Ming musketeers. The Chinese military organized their musketeers in three lines, the one in front fired while the two in the back reloaded and handed them to the first line.

The Shenjiying (simplified Chinese: 神机营; traditional Chinese: 神機營; Wade–Giles: Shen-chi ying) was one of the three elite military divisions of the Ming Dynasty stationed around the capital Beijing. Its name has been variously rendered as Firearms Division,[1] Artillery Camp,[2] Shen-chi Camp,[3] and Firearm Brigade.[4]

Established in the reign of the Yongle Emperor (1360–1424), its main purpose was the research and training in the use of firearms. The Shenjiying provided half of General Qi Jiguang's army with firearms and one cannon to every twelve soldiers, considerably high amongst other contemporary armies. The other two divisions were the Five Barracks Division (五軍營; Wujunying), which drilled infantry in tactical manoeuvres and the Three Thousand Division (三千營; Sanqianying), where hired Mongol instructors taught reconnaissance, mounted combat and signalling. Under the Yongle Emperor, Annam was invaded, allowing the Divine Engine Division to employ native Chinese and a large number of Annamese instructors to provide training. Firearms equipped included guns, the fire pistol, the fire lance, fire arrows, cannons, the arquebus and later, matchlock guns.

During the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), a military unit also called Shenjiying but known in English as the Peking Field Force was created in 1862 and put in charge of military protection of the Forbidden City. It was equipped with western modern weapons.


  1. Charles Hucker, Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford University Press, 1985), p. 417 (entry 5145).
  2. Chan Hok-lam, Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 1 (Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 248.
  3. Edward Dreyer, Early Ming China: A Political History, 1355–1435 (Stanford University Press, 1982), p. 193.
  4. Chan Hok-lam, "Li Ying", in Fang Chao-ying and Luther Carrington Goodrich (eds), Dictionary of Ming Biography 1368–1644 (Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 890.
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