Using Western and Chinese archival sources, the following paper explores the military intervention of freelance foreign adventurers, particularly a militia eventually known as the Ever-Victorious Army, in the waning years of the Taiping Rebellion (1860-1864). My goal here is not merely to retell the story of this force, or to reassess its contribution to the subjugation of the Taipings, a question already studied by several historians. Instead, I will analyze the complicated and ever-changing relationship between these adventurers and the powers around them: Qing local authorities, the imperial court in Beijing, and the various foreign countries, especially Great Britain. I argue that the opening for such a force as the Ever-Victorious Army was created by the need of all parties for informal cooperation against the Taiping while maintaining plausible deniability. Once this need had passed, the foreign military adventurers became redundant and could be discarded by their former sponsors.
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- Ever-Victorious Army
- Frederick Townsend Ward
- Military intervention
- Taiping Rebellion