support. Gordon and Kitchener. Gill Coleridge. even irrelevant. is politics. and Penny Gardiner for shepherding it through to publication.

.7 naval gun fires at Boer trenches at Magersfontein in December 1899.A 4.

'. Russian and 25 US imperialism. Asymmetrical warfare... The Russo-Japanese War.:-==:~". Flying columns. Colonies as outlets for nationalism and sources of prestige. Political and practical difficulties.-. Opium War. The strategic imperative UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE The increasing cost of imperial warfare. Difficulties of alliance.---. The revival of imperialism BIOGRAPHIES FURTHER READING INDEX PICTURE CREDITS 2 COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Callwell. Difficulties of logistics. Bugeaud.CONTENTS . Insurgency into civil war. Modernization of native forces. Indigenous response. Problems of imperialism 99 15 4 I THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? The economic dynamism of imperialism.- ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS MAP LIST CHRONOLOGY 5 9 10 3 SMALL EXPEDITIONS OF MOUNTED MEN: THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM Importance of mounted forces. Importance of leadership.:@:.:"'. Decisive victory versus attritional strategies 53 1 95 21 4 218 220 224 . The Boer War. Resistance to imperialism INTRODUCTION FROM TRADE TO CONQUEST Expansion of trade and the clash of civilizations.. The changing nature of world conflict.. The naval advantage. Firepower: Maxim gun and artillery. European rivalry and imperial expansion.~~~:+-J ... The conquest of Morocco 1 57 5 IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? Rising nationalism and insurgent victories.:. The balance of military power...

KEY TO MAPS Military units-size xxxxx CJ xxxx army group army corps division brigade regiment battalion CJ xxx CJ xx CJ x CJ III CJ II CJ Military movements attack -y retreat air attack X 1M battle fortress Geographical symbols urban area road railway river seasonal river canal border _ bridge or pass .

DRUG WARS AND REBELLION AFRICA 1820 1840-1873 C. 7· 8. 9· 10. IMPERIAL AGE EMPIRES THE BRITISH EMPIRE THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE c. 1860-90 1914 1898 AFRICAN RESISTANCE TO THE MAHDIST EMPIRE OMDURMAN 1898 1895-1902 1894-5 1904-5 THE BOER WAR THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR THE DECLINE OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE THE FRENCH EMPIRE 1914 .MAP LIST I. CHINA. 3· 4· 5· 6.1875 THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN THE BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA THE BATTLE OF ADOWA AMERINDIAN WARS 12. 19· 20. II. 22. 13· 14 15· 16. 21. 17· 18. 1914 1860-1914 THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC THE BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE THE INDIAN MUTINY THE ANGLO-FRENCH STRUGGLE FOR NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS C.1700 28-9 3 8-9 4 6-7 62-3 7 2-3 79 81 87 92 101 102-3 120-1 126 14 2 144 15 0 15 2-3 159 177 17 8 1683-1914 19 6-7 200-1 2.

British defeat at Lexington followed by costly victory at Bunker Hill outside Boston. Cook discovers Hawaii. American Revolution begins. Washington escapes destruction at battle of Long Island. Boston Tea Part~ 1747 1748 1774 1760 1775 1749 1761 1762 1753 1763 1754 1764 1765 British forces continue to seize French possessions in India. northern Circars and Madras ceded to East India Compan~ 1776 1777 1755 1766 1756 1768 1757 1769 1758 1770 1772 Robert Clive leaves India. J ames Bruce reaches 1778 1779 Coercive Acts passed against Massachusetts. first British commander-in-chief appointed for India. Choctaw Revolt. Cook's third voyage to the Pacific begins. Secretary of State for Colonies appointed in Britain. Declaration of Independence. Mutiny of East India Company's Bengal army is crushed. Montcalm besieges Oswego. British campaign against the Maratha (1779-82) begins in India. fail to take Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) .WARS OF EMPIRE CHRONOLOGY 1742 1744 1745 1746 Beginning of War of Austrian Succession. Grenada and St Vincent by the British. Braddock's force ambushed on way to Fort Duquesne. French troops under Rochambeau arrive in Newport. 10 . Cook murdered in Hawaii. Louisbourg returned to France. Washington drives British out of New Jersey. Washington retires to Valley Forge. Burgoyne capitulates at Saratoga. Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. Dieskau wounded at the battle of Lake George and abandoned by his Mohawk allies. French expedition under CeIeron de Blainville attempts to establish French sovereignty in the Ohio valle~ Duquesne builds three forts on Allegheny river. Halifax established in Nova Scotia to mask Louisbourg and intimidate the Acadians. Second Continental Congress assembles at Philadelphia. Montreal and French Canada falls to Amherst. King George's War. Amerindians ask Virginia colonists for help in expelling them. Captain Cook leaves England on second voyage of circumnavigation (1772-5). Gurkhas conquer Nepal. Britain returns French West Indies in exchange for Canada. 1759 Fall of Quebec to Wolfe. First Mysore War (1766-9). Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years War. East India Company Regulating Act. Privy Council in London affirms retention of tea duty in American colonies. Capture of Havana. Louis de Bougainville begins voyage to the Pacific that will result in the discoveries of Tahiti. French fleet fails to retake Louisbourg. French reinforced Quebec with forces under Baron Dieskau. Bostonians rebel at British attempts to impress sailors. Martinique. French abandon siege of Madras. Expedition to Ohio Forks under Washington ambushed a French force and subsequently surrendered to a larger French force at Fort Necessity. Treaty of Aix-Ia-Chapelle ends War of Austrian Succession. Battle of Sainte-Fay (28 April) ends French attempt to retake Quebec. Louisbourg captured. Eyre Coote drives French back to Pondicherr~ 1773 confluence of Blue and White Niles. Washington defeats British at Trenton on Christmas Eve. Spain declares war on Britain and lays siege to Gibraltar (1779-83). British expedition sailed from Madras to capture Manila. Clive defeats an Indian-French force at Plassey in Bengal. British capture Guadeloupe. Black Hole of Calcutta incident (20 June). American attack on Quebec fails. Havana restored to Spain in return for Florida. first royal regiment sent to India. Pa. Lafayette arrives in America. English traders appear in the Ohio valley. British reinforce American garrisons. Declaratory Act affirms Britain's right to tax American colonies. reject British offer of peace. British dispatched reinforcements to America under Edward Braddock. RI. British seize Louisbourg and Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg). the West Indies and West Africa. St Lucia. the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. French abandon Forts Carillon and St Frederic. 'Massacre' of Fort William Henry garrison. Cook discovers Australia. Cook sets out on his first voyage of circumnavigation (1768-71). American colonies sign treaties with France and Holland. British evacuate Philadelphia for New York. Warren Hastings captures Chandernagore in Bengal. 'Boston Massacre'. Adam Smith publishes Wealth of Nations which condemns mercantile theory of colonial economICS. battle of Quiberon Bay in November cripples French fleet and prevents reinforcements. Dupleix seizes Madras. Dupleix recalled to France. British defeat Washington at Brandywine and seize Philadelphia.

Brazil achieves independence from Portugal. Revolutions in Buenos Aires and Bogota. Napoleonic invasion of Spain. Peace of Versailles ends War of the American Revolution. and evacuation of Charleston and Savannah effectively ends war of the American Revolution. Greene leads British on an exhausting chase through South Carolina. death of Toussaint l'Ouverture. Panama and Santo Domingo achieve independence from Spain. French expedition arrives in Saint Domingue. Chinese authorities forbid the importation of opium. Bolivia declares independence. French invade Algiers to avenge insult to consul. Cornwallis defeats Americans at Camden. 1815 1816 1817 1818 1819 1820 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1827 1829 1830 1831 1832 Argentine army takes PotosI. Third Mysore War (1790-92) Toussaint l'Ouverture joins insurgency against French in Saint Domingue. Argentine provinces declare independence. Arthur Wellesley defeats Marathas at battle of Assaye. East India Company establishes settlement at Singapore. East India Company's forces reorganized. Napoleon captures Egypt. Tipu Sultan defeated by Cornwallis. falls to the British. British occupy Java. Bolivar and San Martin meet at Guayaquil. Second English invasion of Buenos Aires. Darwin begins-his voyage on The Beagle. Spain captures Minorca from the British. Rajput States and Poona come under British rule. border between Canada and the United States agreed upon at the forty-ninth parallel. Paraguay and Venezuela declare independence. Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke) named governor of Mysore. British bombard Algiers. Britain occupies Falkland Islands. Lord Richard Wellesley (1760-1842). Warren Hastings resigns as Governor General of India. Battle of Trafalgar. Thomas Paine publishes Rights of Man. II . British capture Rangoon. Rodney wins battle of the Saintes assuring British naval supremacy in American waters. SC. Guatemala. Wellesley departs India. San Martin crosses Andes into Chile. British capitulation at Yorktown. War between British and Holkar of Indore. End of Maratha Wars. First English invasion of Buenos Aires. Abd el-Kader becomes emir of Mascara. Mungo Park explores the Niger river. Maratha War ends. 1798 1799 1800 1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808 1809 1810 1811 1812 1813 1814 Toussaint l'Ouverture consolidates rule over Saint Domingue. British capture Martinique and Cayenne from French. Simon Bolivar emerges as 'The Liberator'. Bolivar establishes greater Colombia. Outbreak of French Revolution. Dutch surrender Ceylon to the British. Venezuelan independence confirmed by Bolivar's defeat of Spanish forces at the battle of Carabobo. Suttee (burning of Hindu widows) abolished in Bengal. Tipu Sultan becomes sultan of Mysore. United States bans importation of slaves. Peace talks open between Britain and the American revolutionaries. William Pitt the Younger's India Act substantially increases the government's control over the East India Company. San Martin declares Peruvian independence. First Burmese War (1824-6). battle of Ayacucho (9 December) ends wars of South American independence. British capture Guadaloupe. Mysore added to British possessions in India. aval battle of St Vincent. East India Company's monopoly abolished. Russia seizes Dagestan. source of Ganges discovered. Second Mysore War (1780-84). Britain restores Java to the Netherlands. Chile declares independence. Dey of Algiers hits French consul with a fly whisk. Charleston. Admiral Howe relieves Gibraltar. defeats Spanish at Chacubuco. Cornwallis made GovernorGeneral of India. Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842) invents the fragmentation shell. Colombia and Venezuela form a single state. British occupy Cape of Good Hope. Tipu Sultan killed at Seringapatam. Modern Egypt established with Mehemet Ali as Pasha. Mexico. appointed Governor-General of India. Martin defeats Spanish at Maip6. Monroe Doctrine effectively prevents new colonial settlements in the Western hemisphere by European imperial powers. Department of War and Colonies made responsible for colonial polic~ West India docks built in London. Spanish troops en route to colonies rebel in Cadiz. Bolivar proclaims war to the death against Spain. Spain completes conquest of Florida. Ferdinand VII regains throne in Spain. defeat French at Aboukir. Spanish royalists retake Quinto. Ecuador. Second revolution in Quinto. Tipu Sultan invades Travancore. slave trade to British colonies prohibited. British capture Malta. Revolutions in La Paz and Quinto. brother of the future duke. Treaty of Hyderabad signed between Britain and the Nizam. North Carolina and Virginia.CHRO OLOGY 1780 1781 1782 1783 1784 1785 1786 1789 1790 1791 1792 1795 1796 1797 Military stalemate in American Revolutionary War.

Bugeaud returns to Algiers. Southern Maratha campaign. Outbreak of Crimean War (1854-6). Natal annexed by Britain. Britain deposes Ismail. Sind campaign ends in conquest and annexation. Mehemet Ali founds a dynasty in Egypt that will last until 1952. Germany occupies South-West Africa. First British-Sikh War begins. reorganization of Bengal. Battle of Camerone in Mexico. Revolts in Upper and Lower Canada. Russians take Shamil's capital at Ahuglo. French troops invade Mexico. diamonds discovered in South Africa. Paul Kruger becomes President of the South African Republic (the Transvaal). Fenian raids in Canada. The South African Republic (the Transvaal) established. Treaty of Lahore ends First Sikh War. General Gordon reaches Khartoum. Seventh Kaffir War (1846-7) begins in South Africa. British annexation of Transvaal. 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 British forces invade Abyssinia. occupy Cairo and canal zone. khedive of Egypt. Suez Company formed. Britain recognizes Transvaal independence. campaigns on northwest frontier of India. Afrikaner trekkers establish Orange Free State. Madras and Bombay armIes. Taiping rebellion ends. Lower and Upper Canada united. Indian Mutiny (1857-8). Faidherbe named Governor-General of Senegal. Abd el-Kader attacks French settlers on Mitidja Plain. Zulu Wars end in British victory after humiliating defeat at Isandlwana. France abolishes slavery in West Indies. French depart Mexico. Taiping rebellion in China. Work on Suez Canal begins. Berlin Congress decides on 'effective occupation' as prerequisite to colonial claims. First British-Afghan War (1838-42). Afrikaners defeat the Zulus at the battle of Blood river in Natal. Red River Rebellion in Canada. British North America Act establishes dominion of Canada. Transvaal declares itself independent of Britain. French invade Annam and Tonkin. Cape Colony granted self-government. Second Afghan War (1878-80). Afrikaner trekkers found republic of Natal. first steamships cross Atlantic from Britain to the United States. British force under Wolseley ends Red River Rebellion. British decide to evacuate Sudan in face of nationalist uprising led by the Mahdi. Death of Gordon at Khartoum. British invade Afghanistan. Natal established as a Crown colony. opening of the Suez Canal. Osceola seized under a flag of truce. Shamil elected imam of Dagestan. Gatling (1818-1903) constructs the gun that bears his name. French defeated by Abd elKader at Macta Marshes. Transvaal rebels defeat British at Majuba Hill. British campaign against Indians of British Honduras. British invade Egypt. Sikkim campaign. campaigns on north-west frontier of India. French take Cochin-China (Vietnam). Abd elKader surrenders to French. East India Company forces transferred to the British Crown. First Opium War (1839-42).WARS OF EMPIRE 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839 1840 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 Abolition of slavery throughout British Empire. British proclaim sovereignty over Hong Kong. Bugeaud defeats Abd el-Kader at Sikkak river. Second Maori War (1860-70). Treaty of Peking signed. British began withdrawal from Kabul. French occupy Tunis. British destroy Chinese fleet. R. Napier arrives in Sind. Ferdinand de Lesseps granted concession by Egypt to construct the Suez Canal. War between Orange Free State and the Basuto (1865-6). amalgamation of the Indian Army. Second Burmese War (1852-3). Roberts defeats Ayub Khan near Qandahar (1 September). Shamil surrenders to Russians. British and 12 . further Maori uprisings in New Zealand. 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 Second British-Sikh War. ]. Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Victoria proclaimed Empress of India. 'The Great Trek' begins north from Cape. Second Seminole War begins (1835-42). igniting First South African (Boer) War. Disraeli becomes Prime Minister. British East India Company annexes Oudh. New Zealand recognized as a British colony. Custer annihilated at the Little Bighorn (25 June). East India Company annexes Nagpur. Maori revolts in New Zealand. British annex Punjab. Britain annexes diamond fields of Kimberley. Ashanti War (1873-4). French offensive against Samori. Beginning of Burma War. Treaty of Tientsin ends Anglo-Chinese War. Bugeaud defeats Abd el-Kader at Isly. Treaty of Nanking ends Opium War. British government buys khedive of Egypt's shares in the Suez Canal Company. Bugeaud resigns as governor general of Algeria. Anglo-French forces defeat Chinese at Pa-li Chau.

Kaiser sends 'Kruger telegram' in support of Transvaal. occupies Cuba. Burma incorporated in Indian Empire. Kaiser recognizes Moroccan independence at Tangier in an attempt to split Anglo-French entente. Britain and France agree to guarantee Siamese independence. Sudan becomes a condominium. French invade Madagascar. Boxer Rebellion. Boer War ends. Act for the Union of South Africa passed by British Parliament. Roberts becomes commanderin-chief in December with Kitchener as Chief of Staff. Kruger re-elected president of the Transvaal. battle of Tsushima Strait (27 May). Germany annexes Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Matabele revolt suppressed. invasion of Upper Burma. Bonnier massacred after reaching Timbuktu.CHRO OLOGY 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 Egyptian forces evacuate the Sudan. Union of South Africa achieved. A. Reorganization of British forces into a single Indian Army. Outbreak of First World War. Britain and China agree to a reduction in opium production. Lyautey reports as commander of Sud-Oranais on Moroccan-Algerian border. First meeting of Indian ational Congress. French invade Dahome): Matebele expedition. Aguinaldo elected president of the Philippine Republic (23 January). French begin to occupy much of Morocco. first edition of C. Aguinaldo captured (23 March) in Luzon. the Congo becomes the personal possession of King Leopold of the Belgians. capture of Geronimo. publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power upon History. battle of Wounded Knee (South Dakota) (29 December) ends Ghost Dance movement among Sioux. Balkan Wars. Delhi durbar of the KingEmperor George V. rebellion against Samori in part of his empire. Algeciras conference over future of Morocco. Relief of Mafeking and Ladysmith. Uganda becomes a British protectorate. British force Turkey to cede the Sinai to Egypt. 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 Jameson Raid crushed. French offensive against Samori. Callwell's Small Wars. Samori captured by the French. British East Africa Company chartered. Indian Councils Act extends the franchise. United States declares war on Spain. Mangin captures Marrakesh. French setback at Lang Son (Tonkin) results in overthrow of the Ferry government. Marchand resigns from the French Arm): Louis Botha demands responsible self-government for Transvaal. Lamy killed in the conquest of Lake Chad. Russo-Japanese War (1904-5). 13 . Anglo-French entente exchanges free hand for French in Morocco against dropping French claims in Egypt. Kitchener wins Omdurman and sails to Fashoda to confront Marchand. Marchand mission sets out from the mouth of the Congo flver. Hobson publishes Imperialism. Guam. Italian forces defeated by Abyssinians at Adowa. E. Rhodes resigns as premier of Cape. Kitchener begins reconquest of the Sudan. Federated Malay States formed. territory south of Zambezi renamed Rhodesia. fighting continues in Morocco. Agadir crisis precipitated by French occupation of Fez. Cecil Rhodes becomes Prime Minister of Cape Colony. Charles Mangin publishes La force noire. Port Arthur surrenders (2 January). Anglo-Russian entente. Britain obtains ninety-nine-year lease on Kowloon and New Territories adjacent to Hong Kong. Guerrilla warfare intensifies in South Africa. Britain exchanges Heligoland with Germany for Zanzibar and Pemba. Bechuanaland expedition. suppression of Riel's rebellion in north-west Canada. French and Spanish troops occupy Casablanca after riots against Europeans there. Gladstone becomes Prime Minister. Kitchener becomes commander-in-chief in December. Transvaal and Orange Free State form a military alliance. beginning of guerrilla war. Pan-German League founded. Boxer uprising in China against foreign interference. J. Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Abolition of separate armies in India. Britain completed conquest of northern Nigeria. Colonial Conference in London. outbreak of Boer War witnesses British defeats of 'Black Week'. Gambia expedition. Sarawak becomes a British protectorate. annexation of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. First Colonial Conference opens in London. battle of Tit assures French control 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 of Tuareg of the Algerian Sahara. Ghost Dance movement revived among Amerindians during solar eclipse in January. Voulet-Chanoine Mission (1898-9). Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Convention. Matabele accept British protection and grant Cecil Rhodes mining rights. abortive French attempt to take Madagascar. Sikkim War. British South Africa Company completes occupation of Matabeleland.

.

.-..---:.. :==~:r--J . .. .:==:=-. . His base at Sagres became a centre where geographers~ map makers~ ship designers~ expLorers and venture capitaLists pLotted the circumvention of the IsLamic worLd...........:.:x!J:...INTRODUCTION .- FROM TRADE TO CONQUEST DOM HENRIQUE~ ALIAS PRINCE HENRY THE NAVIGATOR (1394-1460)~ the impresario of the itge of Discovery'. ..... PapaL Bulls sanctioned the masterfuL attitude adopted by the Portuguese~ and subsequently all Europeans~ towards races beyond the paLe of Christendom...

These were people who believed that the expansion of trade. end tribal conflict and ethnic cleansing. Samuel Huntington. Not everyone agreed. custom and tradition. superstition would vanish Departure of caravels from Lisbon for Brazil. The wars spawned by Western imperialism were more than mere clashes of arms. led a chorus of academics and journalists who put forward a counter-opinion. into enlightenment. victorious 'Cold Warriors' expressed the optimistic view that a new world order based on the triumph of Western values would replace the ideological frontiers which had earlier divided the world. Huntington 'argued. The American political scientist. They were also clashes of 16 . a relapse into chaos anchored in antique animosities swathed in the certainties of religion. It was small enough to sail up river estuaries. Imperialism provoked a clash of civilizations not unlike that observed by Huntington in today's international system. This book is about those earlier clashes of civilizations. In fact. would be likely to resemble a previous world's disorder. Christianity and the scientific knowledge and administrative skills of the West would expand the boundaries of civilization and reduce zones of conflict. Africa and the East Indies in 1562. the savage would be saved. Any 'new world order'.WARS OF EMPIRE FROM TRADE TO CONQUEST I N THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH of Soviet Communism's collapse. The lateen-rigged caravel could sail closer to the wind than any other type of European vessel. and order would be imposed where once only turmoil and barbarism reigned. The ultimate goal was similar: fling markets open to the global economy. of yesterday's 'savage wars of peace'. albeit in a less violent form. As in the modern era. Through imperialism. customs and practices sometimes offended the West's humanitarian instincts. and recruit converts for the West's way of life. bring government to the hitherto ungovernable. poverty would be transformed into prosperity. what Huntington and others have suggested is that the end of the Cold War has resurrected a situation similar to that faced by nineteenth-century imperialists. It disrupted trade patterns or threatened the 'oil spots' of Western settlement. The peace operations and humanitarian interventions of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries may be seen as a revival. crisis resolution then often required armed intervention. yet sturdy enough to withstand Atlantic storms. different levels of political organization and of contrasting technological capabilities. As today. that the abolition of the ideological divisions of the Cold War would unleash tensions and animosities repressed during the half century of Soviet-Western conflict. wars fought between peoples of radically different mentalities. The barbarism of foreign beliefs. there were places in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries where chaos was not in Western interests.

Each Portuguese caravel which.I TRODUCTIO culture expressed in the violence of the military idiom. a declaration of hostilities in a confrontation the objectives of which were both political and economic. And although it is a chapter the narrative of which appears to be one of I7 . Henry the Navigator's search for Christians and spices kindled a competition between Europeans and indigenous peoples as each attempted to respond to the cb· Henges of new foes and conditions. deserted familiar waters to navigate the coasts of Africa and the seas beyond. and the procession of conflicts it produced. was a missile fired in this conflict. in the fifteenth century. was part of a protracted interaction between the West and the wider world of which the wars of Empire compose a mere chapter. This competition.

in Africa and India the Portuguese largely remained confined to coastal fortifications like Mina or Goa.slaves. Although in the Americas Europeans advanced inland almost from the beginning. Amerindian hostility meant that frontier posts like Montreal maintained a Mombasa c. precarious existence. gold and slaves from coastal 'factories'. content to export spices. ivory and spices from other European interlopers and to overawe Black or Indian potentates through whom goods were acquired. 1646. imperial warfare was considered a hazardous and difficult enterprise. gold. eager to claim vast stretches of territory for the fatherland. furs and opium touched off economic revolutions in the hinterlands of vast and hitherto selfcontained continents. and officers and officials driven by patriotism and personal ambition. that ascendancy was hardly an automatic process. among other things. European rivalries played out in the wider world. the creation of a global econom~ The demand for certain commodities . Imperialism was. In the East and in Africa. And some of those failures were quite spectacular. And even then. clutching a tenuous lifeline to the homeland. whose dual object was to defend the trade in slaves. gold. their conquest was facilitated as much (if not more) by an advance guard of disease as by military superiority per se. Three things caused this to change over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: political instability in Africa and Asia. coffee. All of these factors were interrelated. palm oil. 'Victory' was purchased at a cost of significant hardship and occasional failure. Europeans remained seabound. From its earliest period. While Spanish conquistadors expanded inland in the Western hemisphere.WARS OF EMPIRE irresistible European ascendancy. Economic changes soon became political ones as local 18 . tobacco. spices. and eventually sugar.

But the term. and the wars it spawned. . certainly. principally silver. ambition and greed among vain and proud men. but in many cases it was imperialism's . and national competition soon personalized into vendettas of honour.I TRODUCTIO rulers struggled to control commodities which could be bartered to Europeans. as upstart nations struggled to carve out a market niche. is both contentious and misleading. like alliances or technolog~ Gold from the New World permitted Philip II to raise vast fleets and armies to control an empire which stretched from Antwerp to Lima. came to view the wealth of the imperial world as a force multiplier. desperate . Personal ambition . European nations locked together on a crowded and factious continent. however marginal.became not merely a factor in imperial expansion. then as now. Precious metals. of the human spirit. primary engine. Imperial expansion. searching for advantage over their neighbours. Quite naturally. Aztec and Mayan empires and the 'groceries' of the East and the Caribbean. Spain's empire did not long remain uncontested. from Potosi (in what is now Bolivia) and New Spain (Mexico) financed an expansion of Spanish power in the sixteenth century that in turn invited European rivalries. frequently a mutilation. Dynastic rivalries became national ones. By 1540. But it was also an enterprise of supremely personal dimensions. that trade Gold llama offering figure from Peru. gnawing. . It is contentious because classic liberal theory argues that the words 'trade' and 'war' are incompatible. a magnification. the Spanish had plundered the wealth of the Inca Empire and begun mining for ore. was a cultural clash. Imperial expansion began in part as a series of trade wars. to sever and eventually dominate the sea lanes which were used to flood Europe with the plunder of the Inca.self-confident.

Wellington. tended to view anyone who attempted to breach the restricted bounds of trade regulations as pirates. which is why the term 'trade war' is also misleading. discipline and logistics concentrated against sometimes fanatical. Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) and Kitchener . The merchant adventurer gradually became the naval captain and colonial soldier . his 1803 victory over Marathan forces. trade and warfare went hand in hand from the beginning. the image of an irresistible combination of European firepower. It certainly oversimplifies a more complex interaction of cultural confusion. and the best thing that he ever did in the way of fighting.ould adopt a very prescriptive approach to colonial warfare. Callwell's classic. For instance. E. But this changed over time. who had held Europe's fate in his hands in the cauldron of Waterloo. The problem was that imperial authorities. in the colonial context. All wanted precious metals or spices. but hopelessly outclassed. Colonel C. fighters willing to trade. Dupleix. who had directed what was regarded as Europe's toughest fighting in Spain between 1808 and 1813. maintained that Assaye.how was a relative handful of Europeans with limited technological means to traverse an inaccessible country. Therefore. while their own numbers were inconsequential. and traders willing to fight to gain access to markets. legalistic definitions of empire.WARS OF EMPIRE flourishes in conditions of peace. and pacify a new empire? While these challenges remained difficult. The process of differentiating a warship from a merchantman was a slow one. to conquer a numerically superior enemy. c. As a result. Wars of Empire chronicles the period during which Europeans gradually bested their indigenous foes. imperial soldiers faced operational challenges of the sort which had confronted Cortes from the moment he fired his boats at Veracruz . over time European soldiers mastered them to the point that imperial conquest came to be regarded as little more than a technical problem to be solved. not to mention the more stable factors of terrain and technology: The adaptive response of Western soldiers to the challenges of imperial warfare was more apparent in some areas 20 . however. by the French Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Ditte. the British writer. the problem for all men on the outer edge of the imperial advance was the same: their enemies were many. But merchant or soldier. But that is too simple a view. That said. By the end of the nineteenth century. Many of the early imperialists were merchant adventurers. operating on theories of mercantilism and narrow. was 'the bloodiest for the numbers that I ever saw'. or the less well-known Observations sur les guerres dans les colonies. not company profits.Drake and Hawkins transmogrified into Clive. Most ships and their crews were expected to be able both to charge a gun and to know the price that silk or tobacco would fetch in London or Amsterdam. however. Small Wars. conflicting political goals and shifting military alliances. to the end of his career. imperialism was not primarily about trade. Although trade and economic advantage were to be had abroad.and the army of John Company (the East India Company) evolved into a force raised by the government and supported by tax revenue. indigenous forces is a deceptive one.

even . British armies fell victim to small Franco-Amerindian forces between 1757 and 1763. A detailed study of modern insurgencies is 21 . these societies were seldom able to sustain lengthy wars against a determined European invader. Second. to American rebels at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Hicks 'Pasha' on the Nile in 1883. General George Custer's demise on the Little Bighorn in 1876 nearly matched in drama if not in scale that of the Italians at Adowa in 1896. indigenous societies failed to organize a successful resistance. From the earliest days of imperial expansion it was clear to most that warfare outside Europe required special skills and qualities. On occasion. Chelmsford at Isandlwana in 1879. Finally.INTRODUCTION than others. However. and to Indian mutineers in 1857. a lack of firepower was not their only. to Afghans in 1841-2. tactics or surprise to their advantage. to examine the problems posed by the conditions of warfare outside Europe on the European military systems. while sometimes victorious in a dramatic battle. In fact. and how European. one must ask why it was that in most cases. as war is an interactive process. The French were desperately overstretched during the first decade of the Algerian invasion. or even their major. Therefore. European adaptation was conditioned in part by the native response to European invasions. poorly armed indigenous forces defeated technologically superior European troops because they employed terrain.it certainly was. and that the military organizations of European forces had to prove flexible enough to incorporate those changes while maintaining the advantages of systems developed for war between civilized armies. this book will argue that any theory of imperial advance grounded solely in the technological lag of the defeated is inadequate. as they did on Major Glasenapp in 1904 at Owikokero in South-West Africa. soldiers adapted to them. General Fran~ois de Negrier was sent packing by Chinese forces at Lang Son in 1885. However. on occasion. The Russians suffered humiliating reversals in the Caucasus in the 1840s. Even the lightly armed Herero people could. While native armies were usually at a technological disadvantage against a European invader. They suffered defeat at the Macta Marshes in 1835 and were forced into a devastating retreat from the walls of Constantine the following year. the confrontation with a European invader caused problems of adaptation with which indigenous societies were unable to cope. disadvantage. This volurne will seek to accomplish three tasks: first. while Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Bonnier's small force was wiped out by Tuareg near Timbuktu in January 1894. inflict a reversal on heavily armed German columns. and Black Week in South Africa in 1899 demonstrated the vulnerability of British commanders who were insufficiently cautious. and eventually American. and clearly accelerated as the nineteenth century drew to a close.usually. Wars of Empire will conclude with brief observations which contrast the success of imperial soldiers before 1914 with the relative success of indigenous insurgencies after 1918. The stock explanation is that native resistance was outgunned. Sometimes .

although imperial military success appeared virtually inevitable and unstoppable before the First World War. and will be dealt with in a subsequent volume in the series. Shamil in the Caucasus. was not one of tactics but one of creating the cohesion in the indigenous society to be able to sustain a war of 22 . Samori in West Africa or de Wet in the Transvaal. by engaging in guerrilla warfare. were able to resist effectively European encroachment for years. in fact it was built on a brittle foundation. then. Even as imperialism rolled forward like an unstoppable juggernaut. despite being poorly armed. even decades. This volume is an attempt to preface the problem with the observation that. The problem. clever indigenous commanders like Abd el-Kader in Algeria.WARS OF EMPIRE beyond the scope of this work. The tenuous success of imperial conquest before 1914 would become apparent as the First World War was being fought. both militarily and politically. and even more so in its aftermath.

this was the gift of European imperialism to Africa and Asia. were vast drains on national exchequers. India or China ran a serious risk of being overwhelmed. In many respects. were simply not worth the effort required to maintain them. Retreat from Constantine (Algeria). Technological superiority cannot account for the success of European arms in the pre-industrial age. Until the advent of magazine-fed rifles and ultimately machine guns. it was now revealed. it was not too difficult after 1945 to convince many imperial countries to vacate the premises. European expeditions into the hinterland of Africa. and educated a leadership capable of focusing national expression and creating a strategy for independence. to behave like nations. .INTRODUCTION attrition against the invader. nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is the story of this book. which. But that was in the future. to raise the price of conquest beyond that which he was willing to pa~ Because support for imperialism had never run deep in European societies. Colonial occupation welded diverse peoples together. 1836. if only temporarily. How military men adapted to the challenges of imperial warfare in the eighteenth. gave them the cohesion. To be liberated. that colonial empires. empires had first to be conquered.

.

~:~:==:~ :@:.. However.CHAPTER ONE ---~.~:=:~:r+I-. Native soldiers offered the dual advantages of mobility and economy. .. THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? IMPERIAL WARFARE required all armies to enlist native levies."----- . like this mounted soldier recruited by the Russians to fight in the Caucasus against Shamil in the 1830s. they were seldom disciplined to the level of European units.

to lift the specific circumstance of the Boer War into the realm of dogma. however. A. a Liberal MP and economist. expansion met at best indifference. That hostility acquired an economic rationale when ]. The military resources of England had been mobilized for the personal gain of a few capitalists eager to seize the gold and diamonds of South Africa. Why? Because. While Hobson viewed imperialism as an unproductive economic activity for nations. denounced the Second South African War of 1899-1902 as a scam perpetrated on the British people by a clutch of patriotic parasites led by Cecil Rhodes. home markets were saturated. and capitalists required new territories in which to invest excess capital safely and profitabl~ It fell to Lenin. in the populations of imperial nations. MPERIALISM HAS LONG PROVED a subject of significant historical controvers~ That the origins of the historical debate have their roots in the very wars engendered by European expansion is hardly surprising when one realizes that from the beginning.WARS OF EMPIRE THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? I Cecil Rhodes and the board of directors of De Beers in 1895. at worst hostility. according to Hobson. Rhodes~ prominence in the exploitation of the diamond mines of South Africa and in the origins of the Second South African (Boer) War (1899-1902) led Lenin to conclude that imperial expansion~ and the wars this engendered~ were the last gasp of a moribund capitalist system. a movement concocted by conspiratorial confederacies of capitalists to divert vast sums into . Hobson.

which conquered and maintained them. And even these old empires were largely barren of profit for the nations. This 1872 illustration depicts the freebooting atmosphere that reigned in the diamond mines of the Orange Free State. It was a period when slave labour produced 'groceries' and Amerindians collected furs. South Africa'. Fieldhouse. sought to delay the inevitable reckoning through conquests of cheap and reliable sources of raw materials. The result was a financial and administrative burden which allowed Adam Smith to write in 1776 that 'Britain derives nothing but loss from the dominion which CThe Diamond Diggings. Capitalists. As the British historian of empires. The influx of British immigrants led to tensions with the conservative Boer population that contributed to the outbreak of war in 1899. Nor. in fact. the mercantilist theory which underpinned the economies of empire was simply old European protectionism extended abroad.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? their own pockets. even for the merchant companies. The economic dynamism of imperialism was far more evident during the early empires. whose Malthusian policies invariably drove their societies toward social and financial catastrophe. did mercantilism succeed either as a theory of econo. has argued. Lenin insisted in 1916 that imperialism was a logical evolution of capitalism.' he wrote. This was replicated in the Transvaal when gold was discovered there. its 'highest stage'. D.mic organization or of political control. and was not an era of wage labour upon which industrial capitalism was based. 'American empires rested on a nice and quite accidental balance between imperial restrictions and the capacity of the colonists to evade them. K. 27 . as well as markets for the products of European industries.

1700 The New World was exhausted. Fernand I . When Britain attempted to tighten trade restrictions so that she could recoup some of the enormous costs required to administer and defend her North American colonies. By the nineteenth century.spices. she succeeded only in provoking rebellion.WARS OF EMPIRE she assumes over her colonies'. fish and furs made fortunes for individuals. but seldom for the merchant companies that organized the trade nor for the governments that chartered them and defended their interests. imperialists. and coffee . at least in Britain.slaves. The outriders of British Cape Verde If·"" 0 o· IMPERIAL AGE EMPIRES c. were moving away from mercantilism and toward a system of free trade. sugar. the trade in 'groceries' .

In this way. imperialism was a revival of the Roman concept of dominion as a moral and The Battle of Bunker Hill. OVERLEAF: s.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? expansion to the coasts of China in the mid nineteenth century were businessmen. The costs of imperial defence during the French and Indian (Seven Years) War (1756-63) caused the British crown to insist that its American colonists assume their fair share of the financial burden. Massachusetts 17 June 1775.1700 D Spanish possessions Portuguese possessions British possessions French possessions Dutch possessions Danish possessions Russian possessions lJ . The colonists resorted to rebellion once their capacity to evade imperial restrictions was curtailed. traders like Jardine. By demanding open markets free of government regulation or monopolistic restriction. Mattheson and Dent helped to transform the emerging imperial consciousness into an ideology that equated free trade with the spread of Western civilization and the rule of law.: Imperial Age Empires c.

WARS OF EMPIRE 3° .

THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? .

European ambassadors insisted on free trade and diplomatic equality. merchants. Hubert Lyautey. and to develop the gold and diamond mines of the Boer republics. The future Marshal of France. Britain's greatest push to acquire colonies came at the very moment when its economic position had begun to decline. The merchant companies which Bismarck hoped in 1884 would manage the German colonies on the model of Britain's East India Company required only one short decade to collapse. military ascendancy over inferior peoples. not to the colonies but to North and South America.WARS OF EMPIRE CThe Reception of an English Envoy at the Court of Peking' (17·92). But potentates only condescended to receive them as barbarians. lamented in the 1890s that French Indo-China. The French paid huge subsidies to garrison and develop their unproductive colonies which accounted for less than 10 per cent of French overseas trade by 1900. Capital flowed from Britain and Europe. was rich in bureaucrats and soldiers. And while some individuals profited from colonial expansion. Canada and New Zealand. But few businessmen saw great profit in the colonies. In the last years of the nineteenth century the British Empire was a revenue drain. the German . the white dominions of Australia. By 1914. Merchants were simply to be the initial beneficiaries. The only German colony which claimed an export worth entering on a balance sheet was Togo. practically barren of businessmen. and its palm oil was exploited by British. not German. nations seldom did.

colonial empire cost the German government £50 million in direct subsidies. against a trade volume of £14 million.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? Hubert L yautey. it weighed lightly in Britain's external trade: a mere 1. and remained largely barren of business investment. German Social Democrats were fond of pointing out that Germany's trade with Norway was more significant than that with her colonies.5 per cent of Germany's external trade. and probably double that if indirect subsidies and low-interest loans are factored in. it accounted for only 0. Indeed. While there was a shiver of commercial interest in the British colonies.2 per cent with her tropical colonies at the turn of the century. an enthusiastic promoter of French imperialism and first Resident General of Morocco in 1912. 33 . lamented the fact that the French empire was propped up by government subsidies and military occupation.

That said. confined largely to men of military or journalistic disposition who grasped at empire as an antidote for national decline or as a 34 . Colonies devoured metropolitan subsidies and generated large defence and administrative requirements. men who unloaded an estimated 16 million mostly obsolete firearms on Africa in the course of the nineteenth centur~ Businessmen preferred to deal with established governments. Nor did markets in Latin America and China to which the colonies were meant to facilitate access ever prove lucrative. the economic arguments began because each country was reacting to events in China. the rationale for each was becoming more obviously economic. Mahans The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890) argued that sea control and empire formed the twin pillars of national prosperity. Though Mahan based his argument on the British imperial experience. which were able to absorb only 3. sometimes called the 'Cecil Rhodes of Russia'.WARS OF EMPIRE Nor does the economic explanation for imperial expansion apply to two other imperial powers: Russia and the United States. finance minister under Tsar Alexander III.74 per cent of American exports. but the highest stage of nationalism. while imperialists were nationalists. Korea and Siberia could be squeezed for capital to transform Russia into a first-class industrial power. although individual traders. similar to arguments made in Britain about the requirement for empire to protect the British worker against foreign competition. However. The most successful were merchants of death. because it saw its island colonies as stepping stones to larger markets American naval captain A. settlers and traders had flowed into sparsely populated lands. by the end of the century. nations never did. believed at the turn of the century that Manchuria. than America did out of her colonies. which guaranteed them a secure market for their products. capitalists made indifferent imperialists. for instance. In general. Imperialism's natural constituency was small. The trouble was that. and therefore were more obviously military constructions. not all nationalists were imperialists. rather than as ends in themselves. The Russian and. as Lenin believed. In each case. until 1898. Latin America absorbed only 3. after 1898.8 per cent of US exports by 1920. Sergei Witte. American empires were continental ones with moving frontiers. In 1885. not invest scarce capital in conquest and infrastructure development. T. So. against a return of prestige and the distant promise of an economic pay-off. the stepping stones did much better out of America. American imperialism distinguished itself from the European version. navalists and imperialists everywhere cited Mahan as a justification for large fleets and imperial expansion. Likewise. at least in its own mind. The state had merely followed. in China and the Far East. Imperialism was not the highest stage of capitalism. In part. investors and exporters made money in empire. and vice versa.

battles of steel-hulled mammoths like that which had helped settle the Russo-Japanese War at Tsushima in 1905. which could be exploited by imperialists who demanded naval bases to protect trade routes and provide coaling stations to give fleets global reach. published in 1890. and which they believed would characterize the coming Armageddon in the North Atlantic. Imperialists attracted some crossover support on grounds of ideology or group interests: missionaries eager for souls to convert. But as Europe slithered towards war in 1914. A fleet-an-fleet engagement in the Tsushima Strait on 27 May 1905 marked the climax of that war and was hailed both as a vindication of Mahan and a preview of the expected naval Armageddon in the North Sea between Germany and Britain. the Kolonialverein (colonial society) counted 17. which on occasion allied with imperialism. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History. many of whom were schoolboys. or tiny gunboats to navigate malarial rivers to blast half-naked potentates were tasks too modest to extend the attention span of these The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 was the product of the collision of Russian and Japanese imperialism. an American naval captain.000 members by 1889. Founded in 1882. navalists focused on fleet-on-fleet engagements. a handful of businessmen with colonial interests. Mahan. T. Dispatching light cruisers and frigates to occupy islands. French colonial groups counted less than half that number. members of geographical societies who believed exploration a prelude to conquest. A. 35 . Even in Britain.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? vision of a new world order. the official mind of imperialism offered a vision by a clutch of leaders who shared similar origins. education and values. rather than an ideology able to unite a mass movement. equated mastery of the seas with national prosperity. social Darwinists for whom imperialism offered irrefutable evidence of the survival of the fittest. gave rise to navalism.

Benjamin Disraeli. was unable to locate many of the places where he ordered his navy to intervene on a map. in the process.WARS OF EMPIRE Dreadnought-besotted patriots beyond the second glass of port. No early Victorian prime minister believed that empire was anything other than an accessory to national prosperity and prestige. Disraeli's 1 lace'speech of. forging the link between empire and ional greatness in the popular mind. prime minister from 1874 to 1880. June 1872 offered the S electora e. Because imperialism's support base was limited to pockets of elite opinion. It is alleged that even Palmerston. transform the Tories into the party of empire. a connoisseur of gunboat diplomacy. politicians who relied on it for electoral success risked political extinction. attempted to elevate empire into a province of the national imagination and. 011 i 1867 by the addition 'eb .

THE CO TEXT: WHY EMPIRE? Britain the envy of the world. In 1875 he bought into the Compagnie de Suez to guarantee British control of the Suez Canal. Yet even Gladstone learned that Om erial . He travelled personally to Berlin in 1878 to support the Ottoman Empire against Russian encroachment. However. In the process. Gladstone's Midlothian campaign of 1879 offered a denunciation of imperialism as Disraelian theatre. helpless against the firepower of Redcoats. Gladstone intoned. Gladstone denounced the Afghan War of 1878-80 and the Zulu War of 1879-80 as little short of criminal assaults on innocent peoples. and the following year proclaimed Queen Victoria Empress of India. Disraeli's ministry established the rule that those who live by empire perish by it. virtual impossible to . that important link with India and the East. imperialism was re. William Gladstone. territorie nee acquired. a counterfeit pageant which camouflaged a felonious enterprise. 'Remember the rights of the savage!'. he secured Cyprus for Britain as an anchor for Suez and a further stepping stone to the East. The executioner of Disraeli's imperial strategy was none other than his rival and leader of the Liberal Party.latively popular.

In 1880. he could not escape the burden of imperial unpopularit~ He was severely embarrassed by the plight of Charles 'Chinese' Gordon at Khartoum in 1884-5. Moralists lurked. And while pro-war nationalists successfully contained them during the war. Disraeli crashed in flames and retired. while within the emerging Labour Party. The primary concerns of Continental powers were. subsequently governments ran shy of imperial ventures. is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own!' His invective worked.WARS OF EMPIRE 'Remember the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan. Rather. what could Continental leaders expect but public cynicism.who gradually claimed) conquered) purchased or suborned pieces of territory which they presented to London as faits accomplis. Imperial conquest was an addTHE BRITISH EMPIRE 1914 It was said that the British Empire had been acquired "in a fit of absence of mind'. ready to pounce on the inevitable atrocit~ Later. in possession of the world's greatest navy. Ascensio~ Islands St Helena ~ South Georgia . Once acquired) however. aJ:?d suspected that he had been intentionally set up by his colonial proconsul. THE RISKS OF IMPERIALISM Although Gladstone was the primary beneficiary of Disraeli's fall. the process of acquisition in Britain) as for other imperial nations) was a lengthy one driven largely by men on the periphery explorers) merchants) sailors) soldiers . the Second South African War nourished a vocal anti-war movement in Britain led by Lloyd George and Emily Hobhouse. European. Liberals cooled on imperialism. by definition. imperialism was vilified as a subject of partisan abuse. secure In the 'splendid isolation' of their island. found imperialism a hard sell. each island and each territory was viewed as a piece of a strategic jigsaw vital for the integrity of the whole. If British politicians. among the winter snows.

this proved difficult against an enemy who adopted a guerrilla strategy: Therefore. _ Tasma.' he wrote. 'But in Africa.{j. New 39 . the French commander-in-chief in Algeria from 1841.a~. who visited Algeria in this period. But Algiers' fall failed to postpone that of the Bourbon Restoration. adopted a policy of total conquest of Algeria. glorious colonial history: The launching in 1830 of an expedition to capture Algiers was the Bourbon Restoration's desperate effort to glean popularity from imperial military success. the entire country is yours. The Bourbons were followed by their Orleanist cousins who. However. .. This was true even in France. a country with a long.Jt. ravaged fruit orchards and devastated villages marked the passage of French columns. which collapsed in July 1830 in the face of a popular revolution.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? on.d r. defended the razzia: 'in Europe. and all of the blame when an expedition encountered setbacks.. Islnds e It---H-""!:_ _lftjh--+----+---t~~- Mauritius.~.. a leisure actIvIty to be undertaken only when it did not jeopardize one's fundamental interests at home. Soon blackened fields.. how do you act against a population whose only link with the land is the pegs of their tents? British Empire 1914 o D D ~ British colonies other colonial states and their possessions other territories and states area of British influence T of (oncer ropit So. General Castellane. once [you are] master of two or three large cities. and at times. into a strategy of brutal economic warfare against the Muslim population. after a period of hesitation. elevated the razzia~ or raid. Any politician who thought about it for more than five minutes should have concluded that he would get little credit when imperial expansion succeeded. General Thomas Bugeaud.

Pelissier ordered a fire built in the cave mouth.WARS OF EMPIRE The only way is to take the grain which feeds them. the razzia. For this reason. While Bugeaud's incorporation of lightly armed troops into mobile (lying columns was regarded as tactically innovative. his scorched earth methods employed against Muslims drew criticism in France. . describing the atrocity in lurid and self- General Thomas-Robert Bugeaud secured an uncertain French mandate over Algeria in the 1840s. women and children were asphyxiated. the flocks which clothe them. war on cattle. Five hundred Muslim men. we make war on silos. when Colonel Amable Pelissier trapped a group of Arabs in the caves of Dahra in the coastal mountains north of Cheliff. After desultory negotiations. When Pelissier's report.' The growing savagery of the war hit its nadir in June 1845.

Other mass liquidations followed over the next two years. Bugeaud praised Pelissier and even suggested that the action might be repeated. a storm of protest broke out in France. Abd el-Kader surrendered to French General Lamoriciere on 23 December 1847. He enjoyed considerable success from 1832 until Bugeaud's arrival in 1840. Alexis de Tocqueville returned from Algeria Abd el-Kader proved to be France's greatest adversary in Algeria. Worn down by Bugeaud's brutal war of attrition. In August of that year. But far from condemning his subordinate. Colonel Saint-Arnaud entombed a large number of Muslims who had sought refuge in a cave: 'There are five hundred brigands down there who will never again butcher Frenchmen. In 1846. . was released to the Chamber of Peers.' he trumpeted. abandoned by the Sultan of Morocco after 1844.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? congratulatory prose.

Instead. assumed office in 1848 with the idea of extracting France from Algeria. and dispatching troops to Mexico between 1862 and 1867. which included participating in a joint Anglo-French expedition against China in 1858-60. he became an ardent imperialist. were stillborn. annexing Cochin-China (the southern province of Vietnam). his decision to invade Mexico and use it as a springboard to the extension of French influence in Latin America proved to be an unpopular and expensive fiasco which helped to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. and a brief flirtation with establishing an Arab empire in the Levant.WARS OF EMPIRE horrified by the excesses of the military regime there .he later described the officers of the Algerian army as 'imbecilic'. The imperial schemes of Napoleon III. However. the nephew of the great Napoleon. .

lost his French Prime Minister Ferry receives the governors of the French colonies. Charles de Freycinet. 43 . born in 1870. Ferry recognized. Although one of the Third Republic~s most accomplished politicians~ he was hounded out of office in 1885 after a minor colonial defeat. However. threw him out of office. It cut colonial expenditure to the bone and concentrated on building up its metropolitan arm)!. was disgusted by the imperial adventures of Napoleon III. appeared at first to have learned its lesson about the risks of imperial adventures. in 1881. His successor.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? weaken a regime ultimately destroyed by Prussian bayonets. The political protests that erupted in a country which. Prime Minister Jules Ferry launched a campaign to seize Tunisia. The Third Republic.

Bismarck's motives continue to baffle historians. In many respects. after French forces suffered a reversal at Lang Son. His annexations precipitated the Congo Congress in Berlin of 1884-5. The German empire came about in 1884 as the result of Bismarck's order to his consul in Cape Town to lay claim to South-West Africa and Togo. on the Tonkin-Chinese border. parliament threw out Ferry's successor. 44 . Otto von Bismarck's 1884 decision to lay claim to African lands caught his contemporaries by surprise. According to Lord Salisbury) the arrogant attitude of 'cheap and nasty officials' like Peters provoked the 1888 revolt in German East Africa. he recognized the claims made in the name of Germany in East Africa by the German explorer Carl Peters in the mid 1880s. Having repudiated Ferry's policy of expansion in Indo-China. Henri Brisson. which Carl Peters (1856-1918) pressed inland toward the Great Lakes region to claim what was to become German East Africa) claims later acknowledged by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. German imperialism was the most eccentric because it was so divorced from Germany's strategic or economIC interests.WARS OF EMPIRE portfolio when he merely suggested that France might participate with Britain in the suppression of the Egyptian revolt of 1882. Ferry was next hounded from office in 1885 by braying mobs shouting 'Ferry Tonkin!'. He appears to have wanted colonies as diplomatic pawns and to please minority interests. Later. when he attempted to extend credits to maintain the expeditionary force there. The subsequent Berlin Congress of 1884-5 established the principle of 'effective occupation' of a territory before it could be claimed) touching off the great imperial land rush that Jules Ferry called 'the steeplechase to the unknown'.

45 . The conquest of imperial populations was often a source of dissension both within countries and between them. especially when the chartered companies which he believed would administer the colonies either failed to materialize or went bust. However. In the first place. It was a continuation of the defensive expansion of Muscovy. and in the process touched off the great African land rush which dominated the last two decades of the centur~ Whatever his motives for claiming pieces of Africa. the German chancellor rapidly lost interest in imperial expansion. imperialists could surmount the problem of fragile popular support for imperialism. In the aftermath of this crisis. and such strategic concerns In this 1889 lithograph. it was a continental not a maritime enterprise. the leader of an uprising in East Africa is executed by German marines. by wrapping themselves in the banner of nationalism. The disillusionment with empire was fixed in 1904-6 with the brutal suppression of the Herero and Maji-Maji rebellions in South-West Africa and German East Africa. Russian expansion was of an entirely different nature to that of other imperial nations. The Reichstag was dissolved in 1906 after opposition politicians protested against the brutality of these wars by refusing to vote in the budget.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? established the principle of effective occupation as the prerequisite for colonial claims. Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow created a colonial office and undertook to create a corps of professional administrators to avoid a repetition of such public relations disasters.

were overwhelmed between 1864-73. which opened Manchuria to Russian penetration. The flight of serfs into Siberia had enticed the government to follow in the eighteenth century: Vladivostok was established in 1857 and the Amur and Ussuri regions were annexed in 1860. There was some belief that the conquest of Central Asia would encourage trade from India. the Ukraine and White Russia. could be exploited for the cash required to industrialize western Russia. The Uzbek states. Sergei Witte. with the exception of the Caucasus. The most important support for Russian imperialism came from Pan-Slavism. while Turkestan fell in the 1880s. economic considerations were. Russia shifted its attentions to the Far East. St Petersburg's apathy towards Siberia was rattled by the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5. Russia moved to consolidate its southern frontiers on the Kazakh steppe. But the Russian case offers an example of how an imperial power merely drifted. Kokand. and the Kazakh steppe consolidated from China to the Caspian. Witte insisted. apart from in the Caucasus. There was also population pressure to move Russians into the conquered areas. but this was never a mass movement and was only influential during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8. That would change in the early twentieth century as the collapse of China brought Russia into conflict with Japan in Manchuria and Korea. into a vacuum created by the decomposition of the Celestial Empire. Towards the century's end. unmindful of the potentially disastrous consequences. Russia~s the tsars never seriously entertained that ambition. Second. it met minimal resistance. After that. Tsar Nicholas II allowed himself to be seduced by the Asian vision of his finance minister. at best. Manchuria. Germany and Britain to strip Japan of many of the spoils of its victory over . No equivalent of the 'White Man's Burden' existed in Russia. nationalism played almost no part. Although the British feared that the Russian presence in Asia was a prelude to an invasion of I~dia. The intervention of Russia. marginal. Witte convinced his sovereign that Russia's destiny lay in the Far East. Russian imperialism turned offensive: eastern Poland was annexed in 1795. and quickly found itself overextended. In the eighteenth century.WARS OF EMPIRE THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE 1860-1 9 1 4 supplied the most coherent rationale. Third. However. as elsewhere. was a continental~ rather than a seaborne~ empire. the Russian frontier moved forward because. the advance met minimal resistance. Bukhara and Khiva. It expanded largely because. But basically. on the Black Sea coast and in the Crimea. Finland in 1807 and Armenian areas in the first quarter of the nineteenth century: The northern Caucasus was absorbed between 1859 and 1864.

Appalling mismanagement of the RussoJapanese War of 1904-5 confirmed the disinclination of Russians to fight for Manchuria to the point that it spawned the revolution of 1905.THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE? C 000 H 400km The Russian Empire China in 1895. Revolution. who nourished hopes that their country would evolve as a Western. convinced the 1860-1914 Russian Empire 1598 acquisitions 1598-1855 acquisitions 1855-1900 Russian sphere of influence in Mongolia. power. not an Oriental. combined with the loss of the Russian fleet at Tsushima in 1905. At the same time. China (1900-14) and in Persia (1907-21) strategic railways into Asia constructed by 1900 areas of dispute or political friction with the Ottoman. British. Japan prepared to assert its claims to territories on the Asian mainland which it regarded as being within its sphere of imperial interests. set off alarm bells in Tokyo. and the subsequent Russian invasion of Manchuria and Korea. Witte's dreams of a Russian empire in the Far East were shared by few of his compatriots. Chinese and Japanese empires 47 .

WARS OF EMPIRE

THE TROUBLE IN CUBA.
U eLK A --:" I'v had my y on that mors 1 for a Ion time;
I'll have to l k it in !'

THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?

tsar to cut his losses and concede an unfavourable peace with the Japanese in 1905. American imperialism is usually thought to be an accidental product of the USA's victory over Spain in 1898. And while it is true that the United States suddenly found itself in possession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, by 1898 Americans were intellectually prepared to assume the 'White Man's Burden'. From early in the nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny, the belief that the American people must extend US sovereignty to its natural frontiers, established a vision of the United States dominating the North American continent from ocean to ocean, and hence had served as the political rationale which underpinned a continental expansion similar, though not identical, to that of the Russian empire. The Monroe Doctrine of 1824 also caused Washington to look upon Latin America as a special protectorate. The United States had aided the Juaristas in their campaign to oust Maximilian and the French from Mexico in 1867. There had been periodic calls for the annexation of Cuba or Santo Domingo, based in part on the reactive fear that Britain or Germany might take advantage of disorder there to extend their empires. The American historian and political theorist Frederick Jackson Turner reflected the assumptions of his age when he argued that the closing of the American frontier by 1890 would result in an increase in strikes and social tensions. Without the safety valve of free land which allowed workers to desert fetid cities for the open spaces of the American West, the pattern of American social relations would come to replicate tumultuous European ones. Finally, Mahan and the navalists argued for keeping the islands to serve as coaling stations on the route to the markets of Asia. Intellectually, then, the United States was receptive to empire. The groundwork for American expansion beyond its shores had also been laid politically: William Henry Seward, the Secretary of State who purchased Alaska in 1867 and annexed Midway Island in the same year as a strategic base for Pacific expansion, is often seen as the founder of American imperialism. Nevertheless, when, in 1892-3, Americans in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy there and demanded annexation, President Grover Cleveland hesitated as annexation went against the wishes of the Hawaiian people. However, the tide began to turn with the election of William McKinley in 1896. But when Washington suddenly found itself in possession of islands as the result of the defeat of Spain in 1898, no one quite knew what to do with them. Cuba was occupied, and later abandoned to a new regime. Few Americans knew where the Philippines were, or even what they were - one senator thought they were canned goods. But the usual reasons were evoked as an excuse to maintain them under American control - if America did not take the Philippines, Germany or Japan would. Like Hawaii, the Philippines offered

The 1824 Monroe Doctrine, 'Manifest Destiny', fear of European encroachment in the Caribbean, and later Mahan's navalism combined to create the intellectual framework for imperialism in the'anti-imperialist' United States.
OPPOSITE:

William Seward's purchase of Alaska and annexation of Midway Island in 1867 as a basis of Pacific expansion made him, in the minds of many, the father of American imperialism.

WARS OF EMPIRE

stepping stones and naval bases to extend US trade and influence to the East. Missionaries, forgetting or ignoring that the Philippines were already Catholic, wanted to secure them for Christianity. The acceptance of a seaborne empire confirmed the views of those who argued that America must take its place as a world power, an extension of Manifest Destiny beyond the shoreline. American theorists became like men of religion who, having preached the virtues of evangelical poverty, suddenly discover the benefits of ministering to a well-heeled parish. They had to work overtime to harmonize their capitalist, anti-imperialist dogma with preferential tariffs and the moral dilemma of ruling subject peoples. Once empire was acquired, its retention acquired a strategic rationale. Historians have concluded that an official mind of imperialism formed in Britain, a strategic awareness that vital choke points along the route to India and the Far East must remain under British control. And while Paris was also aware that its interests in Algeria and Indo-China also had strategic requirements, British historian Christopher Andrew has suggested that the imperial mind in France was purely unofficial - reluctant, reactive, and a hostage to Gallic xenophobia. And because the chancelleries of Europe were peopled on the whole by reluctant imperialists, imperialists malgre eux, for the most part, they reacted to initiatives undertaken by men on the periphery which they appeared practically powerless to control. Men, mainly soldiers, expanded the bounds of empire without orders, and often against orders. This was a phenomenon as old as imperialism itself. It was difficult, if not impossible, to control the expansion of empire. In London, Paris, St Petersburg, or Berlin, many ministers knew little of the places conquered and cared less. Empires were often appallingly administered, allowing those with energy and initiative a freedom limited only by the ability of indigenous peoples to resist their encroachment. Much of British expansion in India occurred during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars when the British government was otherwise preoccupied. Although the Industrial Revolution gradually closed the communications gap, European capitals were still weeks, if not months, distant. When, in 1843, General Sir Charles Napier executed, by his own admission, 'a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality' to capture Sind in the climactic battle of Hyderabad, Punch magazine suggested that the only battle report which could convey a proper sense of remorse would be the Latin Peccavi or 'I have sinned'. Of course, Napier was no more remorseful than was his French contemporary Bugeaud, who informed his government in 1847 that he intended to advance the frontiers of French control in Algeria into the Kabylia despite orders to the contrary. 'It is obvious that I must take the full responsibility,' he wrote, 'I accept it without hesitation.' By the late nineteenth century, French soldiers had become masters of deception, failing to inform Paris of their advances, even altering maps and place names to camouflage their conquests from prying politicians. When, for instance, in 1903, French General Hubert Lyautey moved from Algeria to occupy the

THE CONTEXT: WHY EMPIRE?

Moroccan city of Bechar, he promptly renamed it Colomb 'to spare diplomatic susceptibilities'. Indeed, government orders to inhibit military action could actually precipitate it; in 1912, when a wire arrived from Paris forbidding Lyautey from seizing Marrakesh, the French commander folded it, slipped it into his back pocket, sat down and ordered General Charles Mangin to seize Marrakesh. He 'received' the wire only after Mangin entered the city. Although the German case is somewhat different, in that Bismarck ordered German representatives to lay claims to South-West Africa, Togo and the Cameroon, he did choose to acknowledge the treaties signed in the name of the German Empire by the explorer Carl Peters in East Africa in the 1880s. Russian expansion in Central Asia was a series of military faits accomplis - 'General Chernyaev has taken Tashkent,' Interior Minister Valuev noted in July 1865, 'and nobody knows why.' In short, beneath the sermons of missionaries, the schemes of traders, and the pride of nationalists in the vastness and virility of empire, imperialism boiled down to a military phenomenon encouraged by a vocal but numerically insignificant minority. To understand the dynamic of imperial expansion, one must examine its primary component - imperial warfare.

'Colonef Theodore Roosevelt led a troop of volunteer 'Rough Riders~ in Cuba in 1898. As US president from September 1901, Roosevelt assured American control of the Panama Canal, sent troops to the Dominican Republic (1905) and to Cuba (1906), and mediated the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

51

.

the elements of ultimate Mexican success are apparent in the virtual equality of weapons.CHAPTER TWO ---~.~:.-:-==:-"-. were unable to match.5 May 1862... .:. •• COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE MEXICAN TROOPS DEFEATED THE FRENCH at the battle of Puebla. overwhelmingly infantry.~ ~:==~:i-tJ-. and the fact that the mounted insurgents possessed a mobility that French troops.'----- .. Although Mexican forces were subsequently driven into the south-western United States.

he served five years in the intelligence branch of the War Office. shooting at individual targets. he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1878. Small Wars was destined to become a minor classic of military literature. It reflects the era in which Callwell wrote. schooled at Haileybury (which specialized in educating the sons of colonial soldiers and civil servants) and the Royal Military College. early on. weapons were a quasi-monopoly of the landed classes and poachers. the 'high renaissance' of imperialism. European invaders were at best only equal to their opponents. After passing through the Staff College in 1886. the advantage in small wars had swung definitively in the invader's favour. Amerindian life was a permanent mobilization. and the First South African War in the following year. Indeed. It may have been in these years that Callwell began collecting his notes for Small Wars. He fought in the Afghan War of 1880.WARS OF EMPIRE COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE. In colonial North America. in the East especially. extend hunting or fishing rights. so that few colonists 54 . beginning with Hoche's suppression of the Vendee revolt during the French Revolution. Of Anglo-Irish extraction. E. the adaptive response of Amerindians to technological change outstripped that of the European arrivals. irregular opponents. Until the mid nineteenth century. In Europe. The transition from the bow and arrow to flintlock was a natural one for Amerindian men adept at hunting game. Young men were eager to join proven war leaders for ambushes and raids whose ostensible purposes were to dominate weaker neighbours. often with club or axe: 'all that are slain are commonly slain with great valour and courage. a perpetual levee en masse.' wrote the New England pioneer Roger Williams. a book which offered an almost encyclopedic survey of wars that pitted European armies against weak. Callwell was well placed to comment on the development of imperial warfare. and sometimes even inferior in firepower against an indigenous enemy able to produce his own muskets and artillery. Indeed. and raised in a warfare culture that placed principal value on stealth and surprise. control trade or avenge an insult.INDUSTRIAL AGE I N 18 96. extort tribute.a myth. technology gave the colonists only marginal advantage. By the end of the nineteenth century. The folklore of the deadeyed marksmanship of intrepid North American frontiersman is mainly just that . French or American opponents. But the real goal was prestige. 'for the conqueror ventures into the thickest. imperial soldiers were seldom more advantaged in technology than Cortes. Yet it had not always been so. CALLWELL published Small Wars. with his tiny arsenal of firearms.' Against the warfare culture of Amerindians. the British had few if any qualitative technological advantages over their Amerindian. and this flowed to those who closed with the enemy. three centuries earlier. and brings away the head of his enemy. C.

Amerindians also learned to repair weapons and manufacture shot. traders were eager to swap weapons for furs in the north. Archaeological excavations suggest that hunting game other than birds was infrequent. matching Europeans in firepower posed little problem in the Far East. and deerskins. for it dried up their alternative sources of powder. the persistence among Europeans in North America of the matchlock. The Mutiny failed for lack of good A courreur de bois. or by shooting wolves who preyed on livestock. In this respect. Even in the Second Seminole War which began in 1835. The downside of improved technology for Amerindians was an escalation in lethality. The states of India could manufacture their own muskets. Before the introduction of the breech-loading rifle in the 1860s. inferior to the bow and arrow for hunting but adequate for the volley-firing drills of village militias. Their biggest lacuna. which was not manufactured in North America but had to be imported. propelled the arming of the indigenous populations of North America. and even artillery at a pinch.on the contrary. The European desire for furs in the north. Apalachee horses and Amerindian slaves in the south. thin on the ground. were forced to arm Amerindian allies. French traders and trappers who ranged from the Saint Lawrence valley to the Rocky Mountains in search of furs. however. after edicts placed that market off-limits to colonial craftsmen. some colonists chose the unencumbered life of the courreurs de bois or 'mountain men'. agricultural and artisan pursuits allowed scarce time to acquire hunting and marksmanship skills equivalent to those of the Amerindians. 55 . The longevity of the matchlock was also encouraged in some measure by the sentiment that taking aim at individuals was neither chivalrous nor Christian. Efforts by the colonists to staunch the technological transfer of muskets and later rifles to the indigenous population inevitably collapsed because the English.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE were expert in their use upon arrival. followed the fur trade and lived as did the Amerindians. the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 severely curtailed Amerindian resistance. was powder. In New England. So while Amerindians were quick to adopt the flintlock musket. French and Spanish. however. powder and bullets. Also. Nor was there any need to learn. the British were positively shot to pieces at places like Cawnpore and Lucknow. The acquisition of weapons to protect against rival tribes made fights to control the fur trade or to protect the village from merciless settler encroachment literally struggles for survival. Indian sepoys who turned their weapons against their employers in 1857 did not fail for lack of arms . disadvantaged the new arrivals well into the seventeenth century. In some marginal agricultural areas like New France. as Amerindians proved more than willing to earn extra cash by selling venison and turkey to settlers. American soldiers complained that their smooth-bore muskets were of little use against Seminoles armed with rifles. or Apalachee horses or Amerindian slaves in the south. at least in the New England colonies. Amerindian combat increased in desperation as both muskets and friction with colonists transformed indigenous warfare from a largely ritualistic demonstration in personal courage into something close to total war.

The French in Algeria discovered.WARS OF EMPIRE leadership. 1775-6 FRENCH MUSKET C. Among South American Indians fighting for both sides. made the invasion of the Caucasus a Calvary for the Russians. 1780 . often made by local gunsmiths. that their short-range muskets offered only a marginal defence against long-barrelled and longer-range Arab jezails. Not a shot was fired in anger during the penultimate battle of the war. The Tokolor empire of aI-Hajj Umar. especially after the fall of Quebec in 1759 ended the requirement for the French and British to arm their native allies. But humidity and lack of powder and flints compounded the usual inefficiency of these weapons. The mountaineers' mastery of tactics. nor was there an ideology powerful enough to unite India's many ethnic and religious groups into a unified movement. In 1854. easily maintained and repaired by Amerindians. The greatest problem for the Amerindians was to acquire flints and powder. Turks and English shipped late-model rifles to Shamil in the hope that he would draw off Russian forces from the Crimea. But by then. in the 1830s. to the point that executing prisoners by firing squad was regarded as a profligate expenditure of precious munitions. clubs and even poisoned arrows remained the weapons of choice. 1777 BROW BESS C. The Brown Bess and the 1777 model Spanish musket were favourites in the South American war for independence. which was exclusively an affair of the armes blanches (swords). fought at ]unin in August 1824. which by the 1860s stretched EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY WEAPONRY Eighteenth-century muskets were relatively simple mechanisms. BRITISH FERGUSON RIFLE 1775 AMERICA COLO IAL MUSKET C. rather than small-arm superiority. Shamil's rebellion had begun to show serious signs of disintegration. Skirmishes in the Andes were often won by the side which could gain the high ground and roll boulders Gown on the opposition.

Wellesley discovered that 6-pounders. European armies found that the close-order formations and volley-firing techniques that worked well in a European setting were impotent against indigenous peoples firing from concealed positions. 57 . Two brass field cannon hoisted up the cliffs on to the Plains of Abraham helped Wolfe to gain victory over Montcalm. whose range easily outdistanced European muskets in the early nineteenth century. before the bulk of his force was in place. were particularly effective in India because the enemy tended to swarm in dense.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE from Senegal to Timbuktu. He also found artillery useful In attacking Indian fortifications like Tipu's capital at Seringapatam. target-worthy packs which dissolved in bloody panic after a few discharges of grapeshot. but not invariably so. so long as they had trading goods of value to exchange. as were those of Central Asia besieged by Russians in the mid Amerindians examine weapons in a Hudson's Bay Company trading post in 1845. and recruited Africans from European colonies to serve as soldiers and gunsmiths. Afghans armed with longbarrelled jezails. which were low-walled and poorly designed. which he distributed two per battalion. Indigenous peoples seldom had a problem acquiring modern weapons in the pre-industrial age.indeed. used the gold of West Africa to purchase arms in Sierra Leone. who attacked before his artillery . Artillery might give the invaders an advantage.

Russian deserters.WARS OF EMPIRE nineteenth centur~ Artillery allowed the French to seize Constantine in 1837. 1836. Indian mutineers unsportingly kept the artillery for themselves. In 1857. the remoteness of imperial battlefields invariably made artillery The retreat from Constantine. 58 . and reverted to guerrilla tactics. thus allowing the French to storm through the breach. a bloody failure which initiated the decline of the Tokolor empire. and employed European instructors to train their gunners in the latest European techniques. The square. But battles were seldom decided on the basis of superior firepower . In 1858. survived in colonial warfare into the twentieth century. although heterogeneous and eccentrically organized. artillery prevented aI-Hajj Umar's 20. so that subsequently the British admitted only white soldiers into that arm. manned Shamil's artillery in the Caucasus. a standard tactical formation in European warfare in the early nineteenth century. indigenous fighters usually required only one defeat before they understood the futility of attacking squares. However. for example. although the defenders inexplicably mined their own curtain wall. Artillery gave Bolivar an important edge against royalist troops at Pichincha in May 1822.000 sofas (warriors) with their siege ladders from approaching the walls of the French fortress at Medine on the Senegal river.Marathan and Sikh forces were well supplied with artillery. English volunteers organized artillery regiments in Venezuela after 1817. However. many probably Polish or Georgian.

This was going to change: to begin with. 'no more heavy artillery. If the weight of gun carriages were reduced for mobility. only a few rounds could be fired before the wood began to split. no more of these heavy wagons. and again the following year. Bugeaud discovered that the offensive spirit of his troops diminished in direct proportion to the defensive firepower of their artiller~ 'You drag thousands of wagons and heavy artillery with you which slows your movements'.COLO IAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE something of a liability. required considerable logistical effort. which looked to 59 . no more of these enormous forage trains. Getting a siege train to Constantine in 1836. So disturbed were Bugeaud's officers by a new order of battle. especially the heavier variety employed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. If the carriages were solidly designed.forty bullocks and a female elephant were required to haul one of Wellesley's 18-pounders in India. Bugeaud told the officers under his command. which is one reason why Bugeaud limited the artillery in his flying columns to two guns when he became commander-inchief in Algeria in 1840. The convoys will be on mule back and the only cannons permitted will be light ones'. mobility became a problem . But more important.

As A. jungle-like foliage of central Florida simply absorbed the shot of light mountain guns. The thick. which bestowed at least three advantages on the invaders. it was because the capability in the form of well-built ships had married the motivation to sail forth and conquer. There was no real equivalent in the non-Western world to Europe's naval superiority. a means of passage to the most distant corners of the earth opposed only by the caprice of nature and the ships of rival European navies. The first was power projection. the thick. Florida in 1812. Bugeaud sent him packing. in 1845. Navies gave the West strategic reach. Mahan noted in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History. Seminoles ambush supply wagons escorted by US Marines at 12-Mile Swamp near St Augustine. The real technological edge enjoyed by the West in this period was naval.T. developed especially for use in the Caucasus and introduced in 1842.if they could find the villages! In open warfare. or blame. A second benefit of naval superiority for 60 . jungle-like foliage of central Florida made the enemy difficult to locate and rendered artillery virtually useless. that they delegated the senior colonel to talk their new commander out of this folly. resided with the superiority of the Royal Navy'.WARS OF EMPIRE them more like a recipe for collective suicide. If Europe discovered the world from the fifteenth century. the credit. 'if Britain could be declared the winner in the imperial race. and not vice versa. General Vorontsov was forced to destroy his guns when most of his artillery horses had died. Americans in the Seminole Wars found artillery effective as a means of softening up Amerindian villages as a prelude to a bayonet attack . The difficulties of manhandling artillery through remote Caucasus passes was such that. The only guns he kept were light field and mountain guns.

often islands like Goa. Hong Kong or Singapore. and required tactical skills that the Russians were slow to master in the Caucasus. and imposed a blockade which. British maritime expeditions sent to punish Spain for her alliance with France in the Seven Years War seized both Manila and Havana. Sea power was the force multiplier for the British. 6r . the Ohio Valley and Louisiana. The British ability to shift their troops up and down the coast in India was an important element in their victory over the French there. munitions and muskets. In 1762. sea power meant operational and even tactical mobility. captured Louisbourg in 1745 (and again in 1758). In North America. which they could defend and supply by sea. Finally. had been a fumbling campaign of attrition against the Circassians repel Russians near Achatl in 1841.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE imperialists was security: In the early days when Europeans were on the defensive on land. behind a screen of men-of-war blockading French ports. A seaborne strike in 1759. especially in Africa and the East. allowed Britain to pierce the heart of New France at Quebec. a country with three times the population and ten times the army: Maritime expeditions swept up French settlements around the Bay of Fundy in 1710. St Louis de Senegal. until then. rescuing what. they seized coastal enclaves. the Royal Navy gave Britain the decisive edge over France. by stemming the supply of gunpowder. which could translate into strategic advantage. began the unravelling of France's Amerindian alliances as far inland as the Great Lakes. Precarious frontier posts like Montreal might have succumbed to Amerindian constriction had their communications depended exclusively on overland routes. Mountain warfare limited the advantages of technology.

WARS OF EMPIRE British General Wolfe's troops scaled the cliffs from the St Lawrence river to the Plains of Abraham in 1759 to attack Quebec from the land side. Two brass cannon helped to deliver victory against a French garrison that rushed from the walls to give battle fore it was fully mu teredo .

La Royale returned the compliment at Yorktown in 1781. The British land a further 4. allowing the British to fire measured and accurate volleys which disorganize the French formations ti\ The French force is without artillery support as the Governor of Quebec t2\ will not release the guns. the Caribbean and North America during the Seven . The British ~ wait until the French units are within some 100ft before opening a deadly artillery barrage. and advances towards the ~ British. France's relative maritime inferiority invariably challenged Paris's ability simultaneously to protect its far-flung empire in India.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC The Royal Navy extended the reach of British imperial power and gave London a decisive edge in eighteenth-century Franco- British imperial wars. His forces angle to the right. The French infantry columns disintegrate and the survivors retreat toward Quebec . Both Louispourg on Cape Breton Island and Quebec fell to British seaborne expeditions. d e e A British force of some 200 men f1\ scale the cliffs and drive off a French ~ company of 100. leaving the defences of Quebec.Years War.500 men who deploy on the Plains of Abraham Montcalm chose to attack immediately.

and launched a successful amphibious assault on Lima. And although the French Navy . Dominance of the Pacific was essential for the victory of the rebellious South American colonies. However. who promoted Lord Cochrane. and by luring away former Black slaves fighting with Osceola with promises of freedom. to the rank of admiral. a disgraced Scottish aristocrat. British maritime expeditions had harvested so many islands of the French Antilles by 1762 that British diplomats attempting to negotiate a peace were embarrassed by their nation's military success. Seminole chief Osceola led a tenacious insurgency in central Florida in the 1830s.WARS OF EMPIRE southern glacis of French Canada. sea power had made land operations against New France a leisurely march to a foregone conclusion. .La Royale returned the favour twenty-two years later at Yorktown. United States troops and volunteers regained operational mobility through the use of flat-bottomed Mackinaw boats on the numerous rivers and tributaries of the region. British sea power forced Napoleon to abandon the reconquest of Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1803. from Valparaiso in Chile in 1820. an oasis in the desert.

the string of posts along the Black Sea created to sever supplies from Turkey to Shamil would undoubtedly have fallen to Murid attacks. these maritime outposts served as bases of British frigates approach Canton on the Pearl river during the Opium War of 1839-42. abandoned to the Seminole chief Osceola in 1835. fourteen steamers. Sea power allowed the British to transform what the imperial court in Beijing viewed as a distant dispute in Canton into a struggle which directly threatened the economic health and political stability of the empire itself. the United States Navy operated steamboats on the larger rivers while oared. This permitted American troops and volunteers to re-establish their presence in central Florida. Without the support of the Russian navy. British victory in the Opium War with China (1839-42) demonstrated how relatively small naval forces could impose their will even on a vast continental empire. Chinese junks were unable to prevent British vessels from attacking coastal fortifications. Junks and poorly defended Chinese coastal fortifications offered scant defence against twenty-five Royal Navy ships of the line. moved men along the tributaries. flat-bottomed Mackinaw boats.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Foreign corsairs organized a small fleet to assault Spanish ships in the Caribbean. or from cutting the vital Grand Canal that carried much of China's north-south trade. Brown-water operations were also a feature of imperial warfare. operations against the Cherkess population of the western Caucasus. British smugglers quashed Chinese efforts to keep opium out of the country. and nine support vessels carrying . Lake Champlain and the Richelieu river provided a classic invasion route into and out of New France. During the Second Seminole War. Following the Crimean War. capable of carrying twenty.

With this relatively small force. Naval artillery made the walled cities held by the Taipings along the Yangtze untenable. in 1884-5 the French were far less successful in employing their navy to wring concessions from the Chinese when they attacked Formosa which. in the 1860s. sailed up the Yangtze river to block the Grand Canal which carried much of the Celestial Empire's north-south commercial traffic. Beijing did not believe vital to its interests. This was enough to bring the Chinese to the peace table.WARS OF EMPIRE 10. Gun sampans and eventually gunboats on the Yellow river and Grand Canal escorted grain convoys. sparked by European encroachment. The creation of a gunboat force was critical in allowing the Celestial Empire to defeat the Taiping and Nien rebellions. the British seized four important coastal trading centres. and threatened Nanking. However. clearly.000 troops. much as the British in the Boer War of 66 . and linked a defensive chain of fortifications created to keep Nien forces from breaking out across the Yellow river.

tactical advantage invariably fell to the invaders. The French pioneered river flotillas to advance up the Senegal river toward the Niger from the 1850s.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE 1899-1902 used railways to link barriers of blockhouses built to contain Boer commandos. the prime target. On the whole. however. they regarded a white chief. Ambush was the tactic of choice of Amerindians. it was the European ability to attack coastal towns and penetrate China's interior. . however. By the end of the nineteenth century. Callwell could write that while climate and terrain ceded strategic advantage to the enemy. who noted that English colonists moving through the forest 'always kept in a heap together. that gave relatively small European forces the ability to influence Chinese policy. especially if the indigenous enemy declined to fight in a manner that favoured the close-order drill of Western armies of the period. The colonists. the invaders might not even possess a tactical advantage. Lacking European notions of chivalry. In the pre-industrial period. in particular the Yangtze along which many of the most important towns lay. with their leaders down and a substantial number of their Chinese artillery sinks a French gunboat at Fuchou in 1884. distinguished by his clothing and his horse. so it was as easy to hit them as to hit a house'.

should be regular. could recover from their initial surprise. were often too disorganized to recover from the initial surprise. Bugeaud's formation confused the Arabs. because it offered no vulnerable 68 . like these French in the mountainous Kabylia region of Algeria in 1851. the shoulder-toshoulder volley-firing tactics of the Anglo-Saxons. several lines deep. In 1836. If European troops. Bugeaud. and unintimidated by. he believed. Instead. the force of the musket's recoil. Volleys. he advocated small squares with overlapping fields of fire to give mutual support. Arabs seldom attempted to overwhelm squares. and the men in the interior ranks were wasted because they were unable to fire. The power of these volleys might be diminished also because soldiers tended to skimp on powder to lessen The major advantage of European forces in imperial warfare was not so much their firepower as their discipline. who first went to Algeria in 1836. criticized the French for forming massive squares of up to 3. this came as the ultimate lesson in July 1755 on the Monongahela. indigenous attackers seldom had the ability to overwhelm them.WARS OF EMPIRE comrades killed or wounded by Amerindians concealed in the bush. Bugeaud achieved a major victory when he formed his troops into a 'pig's head'. and marched them on to a plateau above the Sikkak river. decimated and their remnants put to flight by a small expedition of French frontiersmen and their Amerindian allies untutored in. when his East Anglian and American troops were swarmed upon.000 men. and firing withheld for as long as possible to allow the enemy to get close enough to do him real damage. For General Edward Braddock.

especially successful applications of them. In practice~ however.' the Hessian Johann Ewald remembered of the American Revolution. could be costl~ THE 'TETE DE PORe' Bugeaud~s 'pig~s head~ formation delivered a victory when Abd el-Kader impetuously attacked it on the Sikkak river in 1836. they were repulsed by massed musket fire. made more deadly by a technique perfected by harassed French troops in Spain. Another 500. By refusing battle.very useful against an enemy that liked to work in close. When they threw themselves at the French. drawing an invading force deep into the country where it became overextended and vulnerable. 'If you were forced to retreat through these people. a memory no doubt shared by Burgoyne and Cornwallis. Abd elKader. The French discovered as much in Algeria at the Macta Marshes in 1835 and the following . Most imperial armies adopted a variant of this formation~ which offered an all-round defence and shielded the vital convoy in hostile territory. as at Assaye in 1803. an intelligent enemy might negate European tactical superiorit~ A reversal. the first time the French had bagged so many POWs in Algeria. you could be certain of having them constantly around you. in India Wellesley's favorite tactic was to loose a single volley followed by a charge. surrendered. cornered at the foot of a rock outcropping. such tight formations were difficult to maintain in broken or wooded terrain (see page 113). it was superior discipline and tactics rather than firepower that assured their victor~ Indeed. now knew better than to rush massed French troops. The trouble with European tactics. When Europeans had triumphed in these set-piece battles.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Bugeaud's 'Tete de Pore' front or rear guard to attack. at the Sikkak river in 1836 or at Isly in 1844. even a withdrawal after a successful operation. Bugeaud's success on the Sikkak was not repeated because his opponent. driving a large number of Arabs over a bluff to their deaths in the Sikkak river below. Bugeaud then ordered his men to drop packs and attack. was that the enemy quickly learned not to fight Europeans on their own terms. at knife-point. A musket ball was cut into four parts and rammed down the barrel on top of the already introduced ball to create a sort of small-arms grapeshot .

7° .WARS OF EMPIRE year at Constantine. The Russians were able to cover only 30 miles in one week. however. The disastrous British retreat from Kabul in 1842 was fairly illustrative of what might happen to imperial forces retreating through hostile territory~ increasingly slowed by casualties and fatigue~ vulnerable to well-crafted ambushes. in the process abandoning baggage and wounded and losing 3. Osceola kept American forces off-balance with well-crafted ambushes during the Second Seminole War. as was done following the Russian victory at Akhulgo in the eastern Caucasus in 1839.321 men. as did the British in Afghanistan in 1842. Similarly. Shamil became expert at allowing the Russians to meander through valleys. the best commanders sought to give themselves what in twentieth-century terms would be called an 'operational edge'. This was a fate shared on occasion by British forces in North America~ the French in Algeria and the Russians in the Caucasus. came in 1845 as Prince Vorontsov's flying column withdrew through the Chechnian forests toward his base. Earlier commanders in India like Clive had fought close to base because they lacked the logistical capacity to strike deep into the enemy Last stand of the 44th at Gandamak. and three generals to Shamil's attacks. 186 officers. The foundation of Wellesley's success in India was organizational. Shamil's great triumph. Without obvious technological or tactical advantage. In the Caucasus. and then cutting them to ribbons when they attempted to return to base. sacking town after deserted town.

71 .COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Prince Vorontsov was one of Shamifs chief victims when his 'flying column' toiled through the Chechnian forests in 1845. as well as most of his equipment. losing 186 officers including three generals and over three thousand men.

but requiring one day's rest in N A b I \) e Arabian Sea British Indian Empire conquest and expansion British annexation • 1753-75 1792-1805 1815-60 1753-1914 Bay of Bengal D ~ N 1860-90 boundary of British India c.WARS OF EMPIRE BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE heartland. if Britain did not dominate a territory. 1890 territory added 1900-14 dependant state minor dependant state under British supervision. it was an axiom that a large force starved while a small one risked defeat. Islands 200km I Other territories Portuguese French INDIAN OCEAN I 200 miles . certainly would. afraid that. The Crown's reluctance to assume the financial burden of the Indian dominions forced colonial entrepreneurs to sell Indian opium to China. On his arrival in India. Wellesley discovered that British expeditions resembled migrating people rather than an arm~ British India wqs a patchwork of conquests carried out by officers on the spot. and later the Russians. as elsewhere in colonial warfare. averaging 10 miles on a good day. In India. Wellesley recognized that strategic success could result only after his army was reorganized along lines that would allow greater H countryside. then the French. later annexed territory added 1890-1900 D D D D • • t Laccadive Is. and forced to meander to find food and fodder. As many as 20.000 troops organized in a single force lumbered over the three.

He maximized the use of strategic surprise by increasing the mobility and striking power of his forces. Wellesley~s success~ like that of Bugeaud in Algeria~ relied principally on his organization and tactical methods~ rather than on technological superiority. Attempts to launch reprisal raids faltered in the absence of any clear objectives.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE mobilit~ In his campaign against Dhoondiah in Mysore.'Andaman Is. Indeed. ' . refusing battle but slashing at flanks. would return to base exhausted. Wellesley's experience was repeated elsewhere as French.the French army was repeating the mistakes which this Napoleonic veteran had seen it make in Spain during the Peninsular War. I ndia proved a valuable training ground for Sir Arthur Wellesley~ the future Duke of Wellington.. French expeditions. and stragglers. Wellesley divided his forces into four armies. Most of the soldiers were tied down to fixed positions and tormented by the Arabs who raided their supply wagons and destroyed crops and supplies behind the lines. After a few weeks of campaigning in this manner. Bugeaud was nearly overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu .. toiled over a stark and blistered countryside in search of their foe. when he returned to Algeria as Governor General in 1840.Hoche used them in the Vendee and Bugeaud in Algeria. 1857 t~ f . American. British. weighed down by artillery and supply wagons. 73 . with very little to show for their efforts. Bugeaud set out to remodel his listless and demoralized command: 'we must forget those orchestrated and dramatic battles that civilized peoples fight against one another'. The enemy retreated before them. even Russian and Chinese commanders moved to light or flying columns . supply convoys. . which kept his opponent guessing and allowed the British to march up to 26 miles a day to achieve surprise. like Russian ones in the Caucasus in the same period. Columns of thousands of men.

But Bugeaud's mobility. carry the fight to the enemy and give them no rest.WARS OF EMPIRE he proclaimed to his troops. shorn of artillery and heavy wagons. Bugeaud was able to penetrate areas that before had been immune to attack. which had been the principal French method of controlling the countryside. leadership and firepower. 74 . Bugeaud based his reforms on four principles: mobility. morale. depended on Abd el-Kader~s smala~ or extended entourage. he emphasized the value of scouting parties and intelligence reports in locating enemy forces against which troops could be rapidly deployed. Mobile columns numbering from a few hundred to a few thousand men. like that instilled by Wellesley in India. In place of fortifications. 'and realize that unconventional tactics are the soul of this war'. could fan out over the countryside to converge from different directions on a previously selected objective. This was an outcome of Bugeaud~s 'search and destroy~ tactics carried out by mobile 'flying columns~ shorn of artillery and other impedimenta. In this way. with supplies carried by mules rather than by men or on wagons. was surprised by French troops commanded by the Duc d~Aumale in May 1843.

COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE sound operational innovations. this was not invariably so. They also defied military wisdom by dividing one's forces in the face of the enemy. A mobile enemy might easily concentrate against the u 75 . Equipment was redesigned. The division of forces was a less risky option in the imperial context. and the load of the foot soldier considerably lightened. striking into thin air. Light columns were not invariably a formula for success. Without good intelligence. supplies were carried by mules instead of men or wagons. columns might wander the countryside. however. His light columns were expected to survive by plundering the grain silos or raiding the flocks of the Arabs. The medical services were reformed to improve the health of his troops. as the enemy seldom had the capacity to overwhelm well-armed troops. However.

British General Sir Garnet Wolseley encouraged colonial commanders to seize what the enemy prized most. for it spread occupying forces in penny packets and left the insurgency free to dominate the countryside. Callwell counselled offensive action and dramatic battles because he believed it the best way to demonstrate the 'moral superiority' of the European. a standing army. And while the Russians might eventually take these villages after desperate fighting. Shamil would pull his population deep into the mountains and force the Russians to attack fortified villages organized in depth. and the Russians in the Caucasus. in war tactics and operations are for naught if the strategy is flawed. while he simultaneously slashed at their greatly extended supply lines. a religious bond . a city like Algiers or Kabul. the ability to control major cities did not win the war for either power. as the Americans discovered in the Seminole Wars. their casualties were such that victory was gutted of strategic significance and they were inevitably forced to retreat through hostile country: The French quickly seized most of the towns in Mexico soon after their invasion . But that was easier said than done. the French in Algeria.a capital. Indigenous societies might be too primitive to have a centralized political or military system. a tactic which Mao successfully replicated against Chiang's 'encirclement' campaigns of the early 1930s.some symbol of authority or legitimacy which. as it had been for the British in North America. and in fact weakened them by forcing them to scatter their forces. a king. This worked best against a foe with a fairly cohesive system . Unfortunately for the French. discouraged further resistance. or to assign value to the seizure of General Achille Bazaine enters Mexico City at the head of French troops on 7 June 1863.WARS OF EMPIRE weakest column. Of course. However. the ability to control cities proved of minimal advantage in Mexico. Insurrections against both English and Spanish rule in the New World began in the cities. once overthrown.

Toussaint L'Ouverture's treacherous capture in 1803 while he was dining with French General Charles Leclerc. So. One can speculate about the destinies of the revolutions in North and South America had Washington or Bolivar been neutralized. Yet seizing cities and towns did not bring them closer to mastering the country. Certainly. did not put an end to Algerian resistance.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE in 1862. The French seizure of Puebla in 1863 avenged their defeat there the previous year. On the other hand. the towns might become prisons for invading armies rather than bases for offensive operations. In One problem of winning a guerrilla campaign is how to measure progress. which forced Abd el-Kader to seek refuge in Morocco from 1843. French pressure. concentrating and striking at will against isolated French garrisons. it failed largely because it lacked a leadership and a nationalist ideology capable of uniting diverse social and religious groups. if not most. Yet. urban centres often had to be defended because the fall to the rebels of a town like Philadelphia or Lima would invariably be hailed by the insurgents as a measure of progress toward victor~ A charismatic leader might be important to the success of the resistance. Many. failed to extinguish the island rebellion. 77 . but his capture or death would seldom by itself collapse opposition. Indians preferred British government to domination by indigenous rivals. which was simply too vast for a relatively small Frenchled force to control. and a set of political skills required to keep insurrection alive. a strategist. thus eliminating a symbol. But that merely caused them to spread their forces in penny packets and gave the Mexican resistance virtually a free hand to roam the countryside. although the 1857 Mutiny is regarded by Indian nationalists as an expression of popular resistance to British rule.

Decapitating the leadership might even prove counterproductive. realized that the most effective method of conquest was political. especially the less fanatical Cherkes in the western Caucasus. the Caucasus offered the Russians nothing but the prospect of desperately hard campaigning. and who Abd el-Kader proved a formidable opponent for the French from 1832 to his capture in 1847. and cultivate economic relationships. proved to be a fragile coalition of tribes and sub-chiefs which a clever European commander might split with a combination of force and incentives. They began to restore the powers of tribal leaders jealous of the authority lost to Shamil.WARS OF EMPIRE Abd el-Kader. This was a policy forced on the invaders by necessity. . But. In doing so. however. who chafed under his draconian discipline and Murid beliefs. like Mediterranean Algeria. allowing them local autonomy so long as they accepted British policy and did not deal with the French. allow native courts to adjudicate tribal disputes. customs and immigrants. his Algerian insurgency. like Wellesley. although as the century progressed they tightened their administrative grip on their colonial dominions. French officers created a symbol of a unified conspiracy against imperial advance. appointing caids or chiefs willing to do their bidding. as Wellesley discovered in India after the death of Tipu. The wise commander. like most resistance movements. curtail the introduction of Russian law. in the wake of Vorontsov's disastrous 1845 campaign. In the long run. Outside areas of substantial colonial settlement. Although these policies were applied inconsistently and little influenced the heartland of resistance. Shamil's presence actually began to benefit the invaders as it fragmented his following of independent mountaineers. Most resistance movements in the pre-nationalist period were no more than fragile coalitions. Wellesley was fairly lenient with Hindu polygars who ruled from hill forts. they credited the Arab leader with an authority over his own people that he probably did not possess. Shamil's leadership dramatically increased the effectiveness of resistance in the Caucasus between 1840 and 1845. with or without Shamil. opposed Shamil's attempts to establish a family dynasty by having his son recognized as Imam. because it shattered the opposition into a host of petty chieftains who had to be dealt with piecemeal. that the resistance must be offered a reward for submission beyond that of the sheer terror of the alternative. realized that they would not win the Caucasus by force of arms alone. Over time. as they seldom had the capacity to occupy and police the entire countr): Even the Russians. they fragmented Shamil's coalition on the margins and pacified base areas so that the Russians could free up more troops for offensive operations. the French favoured a policy of indirect rule.

colonists discovered military disaster was best avoided by employing Amerindians to act as scouts. however. warning their fellow Amerindians of an approaching column. leaderless uprising.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Tropkof(Ullcer Arabian Sea * ~ The Indian Mutiny 1857-58 major centre of uprising area affected by the Indian mutiny 1857 British campaigns border of British controlled territory c. allies in combat. English colonists in the south showed few qualms about organizing war parties numbering in the THE INDIAN MUTINY Although the Mutiny is seen by Indian nationalists as the expression of an emerging national conscience. The Connecticut Council advised the Bay Colony 'to grant [the Amerindian allies] all plunder. American mythology holds that the early colonists survived because they adopted Amerindian agricultural techniques. and give them victuals. from the beginning. Unlike their Yankee counterparts. and a soldier's pay during the time they are out'. and a persistent belief that skulking modes of warfare were dishonourable. In seventeenth-century New England. 1857 Because the Americas were. and instructors in tactics. A spontaneous. it failed for lack of support among a heterogeneous people. many of whom preferred British rule to that. died hard in New England. They did more than that . and of desultory fighting. with ammunition. alliances between the indigenous population and the invaders could be no more than temporary ones. colonies of settlement.they also adopted and adapted native war tactics. But suspicion of the loyalties of indigenous peoples accused of selling their powder.of Hindus or other indigenous groups. 79 . in fact its failure demonstrated the absence of a spirit of national resistance to British encroachment.

the North American offspring of the Seven Years War. set-piece battles and sea power. who had greater need of Amerindians than did their British opponents. Amerindians did have their limitations as soldiers and allies. Expeditionary forces in the French and Indian wars. 80 .200 Amerindians serving with the French at Quebec in 1759 saved neither the town nor the empire for France. the pay-off for assistance being the swarms of captives which their Amerindian allies could ransom or sell as slaves. had he bothered to recruit them. Amerindian scouts might have diverted Braddock from decimation at the hands of a Franco-Amerindian force half his size on the path to Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg) in July 1755.WARS OF EMPIRE ANGLO-FRENCH STRUGGLE FOR NORTH AMERICA hundreds for war against the Spanish and French along the Gulf Coast. The 1. The French commander. Amerindians viewed the European preference for Franco. and encouraged the development of ranger units of white frontiersmen. It was the French. colonial commanders also discovered that Amerindian allies shared neither their strategic goals nor their tactical methods. were volatile mixes of regular European. nor common notions of discipline. not by the guerrilla tactics of ambush and raid. however. outnumbered in the North American theatre. colonial volunteer and Amerindian forces who shared neither political goals. This created a dependence which could be as fatal as having no Amerindian auxiliaries at all. tactical methods. or against troublesome tribes. Both sides enlisted Amerindians to dominate the fur trade and as allies in war. Baron Dieskau. However.British conflict was a permanent feature of warfare in eighteenthcentury North America to the fall of Quebec in 1759. Amerindians might be useful on the margins of a campaign in the same way that partisans supported main force action in European war: for example. Many colonial commanders concluded that Amerindian allies were more trouble than they were worth. Colonial wars of conquest were decided by sieges. Braddock's disaster was in part offset by the failure of the French counter-offensive against Fort Edward in September 1755. found his Amerindian allies reluctant to invade English territory. In the end. and were difficult to manage on campaign. General Edward Braddock s defeat at the hands of a small Franco-Amerindian force near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg) in 1755 illustrated the value of Amerindians as scouts and allies. sea power and the larger population tilted the advantage to the British. and positively mutinous when he ordered them to assault fortified English positions.

COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE o I 200km I ~ o 200 miles Hudson Bay Anglo-French struggle for North America 1700-63 British campaign French campaign .... Spanish campaign battle British fort French fort X III III European territorial claims 1750 ~ G u If British French Spanish ~ ~ 8r .....

as Blacks were among his best military leaders. In the short term. an expeditionary force. Yorktown may be termed a decisive victory. who had been mere spectators to the siege. Formalized conventions of European warfare were so incomprehensible to them as to border on the grotesque. Amerindian allies of both French and British had come to a tacit agreement not to fight each other. killing and scalping over 200 men. the Marquis de Montcalm accorded the garrison at Fort William Henry the honours of war in 1757. Evidence suggests that. One result of the Anglo-French wars was to lessen the combativeness of the tribes. a factor which helped to keep the French on the strategic defensive. the 2. and to salvage their Caribbean and Mediterranean assets. helped to cripple the resistance.000 or so Amerindians. together with the treacherous capture of Osceola and other Seminole chiefs under a flag of truce. and naval assistance gave heart to the insurgents and speeded the conclusion of the hostilities by co-ordinating Cornwallis's defeat at Yorktown in 1781. for instance.WARS OF EMPIRE Toussaint L~Ouverture was a remarkable politician and general. was facilitated by powerful French and Spanish intervention. even though the war limped on for another two years. In the 1830s. . and by enticing Black slaves who had joined the rebellious Amerindians into the service of the US army against the promise of freedom. which. Amerindian resistance to European encroachment was in reality a series of temporary and fragile coalitions of groups who shared scant notion that survival lay in co-operation. But French support in the form of cash. The victory of the American revolutionaries. reduced North America to a secondary front in an Atlantic war. N evertheless~ Toussaint~s victories depended on the contingent circumstances of French disarray caused by the Revolution~ yellow fever which decimated the French army~ and British sea power which forced the French to lift their siege of the island in 1803. for New France was more dependent on Amerindian support than were the English colonies. Amerindians stayed away in droves from French expeditions during the smallpox years of 1756 and 1758. Examples of successful indigenous resistance were few. precisely the same charge levelled against them by New England colonists a century earlier. not tactical. When. after 1755. for the British. ex-slaves also led General Thomas Sidney Jesup to the Seminole villages whose destruction. The real value of recruiting Amerindians was political and psychological. which were to enhance personal honour and wealth by taking scalps and seizing captives. Not only did this deprive Osceola of much of his military capability. even in the preindustrial era. pounced on the English prisoners. Recruiting some of their number fragmented their response and helped to demoralize diehard resisters. the Amerindians also realized that contact with Europeans brought fevers and death. while impressive. Whether or not the American revolutionaries could have won without French intervention is an open question. the Seminoles were brought to heel in part by recruiting friendly Seminoles and Creeks. but acting as scouts from 1836. sieges as wasteful and having little to do with the real goals of war. No fools. for it convinced the British to cut their losses on an indecisive North America front. the combination of disease and an agreement to pull their punches hurt the French more than the British.

COLO IAL WARFARE I THE PRE-I DUSTRIAL AGE .

WARS OF EMPIRE In some respects. As forests disappeared under the relentless progress of sugarcane cultivation after 1700. like Cuba and Puerto Rico. as on Jamaica and Saint Domingue. Puerto Rico and Jamaica. In some cases. called Maroons. So fierce was Maroon resistance on Jamaica that in 1738 Governor Slaves frequently fled to 'Maroon republics' that were practically impossible to eradicate on the larger Caribbean islands. colonial governors were forced reluctantly to sign treaties with them. . Toussaint L'Ouverture's rebellion against the French in Saint Domingue can be seen as the most spectacular and successful of slave rebellions which became a permanent feature of the Caribbean once Africans were imported to replace Arawaks in the sixteenth century: Runaway slaves. These rebellions were led by African warriors captured in battle and sold by African potentates into the backbreaking work of the canefields. Maroon bands survived only on the larger islands like Cuba. were able to defend remote and inaccessible islands or portions of islands and of the South American mainland against white attempts to reclaim them. and the South American mainland in the eighteenth century.

increasingly alienated the elite of mixed-race The French freed the slaves on Saint Domingue in 1793.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Edward Trelawney was forced to recognize two Maroon homelands on the island. were short lived. French legislation and practice had. who had occupied the forested highlands between Saint Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo. First. whom he could not defeat. since the beginning in the 1730s. Bonaparte's wife and a native of Martinique. A similar situation prevailed on Saint Domingue where the French governor signed a treaty with a Maroon named Le Manuel. . But in general. even spectacular ones like that which controlled the Danish islands of Saint John for six months in 1733 and the 1760 revolt in Jamaica which required a year and a half to quell. and then made the mistake of reversing course under the influence of Josephine. Former slaves on Saint Domingue offered no quarter to French-led troops sent to reimpose servitude on them in 1802. slave rebellions. Toussaint L'Ouverture's success resided in a number of contingent factors quite apart from his talent as a general. while violent.

from the island's White establishment.000 Blacks. Spanish soldiers from Santo Domingo and the British battled for control of the French portion of the island through the haze of a malaria-ridden campaign. In 1798. But the retention of her South American colonies was simply beyond the power of a country devastated by the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 86 .WARS OF EMPIRE Creoles . against the Coloured militias in the south. By the following year the Spanish had retired to their half of the island. The re-imposition of slavery by the French sparked a vicious rebellion among a population otherwise exhausted by war and alienated by Toussaint's heavy-handed and authoritarian government.of which Toussaint was a member . was unable to master. allied with the Coloured militias against the Whites. manoeuvred adroitly among the warring factions. first having allied himself with the Spanish who helped him recruit a force of 4. In London. As in North America. aided in part by over 5.ais on August 1791 and quickly spread. and then casting his lot with the French in 1794.000 soldiers to Saint Domingue. As government authority collapsed. arrived in September 1792 who.000 Blacks. a French governor. Blacks rallied to Sonthonax. declared the abolition of slavery. thus splitting a White-Coloured alliance that was critical in keeping slaves in check on other islands. a Creole slave from the North Province. Latin American rebels successfully threw off the yoke of Spain. a combination of fierce local resistance led by Toussaint's lieutenants. most of Saint Domingue's 30. As civil war raged on the island. A French force of 20. and the appearance of a British fleet in the summer of 1803 precipitated a French withdrawal.000 English soldiers of fortune who imported many skills into Bolivar's army and navy. Second.000 Whites fled. the French Revolution of 1789 provoked a civil war among Whites on the islands. Third. Toussaint was captured and perished miserably in a French dungeon in April 1803. Toussaint then turned his army. a group of Saint Domingue planters persuaded Prime Minister William Pitt to dispatch a British army of 20. Sonthonax. decimated by yellow fever.000 Swiss and Polish conscripts returned to re-establish French rule in February 1802. an aboriginal word meaning 'the land of the mountains'. a local initiative confirmed by the National Convention in Paris on 4 February 1794. Toussaint. British General Thomas Maitland tired of Toussaint's guerilla tactics and sailed away with the feverish remnants of his force. Leger Sonthonax. Jean-Jacques Dessalines. which numbered around 55. desperate for support. firm in the Jacobin conviction that the White planters were royalist reactionaries. Saint Domingue's brief flirtation with independence might have ended there had it not been for the combination of French political blunders and British sea power. Offered a choice between death or exile. a slave rebellion broke out near Cap Fran<. This initiated an inconclusive five-year intervention in which a rump of French troops. in June 1793. proclaimed Saint Domingue independent under the name of Haiti. which the French Army. and promptly assumed the title of emperor. one of Toussaint's generals.

.:loQV PACIFIC OCEAN South American Revolutions c. two charismatic leaders able to supply a strategic vision to the rebellion...=---.-"lI\'. and last.-. Bolivar and San Martin.<::5------It-- 1 ~ 1770-1820 Spanish 1820-33 Argentine From 1833 British Islas Malvinas o o I 600km I ~ ~ 600 miles SOUTH AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS C.... .:c~-#. 1800 Portuguese territory c. 1820 Several factors contributed to the success of the South American independence movement.~~==--=A=. Guadeloupe ~ Dominica ~ ~~rtinique . sea power contributed principally by British sailors demobilized after the Napoleonic Wars..COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Puerto T . 1800 date of independence date of separate statehood Spanish territory after 1830 Spanish base up to 1826 British territory ~ @0 • • to Chile 300--+------j~-_+__-- • 0 ~ ~ 8 0 British claimed French territory Dutch territory independent American state Simon Bolivar's campaign of 1822-4 San Martin's campaign of 1817-22 t~ Chile 1820 occupied by Brazil 1825-8 disputea between Brazil and Argentina 1825 declared its independence 1852 recognized SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN 40° ~~-"""""""=----. which supplied strategic mobility and logistical support to the rebellion. Among them were a Spanish mother country debilitated by war and occupation during the Napoleonic Wars and hence unable to apply sufficient repressive force...1820 • D Spanish territory c.

While Bolivar was able to devise a strategic vision for the independence movement. which covered all of South America. And while some of these men proved able commanders. Madrid was able to spare only 27. 88 . Madrid's strategy could only be reactive. defensive and unco-ordinated. only 10. known as 'The Liberator'. After defeating the Spaniards in his home state in 1822. Simon Bolivar (1783-1830). touched off by soldiers at Cadiz in 1823 who refused to embark for the colonies.WARS OF EMPIRE and by the civil war which followed. and as many as two-thirds of these quickly succumbed to tropical diseases. he took part in the final campaign in Peru in 1824. Insurrection in Spain. their focus was local and their troops tended to desert if they were marched beyond their recruitment area. meant that the defence of Spanish interests was shouldered principally by South American royalists.000 Spanish troops garrisoned the widely dispersed South American ports. When insurrection erupted in 1817. was proclaimed president of the Republic of Colombia in 1819.000 reinforcements by 1821. Bolivar's rule was increasingly contested and he was forced to resign and go into exile in 1830.

there had been no popular uprising when the United States invaded Mexico in 1848. support. or indifference. Maximilian. the Juaristas ultimately succeeded in expelling the French in 1867. Indeed. engulfed in a civil war of its own. Napoleon Ill's intervention had been possible in the first place only because the United States. as did Shamil the Russians. never numbered more than 37. But French intervention of 1862 must be viewed in the context of a long-running civil war between conservatives and reformers in Mexico.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Other imperial resistance movements. The forces of intervention. In Mexico. which included French. was captured and executed. The Mexican population was generally content to allow the Mexican-American War to remain a clash of regular forces and did little to harass the lengthy supply columns of the invading American armies. But both were ultimately ground down and defeated. the French succeeded in provoking a national insurrection where the United States had failed. which had laid claim only to the sparsely populated north and whose forces withdrew . were less successful in persuading the invaders that the game was not worth the candle. was unable to prevent it. However. By creating a throne for the Austrian. The presence of a foreign prince rallied opposition against French imperial designs on Mexico. too few to occupy such a vast countr~ Napoleon III counted on local Napoleon Ills decision to anoint Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico was a significant political blunder. Louis-Napoleon demonstrated that his goals for Mexico extended far beyond those of the United States. Austrian and even Egyptian troops.000. and initially received enough of both. The Austrian proved a wellmeaning but a naive and inept strategist. Maximilian refused to depart with the French in 1867. Abd el-Kader gave the French a good innings. with the possible exception of Afghanistan.

the new army became such an intrusive political force that some Sikh sidars or lords actively conspired to have it defeated by the British. were too little too late. Even in the pre-industrial era when they had a better chance to match. in the case of the Sikhs. freed Black slaves. Washington began actively to stimulate the insurgency with an infusion of surplus weapons and immigrants. and recruit mounted units of Amerindians with cadres drawn from the Foreign Legion. or simply bandits eager to profit from the growing chaos south of the border. organized to fight in Algeria where horses were expensive and relatively rare. one may argue that the decisive battle for Mexico was won by the Prussian Army at Koniggratz in 1866. the 'Son of Heaven'. and a belief that defeat was the consequence of moral decline. taking advantage of their strategic mobility. dismantled France's control over the Mexican countryside and locked them into scattered towns. Nor could Mexico nurture hope of outside support for continued resistance against the United States. was to modernize local forces to match European standards of skill and professionalism. Confucianism. under the command of European or half-caste soldiers of fortune. whose task was to issue moral pronouncements to his people. Worse. French attempts to take to horseback. even one relying to a large degree on its own locally recruited units. Many of these units. for it served notice that France needed to repatriate its army to prepare for a showdown with Prussia. they appear to have been at a disadvantage because the Indian potentates proved reluctant to alter their semi-feudal social structure to accommodate a modern arm~ So Indian armies. who grew long fingernails and spent their days writing poetry and mastering calligraph~ Their reports to the emperor were in the form of memorials. a profound ignorance of foreign realities. many of whom were demobilized soldiers. given the obvious superiority of European discipline and methods of warfare. which the emperor perused for errors in calligraphy and composition. was the . the invaders technologically and numerically. In India. achieved respectable levels of proficiency in the Indian context. But against a European opponent. the process of creating armies on a Europeanized model began in imitation of the Sepoy units created by Clive and Dupleix during the Seven Years War. The French army was largely light infantry. not material weakness. Still. lacked a coherent officer corps and administrative structure to support them. Hardly had the ashes of the Confederacy gone cold in 1865. than Napoleon III came to realize that he was desperately overextended. One adaptive response.WARS OF EMPIRE immediately after the cessation of hostilities. though superficially modernized. Modernization was bound to be an uphill task in an empire imbued with an unshakeable faith in its own superiority over the barbarian. even best. for example. the French were unable to cope with the gangs of mounted guerrillas who. Chinese efforts to modernize to meet the Western challenge in the first six decades of the nineteenth century were also stillborn. Civil servants were scholar officials. which emphasized a harmonious social order of hierarchy and status. The emperor was a father figure. As a result. however. few societies were able to do so.

Chinese forces at the outset of the Opium War of 1839-42 consisted of twenty-four Banners stationed at strategic points throughout the countr~ These were understrength and largely independent companies of poorly disciplined peasants. Persian for army. to convince the emperor to drop his pretensions. Any attempt to introduce efficiency into this traditional system. and who posed more of a threat to the peasantry than to the enem~ They were useful for internal control. for it challenged the moral basis of the regime.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Sepoy was a corruption of Sip-ah. initiate normal diplomatic relations. ideology of empire. the imperial powers would have been unable to conquer and maintain their vast empires. but incapable of forming an expeditionary force to deal with the British . British. French and Portuguese in India recruited native soldiers who were gradually organized into formal regiments. and promote men able to administer and lead modern armies inevitably rocked it to its very foundations. Without indigenous troops. whose training consisted of formalized sword drill.

WARS OF EMPIRE

CHINA, DRUG WARS AND REBELLION

threat. No surprise, then, when in 1840, the governor of Canton, Lin Tse-hsu, was confronted by a British invasion, he evinced little faith in the regular
arm~

1840-1873

Western encroachment into China from the early nineteenth century, especially the sale of opium by force, exposed the Ch'ing dynasty's weakness. Western governments humiliated the throne in its people's eyes, then propped it up against the inevitable internal rebellions this provoked.
China, drug wars and rebellions 1840-73
border of Manchu Empire

Instead, he recruited local militias, imported Western arms, and even a modern ship, after British frigates blew seventy-four Chinese junks out of the water in the Pearl river. He translated foreign newspapers to assess foreign reaction to the British encroachment. Imperial officials were horrified. The traditional Chinese response in the face of a barbarian who possessed clear military superiority was to appease: manipulate him with a combination of trade and gifts, demonstrate the superiority of Chinese culture, and convince him to perform the kowtow, thus acknowledging the imperial view of the universe. The militia threatened their ability to do this, and were largely regarded as 20,000 troublemakers. In their view, the demands of the militia recruits to fight the British would escalate the conflict and result in a disastrous defeat. Chinese commanders attributed British military success not to their own incompetence or weaknesses, but to the

c.1840
maximum area under the effective control of the Taiping rebels, later period 1857-63 marches of the Taiping rebels 1850-63 maximum area under the effective control of the Nien rebellion 1853-68 other areas affected by local revolts to 1873 ..... ....... British attacks launched during the Opium War 1840-1 Anglo-French attacks

1858-60
British Empire c. 1860 Great wall of China

COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE

presence of large numbers of traitors in their own population. Lin was dismissed, the militias disbanded, the British were paid an indemnity and given an extended lease on Hong Kong Island as a secure base for the opium trade. Other Western countries demanded, and received, equal treatment, which included the admittance of missionaries, and treaty ports, to include Canton and Shanghai, from which they could trade free from the reach of Chinese law. The British and French intervened for a second time in 1858-60 to force the Chinese government to live up to their trade agreements. The Opium War was followed in China by the Taiping rebellion (1851-64) and the Nien War (1851-68). While these were not, strictly speaking, imperial conflicts in the sense that Western forces did not directly confront Chinese ones, the wars were a direct consequence of the destabilization of China sparked by the Opium War and the imposition of the unequal treaty system on the Ch'ing
dynast~

American "Generar Ward dies fighting the Taiping rebels in 1862. Soldiers of fortune offered their services to modernize Chinese forces in the nineteenth century. As most of the military reforms were local, rather than imperial, initiatives, this encouraged the rise of the warlords who proved so destructive in the twentieth century.

They also offer a test case for the failure of modernization in China, as

Western powers followed an ambiguous and contradictory policy there. On the one hand, they periodically intervened in China to force the government to accept extraterritoriality and other unfavourable treaty conditions. Then, having done their best to undermine the credibility of the Ch'ing dynasty in the eyes of the Chinese population, they hastened to bolster its military strength through technological upgrades, advisers and occasional naval intervention so that it

93

WARS OF EMPIRE

could master the subsequent popular uprIsIngs provoked by Western encroachment. The Taipings were pseudo-Christians who swept up landless peasants, Triads (a secret society ostensibly dedicated to a Ming restoration, but which degenerated into gangsterism), and members of militias disbanded in the wake of the Opium War. Some 120,000 strong by 1852, they seized Nanking as a base from which they threatened both Beijing and Shanghai. The Niens began as a loose alliance of peasant militias, salt smugglers and tax protesters who evolved a highly mobile mounted army whose speed and skilful tactics confounded the government's best efforts to deal with it. As in the Opium War, neither the Banners nor the militias raised by local gentry proved able to deal with these rebellions. 'The rebels travel like rats and the soldiers like cows', ran popular wisdom. 'You cannot use cows to catch rats.' Therefore, successful military resistance was the product of local initiatives, a process which ultimately contributed to the disintegration of the Ch'ing dynasty and the rise of warlordism in China. Tseng Kuo-fan, a senior bureaucrat, organized a force that became known as the Hunan
arm~

This attempt at

military modernization began as an amalgamation of mercenary bands and militias, and evolved into a relatively sophisticated force of 132,000 men organized into regiments, divisions, and corps, united by a clear chain of command. The basic structure of the Hunan army was a battalion of 650 wellpaid men, competently trained, administered and supplied. Commanders recruited their own soldiers, and were personally responsible for their performance. The purpose of these personal links was to filter out the secret society outlaws, heterodox religious sects (Taipings), bandits and rabble who had done so much to undermine the political loyalty, military efficiency and discipline of the militias. Tseng also sought to enlist as officers the disgruntled demi-monde of unsuccessful candidates for the imperial
bureaucrac~ Intelligent

young men

who had failed to pass the rigorous and multi-layered entrance examination often found an outlet for their ambitions among the leadership of both rebellions. In 1862, the Hunan model was exported to Shanghai where it developed as the Anwhei
arm~

With the help of 140 Western advisers (a group which included

Charles 'Chinese' Gordon), 15,000 modern rifles, and modern artillery, some of which was eventually mounted on paddle-wheel river boats, the Anhwei army became an even more formidable force than its Hunan counterpart. Though each army was instrumental in crushing the internal revolts, and was recognized as indispensable, especially after the Banners were destroyed in 1860, neither was destined to survive. Traditionalists decried foreign influence, especially in the Anhwei army, as a humiliation. Gordon's 'Ever Victorious Army', a branch of the Anhwei force, was disbanded in 1864 after he argued with Chinese leaders over the execution of POWs. Plans to create a modern Chinese navy were put on hold because it would rely too much on foreigners. Expense was also an issue. China was simply too inward-looking, too culturally aloof, and too financially destitute, to adapt effectively to the Western challenge.

94

COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE

Charles 'Chinese' Gordon was one of the most celebrated soldiers of fortune in China. He helped to organize the 'Ever Victorious Army' to oppose the Taiping rebellion. However, Gordons force was disbanded in 1864 after he opposed the custom of executing prisoners of war.

95

a scorched-earth policy combined with simple eviction forced the migration of the Cherkes population. the harder you hit them. In India. In the colonies.WARS OF EMPIRE DECISIVE VICTORY VERSUS ATTRITION STRATEGIES Decisive military engagements were rare in colonial combat. but only at the price of incredible hardship. General Aleksei Ermolov. D. This type of economic warfare caused difficulties not only on the ground but also at home. The safest solution from a Western perspective was simply to treat all natives as enemies until there was proof that they were otherwise. The Russian General M. with Amerindians on both sides willing to burn villages and attack missions. the longer they will remain quiet afterwards'. a philosophy espoused by those fighting the Amerindians who believed extermination and deportation to be the optimum way to deal with savages. drove off their game and kept them from fishing spots. regional. Bugeaud raised the razzia. even the best commanders fell back on attrition strategies to bring the enemy to heel. their villages were destroyed by colonial expeditions. a hero of the Napoleonic Wars and governor general of Georgia and the Caucasus. tribal and family loyalties all played a role. the Russians systematically cut down forests and denied grazing land to insurgents. which were then fortified as bases for economic warfare. followed by resettlement of the area with Cossacks and Russians. ethnic. might follow even the most ostensibly impressive battlefield victor~ In these conditions. or raid. against the population. Prolonged periods of irregular warfare. Callwell maintained that the trump card of the British in India was that they could always identify and destroy any village that challenged British rule. Without powder and ammunition. and worse. religious. adopted a lines or siege approach to the resistance in the Caucasus . to a strategic concept as his troops destroyed crops. rounded up livestock.' In the eastern Caucasus. destroyed food caches. .how to distinguish friend from foe. sequences of indecisive skirmishes. The guerrilla war between royalist and independence factions in what is modern-day Bolivia was especially vicious. Skobelev held to the principle that 'in Asia. Amerindians were worn down by disease and starvation as colonists burned their corn. Ermolov justified his harsh pacification policy: 'One execution saves hundreds of Russians from destruction and thousands of Muslims from treason. it served to point up the dilemma that was to bedevil Western soldiers until the end of the twentieth century . and burned villages on the theory that if the Algerians could not eat. In Algeria. but involved an extremely complex reaction in which political. In the western Caucasus. Resistance to European rule was very seldom absolute. they could not fight. Wellesley burned food and crops and threatened to hang merchants who supplied food to insurgents fighting on amidst the debris of Tipu's empire.expeditions moved forward to seize important positions. guided by Amerindian scouts.

in any case. improved sanitary and logistical capabilities . 97 . But even practitioners of harsh methods like Bugeaud acknowledged that they created much bad blood. thus escalating the conflict. arguing that only through the hard hand of war would they accept the yoke of conquest. for that nation to profit from it. a happy combination of clemency with firmness. and made later reconciliation of the conquered people to colonial rule very difficult. would make imperial conquest hardly more than a stroll beneath a tropical sun. the second that gave it the means. This was certainly the case in the Caucasus. the world stood on the threshold of a new era of imperial expansion fuelled by two new developments. Businessmen like Mattheson and Jardine had pioneered the judicious use of military force to compel even a huge country like China to trade on terms favourable to outsiders.' One risk of such a harsh approach was that. it was hoped. as Callwell suggested.' But he nevertheless conceded that 'a spirit of leniency that diminished the spirit of rebellion among French peasants could not be applied to uncivilized races (that) attribute leniency to timidity. not for profit.which. but for prestige. transport. The 1860s closed an era of imperial expansion. rather than on the guilty. Callwell recommended that colonial commanders with an eye on making friends with the enemy afterwards attempt to overawe rather than aggravate them. as the French had learned in Algeria and the British in India. to avoid the revenge of the locals. which naturally led the Europeans to the conclusion that deserted villages meant war. where Russian brutality pushed the mountaineers into the arms of Shamil and the Sufi order. The industrial and trade revolutions which spread from Britain to the European and North American continents mocked the idea that a nation's army must control a piece of land. He commended Hoche's methods in the Vendee.COLONIAL WARFARE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL AGE Bugeaud saw no need to appease his opponents. and therefore they had to be crushed to be controlled. The costs of both conquest and subsequent infrastructure development gobbled up any potential profits. For Bugeaud. 'The enemy should be chastised up to a certain point. As European reprisals tended to fall on natives close at hand. The Hessian Johann Ewald discovered his own inability to distinguish rebel from loyalist in the American revolution. in the 1860s. The second development was the quickening pace of technology . The first was national rivalries that encouraged nations to conquer territory. one is sometimes forced into committing havoc that the laws of regular warfare do not sanction. Arab hostility was unalterable.modern weapons. The economic underpinnings of the old mercantilist empires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had collapsed in an era of free trade. Yet he recommended that. indigenous peoples tended to flee when imperial troops appeared on the horizon. Yet. In small wars. 'one make friends in the middle of enemy country'. but should not be driven to desperation. It might also invite defeat. or its navy rule the seas. one that gave Europe the motivation. it exasperated the enemy.

.

.-....:@:.-""":==='-:+-I ..CHAPTER THREE . most of the Hereros were driven by the Germans into the Kalahari Desert to perish miserably.---=:~:-==:~".- SMALL EXPEDITIONS OF MOUNTED MEN: THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM THIS FANCIFUL FRENCH illustration of ill-armed Hereros successfully attacking Germans in South-West Africa in 1903 is more illustrative of the depth of European imperial rivalries than of the realities of warfare in Africa.... In fact. .

the grande dame of imperialism. The altered political context of imperial expansion did not immediately transform the situation on the ground. expanded and institutionalized. As in the earlier period. by the mid nineteenth century virtually the only African cash export was palm oil. It is no accident that imperial expansion hit its stride at the very moment when nationalism was at its apogee. 'Savages. Military imperialism. Colonel C. was sanctified. whose fleet and extensive trade network had guaranteed her unrivalled access to foreign markets since Wellington sent Napoleon packing at Waterloo in 1815. Effective occupation as the validation for colonial claims set off what French prime minister Jules Ferry called a 'steeplechase to the unknown'. France. too. touched off a land rush to stake claims on the African heartland that preoccupied the century's last quarter. and to a lesser extent Portugal. imperial expeditions remained campaigns against nature. France. In Europe. European rivalries following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Imperial soldiers still struggled to impart mobility and offensive punch into their operations. Russia pushed into Central Asia and along the Amur river toward Manchuria. The Civil War behind it. suffer Beijing's fate. intrepid or foolhardy whites had dared venture. and took to the sea in the aftermath of the Spanish-American war of 1898. tests of physical endurance in which fatigue and disease claimed a greater mortality than did bullets. the Wars of German Unification (1864-71) upset the balance of power and set the major loser. France rattled the complacency of Britain. Callwell preached the virtues of small expeditions of mounted men as the best formula for decision. on an aggressive search for compensation abroad for her diminished status at home.' Callwell attributed the British difficulties in the early stages of the In 1875. AFRICA C. E. rather than a quest for riches. With the death of the slave trade. A conference called at Berlin in the winter of 1884-5 to establish ground rules for this imperial land grab made matters worse. to make campaigns more decisive and lessen the requirements for debilitating attrition strategies.I875 conquer and claim areas where earlier only the most curious. the United States and Russia. gold and ivory from chiefs on the coast. Togo and Tanzania. not better. a period during which Britain. In north and sub-Saharan Africa and in the Far East. as imperial soldiers rushed to explore. for the former was an articulation of the latter. were carried out by mounted troops alone. Germany entered the imperial race in 1884 when Bismarck staked claims on what is now Namibia. collected the corners of virtually every continent and island still up for grabs. European colonization of Africa was hardly more advanced than it had been two hundred years earlier. Germany and Japan. roo . energized Meiji Japan into a programme of military modernization and imperial expansion lest it. Asiatics and adversaries of that character have a great dread of the mounted man. the United States was free to continue its continental expansion.WARS OF EMPIRE SMALL EXPEDITIONS OF MOUNTED MEN: THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM T HE 'HIGH RENAISSANCE' OF imperialism kicked off in the 1870s and lasted until about 1905. he believed. a staple of colonial expansion at least since Cortes. There were precious few economic incentives to push inland in earlier eras when traders could purchase slaves. The most brilliant exploits. The implosion of China induced by the bullying and humiliation of unequal treaties signed at the points of foreign bayonets.

THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM / / . L_'Madei" / Gulf of Guinea ATLANTIC OCEAN \ Africa c. direct rule Ottoman possessions. 1875 British possessions French possessions Ottoman possessions. Egyptian viceroyalty Portuguese possessions I I I INDIAN OCEAN I I I I I I I I ORANGE FREE STATE I I I / --_II D Spanish possessions African state major tribe or people D OVAMBO / ror .

WARS OF EMPIRE

THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN

Despite C. E. Callwelfs preference for ·small expeditions of mounted men,' Custer's 1876 disaster on the Little Bighorn demonstrated the limitations of sending cavalry, in reality

o
MONTANA

CD

Col. CUSTER Company F. YATES Company 1. KEOGH Company L. CALHOUN

mounted infantry, with no support against indigenous forces, no matter how poorly armed. Custer assumed that Crazy Horse was trying to flee and set off in pursuit with a fraction of his command, only to be surrounded and annihilated.

o

8)
o o
1 km
I

~ j

o

~ Company C. T.W.CUSTER
Company E. SMITH Indians under CRAZY HORSE Indians under GALL

Battle of Little Bighorn
25 June 1876 Phase 1

1 mile

® ®
Custer Ridge

102

THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM

Indian Mutiny, and their defeat in the First South African War of 1881, to the absence of cavalry. That cavalry formed an important component of imperial expeditions cannot be denied. Horses, mules or camels supplied mobility, vital for scouting, surprise, and maintaining contact with a rapidly retreating the advantage of mobility and surprise over Luzon at the turn of the
enem~

For

instance, mounted Philippine scouts and cavalry (macabebes) allowed US forces
centur~ But

the contribution of cavalry to victory in imperial expeditions must not be exaggerated. Even Callwell confessed that mounted troops alone were not invariably a formula for success. Not all terrain was favourable to cavalry; it

Battle of Little Bighorn
25 June 1876 Phase 2

C!)

I

Custer divides his command of 600 men into three groups, then leads his own group north-west along the ridges above the Little Bighorn river. Meanwhile the other two groups are beaten off by Indian forces isolating Custer and his men

t::'\ ~

Custer's force moves in loose company formations along the ridge deep in Indian-controlled territory and contact with Reno and Beufeau is lost. Large Indian forces move across the Little Bighorn river

\i!J

f3\

Indian forces under Crazy Horse and Gall move to surround Custer's 212 cavalry men, and begin their attack The Indian attack rapidly overwhelms the companies to the east and south of Custer's position. The few survivors collect around Custer for a last stand

@

1°3

WARS OF EMPIRE

Custer's Last Stand, 25 June 1876. George Custer built a reputation for iinpetuous bravery in the American Civil War, becoming a brigadier general at the age of 23. But his impetuousness, combined with an outsized ego, caused him to throw caution to the wind when faced with immensely superior forces on the Little Bighorn.

might be too forested, too dry, or too mountainous. Horses were too expensive and too fragile to be anything but an auxiliary commodity on most expeditions, which is why most commanders in the early nineteenth century, and many who came after, relied principally on infantr~ And even in conditions where mounted soldiers were the arm of choice, as in the American west where horse soldiers were most likely to close with the enemy, horses tired quickly and, after a week, the cavalry might be less mobile and have less firepower than the infantr~ Cavalry was most effective when it co-operated with artillery and infantry. However, in conditions of imperial warfare, cavalry commanders might be tempted to operate on their own, thus exposing their forces to unnecessary risks. George Armstrong Custer's demise on the Little Bighorn in 1876 offers the most

dramatic and celebrated example of a mounted man's inclination to ride off over the horizon away from infantry support and get into trouble. It is significant and ironic that General Nelson A. Miles's relentless, and ultimately successful, pursuit of Sitting Bull to avenge Custer's defeat was carried out mainly with
infantr~

It was precisely to correct the problem of cavalry operating without

infantry support that the French General Fran<;ois de Negrier created mulemounted infantry companies in 1881, whose purpose was to provide long-range support for cavalry operating in the Sud-Oranais of Algeria. Like the cavalry in

1°4

THE HIGH RE

AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM

Major General Nelson Miles, a hero of the American Civil War who had been awarded the Medal of Honor at Chancellorsville, also proved to be one of America's most tenacious Amerindian fighters, leading campaigns against the Nez Pierce in 1877 and Geronimo in 1886.

the American Civil War and in the campaigns In the American West, these companies learned to fight dismounted after a company of the Foreign Legion was destroyed trying to fight on mule-back at the Chott Tigri in the Sud-Oranais of Algeria in April 1882. These mule-mounted companies remained a feature of Foreign Legion units in North Africa until the Second World War. The Second South African (Boer) War is regarded as the quintessential cavalry war, and in many respects it was, at least in its final stages. But it is useful to remember that the firepower of Boer Mausers during the opening phase of the
l°S

gave the Boers a decided edge in mobility in the South African War. Finally. livestock and dismounted soldiers. what these cavalry drives succeeded Mounted Boer fighters dominated the latter phase of the Second South African War. the British cavalry became an element in an attrition strategy which saw it organized into extended lines to drive Boer guerrillas against fixed lines of barbed wire and blockhouses. As the war slipped into its guerrilla phase. the French in Algeria were never able to match in mobility raiders out of Morocco or camel-mounted Tuareg in the Sahara. thus making German pursuit impossible. taking a leaf from Bugeaud's book. Horses raised on the South African veld. Hendrik Witbooi forced Captain Curt von Frans:ois to come to terms in 1893 after the Nama leader had captured virtually all the horses around Windhoek in a series of daring raids. British cavalry never matched that of the Boer raiders in mobilit~ Ultimately. they simply removed anything or anyone who might supply the insurgents with a means to resist. Likewise. mobility cut both ways. in doing was to force the Boers to abandon their cumbersome wagons. more robust than the mounts imported by the British. They acquired a mobility that the British found impossible to match until. And even then. ultimately reducing them to starvation.WARS OF EMPIRE conflict forced the British cavalry to fight dismounted. In South-West Africa. Io6 .

Disease was one. for longer. General Hubert Lyautey.' insisted Callwell. 'victory has been achieved by vigor and dash rather than by force of numbers. rail lines in some cases. the impediments to rapid victory against an often elusive foe across country which was usually remote and invariably inhospitable were immense.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM Callwell's purpose was not to extend the natural life of an antiquated if noble arm out of sheer nostalgia. and searchlights formed lines against which sweeps of British cavalry would attempt to drive elusive Boer fighters.' One of de Negrier's successors in the Sud-Oranais. in Africa. 'From the days of Clive down to the present time. sought was mobilit~ 'The problem is not to move faster. was fond of repeating that.' General de Negrier wrote of North African warfare. You have to march. As suggested in the previous chapter. both financial and political. What Callwell. like this one used in South Africa. In South Africa. Until quinine became Blockhouses. Fire fights are rare here. indeed all colonial commanders. one defends oneself by moving. I07 . We fight with volleys of kilometres.' One major advantage of this approach was political.home governments eager for results favoured a one-blow approach over more patient strategies which lengthened conflicts and raised the costs. blockhouses connected by barbed wire. were a variant of the 'lines' approach used by the Russians in the Caucasus and the Spanish in Morocco. 'but to go further.

the British invasion of Ethiopia in 1868 may be regarded as the first modern colonial expedition in that it included a railway constructed to supply troops marching off into the hinterland. armies in the Caribbean and West Africa wasted away from falciparum malaria carried by the anopheline mosquito. not to mention pack animals. and a commander might court disaster if he relied too heavily on them for the success of an expedition. General Vorontsov had to spike his guns because 400 of the 635 horses used to draw them had perished. hollowed out whole expeditions with yellow fever. For instance. expeditions that were too large might have their hands full simply sustaining themselves on the coast. commodities. which contributed to the expense of a campaign. both political and military: Horses were fragile In some respects. The task of accumulating supplies. Because white troops perished at a much higher rate from these and other endemic diseases. the longevity of the Seminole uprising relied in part on the fact that the small American force sent to master it in the summer of 1836 lost 600 horses to sickness.000 Io8 . a condition which invited opposition. in his 1845 expedition in the Caucasus. endemic to urban areas and military camps. The problem for the commander was how to balance the numbers required for security and success with the constraints of logistics. commanders preferred to recruit a high percentage of native soldiers for their expeditions. The Aedes aegypti mosquito. much less be able to push inland. in remote areas was a long and arduous one. As has been noted. This illustrated that the main advantage of technology lay in the logistical 'tail' of these expeditions. rather than in the armed 'teeth'. Logistics were the Achilles' heel of any imperial expedition. From an operational perspective.WARS OF EMPIRE available in a distilled form in the 1840s. coma and death. which consigned 75 per cent of its victims to delirium.000 British troops in Abyssinia required 26. This was initially the case in 1868 when 10.

000 followers to lumber inland. As a consequence. His force melting away from disease. was forced to cut loose from his logistics and march on Tananarive with a light column of 1. the economy of southern Algeria was devastated and took years to recover. 'The jackals and the vultures along the way were overwhelmed with the immensity of their task.' the Sahara expert E. The inclusion of the two-wheeled metal voiture Lefevre allowed the number of porters to be reduced to 7. 'I do not think that there has been a massacre comparable to that of 1901.' In 1896.000 camels to supply the Tuat expedition of 1901-2.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM pack animals and 12. French planners estimated that 18. but by Nature.500 men. F. Gautier wrote. The French requisitioned 35.500-man 'flying column'.000 perished at the hands of French troops inexperienced in the finer points of camel handling.000-man expeditionary force to Madagascar.' The German governor of SouthWest Africa complained in 1894 that the country was so deficient in water and pasture land that a force of 100 men would pose an almost insoluble supply problem. In 1894. his force perishing from disease before even a shot could be fired.000 when the French invaded the following year. of which 25. General Charles Duchesne. Duchesne was obliged to strike inland with a 1.000 to 20. 1°9 . But the expedition stalled on the coast as roads and bridges over which the vehicles (called La fievre. 'We would be defeated not by the people. or 'fever wagon' by the troops) could pass had to be constructed.000 porters and mule drivers would be required to support a 12. he actually returned almost a quarter of his force to Germany because he The 1895 French invasion of Madagascar nearly came to grief when General Duchesne lingered for too long in the islands malarial lowlands to construct roads and bridges to support a thrust toward Tananarive.

which constrained strategic mobility. Logistical difficulties. rivers often offered the most obvious routes of advance.000 Tokolor sofas (warriors) against the French post at Medine. When. The Niger and Congo river networks offered multiple routes of entry into sub-Saharan Africa. could be eased in two ways: the first was. The 1892 French invasion of Dahomey was greatly facilitated by the gunboat Topaz. aI-Hajj Umar threw 20.WARS OF EMPIRE In the colonies. to advance along water routes. lacked the horses and oxen to support a force larger than seven hundred men. then. and then for expeditions of armed men. The entire French strategy for the penetration of the western Sudan was to construct posts along the Senegal and eventually the Niger rivers. General 110 . in 1857. first for explorers. The strategy of those who opposed them. had to be to block those rivers. which shadowed the French advance along the Queme river and helped to shatter several Dahomian attacks. as in the past.

when General Kitchener moved south from Khartoum to challenge them in 1898. in ten days. sailed 400 miles up the Senegal river to relieve the siege. he came by steamboat. Nor is it any wonder that. For instance. and disease-ridden. When that failed. the decision to advance along a water line was not invariably a happy one. on the Mekong river in the 1860s because they believed it offered a path into southern China. the decision by French planners in Paris to land at Manjunga on the Madagascar Channel and advance on Tananarive along the Betsiboka/Ikopa rivers rather than choose a shorter overland route from the port III . river line that virtually spelled disaster for his expedition. The French tried to penetrate Cochin-China Rivers did not invariably offer the best route of advance. he outran his logistics and got into trouble. who left the mouth of the Congo in 1896 to appear.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM Louis Faidherbe crammed 500 soldiers with artillery on two steamships at St-Louis de Senegal and. However. The fabled city of Timbuktu fell to a French river flotilla in January 1894. they tried the Red and Clear rivers into Tonkin two decades later. almost two years later. When General Negrier abandoned the Red river network to advance overland to Lang Son on the Chinese border in 1885. transported a disassembled steamboat during the overland part of their trek. General Dodds followed the Oueme river to invade Dahomey in 1892. French General Duchesne rejected a shorter overland route to Tananarive in favour of a lengthy. In Madagascar in 1895. It is no accident that the intrepid band of Frenchmen led by Colonel Marchand. on the upper Nile at a place called Fashoda.

Railways determined many of the lines of advance chosen by British forces in the Boer War and linked the blockhouse system built by Kitchener in the later phase of the war. The British imported their own locomotives. nearly sunk the expedition. proved to be rich in malarial mosquitoes. and the effort expended to build them across desolate or malarial countryside diverted military assets and desperately increased the costs of a campaign. the ocean swells on the Betsiboka estuary swamped many river craft. while the rivers. A hidden coral reef off Manjunga complicated the off-loading of the ships. However. railroads had their drawbacks. they were vulnerable to attack. attempts to construct a railway in the 1880s to support the French advance from Senegal to the Niger river became an expensive farce which spiked the costs of the military campaign. cars and track in 1868 for the invasion of Abyssinia. although unnavigable very far inland.WARS OF EMPIRE of Vatomandry on Madagascar's east coast. finally. they required significant manpower to build and maintain. the enemy learned to concentrate far away from the railheads. while Russian gunboats approached from the north along Railways offered one solution to logistical problems. all of which were obvious in the Boer War: they made for very predictable lines of advance that might be blocked. Yellow and Yangtze rivers offered Western gunboats access to the Chinese heartland. Railways offered a second method of resolving logistical difficulties. invited parliamentary scrutiny of the army's financial mismanagement and contributed nothing to the security of French 112 . The first was that they were not plentiful in the undeveloped world. railways had several drawbacks from a military viewpoint. the Amur. In the western Sudan. The Pearl. However.

.:r: . CD CD CD (0 (2) CD CD @ @ Unsuccessful column organization used by Colonel Innocenti in Southern Algeria 17 May 1881 COLUMN ORGANIZATION In May 1881) Bou Amama successfully attacked the Innocenti column at Moualok in southern Algeria by enticing the armed elements forward to break an obvious ambush) and then falling upon the lightly protected convoy. ~. >. : Column organization used by Colonel N egrier 113 .. N egrier also dispensed with his goums . Colonel (later General) Fran~ois de N egrier subsequently reorganized his convoy defence as a 'mobile echelon ~ of mule-mounted Foreign Legionnaires and artillery that could swing to defend against attack from any direction) while permitting the column a more flexible marching formation over irregular terrain..:~ . .. ..THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM CD CD Goum infantry Cavalry Foreign legion Headquarters Artillery General staff Medical section Baggage train Zouave infantry Algerian infantry Algerian rear gu~..irregular tribal levies . .whose resemblance to the enemy confused the Innocenti column and caused them to hold fire until too late. "/~~/ ....• ~ . . .~¢ .

WARS OF EMPIRE posts. Third. supply 114 . MAXIM GUN AND CARRIAGE When the push into the hinterland began. unlike western Europe where a profligate rail network offered commanders strategic mobility. British advances along rail lines in the early months of the Boer War were so predictable that Boers simply had to fortify obvious choke points and wait for the British to attack. the effort to shift materiel beyond that point was immense. A second problem was that although railways could bring troops and supplies to the railhead. the Herero learned to concentrate far away from the rail lines and force the Germans to come to them. thereby amplifying the logistical burden for their enemies. In South-West Africa. the paucity of rail lines abroad limited strategic options.

indeed on all warfare. like mobility. Unlike Wellesley. the Maxim presented some of the same mobility problems as did artillery. advantage. the impact of technology on imperial warfare. Not only was the change a slow one. the Maxim became a standard feature of colonial military inventories by the turn of the century. however. changed the equation of colonial battles. A significant improvement over the French mitrailleuse and the unreliable Gatling. There was no shortage of merchants of death to sell modern rifles to indigenous peoples. however. For one thing.the governor of French Somaliland supplied Menelik with a gift of 100. it is reckoned that over 16 million firearms were imported by Africans in the course of the nineteenth centur~ Colonial officials.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM trains slowed the column to a snail's pace. and offered a vulnerable target. As this picture of the Rifle Brigade in training suggests. was available to both sides. invented the first machine gun in 1884. a native of Maine. no imperial commander could hope for success until he had solved his logistical problems. On the surface. 'Whatever happens we have got/the Maxim gun and they have not'. The Italians also contributed to the arms transfer in North Africa when they abandoned 5. in 1915. eager to introduce a fatal touch of chaos to African empires which dwelt in conditions of scarcely stifled unrest. has frequently been misunderstood. Although it may safely be consigned to the 'sore loser' category. survivors of the Little Bighorn alleged that Sitting Bull had shot MAXIM GUN AND CARRIAGE Hiram Maxim. imperial expeditions were often categorized as campaigns against nature. rifles used to good effect against the Italians five years later at Adowa. For this reason. 115 . but also technology was more important to the logistical tail than at the sharp end of imperial expeditions. However. technology.000 rifles and crates of ammunition in a headlong flight back to Tripoli in the face of Sanusi opposition. the truth was that firepower gave Europeans an important. This circumscribed the offensive capacities of expeditions forced to employ a disproportionate number of troops and artillery to defend supply trains from hostile attack. But although Hilaire Belloc could write. the introduction of breech-loading rifles in the 1860s. European rivalries also played a role in arming indigenous resistance . might supply weapons to minor chieftains or pretenders to thrones as a means of undermining the position of a local ruler. As in Wellesley's day. and of machine guns in the 1880s.000 rifles and 2 million tons of ammunition after Britain backed Italy's assertion of a protectorate over Ethiopia in 1891. at least. but by no means a decisive. soldiers in the late nineteenth century could turn to technology to help them solve their operational and logistical problems.

000 cattle for weapons and ammunition in South-West Africa. when rebellion against the Germans erupted in 1904. fewer than one-third of the warriors were armed with rifles. in 1884-5. artillery and explosives. These complaints are identical to those of French soldiers in Tonkin in 1885 about their single-shot 1874-model Gras rifles with which they faced Chinese troops armed with repeaters. Nevertheless. It is also likely that the superior weaponry of the imperial French Foreign Legionnaires successfully withstood a three-month siege of Tuyen Quang. The French discovered that both the Dahomians in 1892 and the Malagasies in 1895 possessed modern rifles. 116 .WARS OF EMPIRE them off the field with Winchester repeaters. while their ability to reply was muted by single-shot Springfields. It was reckoned that in 1890-91 alone. a fortress on the Clear river in Upper Tonkin. although they used them badly when they used them at all. the Herero traded almost 20. The attacking Yunnanese regulars and their Vietnamese 'Black Flag' allies were well armed with modern rifles. and employed sophisticated siege and mining techniques.

their general use in imperial warfare was impeded 117 . offered the most prudent strateg~ The accuracy of Boer Mausers caused the British to alter their tactics in the Second South African War of 1899-1902. as well as to cease the use of expanding dum-dum rounds (named after the arms factory in India). It appears that the Russians and Americans were the first to add them to the inventories of armed expeditions in Central Asia and the American West. as unsuitable to a white man's war. so effective against the Mahdi's forces at Omdurman in 1898. However. The advent of machine guns did give Europeans firepower advantages in defensive situations. rather than confrontation.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM invaders convinced many native chiefs that co-operation.

Chelmsford carried them into action against the Zulus in 1879. rr8 . So firepower did not save him at Isandlwana. rather than distributed to infantry and cavalry units. Conventional wisdom in the early days also assigned these weapons to the artillery to be used in batteries. which was why Custer left his Gatling behind when he departed for the Little Bighorn. Most commanders realized that a weapon which jammed at critical moments posed a distinct danger.WARS OF EMPIRE by both technical and tactical factors. but the Africans learned to work around them and attack on the flank. Early versions like the mitrailleuse and the Gatling were heavy and unreliable.

who charged with reckless courage. Pushed too far forward. though obsolete and unreliable. more reliable Maxim gun began to appear on colonial battlefields in the 1890s. when armed police of the Chartered Company and volunteers simply laagered their wagons and mowed down the Africans. to be used by the British on the North-West Frontier. they might become isolated and their crews overwhelmed. this Gatling. 119 .THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM The lighter. But Maxim guns were seldom a battle winner. they remained too few to decide the outcome of a Despite the appearance of the Maxim. they were not well suited for warfare in mountains or jungles where the enemy fought dispersed or was invisible. defends a laager in Bulawayo in 1896. for at least two reasons. and to best effect in the Matabele War of 1896. First. Machine guns worked to their maximum advantage during the Matabele War because the enemy massed in great numbers to attack laagers. Second.

developed for raiding. the machine gun remained a relatively scarce item in military inventories well into the First World War. During the Boer War of 1899-1902. closes on the British positions. While this strategy. usually failed against well-disciplined imperial forces. At daybreak on the 22 January Lord Chelmsford sends out a column to intercept a Zulu force. some 10. And even then. while the British included them in their flying columns. when sand jammed the mechanisms of their machine guns. and overwhelms the British line. o Col. next to Bradstreet's company The Zulu army. lsandlwana At midday the Zulu attack develops with the main force rapidly approaching hastily founded British positions British column camps at Isandlwana.WARS OF EMPIRE THE BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA campaign . Maxims were not free of mechanical problems. but not unknown. as the French discovered during the Moroccan attack at Menabba in eastern Morocco in April 1908. the attackers here saturated a defence strung out on too vast a perimeter. Only a small number manage to escape the final onslaught 120 . and their tactical use on the offensive as well as the defensive. leaving some 800 troops and 400 native levies to guard the camp Dramatic defeats of imperial armies by indigenous forces were relatively rare in the imperial era. which they regarded as a cheap and efficient form of light artillery. But it was only the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 which revealed the value of large numbers of machineguns.the British possessed only six Maxims at Omdurman.000 strong. the Transvaal government equipped its troops with a number of Maxims. Zulu Impis attacked in a 'cow horns' formation fairly typical of the more sophisticated indigenous African armies. Durnford retreats and takes po ition on the right flank.

Chelmsford ~s troops were overwhelmed in part because the Natal Kaffirs. 121 . However.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM Modern firepower was usually sufficient to withstand frontal assaults by poorly armed natives. despite their significant firepower advantage. were inadequately armed and disciplined. who had been confided a critical portion of the defence line.

artillery might be disassembled and carried by porters. Light mountain guns carried on the backs of mules or camels and able to be assembled quickly were available from the 1840s. but they did not pack much of a wallop. Moroccans were caught in the insoluble dilemma that they had to become like Europeans in order to resist them. In any case. like the British who stormed Maori pahs in ew Zealand. In areas where pack animals were scarce. Artillery might be useful against forts. it came almost as a relief if the enemy chose to fight from these defensive positions A French instructor trains troops of the sultan of Morocco to fire a 65-mm mountain gun in 1911. walled villages. and was more trouble that it was worth. But after taking high casualties in frontal assaults. these troops mutinied and slaughtered many of their instructors. As in China.WARS OF EMPIRE The remoteness of colonial battlefields continued to make artillery a problem. The following year. better still. But it was burdensome. forfeited surprise. discovered that dynamite or. the French in Tonkin. 122 . a manoeuvre against the line of retreat was usually sufficient to induce a precipitate evacuation. or defensive enclosures.

like Creusot 75s. which the European soldiers. the Dahomians in 1892. the effect of artillery on the enemy. This required a level of technical expertise. At Isandlwana. German General Lothar 12 3 . Larger guns. on the Niger. part of a campaign to convince China to cede Tonkin to France. irregular forces. Zulus threw themselves to the ground each time the gunners sprang back prior to pulling the lanyards. against the Dahomians. was more psychological than physical. or the Moroccans at Sidi-Bou Othman. However. feared most. Naval artillery mounted on gunboats supported land operations in Tonkin.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM because it lessened the threat of ambushes or surprise attacks. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Native fortifications were easily smashed by artillery. on the Nile and. especially on dispersed. Those fighting on the defensive might also be vulnerable. in China. Artillery was used to dissuade Herero tribesmen from attacking German settlements at the beginning of the rebellions of 1904. infrastructure and financial support of which the Ch'ing dynasty was incapable. so that shells from the camp's two artillery pieces screamed harmlessly overhead. as did Samori's sofas. French warships attack Chinese ships at Fuchou in August 1884. and the enemy showed a preference for massing to attack. especially if the battlefield was not too remote. especially those fighting in dense jungle. The British scurried to add heavy artillery to their arsenals during the Boer War. Nowhere was the Chinese failure to modernize its forces more apparent than in the navy. might be used extensively. small artillery pieces like the Hotchkiss became part of the inventories of expeditionary forces. outside Marrakesh. which also allowed Europeans to break Boxer resistance at Peking (Beijing) in 1900. in September 1912. of course.

However.von Trotha also employed artillery in the offensive phase of operations when he brought thirty guns and twelve Maxims against Herero tribesmen at Waterberg on 11-12 Augu$~. artiller): The premise of China's 'Self-Strengthening Movement'. spurred by the 1861 occupation of Beijing bY. 'von Trotha succee~ed in his true' purpose.oper mix. ha'd littl~ success when they attempted to adopt . such that they· found.would bring strength. since Western superiority was based on technology.. the result was a massacre.an Anglo-French expeditionary force. 1904. was that. it difficult to adju~t t~eir institutions to accommodate technolog): The fact that the Chinese had to rely on . which was to drive the Herero into the . the adoption of technology . when in September 1908 a Moroccan harka concentrated against eighteen guns of a French column before BOH penib in eastern Morocco. But it was always hard to predict the pr. of shrapnel and impact shells to be carried on campargn. Unfortunately for the reformers. The French found that 'shrapnel had little effect on Moroccans. the hold of tradition was. " lridigertous peoples usually. who sought refuge in palm groves or _behind walls of ksour (fortified villages). perished of thirst. Omaheke Desert whe:re hundreds. Although German fir~power inflicted few casualties.

.Alexa~dria in 1882 after bombar4ment by the British fleet in response to a nationalist uprising in Egypt. Naval artillery was regularly mustered to intimidate foreign potentates to give in to imperial demands or to quell rebellion.

led by Dabormida Italian advance.000 Ethiopians. led by Arimondi Italian advance. • Mount Eshasho Baratieri's position at 9am small hill V T g Ellena's reserve brigade Arimondi's advance Baratieri's main defence lines • Mount Belah Dabormida's advance r. goaded by his subordinate officers.WARS OF EMPIRE British forces crush Egyptian nationalists at Tel-el-Kebir in 1882. He ordered his 15. THE BATTLE OF AnOWA The Italians suffered what was probably the most catastrophic defeat of any imperial army at Adowa in 1896.. who retaliated in 1898 by staking a claim to the Egyptian Sudan at Fashoda. The British imposition of supervisory officials on the khedive (viceroy) in 1881 to protect the Suez Canal angered both Egyptian nationalists. and by the rebukes of Francesco Crispi.000 troops forward in three separate columns.. -+ I --y . General Baratieri... \ 1 mile \ . the Italian Prime Minister attacked prematurely. led by Albertone Askari of Albertone retreats Ethipian lines of attack Italian battery • lkm . .-)I-- Abba Gorimo 126 .. each of which was overwhelmed piecemeal by nearly 100.0 . as well as the French. . e Hill of Chidane Meret • according to Baratieri ~ ~ Mount &maiata N E T H o A Battle of Adowa 1 March 1896 Italian advance. .

It was superior tactics and discipline. or at Isly in 1844. even decisive. But the Spaniards appeared little inclined to defend these small provincial towns in any case. Morocco in 1908. or Egyptian troops at Tel-el-Kebir in 1882. or Marrakesh in 1912. These pieces might be important. Cuban revolutionaries organized artillery units which they employed to chase Spanish troops from Bayamo in Oriente province and Victoria de las Tunas in 1897. The rise of the powerful Galoui clan in southern Morocco can be traced to a 77mm cannon taken from the sultan's army in 1893. To be sure. when firepower and organizational ability allied with technology to give the Europeans the advantage. and ultimately the French. Four artillery pieces captured in skirmishes with the French allowed aI-Hajj Umar Tal to extend the Tokolor empire on the southern bank of the Senegal river in the 1850s. As with small arms. However. it was General Sir Garnet Wolseley who probably first achieved the marriage of technology and organization during the Ashanti campaign of 1873-4. This artillery piece allowed Madani el Galoui to bust the fortresses of his rivals who guarded the passes of the High Atlas. But Europeans had prevailed in pitched battles like Assaye in 1803. While innovative commanders like Wellesley or Bugeaud always attempted to organize expeditions efficiently within the confines of pre-industrial capabilities. Better still. European advantages in firepower. if they massed in a 'holy war' response. at Bou Denib. Firepower might be a factor in victory if the enemy obligingly tried to replicate European methods. thus making him the power broker of Marrakesh with whom the sultan. perhaps. on the Sikkak river in Algeria in 1836. although their impact was thought to be more psychological than physical. However. When these elements were absent.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM non-lethal blast from one of their antique guns. with the Abyssinian expedition of 1868. which had been a triumph of administrative 12 7 . as at Omdurman in 1898. when the British imported an entire railway to support the advance into the interior. they seldom had sufficient shells to affect a battle's outcome. the results could be disastrous. as with ill-trained and poorly led Italian forces at Adowa in 1896. and discipline might be nullified by geography and by the enem~ The turning point for Europeans came in the 1860s and 1870s. rather than firepower. But the battle was almost incidental to the success of the campaign. tactics. the decisive development came. Wolseley defeated the Ashanti in battle thanks to Snider rifles and 7-pounder guns. were forced to deal. in conflicts among native groups. which had assured European victory in these set-piece engagements. even when indigenous forces counted artillery in their arsenals. as did the Indian mutineers in 1857.

successful commanders. all of which would ensure a maximum number of rifles on line and a rapid conclusion of a campaign. Other commanders seeking more permanent outcomes were obliged to resort to large expeditions. not a campaign of conquest.500 men. Russian expeditions in Central Asia were essentially expeditions cast into the desert to lay siege to fortified towns. and disorganized it. potable water. Flying columns had their drawbacks. so making it vulnerable to ambush. or slow extinction in the sandveld of the Omaheke. General George Crook's 1883 Sierra Madre campaign against Geronimo was considered a model: a small. Flying columns were most effective against fixed positions like a village in places where the enemy was too few to take advantage of their frailties . tinned food (which increasingly replaced dry provisions like macaroni or rice which required water to cook). Logistics remained the weak spot of all of these operations. however.Burma. aggressively led force was guided by Apache auxiliaries with supplies carried on mule back. Tonkin in the 1890s. like French General Dodds in Dahomey (1892).' he complained. Most chose the latter. Poor intelligence and the poisoning of wells so debilitated Hicks Pasha on the Nile in 1883 that he fell victim to a Mahdist attack. or fragmented. especially in broken country. alerting the enemy and allowing him to flee before his escape route was cut off. In Indo-China in 1884-5 the French required a considerable force to take on a Chinese army allied with local Black Flag resistance. pack animals. in effect. although the Ashanti campaign proved a marvel of technical organization. would imitate Wolseley by reducing the size of expeditions to around 3. objective was a difficult task in the era before radio communications. and quinine for their troops. the campaign was barren of strategic results. and required what. often elusive. each manoeuvring to escape the control of the Colonel. When the enemy force was smaller. and then cover himself with a fait accompli. porterage. then successful commanders could resolve the dilemma of how to combine mobility with a force sufficiently large to defend itself by reducing their baggage to a minimum.WARS OF EMPIRE planning. to pull off a coup de main. this lesson was unevenly applied. Admittedly. way stations. the supply train could become a millstone which both slowed down a force. 'Each thought only of stealing the affair from the other. In future. in part because. its success relied largely on the fact that it was a punitive expedition. Co-ordinating the arrival of these columns from different directions on a single. As Callwell noted. were small armies. it might find itself the 128 . Because Wolseley rapidly withdrew his force after destroying the Ashanti capital. General Lothar von Trotha so arranged his converging columns at Waterberg as to offer the Herero the choice between immediate death in the teeth of his superior firepower. Lyautey complained that ambitious officers in charge of one prong of converging columns in Tonkin often sabotaged operations by attempting to be the first to reach the objective. and against Boer commandos in the latter part of the Second South African War. and take care to provide roads. Rhodesia. If the force were too small.

evertheless. 129 . European commanders required a substantial reordering of their military system. mobile. and nullify the technological and firepower advantage which should naturally be enjoyed by the invaders. An elusive enemy could control the strategic pace of the war. a field in which traditionally-minded commanders were usually loathe to work. the French developed the Arab Bureaux. were regarded as eccentrics whose innovations seldom survived their departure. and Hicks Pasha on the ile in 1883. To match this. A colonial commander who resorted to flying columns usually did so because he confronted the most dreaded of all situations . From a military standpoint. and even in North Africa. For these reasons. In North Africa. While Wolseley's approach was regarded as a model for rapid victory. and supply porters. Callwell regarded light or flying columns as only a temporary expedient or a minor operation in a larger campaign. who put considerable effort into creating reliable intelligence networks both in India and later in the Peninsula. A reliable intelligence network was vital for irregular warfare. where French columns were continually surprised and sometimes overwhelmed because they were too small to defend themselves. his was a punitive campaign. Chelmsford in 1879. fresh water. largely locally recruited forces with logistical systems to match. were poorly equipped to deal with it.THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM prey rather than the stalker. the British continued a tradition begun by Wellesley. This happened in Mexico between 1862 and 1867. even those with substantial colonial experience.guerrilla warfare. later renamed the service de renseignement (intelligence service) whose task was Sir Garnet Wolseley took care to prepare roads and way stations. and officers who advocated such things as light. tinned food and quinine to keep a relatively small expedition healthy long enough to inflict a decisive defeat on the Ashanti in 1873-4. Similar fates befell Custer in 1876. withdraw deep into the country. not one of conquest and occupation. regular armies. This was never easy to do.

WARS OF EMPIRE 13° .

Using captured documents. who could then be arrested. he identified the location of the headquarters of insurgent General Emilio Aguinaldo. a generally literate group who exhibited an unfortunate tendency to write everything down. whose democratic~ nationalist appeal enjoyed limited resonance both among a traditional peasant society and across a broad archipelago of islands. 13 1 .stamina. Funston was able to organize rapid offensive operations to attack guerrilla bases and capture important rebel leaders. and to administer them in areas controlled by the arm~ Indeed. General Frederick Funston established an intelligence network which relied principally on paying generous cash bonuses for good information. mobility. logistics and costs .could be OPPOSITE: Major General Frederick Funston mastered the Philippine insurgency in northern Luzon with a combination of retribution and rewards. Some of these problems . In the Philippines.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM both to collect intelligence on the tribes. and arrived at Aguinaldo's camp undetected to seize the general. His most celebrated action combined intelligence and deception. and later by Lyautey in eastern Algeria and Morocco. was that the creation of a market-place would draw in the tribes from whom one could glean intelligence and recruit locals to act as scouts. His tour de force was to masquerade as a prisoner of war and capture insurgent leader Emilio Aguinaldo. an essential element of the tache d~huile or 'oil spot' method of pacification pioneered by Gallieni in Tonkin and Madagascar. Working on the basis of intelligence. and on the carelessness of his enemies. The Philippine resistance was led by a European-educated Luzon elite. inserted them by sea. Emilio Aguinaldo (seated third from right~ bottom row) in 1896. Funston disguised his Philippine scouts as guerrillas and their officers as prisoners. including the identity of their leaders.

and the collection of trophies like female slaves or livestock. the practice of arming and leading native irregulars against other tribes led to one of the greatest scandals of French expansion in Africa. whose goals were to extend imperial authority. whom the French believed to be part of a French-organized goum. If a commander employed irregular levies of cossacks. African tribes. For instance. and merely saw European soldiers as a means to that end.600 troops in the French column which captured Segou in 1890. a French column lost seventy-two soldiers and most of their convoy at Chellala after Arab horsemen.they made the battlefield a very messy. Indian troops under British command repeatedly misbehaved during expeditions in China. The scouts and the macabebes (Philippine cavalry) recruited among the Ilocano population by the 13 2 . Indeed. The pay-off was the enhancement of one's personal reputation. he might discover that they were more trouble than they were worth. the utilization of native levies in their raw form under their own headmen was rather like the employment of poison gas or submarines during the First World War . the lack of it. disagreeable and dangerous place. Part of the problem lay in a different cultural approach to warfare indigenous levies often could not understand the European preference for frontal assaults and seizing territory or fortresses. the goal of battle was seldom the extinction of the enem~ Rather. resolved in part by substituting locally recruited soldiers for Europeans. a fact which raised opposition at home. The rest were porters and auxiliaries furnished by African allies. and much ink was spilled by colonial officers on their best utilization. like their Amerindian counterparts. For them. From the perspective of European commanders. barely fifty were European. For instance. Much of the devastation in western Sudan occurred because the French relied heavily on tribal levies. often sought to incorporate villages into their empires and economic systems. who were quick to abandon the firing line to snatch booty and female slaves. Native levies swarmed all over the battlefield. goums. For European soldiers. It was in part to circumvent that opposition that commanders in the colonies struck upon the idea of recruiting soldiers locall~ But indigenous troops might also give imperialism a bad press. or simply tribal formations armed with surplus weapons. the destructive and ultimately mutinous Voulet-Chanoine expedition of 1898. during the Bou-Amama revolt of 1881 in the Sud-Oranais region of Algeria.WARS OF EMPIRE Senegalese tirailleurs present arms as the Tricolour is raised over Timbuktu in 1894. of 3. battle was primarily an exercise in personal bravery. indigenous levies were difficult to control both on and off the battlefield. The British and the French evolved a formula of one European for two soldiers of imperial origins. soon unable to distinguish friend from foe. This was in part linked to pay. a flirtation with danger. and another 500 were regular native recruits. Colonial expeditions were horribly expensive. were allowed to approach uncontested. but seldom proved a decisive element in combat. kicking up dust and getting in the line of fire of European troops who. or poorly disciplined Senegalese or Soudannais tirailleurs. might come in for some nasty surprises. But imperial levies were not an automatic solution. or rather. Not only were the Senegalese essential for the conquest of the French empire~ but also ~ as French General Charles Mangin correctly predicted in a 1910 book~ La force noire~ African soldiers would be vital to defend France against a powerful Germany.

THE HIGH RE AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM 133 .

Crazy Horse and Geronimo.' he wrote. to gather intelligence. The Italian expedition against the Sanusi in Tripolitania in 1915 collapsed when many of the indigenous auxiliaries turned on Italian troops. Loyalty might also be an issue. and on occasion to serve as a strike force. However. who were deported to Togo to keep them from joining in the rebellion. von Trotha immediately gave orders to disarm his Nama contingent.. . they complained of the lack of bravery among the Herero on their side as compared with those fighting for the enem~ When the Herero revolt spread to the Nama in October 1904. but of . ' US Army on Luzon acquired a reputation for brutality against Tagalog prisoners and villages. their disintegration. who campaigned against Cochise. The flight of the poorly armed Natal Kaffirs at Isandlwana left a 134 . was a staunch advocate of using Indian to catch Indian.WARS OF EMPIRE Apache scouts and trackers enlisted by the US Army to hunt Geronimo·in Arizona in 1882-3. Imperial soldiers regularly enlisted native irregulars as scouts. 'N othing breaks them up like turning their own people against them.. 'It is not merely a question of catching them better with Indians. The Germans used native levies extensively in South-West Africa. General George Crook.

and that natives lost the rusticity. General Frederick Funston organized the Headquarters Scouts. part of a general modernizing trend that drove them into debt and ironically pushed them into the arms of the very Europeans they were trying to resist. American officers. In Luzon. Disguised as peasants. it is no exaggeration to say that without troops recruited in the colonies. commanders who created coloured versions of European regiments might discover that recruitment dried up. But Crook's and Funston's experiments found few imitators. and willing on campaign to endure a standard of living that gave new meaning to the concept of misery: For instance. which served as a scouting. Unlike the intermediate technology of muskets which meant that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries indigenous forces might actually have arms superiority. This was in part because they never fully trusted them to perform well or faithfully in less conventional roles. Amerindians performed essential service as scouts . the technological revolution in armaments worked against non-Europeans in at least two ways. spontaneity and resilience that supplied the edge over European troops in mobile operations. While some of these units were excellent. cantankerous camels and temperatures that would roast a stoker on a battleship but they were also expected to do this on a starvation diet of dates and couscous. later developments meant that they lacked the ability to make spare parts and ammunition. Thousands of Zulus poured through to take the British companies from the rear. Most of the scouts were Ilocanos. This made them increasingly dependent on European suppliers. we have discussed the problems of European adaptation. preferred to oblige native levies to conform to European standards of drill and discipline.Crook's employment of Apache scouts in Arizona in 1872-3. In the American West. French officers serving with Saharan troops were not only expected to endure sandstorms. and his use of Crows to hound Sitting Bull after Custer's defeat made the difference between success and failure. Invariably. The encroachment of European influence stimulated social and 135 . INDIGENOUS RESPONSE So far. the French and the British could neither have conquered nor garrisoned their empires. Nevertheless. they surprised and destroyed insurgent roadblocks set up to collect taxes. intelligence-gathering and strike force. whose traditional distrust of the Tagalogs (who formed the core of the insurrectos) made them especially reliable.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM gap some 300 yards wide in the British lines that fatally compromised the defence. To draw the best from these troops also required an officer corps knowledgeable in the languages and customs of their men. they got mixed results. like their European counterparts. How does one explain the generally inadequate indigenous response to European invasion? The most obvious area in which the native resistance was deficient was technology: One reason was that by the second half of the nineteenth century.

or a series of battles. or for short campaigns at the end of which the defeated tribe was not annihilated but integrated into the empire. and inspired the Schlieffen Plan used by the Germans against the French in 1914. like the Ashantis.after all. A second problem was that. in the case of the Dahomians. the Dahomian army went into battle in an arc formation. or assured Hova domination of Madagascar. distant family members. triggered by a European invasion. One of the ironies of imperial warfare is that the relative political and military sophistication which made the Zulu. Defeat invited disintegration as armies whose feudal levies carried about two weeks' rations ran out of food.a Zulu impi in the 'cow horns' configuration enveloped and annihilated a surprised and straggling British force at Isandlwana in 1879.WARS OF EMPIRE political disintegration. like the Ashanti at Amoatu or the Dahomians at Dogba. in most cases. well-armed minor chiefs with private access to arms merchants challenged central authority. they were seldom able to profit from it so long as the defending force kept their discipline. rendered them all the more vulnerable to European conquest. against a relentless European invader placed intolerable strains on these armies. it had worked for Hannibal at Cannae. well-armed minor chiefs declared independence. armies and warfare were enmeshed in a very precise social or religious structure. a combination of these events. woman's) position in the arc was determined by the importance of his or her chief. The arc formation was well adapted to creeping up to a village in the dead of night and pouncing at first light. In most of these societies. Even when the indigenous resistance could achieve surprise. and subject peoples revolted. Indeed. indigenous forces simply incorporated modern weapons into familiar tactical systems rather than evolving methods that allowed them to be used to advantage. With the exception of Meiji Japan. On the battlefield. Furthermore. the arc had become a social as much as a military concept. However. From the 1860s. Ashanti or Dahomian empires so formidable in an African context. Elsewhere. they were armies designed for slave raiding. Each man's (or. especially in Egypt. To change this would have required a social revolution. and China. The inability of indigenous societies to stand toe-to-toe with Western invaders on the battlefield was ultimately a cultural and political problem. in the African context. sometimes with European connivance. even the most advanced civilizations lacked the ability to adapt to the challenge of Western military encroachment. reliance on outside supply combined with primitive logistical systems usually translated into desperate ammunition shortages. It also counted one remarkable success against Europeans . advanced rival claims to the throne. Chinese reformers argued that their country should follow the path of selfstrengthening and emulate Western technology if China were to maintain its . But the prospect of fighting a bloody battle. There was nothing intrinsically dysfunctional about an arc . For instance. Tunis and Morocco. often did more than European arms to scupper coherent native resistance.

Such was their prestige that the kingdoms most important families soon sought to have their daughters placed in it. that the problem was not merely one of acquiring better technology.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM independence both from barbarian domination and internal disorder. An arsenal and a shipyard were established in the 1860s that began to turn out guns and ships. China needed a class of soldier superior to the crude. however. as well as trained apprentices. 137 . The best of them realized. literature and composition. however. and students were sent abroad to Europe. China needed an educational system which could produce engineers to run arsenals and shipyards. America and Japan for study. These reforms began a process that promised success in modernizing China over the long term. Finally. in the next decade. while rejecting them as barbarian The 'Amazons~~ originally formed as a bodyguard for the king of Dahomey from among captive females. Amazons resided in the palace~ were forbidden relations with any but the king~ and were accorded a prominent position in the arced battle line. technical and educational reforms were microscopic experiments dwarfed by the immensity of Chinese backwardness. The fact that they were often inefficiently applied opened them to attack by a tradition-bound civil service and a military at once awed by the power of Western arms. In the short term. ignorant and careless bannermen. This required a national strategy administered by a modern civil service whose members were rewarded for something other than a mastery of poetry and calligraphy. Schools were created which added Western languages and mathematics to the traditional Chinese curriculum of history. but of creating a national structure which could make it effective.

which in the 1860s focused on Chinese defence capabilities. became diverted into wider concerns of industrial and . However. imports. Traditionalists argued that it was impossible to be trained in Western ways and retain the moral character required for government service. Chinese advocates of innovation were themselves denounced as traitorous purveyors of economic and cultural imperialism. The administrators and technicians which these reforms sought to produce challenged a Confucian vision of a harmonious social order based on hierarchy and standing. setting the stage for the Russo-Japanese War. the Western powers stripped Japan of Manchuria and Korea. Finally. a selfstrengthening programme.WARS OF EMPIRE Meiji Japan successfully adapted to Western modes of warfare to defeat China in 1894-5.

but often in an atmosphere of official indifference or even hostility. In the end. Elsewhere. ultimately doomed their resistance. were the product of local initiatives taken not only in the absence of imperial help and encouragement.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM transportation development. the very primitiveness of some societies. Few of 139 . These actually contributed to the demise of the Ch'ing dynasty and the rise of warlordism in twentieth-century China. most of the successful reform experiments like the Hunan and Anwhei armies. while it may have made them tenacious military opponents. or the Penang navy.

seldom survived the first military debacle. exploited these . As with artillery~ however. these societies were uniformly hostile to the invader. the Chinese failed to integrate the machine gun into an effective military system. Aggressive opponents of the Amerindians.WARS OF EMPIRE Hiram Maxim (extreme right) demonstrates the treeharvesting capabzlities of his machine gun to potential Chinese purchasers. clan or family. by rivalries of caste. For instance. when it could be mustered. like Generals Crook and Miles. the democratic nature of Amerindian societies made it very difficult to cobble together a common resistance. each group or clan deciding whether it was in its interests to fight or make peace. their bonds of common culture weak. a unified response based on a shared sense of self-interest. Divided by geography. tribe. nor had they the sense of fighting a war of survival.

The great historian of the Amerindian wars of the American West. 'It is not merely a question of catching them better with Indians.their disintegration.THE HIGH RE AISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM divisions by incorporating Amerindians into their forces.' Crook and Miles were especially adept in using Indians as agents to stimulate dissent among those eager to continue to fight. The American historian John M. . J place where the individual warrior sought glory and plunder. were bereft of strategic insight. Robert Utley. argues that it was the relentless pressure of European migration. rather than the US Army. The battlefield was a Apache chief Geronimo (on horse at left) would leave his family in safety on the reservation while he plundered the countryside escaping into Mexico when closely pursued. guerrillas who.' This was just as well. No medals were awarded for discipline and teamwork. Gates has noted that 'Amerindians were capable only of sporadic violence. The major advantages were psychological and political rather than operational.' wrote Crook of his successful pursuit of Geronimo. Already. as any rational assessment on their part would have revealed the hopelessness of the Amerindian plight. which deprived the Amerindian of the land and the sustenance that left him no alternative but to submit. the Amerindian response to Western invasion was individual rather than collective. 'Nothing breaks them up like turning their own people against them. though they displayed flashes of tactical brilliance. but of a broader and more enduring aim .

. a royal brother bribed.....8~8. or Lyautey in Morocco.he 1873 r - Stony lake .! D D D D ceded before 1850 railroads ceded before 1850-70 ceded before 1871-90 never formerly ceded Louisiana .I I I CD @ Q) Central Pacific Railroads-Union Pacific Railroads 1869 Northern Pacific Railroads 1883 Atchison.. the contradictions and divisions of th~ independence movement were significant. . Jardine in China. Even in societies with fairly advanced political elites like the Philippines....- --. 1861 I V I X Amerindian Wars 1860-90 Land sec cessions: E4sTERN APACHE I I I I I EI Paso I : Texas ~DOO - . Gallieni in Tonkin and Madagascar. jihadists and the moderately pious. ory I Wichita: Arkansas "'-~Village I . I I I I shita 1868 X ICHJTA I " I I COMANCHE I I : I err. was able to exploit these differences. _..-: . Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads 1883 Southern Pacific Railroads 1883 Great Northern Railroads 1893 200 km I NAVAJO Amerindian tribe X Amerindian battles with dates (west of Mississippi) o CD I 200 miles .. KANSA '\ I I I Missouri OSAGE _ I ooked Crpek 1857 X T--~---I _ _ _ _ _ _ : ~~ ~ : OWA ... WisconSin Adio~1862 .. or rival family members and competing economic interests...... As with successful counter-insurgent M Onfana GROS VENTRE ASSINIBO/~E Cedar Creek 187 : ° ° Q Q ••• I 1864 _-~'-'----~~ ° Minnesota 186 \ V ~ OJIBWA lIOttle BO19 H om ~ V' I I Yellowsto. '" _ .6. For these reasons. Native elites could be co-opted into the imperial system. _ : ' __ "\ Tn !:n Mountain 1861 I d" X ~ [hUsteoohiah 1861-\ X Bird Cre.J 8. rulers and subject peoples. all of which injected the virus of disintegration and lowered the morale of those keen to fight by expanding the power of those with the foresight to submit to the new imperial unity.:.WARS OF EMPIRE The most formidable empires were often little more than fragile coalitions of reformers and traditionalists. _0.. Faidherbe in western Sudan.J White~ Ctono I Hills" WICHIYElA 1863\ li(... / 1. a subject tribe offered an alliance..3 _ _ _ X Slim Buttes ° 1876 Q X ~ V . 1 62 \ \ \ d d':-' 8 J \ IOWA Iowa . ") Dead lake Buffalo's 1863 SANTEE r " 1 X . • • South Dakota Wood lake 1862X I : 1 ~X New Ulm 186'21 l V Re woo FetTy.... a clever commander with a fine sense of politics like Wellesley in India.

In 1851 Samori deserted his trade and for the next twenty years lived as a war chief in the service of several African leaders. but piecemeal and fragmented. were organized down to squad level. Dahomian leaders attempted to negotiate peace with the French General Dodds who refused because he believed that 'King Behanzin only looks to trick us and gain time'. Ashanti leaders signed a treaty with the British after Amoafo. from which he drew his officers for his provincial corps. was a merchant from the upper Niger basin named Samori Toure. Probably the most remarkable resistance leader in the late nineteenth century. Examples of successful resistance in the late nineteenth century are few and very much tied to the contingency of local circumstance. To succeed. confined largely to a Europeaneducated Luzon elite. like other indigenous groups faced with occupation. eight of which raised an army corps of 4-5. fairly typical for West Africa. Few resistance leaders were 'bitter-enders'. three army corps usually advanced in an arc formation. The upper-class leaders wanted democratic reform. And even at their height. customs and leaders. while a fourth 143 . Samori kept two elite contingents of 500 men in each of the two provinces that he ruled directly. His territories were divided into ten provinces.000 professional sofas or warriors. which contained both cavalry and infantry. permitting the French to control the Algerian coast so long as they left him alone to organize the tribes of the hinterland.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM commanders elsewhere. But the real solidity of Samori's dominion resided in his formidable military organization. rather than a war to the death. some groups co-operating with the invaders. Funston enlisted Ilocano against Tagalog. with political initiatives that divided his opposition and isolated the diehard revolutionaries. Likewise. others choosing to resist. by the time Europeans began to invade sub-Saharan Africa. Nor were the revolutionaries united behind welldefined goals. divided the ilustrado leadership by offering reformers among them positions in local government. In peacetime. these religiously inspired states had been forced to make compromises to accommodate a diverse group of peoples. Frederick Funston's success in Luzon relied on a combination of a hard-hitting military force that harassed and demoralized the guerrillas. However. In the 1870s. south to Sierra Leone and Liberia. the old jihad empires of western Sudan had passed their peak and had begun to break up. On campaign. they needed to mobilize the peasants whose goals were to maintain a traditional societ~ Many also feared that prolonged revolution might end in military dictatorship. all sofas trained for half the year and engaged in agricultural work the other six months. Filipino nationalism. Abd el-Kader was content to replicate a version of Algeria's relationship with the Ottoman Empire. to create an empire that stretched from the right bank of the Niger. supplemented by conscription. one to rank with Abd el-Kader and Shamil. and appealed to peasant expectations that American rule would lighten the burden of rapacious landlords by building schools and initiating other public works projects. and many sought accommodation with the European invader. was too abstract a concept to serve as a unifying ideology across an archipelago of islands. he struck out on his own. The corps. Amerindian hostility was seldom uniform. however. Islam gave Samori's empire a veneer of ideological unit~ AMERINDIAN WARS 1860-90 Clashes between White settlers and Amerindians offered a persistent feature of the opening of the American West.

WARS OF EMPIRE African resistance to 1914 D D D D British possessions French possessions Spanish possessions Portuguese possessions Belgian possessions German possessions ------r--I Tropi~ of Capricorn I ----1--- T885-1905 resistance to French I INDIAN \ -\~-~ o I o I OCEAN f / / tv D D Italian possessions independent state principal areas of African resistance to colonial rule \ ----+-------.-I 500km I I I J / / / i / / 500 miles J I I I 144 .

There was a constant turnover of French commanders.000 repeating rifles. but with much greater determination'. His army was solidly organized. masters of the ambush and equipped with an estimated 8. with less discipline perhaps. After a particularly bloody skirmish with Samori's sofas in the Diamanko marshes in January 1892. because it forced the French to reduce their columns to around 1. usually paid in agricultural produce. with heavy casualties at the hands of Samori before Kong in 1895. all of whom underestimated their opponent. In fact. Samori also gained some residual support from the British in Sierra Leone and the Gambia. also fight other opponents in the Niger region. Samori's accomplishments must not be exaggerated.owed more to French disorganization than to his own skill. which was not keen to advance the boundaries of empire.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM corps was held In reserve. A scorched-earth defence strategy complemented a skilful diplomacy that kept his empire intact and his French enemy at bay for seventeen years. It was France's A sofa or warrior in the army of Samori Toure. Samori arguably organized the most successful African resistance to European encroachment. he adopted guerrilla warfare. only Abyssinia and Morocco retained a tenuous independence. shifting his frontiers to allow him to collect the harvest. There were several reasons for this. French advances came in fits and starts.000 men. while forcing the French to advance across land depopulated and thoroughly burned over by his sofas. By the turn of the century. was seldom effective. and tactically sophisticated. then struck at the over-extended French columns. Indigenous resistance. more Africans fought for European imperialists than against them. as did the requirement that the French. Logistical difficulties contributed to the French defeat. and local commanders who were. His troops. Colonel Gustave Humbert conceded that Samori's troops 'fight exactly like Europeans. Samori managed to unify an empire that survived for almost two decades against repeated French advances. This military empire was sustained by taxes. which was about all French logistics could support. he understood that French discipline and firepower made set-piece engagements suicidal. AFRICAN RESISTANCE TO 1914 In the last quarter of the nineteenth century. European imperialism achieved an unstoppable momentum as Africa was sliced into national segments by ambitious soldiers and colonial administrators.he was surprised in his camp and captured by a French column only in 1898 . in particular the Tokolor empire. Early in the 1880s. though often courageous. never numerous. Hard currency to purchase arms in Sierra Leone was earned by slave trading and from the gold fields of Bure. Financial constraints delayed French advances against Samori. well armed. He recognized that eventually he must accept a French protectorate. 145 . Samori's scorched-earth tactic evened the odds against him. The French advance in West Africa was characterized by constant friction between Paris. Nor was Samori a 'bitter-ender'. His longevity . Therefore. But remarkable as his political and military skills were.

A severe economic recession. had created a climate of discontent. His army lacked the size and striking power to restore control over at least some portions of the countryside. only for them to be overwhelmed piecemeal by 100. reanimate economic activity.the torch . the traditional pillars of Spanish colonialism. In the meantime. aimed principally at the planter and commercial classes. Rather than face the prospect of a dismal and possibly fatal existence in towns where nothing had been prepared to receive them. the Cubans assailed the planters'. he ordered his 15. When. Nevertheless.which was the insurgents' principal means of intimidation. The Spanish army scoured the countryside destroying food stocks. and to luck.000 troops. Weyler's strategy was doomed to failure because it did not have an offensive component. the government response was at once brutal and ineffective. The result was a military stalemate in a war where the enemies seldom traded shots: 'the Spanish assaulted the peasants. and burning villages from which the insurgents might gain support. either military or political. by concentrating his forces in defensive positions in the urban areas. slaughtering livestock that could not be herded towards the towns. rather than Samori's commitment to total war.000 Ethiopians. one historian writes. their successful resistance at Adowa owed less to the mastery of modern tactics by Menelik's largely feudal levies than to the extraordinary incompetence of General Baratieri. and forbade commerce between the towns and the countryside. Cuban revolutionaries proclaimed a moratorium on all economic activity. he alienated a vast middle ground of moderate Autonomist opinion which traditionally had condemned the abuses of Spanish rule rather than argued for independence per see Weyler herded them into prison. and isolate and damage rebel forces.000 troops forward in three separate columns. Ethiopian resistance owed much to a semi-successful adaptation of technology. to the incompetence of the enemy. many previously neutral peasants fled to the hills to join the insurgents. drove them into exile or . Madrid dispatched General Valeriano Weyler with reinforcements to swell the Spanish garrison in Cuba to 200. who allowed himself to be goaded into a premature attack by his subordinate officers and by the stinging rebukes of Italian Prime Minister Francesco Crispi. whose numbers rose to about 50. The influx of modern arms caused the Ethiopians to abandon their traditional phalanx attack in 1885 in favour of loose formations that approached by fire and encirclement. who had dispatched his successor from Italy: Rather than wait a few days until the Ethiopian soldiers inevitably consumed their meagre rations and would have been forced to disperse. 'Both attacked property:' In the long run. in July 1895.WARS OF EMPIRE unwillingness to negotiate.000. After a series of unsuccessful rebellions in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. beginning in 1895. Politically. that also protracted the struggle. Cuban revolutionaries succeeded in shaking off Spanish rule for several reasons. Weyler left the plantations undefended and vulnerable to fa tea . Weyler immediately ordered Cuba's rural population to be reconcentrated in the towns.

which they began to see as their only salvation from certain dispossession by a victorious. however. however. Planters who could afford it recruited guards to protect their propert~ Those who could not . in the eyes of Cuban nationalist historians at least. and snatched a victory which would have fallen to it in the fullness of time. Having pushed the Autonomists into the arms of the separatists. faith in victory had been shaken even among loyalists who faced financial ruin. was that. sometimes in the face of insurgent assault. The great irony. Inflation soared as food became scarce and the government recklessly printed paper mone~ Weyler began to abandon the smaller provincial cities. in an attempt to punish cigar centres in Florida which were hotbeds of separatist opinion. and no troops were assigned to protect those plantations which did attempt to gather crops from fa tea. By 1897. the Ethiopian force would have consumed their rations and been forced to disperse. socially radical insurgent arm~ The Ethiopian victory at Adowa in 1896 owed something to the adaptation to modern arms after 1885. No peasants remained to harvest the sugar crop. In reality. when the traditional phalanx gave way to loose formations which approached by fire and encirclement. or be harvested by the insurgents. the motives for 147 . he prohibited the export of leaf tobacco to the United States.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM into the arms of the independence factions. ostensibly against Spain.left their crops to rot in the fields. US intervention. was in reality directed against the insurgency. Weyler tossed loyalists into the arms of the United States. Therefore. Weyler also managed to alienate the powerful Havana tobacco industry in May 1896 when. hadtheUaliansd~ayed their attack for a few days.which was most of them . and consolidated his forces in the larger towns where 'reconcentrated' peasants were dying by scores.

They were joined by those eager to promote democracy in Latin America. The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbour. and navalists upset by Spanish searches of US ships on the high seas and keen to clear European outposts from the Caribbean in preparation for the building of the Panama Canal. led by humanitarians outraged by Weyler's concentration camps. Theodore Roosevelts CRough Riders~ fill their cartridge belts as they prepare for action in Cuba~ 1898. brought together very diverse interests to argue for intervention. Washington would have been quite content for Spain to continue to administer Cuba. The SpanishAmerican War set the United States on the road to a seaborne empire of which Roosevelt was one of the greatest protagonists. businessmen with property in Cuba. but had become frustrated over Madrid's inability to resolve peacefully the crises that had racked the island for almost thirty years. .WARS OF EMPIRE American intervention were far more complex and idealistic. although certainly no fault of the Spanish.

the Boer strategy for avoiding national collapse after Bloemfontein was to shed those whose commitment was lukewarm and to continue to fight on with only a hard core in the hope that the British would eventually give up.Amerindian.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM Boer resistance appears to have been of a tenacity that defies the rule of unsuccessful resistance to imperial power.of the fanatical few determined to fight on after the main Boer army had been defeated and the majority of the Boer people had been reduced to a state of neutrality. it adhered more closely to the common pattern . So skilful was Jakob Morenga in eluding German forces in South-West Africa between 1904 and 1906 that he earned the nickname of the 'Black de Wet'. Indeed. however. On closer examination. Algerian or African . But German pursuit ultimately forced him to seek refuge in 149 .

..J I 100 miles 15° .WARS OF EMPIRE Ottoman Empire c...) D to Belgium 1885 to France by 1890 to ItaIy by 1889 northern boundary of Free Trade Zone Berlin Act 1885 0' T I Ethiopia at its maximum extent under Menelik of Shoa (Menelik II) c..-.. 1880 Mahdist state 1881-98 occupied by Britain 1882-5 Benghazi' • D Q.... 1907 Fezzan • Murzuq b a I I S a I fj a\ r a I Des e Equator 00 INDIAN OCEAN o o I 100km i L-.

News of a French rival at Fashoda precipitated the British advance to pre-empt a French claim on the upper Nile. The two soldiers exchanged courtesies as their governments prepared for war. while regrettable. Already. not perish with it. rival imperial powers refrained from coming to the aid of the indigenous fighters. Two years and 3. With as much ceremony as they could muster. Joseph Chamberlain. The southern frontier of Egypt was somewhat in dispute. Therefore. however. France had reasserted her historic claims on the Nile. Marchand reached the Nile at a placed called Fashoda. who had ordered Gordon to evacuate the garrison. Western invaders had been successful during this phase of imperial warfare basically because. 15 1 . and planted their tricolour flag. a Kitchener approached Fashoda (lying the Egyptian (lag and wearing the fez of the Egyptian khedive to spare Marchands nationalist susceptibilities. was in no mood to tolerate a French attempt to work its way back into Egypt and threaten British control of the Suez Canal. by the British. the French broke out the white dress uniforms which they had brought for this occasion. But.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM the Cape Colony where he was interned. or the Mexican resistance to the French. beyond selling them a few surplus rifles. Charles 'Chinese> Gordon >s death in Khartoum in 1885 had embarrassed Gladstone. the upper Nile was effectively unoccupied by a European power. unlike the American or South American revolutions.000 miles later. Paris had been particularly irked when the British had occupied Egypt in 1882 and declared it a protectorate. indigenous societies lacked the power or the cohesion to resist their persistent encroachment. generally speaking. a small collection of mud buildings several hundred miles upriver from Khartoum. Marchand eventually evacuated via the Red Sea. The most persistent rivalry was between Britain and France. The bellicose colonialist in charge of the British Colonial Office. the death of a soldier at the hands of savages. Also. In 1896. French colonialists dispatched Colonel Jean-Baptiste Marchand with a handful of French marine officers and around 200 hand-picked Senegalese riflemen up the mouth of the Congo river. for most of the nineteenth century. The arrival of the Marchand expedition at Fashoda in 1898 abruptly changed the equation. RIGHT: THE MAHDIST EMPIRE r898 London had greeted news of the rise of the Mahdist empire in the early 1880s with mild indifference. and in 1898 it nearly erupted into war. and eventually killed. rather than accept the comfortable indignity of British transport to Alexandria. after the British abandoned the upper Nile to the Sudanese Mahdi and his successors in 1885. So small wars remained small. was treated as an occupational hazard.

00 am.WARS OF EMPIRE 8.000 men under Ibrahim al Khalil attack 6. they launch an unsuccessful arrack on the Egyptian brigade as the British march to Omdurman begins 6 N e .30 am: Kitchen r orders the 21st Lancers to reconnoitre the plain. Instead. This is the last cavalry charge in the history of the British Army 7 2 2 September.000 men under Oswan Azrak launch their attack The army of the Black Flag led by the Khalifa remains hidden behind the Jabel Surgham and take no part in the initial attacks. At around 10.20 am: 8.30 am: 4. their commander charges towards the nearest enemy position losing some 70 out of their 400 men. 6.

backed by naval N e . At around 10. Massed in a tight defensive formation.THE HIGH RE AISSA CE OF IMPERIALISM 5 8.00 am the army of the Green Flag unsuccessfully attacks the Egyptian brigade on its way to Omdurman 3 6.30 am: the advancing Mahdist army comes under British artillery fire and suffers severe casualties OMDURMAN 1898 artillery on the N ile~ Kitchener merely had to await the suicidal assault by the Mahdists.00 am: the army of the Green Flag led by Abd Allah Siwar withdraw northwards. Omdurman was a colonial commander's dream battle.30-9.

with a force of over 20. They were massacred. a battery of artillery and four Maxim guns in five riverboats which steamed under an Egyptian flag. and a vast supply convoy of camels and horses. On the following morning at dawn. across the Nile from Khartoum. in the shadow of the great dome of the Mahdi's tomb.WARS OF EMPIRE British-Egyptian expedition had begun to encroach on the Mahdi's empire. Kitchener. 50. he sent a messenger with an invitation for Marchand to dine aboard his flagship. one hundred Cameron Highlanders.000 bodies that lay in piles over the desert. wearing an Egyptian fez. As Kitchener surveyed the 10.000 men.000 Sudanese tribesmen in a line four miles long attacked the British. On 1 September 1898. As Kitchener approached Fashoda on 18 September. he was handed an envelope with urgent orders from England to proceed up the Nile in all haste to dislodge a French force at Fashoda. gunboats mounting 100 guns. complimented the French colonel on his 154 . Kitchener gathered two battalions of Sudanese. General Horatio Kitchener arrived at Omdurman. With great courtesy.

He struck his colours on 11 December 1898.' In retrospect. there was always enough land to trade to allow every power to escape with its dignity intact. which bartered British recognition of a French free hand in Morocco against Parisian acquiescence to London's domination of Egypt. for many. Besides. destructive as rivalries between the great powers would up the stakes in the game of imperial conquest. jungle or desert. The Fashoda crisis was eventually resolved. however. 'led astray by irresponsible people called the colonialists. The two men agreed to allow their respective governments to sort out matters. As the twentieth century dawned. 2 September 1898' by Robert Kelly. 155 'The Flight of the Khalifa after his Defeat at the Battle of Omdurman. he declined the British offer to exit via a Nile steamer and instead marched to the Red Sea where his expedition was collected by a French warship. governments were able to contain the ambitions of their more exuberant imperialists when they exceeded the bounds of prudence. Eventually the French gave wa~ Marchand was in an impossible situation. he was mistaken. imperial warfare would become more. but not without acrimon~ The press of the two countries swapped vituperative insults.THE HIGH RENAISSANCE OF IMPERIALISM splendid march. The Fashoda crisis did have a silver lining for French colonialists. Quiet negotiations between London and Paris eventually culminated in the signing of the Entente Cordiale of 1904. Fashoda was the end of an era. But if Faure believed that the madness of colonialism was a thing of the past. The Frenchman replied that he intended to defend himself if attacked. when conflict arose. 'We have behaved like madmen in Africa. . Yet the fact that the two greatest colonial powers had nearly gone to war over a flyblown sand-bank on the upper Nile was. However. Because European expansion abroad appeared to have only a minimal effect on the European balance of power.' French President Felix Faure complained in the wake of the Fashoda crisis. a wake-up call. The French moved reinforcements to their Mediterranean coast and made plans to defend Corsica. not less. Clashes between competing imperial powers had been muted because it was in the interests of no-one to destabilize the international equilibrium merely to lay claim to a few thousand acres of scrub. however. which they calculated the British would attack if war came. but added that he must protest the French presence on the Nile.

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....---::.. They operated as mounted infantry~ fighting on foot~ fleeing on their ponies when pressed..:@:. .............CHAPTER FOUR ..- UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE BOER BURGHERS FORMED a peoples army~ organized into commandos of 500 to 2~000 men behind elected leaders.:===:~ .....-. Armed with 37~000 Mauser rifles purchased by the Transvaal government with the revenues of the gold fields~ the Boers proved remarkable marksmen... :==~:r-I .

Until 1905 Germany seemed content with a fairly small slice of the imperial pie. some European nations had extended their control over vast stretches of the world. FOR ALMOST thirty years. Russia had its own near-abroad in Central Asia to secure. First. But these were hardly more than transient embarrassments which helped to keep small wars in the forefront of the public mind by making them seem like dangerous adventures. imperial expansion had been achieved on the cheap. Japan raced to repair the dilapidation of centuries of self-imposed isolation. Until the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5. For a minimum investment of cash and manpower. London for the first time had to deal with the problem of imperial overstretch in an increasingly complex international environment. The United States focused on consolidating its western frontier until 1898. the missionary's yearning for souls to convert. rather than European. On the whole. France was acutely conscious of the dangers of imperial overstretch. the reformer's passion for improvement. and barring outsiders from Latin America. although French and British interests did clash in Africa in the 1890s. Because these defeats were inflicted at the hands of indigenous. it had been a low-risk venture which European publics could follow like a sporting event. Occasional military setbacks did occur. Hence. Paris was obliged to resolve each crisis in favour of her European commitments. in South Africa Britain confronted an opponent whose tenacity required a military exertion on a scale not witnessed since the Napoleonic wars. There was land enough to satisfy every active imperial power. While the wars fought to obtain colonial possessions had often been dramatic. opponents. occasionally bloody. France and Russia became far more destabilizing. Tokyo had struggled to recover ground lost by centuries of . however. few imperial nations had invested more than a fraction of their military assets in small wars.WARS OF EMPIRE UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE P OLITICALLY. for two reasons. national pride was less likely to be whipped into a frenz~ As the nineteenth century neared its finale. Because the Second Boer War of 1899-1902 was fought in the context of the evolving security situation in Europe and the Far East. Britain and France were challenged by the advent of two new and very aggressive powers eager to break into their quasi-imperial monopoly . so that competition was kept to a minimum. European governments could indulge at little expense the soldier's appetite for glory. what had been regarded as a more or less casual partition of the world between Britain. The reason for this was tied to the second factor that made imperial expansion fraught with risks. The traditional imperial powers of Russia. A spot of sea power and the occasional punitive expedition was sufficient to influence the behaviour even of elephantine China. and the nationalist's clamour for trophy lands to invigorate national self-esteem.Japan and German~ Since the Meiji Restoration of 1868. As a Continental power.

After the early setbacks of CBlack Week'. in the early years of the twentieth century it seemed that imperial competition might immolate that very civilization in a gigantic conflagration. However.000 Boer Cbitter-enders' took to the veld to fight a desperate guerrilla war that lasted another two years. This radically altered the politics of imperialism because small wars now risked becoming large ones. During the nineteenth century the imperial enterprise had been regarded as a triumph of Western civilization. More than any other imperial opponent. War was the single most challenging imperial conflict fought by Britain since the eighteenth century. Callwell noted that. the Boers stretched the operational and tactical capabilities of the British Army to the limit. Boer War 1895-1902 D Boer republics Jameson Raid 1895 main line of British advance major Boer raids 1899-1901 battle Salisbury. The Second South African War would require a substantial mobilization of British land and naval assets. THE BOER WAR THE BOER WAR 1895-1902 Hardly had the British dodged the bullets of war with France over Fashoda in 1898 than it ploughed into a particularly stubborn enemy in southern Africa. demanded a place in the sun to include a large navy and more colonies in Africa. and test popular support for imperialism in Britain. Southern Rhodesia N t 159 .UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE self-imposed isolation. or Boer. the British army recovered to defeat the main Boer armies and occupy the principal towns. Imperial warfare also revealed its tactical limitations. 17. liberated from the moderating influence of Bismarck. 'in The Second South African. Germany. expose the bankruptcy of a foreign policy anchored in the arrogance of 'splendid isolation'. By the 1890s. Japan's modernization programme had put the country in a position to lay claim to a sphere of influence in the Far East.

Over two and a half years Britain required £200 million. and British public opinion began to question whether the costs exceeded the benefits. saw the war as the product of a capitalist conspiracy to gain control through force of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar assumed command in South Africa in the wake of "Black Week'. Lord Lansdowne. the outbreak of war in October 1899 found the British remarkably unprepared. guerrilla warfare is what the regular armies always have most to dread. one that eventually threatened to open the door to German control over the vital Cape route to India. and subsequently Marxists. General Sir Redvers Buller's defeat at Colenso on 15 December 1899 caused him to be replaced by Roberts as commander in South Africa. Despite the fact that the Boers had inflicted a humiliating defeat on the British at Majuba Hill . The origins of the Second South African War were the subject of a polemic from the moment it broke out. The Conservative government of Lord Salisbury feared that even a whisper of military preparation might transform the tense situation in South Africa into a partisan issue. Roberts headed a clique of "Indian' officers whose war against "Africans'. and when this is directed by a leader with a genius for war. Despite later achieving victory against Botha's army in August 1900. General Sir Redvers Buller. More modern interpretations see British policy as one hijacked by fervent imperialists led by Cecil Rhodes who feared that the newly discovered riches of the Boer republics would derail an imperial scenario which saw the Boer territories eventually absorbed by the British-controlled Cape Colony: Wealth allowed the Boer republics to slip the leash of British tutelage and pursue an independent foreign policy. This was no longer imperial conquest on the cheap. Although relations between Cape Town and the Boer republics for some time had slithered toward breakdown.and the most humiliating one since George Washington sent the Redcoats packing in 1783'.WARS OF EMPIRE small wars. was as intense as that pursued against the Boers. and the Indian forces of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar. costliest war Britain fought between 1815 and 1914 . The theatre commander in the Cape. Anti-imperialists. an effective campaign becomes well-nigh impossible'. represented by Redvers Buller. bloodiest. had neither the confidence of Wolseley nor of the War Minister. Buller was never accorded any official honour. Rather than prepare in secret for hostilities with the Boers which monthly appeared more likely to break out. 448. Whitehall immersed itself in a bureaucratic war whose main protagonists were the African troops of the commanderin-chief Lord Garnet Wolseley. arms of the gold and diamonds of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Such was the hard lesson learned by the British in a war which the historian Thomas Pakenham has called 'the longest.000 dead to master a farmers' rebellion.435 British and imperial troops and 22.

in the process surrounding the Boer army which had besieged the town. had little effect on Boers dug into rifle pits.000 men would serve in the British forces in South Africa. they proved able to throw nearly 30. breech-loading cannon. and offered an amnesty for all except the Boer leaders. As war approached. against around 87. Mafeking and Kimberley became British islands in a Boer-dominated veld. Eventually almost 450. On 10 December.000 British troops under Buller to break through to Ladysmith. Australia and New Zealand. Johannesburg fell in late May.000 mounted men into Natal alone.000 Boers. Joseph Chamberlain. and called for volunteers. r6r BREECH-LOADING CANNON I n the 1890s. about 15 miles south of Kimberle)T.British military intelligence thought the Boers capable only of mustering 3. the British government dispatched more troops to South Africa. the Secretary for the Colonies.000 Boers armed with magazine-fed Mauser rifles and well entrenched on the heights on the north bank of the Tugela thwarted an attempt by 16. In February 1900. when. J. both in Britain and in the white dominions of Canada. the Boers made frantic efforts to import some of these modern guns. half of which was pre-positioned at Ladysmith and Dundee occur. in fact. mobilized the reserves. Balfour. while in Natal.000 troops and 150 guns to relieve Kimberley and Ladysmith. and The Times. Finally. thereby isolating the Transvaal. Shaken from its complacency.000 would more than suffice to defend British South Africa.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE during the First South African War of 1881. and Pretoria barely a week later. Buller had gathered four divisions totalling 60. while Buller's command shrank to the Natal front. British artillery. Roberts captured Bloemfontein. on 15 December at Colenso. and locked in by besieging Boers. 'Black Week' seemed a totally appropriate name for the five short days during which British forces had suffered almost 7. the same month that Roberts took Kimberley. On 13 March. but found a professional artillery corps difficult to improvise. including the deputy prime minister A.000 men for small-scale raids into the Cape Colony and Natal. Wolseley believed. By December 1899. the German Krupp and the French Le Creusot developed rapid fire. Buller succeeded in his fourth attempt to break through to Ladysmith. a frontal attack backed by artillery was scythed down by entrenched Boer marksmen at Magersfontein. that a garrison of 20. The Boers took the offensive at the outbreak of war. . the Dundee garrison was forced back on Ladysmith. like this Armstrong 12-pounder. capital of the Orange Free State. a British column riding for the strategic railway junction at Stormberg was ambushed by mounted Boers who killed or captured 700 British soldiers. snatching 100 miles of Cape Colony and moving into Natal as far south as the Tugela river. The next day.000 casualties and achieved no strategic results. The British entered the war with neither a war plan nor adequate maps of the theatre of operations. 4. Lord Roberts was dispatched as commander-in-chief. Nearly everyone on the British side. the Boer republics were discounted as serious opponents . and Lansdowne agreed. was ruled by complacenc)T.

Cecil Rhodes orchestrated the raid in an unsuccessful attempt to spark a rebellion against the Transvaal government by the substantial number of British working in the gold mtnes. 162 .WARS OF EMPIRE A Boer commando rides through Johannesburg in a show of political intimidation during the political crisis provoked by the Jameson Raid of 1896.

UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE .

000 or so Boer commandos still at large took to the veld to pursue a guerrilla war which was to last another two years. Although frontal assaults had worked well enough against disorganized and ill-armed Africans. the defeat of the major Boer armies. The strategic assumptions of the war had been as faulty as the operational and tactical ones. the capture of the capitals of the Boer republics and their annexation into the British Empire did not end resistance.their attachment to their wagons. Unfortunately for the British. the key to the success of both Wolseley in Ashanti and Dodds in These Boers camped at Charlestown in Natal in 1899 demonstrate what was to become one of their great weaknesses as the war progressed . Once the Boer armies besieging Kimberley had been flushed into the open.000 British dead during the war perished from wounds and disease. logistical and strategic .in this early phase of the war.tactical. they invariably launched unimaginative frontal assaults against Boer positions. reducing British mobility and raising the casualty rate . Then.WARS OF EMPIRE Although ultimately triumphant. artillery contributed to the surrender of Cronje's force. Artillery had proven powerless to shake the aim of marksmen dug into rifle pits. . These slowed Boer mobility and fell easy prey to British cavalry. was significant enough to provoke reflection even among the dullest of British generals. were neglected. who were both well armed and entrenched. the price exacted by the Boers. the British had demonstrated significant military weaknesses . British forces predictably advanced along railway lines until they met the enemy. Dahomey. laagered in a bend in the Modder river and pounded into submission. Indeed. Logistics and medical services. however.16.168 of 22. at Magersfontein the British had suffered numerous casualties from friendly artillery fire. The 17.

Their enemies were unified by a religious belief in the justice of their cause. Throughout the war. were extremely self-reliant. inadequate maps. Boer 'bitter-enders' possessed leaders of great competence. especially as some quickly became disillusioned by Boer religiosity and racism. and faulty communications. Delarey. de Wet and Smuts. considered the most elusive of Boer guerrillas. who also took better care of their mounts. British columns were ponderous and lacked adequate co-ordination because of poor staff work. The celebrated Boer commander. In Botha. abolished wagon trains in the Boer army. As British pressure A 12-span mule cart belonging to de Wets commando crosses the Orange river. Boer scouting and intelligence gathering remained superior to that of the British. with troops who were so fiercely independent. the Boers had weaknesses: Boer commanders found it difficult to co-ordinate strategy and exploit success. hardened to life in the saddle. and were excellent marksmen. In contrast. And while these foreign recruits were of marginal military utility. Those that remained were gradually gathered in during Kitchener's'drives'. lamented that it was difficult to sustain operations with men who constantly insisted on going home to see their families. After the fall of Bloemfontein in March 1900. even to issue simple orders.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE In this type of mobile war. Christiaan de Wet. their presence indicated a sympathy for the cause of the Boer underdog in Europe. The imported Australian. Nevertheless. de Wet.000 foreigners travelled to South Africa to join the Boer ranks. the British faced the usual array of disadvantages which had plagued European troops in Africa. r65 . English and Argentine horses of the British mounted troops could not match in rusticity and endurance those of the Boers. Over 2.

Five thousand Boers served British forces as National Scouts.WARS OF EMPIRE mounted. The African population was uniformly pro-British. largely from resentment of burgher domination of Boer society. or to avoid the concentration camps. He became the most audacious of the Boer commanders and the principal architect of Boer strategy during the guerrilla phase of the war. and instead he concentrated on attacking their lines of communications. Some horseless Boers preferred to return home rather than remain as infantrymen in the company of Afrikaners of a lesser sort. He gave up trying to block the British advance from the spring of 1900.000 or so 'bitter-enders' and the rest. and became a wasting asset as the war reduced the supply of horses and munitions. Boer resistance. Even the vaunted Boer mobility was compromised in part by the reluctance to relinquish their wagons. especially the railroads. fragmented into 17. and became more so as the hard-pressed Christiaan de Wet commanded the Orange Free State forces in 1899. 166 . like resistance to imperial encroachment generally.

would have concurred. Kitchener etched the veld with lines of galvanized iron blockhouses bound together by barbed wire. intelligence gatherers and teamsters. Africans served the British as scouts. initially borrowed from the De Beers diamond mines. were stretched out over a front of 160 miles.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE Boers raided African settlements for food. and equipped with telegraphs and telephones. even Wellesley to a point. and were never a satisfactory substitute for oxen or mules. or the Russians in the Caucasus. From November 1900 when he became commander-in-chief in South Africa. The British also enjoyed the technological edge: the steam traction engine (tractor) improved supply beyond the railheads. a strategy with which Hoche and Bugeaud. The mobile part of the plan consisted of mounting as many as possible of his men to match the mobility of mounted Boer riflemen . at the close of 'Black Week'. field telephones improved co-ordination and searchlights. Replicating the beater/hunt line technique used by Hoche in the Vendee. bolstered the defence of depots. The devices tended to bog down when used off road. whose goal was to pin the elusive Boer against the blockhouse and concertina fence line. . Kitchener's 'drives' became progressively more Steam traction engines draw British supplies. What became known as the 'Great Hunt of de Wet' began in January 1901. when columns of mounted men.indeed. This attempt to harness technology to the war effort was innovative but premature. Buller had wired for reinforcements drawn from the hunting and shooting classes who could match Boer martial skills. Kitchener adopted a dual strategy of offensive mobility and attrition of the Boer economic and political base.

the game most often ensnared in these 'drives' was cattle. it liberated the men from the obligation to protect their families and freed them to fight..WARS OF EMPIRE Removing civilians who might otherwise help to sustain a resistance movement from the war zone offered a timehonoured tactic for dealing with insurgency. . by May 1902. trapped and desperate to break out. horses and wagons. Trains equipped with searchlights shunted back and forth. Instead. trotted toward a string of blockhouses erected along a railway line. But it was a double-edged sword fOJ.000 men. beams dancing across the darkened veld. this tactic produced no great confrontations between British hunters and Boer quarry. like the Amerindian reservations. But the effect was the same. as· these formed the accoutrements of Boer survival. But while dramatic. elaborate until. formed into a continuous line. 17.

Refugee camps for Boer families displaced by the war had appeared as early as July 1900.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE The second element of Kitchener's strategy was equally attritional . although this was . at the very moment when Kitchener was being denounced for this inhumane policy in South Africa. creating in effect what Vietnam-era American soldiers would call 'free-fire zones'. measles and dysentery were the constant companions of the 154. The United States had relied on the reservation as a way to separate out friendly and hostile Amerindians. Kitchener's nomenclature was borrowed directly from Spanish General Weyler's reconcentrado policies applied in Cuba from 1896 when 300. Africans were also moved lest they provide supplies or be impressed for labour by Boer commandos. The premise of Gallieni's tache d~hitile Kitchener should have been forewarned by the huma1Jitarian outcry over General Weylers . in which at least .the destruction of Boer farms and the removal of Boer women and children to camps where they could not support the commandos. was that friendly natives would settle near French posts for security and prosperity. and later Lyautey's in Morocco. sixty concentration camps housed 116. perished. However.000 Africans. American soldiers burned villages and reconcentrated much of the populations of the Abra district of northern Luzon and on the island of Samar. By 1902. 'concentration" of the Cuban population.. Kitchener's concentration camps were merely a British version of a timetested counter-insurgency method. in December. 20.000 peasants were ordered into cities and to~wns to deprive Cuban revolutionaries of a support base. Typhoid. not always with success.000 inmates. Chinese officials facing the Nien revolt in the 1850s had ordered local authorities to 'clear the fields and strengthen the walls'.000 Boer and African civilians confined to Kitchener"s camps. The military benefits of concentration were significant.000 Boers and 12.many of them children. strategy in Tonkin. Kitchener ordered this system expanded to remove Boer civilians from areas where commandos were active. Indeed.

WARS OF EMPIRE 17° .

Kitchener's success relied on a combination of the concentration of the enemy population and 'drives' to keep die-hard Boers on the run. at least 20. who perished by the thousands. Weyler forced Cuban peasants into towns unprepared to receive the refugees. This was not always an easy task in marginal agricultural societies. the American Army succeeded in pacifying northern Luzon by 1902 with a combination of the concentration of the populations in the cities and towns. Kitchener's 'drives' left no sanctuaries to which Boer civilians seeking to avoid concentration could flee. To remove the population from the areas of operation was insufficient by itself to produce strategic results because this was a purely defensive measure.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE not always apparent in the short term. The result might be a humanitarian disaster which could jeopardize victor~ The second half of Kitchener's population concentration policy was to scorch the earth over which the guerrillas roamed. To be effective. By confining women to camps. In the long term. at once removing shelter and sustenance as well as striking a blow against insurgent morale. In fact. In South-West Africa. however. In this sense.000 Africans perished.' he wrote to Roberts. Although Joseph Chamberlain defended Kitchener's camps as a humanitarian solution. any strategy must have an offensive component.000 Boers and 12. many cited as their main reason for giving up the struggle the misery of their women and children in the camps. the concentrations camps were similar to reservations. and to attack those plantations which still dared to operate. To succeed. Kitchener made it clear that the primary purpose of the camps was to strike a psychological blow at the enemy: 'There is no doubt the women are keeping up the war and are far more bitter than the men. which were now non-existent. In a similar vein. Because of poor preparation. a Boer farm goes up in flames. Weyler. This is precisely what happened to Kitchener. Adequate preparations must be made for the care of those evacuated to the camps. lack of sanitation and shelter. Here. the results were disastrous. The second requirement for a successful concentration was that it must be part of a hearts-and-minds approach to win support for the incumbent power. and also to German generals in South-West Africa. however. he would work on the feelings of the men to get back to their farms. support systems which freed braves to raid unencumbered by the impedimenta of families. the Germans 17 1 . the concentration of populations had to meet certain basic conditions. Weyler merely locked himself up in the major provincial towns and left the Cuban revolutionaries free to roam the deserted countryside. the concentration of populations does appear to have undermined Boer morale. Horror at the appalling loss of life caused by Weyler's reconcentrado was a prime incitement to America's 1898 intervention. mostly children under 16 years old. where the army was too busy burning farms and destroying crops to prepare a proper reception for the refugees. For his part. While Weyler's militarily passive and politically repressive policies drove many Cubans into exile or into the arms of the insurgents. When the Boers surrendered in May 1902. in the short term the camps may have instilled some discipline in the Boer commandos by liberating their men from the requirement to visit their families and defend their homes. and aggressive strikes against guerrilla bands in the hinterland.

organized into militias. were later inflamed by stories of the misery of the concentration camps.000 Herero and Nama to camps.WARS OF EMPIRE confined 17. Concentration worked fairly well on Luzon. 17 2 . then the insurgents might infiltrate the towns and camps to murder or intimidate supporters of the incumbent power. However. rather than simply to remove them from the battlefield. almost half of whom perished. like this one in Trafalgar Square in July 1899. Filipinos were fed. If the population were fed and protected from guerrilla reprisals. Like the Chinese officials fighting the Nien. rather than the moral issues it raised. three months before war was declared. If this were not done systematically. and given a role in municipal government. it could be induced to surrender its neutrality and support the Americans. than as a way to filter out disloyal elements. even to create parallel Anti-war demonstrations. ultimately it was the costs of the war. in part because it was conceived as part of a positive strategy to win the loyalty of the population. that caused the British government to push for resolution. the Americans on Luzon discovered that the principle benefit of militias was less as a defence force.

Stead established a 'Stopthe-War' movement. as happened to the French regroupement efforts during the Algerian war of 1954-62. was forced to flee Birmingham town hall disguised as a policeman. the left was by no means unified in its opposition. although patriotic mobs succeeded in disrupting most of them. and the war disintegrated into an inconclusive counter-insurgency campaign whose major victims were women and children. The Boers had protested the treatment of their families in the concentration camps almost immediately. almost fell victim to a pro-war mob in Birmingham in December 1901.000 people. The journalist W. Vocal opposition to the war in foreign newspapers put the anti-war movement in a delicate position. and herded the population into towns which could not support them. the Boer capitals were seized. Poorly run concentration programmes might prove doubly disastrous for an imperial commander because they provided ammunition for anti-war groups at home. as the sieges of Ladysmith and Mafeking were lifted. urged their countrymen to boycott British recruiting stations. workers in the diamond and gold mines who faced discrimination by the Boer republics). T. operating on the assumption that Britain's discomfort was Ireland's opportunity. So desperate did the situation become that starving refugees joined with guerrillas to slaughter the US garrison at Balangiga in September 1901. Anti-war sentiment declined by the summer of 1900. Britain's invasion of the Boer republics had already left it with a public relations problem. An anti-war demonstration was held in Trafalgar Square on 9 July 1899. But even middle-class Young Welsh politician David Lloyd George. Anti-war meetings were held all over Britain in 1900. Most of the world preferred to see the conflict as a confrontation between a simple farming people victimized by a clique of grasping capitalists. Irish nationalists. The anti-war movement divided the Liberal Party's response to the war. and the Liberal politician Lloyd George used the Daily News as a mouthpiece for his anti-war sentiments. who came to prominence as a spokesman for the anti-war movement. 173 . led by the actress Maude Gonne. where American troops destroyed most of the food. caught in a melee involving over 40. But though opposition to the war was concentrated among the working classes and some members of the Liberal Party. American success on Luzon was not replicated on the island of Samar. three months before war was declared. mainly British. Kitchener's camps became a vehicle through which anti-war groups in Britain attacked the morality of the war. while it encouraged Conservatives to rally round the government. Boer 'Davids' defending hearth and home against the imperial British 'Goliath'. Their most spectacular success occurred on 18 December 1901 when Lloyd George.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE hierarchies. The Boers also had a bad press because of their shabby treatment of Blacks and of Uitlanders (white. especially in the wake of 'Black Week'.

who visited Algeria in 1846. seriously opposed imperialism. their impact was minimal once McKinley defeated anti-imperialist 174 . farmer. 'The events make us blush'. He was an administrator. Captain Paul Voulet and Lieutenant Charles Chanoine. However. Some organized or joined groups which visited the camps or those for Boer POWs on the island of St Helena. was moved.few anti-war MPs were elected. to denounce 'these methods of barbarism'. thereby asphyxiating them. Attacks on Amerindian villages by the US Army. This was hardly a new phenomenon. even on the Left.' No one in France. The leader of the Liberal Party. One must not exaggerate the consequences of opposition to the Boer War . burned-out farms. Alexis de Tocqueville. but in the cause of developing the economic potential of the colonies. The same phenomena could be seen in other countries. The denunciation of the impact of military action on Boer civilians by Emily Hobhouse. not for personal gain and glory. He sacrificed himself. Nevertheless. French imperialism was pursued by scandal. the Parisian daily. the shooting of captives. even in response to provocation. But her campaign convinced even the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain that it had been a desperate mistake to entrust the camps to military direction. the French public had been outraged when news spread that French soldiers campaigning in the coastal mountains north of Cheliff had made a habit of Emily H obhouse~ daughter of a prominent Liberal family. the torture of prisoners and of unarmed peaceful civilians in the Philippines. and opened a gulf between European claims to bring civilization and order to the outside world. stirred the War Office to dispatch a committee of women to investigate conditions in the camps.WARS OF EMPIRE British families were divided over the issue. and enlistment in the army remained high. on meeting Hobhouse. son of an ex-war minister. Already in the 1840s. murdered their senior officer and led their Senegalese tirailleurs and native auxiliaries in mutiny during a campaign against the Mossi States on the upper Volta. wrote that Algerian service had distorted the values of French soldiers. building fires in the mouths of caves in which Arabs sought refuge. It also stirred the army to arrest and expel Hobhouse back to Britain in October 1901. While American anti-imperialists denounced the devastation of provinces. would often produce howls of protest in the east. It was in part to counter this poor press that Lyautey wrote 'Du role coloniale de f'armee!> in the prestigious Revue des Deux Mondes in 1900. and hardly reflected credit on the French army which at that very moment was in the process of re-trying Captain Alfred Dreyfus for the crime of espionage. daughter of a family prominent in Liberal politics. architect and engineer. they could be counted on to criticize brutalities carried out by the military in the name of spreading Western civilization. the issue of the concentration camps pointed to one of imperialism's Achilles' heels: the moral ambivalence of Europeans toward it. 'The colonial soldier was more than a warrior. and feverish children. In 1899. and the bitter realities of conquest. was denounced as 'pro-Boer' and a 'screamer' when she tried to investigate conditions in Kitchener's concentration camps. Lyautey's was an old theme: the army's primary role in the colonies was a social and economic one. an action which only allowed her to spread revelations of mass deportations. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Le Temps~ declared.

:.t... The brutal repression of the Herero and Maji-Maji rebellions provoked an intense debate over colonial policy in the Reichstag in 1906-7.c....c-.~.. tl-.......... and the international outcry caused by the war.-:~ ft--.... THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR The greatest collision of rival imperial ambitions occurred not in Africa....".(-. ~ l""~ __ . -..)w.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE democrat William Jennings Bryant for the presidency in 1900....U ~. J~ J"'1'--.t. ct\. St"...... The more important issue flagged first by the Fashoda crisis and subsequently by the Boer War was that of imperial overstretch.t.t~~~~ (. if not before...t...tt--........ propelled Britain toward a major re-evaluation of its foreign and defence policies at the turn of the centu-ry...-. -..-.-c:. :. ~ .... ~~ ".u s..:..c..-'(~--r...lOc.". _-.~t:...._ 'Ct.....-' t(.. the moral issues raised by imperial warfare were insufficient. The slow implosion of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty.-:a~ ." ......~ ..:xcltUot.c-. ~ c~ 0( tl..a.r-'~ .. -.........' .04 6. The huge military effort required by Britain to defeat a handful of Boer farmers... But if Britain had bumped into a boulder of resistance in southern Africa. . ~ ..".... ...r.. France and Russia to surrender at the end of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5."._~-~ .~ ~ «..-. which was apparent by the conclusion of the Opium War in 1842.>Q..J'-~ fU-....( '..... ..e.I'~~' W... However.O~ ..~..:-~.~ we ). ".. -t...' ~u:" .~x...+«--.z-t.tic'"'"'t a... ~ :.--.. ~ O~..(..e:. ~ . ..&. one of whose tentacles lay across Port Arthur and the Liaotung Peninsula that Japan had occupied but had been forced by Germany.~.&...Je'r~.~: ~'"f-d-'"?:~c<~~ ~ ~ -«.-.&~~... only the Social Democrats advocated abandoning the colonies. . dq~. a.--.......t-lt~~ ....--~vc~·_· ~ . at least before 1918.t..) ~ ••••••.-..~c.. Russian imperialism struck an iceberg in Manchuria.. )t-o~ :... found the A March 1904 Japanese characterization of Russian imperialism as a black octopus... fn 1\:::*'.r.. Most critics sought merely to tighten Berlin's control over the colonies. and to use the colonial issue as a vehicle for a liberalization of the German political system. ..... and accelerated in mid century with the Taiping and Nien rebellions..-".c.~ __ . ~"-f-....... to rattle the confidence of imperial nations in their basic right to extend the frontiers of empire against the wishes of the inhabitants...-.~oe.... J~J~ ~ _.. )It. but in the Far East. -s. Therefore...:':' ...'-1--I"~~~ c:_ _ ~.....«.a~-..: 1 75 ... --U..» --r: .•••••••. ~.

a Chinese vassal state. Japan succumbed to imperialism to the point that the success of reform was measured in great part by the status which Japan gained through expansion on to the Asian mainland. This divided Korea.WARS OF EMPIRE Western imperial powers circling vulture-like over the decomposing carcass of China. to resist Western imperialism and secure the Meiji reforms. as a prerequisite to establishing Japanese economic. However. Tokyo cried foul. Meiji reformers believed that an aggressive foreign policy offered the best vehicle to build consensus for reform at home. Liaotung . But when the Chinese sent soldiers to crush a rebellion there in 1894. Although the Meiji Restoration of 1868 was initiated in reaction to Western imperialism. From the 1860s. In 1885. Japan and Russia. Japan landed troops in Korea. Russia's collision with Japan over Manchuria and Korea produced the most devastating imperial war. and caused conservatives close to the Korean court to appeal to China as a protector. At the turn of the century Japan contained a contradiction. political and military influence over the peninsula. one which topped in destruction and casualties Members of the Meiji government discuss the invasion of Korea. managed successfully to blend reform and tradition. Foreign policy was an extension of domestic consolidation. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 offered a desolate preview of the war Europe was to experience between 1914 and 1918. set its objectives abroad. However. Only Japan. coastal enclaves from which they could pursue trade and maintain pressure on Beijing. China and Japan agreed to keep their troops out of Korea. all the colonial conflagrations hitherto fought. of the non-Western countries. In July. nominally a Chinese vassal state. By 1876. Japan had begun to imitate Western-style gunboat diplomacy in Korea. and eliminate jealousy and recrimination among its people. nurtured territorial ambitions on the Asian mainland. Most were content to carve out spheres of influence. two powers. they argued that a forward policy in Korea would instantly change Japan's outmoded customs. promote its industry and technology. in the mid 1870s. the Japanese became imperialists themselves.

failed reform movements. foreign bullying.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE East chitta Sea ~ + ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~~ c ~ 0 <t "" ~~$ '" \~o9\t 0\ \'t. foreign attack and Chinese reactions 1894-1900 ~ ~ movement of Chinese troops 1894 movement of Japanese troops 1894-5 Japanese Empire c. 1895 Boxer rebellion 1900 Railroad concessions Russian British German French Japanese under Chinese control Spheres of influence treaty port by nationality ~ Russian British D D D • • 0 British French Japanese German Portuguese US Chinese control ~ ~ German French Japanese • 0 • <:) D 177 .\\\te{ OCEAN THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR. 1895 ceded to Japan or under Japanese occupation 1895 Chinese Empire c. foreign presence. and nascent warlordism had seriously undermined the authority of the Ch'ing dynasty. China. Manoeuvres by Tokyo and ~t Petersburg to capitalize on Chinese weakness brought them into conflict over Manchuria and Korea. 18 94-5 By the 1890s regional and religious insurgencies.

and the opening of treaty ports. Japan demanded a large indemnity. most-favoured nation status. while the navy seized Taiwan. Darien and destroyed most of the Chinese fleet. 19°4-5 Japan took a huge risk in attacking Russia. and Shantung. The Japanese population was ecstatic. Russo-Japanese War 1904-5 Russia n expa nsion 1858-1900 Russian Empire 1850 to Russian Empire 1858 D D ~ to Russian Empire 1860 Russian occupied to 1905 Russian zone of influence 1900 Russo-Japanese War 1904-5 Japanese attack major Japanese Navy attack route of imperial Russian Baltic fleet major battle occupied by Japan 1905 territory taken from Russian Empire 1905 Treaty ports • • • • 0 British French Japanese German US . By March 1895 Japan had captured Port Arthur.WARS OF EMPIRE THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR. But hardly was the ink dry on the treaty that ended the Sino-Japanese War than Germany. The army occupied Liaotung. The Sino-Japanese War succeeded beyond Tokyo's wildest dreams. Japan's principal strategic advantage lay in sea control. But Tokyo concluded that inaction would result in Japan's marginalization and the collapse of the Meiji experiment.

The American takeover of the Philippines from 1898. It tried to negotiate an exchange of Korea for Manchuria with Russia. Japan's clumsy policies there. But Russian interest in the Far East was only stimulated when Japan seized the Liaotung Peninsula in 1894. and sent forestry workers into Korea. Russia posed as China's benefactor and orchestrated the international pressure which filched from Japan many of the spoils of its victory over China. If the risks of defeat were great. and to consolidate its power base at home was to pick a fight with Russia. and a return to the anarchy and civil wars of the Shogun era. Nicholas II appears to have nurtured the belief that Russia would become an Asian power. the growth of trade with China and of the merchant navy was seen as synonymous with imperial expansion. it signed a treaty with Britain. No one in St Petersburg thought through the strategic consequences when. unlike Japan which saw imperialism as the centerpiece of Meiji reform. to settle the Manchurian question. The presence of the railway allowed Russian railway police to patrol the Manchurian lines and. insisted that vast profits awaited the nation that exploited Manchuria and China. the failure of reform at home. However. Port Arthur and Daln~ Following the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. since the 1850s.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE France and Russia intervened in order to force Japan to give up Liaotung. Russian officers had arrived in Korea as military instructors in the 1880s. But Tokyo vowed to make it only a temporary one. In 1901 Japan became one of the Boxer Protocol Powers. Witte argued. and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Vladivostok was imperilled. In 1875. But Tokyo continued to view control of the Korean Peninsula as vital for its defence. Russian gunboats had been on the Amur river. Like Japan. which included the murder of Queen Min. Russia brought its military occupation of Manchuria into the open to guarantee China's good behaviour. But Russia's trade deficit with China grew. The following year. This big power intervention was a setback. could be re-invested in Russian industrial development. making Tokyo London's principal partner in Asia. in 1895. The tsar's finance minister. Russia's reward from Beijing was permission to direct the Trans-Siberian Railway across Manchuria as a shortcut to Vladivostok. Indeed. Japan's rapid defeat of China raised the fears that Tokyo would pre-empt that dream. which separated Siberia from Manchuria. with the right to station troops in Peking-Tientsin. These profits. Russia was enticed into the Far East by the slow implosion of China. the risks of doing nothing were marginalization abroad. Tokyo increasingly came to the view that the only way to defend its aspirations to great power status. in 1898. but St Petersburg turned a deaf ear. Russia had recognized Japanese suzerainty over the Kurile Islands in exchange for Russian ownership of Sakhalin. Sergei Witte. 179 . to annex the Liaotung Peninsula with its two important ports. Industrialization. only drove the Koreans into the arms of the Russians. Russia's imperial enterprise was unreflective. The Russian foreign minister argued that Tokyo was merely acting as London's agent. increased pressure on Japan to act before it had little room left for manoeuvre.

WARS OF EMPIRE and. r80 . Also.both the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 and the open door policy declared by the United States were attempts to check Russian expansion into China. Russian forces made only an ineffectual effort to defend Manchuria on the Yalu. Japan broke off diplomatic relations on 5 February 1904. After Russia refused to reassure Japan that it harboured no ambitions in Korea. The destruction of the Pacific squadron was a vital objective for the Japanese. it lacked the manpower to defend these far-flung outposts. on the night of 8/9 February. if Russia decided to dispatch its Baltic fleet to the Pacific (the Black Sea fleet was prohibited passage through the Japanese troops land in Korea in 1904. Russian ships operating out of Port Arthur could threaten the sea lines of communication between the Japanese islands and Japanese troops on the mainland. Russia also seemed blind to the foreign policy consequences of its Far Eastern deployment . Admiral Togo sent his torpedo boats against the Russian Pacific squadron anchored at Port Arthur. But it was Japan which felt most threatened. and instead retreated to Port Arthur where they were besieged. as both army and navy leaders pointed out. Three days later.

faulty tactics and Togo's desire to preserve his cruisers.000 Russians manned them against 35. ~~. \ Japanese forces moved north toward Liaoyang to cut the railway line leading down to Port Arthur. But poor intelligence. Admiral Togo s surprise attack on the Russian Pacific squadron at Port Arthur on the night of 8-9 February~ 1904 aimed to prevent Russian ships from impeding Japanese sea lanes of communication.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE Bosphorus). the Japanese were forced to attack the Pacific squadron from the land side. Troops were landed at Chemulpo and broke through Russian defences on the Yalu river. as the Russians seemed content to await the arrival of their Baltic fleet. Japanese soldiers landed at Pi-tzu-wo and moved toward Nanshan. which might have finished off the cornered Russian squadron. Nevertheless. especially after sorties into the Pacific ended in encounters with mines. . Stymied on the sea. The attack failed to neutralize the Russian squadron~ which meant that Port Arthur had to be taken~ at great cost~ by the army. a narrow isthmus which controls the entrance to the Liaotung Peninsula and Port Arthur. Their tactics were equally timid.~~·:-:~:t~~ . although Chinese troops had defeated the French at Lang Son and checked the French invasion of Formosa in 1885. and only 4.~c:::. The Russian defences were not well sited.000 Japanese troops supported 181 . This Japanese victory was celebrated as the first victory of Asians over Western forces. Russian naval commanders were unable to profit from their escape. The naval war before Port Arthur settled into a temporary stalemate.': . ~ORT ARTHUR HAR80U~ D~Y AT ~~w '-. Togo's ships would be desperately outnumbered and outgunned in the ensuing main fleet action. Meanwhile. meant that only three Russian ships were damaged in the surprise attack.

gained a toehold on the western flank of the Russian line. Russian machine guns ripped the close ranks of attacking Japanese troops to shreds. when Japanese soldiers. The Japanese moved south to capture Daln~ Thanks mainly to the inaction of the Russian Pacific squadron. Dalny became a major support base for the siege of Port Arthur. The Russian General Pock ordered a general retreat which turned into a panic. aided by naval bombardment. 182 . it looked as if the Russian position on the isthmus would hold.WARS OF EMPIRE by naval artiller~ None the less. By the end of the day.

wanted The surprise attack on Port Arthur angered the tsar and steeled his resolve to defeat the Japanese. Kuropatkin. backed by artillery and machine guns. Russian engineers began to add track. Russia also ordered its Baltic fleet to the Far East.500 miles over the single-track Trans-Siberian Railway. The Russian commander. Although Japan could get its troops to the front by sea faster than Russia could move their soldiers the 5.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE The conflict settled into a war of attrition. battles fought between armies that numbered tens of thousands of men. the Japanese concluded that they had contained the Russian maritime threat and bought time to build up an impregnable defensive position. However. Time seemed to be on Russia's side. while those of the Japanese were limited. . But St Petersburg failed to make time work for them. They attempted to apply this strategy against the United States at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Its resources in men and materiel were potentially immense.

The naval forces at Port Arthur and Vladivostok were also largely passive. Russian ground forces were poorly led. mustered to pound Port Arthur into submission. and failed to counter-attack when the Japanese were exhausted and over-extended. Although Russian use of artillery was good. fearing the fall of Port Arthur and with it the end of the Pacific squadron. to delay operations until the Trans-Siberian Railway could ensure the delivery of reinforcements. when they might have helped their armies by attacking Japanese sea communications with the home islands. But St Petersburg. pressured their commanders into battles they preferred for the moment to avoid. .WARS OF EMPIRE Japanese artillerymen load a SOO-pound shell into one of eighteen huge Japunese coastal defence guns (called 'Osaka Babies' after the town where they were made). ground forces remained on the tactical defensive. They continually abandoned strong positions because their commanders lost their nerve. lacked initiative.

The Japanese had suffered 60. and cost the Russians 61. A Russian counter-offensive south of Mukden at Sandepu in January 1905 got them nowhere. and at Sha ho. but cost another 14. before Mukden. sought to force a decision before Russia could mobilize the full force of its strength against them. Their plan was quickly to seize Port Arthur.to about half that many for the defenders. Horrific casualties were suffered on both sides. J J J J J Japanese forces had taken Port Arthur from the Chinese in 1894 at the cost of sixteen soldiers. The depressing irony for Tokyo was that The battle for Mukden which dominated the rail line to Harbin was fought on a 1 DO-mile front between 21 February and 11 March 1905.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE The Japanese. meanwhile.000 casualties in the siege of the port . but the carnage had been horrific.000 alone in the eight-day attempt to seize 204-metre hill. was fought along a front of 100 miles. The final major land battle of the war occurred at Mukden in Februar~ The battle lasted three weeks.000 men. only to have his . The final straw for the Russians came when their Baltic fleet under Admiral Rozhdestvenskii limped into the Korean Straits on 28 May.8.000 casualties to 41. thus eliminating the Pacific squadron. Despite Russian military ineptness the Japanese bereft of manpower and cash were staring at defeat by the spring of 1905.000 for the Japanese. then turn north and inflict decisive defeats on the Russians before their reinforcements could arrive. in October. Port Arthur surrendered in January 1905. The Japanese absorbed huge casualties in desperate and unimaginative frontal assaults against Russian positions at Liaoyang in August 1904.

WARS OF EMPIRE .

towards the shore. The battle of Tsushima was a disastrous end to a long and demoralizing voyage. and just about out of troops. the kaiser stared across the grey water. the event that caused the tsar to opt for peace. strikes that disrupted the TransSiberian Railway. polished black boots. which moved to thwart French ambitions in Morocco. on 5 September 1905. His fleet lay at the bottom of the Pacific. and eventually with the Pacific interests of the United States. his semi-paralysed arm dangling by his side. Russian intelligence reported Japanese distress to the tsar. was hailed by sea-power enthusiasts as the decisive battle of the war. But as Abd el-Malek spoke no German. the German liner Hamburg swung at anchor off Tangier. this allowed the Japanese to fire their guns broadside at the Russian ships. On board. isolation. . and his sailors had mutinied at Vladivostok. whipped to foam by a persistent force 8 gale. which caused the retreat of the Western powers toward Europe. Peace was signed at Portsmouth. The collapse of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty in 1912 and the outbreak of the First World War two years later. a revolver attached to a cord which hung around his neck and a sabre dangling at his side was lowered into a whaler. led through a hedge of French marines stiff at present arms. and Moroccan askars who approximated a similar The battle of Tsushima. racked by inflation. But if Japan could replicate the success of the Western imperial powers. Two large German sailors plucked him from the boat and carried him the last few yards to the wooden steps which he mounted to the quay. red gloves. the Du Chayla and the Linois. New Hampshire. Sevastopol and Kronstadt in sympathy with the strikes which had erupted across Russia and disrupted the Trans-Siberian Railway.30 in the morning he re-emerged on deck dressed in a field uniform of the Prussian Army .silver helmet with chinstrap. France. cleared the way for Japan's aggressive imperialism in the Far East. and rowed past two French cruisers. what the kaiser actually said remains a mystery. Only three ships of the Baltic fleet reached Vladivostok. Japan's search for security in imperial expansion would only produce insecurity. He was also worried that the need to send soldiers to the East had denuded his European defences. THE CONQUEST OF MOROCCO ] apan's desire for recognition of its great power status In the Far East was matched in Europe by Germany. which was broke. Russia's major ally. it could also duplicate their errors. and as the kaiser's remarks were inaudible to others. But other factors such as mutinies in his forces. At about 11. Abd el-Malek. urged him to cut his losses. and fear of an attack from Germany were at least as influential in the tsar's decision. who greeted him. With victory in the Russo-Japanese War. alienation and over-extension as it collided with the rising nationalism of China and Korea. and debated whether to land. Japan had achieved the status of a great power and joined the ranks of imperial powers. The Russian decision to negotiate came just in the nick of time for Tokyo. It annexed Korea as a colony in 1910. On the morning of 31 March 1905. The German was hoisted on to a horse and. 27-28 May 1905.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE T twice crossed by Admiral Togo. which could only reply with their forward turrets. But Nicholas decided to throw in the towel. The visitor said something in German to the representative of the sultan of Morocco.

By playing the nationalist card the German leadership was merely aping governments elsewhere in Europe. Richard von Kuhlmann. salute. Morocco remained. Germany had declared the Entente Cordiale dead. Prince von Bulow. announced that the kaiser's visit had been intended to underscore Germany's commitment to Morocco's continued independence. This clumsy attempt to crack the Anglo-French entente of 1904. made his way back to the shore and sailed away. Unfortunately for Germany. thereby guaranteeing the safety of Algeria's eastern borders. German reasons for challenging the Entente Cordiale were complex. as much as it delighted the Moroccans. a fireship on the flank of Algeria. In seeking an accommodation with Britain. The German chancellor. faintly pursued by the beating of drums and the ululations of the Moroccan women. Kaiser Wilhelm II headed a gaggle of parvenu politicians and military men desperate for respect from the older. In 1881. muttered some homilies about respecting the interests of German commerce. It also represented a bold. had festooned in red. even a foolhardy. sought to end what in his view was a needless and destructive imperial rivalry between two countries who otherwise had no real conflicts of interest. Morocco remained turbulent and unstable. In the west. and it was 188 . although in 1904 it was a latent one. according to which Britain recognized French suzerainty in Morocco in return for acknowledgement of British dominion in Egypt. eager for British friendship to counterbalance an increasingly powerful and assertive Germany. French colonialists reasoned from an Algerian perspective. The French foreign minister. however. complained that France. white and blue bunting. established powers. The Entente Cordiale also had a European dimension. Britain had bartered Moroccan independence against overdue French acquiescence to the British domination of Egypt. however. to a large extent because Bismarck had shown so little interest in empire building. drove the two erstwhile imperial rivals closer together. the German consul in Tangier. Much of this was for home consumption.WARS OF EMPIRE Kaiser Wilhelm visits Tangier in 1905 to emphasize Ger~anys support for continued Moroccan independence. with the encouragement of their legation. Status in turn-of-the-century Europe was measured. the French felt desperately insecure there. most of the territory available for colonization had already been snatched by Britain and France. Theophile Delcasse. The kaiser entered the building. The German declaration stunned both London and Paris. In 1904. France had absorbed Tunisia. The next day. The party plunged into the narrow streets of Tangier which French residents. Britain and Russia refused to 'recognize our dignity and our recently acquired authority as a world power'. to emerge at the German consulate where the town's diplomats had sought refuge from the morning's pelting rain. They processed through the Grand Soko where savage-looking Rif tribesmen shouted and discharged their muskets and pitched them into the air in welcome. by the dimensions of one's colonial empire. diplomatic move on the part of Berlin. By replacing Britain as the guarantor of Moroccan independence. The long-term causes resided in the vague longing for a recognition of Germany's international status which equalled Berlin's economic and military power. Although the last serious uprising in Algeria had occurred in 1871 while the French army was otherwise occupied fighting the Franco-Prussian war. at least in part. or so Berlin thought.

UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE .

the German chancellor calculated. in 1905 and again in 1911. numbering perhaps 4. Final battles occurred in May at Bou Denib. Russia. This was unlikel)!. Aware of the delicate political situation. At the best of times. drove this point forcefully home. In 1907. Its inhabitants were fiercely independent. or war party. Britain would back off from her alliance with France. the Fashoda crisis followed by the Second South African War had demonstrated all too painfully how friendless Britain was in the world. which allowed the more disciplined French forces to counter-attack. It was a neat plan. French encroachments into Morocco brought Berlin and Paris to the very brink of war. resistance largely collapsed in March 1908 after French General Albert d'Amade twice caught the resisters in their camps against which he brought the full power of French artillery and small arms. diplomats and politicians off the scent. By 1904. but it contained at least one fallacy . A third harka surprised a French camp at Mennaba in eastern Morocco at dawn on 17 April 1908. all of it remote. The Tangier crisis of 1905 was the first step in transforming the colonial entente of 1904 into the European military alliance of 1914. But despite initial success they fell to looting. the hinterland behind the cit)!.it assumed that Britain would desert her new all)!. imprudently attacked up a narrow ravine against a concentration of French forces on the Wadi Kiss and was decimated by artiller)!. and in September at Djorf. opposition to the French was spasmodic and unsustained. France's major ally. If Germany supported Moroccan independence. renaming the villages to throw journalists. For the British. but not occupied. The German naval laws of 1898 and 1900. was already engaged in a catastrophic war with Japan. although as elsewhere. where the Moroccans again foolishly massed against French artillery and machine-guns and were slaughtered in great numbers. In eastern Morocco in that year. A harka. by the sultan. A second harka attempted to take Port Say on the Mediterranean coast and was driven off by naval gunfire. General Hubert Lyautey digested eastern Morocco. Moroccan tribesmen mounted a briefly effective mobile campaign against the French columns sent out from Casablanca. She intended to stick by her. The land was vast. which were a direct challenge to British mastery of the seas. The greatest risk to the French was that an invasion might provoke a German reaction.WARS OF EMPIRE on this hapless land that this new generation of German leaders adjusted their sights. Lyautey provoked an uprising of the Beni Snassen when French forces occupied Oudjda on the Algerian frontier. Twice. moving forward by stealth from Algeria to occupy sites within the territory claimed. However. and pursued the conquest of the Chaouia. Britain had found her friend in Europe. The short-term causes of what became known as the 'Tangier crisis' resided in the equally ill-fated attempt on the part of von Bulow to isolate France diplomaticall)!. the French placed a large force ashore at Casablanca after Europeans were massacred there. much of it mountain or semi-desert. Morocco would be a difficult country to conquer. The .000 men.

who argued in his 1910 book. . The French commander-in-chief.108 native troops were drawing rations in the colonies or France. most of whom had to be quickly withdrawn because of disease. when the French won the freedom to act in Morocco by giving the Germans territorial concessions in the Cameroon.000 troops dispatched to deal with the crisis of 1911 made Morocco the most costly of all French imperial expeditions.UPPING THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE final French push into Morocco was precipitated in 1911 by a mutiny of the sultan's askars against their French advisers in Fez. La force noire~ that the colonies offered inexhaustible repositories of manpower to defend the homeland. The 60.400 to Dahomey in 1892). The French intervention there came at a particularly bad time. 42.000 men (Dodds took 3. If the 1911 accord settled the Moroccan question. the French Army counted 15. in part because it was difficult to support larger numbers logistically. like Georges Clemenceau.000 troops from France in July 1881. The rebellion against the French takeover of Tunisia had caused Paris to dispatch 35. A French expedition launched to rescue the Europeans and the sultan besieged there touched off an international crisis which was only extinguished in November 1911. of imperial warfare. The French invasion of Tonkin began with 4.300 white and 7. Most of the expeditions in sub-Saharan African could be accomplished with less than 3. it was Clemenceau who. The costs of Morocco also complicated plans to add heavy artillery to the army's arsenal. both diplomatic and military. but also because enemy resistance was seldom overwhelming.000 metropolitan conscripts in the colonial forces. as prime minister from 1917. The conquest of Morocco underscored the rising costs to France. General Joseph Joffre. Therefore. the greatest benefit of colonies for France was the million and a half subjects they sent to support the French war effort between 1914 and 1918. The French maintained the equivalent of two army corps to garrison Algeria before 1914. The Fashoda crisis so stretched military resources that in 1898 the army violated French law to place over 12. and replaced by Algerian units. who insisted that colonial expansion subtracted military strength from the vital north-eastern frontier with German~ Ironically. including those stationed in Algeria.100 white and 88. The great cost of occupying the colonies fuelled the debate between colonialists like General Charles Mangin. it was only the beginning of France's attempt to impose its control over the country. In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. for it brought an unwanted financial burden at the very moment when the government added a third year of conscript service to match an increase in German army strength. proved most willing to mobilize colonial manpower to defend France. and swelled in the face of Chinese intervention and popular resistance to 40. The Madagascar campaign of 1895 required around 15.000 officers and men. feared that the Moroccan expedition would compromise French mobilization for war against German~ By the outbreak of the First World War. the last corner of which did not submit until 1934.420 indigenous troops in its colonial forces. and others.000 by 1885.000 troops in 1883.

WARS OF EMPIRE .

at the gates 0 ( Marrakesh in 1912. 193 . Lyautey instructed Mangin to seize Marrakesh despite strict orders (rom Paris to the contrary.UPPI G THE STAKES: THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL WARFARE Colonel Charles Mangin greets the new French Resident General 0 ( Morocco. General Hubert Lyautey.

.

....-"'.- IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? CPROGRESS UNDER MAO TSE-TUNG~ (1949)....:==~:of-J .:@:...-••---::-7::==:===-"..CHAPTER FIVE ... The Chinese Communists argued that they had closed the era of China's CCentury of Humiliation~at the hands of the imperial powers and their warlord lackeys in the Kuomintang..

to oblivion. Mexico's success against the . E. imperial warfare was gradually transformed in the minds of Europeans into an almost unstoppable force. imperial conquest had come to be seen merely as a technical problem to be mastered by the application of a fairly predictable mixture of organization. In Callwell's day. THE PERCEPTION of imperial warfare held by the colonialists gradually altered.' Lawrence's praise of the potency of insurgent movements is somewhat puzzling. A century and a half of imperial warfare had produced some notable insurgent successes. because it is grounded in little hard evidence. In a mere four pages. technology. and against them the perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain. Callwell had contributed articles to the Britannica. while foreign intervention had both imported military skills and. and tactical elan. E. as well as a century's experience in imperial warfare. a revolution nourished by social resentment. An indication of how much the perception of warfare outside Europe had been altered by the First World War is apparent in the 1929 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. security [in the form of denying targets to the enemy]. time. for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive. economIC oppressIon and nationalist fervour. Although MALTA C. the author chosen for the entry on 'Guerrilla Warfare' was not Callwell. but T. victory will rest with the insurgents. in the case of French intervention in the American Revolution. the hero of the Arab Revolt offered a vision of small wars which appeared to consign the 559 pages of Callwell's 1906 text. and doctrine [the idea to convert every subject to friendliness]. Following the First World War.WARS OF EMPIRE IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? A FTER 1918 . Many of the colonies of North and South American had gained independence through clever strategies that denied targets to the enem~ Ideologies of nationalism had united significant portions of the population. however. Lawrence I I I I wrote: 'Here is the thesis: given mobility. Lawrence. over-extended the incumbent power. for reasons that had more to do with events in Europe than with those in the colonies.

. The Bosnian crisis of 1909. o 200 km I o The Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1683-1914 L-. 1914 date granted autonomy date of territory lost [illIJ 1830 197 . the subsequent Balkan Wars and First World War accelerated Ottoman decomposition and stimulated European imperial rivalries..J I 200 miles D D territory lost by 1718 territory lost by 1812 territory lost by 1881 territory lost by 1914 D • Ottoman Empire.--...IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? THE DECLINE OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE The disorder induced by the implosion of the Ch'ing dynasty in the Far East was replicated in the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean by the prolonged agony of the Ottoman Empire.

As has been seen. Afghanistan had been invaded. Lawrence. Indeed. regarded as the most sophisticated theorist of modern revolutionary warfare. Nor does Lawrence explain how an insurgency whose end result was the replacement of Turkish imperialism with French and British rule can be called a victory for the rebellion. French in 1867 relied on a similar combination of factors. native resistance was fragmented because it lacked a common ideology or sense of self-interest. E. of course. caste and custom. T. Abyssinian independence was preserved at Adowa because successful tactical adaptations to the firearm coincided with remarkable incompetence on the part of the Italians. In fact. how can one account for it? Although the era of imperial conquest was a successful one for Western armies. If the regions that fell under imperial domination could conjure up a national consciousness. The United States intervened in 1898 to break the stalemate between rebels and Spanish forces in Cuba. had played rnidwife to the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War. But even Lawrence might be forced to concede that Arab success relied on many of the same contingent circumstances that brought victory to Spanish guerrillas who fought Napoleon's armies between 1808 and 1812. language. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Did the insurgent balance sheet change all that much between 1918 and the outbreak of the Second World War? In 1921. remote. Even Mao Tse-tung. the Arab success replicated that of Spanish guerrillas during the Peninsular War. its achievement contained at least three reasons for its ultimate demise after 1918. and abandoned. India and much of Asia. religion. First. before 1914. was notably unsuccessful when he attempted to put his theories into practice in China in the 1930s. and the public's romantic fascination with its chief propagandist. and of little strategic interest once the British acknowledged Russia's indifference to the place. rather than announce a new insurgent era. Mao may only have become a footnote in history had not Japanese intervention in China prevented Chiang from finishing off the Chinese Communist movement when it was weakened after the Long March of 1935. If an Increase In insurgent victories does not explain Lawrence's assertion. Spanish insurgents were aided by an outside army that prevented the occupying force from concentrating its full energies against them. because it was wild. a sense of identity which eradicated the seams of race. then they might articulate a coherent ideological and political response to outside domination. the . But interwar imperial rebellions in India.WARS OF EMPIRE The success of the 'Arab Revolt' against the Turks in the First World War. Like the Arabs. a mere handful of Western soldiers and their indigenous allies had managed to conquer Africa. Lawrence~ announced the revival of insurgency as a potent form of warfare. the Levant and Morocco were crushed. the southern counties of Ireland had shed their colonial status. But the list of failed resistance to Western encroachment was more extensive by far than this brief catalogue of successes. at least in part through military means.

Few non-Western societies before the First World War had been able to replicate the success of Meiji japan. both on the tactical level. The same reactionary character coloured resistance movements founded on Islamic precepts. Mexico between 1862 and 1867 had succeeded in doing this. Elsewhere. But these were offshoots of Western imperialism and so could use the ideology and rhetoric of the West in their own defence. Elsewhere tribalism.IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? Mao Tse-tung in 1935. even reactionary. Mao is regarded as one of the chief theorists and most successful practitioners of insurgency. Mao broke with other Communist theorists by insisting that revolution should be fomented among the peasants. the Spanish colonies of South America. The Chinese attempt to adapt to the Western imperial challenge within the confines of Confucian norms merely produced defeat and disintegration. which 199 . and as a strategy of popular mobilization. and religious and ethnic fragmentation made resistance to imperial encroachment seem nostalgic. to a certain extent. not in the towns. Saint Domingue and. the very tradition which those resisting sought to protect caused them to reject as alien to their culture the modernization they required to defend it. to evolve an adaptive response which allowed them to modernize within the context of their own culture and traditions. British colonies of North America.

and was retained as a symbol of status in a world in which French culture. His insistence that guerrilla warfare was inevitably successful was rooted in his belief that indigenous societies had discovered the ideological counter to imperialism. The efficiency of Western rule translated into discrimination and oppression. language and influence were in decline. security into wasteful expeditions. and the French people the will. economic progress into exploitation. to defend the empire against postSecond World War challenges in Indo-China and North Africa.WARS OF EMPIRE doomed even the most spectacular resistance (such as the Indian Mutiny) to defeat. was in reality an expression of national weakness. The French Empire. one that allowed them to achieve the unity which had earlier eluded them. if not destruction. bore the germs of its own. even in THE FRENCH EMPIRE 1914 European empires proved to be remarkably fragile creations. which is a tactic. France lacked the power. to raise him to Western levels of civilization. Lawrence was asked to write about guerrilla warfare. at least modification and evolution. forced conscription and. on the margins. though second in size only to Britain's. Imperial rule was denounced as a triumph of arrogance and racism. 200 . and upon which his military reputation was constructed. atrocit~ Imperial schools which espoused the virtues of citizenship and the 'rights of man' were at odds with the realities of the inferior status of colonial elites which they aimed to educate. Furthermore. justice into a trespass upon local custom and tradition. The experience of living under and serving in imperial administrations. in its desire to improve the native. In short. imperialism. It was justified by French officers reacting to the emergence of Germany as a powerful rival in Europe. It was precisely the beginnings of a process through which indigenous societies acquired the ideological framework for a more efficient adaptive response that Lawrence had observed.

tis. To this. one might add an overlay of Marxist ideology . 201 . and the Japanese surrender in August 1945 to seize power in Hanoi. and diminished the combative qualities of those native soldiers who still consented to serve the outside power. StPaulls.alty Is. This rising national consciousness reduced the divisions and apathy which allowed colonial powers to rule. an analytical framework for anti-colonial resistance. imperial powers were poorly placed to respond to this emerging nationalism. Russian imperialism was tied closely with Continental securit~ Russian imperial boundaries had been fleshed out with settlers transplanted to the French Empire 1914 French colonies • D D D other French enclaves area of French influence other colonial states and their possessions other territories and states Tropic of (ancer Ironically. the vacuum created by the Japanese occupation of Indo-China in the Second World War. would generate the national consciousness hitherto conspicuously lacking. In the some insurgent movements discovered a blueprint for revolution. It also diminished the ability to recruit native soldiers. Ho Chi Minh took advantage of resentment over French rule. Tropic of Caprkorn rdamls. Equator . Kerguelen Is.another imperial import wrItIngs of which Mao articulated Tse-tung. two of the most enduring imperial legacies were indigenous nationalism and Marxism. with the possible exceptions of Russia and Japan.IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? European armIes. Second.

economic costs. yellow or whatever colour was chosen to denote the greater Fatherland. tired of its wars even as they fought them. where the citizen is considered a moral adolescent in constant need of control and tutelage by a wise administration. if not before. the cracks in a vast and diverse empire. when scores of Russians who had settled in the colonies clamoured for rescue. Its benefits were largely intangible. and to co-opt local nationalism in places like the Dutch East Indies for the benefit of Japanese imperialism.WARS OF EMPIRE conquered lands. Imperial governance adapted more easily to France's authoritarian political culture. Imperialism in its Gallic manifestation proved more resilient. was linked to the imperial domination of Korea and economic and military control of Formosa and northern China. A fundamental premise of the Meiji Restoration was that reform. imperialists. Russia's decolonization crisis was delayed until the collapse of the Soviet Union. limited to the ephemeral satisfaction of painting large areas of the map pink. blue. military defeat. imperial expansion brought the risks of strategic over-extension. at least temporarily. certainly the most stylish. even the British had begun to realize that Western values which combined moral suasion with the idea of progress were not everywhere exportable.that imperial peoples should be permitted empIre 202 to forego the opportunity they had of becoming or remaining part of the French simply because other . but hardly bulletproof. and hence security from Western imperialism. political unpopularity. Although outwardly the most successful. French humanitarians might denounce colonial atrocities. But it never occurred to them . At home. lost faith in its mission even as they preached its virtues. and moral compromise. By the time of the Second South African War. THE DEMISE OF IMPERIALISM Elsewhere.at least not in the preMarxist era . the British seemed to have wearied of imperialism's responsibilities even as they shouldered them. In Soviet Marxism. ] apan developed an anti-imperialism to counter the Western imperial influence in the Far East. Russian imperialism acquired an ideology which papered over. imperialism had never enjoyed widespread popular support even in its high renaissance. however.

The Japanese invasion of China was essential to the success of Mao's insurgency. who chewed up his Nationalist forces. Nevertheless. OVERLEAF: Japanese troops advance in Hunan Province.5 million colonial subjects contributing to the French war effort between 1914 and 1918. Chiang Kai-shek was forced to abandon his pursuit of the Communists to deal with the Japanese invaders. France could rightly conclude that the empire was a force multiplier vital to bolster France's relatively precarious position in Europe. growing agitation for increased political rights. French control. French influence and. The islands were pledged independence at the first opportunit~ The final reason for imperialism's demise involved the changing perception of In Vietnam. above all. France's vision of national grandeur made imperialism very much a defensive response by a nation and a culture in relative decline in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Also. With over 1. Unfortunately for Washington. especially in North Africa and Indo-China. while technology could never be more than a secondary factor in determining the success or failure of imperial campaigns. Americans were never more than contrite imperialists. France's mission civilizatrice was the organized export of French language and culture.IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? priorItIes. the Communists were seen as the legitimate heirs of the anti-colonial revolution. cast a shadow over the future of empire. 2°3 . the United States assumed that politics and firepower were on their side. Challenged by Kipling to take up the 'White Man's Burden'. American empire as a formal creation was an unintended consequence of victory in a war with Spain. Imperialism was also about insuring France's influence in the world. The dominion over the Philippines was rationalized as a naval base to secure trade routes to the Far East. which had proven otherwise remarkably unsuccessful in the 1930s.

WARS OF EMPIRE 2°4 .

IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? 2°5 .

The FLN became adept at setting helicopter ambushes during the Algerian War of 1954-62. From a military perspective. Members of the Algerian Front de Liberation National pose before Second World War surplus British Lewis machine guns in 1957.WARS OF EMPIRE imperial warfare. Armies neglected to study a subject so remote from 'real war'. Two world wars largely destroyed the officer corps that had specialized in colonial service. and with them went the expertise. 206 . the corporate memory required to fight what travelled under the euphemism of 'low-intensity conflict'. imperial warfare came to be seen as a fleeting problem as Europe entered an age of total war. As in the earlier era of imperial conquest.

Belloc 2°7 . The attitude that 'any good soldier should be able to handle guerrillas' betrayed the belief that insurgency was merely a technical problem. An overwhelming application of firepower or some technology that guaranteed mobility was the solution. There was always the temptation to approach non-Western warfare as an extension of warfare in Europe.IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? Western armies of the twentieth centuries would prove slow to adapt to the challenges of unconventional war.

religious and ethnic divisions work to divide that response. Modern insurgencies are civil wars as much as were their imperial antecedents. In any case. Shamil. geographic. merely because the value of the objective simply does not justify the expenditure of resources. Tribal. who insisted on fighting to restore the imperial status quo in Indo-China. A successful insurgency requires a collective sense of grievance to unite a critical mass of supporters behind a common cause. E. Algeria or Indonesia. of course. one which might cause resistance to unravel. Saint Domingue in 1804. although not invariably. Mexico in 1867.' The temptation was to operationalize strategy.indigenous societies seldom possessed the social and political cohesiveness to sustain that strategy. firepower might cause an indigenous resistance to pay a devastating price for tactical mistakes.WARS OF EMPIRE might be updated to read. The triumph of Western imperial armies cannot be explained mainly by a superiority in weaponry: On occasion. they failed. when the invader may be tempted to walk away from a conflict whose cost is too high. the French. ethnic. But even then. South America and Cuba in 1898. In the past. Samori. 208 . we have got/The helicopter and they have not. because the resistance lacked the organizational structure. protraction usually. they lacked the discipline to devise tactical systems that would payoff in operational and strategic terms. The victory of insurgencies in China. as did Wellesley. and the Spanish.an Abd el-Kader. That said. While many of the peoples who confronted Western armies might possess superb skills as warriors. as in the Philippines. even class divisions to be able to come together for anything more than sporadic violence against the outsider. Time continues to favour the side which knows how best to use it. Vietnam and Algeria owed much to the actions of outside powers. Malaya and eventually Greece after the Second World War.is as important to victory in the twenty-first century as it was in the eighteenth. On a tactical level. isolate the insurgents. the lessons of imperial warfare were surprisingly modern. worked to the advantage of the imperial invader. T. rather than treat insurgency. like France or Holland. or make the invaders pay a price high enough to cause them to leave. This may have changed somewhat in the modern world. and forfeit the moral high ground in the modern era as much as they did in the past. The British abandoned North America. those nations. The transfer of nationalism and Marxism to the colonies did no more than make the playing field more level. or were too riven by tribal. legitimacy . as a political problem which required the correct mix of politics and force. or de Wet . There were exceptions to this. were destined to fail. Where insurgencies lacked outside support. Nor do strategic principles change over time. social and political cohesion and the economic base to sustain prolonged campaigns. The insurgent cause is greatly advanced if it has outside support. But overall.that is. Even when the resistance generated a leader of genius able to turn attrition against the invaders . 'Whatever happens. indigenous societies lacked an adequate base of operations. Lawrence's prediction of the guerrilla's inevitable victory was also optimistic. Possession of the mandate of heaven .

battlefield victory was seldom decisive . highlighting the potential for ethnic divisions in modern insurgencies. mobility.in the 1957 battle of Algiers owed much to General Lazare Hoche's approach to the suppression of the Vendean insurgency 2°9 . Indigenous resistance might find ways to overcome Western superiority in firepower through the use of surprise and terrain. dividing the battlefield into manageable segments . Successful modern insurgencies. As in imperial warfare. the Chinese community in Malaya was deeply split between supporters of Chiang Kaishek and Mao. surprise.that is. it seldom decided the outcome of a war . and to sustain attrition strategies. While the Malayan insurgency recruited overwhelmingly among Chinese.IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? A Tamil (Indian) insurgent surrenders in Malaya in 1950. and the ability to control the strategic pace of a war were as important in Westmoreland's Vietnam as in Wellesley's India. usually succeeded because of contingent circumstances. General Jacques Massu's use of quadrillage . Intelligence. It is merely a facilitator which improves operational efficiency and might reduce the costs in lives to levels acceptable at home. Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies to expand into a vacuum.that is. as in those of the past. like ancient ones. technology applied in a counter-insurgency situation is not a war winner by itself. Technology gives the incumbent power the capacity to achieve operational and tactical efficiency.because elements of the resistance would elect to fight on. Japanese expansion in Asia before and during the Second World War allowed relatively weak Communist or nationalist movements in China.

WARS OF EMPIRE Australian soldiers. sent to restore order following violence in the wake of a pro-independence vote in East Timor. I n theory. 210 . round up antiindependence militiamen near Dili in September 1999. Lyautey would have approved of activities such as the distribution of aid carried out by these Australian soldiers in East Timor as a legitimate military tactic. nineteenth- century imperialism aimed to export civilized values and raise standards of living through the creation of global markets. Modern peacekeeping and peacemaking operations can be viewed as a revival of the imperial mission to reduce zones of instability.

Gallieni. and engage in nation building. has revived the belief that the spread of democracy and market economies . Generals Joseph Gallieni and Hubert Lyautey operating in Tonkin. Ethnic cleansing and genocide have joined a list of crimes against humanity that 'engagement and enlargement' is meant to curtail. but imperialism none the less. either as stand-alone or as part of counter-insurgency strategies. 211 .IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? of 1796.using economic and political incentives to gain the loyalty of the population. peace operations would strike men like Hoche. The military implications of this are that Western armies will increasingly intervene to end famine. The overawing and not the exasperation of the enemy is the end to be kept in view'. Madagascar and Morocco in the years before the First World War called it 'peaceful penetration' . or Funston very much as business as usual. military operations other than war. What the French commanders in Algiers neglected to learn from their illustrious forebears was the importance of the political dimension of counterinsurgency. Callwell believed Hoche achieved success 'as much by his happy combination of clemency with firmness. Kofi Annan. That imperialism is enjoying a comeback is hardly surprising. Rwanda. Lyautey. UN operations often falter due to reluctance by the major powers to incur casualties in places where they have no vital interests. which is to fight and win its nation's wars. Somalia. Many modern soldiers decry peace operations. Ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo fill Dutch army vehicles to travel to camps in southern Albania in May 1999. However. or stability and support missions in places like Haiti. but the resurrection of the old world order which was temporarily suspended during the Cold War. OVERLEAF: The Secretary General of the United Nations. together with the collapse of Soviet Communism.is in everyone's interest. Kosovo or East Timor as perversions of the military's true role. Imperialism was imbedded in notions of the superiority of Western culture and values. Resettlement and strategic hamlet strategies used in Malaya. Algeria and Vietnam were simply the lineal descendants of the 'clear the fields and strengthen the walls' approach used by Chinese officials to defeat the Taiping and Nien rebellions. reserving the force of arms for the hold-outs. Peace operations are not so much part of a new world order. Sir Robert Templer's hearts-andminds approach to the Malayan insurgency was no more than updated Hoche. The 'New World Order' pronounced by American President George Bush in the wake of the Cold War may be viewed as a revival of imperialism. Bosnia.'engagement and enlargement' in the parlance of the Clinton administration . gentler version shorn of its racist overtones. as by his masterly dispositions in the theatre of war to ensure a lasting peace. a softer. arbitrate ethnic cleansing. These Chinese officials also realized that the main purpose of the militia was to filter out and identify disloyal and heterodox elements. rather than to fight per se. The failure of many ex-colonies to create successful political and economic systems.

WARS OF EMPIRE 212 .

IMPERIAL TWILIGHT? 2I3 .

He was knighted in 1804 and returned to England a major general in September 1805. Latin for 'I have sinned' (i. INDIA JOSEPH-FRAN<. He resigned as governor-general in 1847 after the French government failed to support his plans for military colonization. which. As this exceeded his orders. He returned to Calcutta in 1765 to put order into a company and an army regarded as inefficient and undisciplined. Commissioned in 1741. He applied many of the tactical lessons that he had learned in India in his campaigns against the French in Spain. he campaigned against the Jacobites in Scotland in 1745-6. Bolivar was proclaimed president of the Republic of Colombia (which included the modern states of Colombia. 'I have Sind'). Named Governor of Mysore in 1799. Wellesley defeated the Marathas at the battle of Assaye in 1803. British. He was lionized in England on his return in 1760. At Plassey in 1757. Bolivar's rule was increasingly contested and he was forced to resign and go into exile in 1830. Wellesley joined the army in 1787 and was sent to India with his regiment. He continued to intrigue unsuccessfully against his chief British rival Robert Clive to expand French influence in India. and participated in the second seizure of Louisbourg in 1758. (1769-1852) Of Anglo-Irish background. (1784-1849) Bugeaud served with Napoleonic armies in Spain. He captured Lima and was proclaimed Protector of Peru in 1821. entered parliament and was elevated to the Irish peerage two years later.OIS DUPLEIX (1697-1763) Son of a director in the French East India Company. TIPU SULTAN (1712-59) Born in Condiac. However. DUKE OF WELLINGTON (1746-1803) Brilliant leader of the ex-slaves who revolted in Saint Domingue in the wake of the French Revolution. he was recalled to Paris in 1754 and died discredited and in obscurity. Toussaint successfully manoeuvred against Spanish. he unsuccessfully defended the July Monarchy against the revolution of that year. Having met only defeat and in the process exhausted French finances. Virginia. retiring after 1815 to farm. In 1799. Commander in Paris in 1848. He routed British forces at Trenton on Christmas Eve 1776. effectively ending the American Revolution. French planter and Creole armies until he was treacherously captured and sent to France. GEORGE WASHINGTON (1749-99) Sultan of Mysore who was a staunch opponent of British encroachment in India. when a number of British died after being locked up in a small and airless prison by the nawab of Bengal on 20 June 1756. An outspoken critic of Algerian colonization. LOUIS-JOSEPH DE MONTCALM-GROZON JAMES WOLFE (1782-1853) A soldier who had seen service in Ireland during the rebellion.e. He launched a campaign of attrition against the dissident Algerian tribes that led to the defeat of Abd el-Kader at Isly in 1844. he attempted to reverse this verdict and in the process recover lost territory. THOMAS-RoBERT BUGEAUD 21 4 . He captured the British posts at Oswego and Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War. After defeating the Spaniards in his home state in 1822. and successfully defended Ticonderoga against a British attack in 1758. Dupleix was named governor-general of all French establishments in India in 1742. SIR CHARLES NAPIER (1727-59) Born in Westerham. Died at Quebec while commanding a daring and successful amphibious assault against the French citadel. San Martin led an army across the Andes into Chile in 1817 where he defeated the Spanish at Chacubuco. Venezuela and Ecuador) in 1819. In 1841 he took command of British forces in the Sind and defeated the amirs at the battle of Miani in 1843. ALGERIA (1725-74) Clive joined the East India Company in 1743 and. and subsequently became de facto ruler of Bengal. Washington saw service in the French and Indian Wars as commander of all Virginia forces from 1755 and aide-de-camp of General Edward Braddock. of a prosperous planter father. In 1746 he seized Madras. SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY. Sent to Algeria in 1836. provoking a two year conflict during which he was defeated by Cornwallis. he returned in 1841 to find the French arn1Y making many of the mistakes he had seen in the Peninsular War. Elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and named commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in June 1775. France. Portugal in 1810 and the United States in 1813. he defeated Abd el-Kader at the Sikkak river. In 1789. held his army together during the terrible winter at Valley Forge in 1777-8. Although called 'The Liberator'.WARS OF EMPIRE BIOGRAPHIES EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY NEW WORLD (1732-99) Born Westmoreland County.' and 'the best thing' he ever did in the way of fighting. but was killed when his capital city Seringapatam fell to the British. He resigned after disagreements with Bolivar and finished his life in exile in France. which was returned to Britain by the 1748 treaty ending the War of Austrian Succession. Died defending Quebec against an amphibious attack by General Wolfe. but returning to the army in 1830 on the fall of the Bourbon Restoration. he insisted at the end of his distinguished career. and again the following year at Maip6. where he perished miserably in prison. took part in the battles to avenge the Black Hole of Calcutta. Clive defeated a large Indian-French force. he participated in the siege of Seringapatam that resulted in the death of Tipu Sultan. the rigour of his reforms made him many enemies and resulted in his recall to England in 1767 to appear before a committee of inquiry. and defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. Napier participated in the final campaign against Napoleon in 1815. the satirical magazine Punch suggested that his victory announcement should read simply 'Peccavi'. Kent. was 'the bloodiest for the numbers that I ever saw. TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE SOUTH AMERICA SIMON BoLiVAR (1783-1830) Born in Caracas. he invaded the British protectorate of Travancore. ROBERT CLIVE JOSE DE SAN MARTIN (1778-1850) A native of Argentina. he took part in the final campaign in Peru in 1824.

000 men supported by tribal levies. he disowned one of his sons who supported the Kabylia revolt against the French. When the British initiated the first Opium War after Lin destroyed large stocks of opium in Canton. often out of Mexico. He formed an alliance with the Arapaho and Cheyenne that culminated in the defeat of Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876. after which he joined the Hanlin Academy. where he became a successful farmer and converted to Christianity. his citadel at Vedeno taken in April 1859. although it seized his capital at Ahulgo. While participating in the campaign to force the Cheyenne and Sioux on to reservations. SITTING BULL (TATANKA YOTANKA) (1831?-90) Born in present-day South Dakota.000 troops and eighteen months to track him and thirty-five of his followers down. but was forced back into the United States in 1881 and was arrested. The emir surrendered to the French in 1847. CHINA LIN TSE-HSU (1785-1850) Son of a poor teacher. In 1877. A veteran of the Crimean War. As an Amerindian fighter. although he resigned that post in 1880. he constantly escaped and continued to raid. LOUIS-NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1808-73) Third son of Louis Bonaparte. A campaign launched against Geronimo in 1885 required 5. Lin was subsequently recalled to suppress Muslim rebels in Yunnan. he skilfully convinced the general to sign the Treaty of Tafna that actually increased the territory under his control. UNITED STATES OSCEOLA (1804-38) Born in Georgia. He returned in 1848 to be elected President of the Second Republic and. The French general combined mobile columns with scorched earth tactics to keep the emir's forces both starving and on the run. he murdered a chief preparing to emigrate to Oklahoma with his people as well as a general sent to organize the departure. In 1835. Abd el-Kader's defeat at Isly in 1844 caused the Sultan of Morocco to withdraw his support for the Algerian resistance. Geronimo was engaged in fighting the encroachment of settlers from Mexico or the United States from an early age. he successfully resisted the troops sent against him using guerrilla tactics and ambushes. Confined to Florida. He subsequently held some of the most senior administrative po'sts in the empire during which time he earned the nickname 'Lin the Clear Sky'. a Sufi (mystical Islamic) brotherhood that had declared a holy war when the Russians seized Dagestan in 1813. Encouraged by his Spanish-born empress Eugenie. was killed by the Zulus while serving in the British Army. with aid to Shamil from Turkey and Britain severed. An 1838 Russian expedition failed to capture Shamil. he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. His son. the emperor reluctantly retired him. he was seized at St Augustine while under a flag of truce and moved to Fort Moultrie at Charleston. he returned to extract the garrison at Khartoum. he was eventually allowed to settle on a reservation in Oklahoma. The war continued sporadically until 1842. In 1838. Shamil surrendered to the Russians in September of that year. Gordon joined the Royal 21 5 . King of Holland and brother of Napoleon 1. SC. he was appointed Governor of the Sudan. After the FrancoPrussian War. Although confined to reservations. from 1852. Abd el-Kader had extended his realm from the Moroccan frontier to the Kabylia. He declared Dagestan an independent state and led a series of raids on Russian positions in the Caucasus. Following the end of the Crimean War. He rode in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade in 1905 and published his autobiography the following year. Emperor of the French. south of Moscow and allowed to make a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1870. Louis Napoleon grew up in exile after the Bonapartes were expelled from France in 1816. began to organize opposition in 1832 against efforts to remove the Seminoles from Florida. the body that advised the emperor. was interned in France and in 1852 exiled to Damascus where he lived out his life in some style on a generous French pension. Osceola. also known as Powell. he came upon a large encampment along the Little Bighorn river in the Montana territory on 25 June 1876. CHARLES 'CHINESE' GORDON (1833-85) Trained at the Woolwich Academy. the Russians launched an ambitious multi-pronged offensive against his mountain stronghold. Lin is viewed as a national hero in China because of his stance against the British and as a precursor of the 'Self-Strengthening Movement'. he divided his force and set off in pursuit. Crook led a Union brigade at Antietam in 1862 and campaigned in the Shenandoah Valley under Sheridan in 1864. and perished in 1885 when the Mahdi's troops stormed the city. Lin passed the highest level of the Chinese civil service examinations in 1811. Custer nevertheless staked out a brilliant career as a cavalry commander in the American Civil War. in the process earning his nickname. The 1868 peace that he signed with the US government broke down from 1874 after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. GERONIMO (GOYATHLAY) (1829-1909) Chiricahua Apache war chief born in present-day Arizona. In 1871. For the next two years. In 1837. Engineers in 1852. from which he emerged in 1865 as a 23-year-old brigadier general. GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER (1839-76) Graduated last in his West Point class of 1861. His early desire to abandon Algeria came to nothing.BIOGRAPHIES ABD EL-KADER (1808-83) As emir of Mascara. the Prince Imperial. thereby touching off the Second Seminole War. using a core regular army of 2. Believing the Indians were about to flee. his reputation as a warrior and shaman caused him to become a chief of the Northern Sioux by 1866. Shamil became leader of the Muridis. Amerindian fighter. he went to China where he participated in local army reform and fought against the Taiping rebellion. After serving a two-year imprisonment. he unwisely committed French troops to Mexico in 1862. as well as an opponent of corruption in the Indian Bureau. was besieged for ten months. Reduced to the rank of captain at the war's end. In 1884. if incautious and egotistical. although he was not present at the battle. Abd el-Kader gradually consolidated his power in Oran province from 1832. He was arrested for supporting the Ghost Dance movement and shot by an Amerindian policeman. By 1838. The emir's attack against French settlers on the Mitidja Plain in 1840 touched off a bitter seven year war that witnessed the return of Bugeaud. where he died. he established a reputation as an intrepid. GEORGE CROOK (1829-1890) An 1852 graduate of West Point. Lin was appointed imperial commissioner with extraordinary powers to deal with opium smuggling. he successfully pacified CAUCASUS SHAMIL (1797?-1871) In 1834. he went into exile in England. He was exiled to Kaluga. He led his people into Canada to escape retribution. occupied Miliana and Medea and routed the French at the Macta Marshes in 1835. Although defeated by Bugeaud at the Sikkak river in 1836. Instead. annihilating him and over two hundred of his men. His followers exhausted. He died on his way to deal with the Taiping rebellion. the Indians turned on Custer.

Ferry was also an enthusiastic proponent of imperial expansion. Gallieni attempted without success to remove Joffre. he returned to the Philippines to become president of the provisional government proclaimed on 12 June 1898. together with other non-traditional aspects of Lyautey's lifestyle including his alleged homosexuality. Virginia. NELSON A. at the special request of the governor-general. He campaigned against Geronimo in Arizona in 1882 and 1883. In 1897.WARS OF EMPIRE the Apaches under Cochise (1871-3). he was active in local politics and leader of a revolutionary society. He became commander-in-chief of the US Army in 1895. CHARLES MANGIN (1866-1925) Mangin's family opted for French nationality when their hometown was absorbed into German annexed Lorraine at the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War. He was posthumously named Marshal of France in 1921. and for pioneering mechanized infantry when he requisitioned Paris taxis and buses to ferry troops to the front lines. Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance and was granted a pension from the American government. and led the occupation of Puerto Rico in 1898. he departed the Philippines in return for a promise of significant reforms from the Spanish governor. He was relieved by Clemenceau in 1919 for promoting the Rhenish separatist movement in occupied Germany. Aguinaldo's relations with the Americans deteriorated. but was defeated by Crazy Horse at Rosebud Creek in 1876. When hostilities broke out in Manila on 4 February 1899. Lyautey's commitment to Social Catholicism caused him in 1890 to publish a controversial article in the prestigious Revue des Deux Mondes criticizing officers for. He rejected the post of commander-in-chief in 1911. who had once been his subordinate in the colonies. was promoted Marshal of France in 1921. he was called to southeastern Algeria to deal with raiders out of Morocco. Crook was a strong advocate of Amerindian rights. where he participated in the heroic defence by French marines of Bazailles near Sedan. anthropology of Algiers and the French Sudan and of the Fula and Berber languages in the post-war years. RI. he commanded US forces that seized Vera Cruz during the unrest in Mexico. The Americans again arrested him for collaboration with the occupying Japanese in 1945. was wounded and made a POW. This. encouraged by the Americans. by 1865 Miles was a brigadier general with a Congressional Medal of Honor. he pioneered the 'oil spot' methods which he saw as the antidote to the destructive methods of colonial conquest he had witnessed in Africa. However. He was severely criticized for the massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee in 1890. Commissioned in the colonial infantry out of St Cyr in 1888. In the process he is given credit for creating the tirailleurs senegaLais. he returned to Morocco as the first resident general from 1912. he returned to France as an immensely respected soldier. if controversial. especially after his Sixth Army. and to seize forward bases inside territory claimed. In 1914. Lyautey's solution was to create mobile flying columns a La Bugeaud. When the Spanish American War broke out he joined the US Army in the Philippines. secular and compulsory education. but he was subsequently amnestied. Mangin's 1910 book La force noire passionately advocated the use of Black African troops to supplement French numerical inferiority vis-a-vis Germany. When the Philippines were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris in December 1898. caused him to be assigned to Tonkin. he wrote pioneering studies on the 2I6 . where he became an enthusiastic promoter of Gallieni's 'oil spot' methods of 'peaceful penetration. The war raged for three years until General Frederick Funston captured Aguinaldo in his secret headquarters at Palanan in Northern Luzon in March 1901. caring more about their horses than their men. Faidherbe began the expansion that transformed Senegal from a coastal base to a colony with a substantial hinterland. EMILIO AGUINALDO (1869-1964) Of Chinese and Tagalog parentage. Mangin saw service in the Western Sudan and led the advanced guard of the Marchand mission that traversed Africa in 1896-8. JOSEPH GALLIENI (1849-1916) Gallieni graduated from St Cyr into the Franco-Prussian War. badly blooded in Mangin's impetuous offensives. HUBERT LYAUTEY (1854-1934) A cavalryman of aristocratic background and royalist opinions. and instead recommended Joseph Joffre. became a centre of the 1917 mutinies. he quarrelled with Lyautey after his aggressive tactics and high casualties raised protests in France. which argued that England's economic prosperity was built on the foundation of a large navy. In 1903. among other things. Many credit Gallieni with prodding Joffre to take advantage of German over-extension on the Marne in 1914. MILES (1839-1925) Commissioned in the 22nd Massachusetts at the outbreak of the Civil War. He served briefly as war minister (1916-17). Alfred Thayer served in the US Navy during the American Civil War. He achieved international prominence with the 1890 publication of The Influence of Sea Power upon History. Despite his reputation as an Amerindian fighter. As AFRICA LOUIS FAIDHERBE (1818-89) Appointed Governor of Senegal in 1854. He served in West Africa from 1876. He was Jefferson Davis' jailer at Fortress Monroe. He fought against Chief Joseph (1877) and Geronimo in 1886. ALFRED THAYER MAHAN (1840-1914) Son of the celebrated professor of tactics at West Point. However. An unsuccessful general in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Mangin's World War I career was brilliant. Dennis Hart Mahan. Resident general of Madagascar between 1896 and 1905. He became president of the American Historical Association in 1902 and retired in 1906 a rear admiral. Mangin came to Morocco where he captured Marrakesh in 1912. In Tonkin from 1893. Named war minister in 1915. Recalled to France in 1910 to command an army corps. but retired in 1925 over criticism of his handling of the Rif War. by the Sultan of Morocco. FREDERICK FUNSTON (1865-1914) Son of an Ohio congressman. He was defeated when he ran for president of the Philippines in 1935. Mahan's argument assumed the need for colonial naval bases to support an extensive trade network. He crafted the strategy to defeat the Philippine insurgents. He died on the operating table in May 1916.' He followed Gallieni to Madagascar where he took responsibility for the pacification of the southern half of the island. having fought in almost every major campaign with the Army of the Potomac. retiring from the army in 1903. After further tours in West Africa and Indo-China. but not controlled. and was promoted to brigadier general. By extension. eventually rising to become president of the Naval War College in Newport. after denouncing Joffre's failures at Verdun. culminating in the daring raid that captured Aguinaldo in March 1901. JULES FERRY (1832-1893) Best known for his 1882 law which resulted in the creation of the French system of free. Funston volunteered to serve with the Cubans to fight the Spaniards in 1896. Aguinaldo declared war on the United States. His troops pursued the Sioux for almost a year after the Little Bighorn in an operation that became a severe test of endurance.

He used Islam to insure the cohesion of his empire. he impressed his superiors with his theories and statistical approach to the use of railways for economic development. he became prime minister of the Transvaal colony. he unsuccessfully opposed the entry of Russia into the First World War. Captured in August 1898. and trained at Sandhurst. He became the most audacious of the Boer commanders in the Second South African War. Kitchener joined the Royal Engineers in 1871. and became Prime Minister of South Africa in 1939. 2I7 . He was released the following year and returned to his farm. He was lost when the HMS Hampshire hit a mine off Orkney in 1916. he secured Bechuanaland as a protectorate (1884) and a charter for the British South Africa Company (1889). HERBERT KITCHENER (1850-1916) Of Anglo-Irish descent. and became successfully Chief of Staff and commander-in-chief in South Africa during the Boer War. and was named field marshal in 1895. Botha helped to organize the guerrilla campaign. Elected to the Senate. Cyprus and the Sudan. Elected to the Cape House of Assembly. whose land was later named Rhodesia. He played a prominent role in the founding of the League of Nations. He was one of the signatories to the Peace of Vereeniging that ended the war in May 1902. However. India. He served as commander-in-chief in India between 1885 and 1893. JAN CHRISTIAAN SMUTS (1870-1950) Born in the Cape Colony. Made a viscount. the French Congo (1884-5). serving in Palestine. KOSHAKU TOGO HEIHACHIRO (1848-1934) Togo studied naval science in England between 1871 and 1878. and in 1910 the first premier of the Union of South Africa. De Wet was captured and sentenced to six years' imprisonment.BIOGRAPHIES prime minister. REDVERS BULLER (1839-1908) A veteran of service in China (1860). helped to found the United Party in 1934. the gold fields of Bure. On 1 September 1880. A French offensive in 1891 forced him to move to the area that includes the north of the Ivory Coast and part of Ghana. he was forced to resign in 1906 following the wake of unrest caused by defeat in that war. but returned in 1905 to negotiate the peace with Japan. He succeeded Joubert as commander-in-chief in March 1900. where he amalgamated several companies to form the De Beers firm in 1888. he became commander-in-chief in India (1902-9) and consul-general in Egypt (1911). CECIL RHODES (1853-1902) Originally sent to South Africa for his health. In 1889. but was forced to resign in 1896 following the Jameson Raid. SAMORI TOURE (1830-1900) Samori abandoned trade to become a warrior in 1851. he studied at Cambridge and became a lawyer. He served as Chief of Staff in the First South African War (1881) and briefly as commander-inchief during the Second South African War (1899-1900). The French campaigned against him in 1881 and 1885. and succeeded Botha as premier. eventually establishing an empire on the right bank of the Niger. He returned to England to study at Oxford. Samori was exiled to Gabon. He became prime minister of the Cape Colony. In subsequent years. However. On 27 May he destroyed 33 out of the 35 Russian ships that appeared in the Tsushima Strait. He was removed from office in 1903. Samori financed arms purchases by taxes paid in agricultural products. Witte joined the ministry of finance and rose to be its head in 1892. In 1913 he became fleet admiral. Roberts won a Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny. he continued to be at the centre of controversy and was assassinated in 1893. He first came to prominence during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-8) for his innovative organization of supply to the front. Witte joined the railway administration. After the war he entered the House of Assembly. He served as supreme commander during the Boer War between December 1899 and November 1900. BOER WAR FREDERICK SLEIGH ROBERTS (1832-1914) Born in Cawnpore. the Ashanti War (1874). he made a huge fortune in the diamond diggings of Kimberley. he promoted France's seizure of Tunisia (1881). Gallieni provoked a rebellion in part of his empire in 1888-90. and by slave trading. relieving Kimberley. RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR SERGEI WITTE (1849-1915) Following graduation from university in Odessa. Togo subsequently became chief of the Naval General Staff and war counsellor to the emperor. He defeated the Mahdi's forces at Omdurman in 1898. In 1907. led campaigns against the Germans in South West Africa and Tanganyika. After the fall of Pretoria. the French setback at Lang Son on the Chinese border in 1885 brought down his ministry. He organized the defences of Kimberley during the Second South African War. His armies were well disciplined. and to become prime minister. After the war. In 1914. made excellent use of cavalry. during which he raised the siege of Ladysmith. he was increasingly at odds with Botha's policy of reconciliation with the British. LOUIS BOTHA (1862-1919) A politician who in the 1890s had opposed President Kruger's hostile policy toward the British. There. and was placed in charge of the education of Hirohito. and an unsuccessful bid for Madagascar (1885). the Kaffir War (1878) and the Zulu War (1879) during which he won the VC. He was made an earl in 1901. the campaign to take over Tonkin and Annam (1883-5). he joined the Afrikaner insurrection which broke out when Botha organized an invasion of German South West Africa. But its fundamental strength lay in the efficiency of his military organization that combined a corps of elite sofas or warriors with a militia raised from the provinces of his empire. CHRISTIAAN DE WET (1854-1922) De Wet fought in the First South African War and commanded the Orange Free State forces in 1899. he organized the New Armies. held several cabinet posts. At the outbreak of the Second South African War he joined the Boers and served as a guerrilla leader. As secretary for war in 1914. and were expert at laying ambushes. negotiated Marchand's departure from Fashoda. he defeated Ayub Khan near Qandahar in Afghanistan. he raised huge loans abroad to finance Russian industrial development and to complete the Trans-Siberian Railway begun in 1891. In December 1903 he became commander-in-chief of the combined fleet and was made admiral in 1904. In 1914. His manoeuvre to cross the Russian T on two occasions during the battle became a standard study in naval staff schools. Botha commanded the Boer forces besieging Ladysmith at the beginning of the war. Togo directed the naval blockade of Port Arthur that ended in its surrender on 2 January 1905. the Red River Expedition (1870).

vol. Piers. Horst. D. The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press. Their Principles and Practice (Bison Books. England. Conquite et Colonisation (Presses Universitaire de France. 1966) Fuller. 1993) Bond.. Ithaca. New York. The Cambridge History of Japan. 1969) Greene.. 1993) Jansen. Taras. W E.. 5. Heinz. Colonel C. Leavenworth Papers no. France in America (Michigan State University Press. Miles and the Great Sioux War 1876-1877 (University of Nebraska Press. 1993) Julien. Conn. The Iteration of Domestic and Foreign Policy. France. John. 1953) Baumann.. 1991) Gump. The Limits of Power (Praeger.. Russia's Policy in Central Asia 1857-1868 (London. 1880-1914 (New York. 1990) Evans-Prichard. Anthony. Paris. East Lansing. Russian Imperialism. James 0. Boston.WARS OF EMPIRE FURTHER READING Allen. Soldiers of the Sun. D. 1860-1914 (Yale University Press. New Haven. 1970) LaFeber. The War for America 1775-1783 (University of Nebraska Press. Rebellion and its Enemies in Late Imperial China. Lincoln. W. Paris. 1973) Broxup. M. A. Fort Leavenworth. New York. England. Robert H. The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux (University of Nebraska Press. 1969) Kuhn.]. 1964) Kanya-Forstner. Russian Imperialism from Ivan the Great to the Revolution (Rutgers University Press. The Russian Advance towards the Muslim World (St Martin's Press. NE. Khalfin. 1994) Harries. Indians of the Plains (University of Nebraska Press. Cambridge. and London. New York. Europe in the Age of Imperialism. 1967) BowIe. Soldiers and Africa (Brassey's. Walter. An Interpretation of American Expansion 1860-1898 (Cornell University Press. Strategy and Policy in Russia 1600-1914 (Free Press. 1971) Lowie. 1988) Demelas. Cambridge.-D and Saint-Geours.1996) Clayton. Oxford. 1987) Gollwitzer. Philip A. The Dust Rose Like Smoke. Lincoln. The New Empire. Robert E. Meirion and Susie. A. NE. Small Wars. Conn. New York and London. Y. Charles-Andree.1992) 218 . The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (Random House. Jerome A. 1974) Ion. K. E. Histoire de I'Algerie Contemporaine. Colonel Nelson A. vol. New York. A History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucasian Border 1828-1921 (Cambridge University Press. KS. N. Let Us Die Fighting (Zed Press. 1796-1864 (Harvard University Press. 20 (Combat Studies Institute. Hamish and Errington. Lincoln. MI. The Conquest of the Western Sudan. Marius B. The North Caucasus Barrier. NE.. NE.. Brian.. 1980) Eccles. Paul. 'Russian-Soviet Unconventional Wars in the Caucasus. The Imperial Achievement (Little Brown. Lincoln. Westport. A. Militarization and Social Structure. 1982) Mackesy. The Colonial Empires (London. and Muratoff. Caucasian Battlefields. England. Victorian Military Campaigns (Praeger. 1992) Callwell. New Jersey. ].. La vie quotidienne en Amerique du Sud au temps de Bolivar 1809-1830 (Hachette. 1964). NY. NE. Marie Benningsen (ed. Cambridge. William.. Central Asia and Afghanistan'. London. The Sanusi of Cyrenaica (Oxford University Press.). 1954) Fieldhouse. E. Lincoln. 1992) Geyer. Cambridge. Great Powers and Little Wars. S. 1992) Hunczak. Dietrich. I.. A Study in French Military Imperialism (Cambridge University Press. MA. 1987) Drechsler. Yellowstone Command.

1986 (United States Air Force Academy. 1973) Pakenham.]. 1986) Porch. Douglas. 1978) Steele. John K. Washington. The Rise and Fall of British India (Methuen.). The Nien Army and their Guerrilla Warfare. 1994) Sullivan. Cambridge. David.. New York and London. 'Bugeaud.. Invasions of North America (Oxford University Press.. Jac. 1980) Warner. A History of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 (Charterhouse. 1982 and Jonathan Cape. 1904-05 A New Look at the Russo-Japanese War (Macmillan. 1993) Warwick. The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (Henry Holt New York. The French Foreign Legion (Harper Collins. S. Gallieni. FL. Baltimore and London.). in Charles Townshend (ed. London.FURTHER READING Mahon. 'Transformation in Soviet and Russian Military History'. New York. Y. Cochise. 1835-1842 (University of Florida Press. Heavens Command. Douglas. England. Princeton.. The War with Spain in 1898 (University of Nebraska Press. and the Apache Wars (Touchstone Books. London. vol. The Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton University Press. 1990) Roberts.. Cuba. Ian K. Thomas-Robert Bugeaud. A History of India. Douglas. Douglas. France and Algeria 1784-1849: Power. 1986) Porch. 1800-1911 (Cambridge University Press. 1974) Weller. Robert.. Russia Against Japan. Robert. Peter (ed. Thomas. N. Geronimo. Office of Air Force History. London.). Karl de. New York and Oxford. Proceedings of the Twelfth Military History Symposium. Gainesville. The German Colonial Empire (University of North Carolina Press. The Conquest of Morocco (Knopf. Lyautey: The Development of French Colonial Warfare'. (ed. 1993) Morris. 1983) Teng.. History of the Second Seminole War. 1984) Porch. 1-3 October. Carl W. Denis & Peggy. 1973) Utley. The Hague. London and New York. Technology and Tactics among the New England Indians (Johns Hopkins University Press. in Peter Paret (ed. London. 1967) Malone. Hamden. The Lance and the Shield. 1986) 21 9 . Oxford and New York. David. 1972) Westwood. Woodruff D. The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Longmans.. Conn. London. James. 1961) Trask. 1997) Rediel. Denis and Fairbank. The United States Army and the Indian 1866-1891 (New York. J. The Conquest of the Sahara (Knopf New York.). 2 (Penguin Books. 1981) Twitchett. 1851-1868 (Mouton. 'Imperial Wars From the Seven Years War to the First World War'. Wellington in India (Longmans. 10. The South African War. Louis. The Skulking Way of War. Frontier Regulars. United States Air Force Academy. The Boer War (Weidenfeld and Nicolson. The Tide at Sunrise. New York. Politics and the Good Society (Archon Books. NE. London. London. New York. Lincoln. 1978) Spear. Between Reform and Revolution (Oxford University Press. Warpaths. Percival. Late Ch'ing. NC. vol. Anthony Thrall. An Imperial Progress (Harvest Books. Once They Moved Like the Wind. N. 1994) Schweinitz. The Cambridge History of China. Basingstoke. 1983) Smith. 1979) Perez. 1991) Porch. Douglas. Chapel Hill. DC. Patrick M. 1988) Porch. 1991 and Macmillan. 1978) Utley. New York. 1984 and Jonathan Cape. Oxford and New York. The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern War (Oxford University Press. John K.

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BLUE. COLOU 0 TO THE EP EMERAL SATISFACTIO WAS CaSE OF PAl TI G LARG AREAS OF THE MAP PI K. YELLOW OR WHATEVE TO DE aTE THE GREATER FATHERLA D. $44. ISBN 0-304-35271-3 9 780304 352715 II . H YelloW NA Nanking •• Chinkian~ Sea ~/ ~ •. NaQasa Wuhu • KyuSl"" PACifiC ~chang Shasl • Hankow Kiukian 0 SO:~hO. Tientsin Lungkow • Wei-hei-wei from'' ' ~ ·Tsingtao .$29.ghai ~ • OCf.A~ HangchoW 0 Ningbo~ East china Sea E BE LI I E T 0 MPE AL SM WE LA GELY TA G BLE.\~~~~~ K8"E~ pusan.95 STERLING A MULTI-VOLUME HISTORY OF WAR AND WARFARE FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN TIMES GE o 1~5 TO JO EGA Russo-Japanese War Russian expansion 1858-1900 • Russian Empire 1850 to Russian Empire 1858 to Russian Empire 1860 Russian occupied to 1905 Russian zone of influence 1900 Russo-Japanese War 1904-5 Japanese attack major Japanese Navy attack route of Imperial Russian Baltic fleet X D ~ • • o • major battle occupied by Japan 1905 terrotorytakenfrom Russian Empire 1905 Treaty ports British French Japanese German • US Sell Jl1pl11'1 of Peking (Beijing).95 Can.

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