The Green Standard Army was a large force of the Qing dynasty military. It was composed entirely of soldiers of the Han dynasty, lead by a mixed staff of Eight Banners and Green Standard officers. It was the largest troop force the Qing had, three times larger than the Eight Banners.1
In Chinese: Lùyíng (綠營)
In Manchu: Niowanggiyan turun-i cooha
niowanggiyan turun-i cooha
Banner of the Green Standard Army. Color folio, circa 1759.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
The Green Standard Army was mainly an infantry force. Structure, weapons, and tactics were largely inherited from the preceding Ming army, and it was also sometimes called the "old Han army". They were mostly scattered over a large number of garrisons throughout the empire, throughout the provinces and the frontier regions.
Their roles varied from local police-like roles to peacekeeping in times of local unrest, to supervising river conservancy and food transports. In some cases, they formed a front-line army that aided the Eight Banners in larger campaigns.
That the Green Standard Army provided the bulk of forces fielded against Wu Sangui reflected the emperor's wish to keep Manchu troops out of the fray and pre serve dynastic military strength. Moreover, their greater number enabled Green Standard troops to maintain a substantial presence in rural areas, where they functioned more as a police or national guard force, quelling local unrest and supervising river conservancy and grain transport, activities in which bannermen were rarely involved.2
-Mark C. Elliott, 2001
1. Mark C. Elliott, The Manchu Way, Stanford University Press, 2001. Page 128.
2. Ibid. Page 129.