General Nie Shih-ch'eng was a conservative supporter of the Empress Dowager; trained as a Mandarin (political official), at the outbreak of the Taiping Rebellion he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Imperial Army. By the end of the rebellion, he was promoted to the rank of General. Active in the defense of the Empire, in 1899 his army was restructured, given modern foreign weapons, and was trained by foreign military advisors. The resulting Front Division of the Guards Army was part of a move to create a western-style Chinese army equipped with modern weaponry.

General Neih was considered by many foreigners as being the best general the Chinese had, and his forces as one of the best regiments in the Imperial Army. Initially ordered to suppress the Boxers, his forces fought with the rebels in a number of engagements and succeeded in inflicting large numbers of casualties on them. However, the Dragon Throne changed its mind and he was ordered to stop his actions against the I Ho Ch’üan. Once the Throne threw its support behind the Boxers, Nieh was ordered to destroy the railway station and nearby river bridge, and then to move his forces south to attack the foreign concessions outside Tientsin.

On 9 July 1900, while personally leading a counterattack against the Russians, Nie was fatally wounded. There is some reason to believe that he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to commit suicide to atone for his failure to defeat the Allied forces.

General Nieh Shih-ch'eng of the Guards Army

General Nieh Shih-ch'eng

Powered by

Copyright 2021 Joseph Benedetto Jr.