Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/153

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

CAMPAIGNING.

131

for the hardships and privations of warfare. Their discipline is so bad that they are incapable of keeping on the alert even for a few days, and they would fall an easy prey to an active energetic enemy. They post no picquets; they make no reconnaissances. Any information of the enemy's movements is reported by spies; so unfitted are they for physical exertion that nothing but the threat of instant execution will compel them to leave the shelter of their house or tent in bad weather, or at night. On the march the infantry either ride or travel in carts; nothing will induce them to go on foot, even for a few marches. Finding their arms inconvenient to carry, they frequently lay them on the cart or camel in order to feel quite at their ease, as if they were on a pleasure excursion.

On arriving at the night halting place they loot and rob the inhabitants of everything they possess. One carries off a hen, another a sucking-pig, a third a bag of flour, a fourth forage for his horse; in fact, their system of foraging reminds one of an enemy's town given up to pillage. Officers take an active part, only that, instead of robbing on their own account, they take the plunder from the men; no complaints are heard or even made, and the inhabitants are only too glad if they can keep a whole skin. So customary is this style of thing that the Mongols, directly they hear of the approach of the Chinese troops, remove their encampments to great distances from the road, or hide in the mountain defiles with