Big Heads and Buddhist Demons: The Korean Musketry Revolution and the Northern Expeditions of 1654 and 1658

in Journal of Chinese Military History
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Abstract

Boosted by superior firearms and competent riverine transportation, Cossack explorers of the Muscovite empire encountered little resistance in their eastward expansion across Siberia until they reached the Amur frontiers. The Cossacks arrived in 1643 and gained notoriety as Buddhist demons (luocha 羅剎) for plundering the Mongol-Tungusic tribes of the region during the latter half of the seventeenth century. There ensued an effective military counterthrust by continental East Asians, including the Manchus, a new rising power in North China; Amurian natives such as the Daurs, Juchers, and Nanais; and Korean musketeers hailing from the Chosŏn dynasty. During the battles of 1654 and 1658, disciplined Korean musketeers known as Big Heads (taeduin 大頭人) outgunned the Russians and helped repulse their incursions into the inner reaches of the Amur region. These marksmen were products of the Korean Musketry Revolution during the seventeenth century, which revamped the Chosŏn army around en masse infantry tactics and firearms units. These tactical changes sparked broader institutional changes within and beyond the Korean military apparatus, triggering a drastic growth in army size and challenging existing practices of commerce, conscription, census taking, and taxation. These reforms, though decelerated around the mid-eighteenth century, attest to the capabilities of seventeenth-century Chosŏn to successfully adapt to the challenges of early modern warfare, which increasingly harnessed the power of firearms and disciplined soldiers. This narrative of the Big Heads and Buddhist Demons explores new ground in understanding transcultural trends of musket-based warfare and joins Korea to the burgeoning field of global military history.

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    Kim 2003105.

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    No 2007161.

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    No 201213.

  • 59

    No 200742.

  • 60

    No 200749.

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    No 2012131.

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    Kim 2007.

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    Park 200751-52.

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    No 200278-79.

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    Parker 199616-24 and 2007.

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    Chŏng OnKugyŏk Tonggye chip305.

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    No 200750.

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    Song 200626.

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    Kim 2003149.

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    Parker 200062.

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    Song 200621-37. See also Kim 2003 174-91.

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    Song 2009.

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    Kim 2003287-91.

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    Palais 199686.

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    No 200750-52.

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    Choe 196321-23.

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    Han 1970309as cited in Atwell 1990 680-81.

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    Lorge 200820.

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    No 2002108-9. No cites Yi Min-hwan Chief Administrative Officer of the Korean expedition that there were as many as 10000 musketeers. See also Kim 2013 120-32.

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    No 2002108-9. See also No 2010 178-80 and Kim 2010.

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    See Chase 2003.

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    Chase 2003.

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    No 2010180.

  • 96

    No 2010180.

  • 98

    Yi 1998226-45.

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    No 2010186.

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    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994306-35. The Manchu forces were predominantly cavalrymen but also included Han Chinese infantry and artillery divisions such as that of Kong Youde.

  • 101

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994.

  • 102

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994345-46.

  • 103

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994350-51.

  • 104

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994351-52.

  • 105

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994350-54.

  • 106

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994380-82.

  • 107

    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994380-82.

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    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994380-82.

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    Kukpang Kunsa Yŏn’guso 1994380-82.

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    Sun 200075.

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    Perdue 2005.

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    Perdue 200545.

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    Perdue 2005671.

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    Yi 1988.

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    Yi 1988.

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    No 200742-43.

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    Kim 2003108-11.

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    No 2002156168.

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    No 2002147.

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    Kye 2009150-233.

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    Kye 2009225-55.

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    Kye 2013218.

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    Perdue 200588.

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    Mancall 197126.

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    Mancall 197127.

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    Golder 191451.

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    Pak 198427. See also Pak 1981 62.

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    Golder 191494.

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    Kye 2013224.

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    Kye 2013223.

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    Kye 2013225.

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    Kye 2013226.

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    Pak 198428.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi71. The original text is as follows: 甲午我軍征後之時。雖 無累次交戰之事。彼賊不能抵當且多死傷而逃走。故其後賊人至稱大頭人甚可畏云。所謂大頭者。我國之人。皆着毛笠。故謂之大頭云。

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    Mancall 197127.

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    Ravenstein 186129.

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    Ravenstein 186129.

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    Ravenstein 186128-29.

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    Mancall 197127.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi14-15.

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    Kye 2013230.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi67.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi70.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi82.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi73-75.

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    Hall 1997134-48.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi73.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi77-78.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi84-85.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi87.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi83.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi87-90.

  • 178

    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi87-90.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi95 100.

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    Sin YuKugyŏk Pukchŏng ilgi82-83.

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    Golder 191454.

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    Perdue 200588.

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    Yi 1982.

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    Hong 2010.

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    Song 2007.

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    No 2002178-204. See also Sŭngjŏngwŏn ilgi vol. 272 1679/9/11 (Kyemyo) and Sukchong sillok 3 1675/4/21 (Kiyu).

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    Park 200757-5864.

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    Kim 1993113-35.

  • 190

    Andrade 2011a.

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    Chase 20031-23207-10.

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    Perdue 200556-64.

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    Kim 2003269-70.

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    Kim 2003269-338.

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    Atwell 1990671.

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    Parker 199664-5.

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    Palais 1996575-76.

  • 202

    Palais 1996575.

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    Palais 1996571.

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    Palais 1996570.

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    Chŏng 19775-13.

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    Chŏng 19778-13.

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    Kim 2003274.

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    Palais 1975.

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    Palais 1996491-97.

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    Palais 1996491-97.

  • 216

    Palais 1996497.

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    Palais 1996483-97.

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    Palais 1996469-578. Also see Chŏng 1977 14-23.

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    Palais 1996499.

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    Palais 19968550 979 1015.

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    Hummel 1943442-43621-22 630-31.

  • 224

    Hsu 1964690.

  • 225

    Also see Hsu 1964690.

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    Ravenstein 186147.

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    Ravenstein 186146-51.

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    Golder 191459-60.

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    Golder 191461-63.

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    Golder 191459-60. Also see Hsu 1964 690.

  • 231

    Golder 191461-63.

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    Hsu 1964691. Also see Golder 1914 61-63.

  • 233

    Wassermann 1953.

Figures
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    Map of Russian Eastward Expansion into Siberia, 1552-1689
  • View in gallery
    Central Armies of Chosŏn, 1593-1704. This graph shows the dramatic increase in army strength (kunaek 軍額) from 1593 to 1704 in three central armies of Chosŏn—the Military Training Agency (Hullyŏn Togam 訓鍊都監), the Royal Division (Ŏyŏngch‘ŏng 御營廳), and the Defense Command (Suŏch’ŏng 守禦聽). The highest number of army strength was taken at ten-year intervals. (See corresponding table and citation for each data point in the Appendix section.) Although there was a total of five central armies in late Chosŏn, which came to be known as the Five Military Divisions (Ogunyŏng 五軍營), this graph excludes two armies—the Anti-Manchu Division (Ch’ongyungch‘ŏng 摠戎廳) and the Forbidden Guard Division (Kŭmwiyŏng 禁衛營)—because their data on army size were sparse and unreliable.
  • View in gallery
    Regional Armies of Chosŏn. This graph shows the change in kunaek of Chosŏn’s regional militaries, particularly their Sog’o Army (束伍軍), which were modeled after Chinese general Qi Jiguang’s “Control-the-Ranks Method” (束伍法). See the corresponding table in the Appendix section and Kim 2001, 127.
  • View in gallery
    Map of the Amur Region. This map shows the sites of battles and sieges, major areas of Cossack activity, the distribution of the Mongol-Tungusic natives, and the marching routes of the belligerents.
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