The Politicization of the Military:
The New Army and the 1911 Revolution
One irony of late Qing military reforms was that the Western-style New Armies created to strengthen the dynasty contributed to its demise. The republican revolution that forced the abdication of the Manchu emperor began with an uprising by the Hubei New Army. A succession of provinces soon followed Hubei's lead in freeing themselves from dynastic rule. In the first four cases, New Army uprisings or coups again initiated the revolution. After this, some provincial assemblies declared independence before any military action. But in most of these cases they also received advance support from the New Armies. Oddly enough, only a few scholars, most notably Edmund Fung, have specifically studied the role of the military in the 1911 Revolution. Nonetheless, this topic is important, not only because it advances our understanding of the revolution itself, but because the military actions of 1911 provided a precedent for more expansive military interventions in the early Republic.
New Army participation in the 1911 Revolution naturally raises the question of why these forces turned their backs on the dynasty they were sworn to defend. Hatano Yoshihiro has suggested that one source of the revolutionary inclination of the New Armies was peasant discontent funneled into them via peasant recruits. However, as peasant soldiers were common in Chinese forces of all types, this interpretation fails to explain why revolutionary activity in 1911 was particularly concentrated in the New Armies. Joseph Esherick and Edmund Fung have argued convincingly that a more significant factor behind New Army support for the revolution was the introduction of educated military school graduates into its officer corps and literate recruits into its ranks. The social background of these young intel-
lectuals, drawn primarily from the lower gentry, facilitated their participation in the increasingly radical elite politics of the late Qing period that ultimately led to the revolution. The revolutionary potential of the New Armies therefore had a specific social foundation.
Within the general literature on military coups, the influence of the social backgrounds of military men on the disposition to intervene in politics has been a point of debate. Organizational theories, particularly those that portray the military as a modernizing force, often see intervening armies as insulated from the social divisions within their societies. Their specialized education and skills supposedly set military personnel apart from other social groups and imbue them with universalistic values enabling them to represent national interests rather than those of a specific class or ethnic group. Interpretations that link military coups to social and political conditions are obviously more likely to see the social origins of the military as a factor in its behavior. For example, some scholars have characterized all modern armies as middle-class forces that intervene in politics to advance middle-class interests, which can be conservative or progressive depending on the circumstances. Other scholars have countered this generalization by noting that military coups have been led by officers from all social backgrounds and may or may not serve the interests of any one class. The diverse conditions of military coups thus suggest that an army's social background is only one potential variable in the disposition to intervene in politics. The influence of this factor in any particular case depends on the existence of historical circumstances sufficient to activate a response from the intervening army based on its social character.
The effect of the social composition of the Chinese New Army on the 1911 Revolution must be investigated in this light. Elite recruitment in both the officer corps and the rank and file of the New Armies resulted in an important change in the social character of these forces. This social transformation only became politically significant, though, within the context of the more general elite politicization that occurred in the late Qing period. Military participation in the 1911 Revolution was only one side of a broader elite political disaffection. Under these circumstances, however, the social character of the New Armies also affected the manner in which they participated in the revolution. Provincial New Armies generally did not act as independent forces in the revolution but as partners in a broader coalition with civil elites.
While this social analysis is crucial for an understanding of the military's role in the 1911 Revolution, care must be taken not to
assume its applicability to the military's subsequent political intrusions. Although the significant elite composition of the New Armies helped to legitimate their participation in the revolution, the revolution in turn provided a broader justification for the political use of military force. Given the continuing social complexity of the Chinese army, the precedent created by the 1911 Revolution affected all military men, not just military men from elite backgrounds. The legitimation of the use of military force in politics generally increased the political autonomy of all those who wielded military power.
Although it is possible to see a certain logical progression from military participation in the 1911 Revolution to the emergence of warlordism, the pattern of political activity manifested by the military during the revolution still differed significantly from the characteristics usually associated with warlordism. The most obvious difference seen in the cases of Hubei and Hunan is that the political power of the military was not yet personally wielded by military commanders. Instead, common soldiers and petty officers initially assumed leadership in the Wuchang and Changsha uprisings. The 1911 Revolution was a time of flux in civil-military relations in which no one outcome, let alone warlordism, was assured. The specific application of the precedent established by the 1911 Revolution would only be determined by the conditions that followed in the revolution's wake.
The Social Transformation of the New Army
An essential goal of late Qing military reform, as noted in the previous chapter, was the creation of a professional officer corps educated in Western military science and technology. Military schools were established to train these officers, eventually forming a nationwide system of military education. The success of this program, however, required the enrollment of a type of man different from those who had previously sought careers as army officers. Traditionally, Chinese officers had been selected through a military examination system that stressed feats of strength and martial skills while only requiring minimal literacy. In a society where literary skills were highly prized, intellectually promising men from elite families generally sought advancement through the more prestigious civil service examination system. The military examinations in turn usually drew men from more lowly social backgrounds, often from the army's rank and file. In the new military schools the traditional priorities were reversed. Beyond general physical requirements, the main emphasis was now placed on literacy and intelligence, not on physical skills. In practice this meant that
military students, and thus China's future army officers, would largely be drawn from among the better-educated scions of elite families.
Recognizing that the best-qualified students would come from the educated classes, proponents of modern military education made elite recruitment for military schools a deliberate social policy. For example, for the military academy he established in Wuhan in 1896, Zhang Zhidong specified that entrance examination applicants be civilian or military degree-holders, expectant officials, or members of established official or gentry families. Deliberate upper-class recruitment can also be seen in the reservation of a quota of seats in military primary schools for the children or relatives of officials. The educational requirements set for entry into most military schools also served effectively to narrow the class base of potential students. For example, national regulations issued in 1905 required that applicants for military primary school entrance examinations either be graduates of civil upper primary schools or have equivalent educational backgrounds. As Hatano Yoshihiro has noted, the result of this requirement was that "even at the lowest level, officers would be drawn from landlords, rich farmers, and prosperous merchants because only these could afford to send their sons through senior elementary schools."
Considerable efforts were also made to improve the quality of common soldiers in the New Armies, with similar social effects. Whereas landless peasants, vagrants, or even petty criminals were often recruited to fill the vacancies in old-style forces, recruitment standards for the New Armies were generally higher and more strictly adhered to. New regulations tightened physical requirements and established procedures to ensure the recruitment of law-abiding men of good character (such as requiring proof of family backgrounds and guarantees from local officials). In contrast to previous forces, which were often recruited in provinces other than those in which they were stationed, New Army recruits were primarily drawn from within the province where their units were organized. This was a deliberate policy to facilitate background checks on new recruits by local officials. The most significant change in recruiting standards, though, involved efforts to ensure that at least some recruits were literate. For example, national regulations in 1905 set a goal that one-fifth of the recruits in every unit meet basic literacy requirements. Zhang Zhidong went further in setting a target of 50 percent literacy for the Hubei New Army. Under Zhang's influence, basic literacy became in practice almost a mandatory requirement for Hubei army recruits.
The attempt to increase literacy within the ranks of the New Army
served a practical purpose. The creation of an effective modern army required soldiers who could read simple regulations and written orders and follow maps on maneuvers. Zhang Zhidong pointed out that the establishment of a literate army would simply bring China's armed forces up to Western standards. At the same time, the recruitment of literate soldiers also served a special purpose in the initial formation of the New Armies. Since some time would pass before the new military schools could produce sufficient officers for the expanding New Armies, literate soldiers could be trained within the ranks to fill lower, noncommissioned positions.
Although the advantages of educated officers and literate soldiers were understood, one obstacle to this goal was the low esteem in which the military profession was held by China's traditional literati. Here care must be taken not to overexaggerate the anti-military bias of Chinese culture. Martial heroes were common in the popular tradition, and in certain periods of Chinese history the sword was a more important determinant of social and political power than the pen. Chinese officials were expected to be competent in both civil and military affairs, and in times of need civil gentry often provided leadership for local military forces. Thus, civilian officials and gentry took the lead in organizing yongying during the Taiping Rebellion, and gained high government positions as rewards for their military accomplishments. Nonetheless, in normal times, the civil service, not the army, was still seen as providing the main path for social and political advancement. Thus, at the end of the Taiping Rebellion, many yongying officers from gentry backgrounds gave up their military posts for positions in the civil bureaucracy. There was little question that for most of these men the prestige of the civil service far outshone that of a military career. Deliberate efforts were thus needed to enhance the prestige of the military profession in order to attract educated men into military service.
With the formation of the New Armies, both material and status incentives were employed to make military careers more attractive. To begin with, New Army officers were paid better than comparable officers in the traditional forces. The status of military officers was also increased by assigning them comparatively high official rank in relation to civilian officials. Considerable effort was also made to raise the prestige of graduation from the new military schools. For example, graduates returning from overseas military academies were awarded high-status jinshi or juren degrees. To show how military careers were valued, the court established a special military school for impe-
rial nobles, and important men such as Zhang Zhidong sent their own relatives to military academies. In the end, though, the educational criteria required for entrance into military schools, and the Western course of studies they provided, had the greatest impact on the prestige of the officers these schools produced. Unlike old-style military officers, military-school graduates had educational credentials that placed them on a level closer to the traditionally admired civilian literati.
Changing the status of army officers would be difficult, however, as long as the army as a whole was held in low esteem. Thus, efforts were also made to raise the status of ordinary soldiers in the New Armies. As a first step, higher pay levels were again maintained. Better treatment in terms of food, clothing, and shelter was also recognized as a way to improve the appeal of military service. Besides this, status inducements were offered to families whose sons enlisted in the New Armies. For example, they were given partial land tax remissions and other privileges, such as representation in lawsuits, usually reserved for the lower gentry. Zhang Zhidong also proposed special honors for retired soldiers, including homecoming welcomes by local officials, exemption from corvée duties, and immunity from torture by courts. Zhang argued that as a result of such measures, "people would take being a soldier as an honor, and members of established families [shizu shijia ] and prosperous households would willingly come forward to fill the ranks." As seen here, the attempt to improve the status and quality of common soldiers was strongly wedded to a policy of elite recruitment.
The extent to which educated young men from higher social backgrounds were drawn into military careers as either officers or soldiers was not, however, solely owing to these official efforts. If one turns to the motivations of the men themselves, one sees other factors that also served to make military careers more honorable and attractive, the most important of which was rising nationalism. The humiliation of China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War, and subsequent Chinese weakness in the face of Western and Japanese military intrusions during the Boxer Uprising and the Russo-Japanese War, did more than convince the Qing government of the need for military reform. These events also aroused widespread concern, at least among the educated elite, that China's national existence was endangered by encroaching imperialism. Although political disagreements existed over the exact remedy for this national weakness, there was a consensus that a strong military was an urgent requirement. Influential publicists bemoaned
the pacifism of China's civil tradition and encouraged the development of a more martial national spirit. Such discussion heralded a significant change in traditional attitudes toward the military profession.
In this patriotic atmosphere, a considerable number of educated young men decided to "exchange their pens for swords." Such was the case of Shi Taojun, a Hunan student who went to Japan in 1904 intending to pursue an advanced civilian education. Shi was soon caught up in the nationalist fervor of the time and, after months of agonizing, finally decided to switch to military studies, eventually graduating from Japan's Army Officers' Academy (Rikugun Shikan Gakko[*] ). Shi recalled that with youthful naiveté he had felt "as if my own pursuit of military studies would directly influence whether or not the nation would survive." The memoirs of other men who were military students in this period, many of whom became important military figures under the Republic, often cite equally intense nationalist feelings as a key factor in their decisions to abandon civilian for military education.
Nationalist idealism aside, more practical considerations also influenced many educated young men to pursue military educations. Unquestionably, one important concern arose from the 1905 abolition of the traditional civil service examination system. An entire generation whose lives had been spent studying the Confucian classics in preparation for these examinations, including many who had already achieved lower degrees, were suddenly forced to consider new alternatives for social advancement. Although enrollment in the new civilian school system was the most obvious substitute for the traditional examinations, this route was fraught with new difficulties and uncertainties. Competition for entry into these schools was intense. Many older students found themselves thwarted by age regulations for entry into lower-level schools. Others found the time required to advance through the new system daunting (six years each for primary and secondary schools). In this regard, financial constraints were often a major concern. Under the traditional examination system it had theoretically been possible for poorer students to study at home with the help of tutors, but even the minimal expenses for tuition, food, and lodging required to attend the new schools were beyond the means of many families. Under these circumstances many young men began to see military service as an attractive alternative.
A young man considering a military career generally had two routes open to him. Entry into military schools was, of course, the preferred path into military service. Given the need for officers in the New
Armies, graduation from the lowest-level military schools, or even shorter military training programs, could be enough to obtain an officer's post in one of the provincial New Armies. Thus, in contrast to the civilian school system, a military education offered a secure position after a shorter, and thus less expensive, term of education. For educated young men who found even this course of study too expensive, or who failed competitive entrance examinations, direct entry into the ranks as a common soldier might still have advantages. Indeed, national New Army regulations promoting the recruitment of literate soldiers specifically called for the training of such recruits and their promotion to the rank of sergeant within eight months of their enlistment. Promising young soldiers could also be recommended from the ranks to attend special training programs or to fill positions in military schools reserved for them. Thus, for an ambitious young man, even a stint as a common soldier could be a route to military advancement. One young scholar who joined the Hubei New Army in 1906 summarized the opportunities and constraints leading to enlistment in the army in this way: "At this time, the examination system had already stopped and most intellectuals were obliged to find another road to take. Those whose family situations were good went to study abroad (mainly in Japan), those at the next level down took tests for local schools, and those without money entered the New Armies as soldiers."
A combination of idealistic and practical considerations therefore led educated young men to apply to military schools or even to enlist in the ranks of the provincial New Armies. The case of Li Pinxian, a Guangxi native who later became a military commander in the Republican Hunan army, provides a good example of the complex motives that led many men into military careers. After failing to pass the last of the traditional civil examinations held in his county, Li successfully tested into a military primary school. In choosing this course, Li said, he had been influenced both by the nationalist fervor stirred up by the foreign invasion during the Boxer Uprising and by a feeling that the end of the examination system had made other routes of advancement more difficult. Defending his decision to his skeptical family, Li had argued that "the time of the traditional examinations was past. Rather than sitting at home like a rotting log, it was better to seek a new way out by discarding literary studies for the military. Moreover, the nation was weak and surrounded by waiting foreign powers, and its salvation depended on the military. Most important, it would not do to let the rare opportunity presented by the establishment of the New
Army slip by." Thus, practical career considerations, including both the negative pressure of the abolition of the civil service examinations and the positive incentive of opportunities in the New Armies, combined with nationalism to help the younger generation of educated men overcome the traditional bias against the military profession.
Whatever the particular mix of motivations for each individual, the entry of educated young men into the Chinese military became a notable trend in the last years of the Qing dynasty. As early as 1896, in the wake of the Sino-Japanese War, over 4,000 applicants from all over the nation applied for 120 available positions in the military academy established by Zhang Zhidong in Wuhan. Later military schools likewise attracted many more applicants than could be accepted. To give one example, over 500 young men, 80 to 90 percent of whom were upper primary-school graduates, took part in preliminary examinations in Hunan's Wugang County to fill the one position allocated the county in the 1909 class of the Hunan Military Primary School. Although this class was only supposed to accept 120 students, over 200 were eventually admitted to accommodate a large number of children from official-gentry families who sought entry beyond the quota reserved for them. Although by 1911 the graduates of these military schools were only beginning to work their way up through the officer corps of the New Armies, their presence signified an important change in the social composition of the Chinese military. Indeed, the elite nature of the New Army officer corps has led some scholars to characterize it as an "appendage" or "extension" of the gentry class.
The degree to which educated young men were recruited as common soldiers varied somewhat from one province to the next. Such efforts were particularly successful, though, in the Hubei New Army, where literate recruits even included large numbers of degree-holders. One Hubei New Army soldier reported that 36 of the 96 men who joined the army with him during a recruiting drive in his county were lower-level degree-holders. The same pattern was also apparent in Hunan. Despite its later development and relatively smaller size, the Hunan New Army contained over 300 lower-level degree-holders. Thus the rank and file of the New Army contained a large component of educated men whose presence in the military would have been unthinkable only a few decades before.
The social transformation of the New Armies was a self-sustaining process. On the one hand, official policies and changing political conditions increased the status of the military and thus encouraged educated men to consider military careers. On the other hand, the increasing
presence of educated men in the New Armies further enhanced the prestige of the military profession and encouraged others to follow in their paths. One effect of this process may have been an improvement in the quality of the Chinese military, but another, less anticipated result was to create the conditions for the military's immersion in the new nationalist-inspired political ferment of the late Qing period.
The Politicization of the Military
The traditional imperial system inherited by the Qing dynasty was a centralized bureaucratic monarchy that discouraged all political activity outside the government, and severely limited political criticism even within its bureaucracy. In the dynasty's last two decades, an unprecedented growth of extragovernmental political activity challenged this tradition, ultimately bringing down the imperial system, along with the Qing dynasty, in the 1911 Revolution. Mary Rankin has shown how the formation of a "public sphere" based on expanded elite managerial functions in the nineteenth century provided a foundation for elite political activism and oppositional public opinion. The most important factor in the acceleration of this process and its extension from local to national affairs at the end of the nineteenth century was the impact of foreign imperialism. In particular, China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War provided a patriotic imperative for elite political activism. The result was an elite-based reform movement seeking social, political, and economic changes to prevent the further erosion of national sovereignty, while also demanding a greater political voice in determining the content and implementation of these reforms. A profusion of magazines and newspapers helped to spread the nationalist message, while new means of political expression emerged in the form of public meetings, petition drives, and political clubs.
The Qing court was not totally unresponsive to these new political demands. On the one hand, the government tried to take the initiative by instituting official reforms, including of course the establishment of the New Armies. On the other hand, in 1907 the court acknowledged demands for broader political participation and sought to keep it under control by approving the formation of local, provincial, and national assemblies. For many nationalist Chinese, though, these dynastic reforms were too late and too limited. The result was a debate over whether national strength would be best achieved by the dynasty's preservation or by its overthrow. In 1911 this issue was finally resolved by a republican revolution.
The politicization of Chinese society that began in the late Qing
period was a process that did not cease with the 1911 Revolution. In the decade following the revolution it grew to include ever-larger segments of Chinese society, culminating in mass movements involving large numbers of common workers and peasants. However, in the period up to the revolution, politics largely remained an elite affair. The social transformation of the New Army became important in this context. The politicization of the Chinese military began when educated young men entered the New Army who shared in the same general nationalist awakening that was stirring the broader elite to political activism.
The earliest and most obvious manifestation of the politicization of the military did not occur within the army itself but within military schools, with their large concentration of students drawn from elite backgrounds. Lucian Pye has suggested that modern military training in itself sensitizes army officers in developing nations to their country's backwardness and thus increases their inclination to intervene in politics. However, in the Chinese case, the politicization of many military students preceded their enrollment in military schools. Indeed, as already noted, nationalist concerns often affected their decisions to pursue military careers in the first place. Many military students had even been active in reform or revolutionary movements before their entry into military schools. Nonetheless, the concentration of large numbers of students, both military and civil, in urban centers created the environment for an even greater spread of nationalist and eventually revolutionary ideas. The politicization of military students thus had less to do with their military studies than with the conditions responsible for the general politicization of China's modern educated students.
Student politicization was especially evident among the young Chinese who gathered in Japan to pursue higher educations. While in the last years of the nineteenth century fewer than a hundred Chinese were studying in Japan, by 1906 the number leaped to nearly eight thousand. Of these students, almost seven hundred were enrolled in military schools. Although the size of the student community was itself a factor in the growth of the student political movement in Japan, these students' relative freedom from official supervision also gave them greater scope to engage in political activity. The political atmosphere in Japan was also intensified by the presence of various outlawed political activists who found Japan a convenient operating base. They included not only the revolutionary followers of Sun Yat-sen, but exiled reformers whose attempt to carry out radical reform from inside the Qing government (the Hundred Days' Reform) had been
suppressed in 1898. Under these conditions, the Chinese student movement in Japan became the vanguard of the general nationalist student movement.
Military students in Japan were no less politically active than their civil counterparts. The case of Wu Luzhen provides a prominent and early example of the range of political activities pursued by some military students in Japan. Born into an impoverished Hubei gentry family, Wu had been moved by China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War to enlist in the new-style army organized by Zhang Zhidong in Hubei in 1896. Zhang selected Wu from the ranks to attend Hubei's first military academy and in 1898 sent him as a government student to Japan. There Wu joined the select first Chinese class of Japan's Army Officers' Academy. Soon after his arrival in Japan, Wu met Sun Yat-sen and joined his revolutionary party, the Xingzhonghui. Taking advantage of the political instability around the time of the Boxer Up-rising, Wu participated in an ill-fated uprising attempt in Hubei led by the reformer Tang Caichang. When this plot was uncovered, ending in Tang's capture and execution, Wu returned to Japan, where he continued his military studies. This failure did not end Wu's political activities. For example, he participated in the foundation of the Chinese Students' Association, an organization that soon became a center of political activity for the flood of Chinese students coming to Japan. As with many other students, Wu apparently saw no contradiction in his desire to serve the nation through a military career and political activities that placed him at odds with China's ruling dynasty.
As time went on, the Chinese student movement in Japan was increasingly radicalized by the seeming inability of the Qing government to defend the nation against imperialist aggression. A case in point was student agitation in 1903 against the Russian occupation of Manchuria. At the suggestion of the Hunan revolutionary leader Huang Xing, 130 students attending a protest meeting formed a special "Student Volunteer Army" to fight the Russians. The Qing court, however, saw the students' activities as inappropriate interference in foreign affairs and asked that the Japanese government disband the Student Army. Incidents such as this intensified student disillusionment with the dynasty and increased the appeal of revolutionary solutions. Along with other Chinese students in Japan, large numbers of military students joined Sun Yat-sen's expanded revolutionary organization, the Tongmenghui, when it was founded in 1905. Among these were over a hundred students from Japan's Army Officers' Academy, or over one-third of its Chinese enrollment.
The politicization of Chinese military students in Japan was impor-
tant because of the influence they exerted after their assignment to military posts in China. Many would continue to participate surreptitiously in political and revolutionary activities within the military. Wu Luzhen, who returned to Hubei in 1901, was again an early example. Zhang Zhidong was impressed enough with Wu's talents to ignore his known political leanings and appoint him to a series of important posts in the Hubei New Army. Despite his official position, Wu maintained contacts with reformists and revolutionaries both inside and outside China. There is some evidence that Wu himself would have preferred the establishment of a constitutional monarchy to republican revolution. However, in his political activities he did not always distinguish between these two alternatives. Thus, as an officer in Hubei, Wu was credited with providing assistance to revolutionary organizations and encouraging the enlistment of intellectuals with revolutionary sympathies in order to spread nationalist ideas within the New Army.
Because of their advanced military educations, many graduates of Japanese military schools were assigned posts in Chinese military academies, where they played an influential role in spreading new political ideas among their students. One such person was Jiang Zuobin, another Hubei graduate of Japan's Army Officers' Academy, who was among the first of its students to join the Tongmenghui in 1905. Upon his graduation in 1907, Jiang became an instructor at the Baoding Officers' Academy. There, at least according to his own somewhat self-serving memoirs, he secretly inculcated his students with revolutionary ideas and helped to form revolutionary organizations. Jiang noted that several dozen of his classmates, including six of his fellow Hubei provincials, also returned to take posts in New Army units or military schools, with similar hopes of promoting revolutionary activities. Thus, many politicized graduates of Japanese military schools became conduits for the spread of new political ideas through both Chinese military schools and the New Armies.
Within China, students at military schools were likewise a particularly receptive audience for nationalist and revolutionary ideas. The only difference between them and their compatriots at Japanese military schools was that stricter supervision by school officials in China often inhibited open political activity. Nonetheless, such activity did sometimes take place, again within the context of the broader student nationalist movement. For example, nearly the entire student body of Hunan's Military Primary School joined in a massive student funeral procession cum political demonstration held in Changsha in 1906
for two young Hunan political activists who had committed suicide. As with their Japanese-trained counterparts, these military students would carry their political ideals with them after their graduation and assignment to New Army posts. In contrast to the Japanese graduates, though, military students in China often had a more direct influence on the rank and file of the New Armies while they were still in school. This was particularly true in Hubei, where students in the Special Military Primary School were drawn entirely from the ranks of the Hubei New Army. These students maintained close ties with educated soldiers in their original units and thus provided a special channel for the spread of anti-Manchu ideas back into the army.
The politicization of the New Army was not solely based on the influence of military-school graduates. The large number of educated young soldiers were themselves easily moved by the same nationalist concerns that stirred military students to political activity. Within the army, though, there was less opportunity for either soldiers or officers to engage in open political activity. Unlike other elites in Chinese society at this time, the military was granted no legal outlet for political expression. Even so, military men began to ignore legal constraints and participate in some open political activities in the Qing dynasty's last years. For example, men in uniform made up almost half of those attending a large public rally held in Hankou in 1910 to protest the possible granting of foreign loans for railway construction. No less a figure than Li Yuanhong, commander of Hubei's 21st Mixed Brigade, joined the "railroad-protection movement" by participating in the formation of Hubei's Railway Assistance Association. Li was even nominated to serve on a delegation to carry Hubei's protests over this issue to Beijing, though this nomination was soon withdrawn in recognition of the trouble such a commission might cause an active service officer. Such cases, limited as they are, show the extent to which many military men shared in general elite political concerns. As elite dissatisfaction with dynastic policies grew, it is also hardly surprising that increasing numbers of military men also began to look with favor on the idea of revolution. Indeed, the politicization of the military found its greatest and most significant expression in secret revolutionary activity.
The Revolutionary Movement in the Hubei and Hunan New Armies
The early revolutionary movement in China looked primarily to anti Manchu secret societies to provide the manpower to overthrow the
Qing dynasty. As an adjunct to secret-society rebellion, there were some attempts to subvert official troops to the revolutionary cause. Most of these attempts, however, concentrated on using secret-society connections within the armies, and so were directed mainly at old-style forces, where secret-society influence was greatest. This strategy seldom proved effective in inducing more than a small number of troops to participate in revolutionary uprisings. Most revolutionary leaders were slow to perceive the revolutionary potential engendered by the social transformation and politicization of the New Armies. When revolutionary activists finally began to pay attention to the New Armies, it was not just the result of their disillusionment with the continued failures of secret-society uprisings, but a belated recognition of the independent growth of revolutionary sentiment and even revolutionary organizations within these newer military forces. It was no coincidence that the military uprising that finally set the 1911 Revolution in motion took place in Hubei, where the revolutionary organization of New Army troops had its earliest start and greatest effect.
The beginning of revolutionary organizing within the Hubei New Army dates to a small gathering of revolution-minded civilian students and intellectuals in Wuchang in the summer of 1904. The participants of this meeting discussed various revolutionary strategies and voiced their disillusionment about the problems of secret-society uprisings. Out of this discussion came the insight that the growing number of literate young men in the Hubei New Army created a new potential for revolutionary action. A revolutionary strategy was thus born aimed at the subversion of the New Army. Because they believed that most of the New Army's officers were too concerned with advancing their careers to risk political action, the group decided to direct their organizing efforts at common soldiers. Several members of the group immediately enlisted in the New Army to make contact with soldiers sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. A number of soldiers recruited by these infiltrators soon joined the original group to establish Hubei's first indigenous revolutionary organization, the Science Study Center.
Although the Science Study Center was forced to dissolve at the end of 1904 when its members were linked to a revolutionary plot, the establishment of this organization set a pattern for future revolutionary organizing in Hubei. A succession of revolutionary societies sprang up in the following years that continued to make the subversion of the Hubei New Army their main goal. Table 2 lists the most important of these organizations and their founding dates. Like the Science Study
Center, each organization used the guise of study societies as a cover for revolutionary activities. Owing to official detection or internal problems, none of these organizations were particularly long-lived. Nonetheless, after each setback, a new organization would eventually form, with a sufficient overlap in membership from its predecessor to establish continuity. More important, each reincarnation marked a further expansion of the revolutionary movement within the Hubei New Army.
The history of Hubei's revolutionary organizations has been traced in detail in other accounts and does not need to be repeated here. Nonetheless, there are several points concerning the development of these organizations that should be emphasized. One important feature of Hubei's indigenous revolutionary organizations was the steady "militarization" of their memberships. Whereas the original organizers of the Science Study Center were mainly civilian intellectuals, the success of their organizing efforts within the New Army meant that the members of subsequent societies were predominantly military men. For example, a majority of the two hundred odd members of the Society for the Daily Increase in Knowledge were soldiers. The title of the next organization, the Hubei Military Alliance, reflected the strong military composition of its membership. Indeed, over time, feelings that secrecy could be better maintained if membership were kept within the military led to a discouragement of civilian participation. Although all these societies had some civilian members, after the formation of the Hubei Military Alliance most were predominantly military bodies.
The exclusion of officers also remained characteristic of Hubei's revolutionary societies. This does not mean that officers were not in-
fluenced by revolutionary ideas. Indeed, revolution was reportedly a frequent topic of discussion among officers. Few, however, were willing to endanger their careers for the uncertainties of the revolutionary cause. Thus, with the founding of the Society for the Promotion of Popular Government, concern about the trustworthiness of officers led to an actual rule against their admission as members. At different times this rule was broken for some lower officers, particularly if they had been members of revolutionary organizations before rising to their posts. Nonetheless, Hubei's revolutionary societies for the most part remained not just military organizations but organizations of common soldiers.
There were also significant organizational developments in the succession of Hubei revolutionary societies. The looser structures of the earlier societies gave way to tighter and more elaborate organizations, developed to accommodate increased membership and to reduce security risks. By 1910, the Society for the Promotion of Military Studies had a cellular structure and a representative system that bore a remarkable resemblance to Leninist principles of organization. Cells were formed within individual military units, and contact with, or knowledge about, the activities or membership of other units was prohibited. Society members acting through these unit organizations elected representatives at company, battalion, and regimental levels who were responsible for continuing the subversion of their units and for handling communications between units. In contrast to the mass membership meetings of the early societies, only regimental-level representatives met each other, forming a kind of central committee. Instructions to the broader membership were then relayed down the line of unit representatives. Besides helping to maintain secrecy, this system eventually facilitated the mobilization of revolutionary soldiers by creating a shadow chain of command that could supplant the army's normal command structure.
Besides the interconnected succession of revolutionary societies that had begun with the Science Study Center, one other revolutionary organization played an important role in the subversion of the Hubei New Army, the Forward Together Society (Gongjinhui). The Forward Together Society was founded in Tokyo in 1907 by revolutionary activists, mainly from central China, who had fallen out with the leadership of the Tongmenghui over several issues. For example, they disagreed with the Tongmenghui's strategy of concentrating uprisings along China's southern coast instead of in the central Yangzi River valley. In the beginning, the Forward Together Society continued to
view secret societies as the main force for revolutionary uprisings. However, activists pursuing this course in Hubei were quickly disillusioned by their inability to exert real control over their supposed secret-society allies. Therefore, in 1909, the Forward Together Society in Hubei also turned its attention to the subversion of the Hubei New Army, adapting many of the recruiting techniques and organizational features developed by the Science Study Center and its successors.
Despite the convergence of revolutionary strategies, the Hubei branch of the Forward Together Society remained distinct from other Hubei revolutionary organizations on a number of points. First, while recruiting within the military, the Forward Together Society remained more open to civilian participation. Second, the Forward Together Society maintained closer ties to revolutionary groups outside Hubei. The Science Study Center and the Society for the Daily Increase of Knowledge had originally had some ties with broader revolutionary groups such as Huang Xing's Huaxinghui and Sun Yat-sen's Tongmenghui. Both these societies, however, were forced to dissolve when their ties to uprising plots by these larger bodies were discovered. Thus for security reasons the organizations that followed the Society for the Daily Increase in Knowledge turned inward, maintaining few contacts with outside groups. One of the contributions of the Forward Together Society was to reconnect Hubei to the broader revolutionary movement. This was especially true in September 1911, when a tenuous merger was effected between the Forward Together Society and the Literature Society, the last in the chain of indigenous Hubei revolutionary societies.
Although no completely reliable figures are available, by October 1911 between one-fourth to one-third of Hubei's New Army, four to six thousand soldiers, had probably been recruited into one or the other of Hubei's revolutionary organizations. In no other province was the subversion of the New Army so extensive. There are a number of reasons for the relative success of the revolutionary movement in Hubei. First, the Hubei New Army had been in existence longer than any other New Army outside the Beiyang Army. Revolutionary organizing began in the Hubei army while many other provincial New Armies were still in the process of formation or were quite small. Second, the Hubei New Army was mainly garrisoned in Wuhan, a major treaty port, where nationalist and revolutionary influences were easily felt. Third, unlike in the Beiyang Army, official precautions against revolutionary organizing were relatively lax. There can be no doubt, though, that the most important factor contributing to the
success of revolutionary organizing in the Hubei New Army was its especially high concentration of literate soldiers. The presence of these soldiers first attracted revolutionary organizers, and the demand for educated recruits enabled revolutionary activists to infiltrate the New Army with ease. Outside personal contacts, the written word was the major means for the dissemination of revolutionary thought. Revolutionary newspapers were specifically directed at New Army soldiers, gaining their attention with stories on official corruption in the army. More inflammatory revolutionary tracts or pamphlets were often left secretly under soldiers' beds. The large number of literate soldiers in the Hubei New Army made such tactics effective. Thus, since the social transformation of the New Army was most advanced in Hubei, the Hubei New Army was particularly susceptible to revolutionary subversion.
In contrast, revolutionary organizing in the Hunan New Army had a fairly late start. Indeed, it was not until 1910 that revolutionary activists in Hunan began to look seriously at the revolutionary potential of the province's New Army. Before this, Hunan revolutionaries primarily focused on establishing ties to secret societies. Even on the eve of the 1911 Revolution some important revolutionary leaders continued to see the New Army as an auxiliary force to support secret-society uprisings. Nonetheless, a sympathetic base for revolutionary organizing did form within the Hunan New Army. Within a few years of the New Army's creation, military school graduates, including many graduates of Japan's Army Officers' Academy, had supplanted the army's initial officers, who had been drawn from old-style forces. As previously noted, the Hunan New Army also attracted a considerable number of educated young men, and even holders of lower-level degrees, into its ranks as common soldiers. Few of these men had not been exposed to revolutionary literature, and many were predisposed to the revolutionary cause.
The most important figure in the revolutionary activation of the Hunan New Army was a young officer named Chen Zuoxin. Chen began his revolutionary career, even before entering military school, as a participant in Tang Caizhang's abortive 1900 uprising in Hubei. In 1902 Chen quit his classical studies to enroll in a military training school in Changsha. After his graduation, Chen entered the Hunan New Army and rose to the position of artillery platoon commander. He remained an ardent reader of revolutionary literature and organized a revolutionary study group in the army under the guise of academic study. Finally, in 1909 Chen's activities were discovered
and he was arrested. Only the sympathetic protection of his Japanese-trained company commander limited his punishment to transfer to another unit. When a rice famine resulted in rioting in Changsha in April 1910, Chen felt that a revolutionary situation had arisen. He therefore approached the commander of his regiment, a graduate of Japan's Army Officers' Academy, and urged him to "seize the opportunity." Lacking Chen's confidence, the officer refused to act, but limited disciplinary action against Chen to discharge from the army. After the loss of his post, Chen remained in Changsha and maintained close ties to revolutionary sympathizers within the New Army.
In mid 1910, Hunan revolutionary activists outside the New Army finally began to turn to it as a possible source of revolutionary power. Chen Zuoxin then became the main link between these men and his former New Army comrades. For example, in July 1910, Jiao Dafeng, leader of the Hunan branch of the Forward Together Society, met Chen for the first time to discuss raising military support for a secret-society uprising. In early 1911, revolutionary activists meeting in Changsha to support a Tongmenghui uprising in Canton again looked to Chen to raise a response within the New Army. At this time, a cavalry platoon commander, Liu Wenjin, assumed responsibility for actual organizing within the Hunan New Army. Liu first tried to obtain the support of other lower officers, but few were yet willing to risk their careers for the revolutionary cause. He then turned his attention to recruiting common soldiers, among whom he found a more enthusiastic response. In March 1911, Liu was able to gather sixty to seventy representatives from various New Army units for a meeting that resolved to work to spread the revolutionary message further within the Hunan army and to prepare to respond to revolutionary outbreaks elsewhere in China. Unfortunately, the provincial authorities learned of this meeting, and further planning had to be postponed. Liu and other leaders of this meeting were able to escape punishment, however, when sympathetic New Army officers warned them of pending official actions. Despite this setback, Liu, like Chen Zuoxin, continued to work secretly to prepare the Hunan New Army for revolutionary action. Four months later, Liu was able to organize a meeting of over two hundred men, mainly soldiers from the New Army, who pledged to continue military preparations for a revolutionary uprising.
Besides Chen Zuoxin and Liu Wenjin, few other New Army officers were actively involved in revolutionary organizing in Hunan before the 1911 Revolution. Therefore, as in Hubei, the main military
participants in the revolutionary movement were common soldiers. Nonetheless, it is significant that effective suppression of this movement was thwarted by officers, who, as noted by one observer, "although not daring to participate in revolutionary activities, also did not dare to suppress them." Although these officers may have rejected the revolutionary appeals of Chen Zuoxin and Liu Wenjin out of concern for their own careers, they were not necessarily unsympathetic to the revolutionary cause. Indeed, some of the Hunan New Army's Japanese-trained officers had entered the Tongmenghui in their student days. This was the case with Chen Qiang and Zhang Yipeng, two New Army battalion commanders who had warned the participants in the March 1911 revolutionary meeting of pending official suppression. Even though these two men were unwilling to take a more active role in revolutionary plotting, they did agree in secret correspondence with former revolutionary comrades to provide tacit aid for these activities. Thus while not providing leadership for the revolutionary movement, the presence of such officers helped to create a climate that allowed the movement to expand within the New Army.
Compared to the rich and complex history of the revolutionary movement in the Hubei New Army, this summary of revolutionary activities in the Hunan New Army makes for thin reading. In Hunan there were no equivalents of the tightly organized revolutionary societies that one sees in Hubei. Nonetheless, by 1911 there had been a significant growth of revolutionary sentiment within the Hunan New Army. Furthermore, the revolutionary meetings organized by Liu Wenjin had elected representatives for each New Army unit who were made responsible for revolutionary propaganda and organization within these units. Thus, even if no formal revolutionary society had been established, a rudimentary revolutionary network existed that could be mobilized when the need arose. In the end, revolutionaries within the Hunan New Army were not organizationally strong enough to initiate a successful uprising on their own, but once the revolution had started elsewhere, the revolutionary potential of the Hunan New Army could easily be tapped.
The Wuchang Uprising
The increasing revolutionary sentiment within the Hunan and Hubei New Armies at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century did not arise in a vacuum. Joseph Esherick's study of the 1911 Revolution in Hunan and Hubei has detailed the combination of factors—ranging
from popular discontent over taxes raised to support reform programs to elite frustration over dynastic unwillingness to speed the institution of constitutional government—that contributed to the appearance of a "revolutionary milieu." The political radicalization of the New Armies was therefore part of a growing inclination toward revolution within Chinese society as a whole. But it was nonetheless a military uprising by the Hubei New Army that set this revolution in motion.
The Wuchang uprising was both the end result of long years of revolutionary work and the immediate upshot of fortuitous events. The stage for the uprising was set with the formal unification of the Literary Society and the Forward Together Society in September 1911. Confident of their progress in subverting the New Army, leaders from both groups met on September 24 and agreed to prepare for a military uprising in October. Before these preparations were completed, an incident occurred that forced more precipitous action. On October 9, a bomb being manufactured at the Forward Together Society's headquarters in the Russian Hankou concession accidentally exploded. When they arrived on the scene, concession police discovered revolutionary society paraphernalia, membership lists, and other documents, which they handed over to the Qing authorities. Relying on this evidence, the military police launched raids on other revolutionary hideouts and arrested several dozen revolutionary activists, three of whom were executed on the morning of October 10. Although intended to forestall an uprising, these actions had the opposite effect, raising fears within the New Army of mass arrests and executions. While most of the top revolutionary leadership fled, the network of revolutionary representatives in the New Army remained intact. These men quickly decided that the only hope for themselves was an immediate uprising.
On the evening of October 10, New Army soldiers in units inside and outside Wuchang rose to assault the city's walls, ammunition depots, and government offices. After briefly attempting to mount a defense with loyalist troops, both Ruicheng, the governor-general, and Zhang Biao, commander of the Hubei 8th Division, fled the city. Seeing the rise of revolutionary troops on all sides, Li Yuanhong, commander of the 21st Mixed Brigade, also abandoned his post and went into hiding. By the next morning the capital of Hubei Province was in revolutionary hands. This process was repeated on October 11 and 12 as New Army uprisings across the Yangzi River established revolutionary control over the industrial city of Hanyang and the commer-
cial port of Hankou. For the first time since the beginning of China's revolutionary movement, a major provincial capital and important urban center had fallen to revolutionary forces.
The Wuchang uprising demonstrated the extent to which revolutionary disaffection had spread within the Hubei New Army. According to reasonable estimates, approximately 3,500 New Army troops, slightly more than half the New Army forces stationed in the Wuhan area, participated in the uprising. Only about 1,400 New Army troops, a large percentage of whom were Manchus, resisted the uprising, while the rest remained neutral or fled during the initial outbreak of fighting. For the most part, police and Patrol and Defense Force units in the Wuhan area, numbering around 2,400 men, remained loyal, playing out their expected counterbalancing role. But they proved no match for the militarily superior and highly motivated New Army rebels. Thus the success of the Wuchang uprising validated the revolutionary strategy of subverting the New Army as the key to revolutionary military power.
The rough political division between the New Army and old-style forces was also reflected in the revolution's spread through Hubei. For example, New Army troops played a leading role in bringing the important commercial city of Yichang over to the revolution. The response of the semimodern Patrol and Defense forces was more mixed, with some units briefly resisting the revolution, while others gave it their support. The Manchu Banner garrison at Jingzhou in Hubei also resisted a siege by revolutionary armies from Hubei and Hunan for a month before finally accepting a negotiated surrender in mid December 1911. The conditions of the revolution in effect forced the military to make a political choice either to uphold or to oppose the dynasty, but this was decided on a unit-by-unit basis, or even divided units into different camps. The lack of a single military response to this challenge reflected the fragmented structure of the Qing military system, as well as the various levels of politicization among the different forces within it.
A significant feature of the Wuchang uprising was its character as a soldiers' revolt. Reflecting the composition of Hubei's revolutionary societies, the men who initiated the uprising were mainly common soldiers, along with a few petty officers, most of whom ranked no higher than platoon commander. Whatever personal ties or loyalties may have existed between higher officers and their men had little effect on the rebellion. A number of lower- and middle-level officers who tried to stop their troops from joining the uprising were killed. Others fol-
lowed the example of their superiors and fled or went into hiding once it became clear that their men had sided with the revolution. The inability of the governor-general, top army commanders, or middle-level officers to contain the uprising contradicts any characterization of the New Armies as "personal armies."
It would be a mistake, however, to see the Wuchang uprising in terms of a conflict between common soldiers and officers. Most career-minded middle- and upper-echelon officers had been unwilling to risk active participation in revolutionary organizations and so were not involved in the plotting of the uprising. This does not mean that they were necessarily opposed to the idea of revolution once they saw it had some chance of success. Some revealed ambiguous feelings toward the uprising in initial attempts to remain neutral. For example, He Xifan, a battalion commander in the 8th Division, sought to keep his own men from joining the uprising but also made no move against the rebels. Once revolutionary control over Wuchang seemed secure, He offered his services to the revolutionary cause. Whether out of idealism or opportunism, a good number of company, battalion, and even regiment commanders eventually came forward to support the revolution in the days following the success of the Wuchang uprising.
For the most part those officers who did eventually choose to come over to the revolutionary side were made quite welcome. The flight of top revolutionary leaders before the uprising had created something of a leadership vacuum. Even though revolutionary military representatives were able to take charge of their own units, none had sufficient rank or authority to assume command over all the units involved. The rebels sought to resolve this problem by recruiting higher officers with more command experience. Thus on the first night of the uprising, revolutionary activists used all their powers of persuasion to convince a company commander in the engineering battalion, Wu Zhaolin, to assume military leadership of the uprising. Wu was not totally unsympathetic to revolutionary ideas, and in 1906 had even joined the Society for the Daily Increase in Knowledge. However, when revolutionary troops first approached the Wuchang arsenal that Wu was guarding on the night of the uprising, his initial inclination was to hide. Wu was quickly apprehended, though, and after some hesitation agreed to take command. The next day a similar case occurred when revolutionary troops persuaded a reluctant company commander to accept command of uprising forces in Hanyang and Hankou.
The belated or reluctant participation of New Army officers in the revolution emphasizes the importance of common soldiers in assuming
the initiative for, and initial risk of, the uprising. At the same time, the eventual willingness of these officers to cast their lot with the revolution was another indication of the extensive political disaffection that had arisen within China's best military forces. A division was created, though, within the revolutionary camp between lower-ranking uprising participants and more cautious late-joining officers. While the revolutionary war continued, this division was overshadowed by a general cooperative spirit, but after the revolution it reappeared as a source of tension within the postrevolutionary forces.
The New Army uprising at Wuchang clearly deserves the general acclaim it received as the crucial first spark in China's republican revolution. This spark's ability to generate a broader conflagration, however, was not merely owing to the military accomplishments of the Hubei New Army. The impact of the initial military success of the uprising was enhanced when a significant section of Hubei's civilian elite proffered its support for the revolution. The first sign of this civilian backing came quickly on the morning of October 11 when important members of the Hubei gentry, largely former advocates of a constitutional monarchy who had become disillusioned with the possibility of further reform under the dynasty, met with New Army revolutionaries at the Hubei Provincial Assembly to help establish a new revolutionary government. At this meeting, no less a personage than Tang Hualong, president of the Hubei Provincial Assembly and the leading figure in Hubei's constitutionalist and railroad-protection movements, rose to announce his support for the revolution. At this point the Wuchang uprising became more than a military coup. It became a revolution backed by a broad coalition of both civil and military elites.
The main problem facing the New Army revolutionaries and their civilian allies at this first meeting was the selection of a leader for the new revolutionary government. Noting the "military era" that would exist while the revolutionary war continued, Tang Hualong expressed the consensus of the meeting when he called for leadership by a military man. In accordance with this, the government established was officially designated a "military government" (junzhengfu ). In regard to who should head this military government, the main concern of the assembly seems to have been that this person have sufficient rank to guarantee acceptance of his authority within the New Army and to enhance the new government's prestige. As there was no one among the ranks of the revolutionaries on the scene who met these desiderata,
a consensus was reached to name Li Yuanhong, commander of Hubei's 21st Mixed Brigade, to the post of military governor (dudu ). After this, Tang Hualong accepted the assembly's nomination to head up the government's civil administration.
The selection of Li Yuanhong as military governor was certainly not based on his revolutionary credentials. Indeed, before abandoning his post after the outbreak of the uprising, Li had executed a revolutionary organizer who tried to incite his troops to rebel. In the end, though, the revolutionary assembly put its pragmatic concern to strengthen the authority of the new government above Li's lack of a revolutionary background. Having been involved in the organization of Hubei's New Army since 1896, Li had both the rank and the military experience appropriate to such a high office. At the same time, as an officer who was known to be uncorrupt and attentive to his men's needs, Li was well-liked by the New Army's rank and file. Furthermore, unlike the many senior New Army officers (such as Zhang Biao) who had had their starts as officers in old-style forces, Li had received a modern military education at the Tianjin Naval Academy. Thus the educated soldiers and officers who formed the core of the revolutionary army respected Li's professional credentials. It hardly hurt that Li was also known for his sympathetic treatment of educated men within the New Army. Prior to the uprising, Li had even shown considerable leniency in disciplining soldiers caught participating in revolutionary organizations. It is significant that before the uprising these same qualities led revolutionary activists to give serious consideration to the possibility of recruiting Li as military governor in the event of a successful revolt. Outside the military, Li also had a progressive reputation for his participation in the railroad-protection movement. This was a point appreciated by Tang Hualong and other members of Hubei's reform-minded civilian elite. Finally, Li's ability to speak English, and his generally good reputation among the foreign community, might help avoid foreign intervention in the revolution. Thus both civilian and military groups had had no trouble agreeing that Li Yuanhong was the best available candidate for the military governor's post.
The only flaw in the selection of Li Yuanhong as military governor was that it was made without his consent, and indeed over his opposition. After his hiding place was discovered, Li had to be brought under guard to attend the meeting that elected him to his new position. It was several days before Li finally agreed to take up the post, after re-
peated threats of violence from the revolutionaries and expressions of support from important members of the Provincial Assembly, the Chamber of Commerce, and other elite organizations.
The selection of Li Yuanhong as military governor, coerced or not, did have important propaganda value. Proclamations issued under his name (though without his approval) were used alongside appeals by Tang Hualong to show that the Wuchang uprising had the support of eminent military and civilian leaders. After assuming his duties, Li wrote frank letters to Qing officials encouraging them to join the revolution, stressing its "civilized" (wenming ) character and the broad participation of educated elites. Within Hubei the announcement of Li's leadership had an immediate calming effect, while also serving notice to the nation that the Wuchang uprising was no mere flash in the pan. Li's association with the revolution, along with other prominent figures like Tang Hualong, was also instrumental in persuading civilian officials and military officers to offer their services to the new government. Meanwhile, revolutionaries in other provinces were encouraged to hasten their own plans to rebel. One particular contribution of the Hubei uprising was that it attracted sufficient military and political support to enable it to survive until revolutionary preparations in other provinces could be completed.
The Changsha Uprising
The news of the Wuchang uprising had an electrifying effect in Hunan, where revolutionary activists had long planned to coordinate their own efforts with those of their Hubei neighbors. Excited students abandoned their classes to await further news from Hubei, while in army camps the events in Wuchang became the dominant topic of conversation. Aware of the widespread revolutionary sentiments in his province, Hunan's governor, Yu Chengge, turned to Huang Zhonghao, a prominent member of the Hunan gentry, to take command of Hunan's Patrol and Defense Forces and organize defenses against a revolutionary outbreak. Realizing that the New Army was the greatest source of danger, Huang advised its removal from Changsha. Over half of the New Army was quickly redeployed to outlying counties, while the remainder was restricted to camps outside the city's walls. Patrol and Defense forces, which Huang knew were less influenced by revolutionary thought, were then called in to take over the defense of the provincial capital. These actions, however, only served to intensify revolutionary determination to act before the revolutionary strength of the New Army had dissipated.
Events in Hunan after the Wuchang uprising give ample evidence of the emerging prorevolutionary coalition of civilian and military elites. As soon as the news of the Wuchang revolt reached Changsha, a number of secret meetings were held to discuss plans for a revolutionary response that included not only revolutionary leaders and New Army activists but also progressive members of the Provincial Assembly and other elite groups. Soon even Tan Yankai, the president of the Provincial Assembly, who was Hunan's most prominent constitutionalist leader, had secretly expressed his support for a "civilized revolution" (wenming geming ). When Governor Yu planned a roundup of suspected revolutionary activists, Tan intervened to prevent it, convincing Yu that the suspects presented no real danger. Tan and other prominent members of Changsha's gentry even tried, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to persuade Huang Zhonghao to assume military leadership of a proposed revolutionary regime. That these men felt they could approach Huang without fear of reprisal reveals the dilemma faced by loyalist officials in the rising tide of revolutionary sentiment. Any suppression of the revolutionary movement would have had to include action against a significant segment of Hunan's top civilian elite. The lack of will to take this step only served to strengthen the revolutionary position.
Although widespread elite support set the stage for the revolution in Changsha, a New Army uprising again initiated it. As in Hubei, the initial risk of the uprising was primarily born by common soldiers and a few petty officers organized through preexisting revolutionary networks. On the morning of October 22, revolutionary representatives in New Army units camped outside Changsha assembled their comrades for an assault on the city. The rebels met no opposition from the New Army's officer corps. Before the uprising, most officers deliberately ignored the growing revolutionary discussion in their units. On the day of the uprising, a good number of upper- and middle-echelon officers were absent, either on assignment to observe military maneuvers in northern China or on weekend leaves. Once the uprising got under way, most New Army officers still on duty managed to stay out of the way, while a few were persuaded to join the revolt. The only potential opposition came from the Patrol and Defense Forces now guarding the city's walls. As it turned out, support for the revolution had already grown so strong that these soldiers agreed to open the city's gates without a fight. New Army soldiers quickly took possession of the city, and the governor himself met the rebels to acknowledge the revolution before abandoning his post. In the end, the only
men who lost their lives in the Changsha uprising were Huang Zhonghao, the Changsha magistrate, and a few other officials who refused to accept the new order.
A broad consensus helped ensure the quick victory of the Changsha uprising, but the revolutionaries and their allies were less united over the question of who should lead the new government. As in Hubei, revolutionary leaders, military representatives, and prominent members of the civilian elite met at the Provincial Assembly immediately after the success of the uprising. Unlike in Hubei, however, no high-ranking military officer was available who could be persuaded to assume the post of military governor. In at least some quarters there was an expectation that Tan Yankai would assume leadership of the new government. Instead, however, the Forward Together Society leader Jiao Dafeng rose to claim the military governorship as his own. In making this claim, Jiao pointed to his long record of revolutionary organizing, notwithstanding that he had been chiefly active in Hunan's secret societies and not in the military. As a founding member of the Forward Together Society who had worked to coordinate revolutionary activities in Hunan and Hubei, Jiao also had the advantage of close contacts with Hubei's revolutionary leaders. Finally, as a Tongmenghui member, Jiao claimed to have been deputed by Sun Yat-sen to assume the military governorship. Tan Yankai then rose and agreed to yield the position. Echoing the sentiments expressed by Tang Hualong in Hubei, Tan stated that as a civilian he did not have the military abilities needed to assume leadership of the revolution. Jiao's boldness therefore won the day, and the assembly accepted his claim. On Jiao's recommendation, Chen Zuoxin was awarded the post of vice military governor in recognition of his revolutionary leadership in the New Army. Following Hubei's example, Tan Yankai was then nominated to take charge of the province's civil administration.
Although Jiao and Chen both had impeccable revolutionary credentials, neither man had sufficient status to ensure enthusiastic support from the broader Hunan elite. Jiao in particular was barely known outside revolutionary circles, and his assumption of power seemed more than a little presumptuous. Not surprisingly, many felt that the twenty-five-year-old was too inexperienced to hold a post of such responsibility, and his style of government also did little to inspire elite confidence. Jiao was something of a "common man's military governor," and his headquarters was open to all and often filled with large, raucous crowds. There were also complaints about Jiao's carelessness in making appointments—for example, in allowing some
office-seekers to decide their own titles and duties. Even sympathetic revolutionaries were troubled by the disorderly appearance of Jiao's administration, and his opponents were convinced that Hunan under Jiao was heading for anarchy. The most serious objection to Jiao's rule centered on his secret-society affiliation. After taking office, Jiao's main concern was to provide military assistance to the revolutionary front in Hubei. Given his past revolutionary work, he naturally turned to the secret societies as a recruiting base for an expanded revolutionary army. Soon large numbers of secret-society members began to arrive in Changsha in answer to Jiao's call. For much of Hunan's elite, Jiao's secret-society connections represented a serious challenge to the existing social order.
Joseph Esherick has shown how concerns over Jiao Dafeng's military governorship touched upon the central dilemma faced by progressive elites in their support of the 1911 Revolution. On the one hand, the revolution offered the elite a chance to increase its own influence in local and provincial government, both in its own interests and to "carry out its plans for elite, Westernizing reform with no further fear of frustration by Peking." On the other hand, revolution, especially when involving secret societies, raised the specter of social disorder that might threaten the bases of elite power. Esherick suggests that the concern of the elite to maintain their social and political control in the face of this danger helped consolidate elite support for the revolution once it seemed inevitable. In Hunan, Jiao's close ties to secret societies seemed to raise the possibility that the revolution might yet undermine, rather than uphold, elite power.
Elite concerns over the course of the revolution under Jiao's rule were first manifested in an institutional challenge to his authority as military governor. The day after Jiao's election, a provisional representative assembly, or "senate" (canyiyuan ), was established at Tan Yankai's urging. The membership of this senate was based on a list of nominees also drawn up by Tan. Most were members of the old Provincial Assembly, with the addition of other politically active members of the civilian elite, including a few revolutionaries. Not unexpectedly, this body elected Tan Yankai as its first president. In a hurriedly drafted charter, the senate claimed ultimate jurisdiction over the entire government, including the military governor. This alarmed some revolutionaries, who feared that restrictions on the military governor's power might hinder his ability to deploy military forces and supplies for the revolutionary front. Therefore, on October 30 a revolutionary-dominated meeting abolished the senate and reconcentrated all mili-
tary and civil authority under the military governor. Yielding to this decision, Tan Yankai resigned from his posts both as president of the senate and head of civil administration.
Even as this first challenge to Jiao's authority was being settled, a conspiracy was forming that was willing to take more drastic steps to ensure Jiao's removal. The participants in this conspiracy included prominent members of the civilian elite as well as a number of New Army officers. In the end, New Army participation ensured the plot's success. On October 31 one of these New Army conspirators, a Japanese-educated regiment commander named Mei Xing, sent his troops to assassinate both Jiao Dafeng and Chen Zuoxin. This decisive action ended Jiao Dafeng's ten-day rule as Hunan's first military governor and placed the Hunan revolution firmly in elite hands.
New Army participation in the coup against Jiao reflected a division within the New Army over Jiao's military governorship. Revolutionary representatives in the New Army who had met Jiao before the uprising had bowed to his revolutionary experience and credentials and accepted his leadership. In the wake of the uprising, Jiao had extravagantly promised military promotions to all those who had participated in it, including officerships for all New Army soldiers. These soldiers became Jiao's main base of support within the New Army. Fewer promotions, however, were given to the soldiers and officers of units who had been sent away from Changsha before the uprising. This became a cause of resentment among these units after their return to the city. Mei Xing's regiment was one of these units, and Mei himself had failed in his efforts to obtain a brigade commander's commission. Many men in the New Army also shared the general elite concern about Jiao's plans to raise a secret-society army. Mei Xing himself had pleaded with Jiao to reconsider this policy. Finally, as recruitment of this army began, Jiao's opponents spread rumors that he intended to disband the New Army to make room for his secret-society followers. Thus the corporate survival interests of the New Army, and the career interests of some of its members, combined to create New Army opposition to Jiao. The anti-Jiao conspirators' opportunity finally came when an expeditionary force made up of the New Army troops most committed to the revolution departed Changsha for the Hubei front on October 27. Four days later, Mei Xing sent his troops to eliminate the secret-society "bandit" he claimed had taken control of the Hunan government.
It is noteworthy that the New Army coup against Jiao did not result in his replacement by a military officer. After Jiao's death, Mei's troops did first call upon him to become military governor. The suc-
cession of a military man to what was, after all, a military post could certainly have been justified. What occurred instead, however, was a remarkable deference to civilian leadership. First Mei himself firmly refused to accept the military governorship. Then Yu Qinyi, another Japanese-educated regimental commander, whom Jiao had raised to division commander, suggested to the assembled troops that Tan Yankai was the candidate best suited for the post. "If the man we nominate today as military governor does not have [appropriate] qualifications and prestige, he will not be able to conciliate the people," Yu argued. "Since Mei Xing won't accept the military governorship, then none of us military men can do so. Therefore, in my opinion, there would be nothing better than to nominate a civilian administrator such as the president of the Provincial Assembly, Tan Yankai." Soldiers were then sent to Tan's home to bring him before the assembled troops. On Tan's arrival, the soldiers expressed their support for Tan's assumption of the military governorship by acclamation. After some modest protestation, Tan conceded to their will. So, with military support, the post of military governor was placed in civilian hands. This, more than anything else, shows that although the military power of the New Army had been essential for the success of the revolutionary uprisings, the military's role in the 1911 Revolution was less as an autonomous force than as one component of a broader elite coalition.
Finally, it might be noted that Tan's assumption of the military governorship may have helped to lessen military threats to the new regime from within Hunan. In general, military support for the revolution in Hunan followed the pattern seen in Hubei. New Army troops sent out from Changsha before the uprising helped to spread the revolution in some areas, the most important case being the riverport city of Yuezhou. Old-style forces more generally opposed the revolution. Thus, several loyalist officials in western Hunan used Green Standard troops as an anti-revolutionary base, before finally accepting the revolution in mid December. The greatest threat to the uprising came from a number of Patrol and Defense commanders outside Changsha who initially opposed the revolution. However, they ceased their resistance once news reached them of Tan Yankai's succession to the military governor's post.
Samuel Huntington has suggested that "praetorianism" occurs as "one specific manifestation of a broader phenomenon in underdeveloped societies: the general politicization of social forces and institutions." This observation provides a starting point for an understanding of the
emergence of warlordism. Chinese society was undergoing just such a process of politicization in the period immediately preceding the appearance of the warlords. The politicization in this case, though, was primarily an elite phenomenon, much narrower than the process in Huntington's formulation. Nonetheless, there is a connection between this general elite politicization and the specific politicization of the Chinese military. The key to this connection is the social transformation of the New Armies that occurred as the combination of official enticements and nationalist concerns induced educated young men to seek military careers in the New Armies. The New Army men who played such an important role in the 1911 Revolution were drawn from the same broad elite stratum that was involved in the burgeoning new political activity of the late Qing period. The political disaffection of a large section of the New Army was a reflection of the broader elite estrangement from the Qing dynasty that provided the foundation for revolution.
The civilian-military coalition that formed in support of the 1911 Revolution was essentially an elite construction, and it was the social character of the New Army that made the military's participation in this coalition possible. In both Hubei and Hunan, members of the provincial civilian elite cooperated easily with the revolutionary representatives of the New Armies, even though many of these representatives were common soldiers or petty officers. This cooperation reflected acceptance of a certain level of social equality that would have been unimaginable if illiterate peasants had made up the bulk of the New Army's rank and file. Indeed, the fate of Jiao Dafeng's attempt to bring secret societies into the revolutionary coalition indicated an elite determination not to allow the revolution to become a social challenge from below. In contrast to this threat, the New Army was a welcome ally to the civilian elite.
Beyond this broad social analysis of the New Army's participation in the 1911 Revolution, attention must also be paid to the individual motivations of the men involved. Literate men entering the New Armies were motivated by both career concerns and nationalist sentiments. Men who had already begun to achieve their career goals within the New Army officer corps were more hesitant to risk involvement in revolutionary activity. Even middle-echelon officers who had been strongly influenced by nationalist and revolutionary ideas generally waited until the uprisings in Wuchang and Changsha showed some sign of success before joining the revolt. Career concerns may explain why common soldiers and petty officers, who had less to lose, pre-
dominated in revolutionary organizations and took the lead in initiating the uprisings. Indeed, some circumstances of New Army participation in the coup against Jiao Dafeng suggest that frustration among men in the lower ranks over their careers may have increased their disposition to political action.
The combination of the social composition of the Hubei New Army and the individual motivations of its officers and men helps explain Hubei's special position as the cradle of the 1911 Revolution. As a result of Zhang Zhidong's efforts, the number of literate men among the rank and file of the Hubei New Army, and not just in the officer corps, was greater than in any other province. Without the literate common soldiers who initiated it, the Wuchang uprising would not have occurred when it did, if at all. The particular pattern seen first in Hubei and then in Hunan did not necessarily hold true for later provinces joining the revolution. New Army action in support of the revolution in other provinces was usually led directly by military-school graduates in the officer corps. However, this only heightens the importance of the early uprisings in Hubei and Hunan. Just as officers in Hubei and Hunan belatedly joined the revolutionary camp once some chance of its succeeding became apparent, New Army officers sympathetic to the revolutionary cause in other provinces were emboldened by the successes in Hubei and Hunan.
Military participation in the 1911 Revolution can only be explained by the particular historical circumstances that surrounded it. Nonetheless, the politicization of the military that accompanied the revolution, and the revolution's legitimation of the use of military power for political purposes, were in themselves conditions that would increase the military's disposition to further political interventions in the Republican period. Seen in hindsight, the preconditions for warlordism were already being established. It is another matter, though, to see military participation in the revolution as nascent warlordism. First, the broader politicization of the military seen in revolutionary uprisings did not reflect the exercise of personal power by military commanders. Equally important, New Army revolutionaries in Hubei and Hunan showed a remarkable willingness to cooperate with, and even defer to, civilian political leadership. Military necessity may have enhanced the army's political role during the revolution, but this did not necessarily mean that military rule was the only possible outcome. A closer look at the postrevolutionary provincial regimes in Hunan and Hubei shows, not a slide into warlordism, but an attempt to hold military rule at bay.