Logistics and structures of ancient armies??

Oct 2017
There is a huge difference between supplying 100% of supplies and 50% when talking about armies. We can supply bases in Antartica during the winter with small impediment but at the end of the day they only require food and fuel. A base on the moon would require food, fuel, oxygen, water, and more. Similarly an army marching that can get fodder for horses, water, and even half its daily consumption of food from local supplies is effectively using far fewer supplies than an army marching thru a desert that needs to carry everything.

One of the reasons the early colonies failed was because of the difficulty of supply. The reason heavenlykaghan is using the example of the barren lands and the distance is that it demonstrates the organization and capacity of the Qing to supply nearly 100% of supplies for 30k men over a relatively vast distance. My main criticism is that Europeans did not have such vast areas of barren lands to campaign in so they never needed to develop nor had the chance to demonstrate such capacity as the Qing in this same historical period- the colonies come closest but due to naval supply being much cheaper is not a fair comparison.

Sure, Qing and Europe both used rivers when able- where are the rivers in Hexi corridor? There is Gobi desert to the north and quite inhospitable high plains and mountains for 1000ks in the south.

20,000 men marching thru Siberia or the Saharha is way different than marching thru the Black Forest or the Great Alföld.

Not sure what you mean "it worked" with those examples as they all included local supply and foraging to some extent.
I kinda agree with you, but I think you make it sound more difficult than it actually was. A sand desert is something which really can't be compared with early-modern European campaigns and I agree that it doesn't say that Chinese logistics was better. Europeans just didn't have those deserts.

But Kaghan specifically talks about surviving in steppes. And many nomads throughout centuries often had quite large armies despite the fact that they lived only in steppes.


1. Qing didn't really do anything new here. You are making it sound like trade was not achieved on those vast and barren lands before the Qing, but in reality those places saw the Silkroad trade. What the Qing did was the same trade. They just bought more goods than before in history, but from what Perdue writes it seems that even those relatively small campaigns costed too much money in the eyes of Chinese government. Despite the fact that it was a powerful empire which didn't wage many wars. In the 2nd campaign, the Qing tried to avoid shipping new supplies to the frontline. And Perdue makes it sound like 3,800 carts is some proof of huge logistics. But in Poland, 1,000-3,000 soldiers would have this number of carts in the army.

2. In places where the Qing armies were located they had some local ressources as well. They were buying horses from Mongols and there were actual towns in those "barren" steppes.

3. Perdue writes that supplies had to be transported for 30 days and the price of transport was 10 times larger than the price of grain. In Europe, grain was also sometimes bought by the consumer for the price 10 or more times higher than the price for which the producer sold it. And as I wrote above, 30 days is the time it sometimes took to bring food to Poles besieging Psków when it had to be transported through enemy land in winter. And that's not neccessarily one of the most extreme cases.

4. Most of Russian territory was insufficient for armies and Russia still held large armies on steppes. Even when we talk just about the Perekop campaigns, when Russians and Cossacks retreated from enemy land, they still stayed in steppes. It was normal for them to quarter in such terrain.

And you are right with the critique of my examples, but in those cases, from what I know:
1. Armies were too large for local supplies to give them most of the food they needed.
2. Pillage was minimal and wasn't an important source of supply. Though taxes were very high and you can make an argument that those taxes were just legalized pillage. But if so, then the borderline between pillage and non-pillage is fuzzy and you could just say that the Qing used legalized pillage on its subjects as well. I'm guessing the Chinese taxes weren't as high, since they didn't wage really expensive wars.

Furthermore, saying that supplies shipped to places like Hami or Barkul were not local supplies is a bit of an overstatement. Armies which stationed in those places used mostly supplies from areas through which those armies marched before they got to the frontline. If they had enough wagons for 4-6 months of supplies, they would just take those local supplies while marching through those areas. This is what was often done in the east of Europe. So technically one of those methods uses a system of convoys and magazines while the other method uses local supplies, but the effect is the same.


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012

Please write less insults and more facts. As for me, I'm not insulting you purposely. When I said that you lie, I just really thought that you lie. How can you look at those studies, say that they claim the opposite to what they actually claim, and then change your thesis after it's impossible to defend it, while you say that you didn't change anything? And you really don't see it? But okay, maybe you don't.

I've listed plenty of facts, just because you choose to ignore them or simply cannot comprehend them does not make them invalid. Reading other's posts right is itself a sign of respect, and you have none of it. I am not insulting you either, I also truly believe from your multiple responses (even now) that you have no idea what Perdue was arguing or have a basic grasp of geography and the workings of logistics and it is getting tedious. I ask again, where did I change any part of my original argument? I've cited all the sources, primary and scholarly in verbatim that defended my argument, whereas you have nothing but wikipedia and your own opinion. I'm truly not sure if you are just purposely ignoring them or simply isn't capable of comprehending scholarly articles.

And I know that you get angry when I say that you understood something wrong, but how can I discuss with you without saying that? Your claims are full of over-interpretation of sources. To the point that I have completely no idea where in the quotes you provide, you see anything about things you claim. It would be good to know your way of reasoning.
No, I get angry when you claim something to be wrong and insist on it when you've provided no valid evidence to refute it, and then accuse me of misinterpreting articles when its clearly you who did not have a solid grasp of the subject or what the author argued. I think the quotes are pretty self evident, and others here understand them perfectly.

At the same time you put much effort to prove that I'm pathetic and stupid. You even try to silence me with moderator. If you don't want to know the truth about history, if you only want to win some kind of competition, then just stop writting. I'm not even interested in this discussin at this point. I'm only answering you because you write to me. I have an idea: in your next post don't write anything except "admit that you lost". I will then admit that I lost and this will be the happy end of this strange disscussion.
I asked you to quote where I distorted Perdue because you claimed I did. When challenged just where you couldn't provide the quote and evidence, that is trolling. Asking a moderator to step in and handle this is the easiest method, because if I don't the conversation will just go in circles, and I certainly have no time or patience for that. Don't talk the talk and not walk the walk. It's not much to ask. If you have so much time to waste in complaining about my pressure, then just quote where I distorted Perdue and prove yourself right, instead of wasting more of everyone's time in continuing this meaningless bickering. All I see right now, is a person who made a claim and cannot back it up.

And what did I say in my post!?
"And I don't assume they stopped at Gansu, I have a hypothesis that they went back to Gansu (or at least it's proximity) before it snowed or they survived on Mongolian logistics or they found some supplies to buy/plunder on the enemy territory."

As it turns out:
1. They stayed for winter in friendly territory(Gansu or its proximity). At least form the quote it looks like they didn't fear any enemy attacks there.
2. They used nomad logistics to survive there.
3. After the winter, they quickly conquered Xinjiang, so it stopped being an enemy territory.
4. They left only a skeleton army in Xinjiang and quickly turned back to Gansu.

And you claimed that in 1755 they stayed for winter in Ili or other place 1,000 km distant from Hami.
1) No they didn't, they stayed in Zungharia, I already posted the contemporary source in Sheng Wuji to prove that, your unfamiliarity with the geographical names of the region mentioned in the quoted source is why your arguments only have comical values.
2) And?
3) It's in hostile territory and the logistics was provided by people from Gansu not from the locals, which is the main point.
4) They left 30,000, more than half of the army, that is hardly a skeleton army.

As showed in my sources, the Qing stayed near Ili 1,000 KM from Hami for over 2 years, what is wrong with that claim?

This actually makes sense. But I have to disagree.

1. Look at this part: "if we sent 100,000 soldiers, one out of three will carry the ration which mean the fighting men will number 70,000". The support personel which was counted into that number of 180,000 was the counterpart of those 30,000 soldiers who carry the ration in Shen Kuo's example. Usually the number of this support personel was not recorded in any official documents, despite the fact that often less than half of the people in an army camp were regular soldiers. In some cases, soldiers were less than 1/3 of people present in the army during the march and camping.

Usually in Polish armies, all regular soldiers were what Shen Kuo calls "the fighting men" and I think that in Russian Perekop Campaign army it was the case as well. But! Regular soldiers are not actually all fighting men. The actual number is hard to tell for the following reasons:

- Support personel had some cheap weapons. When the army was being attacked in the march or it's camp or supply lines were attacked, the personel was fighting and dying.

- The personel was driving wagons, even in wagenburgs during battles. It was also building trenches and bridges, even under artillery fire.

- Some of the support people were sometimes treated as soldiers by the commander. Especially in sieges. It's cheaper to send the personel to die in a fortress storming instead of sacrificing soldiers.

- In many armies, the artillery crew was not included in regular soldiers.

2. The numbers stated by Davies are: 112,902 Russian soldiers + roughly 20,000 Russian support personel + 50,000 Left Bank Zaporozhian Cossacks. Cossacks were irregular soldiers and the line between the support personel and fighting soldiers was very fuzzy. So it's best to say that the army numbered 180,000. Though Davies has probably too much faith in the credibility of primary sources.

Since we are on this topic let's jump immediately to...
Except Davies explicitly stated that the 20,000 were "slave retainers, carters, and sappers marching in the army's train", so they are not fighting soldiers. Even if we assume all the Cossacks were fighting soldiers, lets not forget the campaign never went beyond 100 KM nor reached its destination, so its hardly meaningful compared to an army that marched over 13 times its distance.

Now, what were the actual distances in the campaign?

1. Russian army started around Sumy, the Cossacks started west of Dnieper. They met at Samara. This is that point which Davies describes as being 300 km away from Perekop. That was in straight line.
2. The actual travel distance from Samara was somewhere above 400 km. That's over 800 km with the way back.
3. The distance from Sumy is some 520 km in straight line. Over 700 km of actual travel distance. Somewhere close to 1,500 km when we count both ways. Before the campaigns, some supplies were gathered in Kiev and sent down the Dnieper, to Samara. Sending them further would be difficult because of Dnieper Rapids. It seems that in years 1687-89 soldiers who marched out of Sumy had practically no supplies on the way of their march other than those which were transported there in 1687-89. So they marched some 1,500 km on those supplies (less in the 1st campaign, since they didn't reach the objective), though they used a river transport to some extent. Though it's also possible that some supplies were in Kolomak already before 1687.
4. It's hard to tell where exactly the enemy territory starts. The border of Crimean Khanate is some 90 km south of Samara. From what Davies and others write, it seems that at least from Samara the army marched in insured formation because of constant fear of Tatar attacks. But before 1687, from my knowledge, the most southern fortress on the route of their march was Kolomak. 600 km of march one way(400 km in straight line). So it seems that at least in the first campaign they would have to guard themselves for 1,200 km of march if they reached Perekop. For the second campaign the line of fortresses was extended to Samara.

Now, the duration. You count the duration from Samara and when they are back in Samara the campaign is finished according to you. What I have shown, was the time which passed between leaving Sumy and reaching Sumy again. Depending on what type of achievement is interesting for us, the starting point changes. And the ending point changes as well, because for the Qing campaigns we don't count the retreat, if we count only the time the army marched through enemy steppe. But however you look at it, you can't say that those who left Sumy survived only 1 month on their supplies.
You make a lot of assumptions on where the Russians marched, please cite an actual source. Samara is on the northern edge of the steppe zone, this is basic Russian geography. Davies clearly used it as the starting point into empty steppe, and did not mention that they are only marching on enemy steppe. Besides even if you only want to include enemy barren zone, the distance north of Zamiin Uud is already enemy steppe territory and the Qing still had to march some 800 KM, 4 times further than what the Russians marched.


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
But you know, they brought all that food to Samara. And you can read that they had enough food during the 1st campaign. In the 2nd campaign they wanted to march faster so they took food only for 2 months, so they were hungry during the retreat.
The point being they never successfully marched even 300 km into the steppe (or barren enemy territory if you want to use that as a dividing line instead), and both of these campaigns demonstrated that. In comparison Kangxi succeeded in feeding his army over 1,300 km into steppe territory (and still 800 KM into enemy barren territory) with a comparable sized army. There is little discrepancy here who marched more distance.

Lol. Look at the map. I can even guess what over-interpretation you did this time. You read that Golitsyn had to turn back still 210 km from Perekop and then he built the Novobogoroditskoe. Without thinking you took that number as the distance between the two. Because you like how it looks for your thesis. But man, how does your logic work? You read that Golitsyn turned back when he was south of Samara and you read that Novobogoroditskoe was built at the confluence of Dnieper and Samara. So how could you think that Novobogoroditskoe has been built in the place where Golitsyn turned back?
Before claiming what is or is not an over-interpretation, you should cite a source what the exact distance Golitsyn marched was; no assumptions from you, I want an explicit source quoted in verbatim, with the page number cited.

No. It was 180,000 men from Samara, where two armies met. And after those armies met, there were still other armies about which I told you and you forget I guess. And later, during the retreat, some detachments left the army before it reached Samara. And in 2nd campaign, though they still marched in 1 route, they were somewhat divided. Still, an army of well over 100,000 in one rout is always a bigger achievement than 20,000. And if you say that Qing could also do it but simply never had to do it, or never wanted to, then you know, I have the same answer for your claims about Russia never sending tens of thousands of soldiers 1,000 km away from the border, over steppes(though I think Russia did it anyway during the Astrakhansk expeditions, more on that later).
What other armies? I do not see it in Davies book. Cite it.
I didn't say the Qing send one route, I said it could send over 100,000 army over 1,300 KM into the steppe in roughly the same time period too, dividing it was simply a more efficient method and I'm still waiting for you to cite a source where the Russians could do the same. The Qing conquered the Khalkh in Mongolia afterall, the contemporary Russians didn't conquer the Crimean tartars (and it was much smaller in territory to the Khalkh in Mongolia).

Doesn't matter. The point still stands.
Are you seriously telling me that the Qing conquering a largely barren territory of 600,000 sq miles whereas the Russians failing to conquer a territory several times smaller does not matter? The logistical difficulties involved in the former is magnitudes more overwhelming.

Look at these maps:

In 1607 they built Turukhansk. In 1649 they built Fort Anadyrskiy. That's some 3,500 km in straight line in 42 years!

And the distances on the first picture are longer than 1,000 km.
Marching into land with no intense resistance is missing the point Perdue was making. Settling down is not a military campaign.

And about the army sizes, if you really want to go this way, I can always say that Zunghar campaigns are irrelevant because the armies were a lot smaller than in Perekop campaigns.
Except the Galdan campaign of 1696 already had as many soldiers and it marched further, accomplishing its political objective. The Zunghar campaign had 30,000-50,000, its merely around 2-3 times smaller than the Perekop campaigns, but it lasted over 2 years. Siberian campaigns involve a few hundred to a thousand settlers for the most part and they moved extremely slowly.

Yeah, I might compare the span of the empires. It looks like Russia wins this quite easily.
The Qing Empire under Qianlong was around 5.3 million sq miles, the contemporary Russian Empire is at most a few hundred sq miles larger, and much of it is not even settled. The Qing conquered all of it in just a century; the Russians took over two centuries when it started marching east in the 16th century (that's not even including the Russian polity that existed way before that). There is not much point in talking about the mild difference in area but plenty about the speed and resistance involved in such conquests.

(when operating on enemy territory, of course, the army was free to seize what it
needed and extort “contributions”). " - When they were purchasing provisions, those provisions could have come from any part of the World, since that was normal trade and this is how normal trade worked. And Russian-Tatar frontline didn't have enough goods to supply armies, so those goods had to be imported.
If you actually understand what Perdue argued, then you should be aware that one of the main point is that the Qing army didn't force contributions, and if you insist it did, you'll need to provide the evidence (conquest of the Tarim and slaughter of the Zunghars after they were already subjugated is not forcing contribution) where the Qing army did that.

I can also give you many examples outside of Davies's book.

For instance, in Russo-Turkish war of 1735-39, Russian armies campaigned for years in poorly populated areas. They had large casualties, but the campaigns were mostly successsful.
Rus - Rulers

In years 1648-64, large armies, sometimes meassured in hundreds of thousands, fought in Ukraine. They sometimes spent time in populated areas, but at other times they were in poorly or practically not populated areas. When they weren't fighting, they were staying in some areas with at least some villages, but even then, an army wouldn't be able to survive without getting food(I'm only talking about food here, because ammunition and equipement were often imported from distant countries, so the distances were even larger) collected hundreds of kilometers in every direction. In his memorials, Holsten says that most of Ukraine was a desert. He mentions one infantry officer who in summer of 1663 didn't want his unit to be relocated to Ukraine, because the unit had little money. But about winter of 1660, Holsten says that his reiters had surplus of food from Ukrainian and Polish parts of the Commonwealth. Holsten's unit didn't have problems with money.

In 1672-99, Kamianets-Podilskyi had one of largest Ottoman garrisons, at some point it allegedly reached 10,000 soldiers. The town itself had 3,000 people at most, and was surrounded by poorly inhabited area. The Ottomans were also campaigning with large armies in this region.

And if this disscussion will be countinued then I guess I will take a closer look at Astrakhansk cmapaigns, because it seems that at that time, Russia sent supplies to a relatively large (30,000?) army which was not only waiting more than 1,000 km into steppes, but also 1,000 km beyond the line of Russian forts.

As for importing equipement, I don't know if I must prove that equipement form one European country was often being sold in another country, 2,000 km away or so. I think it's common knowledge. But I will give you one quote from Davies and please tell me if I need to quote anything more.
"Filaret’s efforts to counter Polish military modernization began in earnest in 1630. Julius Coyet was brought to Moscow to cast light cannon while additional gun barrels and musket barrels were purchased from Sweden, England, and the United Provinces. Carbines, pistols, rapiers, and armor of the pattern used in Swedish regiments were also imported."
Don't give me vague explanations, you know full well that Perdue provided the exact marching distance and context and I expect the same from you if you want to refute his source. Also, please cite the source in verbatim, I'm not exactly keen in trusting your interpretation of them, especially after our last few unproductive exchanges.
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Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
And suddenly...
Suddenly what? That was what I argued since the beginning and what Perdue's article was about. Are you telling me you didn't catch that even now? But why doesn't that surprise me?

Read Perdue again, because you clearly didn't catch the fact that he was making multiple points.

I don't ask what Perdue claims. I ask what you claim. So what do you actually claim?
Don't shift grounds. You claimed I misinterpreted Perdue, are you going to take that back and admit you were wrong or are you going to show me where exactly did I misinterpret him?

I said:
"You reapeat this qoute:
"Therefore many armies, including that of France when it moved beyond its depots continued to live off of the land"

And you say that it says "black", when it clearly says "white". The French lived off of the land only when they moved beyond the depots. They did not need forced extractions when they were close to the depots. "

And you
"I think you are missing the point completely. The lack of ability to supply depots in foreign lands and the lack of ability to buy local products without forced extraction when depots are insufficient is the characteristic of the French (and other European armies) which contrasted them with the contemporary Qing army of the 18th century as Perdue argued."

"And previously I said:
As you can see, European armies did not need forced extractions. They did it only far away from their borders. As for Qing, they sometimes bought something from the Mongols, but they usually took food with them and then returned to their borders to resupply. Sometimes happened that an army abroad was waiting for supplies, but it seems that
1. Usually it was a small army.
2. The distance from the border was not particularly large, though I'm not sure about all the cases.
3. The Chinese handled it worse than the Russians.

And if by "supply depots in foreign lands" you mean that the Qing supllied the foreign depots by buying food from the local population on foreign territory, then you are talking about something which was not an achievement at all. Everybody did that. Only if Qing sent food from inside their borders to the foreign depots, it would be an achievement, but as I said, Poles and Russians did it too.

[...]they were completely subjugated by Qing, so for me they don't count as foreign lands.

Previously I said:
It seems that according to Perdue, the incredible achievement of Chinese logistics was not the ability to maintain an army on foreign soil, only the ability to move and maintain the army on its own land. It is a bit ridiculous that he thinks that Europe has failed to do the same and that he thinks that European local populations suffered more than Chinese. The usual march of the army caused a crisis in China, small, but still.

Here you answer me by saying some unrelated things about Kangxi's campaign. Because Kangxi did exactly what I said, he carried food with him and returned to resupply. He didn't stay for 1 year or more at a distance of 1,000 km from the border and he didn't wait there for supplies from Qing. And then you say:
" Europeans required forced contributions in foreign territory which caused long term economic decline in places like Nordlingen Germany.
[...] Xinjiang, foreign territory which the Qing marched over at the time, from Hami to Kashgar with a distance of some 1800 KM, did not provide anything.
[...]Mongolia and Xinjiang are not held by the Qing in the campaigns of 1696 and 1750s

Me:"2. The Chinese built a chain of supply depots on their own territory. They built that in Gansu because Gansu alone didn't have enough food to supply an army. Only the Chinese did that and, for example, if Spanish army marched through it's own territory and villages they marched through didn't have food to suplly the army, that Spanish army would starve to death.

In reality, building chains of supply depots was a common thing in Europe. France had that, Spain had the famous Spanish Road and others had similar logistics as well. It's something you can read in all books and everybody knows that. If you argue against it, I will give you quotes one last time and if you still want to show me those other qoutes taken out of context again and you think they prove that France and Spain didn't have chains of supply depots, I have no more hope for you. Though I think we have already agreed on this point, because you started saying that France indeed had chains of depots/granaries, but it didn't send supplies to distant foreign depots/granaries, which leads me to the next point..."

You:"No, the Qing also had a chain of supply depots in Zunghar territory, which is not Qing territory. The Qing did not control Ili when they invaded the Zunghars in 1755, they went no further than Hami. How many times do I have to repeat that? That line extended from Hami to Ili, well beyond Gansu at a distance of some 1300 km.
[...]- Europeans did send supplies to armies waiting on enemy territory. The distances were not as large as 1,000 km from the border though.
This was one of my points for the last few pages, and it took you this long to catch because you didn't put in effort at reading.

And I finally answered:
"Yes, that is what I wrote.
"Though I think we have already agreed on this point, because you started saying that France indeed had chains of depots/granaries, but it didn't send supplies to distant foreign depots/granaries"

To sum it up:
You said that your point was that Qing was sending supplies to large armies waiting 1,000 km deep into enemy territory. You also agreed that Europeans had systems of depots, but you claimed that the difference is that the Qing had this system outside of friendly territory.

You are confusing two unrelated things. When I said this:
"I think you are missing the point completely. The lack of ability to supply depots in foreign lands and the lack of ability to buy local products without forced extraction when depots are insufficient is the characteristic of the French (and other European armies) which contrasted them with the contemporary Qing army of the 18th century as Perdue argued."
I am talking about enemy land, not barren land (because you first mentioned that European armies didn't need contribution in their own land, and that the Qing was no different and would need contribution in enemy land too, a fact you still haven't demonstrated), because the Europeans used in the comparison are not marching in barren land, it should be self evident.

The comparison with Russia was a different topic purely in regard to campaign in barren land, and has nothing to do with the topic on forced contributions.

The entire argument was to show that the Qing army can campaign in land without exploiting local resources (that is forcing contributions or the land is just empty). Therefore, campaigning in both steppe and enemy land shows that. If you have not caught this, then you did not understand what Perdue was arguing.

Now you revert what you said. When I said thet Perdue talks about Qing supplying their armies on friendly territory, you disagreed. Now you say it yourself. You now claim again that Europe couldn't supply armies on friendly territory. Though you made a little change. Now you emphasize that it has to be not settled land.

But still you talk some wierd things about Perdue making claims about foreign territories.

Yes, because all lands west of Hami isn't friendly territory, and neither is the land north of the Gobi when Kangxi marched against Galdan. The Qing marched them, yes or no? If you accept that, then the Qing marched in enemy territory. I don't know what part of this simple point is so difficult to understand for you.

Okay, for now I assume that you only claim that Qing was sending convoys through friendly territory and you claim that it was special because that territory was unihabited.

It isn't anything special at all. Sending supplies through friendly territory is nothing else than a normal trade. And Zunghar campaigns took place on the Silkroad. As for European powers they also traded a lot in poorly inhabited areas. Siberian trade was huge, it allowed Irkutsk to quickly grow into a city, despite the fact that the area around Irkutsk didn't have enough food to supply the city. At least from what I know about Siberia.
Which part of the fact that the land west of Hami which the Qing marched isn't friendly territory do you not catch? Your lack of grasp of basic geography and historical facts is making this conversation very repetitive
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Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
This still doesn't answer all my questions so I still can't tell you how large those campaigns were.
The point of the passage was to show transporting supply personnel isn't a feat.

Well, most of them did come back quickly after they occupied Ili. But now it doesn't really matter if we don't talk about friendly vs enemy territory.
20,000 of 50,000 came back, that is not most of them. Who said its friendly territory? The Zunghars rebellion didn't end until the beginning of 1758, the Qing was constantly in hostile steppe territory from March of 1757 to 1758, a period of one year.

I said that the Qing didn't send supplies to an army waiting 1,000 km deep into enemy area. The problem with achieving such goals is that when the local population is enemy to you, or when there is an enemy army in the area, you can't easily buy supplies from merchants of your country. You have to protect your merchants through 1,000 km of dangerous rout where they can be attacked by an enemy at any point. And your soldiers have to occupy and watch every town if you want local people to listen to orders of the new government you are establishing on the occupied territory. For example, in "Psków 1581-82", D. Kupisz writes:
"It was impossible to count on merchants, because not many of them decided on a long and dangerous trip to the river Velikaya. Since the beginning of the expedition, the main source of food acquisition has been expeditions collecting contributions from the neighboring areas of Muscovy. However, while in the first months of the campaign, food and fodder could be obtained within 6-20 miles of the fortress (mainly near Porchów and Gdów), from December it was necessary to send people farther and farther up to Stara Russa located near Veliky Novgorod, i.e. 30-40 miles from Pskov (Polish mile was about 7,100 m - Raziel). In September, the march of supply units in both directions lasted up to 6 days, and in December - 20 days and even 30 days. This, of course, had an impact on the constant deterioration of the supply situation of the army.
The aforementioned expeditions were recruited from the camp servants, but fearing for strong Moscow patrols, they had to give them a strong escort, sometimes reaching up to 600 horses. Sometimes, several units were sent for food, engaging 1/5 of all forces standing at the fortress, but thanks to that they could simultaneously conduct reconnaissance activities and fight opponent's raids."
So in this case the supplies had to be transported through some 250 km of enemy territory.
Ili is in enemy territory. The Qing army was surrounded by resistant groups. Even crushing Amursana himself required 7 months. Stop mentioning armies campaigning in areas that are not settled agricultural territory, they are not comparable campaigns.

Your own post: "There were three campaigns of 1755-1760, the second and third one were not directed towards the steppe, but towards the sedentary city states of the Tarim Basin."

Unless you ask me for proofs that in 1755 the Qing didn't stay in enemy area without any local supplies for a year or longer. But you know they entered the enemy terrain in 1755 and within a few months all enemies surrendered.
First, this is not what I asked you to prove, you said:
"So the campaign of 1755 is the only one where the Qing supposedly survived in enemy area without any local supplies for a year or longer, and I showed that they didn't."
Sedentary city states are enemy territory (or are you confusing yourself that steppe and sedentary has nothing to do with enemy or friendly territory)?

Second, you didn't show anything. I showed that the Qing did in fact campaign even in Zunghar territory for one whole year, through the winter too, so you were wrong when you claimed the Qing couldn't conduct a winter war.

So they spent maybe a bit over 4 months on enemy territory, and that territory at the end of campaign shrinked to some little pocket of resistnace, since most Zunghars surrendered willingly. After the defeat of Dawaci there was no enemy territory to speak of. That is, until the moment when Amursana rebelled.

Aha, and they had only 2 months of supply.
No, they spend a year. Seven months destroying Amursana's rebellion alone and 4 months to mop up the remainder resistance. I suspect that you are misinterpreting the word "rebellion" as if its Qing territory. It's not, when Amursana "rebelled", there was no Qing army stationed in the area, the entire Zunghar state was resisting and the Qing had to move a new army there. A word of advice, if you are not familiar with the topic, do not challenge what professional historians on the subject (in this case Perdue) argued in their passages.

Yes. Though it was as easy as the previous one. The enemy was helpless and from what I understand, after Amursana escpaed, the remaining rebels weren't really dangerous.
Dangerous or not, the Qing was still in hostile enemy territory. Their logistics did not depend on local resources. That was the point.

Hummel writes that they met little or no resistance, took Ili without fighting and many Zunghars simply surrendered. (p. 10 Eminent Chinese Of The Ch’ing Period 1644-1912 Vol.i : Arthur W.hummel : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive )
So I just put forward a hypothesis, that they bought or recieved some supplies in Ili or other places. At least horses. For all we know, it may be true.
Also, Dawaci must have had some supplies himself, so what did Qing do with those supplies after Dawaci's soldiers were dead?
The point isn't what degree of resistance the Qing army faced, its how long they campaigned in territory where they had little local resources to draw upon. This has been Perdue's entire point and the conversation did not need to drag out this long if you understood it from the start.

I already cited it many times. It's Davies's book, p. 72. Russians didn't want to ruin the Smolensk district. And I gave you other examples too. I mentioned "„Disciplina militaris” w wojskach Rzeczypospolitej Do połowy XVII wieku" by K. Łopatecki.
Raziel, do you even read the sources you bring up yourself?
This is what Davie's book say on p.72:

On arriving at Smolensk the army would in fact find most area foodstuffs already gathered up by the Poles for storage inside Smolensk, the residue to be had only at astronomical prices; purchasing would therefore be abandoned for exactions remunerated at below market price. These forced deliveries were organized by assigning particular villages to provision particular regiments.

So no, the Russians did not buy everything at market price in that campaign, they forced contributions.

Not in every. But I already "admitted" many times that pillage was a good strategy. I qouted "War and society in Early Modern Europe...":
"Much military activity was therefore aimed at the capture or destruction of an opponent’s economic resources."

And pillage often allowed to field larger armies.
Show me which foreign campaign did the Russians depend purely on interior convoys or buying things at market price and not force contributions on populations at values below market price.


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
Except most of regions in Russia were insufficient to sustain cities, even today it's problematic ;)
Previously I was talking only about enemy steppes and I speciffically wanted to show a case where the army had to carry all supplies in its wagons. But the Qing armies in your examples had safe bases with food on the steppes. And Russia had such bases as well, since large part of Russian territory was a steppe. And in such safe places, large Russian armies could stay for many years, practically forever.

Don't compare settlements spread out over a century to one time military campaigns. Furthermore, do not use simplistic maps online. Much of the land in Inner Monglia are mixed desert-steppe lands, which are not included as "steppe land" in these maps. The vast majority of the land north of the Great wall were not settled agricultural lands, not just steppe, but mountains and desert. Marching over them takes even more effort than steppe. There are no cities between Beijing and the Gobi, and the Qing army started out from Beijing, the Russian Perekop campaigns started out in fortresses already built in the area. Furthermore, I've demonstrated even in regard to enemy barren land, the Qing still marched much further. Having convoys established in enemy territory is not your own territory, and the point is again that the Qing army did not have to exploit local resources.

I don't see how it changes what I wrote about logistical problems of the Qing. In Polish-Russian wars 1604-18, Polish armies stayed in Russia for many years. Russians who invaded Poland in 1654 remained in some parts of conquered territory until fights ended in 1665 (the war ended in 1667). Ottoman siege of Candia lasted 21 years. Swedes fought in Germany for 18 years. And so on.
Show me where these armies didn't need contribution. Cite the source.

That example of 1755 campaign is wrong, since they just found some safe and relatively warm place and waited there for the winter to end.

About that other example I have questions:
Did they relocate during winter? Was their camp attacked by rebels in winter?
No its not wrong, because it doesn't change the fact that the Qing campaigned in winter, which you argued they couldn't, so you are the one who was wrong. Even now you are not humble enough to simply admit this blatant mistake of yours.

By the way, isn't campaign against Chingunjav a proof that the Qing could campaign in winter? But this would leave a question: why did Perdue write that the emperor demanded impossible when he scolded his commanders for not campaigning in winter? I have two hypothesis:
1. Perdue is simply wrong.
2. Desertion, casualities and overall costs of campaign against Chingunjav were so high that it prooves that campaigning in winter didn't make much sense
1) Perdue never said the Qing can't campaign in winter, in contrast, he repeatedly emphasized that. It is you who said the Qing couldn't, so you were wrong.
You said this: "The reality of the Chinese steppe wars is far from the idealized picture you paint for us. It seems that Qing did not even have the ability to wage a war in the winter. Comparing what I know about the Qing campaign and what I know about Russian campaigns, I state that the Russian army has reached a higher level of logistics and has developed faster. "

Perdue merely mentioned one case where the Qing had to withdraw in winter, you interpreted that as the Qing can't campaign in winter period, ignoring the context behind every campaign being different. Again, by your logic the Germans in WW2 cannot campaign in winter, which is ludicrous. If this is the way you interpret sources, I worry about the validity of the rest of them when you do not cite direct passages.

2) If you are not going to give a context or sources, don't use it as an example.

I don't know where you didn't distort Perdue.

For example, in the beginning of your post, you randomly throw quotes from Perdue, like:

And why do you give this qoute when you try to prove, that the 1st Perekop campaign didn't have enough food? One has nothing to do with the other. Not to mention that I already showed you long ago that Perdue didn't know much about Russian and European logistics and economy (which he admits himself).

Well let me show you where I didn't in fact distory Perdue, and how you are distorting him all over. First of all, your random quote does not show me distorting Perdue. You said I misunderstood him. I didn't. You are the one who misinterpreted him in saying that the Qing can't campaign in winter. Perdue argued the opposite. You thought the Qing army returned in 1755 while on campaign, especially in winter, a baseless speculation that is now proven wrong.

Second of all, the reason I showed the quote is pretty clear. The Russians showed "no concern about sparing the civilian population the burdens of provisioning or with giving it regular relief." The Smolensk campaign in fact showed just that, the Russians had to force contributions on populations at below market price. The fact that you used this campaign to "disprove me" shows to me that you just don't understand what Perdue or the other historians you cite on European warfare is arguing.

Here you give me this as a proof that they stayed in an enemy steppe for 1 year or more. But you know that Perdue wrote about steppes in general, not specifically about steppes on enemy land. Perdue specifically talks in detail about supporting armies in Hami, Barkul and Uliastai.

Depending on how we understand an enemy area, we could say that maybe in 1757-59 or maybe in 1758-59 the army remained in enemy area for more than a year, but your Perdue qoute is not the proof. Now when you gave me more details I can agree with you in some points.
Zungaria is steppe on enemy land. He talked about Hami, Barkul and Uliastai as well as Gansu to show Qing logistic preparations in these areas. In the Smolensk case, we have similar example of Russians forcing contributions on areas already under their control (because they couldn't on enemy territory), the Qing didn't do that in Gansu, and that was Perdue's point.[/QUOTE]


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
With those qoutes you answer me when I ask you what did Qing armies do to people on ENEMY land. My questions were: Did Qing buy supply from people of invaded country during the campaign? Did Qing take those supplies forcibly and remunerated it with money?
You said that "the fundamental point Perdue is making" is that "The difference between the Chinese and the European armies is that when the Chinese were on an enemy territory they forcefully extracted supplies, but they remunerated it with money. Europeans never gave any compensation."

So I asked if I understand you correctly that you claim (and I don't want to know what Perdue claims, I want to know what you claim) that the Qing didn't buy things for market prices from inhabitatns of enemy land when they were invading that land, but took things forcibly. Because you said that your fundamental point is that "when the Chinese were on an enemy territory they forcefully extracted supplies".

Instead of answering that you give me quote where Perdue describes how the Qing was buying supplies from its own subjects and you even emphasized that they bought supplies on their own territory, not where they were campaigning. It doesn't look like your previous "fundamental point". And it still doesn't answer my question about what did the Qing do to invaded people during a campaign.
You are asking this question because you didn't understand Perdue's point, because he already answered that and I will highlight the answer below.

"The ability to supply up to fifty thousand soldiers for several years with grain, meat, weapons, and horses transported over thousands of miles of steppe, desert, and steep mountains represented an amazing feat of organization. By contrast, European armies at this time wriggled instead of marching on their stomachs. As Martin van Creveld remarks of European armies before the nineteenth century: 'In no instance that I have come across is there any question of a force on the move being supplied solely by convoys regularly shuttling between it and its base, and it was even been claimed that the mathematics involved in this kind of operation were too sophisticated for the military commander of the age to tackle', Although Louis XIV's forces could exceed 100,000 men, he could move them only slowly, and he could not feed them from his own supply lines. Armies had to prey on the local population in order to survive. The Qing armies, by contrast, moved quickly across the vast reaches of the steppes supported by relay posts which shipped rations to the men and fodder to the horses. Qing commanders made careful efforts to spare the local population the burdens of military supply, either by having soldiers carry their rations with them, or by giving them money to buy grain at market prices. The real victory of early Qing rulers was their ability to draw off the resources of a rapidly commercializing economy to serve national defense needs without inflicting excessive damage on the rural economy."

The Qing didn't burden the local population and Perdue wasn't just talking about Gansu here, he was talking about the sparsely settled nomadic regions too. I've even seen a decree from 1793 Nepalese campaign recorded in the Qingding Balebu Jilue where the Qing gave a similar order asking to buy things in Tibet at market price. Also, understand that Xinjiang, Tibet and Mongolia, even after conquered was still outer imperium and not a part of the central bureaucracy. So do not compare them to what European states did on their own national territory, compare them to what they did in conquered foreign territory.

Post #142
"All of this must also take consideration of the fact that the Russian 1687 Crimean campaign never reached its destination nor achieved its objective. Pre-19th century Russia has not demonstrated that it had the ability to even transport 100,000 soldiers to as far as 300 KM into the steppe"

Pre-19th century Russia!

So they never reached Perekop before 19th century according to you!
You have yet to show me the distance the Russian army marched was 300 KM.

Yu said:
"Except I quoted a source which shows the Russians weren't capable of supplying an army of over 100,000 on the steppe for 3 months. "
"Also, considering the Russians couldn't even march for 3 months, they in fact couldn't march for the entire winter season, or even summer for that matter on the steppe."

Even in your recent post you claim that the 1st campaign didn't have enough food.

And where do you find that number 210 again?! The 2nd campaign reached Perekop.
I said it didn't reach its destination whereas the second campaign didn't have enough food after reaching it and hence both failed in their objective. These are facts. The distance of 210 KM was between a Russian fortress to Perekop. You have yet to show me where an army marched out before that or the time it required. Furthermore, I did not count any steppe territory in my calculation of Qing campaigns, I only counted ones where the Qing had no forward bases at the time of the campaign. In the Qianlong campaign of 1755, I counted the Qing army as marching only from Uliatsutai and Hami, both of which are either on steppe or desert territory.

LEL. Kaghan, you are so bad at lying. You saw that you used the word "corps" so now you try to convince me that you never wrote anything about separate routes. But in another post you wrote:
"as opposed to the 132,000 Russians in the 1687 Crimean campaign divided into 5 routes"

Not to mention that even your reinterpretation of your own words is still incompatible with the facts.

At this point I'm really starting to think that this whole disscussion is just a prank for you.
Don't mince words.
The 132,000 into five route was taken from Davies as a planned invasion, I already changed in my later post in regard to what the Russians actually fielded. Speaking of lying, maybe you should look at yourself when you still deny that the Qing can camapign in winter or that you've misinterpreted Perdue when you claimed that. And you wonder why I considered your hypocrisy pathetic.

So now you are wrong about Napoleon. His logistics was so bad, that his army couldn't survive long in Russia, even if it defeated Russian armies.

I don't know why do you always repeat the word "foreign". The fact that something is technically foreign means nothing. Spanish Road led 1,000 km through "foreign" territory. Polish units in Thirty Years' War marched through 1,000 km of foreign German lands in one go, but those were allies. It's not an achievement. What matters is weather the lands through which you march are enemy, and this is the word which should be used instead of "foreign".

And in general I don't know what you mean. Where did I say such a thing and how exactly did you interpret my words? Most of what I write about Qing are just questions I ask you.
Im not wrong about Napoleon, because he did campaign in winter, but do you admit you are wrong about Germany? Do you imply that Napoleon or the Nazi cannot campaign winter in any situation, period? You said the Qing can't campaign in winter, and completely ignored the context, that was the point. Also you are the one who is obsessed about foreign territory, my argument was merely a response to your obsession.
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Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
There is a huge difference between supplying 100% of supplies and 50% when talking about armies. We can supply bases in Antartica during the winter with small impediment but at the end of the day they only require food and fuel. A base on the moon would require food, fuel, oxygen, water, and more. Similarly an army marching that can get fodder for horses, water, and even half its daily consumption of food from local supplies is effectively using far fewer supplies than an army marching thru a desert that needs to carry everything.

One of the reasons the early colonies failed was because of the difficulty of supply. The reason heavenlykaghan is using the example of the barren lands and the distance is that it demonstrates the organization and capacity of the Qing to supply nearly 100% of supplies for 30k men over a relatively vast distance. My main criticism is that Europeans did not have such vast areas of barren lands to campaign in so they never needed to develop nor had the chance to demonstrate such capacity as the Qing in this same historical period- the colonies come closest but due to naval supply being much cheaper is not a fair comparison.

Sure, Qing and Europe both used rivers when able- where are the rivers in Hexi corridor? There is Gobi desert to the north and quite inhospitable high plains and mountains for 1000ks in the south.

20,000 men marching thru Siberia or the Saharha is way different than marching thru the Black Forest or the Great Alföld.

Not sure what you mean "it worked" with those examples as they all included local supply and foraging to some extent.

Yes, and he wonders why I get harsh on his responses; he is the only one who is confused at Perdue's arguments and he is blaming me for being unclear; the fundamental problem I now discovered after the past few posts he made, is that he doesn't understand how forced contribution works or how prevalent it was in European warfare at the time. This is clearly reflected from the multiple responses he made, citing several sources where European armies used contributions which in fact outright supports Perdue's claim that forced contribution at below market price is a huge part of European logistics. He thinks he knows more basics than Perdue and assumes the later doesn't have common sense and isn't comparing parallel things and then insist on saying the Qing army had to rely on pillages in places outside of its boundary too yet couldn't provide a single instance just where they did that (despite Perdue already making it clear that the Qing army didn't extract local resources by force; he just didn't spell it out for him that "the Qing army didn't pillage in Xinjiang" but given the context of the article, that much is clear and you caught it as well).

My main criticism is that Europeans did not have such vast areas of barren lands to campaign in so they never needed to develop nor had the chance to demonstrate such capacity as the Qing in this same historical period- the colonies come closest but due to naval supply being much cheaper is not a fair comparison.
I'm not sure what the criticism is directed towards. Again, all warfare is conditioned on strategic needs; that doesn't mean we can't compare them.

Also, glancing at the size of the Russian Empire itself is misleading. Much of the so called Siberian "conquest" is like European colonization of the New World; huge swaths of territory was not even settled or effectively governed and was merely claimed by the Russians because they explored it and no one was challenging that claim. Like the Europeans in the new world, they mostly faced less mobile bands of sparsely populated people initially (until the Americans faced the mid-west Indians) and simply overwhelming them with guns. The actual nomadic steppe territory Russia directly controlled was also very small prior to the end of the 18th century. None of the nomadic tribes Russia conquered even had state structure (or had a population in the hundreds of thousand) and at no point prior to the late 18th century did the Russians successfully invaded or controlled a large nomadic polity. The Crimean Tartars exacted "tribute" from the Russians until the late 17th century and wasn't incorporated into the Russian Empire until the 1770s, the Nogai and later Kalmyks moved into the eastern Crimean steppe in the 17th century without any Russian resistance. They merely paid nominal allegiance to the Tzar. The Zunghars successfully raided Russian towns with no retribution. Even the small population of Buriats was largely autonomous before Sporansky's reforms in the early 19th century.
The Qing on the other hand was facing the largest and most powerful nomadic polity on earth in the Zunghars and conquered them. By Qianlong's time, the Qing controlled all the nomadic tribes of Mongolia and Zungharia (over a million total with an actual state structure and a large army) with a forcible hand (dividing them at will). By the 18th century, even the internal Mongolian legal system was coming under the control of the Li Fanyuan, even murder cases between common Mongols had to be examined by the Qing court and the emperor.
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Feb 2019
Obviously the private granaries were often inadequate for the job and that's why the Qing and every large dynasty had state granaries. Not burdening the local population is one such area where private granaries was inadequate in and that was part of Perdue's argument.

You are utterly confused about some fundamental things. The funding used to build the summer palace is not from the funding for the navy. They are separate projects. It's not like European states didn't built extravagant palaces. The Versaille is just one such an example. Furthermore the late Qing is not the early Qing, since the former already lost a considerable amount of centralized power.

I never said the average soldier will speak Mongolian or Tibetan. So another one of your strawman arguments. Most of Perdue's study pertains to Chinese provinces. Furthermore, what is the conflict between buying local products and having a regulator doing that job? Nothing.

Provide evidence that there are mutinies on these campaigns, yes the actual evidence. You made the claim, you prove it.

I certainly have. If you think court marshaling and punishments pertains to even a noticeable amount of soldiers which might affect the outcome of the war, you've probably wasted your time in the military. Individual soldiers who breaks regulations does not represent the entire army's discipline.

Burdening is relative. I don't want to play a semantics game with you so I'll post exactly what Perdue argued again;

"The campaign of 1755-60 drew most of their grain supplies from Gansu, and the army purchased its supplies on the market. The local effect was to drive prices up by a factor of three, but so far as I know at this point, no major subsistence crisis ensued. Mobilization of ever-normal granary stocks, plus relief campaigns, combined with the more important impact of the private grain market to ensure regular flows of grain following established marketing links. In this way, the establishment of the commercial grain economy of the Northwest served as the foundation for the conquest of Inner Asia. "

"my current limited and rather chauvinist impression is that the Qing state was much more successful than Muscovy. Russian state provisioning remained almost exclusively military; there seems to have been no concern about sparing the civilian population the burdens of provisioning or with giving it regular relief. The Muscovite grain trade had such a low level of commercialization that market purchases only rarely proved possible. Agricultural yields improved in the southern region, but at the cost of the extension of serfdom. "

Oxens were in fact used in the American Civil War;

Chinese armies campaigning against Mongolia also rarely used Oxens. It depends on the location and circumstances.

I would like to see sources showing the number of oxens to horses in both the American army and in ancient Chinese armies if you want to claim they are fundamentally different.

Irrelevant whether its cheaper or cheap, the point was to refute your claim that there are more horses in Europe than China. There are railroads and steamships by the 19th century, and the Qing also lost lots of centralized power after the Taiping, so what exactly is your point by bringing in an impertinent period? The Qing lost to the British and Japanese primarily because it had inferior equipment. Are you really going to use this to reflect 18th century logistical capabilities?

I already gave you a map of the marching route in post 57 if you bothered to read.
Look closely at the extra distance during pursuit:


The army on the right was the one from Beijing and it did a little garrison hopping as well.

My point was to demonstrate that the horses marched well over 10 miles a day, and I've already shown that even if the marching route was in fact a straight line.

What is an "impertinent period"?


Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
What is an "impertinent period"?
An era of time used to try and compare a different era that had different technologies and organizations. Probably he meant not 'pertaining' too the period. Impertinent does sound quite funny though. "It was just so rude to bring in this comparison."

Yes, and he wonders why I get harsh on his responses; he is the only one who is confused at Perdue's arguments and he is blaming me for being unclear; the fundamental problem I now discovered after the past few posts he made, is that he doesn't understand how forced contribution works or how prevalent it was in European warfare at the time.

I'm not sure what the criticism is directed towards. Again, all warfare is conditioned on strategic needs; that doesn't mean we can't compare them.
Sure, a forced contribution was an improvement upon direct pillaging as a lip service to the rule of law and the recognition that totally devastating lands an army wanted to conquer was probably bad idea. However many wars the idea of conquest was not really central as national identities and borders were fairly established and scorched earth or harsh confiscations or direct pillage was still relatively common even during Napoleonic wars and the U.S. war between the States.

The criticism was that saying Europeans had not the capability to supply a relatively modest army is different than saying Europeans did not demonstrate this ability because it wasn't necessary. Even Qing only needed to demonstrate this ability in one campaign and it was the second try when the first campaign floundered a bit due to supply issues.

Finally, I am not sure if it is a an accurate statement of Duzungar Khanate as the "largest and most powerful nomadic polity on earth" without qualifying it as 'at that time' because Qing themselves where the descendants of Jurchen and battled the Ming who were descendants of the Mongols sort of... really so much time had passed the the culture changed along with population sizes, technology, and relative power it was a different era.
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