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Liu Buchan
劉步蟾
Admiral Liu Buchan
Place of birth Fujian Province, China
Place of death Shandong Province, China
Allegiance Flag of the Qing dynasty Qing dynasty
Service/branch Beiyang Fleet
Rank Admiral
Battles/wars First Sino-Japanese War

Liu Buchan (simplified Chinese: 刘步蟾; traditional Chinese: 劉步蟾; pinyin: Liú Bùchán) (born 1852, died 10 February 1895) was a naval officer of the Beiyang Fleet, the most prominent of China's naval units in the late Qing Dynasty. He is best remembered for his actions as commander of the fleet flagship, the Dingyuan, during the First Sino-Japanese War. After his death and the ship being destroyed at the end of the war, he was raised to national herodisambiguation needed status in modern China. At his death, Liu was commander of the fleet flagship, with the rank Admiral of the Right, and reserve Admiral of the Fleet.

Life

Liu was born in the town of Houguan, in Fujian province in China. Liu's father died before he was born, and he was brought up by his mother. In 1867, he passed the entry examinations and entered the Foochow Arsenal Naval School established by Shen Baozhen(沈葆桢,shěn bǎo zhēn) to study navigation. In 1871, was on the training ship Jianwei, and he visited Amoy, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Bohai Bay. In 1872, with the best results, Liu graduated in the first class of the Foochow Arsenal Naval School. In 1875 he was appointed commander of the training ship Jianwei. In 1876, he was sent to Britain for further training, but failed to enter the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Instead, he was placed with the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Fleet flagship HMS Hercules as a trainee first mate. He returned to China in 1878 and was given command of the Zhenbei in the Beiyang Fleet.

In 1881, Viceroy Li Hongzhang(李鸿章,lǐ hóng zhāng), the Beiyang minister, sent a command with a German shipyard for the construction of two battleships (the Dingyuan and the Zhenyuan). Liu was sent to monitor construction and inspect the ships, and to assist in delivering the two warships back to China. In 1885 got back to China aboard the Dingyuan, upon which he was given command of the Dingyuan, with Commodore rank. In 1888, the Beiyang Fleet was officially established. Liu participated in drawing up the Fleet's charter, and was subsequently promoted to the Right Wing command of Admiral. Viceroy Li was highly impressed with Liu, and in his secret missive to the court said Liu had "talents that could be placed to great use".

In 1890, the Beiyang Fleet visited Hong Kong. When Fleet Admiral Ding Ruchang left his ship, Liu took down the fleet admiral flag and put up his admiral flag. The fleet's chief training officer, Royal Navy captain and Englishman William Lang raised issue with this, and complained to Li Hongzhang. In the subsequent dispute, Li supported Liu, and in response William Lang resigned from the Beiyang Fleet.

In the years leading up to the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894, Liu repeatedly pressed Li Hongzhang to develop the Beiyang Fleet. He pointed out that Japan was enthusiastically expanding its navy, and to keep up the Beiyang Fleet must adopt an annual program to add new ships. However, Li Hongzhang was unable to expand the Beiyang Fleet due to the realities of court politics. The First Sino-Japanese War began in 1894, and on 17 September of that year, the Beiyang Fleet encountered the Japanese Combined Fleet on the Yellow Sea, sparking the Battle of the Yellow Sea.

During the Battle of the Yellow Sea, Liu Buchan commanded the flagship Dingyuan - the most powerful ship of the Beiyang Fleet - in battle against the Japanese fleet. The battle lasted into the afternoon and the Dingyuan was struck multiple times. As Admiral Ding Ruchang (丁汝昌,dīng rǔ chāng), the fleet commander, had been seriously wounded early in the battle, Liu had to assume command of the entire fleet. For his bravery during the battle, Liu was promoted to reserve Admiral of the Fleet after the battle, and acted as commander of the fleets while Ding Ruchang recovered from his injuries.

Shortly afterwards, on 4 February 1895, Japanese torpedo boats launched a surprise attack on the Beiyang Fleet's home base at Weihaiwei, during which the Dingyuan was hit and began taking on water. Liu ordered the ship run aground and to continue firing as an artillery battery. On 9 February 1895 the Japanese army took over the shore batteries, and fired upon and hit the Dingyuan. Fearing that the naval base at Liugong Island would soon fall, and that the Dingyuan would fall into enemy hands, he ordered that the Dingyuan be scuttled. That night, Liu killed himself by swallowing opium. The Qing government, appreciating his service,ordered that benefits be given at the status of an admiral of the fleet.

Assessment

In the 20th century, there has been praise as well as criticism in all kinds of books about him. The criticism was mainly come from William Tyler's - an English sailor on Dingyuan - memoir. But the there were also widely accepted ideas that there was a personal enmity between William Tyler and Liu Buchan and that William Tyler's words were unreliable. But there were two opinions that were really accepted. First, Liu Buchan lacked adequate experience before he was appointed as the captain of Dingyuan and training and command were very bad under him. Second, he was addicted to taking opium all the time. Which was universal among his troops. .[1]

The chronicle of Liu Buchan

1850.03.17, Liu Buchan was born in Fujian province Fuzhou city Houguan town

1867.01.06, Liu Buchan passed the exam and entered the Foochow Arsenal Naval College to study navigation and firearms. During the three years in this college, he was always the most diligent and outstanding student.

1871, Liu Buchan graduated from Foochow Arsenal Naval College. Then he practiced on Jianwei training ship. Steering Jianwei training ship, Liu Buchan traveled around the South China Sea archipelago, Bohai Bay in north China, the Liaodong Peninsula, the Shandong Peninsula and so on.

1872, in the exam of Fujian and Guandong navigation students, Liu Buchan again placed first.

1873.03, Liu Buchan traveled to Amoy, Hong Kong, Sinapore, Penang Island on Jianwei training ship. In Junly of this year, he returned to the Foochow Arsenal.

1874, Liu Buchan was ordered to field investigating the sea-route in Taiwan. But later in this year, Taiwan was accroached by the Japanese. Then he was dispatched to detective the Japanese barracks in Taiwan LangQiao.

1875, Liu Buchan was appointed as the shipmaster of Jianwei training ship.

In the winter of 1875, accompanied with the French monitor, Riega, Liu Buchan, Lin Taizen (zh) (林泰曾, lín taì zēng), Chen Jitong (陈季同, chéng jì tóng) went to England to purchase military equipment. At the same time, another aim of this journey was to study European advanced technic on firearms and mine. During this term, he was sent to British coars fort school to European ship administration and navy construction.

1876.04, Liu Buchan, Lintaizen (林泰曾, lín taì zēng), Chen Jitong (陈季同, chéng jì tóng) ended the European investigation and returned to China with Riega. On May 3, they arrived at Foochow Mawei harbor. Soon later, Liu Buchan was dispatched to Taiwan for garrison.

1877, as one of thirty Mawei Shipbuilding college graduates (Foochow Arsenal Naval College was moved to Mawei in 1867), Liu Buchan was sent to England for advanced study. This thirty person were the very first students abroad to the Europe.

1877.06.07, Liu Buchan's first daughter Liu Shoulin (刘寿琳, Líu Shòu Lín) was born.

1877.08.14, Liu Buchan dispatched to H•M•S Minotour of the Mediterranean Station for training.

1878.03.08, Liu Buchan dispatched to H•M•S Raligh of the Mediterranean Station for training.

In July 1879, Liu Buchan, Lin Taizeng (林泰曾) and HeXinchuan (何心川, Hé Xīn chuān) completed their study in England and returned to China.

1879.08.14 Liu Buchan, Lin Taizeng (林泰曾) and He Xinchuan (何心川) were assigned as shipmasters for Zhengdong (镇东), Zhengxi (镇西), Zhengnan (镇南), Zhengbei (镇北) separately.

1879.11.30, Liu Buchan and Lintaizeng (林泰曾) were assigned to move to Beiyang Fleet with their ships togather.

November 30, Liu Buchan linte been Li played Paul tone Northern sent and communicated to the Shen Pao-chen urged to go northward.

December 7, Liu was appointed as the shipmaster of Zhenbei.

May 25, 1880, Li was ordered, with dozens of sailors from Fujian factory, to go abroad to help steering ironclads.

August 11, 1881, Liu Buchan was ordered to accept two gunboats, ZhenZhong and ZhengBian with officers of the Navy Camp.

March 30, 1882, Liu Buchan 11 was ordered to go to Germany, to assist in driving several ironclads to China, scheduled to leave during the month.

July 13, 1882, under the order of Li Hongzhang (李鸿章), Liu Buchan went to Germany to accept Ding Yuan warship.

November 27, 1884, Liu Buchan accompanied Xu Jingcheng (许景澄, Xú Jǐng chéng), Li Fenbao (李凤苞, Lǐ Fènbāo) in the German Creek harbors to inspect the size and quality of Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan.

July 3, 1885, Liu Buchan and Yang Zhao Jun were respectively on Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan, and the two ships were driving by foreigners Fos and Milake respectively.

August 5, Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan arrived Poseidon.

September 12, Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan arrived Singapore.

September 18, Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan arrived Hong Kong.

September 28, Dingyuan and Zheng Yuan left Hong Kong and for Tianjin Dagu.

May 19, 1886, Liu Buchan mastered Dingyuan, together with other ships, to be ready to accept the inspection by Yixuan, Prince Chun.

August 7, 1887, Dingyuan, together with Zheng Yuan, Ji Yuan and Wei Yuan, went to Japan for maintenance. These four ships were mastered by Liu Buchan and led by Ding Ruchang (丁汝昌).

August 13, when the sailors of Dingyuan, Zheng Yuan, Ji Yuan and Wei Yuan were shopping on shore, they involved in the dispute with the Japanese police. One sailor of the Bei Yang Fleet was injured.

October 10, 1887, the maintenance of Dingyuan, Zheng Yuan, Ji Yuan and Wei Yuan was completed. Soon later, these four ships were steering for Tianjin Dagu under the master of Liu Buchan.

May 6, 1888, Liu Buchan steered Dingyuan, carrying Li Hongzhang and Ding Ruchang, to go to Lv Shun harbor with other ships in Beiyang Fleet.

May 7, 8:00 pm, Liu Buchan and Dingyuan arrived Lv Shun harbor.

May 15,erly in the morning, Liu Buchan steered Dingyuan and set out for Dengzhou.

December 17, Liu Buchan was appointed as the right wing company commander of the Beiyang Fleet.

March 25, 1889, Liu Buchan shipmastered Dingyuan and Jingyuan getting back to Beiyang Fleet from Shanghai, accompanied with Ding Ruchang.

June 29, Liu Buchan shipmastered Dingyuan and other seven ships, and arrived in North Korea, Incheon Port.

July 6, Liu Buchan led the drilling of Dingyuan and other seven ships in east Korea Sea area.

November 29, Liu Buchan shipmastered Dingyuan and Zhenyuan, Zhiyuan, Jingyuan, Jinyuan, Lai Yuan, under the leading of Ding Ruchang, and went from Weihaiwei straightly to Port of Shanghai.

December 2, the six ships arrived in Shanghai.

March 6, 1890, Ding Ruchang was not on the ship. Liu Buchan thought he should rise his Right Wing company commander flag. But the Beiyang Fleet chief inspector Lang Wei (a foreigner) thought he should rise his flag.

March 21, Liu Buchan shipmastered Dingyuan and Zhenyuan, Zhiyuan, Jingyuan, Jinyuan, Lai Yuan, under the leading of Ding Ruchang, and visit to Saigon, Singapore, the small Luzon Island.

April 29, Liu Buchan shipmastered Dingyuan and Zhenyuan, Zhiyuan, Jingyuan, Jinyuan, Lai Yuan, Ping Yuan, Guang Jia, and returned to Weihang harbor.

July 30, Liu Buchan requested Ding Ruchang to send a letter to Li Hongzhang to increase warships.

January 30, 1892, Liu Buchan and all of the Northern Fleet officers and soldiers held a Spring Festival gathering in Weihai base.

June 23 (May 29, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded six warships: The "Dingyuan", "Zhenyuan", "ZhiYuan", "JingYuan, "Laiyuan" "WeiYuan" arrived in Nagasaki Japan with Ding Ruchang.

July 2 (June 12, (Chinese calendar)), The "Dingyuan" was still stayed in Nagasaki, Japan.

July 16 (June 23, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded three warships: The "Dingyuan","Chenyuan","Weiyuan " reached the port of Busan, Korea.

July 23 (June 30, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", "Chenyuan", and other three warships, left the port of Incheon, Korea, back to Weihai.

July 16, 1893 (June 6, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", "JingYuan" and "LaiYuan" to Tianjin with Ding Ruchang.

March 3, 1894 (January 26, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Ding Yuan" and other five warships arrived in Singapore with the Ding Yu.

March 24 (February 18, (Chinese calendar)), started to come back.

April 27 (March 22, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" back to Tianjin.

May 11 (April 11, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" to come to Dalian Bay with Li Hongzhang and Ding Ruchang, hold a parade with several other warships.

May 18 (April 14, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", "ZhenYuan, "JiYuan", "ZhiYuan", "JingYuan "JingYuan", "LaiYuan", "GuangYi" and "GuangBin" to train, all of them hit the target.

May 19 (April 15, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and several other warships of NanYang and Beiyang Fleet arrived in Hai Wei.

May 24 (April 20, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and other warships of Beiyang Fleet left YanTai to YingKou,this line was to escort Li Hongzhang.

May 27 (April 23, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", successfully returned to Wei Hai.

July 27 (June 25, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and other warships came to the HanJiang River to patrol.

July 29 (June 27, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and other warships turn back Weihai, layout of defense.

August 10 (July 10, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and other nine warships parked an Island.

August 11, Liu leaded The "Dingyuan",continued to patrol on the sea.

August 12, received the order to return.

August 15 (July 15, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships to patrol on the sea,sent people to the measure the depth of East of QinHuangDao.

August 16 (July 16, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships, left for DaGu at night.

August 21 (July 21, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other Navy warships to go to Temple Island and Shanhaiguan, QinHuangDao to inspect. After return to DaGu fold to Nv Shun Port, appended coals minor and repaired at night.

August 22 (July 22, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships started to sail at night, bypass Yantai, and then arrive at Weihai.

August 30 (July 30, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships of Beiyang Fleet,patrolled on the sea, met three of the privateers of arms shipped from Port NvShun, two of grain shipped from DaGu,but not encounter the Japanese naval vessels.

August 31 (August 1, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" trapolled from GuangLu island to SanShan island, arrived in Dalian and parked at night.

September 1 (August 2, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" left DaLian Bay for LvShun to park.

September 2 (August 3, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships of Beiyang Fleet,set up at LvShun,aim to WeiHai.

September 12 (August 13, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships of Beiyang Fleet left for LvShun at night.

September 16 (August 17, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", " ZhenYuan", "JiYuan", "ZhiYuan", "JingYuan","JingYuan", "LaiYuan", "GuangJia", "ChaoYong" and "YangWei" warships, set up at Dalian Bay arrived Dadonggou, and anchor in the estuary 12 miles.

9:00 September 17 (August 18, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan", " ZhenYuan", "JiYuan", "ZhiYuan", "JingYuan","JingYuan", "LaiYuan", "GuangJia", "ChaoYong" and "YangWei" warships to receive the approaching of Japanese warships. 12:50, Liu Buchan commanded The "Dingyuan" to bombard the Japanese ship in the 5300 meters,the Yellow Sea War broke out.

September 18 (August 19, (Chinese calendar)), Liu leaded The "Dingyuan" and other warships to arrived in Port LvShun.

September 21 (August 22, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan was appointed as the temporarily prefect of Beiyang Fleet.

October 4 (September 6, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan led all soldiers to supervise and assist the Port Arthur Dockyard craftsmen to repair the ship bullet wounds.And the same day, Li HongZhang telephoned Liu to tell the six warships must trapol as soon as possible, so that the Japanese navy troop transport can not be bold rampant.

October 18 (September 20, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships returned WeiHai to append with no installation windlass "set" ship back to the Weihaiwei Tim with ammunition.

October 23 (September 25, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan was received the court reward for "Ge Hong amount Batu Lu Yong number for his outstanding performance in the Yellow Sea War.

October 25 (September 27, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded warships to shoot two Japanese warships ,Japanese ships Express North exit.

October 29 (October 1, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" left LvShun and arrived DaLian.

7:00 November 6 (October 6, (Chinese calendar)), Liu BuChan was ordered to assist Ding Ruchang to block the Japanese posterior.

November 7 (October 10, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships left at night and attend to arrive Weihai in the morning.

November 10 (October 13, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" and some other warships arrived Tianjin.

November 12 (October 15, (Chinese calendar)) 3:00 pm, duct tape "set" and other ships, leaving Dagu to the Lushunkou tour patrol.

January 15, 1895 (December 20, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan and others discussed the plan to shoot the enemy.

January 30 (January 5, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" to fire bombardment about half an hour, this is a hard-fought.

February 3 (January 9, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan leaded The "Dingyuan" to shoot Japanese army, the Japanese ship still can not close Weihaiwei.

February 5 (January 11, (Chinese calendar)), the bottom of The "Dingyuan" had been hit by enemy torpedoes, thick hull began to tilt. Liu Buchan to take decisive measures to cut the anchor chain and left the iron pier.Afternoon, the " Dingyuan" stopped to work. Liu Buchan grief into tears several times tried and wanted to die.

February 9 (January 15, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan stranded on The "Dingyuan", commanded to fire the enemy.

February 10 (January 16, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan ordered to blowed down The "Dingyuan", the night, Liu swallowed opium to suicide.

February 17 (January 23, (Chinese calendar)), Liu Buchan's coffin was sent to Yantai.

References

  1. "Warship chugs back into Weihai". China Daily. via HighBeam Research. April 29, 2005. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8835170.html. Retrieved 6 May 2012. (subscription required)
  • Foochow Daily Events Log
  • ”LiHongzhang (李鸿章) Complete” chief editor, GuTinglong (顾廷龙), YeYalian (叶亚廉) Ⅰ, Ⅱ, Ⅲ, printed by ShangHai RenMing press in 1986.
  • ”Naval historical materials in the late Qing Dynasty”, edited by ZhangXia (张侠), YangZhibeng (杨志本), LuoPengshu (罗澎树), ZhangLiming (张利民), printed in 1982 by BeiJing HaiYang press.
  • ”Sino-Japanese History”, editor, QiQizhang (戚其章), printed in 1990 by BeiJing RenMing press.
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  • ”China's Recent Navy Historical Events Log”, edited by Jiang Ming (姜鸣,jiāng míng), printed in December 1994 by Bei Jing Sanlian press.
  • ”Fujian Ship-building Burean Historical Manuscript”, edited by Lin Qingyuan (林庆元,lín qìng yuán), printed in October 1986 by Fujian People's press.
  • ”Ding Ruchang Volumes”, edited by Qi Junjie (戚俊杰,Qī Jùn Jíe), Wang Jihua (王记华,Wáng Jì huá) printed in August 1997 by Shandong University press.

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