The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between forces loyal to the government of the Republic of China led by the Kuomintang (KMT) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and resulted in communist victory.
Outbreak of WarEdit
By the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the balance of power in China's civil war had shifted in favour of the Communists. Their main force grew to 1.2 million troops, with a militia of 2 million. Their "Liberated Zone" contained 19 base areas, including 1/4 of the country's territory and 1/3 of its population; this included many important towns and cities. Moreover, the Soviet Union turned over all of their captured Japanese weapons and a substantial amount of their own supplies to the Communists, who received Northeastern China from the Soviets as well.
In March 1946, despite repeated requests from Chiang, the Soviet Red Army under the command of Marshal Malinovsky continued to delay pulling out of Manchuria while he secretly told the CPC forces to move in behind them, because Stalin wanted Mao to have firm control of at least the northern part of Manchuria before the complete withdrawal of the Soviets, which led to full-scale war for the control of the Northeast. These favourable conditions also facilitated many changes inside the Communist leaders: the more hard-line and firmer force finally gained the upper hand and defeated the opportunists. Prior to giving control to Communist leaders, on March 27, Soviet diplomat requested joint venture of industrial development with the Nationalist Party in Manchuria.
Although General Marshall stated that he knew of no evidence that the CPC were being supplied by the Soviet Union, the CPC were able to capture a large number of weapons abandoned by the Japanese, including some tanks but it was not until large numbers of well trained KMT troops surrendered and joined the communist forces that the CPC were finally able to master the hardware.
But despite the disadvantage in military hardware, the CPC's ultimate trump card was its land reform policy. The CPC continued to make the irresistible promise in the countryside to the massive number of landless and starving Chinese peasants that by fighting for the CPC they would be able to take farmland from their landlords. This strategy enabled the CPC to access an almost unlimited supply of manpower to use in combat as well as provide logistic support, despite suffering heavy casualties throughout many civil war campaigns.
With the breakdown of talks, all-out war resumed. This stage is referred to in mainland China and Communist historiography as the "War of Liberation" (Chinese: 解放战争; pinyin: Jiěfàng Zhànzhēng). On 20 July 1946, Chiang Kai-shek launched a large-scale assault on Communist territory with 113 brigades (1.6 million troops).
Knowing their disadvantages in manpower and equipment, the CPC executed a "passive defense" strategy. They avoided the strong points of the KMT army, and were prepared to abandon territory in order to preserve their forces. In most cases, the surrounding countryside and small towns had come under Communist influence long before the cities. They also attempted to wear out the KMT forces as much as possible.
The nationalists had lost three divisions to enemy by October, 1946 in northeast China, and the local nationalist commander, Du Yuming adjusted the strategy by planning to eradicate the enemy in a gradual but firm manner, instead of attempting to eliminate the enemy rapidly by a decisive engagement, which the enemy had refused to do. The heart of this new strategy called for the elimination of the enemy base south of Songhua River, headquartered at Linjiang. After the enemy had been eradicated in the south, then the nationalists would push northward across the Songhua River and eliminate the enemy there.
In response to the nationalist strategy, the communist commander of northeast China, Lin Biao, and his followers accurately concluded that the communist base south of the Songhua River must be maintained at all cost, because it served to distract enemy and if it were lost, then the enemy could then devote its entire asset to pressure the communists north of the Songhua River, and the communists in northeast China would then be endangered, and possibly facing total elimination. The communists decided to concentrate three columns with a total of nine divisions to stop the nationalist offensives, along with the help of three independent divisions.
On December 17, 1946, the nationalists send out six divisions, including the 2nd division and the 195th Division of the 52nd Army, the 91st Division of the 71st Army and one Division from each of the Newly Organized 1st Army, the Newly Organized 6th Army and the 60th Army to launch the first offensive against the communist base south of Songhua River, and two more Divisions were deployed as reserves. The initial nationalist objective was to linkup Tonghua with Ji’an (集安) so that the enemy could be further squeezed into the mountain. In response, on December 18, 1946, the communist 4th Column struck the regions between Fushun, Huanren and Benxi behind the enemy line, and after more than a dozen days of fighting, succeeded in taking over more than twenty positions from the nationalists, including the critical ones at Alkaline Factory (Jian Chang, 碱厂) and Master Field (Tian Shifu, 田师付), and killing more than 3,000 nationalist troops in the process. The nationalist 91st Division of the 71st Army was forced to withdraw to reinforce the rear, and this weakened the nationalist thrust by exposing the two divisions of the nationalist 52nd Army, which were ultimately badly mauled by the enemy who seized the opportunity and attacked with great efficiency and speed, resulting in the regions south of Tonghua newly taken by the nationalists earlier in the initial stage of the offensive falling back into the enemy hands.
In the north, the communists massed three columns and three independent divisions to cross the Songhua River on January 5, 1947 to besiege the nationalist strategic location of Pagoda Wood (Tamu, 塔木), forced the nationalist offensive into a complete halt and then redeploying two attacking divisions to reinforce Pagoda Wood (Tamu, 塔木). However, when the nationalist reinforcement reached the region between Zhangmazi Ditch (Zhangmazi Gou, 张麻子沟) and the Jiao Family’s Ridge (Jiajia Ling,焦家岭), they learned that Pagoda Wood (Tamu, 塔木) had already fallen into the enemy hands, with the entire garrison consisted of a security force regiment and two regiments of the Newly Organized 1st Army being completely annihilated by the enemy. The enemy consequently returned to north of the Songhua River on January 19, 1947.
Achieving their objectives when the nationalists stopped their assault on Linjiang, the communists withdrew to their original bases and the nationalists could not pursuit the enemy anymore due to the sudden change of the weather when the temperature suddenly dropped to forty degrees below zero.
The nationalists correctly assessed that they must avoid fighting at the two fronts and thus attacks on the communist base in the south must continue in order to eliminate the enemy. On January 30, 1947, a second offensive was launched with four divisions: the 21st Division, the 2nd Division and the 195th Division of the 52nd Army, and the 207th Division. The communists in turn, deployed the 3rd Column and the 10th Division of the 4th Column to stop the nationalist offensive and on February 5, 1947, the weakest nationalist division, the 195th Division of the 52nd Army was ambushed at Gaolichengzi (高力城子), suffering more than 2,000 fatalities. On February 6, 1947, a regiment of the advance guard of the nationalist 207th Division was annihilated at Sanyuanpu (三源浦) by dusk, and after the setback, the commander of the nationalist 207th Division wisely chose to stop and withdraw.
Meanwhile, the communist 4th Column once again struck the regions between Fushun, Huanren and Benxi deep behind the nationalist line to take over numerous nationalist strongholds, and when combined with communist victories elsewhere, eventually succeeding in forcing the second nationalist offensive come to a complete stop again, and the nationalists were forced to give up the newly conquered lands when one division was redeployed to reinforce the rear and other begun their withdraw.
Just a week after the failure of the second offensive, the nationalists launched their third offensive against the enemy by deploying the 2nd Division and the 195th Division of the 52nd Army, the 91st Division of the 71st Army, the Newly Organized 22nd Division of the Newly Organized 1st Army and the 21st Division to attack in four fronts on February 13, 1947. A detachment of he communist 4th Column again played the same trick that was so successful in the previous two counteroffensives: struck the regions between Fushun, Huanren and Benxi deep behind the nationalist line again and attracting three nationalist divisions so that they could not be used to attack the communist base south of Songhua River, while in the mean time, the communist 3rd Column and the 4th Column first annihilated an entire regiment of the nationalist 21st Division at Tonggou (通沟), and then annihilated another regiment of the nationalist 91st Division of the 71st Army at Daibeicha (大北岔), forcing the two nationalist Divisions to withdraw on February 22, 1947. The newly gained territory/towns in the nationalist third offensive such as Huinan (辉南), Golden River (Jinchuan, 金川), Willow River (Liuhe, 柳河) and Ji’an (集安) therefore fell back into the enemy hands.
On the other front, the communist force crossed the Songhua River on February 21, 1947 and attacked regions surrounding Changchun to distract the nationalists. After annihilating an entire regiment of the Newly Organized 30th Division of the Newly Organized 1st Army at the town of Chengzi Street (Chengzi Jie, 城子街), the communist 6th Column turned north and linked up with the communist 2nd Independent Division to besiege Dehui in order to draw nationalist forces away from the communist base. The plan succeeded and the nationalist redeployed Newly Organized 1st Army (including its Newly Organized 22nd Division), the 87th Division, and the 88th Division to reinforce their besieged comrades-in-arms. The enemy force wisely chose to withdraw back to the north of Songhua River on March 2, 1947 before the nationalist reinforcement could reach Dehui.
The nationalists were determined not to let the enemy to get away so they continued their push northward, but in doing so, the nationalist were severely overstretched. Seizing the opportunity, the enemy crossed the Songhua River again on March 8, 1947 for the third time to attack, and the nationalists commanders had no choice but to order a general retreat. However, the retreating nationalist force was caught up by the pursuing enemy and the nationalist 88th Division was annihilated at the Village of the Mountain of Guo (Guo-shan Tun, 郭山屯), and the nationalist 87th Division was badly mauled at the Village Next to the Mountain (Kao-shan Tun, 靠山屯). On March 12, 1947, Nong’an was besieged and the nationalists were forced to redeploy the Newly Organized 1st Army (including its Newly Organized 22nd Division) and the 54th Division of the 13th Army from Rehe to reinforce their besieged comrades-in-arms again. Succeeding in distracting the nationalists who had to stop their third offensives, the enemy withdrew to the north of Songhua River.
Not wanting to admitting defeat, the nationalists launched their fourth offensive against the communist base south of Songhua River on March 26, 1947 with a total strength of twenty regiments attacking in three fronts. The enemy, in response, targeted the central front headed by the nationalist 89th Division, who was dangerously exposed because its push was much too fast. While other enemy units resisted the nationalist left and right fronts, the main body of the enemy force ambushed the 89th Division of the nationalist central front on April 1, 1947, annihilating the entire Division. Learning the news of the annihilation of the nationalist 89th Division, the nationalists on the other two fronts immediately withdrew.
The failure of the nationalist fourth offensive marked the end of campaign because the units deployed were the same ones that participated in earlier offensives, and thus was gravely overworked and overstretched. The nationalists could not afford to expand anymore valuable troops and must reserve their strength to defend the territory currently under their control.
The Linjiang Campaign marked the turning point of the battlefield of northeast China: after this communist victory, the nationalists in northeast China were forced to be on the defensive, and could no longer to launch any offensives, while in contrast, the communists would be on the offensives from then on. It must be said, however, the nationalists were still quite capable of knocking out the entire communist force in northeast China if the right tactics were applied, such as concentrating on annihilating enemy force instead of gaining and holding on to more land, as suggested by many local nationalist commanders, but their correct suggestion was overridden by Chiang Kai-shek infatuation with conquering more land. Furthermore, even if the nationalists were unable to annihilate the enemy at the time, they could still reserve their strength by giving up northeast China and saving troops, and the situation had improved, the nationalists would be able to retake northeast China, as suggested by Chen Cheng in 1946. Again, this alternative would also contradicting with Chiang’s uncompromising stand, which ultimately doomed the nationalists.
Summer Offensive of 1947Edit
In the spring of 1947, the nationalist tried and failed to eliminate communist bases south of Songhua River in the Linjiang Campaign, and both side temporarily stopped military actions for a brief period of rest before resuming the fight. The total strength of the nationalists in northeast China by then had numbered 480,000, including eight armies totaling twenty-three divisions, along with independent divisions totaling 360,000 troops, and security forces of a further 120,000. In contrast, the total strength of the communists in northeast China numbered 460,000, including five columns with fifteen divisions, and another eleven independent divisions, totaling 240,000 troops, and these units of the communist field army were supplemented by other local garrison units which numbered 220,000 troops.
Nationalist Strategy: The nationalist strategy was to consolidate its area of control by continuing the separation of the different communist bases in the north, east, west and south, and when there was enough reinforcement arrived from China proper, launching another renewed offensive against the enemy. The Newly Organized 1st Army, the 71st Army and the 54th Division of the 13th Army were tasked to man the defensive line along the Jilin City, Dehui (德惠)、Nong’an (农安)、Shuangshan (双山)、and Tongliao, 4th Division of the 13th Army and the 93rd Army (without its 20th Division) were tasked to protect the communication line between Rehe and northeast China, the 52nd Army, the 60th Army, the 20th Division of the 93rd Army, and the 207th Division of the Youth Army were deployed at Shenyang and its regions to east and south of the city, later boosted by the newly arrived 53rd Army. The Newly Organized 6th Army deployed between Benxi and Anshan would act as mobile strike force.
Communist Strategy: The communists planned their offensives at two fronts. In the north, the 1st Column and the 2nd Column would attempt to control the regions between Changchun and Siping (city) with the help of the 1st and the 2nd Independent Divisions, and then would strike south of Siping (city). In the south, the 3rd Column, the 10th Division of the 4th Column and the Southern Manchurian 2nd Independent Division would attack Mountain City (Shancheng Zhen, 山城镇)、and Grass City (Cao Shi, 草市), and then push toward Siping (city) from Meihekou (梅河口). The Western and Eastern Manchurian Independent Divisions would strike toward Village of the Zheng Family (Zhengjia Tun, 郑家屯) and regions east of Jilin City, and the goal was to take more urban centers from the enemy
From their base in Fuyu (扶余) and Dalai (大赉), the communist 1st Column, 2nd Column, Independent 1st Division, Independent 2nd Division struck south to the west of Changchun. On May 13, 1947, the communist 4th Division of the 2nd Column suddenly besieged Huaide (怀德), while the communist 5th Division of the 2nd Column was deployed to the south of the besieged town to stop any nationalist reinforcement from Siping (city). In the meantime, the communist 1st Column and the Independent 1st Division ambushed the nationalist reinforcement from Changchun on the eastern bank of Xinkai River (新开河), while the communist Western Manchurian Independent 3rd Division launched its offensives on Glass Mountain (Boli Shan, 玻璃山) and Twin Mountain (Shuang Shan, 双山) to the north of Village of the Zheng Family (Zhengjia Tun, 郑家屯), thus tying up the local nationalist garrison, the 87th Division of the 71st Army.
On May 17, 1947, the communist 4th Division and the 6th Division of the 2nd Column succeeded in taking Huaide (怀德) after completely annihilating the local nationalist garrison, the 90th Regiment of the 30th Division of the Newly Organized 1st Army and the 17th Security Regiment. Learning the news of the fall of Huaide (怀德), the two nationalist forces sent out for reinforcement attempted to withdraw, and the communists took this opportunity to further expand their victory by attempting to destroy more enemy units and the main force of the nationalist 71st Army became the unfortunate victim. The 88th Division and the 91st Division of the nationalist 71st Army sent out from Siping (city) for reinforcement managed to successfully retreated to Greater Black Forest (Daheilinzi, 大黑林子) region, where they were caught up by the communist 1st Column and the 2nd Column that were sent out to chase them. After twelve hours of fierce battle, the 88th Division was completely wiped out and so was the majority part of the 91st Division.
Capitalizing on their victories, the communist 1st Column took several towns abandoned by the nationalists, including Princess Ridge (公主岭)、Motel of the Guo Family (Guojia Dian, 郭家店), Village of the Tao Family (Taojia Tun, 陶家屯), while the communist 2nd Column took Changtu (昌图) after completely wiping out the two nationalist regiments that defended the city. On the other front in the south, with the help of the communist Southern Manchurian 2nd Independent Division, the communist 3rd Column took two towns on May 14, 1947: Mountain City (Shancheng Zhen, 山城镇)、and Grass City (Cao Shi, 草市), after annihilating the local nationalist defenders consisted of a regiment of the 184th Division of the 60th Army and units of the 20th Army, thus succeeded in cutting off the railway link between Shenyang and Jilin. In the east, the 18th Division of the communist 6th Column and the communist Independent 3rd Division took the strategic locations of Sky Mountain (Tian Gang, 天岗) and Jiangmi Peak (江密峰) in the east of Jilin City, after annihilating the nationalist 7th Security Regiment defending the regions.
After the railway link had been cut, the nationalists hastily launched a counterattack in attempt to reopen the link by sending out six regiments and the Newly Organized 22nd Division. However, the hastily organized counteroffensive was disorganized and was not launched in unison, but in separate phases and thus could not achieve the concentration of force, providing the enemy with the opportunity to attack one at a time. The first of these nationalist forces, the six regiments belonged to two different brigades and regiment of one brigade had difficult time taking orders from the headquarter of the other brigade, and as a result, the communist 3rd Column and the 10th Division of the communist 4th Column were able to completely wipe out all of the six nationalist regiments in two days period, from May 16, 1947 thru May 17, 1947. After destroying the six nationalist regiments, the communist force then turned around and badly mauled the nationalist Newly Organized 22nd Division. The failure of the nationalist counterattack resulted in complete isolation of the strategic stronghold of Meihekou (梅河口).
After regrouping, the communists deployed a regiment from the 9th Division of the 3rd Column, a regiment of the 7th Division of the 3rd Column, and the 10th Division of the 4th Column to besiege Meihekou (梅河口) on May 22, 1947. After fierce fighting of 5 days, the stronghold fell into the communist hands. The defender of Meihekou (梅河口), the nationalist 184th Division, was completely annihilated, with the commander of the Division captured alive by the communists, along with more than 6,000 of his troops. Capitalizing on the victory, the communist 3rd Column begun its westward push along the railway of Siping (city), badly mauling the 2nd Division of the Youth Army, the local nationalist defender on the way.
In the east, the communist Eastern Manchurian Independent Division and the communist 6th Column annihilated a regiment of the Newly Organized 38th Division at Old Master Ridge (Laoye Lin, 老爷岭) and Little Plentiful (Xiaofengman, 小丰满) regions, and thus forced the nationalist 21st Division of the 60th Army, the local garrison at Sea Dragon (Hailong, 海龙) to abandon the town and fled north. However, the fleeing nationalists were intercepted by the communist 6th Column, Eastern Manchurian Independent Division, the 1st Independent Division and 2nd Independent Division at the Peaceful River (Taipingchuan, 太平川) region. By June 3, 1947, the last remnant of the nationalist 21st Division of the 60th Army was annihilated at the town of Jichang (吉昌). By this time, the communists had managed to successfully eradicate nationalist from regions south of Jilin City and Changchun, and east of Siping (city), controlling the region between Changchun and Shenyang. The communists also gained control of important railway sections including the central section of the railway between Shenyang and Jilin, and the eastern part of the railway between Meihekou (梅河口) and Siping (city).
In the south, the communist 11th Division and 12th Division of the 4th Column opened another front along with the communist Southern Manchurian 1st Independent Division, succeeded in taking cities/towns including Tonghua (通化)、(Xinbin) 新宾、Kuandian (宽甸)、Zhuanghe (庄河)、Fu County (复县)、Gaiping (盖平)、Greater Stone Bridge (Dashiqiao,大石桥), joining the two separate communist bases in the south and east into one. In conjunctions with the main battle in the south, seven communist brigades further down south in Chahar and Rehe regions struck toward the central sections of Jinzhou and Chengde, cutting off the important railway communication line, and taking Weichang (围场)、Chifeng、Beipiao、Changli (昌黎)、Funing (抚宁) and other areas.
After a series of earlier defeats, the nationalists changed their strategy by focusing on defending the strategic major cities such as Changchun, Shenyang and Siping, and both sides set their sights on Siping, the traffic hub of northeast China. The nationalist divided the city into five defensive zones, tasking the 71st Army and the 54th Division of the 13th Army as the main defenders. The communists massed the 1st Column, the 17th Division of the 6th Column, and the Western Manchurian 3rd Independent Division to assault the city, while four columns totaling 10 Division, 5 independent Divisions, and 2 cavalry Divisions were deployed to the north and south of the city to stop any enemy reinforcement.
On June 14, 1947, the communist assault begun and the communist 1st Column and the Western Manchurian 3rd Independent Division penetrated into the city. On June 19, 1947, the communist 17th Division of the 6th Column joined the fight and only the Iron East (Tiedong, 铁东) Precinct remained in the nationalist hands. The nationalist commanders realized the token force sent to reinforce Siping (city) was not enough so he changed his tactic by sending additional forces, totaling ten divisions from Changchun and Shenyang, including 2 divisions from the nationalist 52nd Division newly arrived Shenyang from China proper. On June 24, 1947, two nationalist Divisions sent from Changchun were stopped at the Village of the Tao Family (Taojia Tun, 陶家屯).
When the communists learned that another eight nationalist divisions sent from Shenyang were pushing toward Siping (city) in three fronts parallel to the railway, the communists changed their strategy. Instead of attempting to gain the control of the city, it was decided to kill as many enemy troops as possible so the attack on Siping was stopped and a total of nine communist divisions were gathered to face the nationalist Newly Organized 6th Army at the right. On June 29, 1947, the communist force managed to inflict heavy damage on its target, with the 169th Division and the 22nd Division of the nationalist Newly Organized 6th Army were completely wiped out at the Sable Skin Village (Diaopi Tun, 貂皮屯) and Weiyuan Bunker (Weiyuan Bao, 威远堡) regions, while the 14th Division of the Newly Organized 6th Army lost an entire regiment at Lotus Street (Lianhua Jie, 莲花街) region. After achieving these successes, the communists realized that it was impossible to further expand their victories against the technologically and numerically superior opponent, and ended the campaign on July 1, 1947.
During the fifty-day long campaign, communist succeeded in taking forty-two cities and towns from its opponent, and annihilated over 82,000 enemy troops in the process. The previously separated communist bases in the north and south have been successfully linked up as a result, and the offensive helped the communist campaigns in China proper. The communist victory also provided the foundation for the next communist offensive, the Autumn Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China. The nationalists were forced to be on the defensive along the railways from Shenyang to Greater Stone Bridge (Dashiqiao, 大石桥), and from Shenyang to Shanhai Pass, but still managed to hold on to some strategic cities.
Autumn Offensive of 1947Edit
After the defeats of the Summer Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China, Chiang Kai-shek removed Xiong Shihui (熊式辉), the political leader, and Du Yuming, the military commander, of the northeast China and replaced them with Chief of the General Staff Chen Cheng. With the arrival of the 49th Army from China proper, the total nationalist strength in northeast China numbered half a million, numbering forty-five divisions belonging to ten armies, which in turn, belonged to four corps. Chen Cheng deployed his troops in major cities such as Changchun, Siping, Shenyang, Jinzhou and along the railways linking these cities, and planned to attack the communists when more troops arrived from China proper.
In northeast China, meanwhile, the communists had twenty-seven Divisions that belonged to nine columns, and twelve independent divisions (including two cavalry divisions), and local garrisons. This totaled 510,000 troops, slightly more than its nationalist opponent. The communists mainly occupied regions in western Liaoning, and regions along the railways from Changchun to Greater Stone Bridge (Dashiqiao, 大石桥), and from Shenyang to Jilin. The communists planned to launch an offensive in late September by first attacking the southern front of the nationalists where the defense was the weakest, and then annihilate large amount of the nationalist force by ambushing the nationalist reinforcement from north. However, on September 6, 1947, to secure the railway communication line, three nationalist Divisions begun their push toward Jianchang (建昌) from Xingcheng, Suizhong and Jinxi, and the communists consequently adjusted their schedule accordingly by launching the offensive early on September 14, 1947.
On September 14, 1947, the nationalist westward push was met head on with stiff communist resistance. At dawn, the nationalist 50th Division at the left front was badly mauled by the communist 8th Column and the 1st Independent Division at the Pear Tree Ditch Gate (Lishu Gou Men, 梨树沟门) region, and was forced to turn back. The communist force did not pursuit the retreating remnant of 50th Division, but instead, turned to the nationalist 22nd Division at the central front, wiping out the enemy at the region between Yang’s Family’s Pole (Yangjia Zhangzi, 杨家杖子) and Old Gate (Jiu Men 旧门). The nationalist 60th Division at the right front immediately withdrew after learning the news of the annihilation of forces at the other two fronts and after failing to catch up with the retreating enemy, the communists withdrew to the west for rest and regroup. In the meantime, the communist 9th Column were order to the Jinxi and Yang’s Family’s Pole (Yangjia Zhangzi, 杨家杖子) for reinforcement to face the renewed nationalist attack that was certain to come.
Three days later on September 17, 1947, the expected renewed nationalist attack resumed as the nationalist 49th Army begun its push toward Jianchang (建昌) from Jinzhou. When the nationalist 49th Army reached Yang’s Family’s Pole (Yangjia Zhangzi, 杨家杖子), it was surrounded by the waiting communist 8th Column and the 1st Independent Division. The nationalists sent out two brigades totaling six regiments to reinforce their besieged 49th Army, but they were stopped by the communist 24th Division of the 8th Column and the communist 26th Division of the 9th Column at the region of Hongluojian (虹螺岘), west of Jinxi and the region of Senior Border (Lao Bian, 老边), northwest of Jinxi. On September 22, 1947, the nationalist 49th Army attempted to breakout and flee south, but was completely annihilated at the region of Senior Border (Lao Bian, 老边). The communist 2nd frontline command then directed all of its resources to destruct the railway from Jinzhou to Shanhai Pass, which was completed successfully, thus greatly reduced the nationalist transportation capacity.
The continuous defeats forced Chen Cheng to sent the Newly Organized 6th Army from Tieling to reinforce Jinzhou, leaving the region between Siping (city) and Tieling vulnerable. The communists decided to take this advantage by concentrating three columns totaling eight Divisions to attack Xifeng (西丰)、Changtu (昌图), Kaiyuan, and annihilate the nationalist 53rd Army in the process. However, as communists were massing their troops on September 29, those regrouped at Xifeng (西丰) were revealed by the nationalist aerial reconnaissance and the nationalist garrisons at Xifeng (西丰) and adjacent regions immediately withdrew to safety, thus avoiding being surrounded by the enemy. communists then changed their strategy by ordering the 1st Column, 2nd Column, 6th Column, and the 10th Column to be deployed to the regions to the north and south of Siping (city), and to Jiangmi Peak (Jiangmi Feng, 江密峰) located to the northeast of Jilin City, so that the nationalist Newly Organized 1st Army, the 60th Army and the 71st Army would be tied up. In the morning of October 1, 1947, the communist 1st Division of the 1st Column and the communist 3rd Column had succeeded in surrounding the 116th Division of the nationalist 53rd Army at Weiyuan Bunker (Weiyuan Bao, 威远堡) southwest of Xifeng (西丰), and after nineteen hours of fierce battle, the 116th Division was completely annihilated.
To the south of Xifeng (西丰), the nationalist 130th Division of the 53rd Army was defeated by the communist 10th Division and the 12th Division of the 4th Column, losing an entire regiment at regions between Sable Skin Village (Diaopi Tun, 貂皮屯) and Eight Trees (Bakeshu, 八棵树). Meanwhile, with the help of the communist 1st Independent Division, the communist 11th Division of the 4th Column penetrated into the region between Liaoyang and Greater Stone Bridge (Dashiqiao, 大石桥), taking Greater Stone Bridge (Dashiqiao, 大石桥), and Haicheng, threatening Anshan and Liaoyang. The nationalist 25th Division of the 52nd Army was defeated by the communist 1st Independent Division at regions between Ox Village (Niuzhuang, 牛庄) and Haicheng, and was forced to retreat after losing an entire regiment. After marching 80 km by foot in one day, the communist 21st Division of the 7th Column suddenly besieged Faku (法库), and completely annihilated local garrison outside the city, the nationalist 7th Security Regiment after two hours of fierce fighting on October 1, 1947. The 19th Division of the communist 7th Column, in the meantime, took Zhangwu after completely annihilated the local garrison, a regiment of the nationalist 57th Division.
The continuous communist offensives in the regions to the east and west of Kaiyuan had forced the Newly Organized 1st Army to divert from its original objective to reinforce Kaiyuan instead, and the Newly Organized 6th Army had to return to Tieling, while the nationalist main forces of Gongzhuling and Village of the Fan Family (Fanjia Tun, 范家屯) were ordered to Siping (city) to strengthen the defense of the city. Well aware that the fortified strongholds were difficult to take, the communists turned their attention to destroying the railways to further hamper the nationalist transportation capacity.
To reverse the nationalist situation in northeast China, Chiang Kai-shek personally flew to Shenyang on October 8, to provide guidelines for the new strategy. In addition, new nationalist reinforcement totaling six divisions were drawn from China proper.
The communists, in turn, planned to deploy six columns to lure out the enemy from their fortified positions and then annihilate them in the open field where they are most vulnerable by faking the assaults on Jilin City and Kaiyuan, while another three columns were deployed to stop the nationalist reinforcement from China proper.
On October 9, 1947, the communist 7th Column attacked Xinlitun, badly mauling the local nationalist garrison, the 57th Division. From October 10 – 12, the communist 8th Column and the 9th Column secured most of the regions between Jinzhou and Xingcheng (with a few exception of strongholds to the west of Jinzhou ), killing more than 1,200 nationalist troops in the process. On October 15, 1947, Yi County (Yi Xian, 义县) was besieged by the communists. By October 17, Fuxin had fallen into the communist hands after the attacking communist 7th Column had completely annihilated the local nationalist garrison, a brigade and a regiment of the nationalist 51st Division. The success of the communist 7th Column, 8th Column and the 9th Column had prevented any nationalist reinforcement from reaching north of Shenyang.
With the newly arrived reinforcement, the nationalists launched a counteroffensive headed by the 21st Division from Haizhou (海州), the 43rd Division from Heishan (黑山), and the 195th Division and 22nd Division from Xinmin, which resulted in retaking Fuxin, Zhangwu, and Xinlitun by October 22. Unbeknown to the nationalists, the communists set a trap by giving up more land to spread the nationalist thin. The primary objective of the communists was to annihilate the nationalist 21st Division and the 43rd Division. To draw the nationalist farther to the west, the communist 9th Column took Chaoyang on October 23 after wiping out the local nationalist garrison, a regiment of the 53rd Division and a detachment of the 3rd Cavalry Army. The nationalist 21st Division and the 43rd Division were therefore lured westward to reinforce the local nationalist garrison, and on October 29, 1947, both divisions were surrounded by the enemy four times of their size at regions bordered by Chaoyang Temple (Chaoyang Si, 朝阳寺)、Nine Pass Stage Gate (Jiu Guan Tai Men, 九关台门)、and Daiguan Bunker (Daiguan Bao, 代官堡). By November 2, the eight communist divisions succeeded in badly mauling the two nationalist divisions and on November 4, the nationalist local garrison of Yi County (Yi Xian, 义县), the 4th Security Regiment, abandoned the town and retreated, but was completely annihilated on the way.
In western Liaoning, the communist launched another round of offensive, taking Huapichang (桦皮厂)、Jiuzhan (九站)、Kouqian (口前)、Wulajie (乌拉街)、Jiutai、Nong’an, and Dehui, after wiping out a regiment of the nationalist 53rd Division, two regiments of the Newly Organized 1st Army, a security regiment, and badly mauling the 182nd Division of the 60th Army. In addition, an entire regiment of the nationalist 207th Division of the Youth Army was also lost to the enemy east of Fushun. The communist victories threatened Jilin (city) and Changchun.
To strengthen the defense of Changchun and Jilin City, Chen Cheng ordered part of the nationalist force to be airlifted to Changchun from Shenyang, and the Newly Organized 1st Army also turned to Changchun to reinforce the defense of the city. Knowing that it was nearly impossible to take the fortified strongholds with huge defending forces, the communist wisely concluded the autumn offensive on November 5, 1947.
The communist offensive succeeded in taking fifteen cities and towns from the nationalists and inflicting more than 69,000 casualties on the enemy. The nationalist redeployment of six divisions from China proper to northeast China weakened the nationalist strength in the battlefront in other part of China so thus the communists offensive in northeast China had succeeded in reducing the nationalist pressure on communists in China proper. The communists victory also provided the foundation of their next offensive, the Winter Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China. The nationalist commander Chen Cheng had already suggested to abandon northeast China a year ago in 1946, so troops could be freed to fight in the other regions in China proper where nationalists would have better chance for victories, and when the situation had improved, the nationalist would then be able to retake northeast China. However, this correct suggestion was ignored because the political fallout of abandoning the resource rich and industrial northeast China was simply perceived as too great to be carried out. As a result, Chen Cheng was tasked with an impossible job and therefore should not be blamed for nationalist failure in northeast China, because probably nobody else could perform any better under the same uncompromising belief, including the communist commanders, had their positions had been exchanged with the nationalists.
Winter Offensive of 1947Edit
After the Summer Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China and the Autumn Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China, the nationalists were forced to withdraw to 28 cities in northeast China, including Siping (city) – Greater Stone Bridge (Danshiqiao, 大石桥) city, Jilin City, Changchun, and other cities along the Shanhai Pass – Shenyang railroad. The nationalist force totaled 13 armies and with additional independent divisions, the total strength was 44 divisions with troops numbering more than 580,000. In contrast, the communists had a total of 730,000 troops, including more than 340,000 regular troops in 40 divisions belonging to 9 columns of the field army, and an additional 390,000 belong to local garrison and militia units.
The nationalist force was originally commanded by Chen Cheng, and the decision was made to ensure the security of the Liaoxi Corridor (辽西走廊) and the current cities under the nationalist control, and when the situation permitted, restore the communication line between Changchun and Shenyang. To achieve this objective, the nationalists deployed at least 3 – 5 divisions at each city of Siping (city), Jilin City, Changchun, while 1 – 2 divisions were deployed at each of the strategic locations along the Jinzhou – Shenyang railroad. In the mean time, the Newly Organized 1st Army (新编第1军) and the Newly Organized 6th Army (新编第6军) were deployed as mobile strike force in regions between Shenyang and Tieling.
The objective of the communist force under the command of Lin Biao and Luo Ronghuan was to deploy its force more rapidly by taking advantage of the winter when the river surfaces had frozen, and destroy another 7 – 8 nationalist divisions by concentrating its troops belonging to the field army, with the help of units of local garrison. The communists hoped to eliminate nationalist force in southern Liaoning. In order to achieve this objective, the 8th column and the 9th column of the field army were ordered to strike eastward from Chaoyang, while other columns were ordered to the north and west of Shenyang.
The offensive started on December 15, 1947 when communist 2nd column suddenly surrounded Faku (法库), while at the same time, the communist 4th column approached Shenyang. In the meantime, the communist 1st column, 3rd column, 6th column, and 7th column penetrated into the regions surrounding Tieling, Xinmin, Shenyang and Faku (法库), while the 10th column approached Kaiyuan.
On December 18, 1947, the 22nd division of the nationalist Newly Organized 6th Army was sent out from Tieling to reinforce Faku (法库), but was ambushed by the communist 2nd and 7th columns on the way, losing an entire regiment, after which the nationalist reinforcement retreated back to Tieling. Another regiment of the nationalist 59th division was also lost to the same communist units to the south of Faku (法库), and as a result, the nationalists temporarily suspended all rescue attempts to relieve Faku (法库). To counter the communist threat to Shenyang, Chen Cheng strengthened defense of Tieling, Xinmin, Shenyang regions by redeploying the 50th division and the 53rd division from Changchun, the 81st division and the 91st division from Siping (city), the 195th division from southern Liaoning, the 43rd division and 54th division from Jinzhou. Chen Cheng’s redeployment of his troops left many areas vulnerable, and taking this advantage, the communist 2nd column and the 7th column took Zhangwu after annihilating the 79th division of the 49th Army of the nationalist defenders of city on December 28, 1947. The next day, the nationalist 207th division deployed to the northwest of Shenyang was badly mauled by the communist 6th column. Fearing the nationalist formations would be decimated once left their strongholds, Chen Cheng ordered his troops to assume defensive positions behind city walls instead of going out to engage the enemy.
In order to lure the nationalists out of their strongholds, the communist 1st column penetrated into central Liaoning region, while the 4th column penetrated into the regions between Shenyang and Liaoyang, and the 8th column along with the 9th column attacked the isolated nationalist outposts. Smaller cities like Beipiao、Black Mountain (Heishan, 黑山), Tai’an(台安) and Greater Tiger Mountain (Dahushan 大虎山) fell into communist hands.
After witnessed the separate enemy offensives and learning that the communist 1st column and the 2nd column remained at Zhangwu, Chen Cheng believed that the communist force was no longer concentrated together and thus he had an opportunity to launch a counterattack. The five nationalist armies deployed at Shenyang, Xinmin and Tieling were ordered to attack westward from Shenyang, hoping to relieve Faku (法库) by destroying the communist 1st column, 6th column, and the 10th column. The nationalist push begun on January 1, 1948 in three fronts: the Newly Organized 3rd Army and the Newly Organized 6th Army in the north, the Newly Organized 1st Army and the 71st Army in the middle and the Newly Organized 5th Army along with the 43rd division and the 195th division in the south.
Learning the news of the nationalists sending out reinforcement, the communists planned to concentrate a total of 7 columns to destroy the weakest nationalist southern front: the communist 1st column, 4th column, and 10th column were deployed to the north and northwest of Shenyang to prevent other nationalist fronts from reinforcing the southern front, the communist 6th column engaged the nationalist troops in the southern front and lured the enemy to Princess Village (Gongzhutun, 公主屯) region and the communist 2nd column, 3rd column and the 7th column penetrated deep behind the nationalist line, surrounding the enemy.
Not willing to risk losing any territory, Chen Cheng divided his force into half: half of the force would relieve the besieged southern front, while the remaining half would continue the push to Faku (法库). The communist resistance was much greater than nationalists had expected, resulting in neither half had the enough strength needed to complete their missions. On January 5, 1948, the communist trap was completed and a full scale assault on the besieged enemy was launched. Two days later on January 7, 1948, the nationalist southern front was completely devastated, with the commander of the Newly Organized 5th Army and the commanders the 43rd division and the 195th division captured alive by the communists. Learning the news of the defeat of the southern front, the nationalist reinforcements to Faku (法库) and the southern front both withdrew back to Shenyang and Tieling.
Taking advantage of their new victory, the communist 1st column and 8th column continued to push westward, taking Xinli Village (新立屯) by destroying the nationalist 26th division of the 49th Army during its attempt to flee. The communist 9th column, meanwhile, took Panshan (盘山) by destroying the nationalist 184th division of the 60th Army. However, the continuous offensives also exhausted the communist supply and besieged Faku (法库) remained firmly in the nationalist hand. Due to the continuous defeats, Chiang Kai-shek had to personally hold a military conference to readjust the nationalist strategies on January 10, 1948 by flying to Shenyang from Nanjing, and replaced Chen Cheng with Wei Lihuang. In order to strengthen the nationalist force in Northeast China, the nationalist Reorganized 54th division was transferred from Shandong to Jinzhou. While Chen Cheng left northeast China with Chiang Kai-shek, the new nationalist commander-in-chief in northeast China Wei Lihuang was preparing for the worst: giving up Jilin City and Changchun when necessary, while hold on to Shenyang with everything he got.
The communists took full advantage when new nationalist commander-in-chief Wei Lihuang was busy reorganizing his defense by replenishing themselves at the same time. After half a month rest, the communist resumed their offensive by concentrating their forces to the south of Shenyang. The communist 4th column and 6th column besieged Liaoyang. To stop any possible nationalist reinforcement, the communist 1st column, 2nd column, 7th column, 8th column, and 9th column were deployed to Panshan (盘山) and Greater Tiger Mountain (Dahushan 大虎山), regions between Shenyang and Liaoyang, and regions between Jinzhou and Yi County (义县).
On February 2, 1948, the communist 4th column and the 6th column took Liaoyang after decimating the nationalist 54th division that defended the city, and they continued their victory push southward, taking Anshan on February 19, 1948 after decimating the local garrison, the nationalist 25th division. On February 24, 1948, the communist 4th column launched a long distance strike at Yingkou, and although the 52nd Army, the local nationalist garrison managed to beat back the communist attack at the night of February 25, 1948, the nationalist 58th division, the cream of the crop of the nationalist 52nd Army, mutinied by defecting to the communist side under the leadership of the division commander Wang Jiashan (王家善). After southern Liaoning fell into the communist hand, the defender of Faku (法库), the nationalist 62nd division of the Newly Organized 6th Army abandoned the city and attempted to breakout the siege, but was decimated on its way at the mouth of Tong River (通江) to the west of Kaiyuan, which fell into the communist hand on February 29, 1948.
In order to completely cut the link between Changchun and Shenyang, the communist decided to take Siping (city) by redeploying the 1st column, the 3rd column and the 7th column on February 29, 1948 from southern Liaoning to Siping (city), while the communist 2nd column, 6th column, 8the column, and the 10th column were already deployed two days ago on February 27, 1948 to Changtu and Kaiyuan to stop any possible nationalist reinforcement to the city. On other fronts, faced with impossibility, on March 9, 1948, the nationalist garrison of Jilin City, the 60th Army evacuated the city and retreated to Changchun by abandoning all heavy equipment. Under the brilliant leadership and direction of Wei Lihuang, the evacuation was a great success and was credited by BBC as another equivalent of Dunkirk Evacuation on land. However, due to the urgency faced by the nationalists, the abandoned equipment and supplies were not destroyed and fell into the enemy hand intact, which significantly boosted the communist strength. On March 12, 1948, the communist 1st column, the 3rd column and the 7th column launched their final assault on Siping (city), decimated the nationalist 88th division of the 71st Army and other units defending the city within twenty-four hours. Two days after taking Siping (city), communists declared the end of Winter Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China on March 15, 1948.
The nationalists lost a total of eight divisions plus one defected to the communists, totaling 156,000 troops, and 17 cities and towns fell into the communist hand. The nationalist troops in northeast China was compressed into three isolated regions around Jinzhou, Changchun and Shenyang as a result of the three-month long Winter Offensive of 1947 in Northeast China, and the communist paved the way for the later victory in Liaoshen Campaign and Changchun.
Chen Cheng cannot be blamed for the nationalist failure because as early as 1946, he had already realized the situation in northeast China was impossible for the nationalist and correctly suggested to abandon the region to free more troops, so that when the situation in other parts of China had improved, the salvaged troops could be used to retake the region. However, Chen Cheng’s good suggestion was denied because it was simply impossible for Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalists to give up northeast China, one of the richest region in China, and they were infatuated with holding on to the land as long as possible, and gain more land as much as possible. This doctrine stretched the nationalist troops thin and provided the excellent opportunity for the enemy to eliminate the nationalist garrisons one at a time, and as Chen Cheng faithfully carried out Chiang’s impossible task, the failure was inevitable.
Chiang Kai-shek realized this mistake somewhat and thus did not punish Chen Cheng by simply transferring him out of northeast China and Chiang corrected his mistake by giving Chen Cheng’s successor, Wei Lihuang full authority to direct the campaign, which Wei did to his best ability with great result. Hence, not only the lost of territory in the latter stage of the campaign cannot be simply regard as nationalist failure, but a nationalist success, because it was part of strategy to take the initiative by concentrating the force by giving up the territory that was impossible to defend, and defending on to the strongholds that were easy to protect against enemy’s assaults. However, once the initiative was achieved, the nationalist high command begun its usual interference with local command once again by completely changing the strategy into something brand new and totally impossible, and such interference due to the strategic disagreement between the local commanders and the high command at Nanjing lasted all the way into the Liaoshen Campaign, not only negating the initiative achieved, but also resulting in greater failure later.
After the winter offensive of 1947 in Manchuria, the PLA have expanded into 13 infantry armies, one artillery army, 15 independent divisions as well as 3 cavalry divisions, approximately 54 divisions consisting of over 700,000 men in a field army. The Communist forces also had approximately 300,000 irregulars, effectively controlling 97% percent of the population and 86% of the population in Manchuria by August 1948. While the Nationalist government still had a strength of 44 divisions, a total of 550,000 men including the police force, the PLA had reached numerical superiority.
The Nationalist forces were isolated in Shenyang, Changchun and Jinzhou, none of which are connected to each other. In addition, the PLA had control of Jingha Railway, cutting off the supply line to Shenyang and Changchun. Since the supplies had to be airlifted with enormous difficulties, the Nationalist government were prepared to retreat from Changchun and Shenyang and withdraw to Jinzhou when necessary to prevent the PLA forces in Manchuria from entering Shanhai Pass.
Communist advance (12 September – 20 October)Edit
On 12 September 1948, the PLA launched a series of attacks along the Jingha Railway and captured Suizhong, Changli, Tashan and Yixian, controlling the area between Jinzhou and Qinhuangdao. Chiang Kai-shek arrived in Beijing on 30 September and assembled the 39th, 62nd and 92nd Army led by Hou Jingru to reinforce Jinzhou from Huludao. On 2 October, Chiang arrived in Shenyang and ordered Liao Yaoxiang and the 9th Army to reinforce Jinzhou from the west to break the encirclement on Jinzhou.
By 3 October, the Communist forces have assembled 250,000 men and began to encircle Jinzhou. Between 10 and 15 October, the Nationalist forces attempted to reinforce Jinzhou but were stopped in Tashan. On 14 October, the Communist forces launched the final assault on Jinzhou. The city was captured in the next evening, along with Nationalist commander Fan Hanjie and 80,000 troops.
Changchun have been encircled for more than five months prior to the campaign. Already weakened by starvation, the Nationalist garrison were unable to break out of the city despite of the order from Chiang Kai-shek. With the fall of Jinzhou, the 60th Army defected on 17 October, and the New 7th Army surrendered on 19 October. The remaining Nationalist forces surrendered on 21 October, and the Communist forces had captured Changchun
Nationalist counter-offensive (21 October – 28 October)Edit
After the Nationalist forces suffered heavy losses in Jinzhou and Changchun, Chiang Kai-shek intended to stage a counteroffensive and ordered Liao Yaoxiang and the 9th Army Group to recapture Jinzhou. However, Liao and other senior officers contested the decision.
On 16 October, the Nationalist high command reached consensus and decided to capture Heishan and Dahushan instead, and then retreat south to Yingkou. The decision was approved by Chiang, and on 21 October the 9th Army Group launched an attack on Heishan. The Communist forces successfully defended Heishan and Dahushan, and the Nationalist forces were unable to make any progress. The 9th Army Group were subsequently encircled and defeated as they failed to retreat to Yingkou.
Fall of Shenyang (29 October – 2 November)Edit
The PLA began to encircle Shenyang on 29 October. Facing imminent destruction, Nationalist commander Wei Lihuang left Shenyang on 30 October. On 1 November， the Communist forces launched the final assault on Shenyang. The Nationalist garrison had surrendered the next day, and the city was captured. That same day, Yingkou fell to the Communist forces. The remaining Nationalist forces were lifted off to Huludao. The Liaoshen Campaign had concluded.
After the fall of Shenyang, the Nationalist forces in Huludao area were evacuated to Tianjin and Shanghai. The PLA now occupied all of Manchuria. Manchuria was the major source of raw materials and heavy industry for the Nationalist government. The Nationalist forces suffered heavy losses in the defeat, which significantly reduced the military morale. The PLA were numerically superior for the first time since the onset of the war.
By the winter of 1948, the balance of power in Northern China has shifted in favour of the People's Liberation Army. As the Communist Fourth Field Army led by Lin Biao and Luo Ronghuan entered North China Plain after the conclusion of Liaoshen Campaign, Fu Zuoyi and the Nationalist Government decided to abandon Chengde, Baoding, Shanhai Pass and Qinhuangdao to withdraw the military forces to Beiping, Tianjin and Zhangjiakou. In preparations for the campaign, the People's Liberation Army halted the advance of First Field Army toward Taiyuan. The attack on Hohhot was also held back as the Third Field Army was being deployed from Jining District toward Beiping.
On 29 November 1948, the People's Liberation Army launched an assault on Zhangjiakou. Fu Zuoyi immediately ordered the 35th Army in Beiping and the 104th Army in Huailai to reinforce the city. On 2 December, the Communist Second Field Army advanced toward Zhuolu. The Fourth Field Army captured Miyun on 5 December, and continued their advance toward Huailai. The Second Field Army advanced to the south of Zhuolu. Beiping was now threatened, and Fu recalled the 35th Army from Zhangjiakou and ordered 104th Army from Huailai to support the defense of Beiping.
The Nationalist 35th Army found themselves surrounded by the Communist forces in Xinbao'an on their return to Beiping. In response, reinforcements were sent from Beiping in hopes to breakout the 35th Army. However, they were defeated by the Communist forces and unable to reach the city. Subsequently， the People's Liberation Army launched an assault against Nationalist defenders in Xinbao'an on 21 December and captured the city the next evening. Commander Guo Jingyun committed suicide, and the remainder of Nationalist forces were destroyed as they attempt to retreat to Zhangjiakou.
After capturing Zhangjiakou and Xinbao'an, the Communists began to assemble troops around Tianjin area beginning on 2 January 1949. In the wake of the conclusion of Huaihai Campaign on 10 January, the People's Liberation Army launched their final assault on Tianjin on 14 January. The city was captured after 29 hours of fighting, and the Nationalist 62nd Army and 86th Army, a total of 130,000 men in ten divisions were destroyed. Nationalist commander Chen Changjie was himself captured also.
The remainder of the Nationalist forces in the 17th Army Group and five other divisions from the 87th Army in Tanggu retreated south on 17 January by sea.
Surrender of BeipingEdit
After the fall of Tianjin to the Communist forces, the Nationalist garrison in Beiping was effectively isolated. Fu Zuoyi came to the decision to negotiate a peace settlement on 21 January. In the following week, 260,000 Nationalist troops began to exit the city in anticipation for the immediate surrender. On 31 January, the Fourth Field Army of PLA entered Beiping to take over the city. The Pingjin Campaign was now over.
Battle of JiulianshanEdit
Jiulianshan (Jiulian Mountain, Shan means mountain in Chinese), was a communist guerrilla base in the border region of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Hunan. In November 1948, the nationalist forces from Guangdong consisted of the 13th Security Regiment, the 5th Regiment, and a battalion of the 1st Security Regiment were dispatched to eradicate the local communist guerrilla. The nationalists enjoyed both the technical and numerical superiorities, so they decided to attack on multiple fronts in separate directions. In contrast, the communist guerrilla decided to concentrate their force to achieve numerical superiority in one front against the attacking nationalists, and then fight the enemy at the next front using the same tactic to overcome their own disadvantage.
As the nationalists sent their supplies via Dongjiang River upstream from Heyuan (河源) on November 15, 1948, the enemy set up an ambush in the section from Yellow Field (Huang Tian, 黄田) region to White Horse (Bai Ma, 白马) region. The entire nationalist convoy was lost with over 70 troops killed and over a dozen boats full of supplies fallen into enemy hands.
On November 20, 1948, a group of communist guerrilla faked the attack on Great Lake (Da Hu, 大湖) region, and as the nationalist 1st Security Regiment sent out a company to engage the enemy, the enemy immediately retreated, lured the unsuspecting nationalists into the preset ambush in the Lion’s Brain (Shi Zi Nao, 狮子脑) mountains, where the communist guerrilla 3rd Regiment was waiting, and the entire nationalist company was wiped out.
Due to the previous loss of supplies in the November last year, the nationalists were forced to re-supply. On January 8, 1949, 5 infantry companies and one artillery companies of the nationalist 13th Security Regiment totaling 600 troops organized another convoy consisted of three boats of supplies went upstream again in Dongjiang River. The communist guerilla concentrated its 3rd Regiment, 5th Regiment, 7th Regiment and Independent 5th Group totaling 1,000 to ambush the convoy was when the nationalists were stopping at the riverbank. On January 11, 1949, after a nine-hour long fierce battle that lasted from noon till 9:00 PM, the nationalists managed to successfully breakout, but all of the suppliers had lost to the enemy in addition to suffering over 190 fatalities. After this setback, the nationalists cancelled any further plans to eradicate the communist guerrilla and withdrew all of its deployed forces.
The nationalist failure was mainly caused by the grave underestimation of the enemy’s strength and determination. Although the so-called communist guerrilla regiments were actually only battalion sized, they could still be a sizable and formidable force when they were concentrated together. In contrast, although the nationalist enjoyed both the technical and numerical superiority, they did not have advantage when their forces were deployed separately in smaller numbers.
After the end of the Central Shanxi Campaign, the majority of the province had fallen into the communist hands, and the nationalists were left with only two cities in entire Shanxi: Taiyuan, the provincial capital, and Datong. In order to completely annihilate their nationalist opponents and take control of the entire province, the communists decided to launch the Taiyuan Campaign in mid October 1948. The communist commander Xu Xiangqian was put in charge, facing his adversary Yan Xishan, his nationalist counterpart who had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of Xu Xiangqian in the Central Shanxi Campaign, but this time, Yan was determined to put a good fight to the end and repeatedly claimed in public that he would die with the city of Taiyuan. Yan Xishan was right in that the communists under the command of Xu Xiangqian had a tough time in taking the city. The communists began to mass their troops in places including Qingyuan (清原), Taigu (太谷) and Yuci (榆次) for the preparation of the attack on the provincial capital.
The nationalist defenders had some significant advantages in terms of geography: the rugged mountainous terrain strongly favored the defenders and prevented large numbers of attackers from being effectively deployed. When the attackers were forced to reduced their numbers, they were furthered confronted by a large numbers of complexes of fortifications and bunkers. The nationalist defense parameter bordered by the Yellow Camp (Huang Zhai, 黄寨) and Zhou Family's Mountain (Zhou Jia Shan, 周家山) in the north, Wuxiu (武宿) and the Town of Little Hotel (Xiao Dian Zhen, 小店 镇) in the south, Rocky Thousand Peak (Shi Qian Feng, 石千峰) in the west, and Han (罕) Mountain in the east. Within this defense parameter, there were more than 5,000 large bunkers outside the city wall alone, and additionally, important positions such as regions of Ox and Camel Camp (Niu Tuo Zhai, 牛驼寨), Lesser Yaodong Head (Xiao Yao Tou,小窑头), Mountain Peak (Shan Tou, 山头), and Zhuo Ma (淖马) to the east of the city, the Twin Pagoda Temple (Shuang Ta Si, 双塔寺) to the southeast of the city, and Crouching Tiger Mountain (Wo Hu Shan, 卧虎山) to the northeast of the city were all fortified as bunker complexes. The nationalist 30th Army was airlifted from Xi'an to Taiyuan to further strengthen the urban defense, while the total nationalist artillery pieces gathered for the defense of the city was more than six hundred.
The defenders of Taiyuan itself first divided the city into four sectors, the eastern, western, northern and southern sectors, but this was soon further split into five when the eastern sector was further divided into northeastern and southeastern sectors. A total of eleven divisions were tasked to defend these five defensive sectors while another six divisions were used as mobile strike force. The rest three divisions were used as reserves. To counter the nationalist defense, on September 28, 1948, Xu Xiangqian decided the communist strategy of gradually annihilating the defenders in the outskirt of the city, hopefully when they were out of their fortifications, and then to take the city. The first step was to breach the nationalist defense from southeast and northwest, and preventing the use of the two airports by artillery bombardment. The second step would be taking the nationalist strongholds of Mountain Peak (Shan Tou, 山头), Zhuo Ma (淖马), the Twin Pagoda Temple (Shuang Ta Si, 双塔寺) and others, and the last step was to take the city from northeast and southeast.
In order to strengthen the defense of Taiyuan, Yan Xishan had to take as much food and able-bodies recruits as possible from the rural area, so on October 2, 1948, he sent out seven nationalist divisions to do so, and these divisions pushed southward in the region between the Fen River in the east and Tianjin-Pukou Railway in the west. By the next day, the nationalist 44th Division, 45th Division and units of the nationalist 72nd Division reached the region of the town around Little Hotel (Xiao Dian, 小店) and the Village of Southwestern Shore (Xi Nan Ban Cun, 西南畔村) while the nationalist 40th Division, 49th Division, and the 73rd Division reached the region of Autumn Village (Qiu Cun, 秋村) and Western Warm Village (Xi Wen Zhuang, 西温庄), and the nationalist 66th Division and the 69th Division reached the region of Red Temple (Hong Si, 红寺). The communists decided to take this great opportunity of striking the enemy out in the open when they came out of their fortifications by launching Taiyuan Campaign ahead of the original planned schedule.
At the dawn of October 5, 1948, the communist 7th Column crossed the Fen River at Qingyuan (清原), and struck eastward to the region north of the town of Little Hotel (Xiao Dian, 小店). In conjunction with the communist 7th Column striking eastward strike, the communist 15th Column struck westward to the north of Wuxiu (武宿) Airport from Tai Gu (太谷) and Yu Ci, (榆次), thus cutting off the escape route of the nationalist forces at Wuxiu (武宿) Airport and Little Hotel (Xiao Dian, 小店) region to Taiyuan. The communist 8th Column and 13th Column besieged the nationalist forces that had just took regions of Little Hotel (Xiao Dian, 小店) and Southern Black Yaodong, (Nan Hei Yao, 南黑窑). By the early morning of October 6, 1948, the nationalist 44th Division and 45th Division were completely annihilated, while the nationalist 49th Division and 72nd Division were badly mauled. Riding on these successes, the communist took Wuxiu (武宿) Airport and approached the nationalist positions at Eastern Mountain (Dong Shan, 东山) from its southern flank. In accordance with the communist offensive in the Little Hotel (Xiao Dian, 小店) region, communist 7th Column launched its own offensive against nationalists positions at the Phoenix Pavilion Ridge (Feng Ge Liang, 凤阁梁) to the north of the city, annihilating a regiment of the nationalist 68th Division and a battalion of the nationalist 39th Division, and shelled the New Urban (Xin Cheng, 新城) Airport to the north of the city. After eleven days of fierce battle, three nationalist divisions were badly mauled, suffering over 12,000 casualties, and the enemy was at the first defensive line of the city. Both sides took a brief break for regrouping.
On October 16, 1948, units of the communist 7th Column, 8th Column, 13th Column, and 15th Column attacked nationalists positions at Eastern Mountain (Dong Shan, 东山) simultaneously from both the south and the north. By October 19, 1948, nationalist stronghold at Eastern Mountain (Dong Shan, 东山) including positions at Black Camel (Hei Tuo, 黑驼), Stone Person Ridge (Shi Ren Liang, 石人梁), Greater Yaodong Head, (Da Yao Tou, 大窑头), Greater and Lesser Northern Point (Da Xiao Bei Jian, 大小北尖), Elm Grove Level Ground (Yu Lin Ping, 榆林坪), Meng's Family's Well (Meng Jia Jing, 孟家井), and Ox and Camel Camp (Niu Tuo Zhai, 牛驼寨). The defenders of the main peak of the Eastern Mountain (Dong Shan, 东山), Mt. Rear (Han Shan, 罕山), consisted of a regiment, was forced to surrender. Yan Xishan deployed the nationalist 30th Army and the 10th Column (Division) consisted of former Japanese troops to launch continuous counterattacks on the communist 7th Column under the artillery coverage, which averaged over 10,000 per day on a position that was merely three hundred square meters. After three days of fierce fighting and suffering extreme heavy casualties, the nationalists were finally able to dislodge the enemy and take back the position. However, the enemy would not give up so easily and was determined to take the position. By October 26, 1948, the communists readjusted their tactics and deployed units of the communist 7th Column, 8th Column, 13th Column, and 15th Column to once again take nationalist positions at Ox and Camel Camp (Niu Tuo Zhai, 牛驼寨), Lesser Yaodong Head (Xiao Yao Tou,小窑头), Mountain Peak (Shan Tou, 山头), and Zhuo Ma (淖马). With air support, the defenders attempted to counterattack but without success, and even with the deployment of gas attack and incendiary rounds, the enemy was able to have the newly gained positions firmly in their hands.
After fierce battles of nineteen days, by November 13, 1948, all four nationalist stronghold at Eastern Mountain (Dong Shan, 东山) had been taken and the in addition to the 22,000+ casualties suffered, the defenders also lost an entire division when the nationalist 8th Column (Division) defected to the communist side. Meanwhile, units from the communist Central Shanxi Military Region also the town of Green Dragon (Qing Long Zhen, 青龙镇) to the north of the city, the Temple of Xu (Xu Tan, 许坛) to the south of the city, and the South-North Dyke (Nan Bei Yan, 南北堰) on the western bank of Fen River, thus further isolated the defenders by strengthening the siege. The nationalist commander of the 30th Army, Huang Jiaosong (黄樵松), was disillusioned with the nationalist regime and decided to defect, and the communists sent liaison officers into the city to help. However, the conspirators were sold out by one of Huang's subordinates, a divisional commander named Dai Bingnan (戴炳南) and everyone involved were arrested. Based on the letters captured, Yan Xishan erroneously believed that the lead communist liaison officer, Jin Fu (晋夫) was Hu Yaobang, and eventually sent all of the captured conspirators to Chiang Kai-shek, who had all of them executed after failing to obtain any information from them. However, nationalists had committed a serious blunder that would cost them dearly for the rest of the Chinese Civil War: Commander Dai Bingnan (戴炳南) was paid in huge amount of gold for his action but he was not allowed to be evacuated when the fall of the city was imminent. After the fall of the city, Dai Bingnan (戴炳南) attempted to hide under a table in a house and carried the gold on him, but of course he was captured by the communists. After the much publicized propaganda of his capture and a humiliating public trail, Dai Bingnan (戴炳南) was executed in public. The nationalist failure to save lives of informers such as Dai Bingnan (戴炳南) had greatly alienated those within the nationalist own rank, and since then, most showed their objection to defection by either not joining in or leaving the defecting nationalist units, instead of revealing the conspirators. The idea to leave those informers behind was that since they had no way out, they would fight to the death in the face of communist attack, but this idea rumored to be approved by Chiang had backfired seriously, as proven later in many other similar incidents in the rest of the Chinese Civil War.
After the end of Liaoshen Campaign, the nationalist force in North China headed by Fu Zuoyi became almost exposed and isolated. The communists feared that if the city of Taiyuan was taken too early which would lead to the complete exposure isolation of the nationalist force in North China, the nationalists would withdraw and avoid annihilation. Furthermore, if the nationalist force in North China was redeployed elsewhere in China, the communists would have great difficulties later on. As a result, a decision was made to temporarily stop the offensive on the city to finish Pingjin Campaign first, and then take Taiyuan afterward. While the order was given on November 16, 1948 to stop the assault on the city itself, preparation was also done to further isolate the city. The I Corps of the communist North China Military Region acted accordingly by taking nationalist strongholds to the north of the city, including the Village of Su (Su Cun, 苏村), Yangqu (阳曲), the Orchid Village (Lan Cun, 兰村), and nationalist strongholds to the south of the city, including Huaqitou (化七头), Zhao Family's Village (Zhao Jia Shan, 赵家山), Qi's Ditch (Qi Gou, 邱沟), and nationalist stronghold to the east of the city, the Pine Tree Slope (Song Shu Po, 松树坡). While the defenders were forced into a region of 15 km centered at the city, the communists stopped their offensives and launched another round of psychological warfare by stepping up the political pressure and sending the relatives of the defenders to the front to ask the defenders to surrender. As a result, from December 1, 1948 thru March, 1949, over 12,000 defenders defected to the communists.
After the end of Pingjin Campaign, the I Corps, II Corps, and III Corps of the communist North China Military Region were renamed as the XVIII Corps, XIX Corps, and XX Corps respectively, while the 7th Column of the communist Northwestern Field Army was renamed as the 7th Army of the First Field Army. In March, 1949, the communist XIX Corps, XX Corps, an artillery division of the Fourth Field Army and another artillery division of the communist North China Military Region were sent to Taiyuan to assist the communist XIX Corps in taking the city. On March 17, 1949, the communists formed the Taiyuan Frontline Command headed by Xu Xiangqian to coordinated the upcoming attack on the city, and Xu was further assisted by Peng Dehuai when he joined the Xu on March 28, 1949. The total communist force totaled more than 320,000, achieving absolute numerical superiority. However, the communists soon realized that due to the mountainous terrain of Taiyuan that strongly favored the defenders, the increased number of communist troops only provided excellent target practice for the defenders of the city because the harsh terrain had prevented large number of attacking force from being deployed in great numbers. In order to avoid wasteful casualties, the communists were forced to reduce their attacking force back to the original level of 100,000 troops in the first stage of the Taiyuan Campaign while rest was deployed as reserves. However, the newly boosted force did provide a welcome relief for communist veterans of the first stage of the campaign, and they were replaced by the fresh communist forces newly arrived.
In the first stage of Taiyuan Campaign, Yan Xishan had lost over 40,000 troops, but he was able to rapidly replace the loss with large scale drafting, and decided to fight the communists to proclaiming that he would die with the (Taiyuan) city. The nationalist 83rd Division was airlifted from Yulin, Shaanxi to Taiyuan, and the nationalist force defending the city totaled more than 70,000 troops in six armies, which was reorganized into two corpses: the nationalist X Corps and the nationalist XV Corps. A total of twelve divisions were deployed in nationalist strongholds outside the city wall and two divisions were deployed within the city, while the rest of the division served as mobil strike force. However, Yan Xishan was well aware the end was near and he was by no means of having any confidience in the defense of the city and his public proclamation was nothing other than morale boosting only showpiece. On February 5, 1949, Yan Xishan betrayed his promise of dying with the city by fleeing the city via air, and left his trusted lietanents, Sun Chu (孙楚), the commander of the nationalist X Corps and Wang Jingguo (王靖 国), the commander of the nationalist XV Corps as the commander-in-chief and the deputy commander-in-chief of the urban defense of Taiyuan. On March 31, 1949, the communist Frontline Command of Taiyuan decided to take good positions that could be used to assault the city by first continuously isolating and annihilating defenders in nationalist strongholds outside the city wall, and then taking the city by concentrating available forces. Units of the communist XX Corps and a division from the communist 7th Army would attack the defenders in the nationalist stronghold to the north of the city from northeast and northwest, and other divisions of the communist 7th Army and units of the communist XVIII Corps would attack the city from the east, and units of the communist XIX Corps would attack the city from south and southwest, while the communist XX Corps would attack the city from northeast and southeast. The 1st Artillery Division of the Fourth Field Army and the 3rd Artillery Division of the communist North China Military Region would be under the direct command of the communist Taiyuan Frontline Command, while the 4th Artillery Division of the communist North China Military Region would be attached to the communist XIX Corps and XX Corps.
On April 20, 1949, a general assault was launched and with strong artillery support, nationalist strongholds including New City (Xin Cheng, 新城), Crown Price's Head (Tai Zi Tou, 太子头) to the north of the city, Northern Fen River Bridge (Bei Fen He Qiao, 北汾河桥), Greater King's Village (Da Wang Cun, 大王村), Lesser King's Village (Xiao Wang Cun, 小王村) to the southwest of the city, Village of Di (Di Cun, 狄村) and Old Soldiers’ Camp (Lao Jun Ying, 老军营) to the south of the city, Hao Family's Ditch (Hao Jia Guo, 郝家沟) and Scissors Bay (Jian Zi Wan, 剪子湾) to the east of the city. By April 22, 1949, the last nationalist stronghold outside the city wall had fallen into the enemy hands and the communists had completely annihilated four nationalist armies garrisoning these strongholds. The communist success meant that two critical locations, the two highest points, the Twin Pagoda Temple (Shuang Ta Si, 双塔寺) and Crouching Tiger Mountain (Wo Hu Shan, 卧虎山) were controlled by the attacking enemy. On April 22, the communists asked the surviving nationalist defenders of the city to surrender in order to minimize the destruction of the city, but their request was refused. In the early morning of April 24, 1949, after shelling the city with over 1,300 artilleries, the final assault on the city begun. The communist XX Corps first breached the city defense at the city wall to the east of the Lesser Northern Gate (Xiao Bei Men, 小北门), and the communist XVIII Corps and XIX Corps soon breached the city defense elsewhere, and fierce street fights broke out within the city. By 9:00 a.m., the nationalist headquarter had fallen and the nationalist commander-in-chief Sun Chu (孙楚) and his deputy Wang Jingguo (王靖 国) were both captured alive along with their Japanese advisory group headed by Nakamura and Iwata by the attacking communists. By 10:00 a.m., the fighting ended and the campaign concluded with the communist victory.
The nationalist defeat in Taiyuan Campaign cost the nationalists over 135,000 troops and the most immediate result of the campaign was that the nationalist garrison at Datong totaling more than 10,000 realized that it was all over after witnessing the nationalist defeat in Taiyuan, and surrendered to the communists without a fight. Communist victory cost them 45,000 troops plus many civilian laborers and it had not only completely ended the 38-year old reign of Yan Xishan in Shanxi, but also effectively ended the nationalist reign of Shanxi. The Provincial Government with the remaining 500 officials staged a show by mass suicide taking cyanide pills, blew the building up to show their heroic brave defense and loyalty to the Nationalist China. There is a commemorative statue erected in Taiwan with writing from Yan.
With six million population, Shanghai was the largest city in China in 1949 and provided around a third of the total GDP of China by that time. Both the communists and the nationalists believed that World War III was a real possibility and this perception influenced the strategic decisions of both sides. The nationalists who defended the city, had hoped that by using the resources of the wealthiest city of China, they would last until World War III when foreign intervention would occur. With foreign intervention, not only they would be able to defend the city, but they could counterattack and take China back from the enemy. If the city could not last until World War III, the nationalist would withdraw via sea and transfer the wealth with them, after destroying the city completely, just like the scorched-earth policy used against the Japanese invaders in many part of the China during World War II. Although the truthfulness of this perception of the nationalists remained in question, the enemy certainly believed that there was a possibility, as many of the nationalist propaganda had claimed, and thus was determined not to let it happen by taking the city as early as possible.
Defending force: the nationalist strategyEdit
The nationalist commander divided the city into two sectors along the Huangpu River. The western half of the city and the surrounding regions including Taicang, Kunshan, Jiaxing, and Golden Mountain Jinshan, were defended by a total of 20 divisions (including all of the armored force) belonging to the 21st Army, the 51st Army, the 52nd Army, the 54th Army, the 75th Army and the 123rd Army. The 12th Army and the 35th Army totaled five divisions and the naval and air assets were tasked to defend Pudong, with emphasis on regions included Wusong (吴淞), Yuepu (月浦), Yang’s Firm (Yang Hang, 杨行), Liu’s Firm (Liu Hang, 刘行), Greater Field (Da Chang, 大场), Gao’s Firm (Gao Hang, 高行), and High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥), in order to secure the escape route via sea. The nationalist force defending the city totaled more than 210,000. The buildings in the city were perfect defending positions which were further boosted by large amount of the concrete bunkers built.
Attacking force: the communist strategyEdit
The communist 3rd Field Army under the commander-in-chief Chen Yi and deputy commander-in-chief Su Yu was tasked to take the city. The communists massed more than 290,000 troops totaled 10 armies to attack the city, while the communist 2nd Field Army under the commander-in-chief Liu Bocheng and political commissar Deng Xiaoping massed at Jinhua and Dongxiang (东乡) via Zhejiang-Jiangxi railway, in order to prevent any foreign intervention that never came. The primary goal of the communists was to take the city with minimal damage to the city and minimal civilian casualties, so that future reconstruction would be easy by utilizing the existing infrastructure and skilled labor force. To prevent the defenders from transferring large amount of wealth via sea, a pincer movement would be launched from both the east and west, targeting Wusong (吴淞), so that the defenders’ escape route via sea would be cut and the city would be attacked afterward and by isolating the defenders into separate pockets, and then the city would be taken by decimating the isolated defenders.
One prong of the communist pincer movement included the 26th Army, the 28th Army, the 29th Army, the 33rd Army of the communist X Corps and a part of the communist Artillery Column attacking from Changshu and Suzhou toward Kunshan, Taicang, and Jiading, eventually reaching Wusong (吴淞), Baoshan, thus blocking off the defenders’ escape route via sea by cutting off the traffic of Huangpu River. Afterward, this prong of the pincer movement would attack the city from northwest.
The other prong of the communist pincer movement included the 20th Army, the 27th Army, 30th Army, and the 31st Army of the communist IX Corps and a part of communist Artillery Column. Two armies would attack from Nanxun and Wujiang, toward Fengxian, Nanhui, River Sand (Chuan Sha, 川沙) regions near/in Pudong, helping the communist X Corps to blockade the Wusong (吴淞) after approaching High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥). Another two armies would group at the regions south of Songjiang and east of Jiaxing, taking Qingpu when the situation permitted, and then attack the city from the east, south and west.
In case of the defenders were successful in transferring materials away from the city, the attackers also prepared large amount of food and coals for the civilian population, and over 5,000 communist civilian cadres were also drafted to take over the administrative functions after the city was taken.
The campaign begun on May 12, 1949 when the planned assaults on the outer defense perimeters of the city had begun. Two days later, the communist IX Corps succeeded in taking regions included Flat Lake (Ping Hu, 平湖), Golden Mountain Guarrison (Jin Shan Wei, 金山卫), Fengxian, Nanhui, Qingpu, Songjiang, threatened the flank of the defenders at River Sand (Chuan Sha, 川沙). The nationalist 51st Army was forced to be redeployed from the city to strengthen the defense of White Dragon Port (Bailong Gang, 白龙港), Lin’s Family’s Pier (Linjia Matou, 林家码头) and other positions at outer defensive zones. Meanwhile, the communist X Corps succeeded in taking Taicang, Kunshan, Jiading, and Liu River (Liu He, 浏河) regions, and continued their attack on Yuepu (月浦), Yang’s Firm (Yang Hang, 杨行), Liu’s Firm (Liu Han, 刘行) regions. However, from their concrete bunkers and with the help of naval and air support, the defenders held on and when the nationalist 99th Division of the 21st Army was redeployed from the city to Yuepu (月浦), Yang’s Firm (Yang Hang, 杨行), Liu’s Firm (Liu Han, 刘行) regions for reinforcement, the defenders was able to successfully beaten back the attacking enemy.
After the setback, the enemy adjusted their tactic by adopting small formations to take one bunker at a time, and with the rapid utilization of the experienced gained in fighting against the fortified positions consisted of concrete bunkers, the speed of attack was greatly accelerated. By May 19, 1949, the communist X Corps had managed to take Yuepu (月浦) and the International Broadcasting Station, and annihilated the defenders stationed at Liu’s Firm (Liu Han, 刘行) region. Meanwhile, the communist IX Corps had managed to take Zhoupu (周浦) and River Sand (Chuan Sha, 川沙) region, and completely annihilated the nationalist 51st Army defending the White Dragon Port (Bailong Gang, 白龙港), and isolated the nationalist 12th Army at High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥) region, while cutting off the links between the nationalist 37 Army at Pudong with other nationalist units via land.
To secure the escape route via sea, the nationalist 75th Army was redeployed from the city to reinforce High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥) region, but after two armies and a division were withdrawn from the city to reinforce the positions of outer defensive perimeters, there was not enough force within the city to suppress the civilians who vehemently opposed the destruction of the city and organized themselves to protect infrastructure facilities within the city. As a result, the nationalist plan of destroying the city and transferring the wealth was not carried out fully as it had planned. The defenders’ naval assets also faced great difficulties in that it was forced to fight at the enemy’s turf: the inland riverine navigational channels were simply too narrow for the naval vessels to maneuver and they become sitting ducks for the enemy’s long range shore batteries. After many extraordinarily brave but completely futile engagements by the outgunned nationalist naval assets which resulted in seven nationalist naval vessels damaged, it was painfully obvious that the naval asset must withdraw in the hopeless fights. When the nationalist naval fleet was forced to withdraw on May 23, 1949, the enemy’s attempt to cut off the defenders’ maritime escape route succeeded, and the sea to the east of High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥) region was blockaded by the enemy.
After ten days of fierce fighting, the defenders suffered more than 20,000 casualties and lost all of the positions in the outer defensive perimeters. However, this might not be a bad thing because the defenders were able to concentrate their force in the city. The attacking enemy was well aware of this situation and adjusted their tactic once again: the 23rd Army of the communist VII Corps and the 25th Army of the communist VIII Corps were assigned to help the communist IX Corps and X Corps to take the city.
The assault on the city begun at the night of May 23, 1949 when the communist 29th Army took the high ground in the southern suburb under the cover of darkness, while the communist 28th Army penetrated to Wusong (吴淞) region and shelled the pier. On May 24, 1949, the communist 20th Army took Pudong and the communist 27th Army took the train station at Xujiahui and Hongqiao region. The nationalist commander-in-chief, Tang Enbo already boarded naval ships on May 18, 1949, realized the inevitable and in order to strengthen the defense around the pier at Wusong (吴淞), ordered the surviving 6th Division of the nationalist 75th Army at High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥) region to withdraw to Yuepu (月浦), and the nationalist units north of Suzhou Creek to withdraw to Wusong (吴淞), for the preparation to withdraw via sea.
Under the cover of darkness, the communist 23rd Army and the 27th Army penetrated the city from Xujiahui and Longhua Region respectively while the communist 20th Army crossed the Huangpu River at Gaochang Temple (Gaochang Miao, 高昌庙) and by the dawn of May 25, 1949, everything south of the Suzhou Creek was firmly under the communist control. The enemy’s offensive continued during the day with the communist 26th Army took Greater Field (Da Chang, 大场) and Riverine Bay (江湾) regions, and the communist 25th Army and the 29th Army took Wusong (吴淞) and Baoshan, while the communist 28th Army and the 33rd Army took Yang’s Firm (Yang Hang, 杨行). At night, the communist 27th Army, 23rd Army and a portion of the 20th Army crossed the Suzhou Creek under the cover of darkness, and regions north of the creek fell into the attackers’ hands. The deputy commander of the Shanghai defense, the commander of the Shanghai garrison, General Liu Changyi (刘昌义) was forced to surrender.
At the night of May 25, 1949, the communist 31st Army took High Bridge (Go Qiao, 高桥) with the help of the communist 30th Army after fierce battle, and by the noon of May 26, 1949, the last defense in Pudong was wiped out. By May 27, 1949, the city had fallen to the enemy hands. Soon afterward, the communist 25th Army launched its assault on Chongming Island and badly mauled the defending force, and by June 2, 1949, the campaign had ended with the communist victory completed.
The campaign had cost defenders heavily, with the exception of 50,000 defenders included the nationalist commander-in-chief Tang Enbo who managed to escape via sea, the entire 37th Army, the 51st Army and the 5 Traffic Police Divisions were totally annihilated, while the nationalist 12th Army, 21st Army, 52nd Army, 75th Army, and the 123rd Army were badly mauled, and the total nationalist casualties numbered more than 153,000. In addition to the city, more than 1,370 artillery pieces of various caliber, 1,161 automobiles, 11 naval vessels and 119 tanks and armored vehicles were captured by the enemy intact. Although the nationalists attempted to completely destroy the city, the enemy nonetheless managed to taken the city relatively intact due to the local populace’s strong opposition which had prevented the nationalists to carry out the scorch-earth policy as planned.
The nationalists had committed a serious blunder before the campaign had even begun in that due to the political and psychological propaganda reasons, they had refused to evacuate the city, partially to avoid panic. The local populace was not allowed by the defenders to leave the city to surrender to the attacking enemy either and thus when the battle had begun, there were simply not enough transportation assets to evacuate everyone so the stranded populace felt helpless and abandoned. As the nationalists attempted to leave nothing behind for the attacking enemy by trying to transfer the wealth from the city and to destroy the city, such actions enraged the local populace because the very necessities which were essential to the survival of the local populace threatened and had the nationalists plan succeeded as it intended to, the stranded local populace that was already ravaged by the fierce battle would be further left in much greater destitution after the campaign. Like the general populace elsewhere in China, the stranded local populace in Shanghai was already alienated by the mistakes nationalists made earlier, such as corruption, but at least they were not unanimously against the nationalist regime, at least not yet. However, when the nationalist defenders of the city adopted these militarily correct strategies that would cause great harm to the local populace and threaten their very survival, the popular alienation toward the nationalist regime inevitably turned to resentment and the popular support was driven to the enemy side. Although enemy agents certainly played a part in organizing the local populace to protect factories, banks, shops and other infrastructure facilities, which had prevented the nationalists from carrying out the scorch-earth policy as they had planned, these actions were mostly voluntary at the local people’s own wills and it had much more to do with the local populace’s own concern of their survival after the campaign which would depend on these infrastructure, than helping out the attacking communists.
The other nationalist blunder made was more in the military aspect: spending too much resource defending a political symbol instead of utilizing the resources to evacuate the city and transferring the wealth. Much of the nationalist force was spent at Shanghai, leaving other regions vulnerable, and the bulk of the communist VII Corps was able to take the advantage by taking Ningbo and Wenzhou during the campaign. As a result, not only the city was lost to the enemy relatively intact, along with a great portion of its wealth, many other surrounding regions also fell into the enemy hands, many with their wealth and resources.
After the defeat of Fufeng-Meixian Campaign (扶郿战役) in July, 1949, the nationalists under the command of Hu Zongnan were forced to withdraw to the south of Qinling. As Hu Zongnan’s force withdrew to western China, the Ma clique’s force became the major nationalist force responsible for the defense of the northwestern China. Lanzhou, the largest city in northwestern China was critical to the security of the entire northwestern China and on the northwestern China joint defense conference held in Guangzhou, the nationalist defenders planned to defeat the enemy at the gate of the city of Lanzhou with the help from their comrades-in-arms from southern Shaanxi, southern Gansu and Ningxia.
The nationalist strategy was to station the 82nd Army and the 129th Army of the Shaanxi-Gansu Corps, 2 cavalry divisions, and a security brigade totaling 50,000 in Lanzhou to defend the city itself. The nationalist 81st Army under the command of Ma Hongkui and the nationalist 91st Army and 120th Army totaling 30,000 troops would guard the left flank of Lanzhou by defending Jingtai (景泰), Jingyuang (靖远) and Dalachi (打拉池) regions. The nationalist Cavalry Army totaling 20,000 would be stationed at Lintao (临洮) and Taishi (太石) regions to guard the right flank of Lanzhou. The main defense of the city would be the Southern Mountain (南山) line outside the city and the overall defense of the city was commanded by Ma Bufang’s only son, Ma Jiyuan (马继援), the commander-in-chief of the nationalist Shaanxi-Gansu Corps
The Communist troops were given instructions on behavior in the heavily muslim populated province of Gansu, to prevent accidental insults or other incidents.
The communist strategy became clear on August 4, 1949, when the communist commander-in-chief of the 1st Field Army Peng Dehuai issued the order to take Lanzhou and Xining by concentrating majority of its force. The plan was to have the communist 7th Army and the XVIII Corps (without its 62nd Army) to stay in Baoji and Tianshui to face nationalist force under Hu Zongnan’s command to secure the left flank and the rear of the communist main force, and the 64th Army of the XIX Corps would push toward Guyuan (固原) and Haiyuan (海原) regions to face nationalist force Ma Hongkui’s command to secure the right flank for the communist main force. The communist I Corps and the 62nd Army of the XVIII Corps would push toward Longxi (陇西), Lintao (临洮), Linxia (临夏), Xunhua (循化) regions and then cross the Yellow River to attack Xining, thus cutting off the nationalists’ escape route from the rear. The communist main force consisted of the II Corps and the XIX Corps without its 64th Army totaling 5 armies near 150,000 troops would push toward Lanzhou from Xi'an via Xi'an-Lanzhou highway in two fronts, the northern front and the southern front.
On August 9, 1949, the communist 1st Field Army begun its attack toward Lanzhou and Xining from eastern Gansu. On August 14, 1949, the communist XIX Corps took Dingxi (定西), while on August 16, 1949, the communist II Corps took Yuzhong (榆中) and the communist I Corps took Lintao (临洮), forcing Ma Bufang’s nationalist Cavalry Army to flee westward. On August 20, 1949, the communist I Corps took Kangle (康乐), threatening Linxia (临夏), while the communist II Corps and XIX Corps reached the outskirt of Lanzhou. On August 21, 1949, a total of nine regiments from the communist II Corps and XIX Corps attacked the nationalist stronghold at Southern Mountain (南山) outside Lanzhou, but were beaten back with heavy losses after two days of fierce fighting.
The communist commander Peng Dehuai decided to call off the attack and regroup so lessons gained in the fighting could be learned and utilized for the following assaults. On August 22, 1949, the communist I Corps took Linxia, completely annihilating Ma Bufang’s nationalist Cavalry Army in the process. As the nationalist defenders of Lanzhou were threatened from rear and right flank, Ma Bufang was forced to withdraw the nationalist 8th Cavalry Division and the nationalist 14th Cavalry Division stationed in the northern bank of the Yellow River back to Xining to strength the defense of the provincial capital of Qinghai. The nationalist defense of Lanzhou was further weakened as a result.
On August 24, Ma Bufang reported that the Communists were defeated and 10,000 of them were dead.
After thorough preparation, the communist II and XIX Corps attacked the city again on August 25, 1949 at dawn, and by dusk, the nationalist stronghold at Southern Mountain (南山) outside the city fell into the enemy hands. After suffering heavy casualties, the nationalist morale collapsed and the defenders outside the city fled inside and Ma Jiyuan (马继援), the nationalist commander-in-chief of the Shaanxi-Gansu Corps fled to Xining in the evening, abandoning most of his troops. In the morning of August 26, 1949, a detachment of the communist 3rd Army took Western Pass (西关) of the city and then took the Iron Bridge on the Yellow River, thus successfully cutting off the only escape route of the defenders, while other enemy detachments also managed to successfully breaching the defense of the city and begun fierce street fights with the remaining nationalist garrison. By 11:00 AM, the communist 4th Army took White Pagoda Mountain (Bai Ta Shan, 白塔山) on the northern bank of the Yellow River and an hour later, the last nationalist resistance within the city wall was eliminated and the city was firmly in the enemy hands. After the completion of the mop up operations in the suburb on the next day, the enemy formally declared the city was secured on August 27, 1949.
The 5,000 Chinese Muslim defenders in Lanzhou inflicted 10,000 casualties upon the Communist 2nd army during the six-day battle.
In order to relieve the besieged city, the nationalists organized several futile reinforcement attempts: nationalist commander Hu Zongnan ordered four armies to launch an offensive on August 27, 1949 from southern Gansu toward regions including Xihe (西和) and Li (礼) Counties in Gansu, and Baoji, Duo Town (Duo Zhen, 虢镇) in Shaanxi, in the hope of taking Baoji and Tianshui, thus forcing the enemy to stop the attack on Lanzhou and reinforce these regions. However, as the news of the fall of Lanzhou was learned, the nationalist offensive fell apart as the nationalist morale immediately collapsed, and the futile offensive was beaten back by the communist XVIII Corps on the same day it was launched. Learning the news of the fall of Lanzhou, other nationalist reinforcements also immediately withdrew: Ma Hongkui’s nationalist 81st Army withdrew back to Ningxia and Ma Bufang’s nationalist 91st Army and the nationalist 120th Army retreated to Hexi Corridor.
The fall of Lanzhou cost the nationalists more than 42,000 troops, nearly half of the total nationalist force in the northwestern China. The fall of the largest city in northwestern China into the enemy hands completely demoralized the nationalists and triggered a disastrous domino effect: after taking Lanzhou, the 62nd Army of the XVIII Corps and the communist I Corps without its 7th Army continued its push toward Xining, and from August 28, 1949 thru September 5, 1949, the communist I Corps had crossed the Yellow River at Yongjing (永靖) in Gansu and Xunhua (循化) in Qinghai, and took Minhe (民和), and Hualong (化隆), threatening Xining. Ma Bufang and his only son Ma Jiyuan (马继援) fled to Chongqing by air, and Xining fell into the enemy hands on September 5, 1949. The remaining 2,000 survivors of Ma Bufang’s troops surrendered to the enemy after fled to Huangzhong (湟中) and Haiyan (海晏) regions, and the entire Qinghai province fell into the enemy hands by the mid of September, 1949. Beiping Radio announced the capture of Lanzhou on August 27, 1949.
After the Lanzhou campaign, the aistrips of the Gansu corridor came under Communist control.
For decades, the communists have willfully decreased their number of losses by agreeing with their nationalist adversary’s claim of inflicting more than 8,700 casualties on the communists in Lanzhou Campaign. It was not until the late 1990s did the communists finally begun to admit their real loss which is higher than they had originally claimed by publicizing the Peng Dehuai’s telegram to Wang Zhen on August 28, 1949, in which the real communist losses were given when Peng Dehuai asked Wang Zhen to inform He Long that the communist casualties was in fact just below 11,000. However, the communist victory did open the gateway to Ningxia and Xinjiang, and paved the way for the following victories in the northwestern China.
After their defeat in Lanzhou Campaign, Ningxia was no longer the concern of the nationalist commander-in-chief of northwest China Ma Bufang, who was busy worrying protecting his home base Qinghai. The nationalist deputy commander-in-chief of northwest China Ma Hongkui fled to Hong Kong via air, and left his son, Ma Dunjing (马敦静) in charge to make a last stand against the communists. The nationalists organized three lines of defense in the regions including Zhongwei, Lingwu, Tongxin (同心), Jingyuan (靖远), Jingtai (景泰), Zhongning (中宁) and Jinji (金积), and deployed over a hundred sixty thousand troops for the upcoming campaign, but the nationalist strategy was ruined by the disagreements among themselves. Five out of the eight armies deployed were Ma Bufang’s force, and they were much more concerned about keeping their own strength to retreat to and guard the inevitable communist advance to their home base in Qinghai, and thus did not put in any real effort to protect Ma Hongkui’s Ningxia. These troops of Ma Bufang simply felt that they had done more than enough as they did the bulk of fighting in Lanzhou Campaign, and was worried that if they devote fully in fighting in Ningxia, they would risk being cutting off by the enemy and would never be able to return home. Consequently, Ma Bufang’s force refused to take any orders from Ma Dunjing (马敦静) and never participated in any fighting at all, despite being deployed initially by Ma Dunjing (马敦静) under previous agreements between Ma Bufang and Ma Hongkui. As a result, only seventy five thousands nationalist troops did the fighting, and the result was disastrous as the nationalists could achieve neither the numerical nor the technical superiority.
The communists launched their offensive in three fronts: By September 14, 1949, towns including Jingyuan (靖远), Tongxin (同心) and Zhongning (中宁) had fallen into communist hands. On September 15, 1949, the nationalist Newly Organized 15th Cavalry Brigade guarding Jingtai (景泰) surrendered to the communists. The main force of the communist 63rd Army took Changle Bunker (Chang Le Bao, 常乐堡) to the south of Zhongwei (中卫) County on September 16, 1949, after completely destroying two regiments of the nationalist 81st Army. Meanwhile, the 188th Division of the communist 63rd Army approached Zhongwei (中卫) County from the west from Jingtai (景泰) on September 17, 1949, after pass through Tengger Desert. The nationalist 81st Army was hard pressed from both south and west. Under heavy military and political pressure, Ma Hongbin, the nationalist deputy commander of Northwestern China, and his son Ma Dunjing (马惇靖, not the same person as Ma Hongkui’s son, Ma Dunjing, 马敦静, the nationalist commander-in-chief of the Ningxia Corps), the commander of the nationalist 81st Army defected to the communist side on September 19, 1949 (and the nationalist 81st Army was subsequently reorganized as the Northwestern Independent 2nd Army on December 19, 1949).
On September 19, 1949, the communist 64th Army launched its offensive against Jingji (金积) and Lingwu, badly mauling the nationalist 128th Army in Jinji-Lingwu Campaign. By September 21, 1949, all three defensive lines organized by the nationalists were completely destroyed. Ma Dunjing (马敦静) fled to Chongqing by air and the nationalist Ningxia Corps lost it command, and as a result, the nationalist 11th Army, the remnant of the 128th Army and Helan (贺兰) Army consequently disintegrated as the surviving nationalist troops deserted en masse, after learning their commander-in-chief had fled the battlefield. On September 24, 1949, the communist XIX Corps entered Yinchuan without a fight and the campaign concluded with communist victory. Nationalist lost over 40,000 troops out of the original 75,000, while the remaining deserted, and the communist victory ended the 36-year rule of Ma clique in Ningxia, as well as the nationalist rule over the region.
Campaign to the North of Nanchuan CountyEdit
The Campaign to the North of Nanchuan (南川) County begun on November 1, 1949 when the communists launched the Campaign in Southwestern China in multiple fronts against their nationalist adversary. By mid November 1949, one of the communist attacks on the nationalist XIV Corps and XX Corps had succeeded in breaching the nationalist defense on both flanks, resulting in Youyang (酉阳), Xiushan and Enshi falling into the enemy hands. By November 21, 1949, 4 divisions of the nationalist XIV Corps in the regions to the east of Salty Abundance (Xian Feng, 咸丰) in Hubei were completely annihilated by the enemy. The remaining nationalists was forced to retreat westward by crossing the Black River (Wu Jiang, 乌江). The communist III Corps and the 47th Army then turned their attention to the nationalist XV Corps and the XX Corps retreated to the region north of Nanchuan (南川) County by respectively crossing the Black River (Wu Jiang, 乌江) at regions including Gong’s Beaches (Gong Tan, 龚滩), White Horse (Bai Ma, 白马), Tukan (土坎), and north of Peng’s Waters (Peng Shui, 彭水). The major escape route to Qijiang (綦江) in the west for the nationalists were severed.
Chiang Kai-shek in Chongqing had realized the enemy’s intention of besieging Chengdu and Chongqing by striking behind the nationalist line from western Hunan and western Hubei via Sichuan and Guizhou, and thus immediately ordered Hu Zongnan to conclude Qinling Campaign by withdrawing from the Qinling defensive line, and enter Sichuan from Qinling and Greater Ba Mountain (Da Ba Shan, 大巴山) to avoid being isolated and surrounded by the enemy. The nationalist XV Corps and the XX Corps were redeployed to strengthen the defense of Nanchuan (南川) county and the region to its east to secure the retreat of Hu Zongnan’s troops. To counter the nationalist move, Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping ordered the communist V Corps and the 10th Army to push toward Luzhou and Yibin from southwestern Guizhou, while the communist III Corps and the 47th Army to cross the Black River (Wu Jiang, 乌江) to push toward Nanchuan (南川) county and help other communist forces to besiege and annihilate the nationalist XV Corps and XX Corps. By October 28, 1949, the communist forces had fulfilled their tasks by badly mauling the two nationalist corpses in the region to the north of the county, thus successfully concluded the Campaign to the North of Nanchuan (南川) County.
This campaign of was a part of the Campaign in Southwestern China, and the nationalists were defeated, losing around 30,000 in the process. The nationalist termination of the Qinling Campaign by withdrawing Hu Zongnan’s troops from Qinling defensive line meant that the nationalists had lost a natural geographical barrier in the northern front, while the southeastern front was not improved either. As a result, the situation for the nationalists further worsened in the Campaign in Southwestern China.
After the nationalist offensive in the southern front had been defeated by the advance communist, Bai Chongxi ordered the nationalist III Corps and XI Corps to immediately retreat. The communist forces at the southern front consisted of units of the communist II Field Army and Fourth Field Army begun the pursuit on November 27, 1949. To boost morale, the nationalist commander-in-chief Zhang Gan (张淦) decided to be the last to retreat and his III Corps headquarters remained behind in the town of Bobai (博白), but this was detected by the attack communists in the afternoon of December 30, 1949. Two regiments of the communist 43rd Army was immediately dispatched to attack the town and reached the town by 8:00 PM on the same day. After breaching the defense of the town at the northern and eastern gates, the attacking communists managed to besiege the surviving nationalists at their corps headquarters located in the library building. After fierce street fights, the battle ended on 10:30 PM on December 30, 1949 with communist victory, and Zhang Gan (张淦), the nationalist commander-in-chief of the III Corps was captured alive with most of his staff. Meantime, the forces of the communist IV Corps from regions of Hua (化) county, and Zhangjiang (漳江) had badly mauled the 48th Army of the nationalist III Corps and then also approached the town of Bobai (博白).
While the communists were attacking the besieged the town of Bobai (博白), the nationalist commander-in-chief Zhang Gan (张淦) ordered the 7th Army, 48th Army and 126th Army of the III Corps to counterattack toward the town. In the early morning of December 1, 1949, the three nationalist armies had approached the town of Bobai (博白), but as the nationalists learned that their corps headquarters had been annihilated and their commander-in-chief was captured alive by the enemy, the nationalist morale collapsed. Taking the advantage of the situation, the communist 43rd Army, 14th Army and 15th Army immediately launched an offensive against the three nationalist armies, and by 3:00 pm, the campaign concluded with the most of nationalists killed or captured.
The communist victory of Bobai Campaign (博白战役) resulted in the near total annihilation of the nationalist III Corps, with the exception of a portion of nationalist 126th Army successfully retreating westward. The loss of the nationalist III Corps resulted in the further weakening of the nationalist defense in Guangxi while the communist victory of Guangxi Campaign was further guaranteed.
Battle of JianmenguanEdit
Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan, 剑门关) was one of the key gateways of Sichuan. There are 72 peaks in the mountain and the only road going thru the mountain was 50 metre wide. Whoever controlled this 2 km long stretch of the road controlled the gateway of Sichuan, and the nationalists had built an elaborate system of bunkers in the area to strengthen its defense against the expected communist invasion.
After taking Guanyuan on December 14, 1949 in Chengdu Campaign, the communists decided that Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan, 剑门关) must be taken. The 540th Regiment of the 180th Division of 60th Army of the communist XVIII Corps was tasked with this job and after three days of forced march of more than 40 km in the mountain, the communist 540th Regiment reached Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan, 剑门关). The communist 540th Regiment immediately launched its assault on the pass by first completely annihilating a company from the retreating nationalist 55th Division tasked to strengthen the defense. Afterward, one of the battalion of the communist regiment was sent to outflank the defenders by passing the mountain terrain which was considered impossible by the local populace, including the defenders. The rest of two battalions of the communist regiment crawled forward along the ravine under the cover of darkness, and by 10:00 PM, they were within 50 metres in front of the pass. The attackers then launched their assault in the dark under the cover of heavy fire, and with the help of the battalion that outflanked the defenders, they were able to cross the last ravine via a log and overwhelmed the defenders. With Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan, 剑门关) falling into the enemy hands, the nationalists had no choice but to retreat and abandon the town of Jiange (剑阁) in the afternoon of December 18, 1949.
The communists managed to capture over 300 prisoners-of-wars and had all the remaining people killed in the fierce battle, and more importantly, the taking of Jianmen Pass (Jianmen Guan, 剑门关) secure the passage for the communists to invade deeper into the heart of Sichuan.
Battle of BamianshanEdit
Bamianshan (八面山), meaning Eight Sided Mountain literally, is located 10 km to the north of the town of Liye (里耶) in the border region of Hunan, Sichuan and Hubei. The difficult terrain made it ideal as a hideout for bandits, which had plagued the local region for more than a century. By the end of 1949, the bandits were led by Shi Xingzhou (师兴周). In late December 1949, the nationalist Temporarily Organized 1st Army led by its commander Chen Zixian (陈子贤) withdrew to the mountains and convinced the local bandits to join them, fighting the communists together. The nationalists planned to use the mountain as a guerilla base to launch operations against their communist enemy.
In mid-January 1950, the 141st Division of the communist 47th Army was tasked to exterminate the nationalist guerrillas and the division began its intensive training in mountain warfare. Two regiments of the 141st Division of the communist 47th Army were deployed in the regions of Neixipeng (内夕棚), Greater Rocky Gate (Dayanmen, 小岩门) and Lesser Rocky Gate (Xiaoyanmen, 小岩门), thus completed the encirclement of the Eight Sided Mountain (Bamianshan, 八面山).
The battle erupted on January 19, 1950, when a detachment of communist troops secretly climbed up the southern cliff of the mountain and dispersed the nationalist guerrillas in a surprise attack. The nationalist defenders were overwhelmed by the rapid and decisive surprise attack and were completely demoralized, abandoned their posts and began to flee. The nationalist commanders were unable to rally their troops for an effective counterattack and the nationalist guerrilla headquarters located in the Swallow Cave (Yanzidong, 燕子洞) fell, with a huge amount of weapons captured by the attacking enemy. After the main engagement, the communists began to eradicate the surviving nationalist guerrillas by fighting in small teams, and by the end of January 1950, the battle concluded with over 3,000 nationalist guerrillas killed or captured. The nationalist plan of long-term guerrilla and insurgency warfare had been crushed.
The communist victory, however, was incomplete: around 1,000 nationalist guerrilla fighters successfully escaped to fight for another day at different locations, including their commander Chen Zixian (陈子贤). Most of the escaped nationalist guerrillas retreated to Sichuan.
Battle of TianquanEdit
On February 14, 1950, Cheng Zhiwu (程志武) the nationalist commander of the Southwestern (China) Anticommunist National Salvation Army managed to convince the local bandits headed by Li Yuanheng (李元亨) to ally with him to attack the town of Tianquan County (天全) in Xikang (Present day Sichuan). The attackers expected an immediate success because the town was guarded only by a single communist company of the 555th Regiment and as the attackers besieged the town on the same day, all communications to the outside was severed. However, the defenders decided to die with the town and put up a hard fight, despite their numerical and technical advantages.
On February 15, 1950, over a hundred attackers successfully penetrated into the town via Western Pass (Xi Guan, 西关) under the cover of heavy fire, but the defenders outflanked and routed the attackers, killing everyone. As a result, the attackers were gravely demoralized, and the battle reached a stalemate. Realizing that they were short on supply and low on morale, the nationalists attempted another and final assault on the town on February 20, 1950, when over a hundred attackers penetrated into the town and took a large bunker. The defenders, however, besieged the bunker and blew it up with dynamite, killing everyone inside. Hearing the news, the attackers’ resolve to fight completely collapsed and everyone abandoned their post and fled. The nationalist commanders were unable to stop their fleeing troops and had to withdraw, and taking the opportunity, the defenders counterattacked, inflicting further casualties on the enemy and taking more than a hundred prisoners.
The nationalist failure to take the town has been described as mainly due to their reliance on bandits who had no training in conventional warfare, and could not effectively utilize their numerical and technical advantages. Neither did the bandits have any resolve to fight to the end like their enemy defending the town, because they were only interested in keeping their own strength and saving their own lives so they could not be depended on in the heat of battle. The few dedicated anticommunists in the nationalist rank was not enough to make a difference for the attacking force and thus the nationalist attack resulted in the inevitable failure.
Battle of YiwuEdit
The 2nd Company of the 46th Regiment of the communist 16th Division with less than 100 men were stationed at the town of Yiwu, 200 km northeast of Hami, and over 700 nationalists under the nationalist Hami special envoy commissioner Yulbars Khan and the former nationalist county head Abdullah (艾拜都拉) of Hami planned to take the town in late March 1950. The nationalist attack on the town was launched according to schedule on March 29, 1950.
The nationalists were confident in that the town could be taken within a little as three days and on the first day of the battle, the nationalists had succeeded in taking the northern and southern peaks next to the town, thus seriously threatened the enemy defenders within the town. Realizing the serious situation, the enemy defenders sent out four squads to retake both peaks, and thus solidified the defense of the town, threatening the nationalists instead. The nationalist attempts to take the two peaks back was met with disastrous failure after several dozens assaults were beaten back with heavy losses. Realizing the tactic must be changed in order to avoid further casualties and the two hilltops must be taken, the nationalists adjusted their tactic of small scale assaults to launch a coordinated large scale attacks on April 5, 1950. After the five hour long battle that lasted from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM, the nationalist again suffered defeat with great loss due to favorable terrain the enemy defenders enjoyed. It was the last large scale attack the nationalists were able to muster and the defeat cost the nationalists so much that nothing on the similar scale could be repeated again in the battle.
Due to the lack of communication and the closest communist force was more than 200 km away, it was not until early April 1950 did the closest enemy force learned that their comrades in the town of Yiwu (伊吾) was besieged, and sent out a token reinforcement, which was successfully stopped by the nationalists more than a dozen kilometers away from the town. Due to the lack of intelligence, the commander of the enemy reinforcement mistakenly believed that the town had fallen into the nationalist hands when the entire garrison was wiped out, and withdrew to Micheng (沁城) on April 14, 1950. However, the enemy defending Yiwu (伊吾) was far from being wiped out, but instead, successfully beaten back seven nationalist assaults, badly mauling the attacking nationalist in the process by taking advantage of the favorable terrain.
In the beginning of May 1950, the communist 16th Division learned that the 2nd Company of the 46th Regiment still had the town firmly in its hands, and thus immediately sent out two battalions for reinforcement. By May 7, 1950, the enemy reinforcement had taken the Black Hilltop (Hei Shan Tou, 黑山头), and surrounded the nationalists who besieged the town. Sandwiched between the enemy defending the town and the enemy reinforcement surrounding them, the fates of the trapped nationalists were sealed. Realizing it was all over, the nationalists collapsed and attempted to flee despite the fact there was nowhere to escape. The enemy defenders easily linked up with their reinforcement and completely annihilated the nationalists on the same day, and not a single nationalist was able to escape. For its successful defense of the town, Peng Dehuai, the communist defense minister awarded the 2nd Company of the 46th Regiment of the communist 16th Division the title Steel and Iron 2nd Company, while the deputy battalion commander, Hu Qingshan (胡青山) was awarded the title Combat Hero.
The nationalist defeat was primarily due to Chiang Kai-shek’s uncompromising doctrine of holding onto the land conquered at all costs, which was faithfully followed by the local nationalists, despite that it was simply impractical and impossible to hold onto the town. As it was becoming obviously clear that attacking nationalists were impossible to take the town, the nationalists refused to retreat, thus exhausting all of their available supplies. The lack of supplies, in turn, forced the nationalists to attempt to capture the town in order to capture more supplies, and thus the nationalists]were locked in a dilemma they had created themselves, resulting in eventual total annihilation.
For the communists, there was a special recipient of third class honor: it was not a soldier, but a military horse named Jujube Colored Horse (枣骝马). During the battle, the supply line (especially for water) to the communists defending the northern peak 211 metres above the sea level was sealed off by the nationalist fire. A communist soldier named Wu Xiaoniu (吴小牛) of the 2nd Company was sent to take the horse to supply the isolated but crucial communist position. Once fired by the enemy, the soldier immediately lie down and take cover behind rocks, and amazingly, the horse did the same by following its master, the soldier. Due the severe shortage of manpower, Wu Xiaoniu only performed the supply mission once and then was tasked with other duties, and the horse was instructed to perform the mission itself by Wu Xiaoniu first loading it up with supply, and then pointing toward the northern peak. Amazingly, during the forty-day battle, the horse completed every mission itself while dodging enemy fire. Due to its special contribution, not only it was awarded the third-class honor after the battle, it remained in the service until its natural death in November 1967, instead of being discharged when aged like all other military horses. The Jujube Colored Horse had a military burial at the foothill of the northern peak its helped to defend, and in August 1985, a marble monument was added to its tomb.
Kuomintang Islamic insurgencyEdit
General Ma Bufang announced the start of the Kuomintang Islamic Insurgency in China, on January 9, 1950, when he was in Cairo, Egypt, saying that Chinese Muslims would never surrender to Communism and would fight a guerrilla war against the Communists. In 1951, Bai Chongxi made a speech to the entire Muslim world calling for a war against Russia, and Bai also called upon Muslims to avoid the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, accusing him of being blind to Soviet imperialism. Bai also called Stalin an ogre and claimed he and Mao were engineering World War Three. Ma Bufang continued to exert "influence" on the insurgent KMT Muslim leaders.
President Chiang Kai-Shek continued to make contact with and support the Muslim insurgents in northwest China. Kuomintang planes dropped supplies and arms to the Muslims; there were 14,000 former Muslim troops of Kuomintang Muslim Generals Ma Bufang and Ma Hongkui who were supplied by the Kuomintang, and with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency support. They operated in the Amdo region of Tibet in 1952.
General Ma Hushan, a Kuomintang member and a Muslim, led an insurgency against the PLA from 1950–1954 using guerrilla tactics. Prior to this, he had earlier fought against the Soviet Red Army. He was against the Marxist-Leninist indoctrination of the Communist Party, and he killed hundreds of PLA soldiers in guerrilla ambushes in valleys and mountains. He was captured in 1954 and executed at Lanzhou.
Ospan Batyr, a Turkic Kazakh who was on the Kuomintang payroll, fought for the Republic of China government against the Mongols, then against the Communist PLA invasion of Xinjiang. He was captured and executed in 1951.
Yulbars Khan, a Uyghur who worked for the Kuomintang, led a Chinese Hui Muslim cavalry against CPC forces taking over Xinjiang. In 1951, after most of his troops deserted and defected to the PLA, he fled to Calcutta in India via Tibet, where his men were attacked by the Dalai Lama's Tibetan forces. He managed to escape from the Dalai Lama's grip, and subsequently took a steamer to Taiwan. The Kuomintang government then appointed him Governor of Xinjiang, a title which he held to until he died in the mid-1970s in Taiwan. His memoirs were published in 1969.
General Ma Liang, who was related to Ma Bufang, had 2,000 Chinese Muslim troops under his command around Gansu/Qinghai. Chiang Kai-shek sent agents in May 1952 to communicate with him, and Chiang offered him the post of Commander-in-chief of the 103rd Route of the Kuomintang army, which was accepted by Ma. The CIA dropped supplies such as ammunition, radios, and gold at Nagchuka to Ma Liang. Ma Yuanxiang was another Chinese Muslim General related to the Ma family. Ma Yuanxiang and Ma Liang wreaked havoc on the Communist forces. In 1953, Mao Zedong was compelled to take radical action against them. Ma Yuanxiang was then killed by the Communist forces in 1953.
Another group of Kuomintang insurgents were in Burma. Many of them were Hui Muslims, like the insurgents in the northwest, but they did not coordinate their attacks with them.
After losing mainland China, a group of approximately 12,000 KMT soldiers escaped to Burma and continued launching guerrilla attacks into southern China. Their leader, General Li Mi, was paid a salary by the ROC government and given the nominal title of Governor of Yunnan. After the Burmese government appealed to the United Nations in 1953, the U.S. began pressuring the ROC to withdraw its loyalists. By the end of 1954, nearly 6,000 soldiers had left Burma and Li Mi declared his army disbanded. However, thousands remained, and the ROC continued to supply and command them, even secretly supplying reinforcements at times.
The nationalist force controlled an area that was 300 km long along the China-Burma border, and 100 km deep. The nationalist area of control was typical mountainous jungle regions, with raining season last six months and the area was covered by fogs for most of the time. It was extremely difficult to navigate in the region where there were few road and trails, and the natural environment was extremely harsh.
In 1960, Burmese premier Ne Win visited China and signed a deal aimed to solve the historical disputes between the China and Burma on January 28, 1960. In October, 1960, Burmese premier U Nu and Burmese chief-of-general-staff General Ne Win visited China once again and on October 1, 1960, they signed a new border treaty with Chinese premier Zhou Enlai. According to the treaty, the China-Burma border had to be surveyed for demarcation, but the existence of nationalist force in northern Burma along the border posed a serious threat. Burmese government consequently asked the Chinese communists to help to eradicate the Chinese nationalist force in the border region.
In October, 1960, the communist high command ordered Kunming Military Region to prepare for the campaign. In early November 1960, communists and Burmese government held a joint conference on the matter of communist force fighting in Burma. The Burmese representatives were headed by Brigadier Generals Aung Gyi and San Yu, and the Chinese communist representatives were headed by Ding Rongchang (丁荣昌), the deputy commander-in-chief of the communist Yunnan Provincial Military Region, and Cheng Xueyu (成学渝), the director of Border Defense Directorate of the War Department of the General Staff Ministry of the People's Liberation Army. By November 4, 1960, the deal was signed in which communist force was allowed to fight in Burma in a region that was 20 km deep, 300 km long, along the border.
On November 14, 1960, the communist central military committee formally issued the order to cross the border to destroy the Nationalist troops in Burma according to the personal direction of Zhou Enlai. The political implication of the campaign was specially emphasized and failure was not an option. The communist force would be mainly deployed in Mengma (孟马), Mengwa (孟瓦) and Sandao (三岛) regions. The communists intended to avoid scattering the enemy, but instead, complete annihilating the enemy by first cutting off the retreating route of the nationalists after a surprised attack. Restrictions on the communist actions were also implement, for example, if the nationalists were to retreat toward Burma-Thailand-Laotian border, communists could not gave a chase on its own, and must be coordinated with Burmese government first, just as in any situation that would occur unexpectedly. The local civilian casualties should be avoided at all cost. After receiving the order, the communist Kunming Military Region decided to mobilize five infantry regiments and militias totaling over 6,500 for campaign, including a regiment from the 39th Division of the 13th Army, a regiment of the of 40th Division of the 14th Army, and three border defense regiments. To better coordinate their actions in Burma, communists form a frontline command at Fohai (佛海) in early November 1960. Li Xifu (黎锡福), the commander-in-chief of the communist Yunnan Provincial Military Region was named as the commander-in-chief of the new frontline command, Ding Rongchang (丁荣昌), the deputy commander-in-chief of the communist Yunnan Provincial Military Region and Cui Jiangong (崔建功), the deputy commander of the communist 13th Army were named as the deputy commanders-in-chief of the new frontline command.
The nationalist frontline bordering China was 300 km long and 20 km deep, and was the main target of the communist offensive. There were a total of 22 nationalist strongholds in the region, including the headquarters of the nationalist 1st Army and 4th Army, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, 5th Division, 6th Division, eight regimental headquarters, eight guerrilla strike teams. The nationalist strength in the region totaled more than 800 troops and was divided into three lines of defense. The first line of defense was manned the nationalist 1st Army and its 3rd Division totaling over 150 troops, stationed in strongholds including Mengwa (孟瓦), Mengyu (孟育), Mengjing (孟景), and Jingkang (景康), and with the exception of Jingkang (景康), all of the nationalist strongholds in their first line of defense faced the Southern Luo (洛) River and with hilly forest in the back, and all of the roads and trails to and from China was heavily mined. The nationalist 4th Army deployed to the south and east of Mengyong (孟勇) was the backbone of the nationalist 2nd line of defense, and its 35th Regiment totaling over 200 was stationed at the critical peak 1404. The Mengbailiao (孟白了) and Jiangle (江勒) regions was the nationalist 3rd line of defense, with the general headquarters of the nationalist commander-in-chief Liu Yuanlin () setup in Mengbailiao (孟白了), with training group, garrison regiment and communication battalion totaling over 450 troops. Jiangle (江勒) region was the nationalist logistic headquarters totaling over 200 troops, including the 1st Training Group.
Communists divided the combat zone into smaller individual areas and planned to cut off the retreating routes of the nationalists. The 117th Regiment and a portion of the 116th Regiment of the 39th Division of the Communist 13th Army were tasked to destroy the headquarters of the nationalist 4th Army at Mengma (孟马), the nationalist 6th Division, 2nd Division, 5th Regiment, 17th Regiment and 4 guerrilla strike teams totaling 439 troops. In reality, the communists overestimated the nationalist strength, which only totaled 334 troops. The 118th Regiment of the 40th Division of the communist 14th Army was tasked to destroy the headquarters of the nationalist 1st Army at Mengwa (孟瓦), garrison battalion, headquarters of the nationalist 3rd Division, the 8th Regiment, the 9th Regiment, and a guerrilla strike team totaling 265 troops. Once again, the communists overestimated the nationalist strength, which only totaled 156 troops.
The 11th Border Defense Regiment of communist Yunnan Simao Military Sub-region was tasked to destroy the nationalist 7th Regiment and a guerrilla strike team totaling 59 troops, but the communist intelligence had underestimated the nationalist strength, which totaled 81 troops. The 9th and 10th Border Defense Regiments of communist Yunnan Simao Military Sub-region were tasked to destroy the headquarters of the nationalist 5th Division at Barbarians’ Nest (Manwo, 蛮窝), the 14th Regiment, the 1st Regiment and two guerrilla strike teams totaling 159 troops. Once again, the communist intelligence had underestimated the nationalist strength which actually totaled 171 troops. The communists mobilized a total of 6639 troops of their own, though not all of them had crossed the border. The communists divided their forces into 22 routes and would attack in the early morning of November 22, 1960 by crossing the border.
The communist 2nd Company of the 9th Regiment of Border Defense and the 2nd Company of the 10th Regiment of Border Defense were tasked to attack nationalist strongholds at Man’enai (曼俄乃), and reached their target by 5:00 AM on November 22, 1960. However, the numerical inferior nationalist troops had just learned the news of the upcoming attack and retreated by abandoning the stronghold. Communist main force immediately sent out four companies to chase after the retreating nationalists and caught up with the fleeing nationalists around ten kilometers to the south of the stronghold. After ensuing battles that included mop up operation, thirty-three nationalist troops including Li Tai (李泰), the commander of the nationalist 5th Division were killed, marking the complete destruction of nationalist garrison of Man’enai (曼俄乃) stronghold. Meanwhile, communist force consisted of the 117th infantry regiment under the command of Yan Shouqing (阎守庆), the deputy commander of the 39th Division, and the 118th infantry regiment under the command of Zhao Shiying (赵世英), the commander of the 40th Division, and the 1st Battalion of the 116th infantry regiment attacked nationalist positions in Mengwa (孟瓦), and Mengma (孟马). The numerical inferior nationalist force at these positions were no match with an enemy that enjoyed overwhelmingly superior number and firepower, and the communist 117th infantry regiment succeeded in completely wiping out a sixty member strong nationalist battalion at the Tabanmai (踏板卖) stronghold and the sixty-two member strong nationalist battalion of the 7th Regiment at Mengxie (孟歇) stronghold. Major General Meng Baoye (蒙宝业) and Colonel Meng Xian (蒙显), the commander and deputy commander of the nationalist 2nd Division were both killed in action. Communist 118th infantry regiment meanwhile attacked nationalist positions at Mengwa (孟瓦), Jingkang (景康), Mengyu (孟育) and Mengjing (孟景), succeeding in killing over a hundred nationalist troops and capturing Colonel Ye Wenqiang (叶文强), the deputy commander of the nationalist 3rd Division.
After several hours of fierce battle, the headquarters of nationalist 1st Army, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, 5th Division, 7th Regiment, and 8th Regiment were completely destroyed. However, due to the complete lack of experience in jungle warfare in the mountainous region, half of the six communist task forces assigned to outflank the targets failed to reach their destination on time. Similarly, seven out of the sixteen communist task forces assigned for direct assaults failed to reach their targets on time. As a result, communists only managed to completely annihilate nationalist forces at six targets out of the original sixteen, with the nationalist forces at the rest ten slipped away. The subsequent mop up operation ended on December 20, 1960, marking the end of the first state of the campaign, succeeding in killing a total of 467 nationalist troops in the region bounded by the redline, or only 53.4% of original target set by the communists. After the operation, Burmese government asked the communist force to stay in Burma to guard the local region from possible nationalist counterattacks, and Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier agreed and ordered the Chinese communist troops to stay until the demarcation was completed.
After the first stage of the campaign had concluded, the surviving nationalists decided that their strength was no match with superior communist force and it was best to avoid direct confrontation with the enemy to conserve their strength. Instead, nationalists would gain new territories from Burmese government by attack Burmese troop to makeup the territory lost to the communists in the first stage of the campaign. Burmese troop could not check the nationalist advance and in the evening of January 18, 1961, Burmese liaison officers asked Chinese communists for help on the order given by their government. Communists decided to mobilize over 5,800 troops to launch the second stage of the campaign in late January to attack nationalists beyond the redline. The communists and the Burmese government reached a deal to allow the communist force to operate another 50 km further beyond the redline to engage the three thousand nationalist troops in Suoyong (索永) and Mengbailiao (孟白了) regions. To better coordinate their actions, communists established their frontline headquarters in Fohai (佛海), with the deputy commander Cui Jiangong (崔建功) of the 13th Army as the commander, chief-of-staff Liang Zhongyu (梁中玉) of the 14th Army and deputy director of the political directorate Duan Siying (段思英) as deputy commanders.
Communist 117th Regiment leading the 2,966 strong attacking force was tasked to attack the surviving units of the nationalist 4th Army, the 2nd Division, the 9th Division, the 10th Division, the 11th Division, the 7th Group of the Training Column, the Heavy Weaponry Group totaling over 1,200. Another communist force consisted of the 10th Regiment and the 11th Regiment of the Border Defense of Simao Military Sub-region totaled 1,420 was tasked to attack the surviving nationalist forces totaling more than 680, including surviving forces of the nationalist general headquarters in Suoyong (索永), the headquarters of the 2nd Army in Baka (八卡), the headquarters of 1st Army at Daling (大棱) River Crossing point, the 3rd Division, the 8th Division, and Zhongka (中卡) Squadron. The largest communist force totaling 3,012 headed by the communist 118th Regiment was tasked to attack the surviving units of nationalist totaling over 1,200, including those from southern frontline command headquarters, garrison regiment, Training Column (without its 7th Group), 2nd Group of the Training Column, 35th Regiment of the 3rd Army, and Officer Training Regiment.
On January 25, 1961, all communist units begun their assault by crossing the redline, and attacking toward the regions to the north and west of Mekong River. Nationalist commander-in-chief Liu Yuanlin (柳元麟) realized the communist objective and immediately ordered a general retreat toward Burma-Laotian border on the very same night under the cover of darkness, abandoning the base they had controlled for more than a decade. By the next day, nationalist strongholds including Baxili, (巴西里), Suoyong (索永), and Mengbailiao (孟白了) fell into the communist hands, and the nationalist rear guards in charge of covering the retreat of the main force was destroyed. The communist force subsequently performed search and destroy operations to exterminate the surviving nationalists in the newly taken region, and succeeded in killing the nationalist Colonel Li Zixiong (李自雄), the director of political directorate, and Colonel Bai Xianglin (白湘麟), a regimental commander. However, due to numerous problems, with the exception of communist force of Simao Military Sub-region which reached Baxili, (巴西里), its planned destination on time, all other communist forces failed to reach their planned destination on time, resulting in only killing 274 nationalist troops. In addition to successfully escaping to their new destination several hundred kilometers away in the border region of Burma-Lao-Thailand, the retreating nationalists also successfully managed to carry most of the equipment, supply and wounded with them in their escape. On February 9, 1961, the second stage concluded when all communist force withdrew back to China, marking the end of the campaign.
The communists succeeded in driving the nationalists from their base they held for more than a decade, thus returning the control of an area in access of thirty thousand square kilometers with population over a hundred thousand to Burmese government. However, the campaign also revealed serious and huge shortcomings of the communist troop in jungle warfare, and due to these problems revealed later in the communist post war analysis, most of the retreating nationalists were able to successfully escape to the Thai-Laotian border several hundred kilometers away, and forming the new base that survived until this day. For the nationalists, despite losing their thirty thousand square kilometers sized base with population over a hundred thousand they had held for more than a decade, nationalists nonetheless managed to retain most of their troops (around 90%) and equipment to successfully escape and establish new bases in new area. However, the new area was far less fertile than the land in their original base they had lost, and this forced the nationalists in the new base to be increasingly dependent on opium production and trade, and most of their area of control eventually became part of the infamous Golden Triangle.