Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288)
For other articles of the same title, see Battle of Bạch Đằng.
|Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288)|
|Part of the Mongol-Vietnamese War|
|Đại Việt||Yuan Dynasty|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Trần Hưng Đạo
Trần Khánh Dư
|General Omar Khan and Prince Toghan|
|200,000+||210,000 regular troops
30,000 tribal auxiliaries from Yunnan and Hainan
a 1,000-man vanguard
|Casualties and losses|
|4,000–4,500 killed killed||80,000 killed, thousands captured, more than 400 ships destroyed
General Omar captured.
The Battle of Bạch Đằng, which took place at the Bach Dang River, near Ha Long Bay in present-day northern Vietnam, was a battle between Đại Việt and the invading army of the Yuan Dynasty. It is considered part of the Third Mongol Invasion (1287-88).
The plan 
In 1288 after the evacuation from the capital Thăng Long (present-day Hanoi), Đại Việt's Grand Commander Trần Hưng Đạo decided to launch an offensive against the Mongolians on the Bạch Đằng River and immediately set to organize the battle.
The Bạch Đằng River ran through Yen Hung district (in Quảng Ninh province) and Thuy Nguyen (in Hai Phong) before reaching the sea. This is where the well-known battle of Ngô Quyền against the Southern Han (Nanhan) took place in 938 A.D. It was from March, Trần Hưng Đạo was already there to prepare the battlefield. He borrowed the same tactic that Ngô Quyền used against the Chinese in 938. He studied the tidal lore, had beds of stakes planted under the water and arranged ambushes in a unified plan of campaign.
The battle 
As was foreseen, the Mongolians in Thăng Long suffered an acute shortage of food. Without any news about the supply fleet, Prince Toghan found himself in a tight corner and had to order his army to retreat to Vạn Kiếp. This was when Đại Việt's Army began the general offensive by recapturing a number of locations occupied by the Mongol invaders. Groups of partisans were given orders to harass the enemy in Vạn Kiếp, putting them at a loss. Toghan had to split his army into two and retreat.
In early April the supply fleet led by Omar and escorted by infantry fled home along the Bạch Đằng river. As bridges and roads were destroyed and attacks were launched by Đại Việt's troops, the Mongols reached Bạch Đằng. Đại Việt's small flotilla engaged in battle and pretended to retreat. The Mongols eagerly pursued Đại Việt troops and fell into their pre-arranged battlefield. Thousands of Đại Việt's small boats from both banks quickly appeared, fiercely launched the attack and broke the combat formation of the enemy. Inflicted with a sudden and strong attack, the Mongols tried to withdraw to the sea in panic. Hitting the stakes, their boats were halted, many of which were broken and sunk. At that time, a number of fire rafts quickly rushed toward them. Frightened, the Mongolian troops jumped down to get to the banks where they were dealt a heavy blow by a big army led by the Trần king and Trần Hưng Đạo.
The Mongolian supply fleet was totally destroyed. Omar was captured.
At the same time, Đại Việt's Army made continuous attacks and smashed to pieces Toghan’s army on its route of withdrawal through Lạng Sơn. Toghan risked his life making a shortcut through forests to flee home.
The Battle of Bạch Đằng went down as one of the greatest victories in Vietnamese military history and is a well-known event in Vietnam.
In 1959 during excavation works in Yen Giang commune, Vietnamese archaeologists found the sharpened stakes that were used during the campaign in 1288.
See also 
- Atwood, Christopher Pratt (2004), Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol empire, New York: Facts On File, p. 579, ISBN 0-8160-4671-9
- Patricia M. Pelley Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past - Page 185 - 2002 "Presiding over the commemorative ceremony, Tran Huy Lieu began: "Not only did the battle of Bạch Đằng conclude the ... army against the Mongol invaders, it also brought all the Mongol invasions that took place between 1257 and 1288 to an ..."
Further reading