Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing (得勝兵) — part 3-1

Shao-level Formations part 1
At Shao (哨) level, the formations of Xu Guang Qi (徐光啟) became even more complex. A Shao consisted of five Dui (隊) and four support personnels, led by a Shao Zong (哨總).

Fang Shao (方哨, square company)
Ming Chinese Infantry Square Formation
Layout of a Fang Shao, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'. Note: Empty circles represent troops, circles with black dots represent porters, circles with  chinese numbers represent platoon leaders, and a slightly larger circle with black dot represents company leader. 
Fang Shao was the square formation for Shao-level tactical unit. It was scaled up from Fang Dui (方隊). Four Dui guarded the four corners of the formation and one additional Dui positioned at the centre to protect company leader.

The formation could be formed from either Fang Wu (方伍), Yuan Yang Wu (鴛鴦伍) or Yi Zi Ping Wu (一字平伍). It occupied a space of fifty by fifty chi.


Yuan Shao (圓哨, round company)
Ming Dynasty Round Formation
Layout of a Yuan Shao, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'.
Yuan Shao was the round formation for Shao-level tactical unit. It was also an upscaled Yuan Dui (圓隊). It was formed from Er Zi Ping Wu (二字平伍) mixed with Fang Wu. The formation had circumference of one hundred and forty-four chi and diameter of forty-eight chi.


Qu Shao (曲哨, crooked company)
Ming Chinese Bull Horn Formation
Layout of a Qu Shao, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'.
Qu Shao was the crooked formation for Shao-level tactical unit. It was upscaled from Qu Dui (曲隊), although it contained five sub-units instead of four. It could be formed from either Fang Wu or Yuan Yang Wu, and mostly employed Die (叠) rotation method.

As this formation was designed to flank enemy unit from both sides, it did not occupy a fixed area.


Zhi Shao (直哨, straight company)
Late Ming Dynasty Square Formation
Layout of a Zhi Shao formed from Fang Wu, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'. Unlike Yuan Yang Wu version of Zhi Shao, all porters followed closely behind Fang Wu.

Ming Chinese Large Column Formation
Layout of a Zhi Shao formed from Yuan Yang Wu, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'. The porters were positioned behind the formation.
Zhi Shao was the upscaled version of Zhi Dui (直隊) for Shao-level tactical unit. It could be formed from either Fang Wu or Yuan Yang Wu, and employed both rotation methods. Formation spacing was between four chi and six chi.

Like Zhi Dui, the company leader could position himself at the front or at the back of the formation.


Rui Shao (銳哨, sharp company)
Rui Shao was the rhombic or wedge formation for Shao-level tactical unit. It was formed form a mixture of Er Zi Ping Wu at the outer layer and Zhi Wu (直伍) at the inner layer. Xu Guang Qi designed three variations of Rui Shao suited for different purposes, but did not elaborate on their functions. However, the purpose of two out of three formations can be guessed easily enough based on their names.

Tu Wei Shi (突圍勢, lit. 'Breakout form')
Ming Chinese Diamond Formation
Layout of a Rui Shao in Tu Wei Shi formation, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'.
This rhombic formation was used when the company need to break out from an encirclement. It could charge at any directions, and had less vulnerable flanks and rear.

Kui Di Shi (潰敵勢, lit. 'Enemy-routing form')
Late Ming Chinese Flying Wedge Formation
Layout of a Rui Shao in Kui Di Shi formation, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'.
Kui Di Shi was an offensive wedge formation that was used to smash through enemy line. Unlike its Dui-level counterparts, the company leader did not lead at the front. Instead he was positioned near the back row of the formation.

Fen He Shi (分合勢, possible translation: 'Divide and regroup form')
Ming Chinese Triangular Battle Formation
Layout of a Rui Shao in Fen He Shi formation, from 'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'.
Out of the three Rui Shao variations, this is the only one that function cannot be guessed based on its name. Fen He Shi was very similar to Kui Di Shi, but switched the position of its company leader and porters.

This formation was actually part of the even larger Rui Bu (銳部) formation.


EXTRA: Xu Guang Qi's Yuan Yang Wu (鴛鴦伍)
Xu Guang Qi Yuan Yang Zhen
Xu Guang Qi's Yuan Yuan Yang Wu. This image is cropped from Zhi Shao section of  'Xuan Lian Tiao Ge (《選練条格》)'. 
While Xu Guang Qi already mentioned Yuan Yang Wu when he wrote down the formations for Dui-level tactical unit, he only (briefly) discussed its equipment configuration when he wrote down the formations for Shao-level tactical unit. It is possible that Yuan Yang Wu for Dui-level unit was different from Yuan Yang Wu for Shao-level unit.

Late Ming Dynasty Mandarin Duck Formation
Rendition of Xu Guang Qi's Mandarin Duck Team. This image is cropped, edited and pieced together from 'Wu Bian (《武編》)', 'Ji Xiao Xin Shu (《紀效新書》)' and 'Si Zhen San Guan Zhi (《四鎮三關志》)'. Not shown in this picture are the heavy armours worn by all troopers.
Xu Guang Qi's Mandarin Duck Team resembled both Tang Shun Zhi (唐順之) and Qi Ji Guang (戚繼光) version of Mandarin Duck Formation. It even resembled the Shield formation of Luo Gong Chen (羅拱辰) somewhat. The formation consisted of two identical Wu (伍) supported by one porter, armed with two Ai Pai (挨牌), two Lang Xian (狼筅), four Chang Qiang (長鎗) and two or four polearms (Xu Guang Qi did not specify whether his shieldmen were armed or not, although all troopers were armed in every other instance). Every troopers in Xu Guang Qi's army also served as arquebusier and/or archer.

Unlike Qi Ji Guang's version, Xu Guang Qi did not employ dedicated swordsmen (although sabres were issued as sidearm to every troop) and rockets. His formation also did not have squad-level leader (two Mandarin Duck Teams were led by one platoon leader instead). Lang Xian, instead of shieldmen, were team leaders.



Other blog posts in my De Sheng Bing series:
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 1
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 2
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 3-1
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 3-2
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 4
Xu Guang Qi's De Sheng Bing — part 5

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