The 60 Days War (60天战争) was a civil war in Qing China that lasted 60 days, from 6 April to 9 June 1899. It was fought between the Qing government, led by Chan Le, and it's ally, the UK, and Fujian rebels led by Wu Weng. Despite it's short duration and few casualties, the war was decisive in who would rule China and showed how far the British government would go to protect it's interests in China.
During the Great Revolution (1893 - 1896), the Weng faction was ousted from power by Chan Le. Chan was able to defeat first the old Emperor Lee Weng and then his nephew, Wu Weng. Wu was exiled to British Hong Kong. Chan also signed a military alliance with the United Kingdom, hoping that the British would protect him from hostile Russia and France.
Chan was having a lot of trouble, as he had promised to end all deals with the foreigners, but in order to end the treaties with Russia and France, he had to rely more and more in British help, which caused anger among the conservatives. Chan also had disbanded huge parts of his army. This combined with the more than 200,000 former soldiers that fought with the Lee faction but now had no job and were discriminated and a famine in Fujian, caused a revolt in Fujian in 1899.
In 6 April 1899, Wu managed to escape from his guards in the darkness of night, thanks to the help of five friends, and left for the port. In the port, he was hidden in a wooden box in a ship, which left for Fujian, where it arrived in 10 April. There, the 30,000 rebel peasants and soldiers, along with the population, cheered him and greeted him as a liberator from Chan, who they viewed as a tyrant and a usurper.
The rebel offensiveEdit
Wu was able to organize his army into six Army Groups of 5,000 men each. Army Groups I, II and III, led by Hangzing Le, who was a commander of Lee and when the revolution started, he sided with the rebels, would march on Nanchang, while Army Groups IV, V and VI, led by Wu himself, would march to Guangzhou. When Chan learned of Wu's comeback, he declared him to be a criminal and set out to defend Nanchang with 100,000 soldiers.
Before Chan could arrive with his army, Hangzing had already taken over Nanchang by 19 April, having lost only 3,000 men to the government's 9,000 men. Chan reached the city in 25 April and besieged it, but he faced heroic resistance by Hangzing's 12,000 men, who were able to use the city's fortification to the maximum effect.
Meanwhile, Wu and his 15,000 men met an enemy force of 30,000 men outside Guangzhou in 15 April. Wu hid 7,000 of his men behind the deep vegetation. He then made an all out attack against the enemy with just 8,000 men.
After a few hours of fighting, Wu ordered a retreat. As Wu's soldiers were retreating, the enemy decided to hunt him down. So, Wu was able to lure them into his trap. His 7,000 suddenly appeared, encircled and massacred the enemy. 25,000 Qing and 4,000 rebel soldiers were killed.
After this victory, Wu recruit 70,000 peasants, which he trained for two weeks, and with an army of 81,000 men, he moved into the Hunan province in 8 May.
Chan, fearing that Wu could now encircle him, ended the siege of Nanchang, which had cost him 10,000 men for 2,000 rebel casualties, in 12 May and retreated to Wuhan in the Hubei province.
At the same time, he made a deal with the UK to send soldiers to support him. The UK, not wanting to lose China as it's ally and allow their enemies to increase their influence in China, send in 19 May an army of 40,000 soldiers and 100 cannons under General William James to destroy Wu's army.
Battle of WuhanEdit
In 20 May, Hangzing's and Wu's men united and marched with a total of 100,000 men against Chan's 90,000 men. Chan decided to try and destroy Wu on the battlefield. So, he set his army outside the city of Wuhan. He had 70 cannons compared to Wu's 20 cannons, but Wu had 10,000 more men than him.
Wu place 20,000 men in his right and left wings and 60,000 men in his center. He placed his cannons in his left wing. Chan, who thought that Wu's main attack would come from the center, decided to have 70,000 of his men in the center and 10,000 in his right and left wings. Chan's plan was to break the enemy center and then defeat each enemy wing.
The battle begun in 25 May. Wu ordered his right and center to fortify and go on the defensive, while his left wing would attack the enemy left wing. Chan ordered his center to break the enemy center and his right and left wings to go on the defensive. The Qing center fought hard against the rebel center, but it was unable to defeat it. Meanwhile, after almost two hours of fighting, the rebel left wing, thanks to it's local superiority in numbers and cannons, managed to crush the Qing left wing.
At the same time, Chan bombarded with his cannons the rebel center and almost managed to break it, but when he heard that the rebel left wing had crushed his left wing, he decided to send 30,000 men from his center to protect his flanks. This allowed Wu's center to regroup. Wu ordered his right wing to attack the Qing right wing, in order to stop it from going against the rebel left wing. His right wing not only did that, but it managed to destroy the Qing right wing, forcing Chan to send 20,000 men from his center to defend his flanks.
Wu knew that this was the time to attack, and he ordered an all out attack of his center against the Qing weakened center. The attack was a huge success, and Chan's army was routed. Chan had lost 50,000 men to Wu's 20,000. Chan, already unpopular, now lost all support. It seemed that his government would collapse and the only thing standing in Wu's way was the British army of William James.
Battle of AnqingEdit
In 8 June, the 80,000 men strong army of Wu would face the 40,000 British soldiers of William James in Anqing. William had 100 cannons compared to the 30 cannons Wu was able to gather. Despite his inferiority in numbers, his soldiers were better trained and equiped and had much experience in war. Williams had commanded British forces in France, Egypt, Sudan and India and is considered to be one of the greatest British generals of all time.
Wu placed 20,000 men in his right and left wings and 40,000 in his center. William placed 10,000 forces in his center, left and right wings and kept 10,000 men in reserve. The battle begun when Wu ordered his cannons to fire at the enemy center. William replied to Wu's 30 cannons with his 100 cannons, which killed more than 10,000 people in Wu's center.
Wu then ordered his right and left wings to encircle the enemy army. William responded by having his men in his right and left wings to meet the enemy wings. Despite that both British wings were outnumbered by 2 to 1 by Wu's men, the British soldiers, thanks to their excellent training and equipment, were able to not only defend their position for more than an hour, but they were also able to force the enemy wings to retreat with heavy casualties.
Wu then ordered his wings to regroup and attack again and also had his center to charge at the enemy center. Wu outnumbered the enemy center by 3 to 1, since he had 30,000 men to William's 10,000. His soldiers charged at the enemy, and despite heavy casualties, they almost managed to break William's center. Soldiers from the British center started to run for their lives and William decided that this was the time to use his reserve force. 10,000 British soldiers moved to reinforce their center.
When Wu's soldiers in the center saw this huge British force, they routed. Soon this spread to the entire army and Wu's army collapsed. Wu himself was arrested and the next day, the rebel provinces surrendered to Chan's government. The rebels had lost 30,000 men and the British 10,000. Chan decided to spare once again Wu, but this time, he had Wu exiled in the British colony of St. Helena, a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Wu arrived there in 3 July 1899 and would live there for the rest of his life.