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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

mercredi 22 août 2012

Kashgari Emirate (1865-1878)

This army represents that of  Yakub Beg fighting the Chinese, or the planned (but aborted) Russian offensives.

At a pinch, it can also represent the khanates beyond the mountain passes, such as Khiva, Bokhara, Khokand and the Turkmenes. Headgear was however very different, the tilpak favoured by the Uighur populations of the Tarim basin replaced by fur hats of various dimensions by the Uzbeks of the khanates.

Facing it are my 1880s Chinese. Although the Kashgaris massacred numerous Chinese garrisons, once the Chinese army had gotten organised and counterattacked in 1876, they systematically defeated their enemies even when heavily outnumbered. The presence of breech loaders in the Chinese army compared to muzzle loaders in the Kashgar army therefore seems appropriate.

Admittedly, my Lien-chun in their European-style blue uniforms are appearing 20 years too early, but perhaps they represent veterans of the Ever Victorious Army or something, their uniform was similar (hey, I can't paint any more Chinese, 250 is enough !).

Exact figures are unavailable for the Central Asiatic Khanates, but I discovered that Renaissance Cossacks were an excellent ersatz. Their coats are perhaps slightly too long, but that is hardly an issue in 15mm. I have used figures from Old Glory, Lancashire Games and Essex.
These are supplemented by cavalry that are borrowed directly from my 10th century Central Asian Turkish armies! Heavy cavalry (now called sipahis) had barely changed in a millennium, although the bow was not so widespread.

All Kashgari troops wore the same form of dress, which was that of the Uighur and Uzbek local population. As clothing was government-issue, it was worn by all ethnic elements of the army, with the exception of Chinese and Tungans who retained Chinese dress until c. 1876.
Over a white shirt was worn a choga (or khalat), generally grey or drab but sometimes very brightly coloured with swirling patterns (likened by one modern author to a failed attempt at tie and dye !). From one to six chogas could be worn depending on the season. The outermost one was made of more rugged warmer material and called a chapan. On the march chogas and chapan were tucked into immensely baggy trousers known as chambars, cured wth pomegranate rinds and thus generally buff-yellow in colour. Chapan and chambars were decorated with embroidered silk bands and/or with fur.

Headgear consisted in a tilpak, a traditional Uighur skull-cap, quilted and patterned or embroidered. A turban (snow-white for ranks, coloured for officers) was sometimes wrapped around it.
All troops received a government issue belt, which, in the absence of pockets, was used to carry everything the soldier might need. It was embroidered white.

Troop types

In truth, armoured cavalry seem to have been rare in Central Asia after 1850. Nonetheless, armoured officers were noted by some Western observers in Kashgaria. Some of their suits of armour would have been family heirlooms for a millenium !

Likened to dragoons in Western sources, jigits were select troops, armed with a rifle and a sabre. They rode into battle and did charge on horseback, but generally preferred to dismount and fight on foot. It is in their dismounted state that I have chosen to portray them. They were generally more poorly armed than sarbazes, often having antiquated rifles.
I have portrayed my jigits in yellowish chapan and chambars; due to the time spent on horseback, they seemingly preferred to retain these in combat (Boulger refers to "buff uniforms" for the jigits). They were typically broded along the hem with complex patterns, but I chose to omit this feature so as to give them a more "campaign" appearance.

Derived from the Iranian (Farsi) word for "soldier", the sarbaz was a trained and drilled infantryman. Conscripted for life, in Yakub Beg's army they lived in barracks and were semi-regular, undertaking agricultural duties during peacetime. They deserve their classification in POW army lists as FF, iml @ 12, for they were favorably compared to Chinese and the Afghans, although less well armed. They were stiffened with numerous foreign contingents, especially Andijanis (Turks from Yakub Beg's homeland of Khokand) and Afghans. Yakub Beg also provided some units with accompanying light guns following reforms in 1873.

Among the sarbaz were the so-called "Red Sarbazes", a guard unit considered to be the best troops of the Kashgar army. Two whole companies of them were Afghans, and foreign mercenaries and adventurer seekers were rife among their ranks.

There were perhaps 2-3,000 Red Sarbazes in all, and their units tended to receive the most modern weaponry whenever Yakub Beg was able to import them. In game terms they are, however, not distinguished from line sarbaz.

Militia foot
These two units represent contingents raised, armed and led by provincial governors or other worthies. Training was virtually inexistent,and weapon a mish-mash of whatever was available. As Yakub Beg extended his control over the Eastern Tarim, large numbers of Tungan prisoners of war - wearing traditional Chinese costume, though forced to cut off their pigtail - were recruited into these units. Needless to say, they had no real military value.

The Kazakhs, who carried a 4 1/2 ft tchakane axe into combat, were more warlike but only those unable to provide, or ride correctly, a horse fought on foot.

Yakub Beg can count on two batteries. Kashgari artillerymen, considered an elite corps, apparently wore the same uniform as the Red Sarbazes (before changing to a black uniform in 1876). Many artillery officers and crew were Indian ex-sepoys, on the losing side during the Indian mutiny. Kashgar manufactured its own obsolete guns, but also imported a handful from Britain. A gift of 30 guns was received from the Sultan of Turkey in 1873, but many were out of service only a few years later, due to lack of skilled maintenance.
The Kashgaris, like other Central Asians, also had large numbers of wall pieces, called jingals by the Chinese and taifurs by the locals. With five-man crews (including "sharpshooters" to protect them), they operated in units of 10-25 taifur. Yakub Beg, realising they were of little military value, drastically reduced their numbers. 
They do not appear in the POW army list, so I have scattered one or two amongst the sarbaz units to represent them. Two-thirds of the taifurchi were Chinese and one-third Tungan, each ethnicity grouped into a special foreign brigade. There were no "Turkish" taifurchi.

Tribal auxiliaries
Various tribal mercenaries were employed by Yakub Beg for guard, garrison, scouting and courrier duties. They were drawn among Kazakh, Kirghiz and Qipchak Turks as well as Kalmuk Mongols.

I have painted four units as Kazakhs, two units as Kirghiz, and one non-descript unit, probably from the Eastern Tarim region.

As has already been noted, the Kashgari army was a patchwork of various ethnic groups. Uighurs (80% of the local population) and Uzbeks (15-20%) made up the majority, but the Uighurs, even in their own eyes, were notoriously unwarlike folk. Yakub Beg consequently stiffened his army with considerable numbers of foreigners. To the Andijani (Khokhandian) contingent that accompanied him in his intial conquest, and captured Chinese, he added Afghans, Indian deserters, Qipchaks and Kirghiz. The Russian conquests in Central Asia in the late 1860s drove many more Central Asian Turks into the Tarim basin.
With the conquest of the Eastern Tarim, large numbers of Tungan (Chinese-speaking Muslim) prisoners of war were forced to join the Kashgar army. Kalmuks and Kazakhs were recruited for their fighting qualities.

The army was theoretically organised on a decimal basis, with the primary tactical unit being a 500-man unit led by a pansad-bashi ("Colonel"). In reality, such a unit could be anywhere from 200-500 men in strength; jigits were notoriously under-strength.  5-12 pansad-bashi were placed under the orders of a lashkar-bashi. Matters were complicated, however, by the existence of independent bashis, court officials designated to carry out particular missions and given military rank at the same time.

Diplomatic recognition of Kashgar by the Sultan in 1873 led to a military mission being dispatched, accompanied by modern guns. Some units, both sarbaz and jigits were reorganised along Turkish lines. The principal unit was then a tabor, 500-550 men strong for sarbazes and 280 strong for jigits.  The Emirate also adopted the Turkish flag.

The theoretical strength of the Kashgar army was around 50-75,000 men, but this included levies that, in practice, were impossible to raise. The Kashgari Emirate was also vast, and required numerous garrisons.
Field armies of less than ten thousand men were more common. In 1876, Yakub Beg was, however, able to assemble some 15-20,000 jigits and sarbaz, 25-30 guns and around 10,000 Tungan militia at Turfan.

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