Battle of Caishi
|Battle of Caishi|
|Part of the Jin-Song wars|
|Jurchen Jin||Southern Song|
|Commanders and leaders|
The naval Battle of Caishi (采石之戰) took place in 1161 as part of the Jurchen campaigns against the Song Dynasty and was the result of an attempt by forces of the Jurchen Jin to cross the Yangtze River, thus beginning an invasion of Southern Song China. It followed the Battle of Tangdao on the East China Sea.
Emperor Wanyan Liang (posthumously Hailingwang, "Prince (of) Hailing") of Jin was assassinated by his own men. A subsequent peace treaty signed by both Song and Jin in 1164 would end violence and conflict between the two for four decades to come.
Wars between the Jin Dynasty, founded by the Jurchens, and the Song Dynasty had been ongoing since the 1125, the year the Jurchens declared war against the Song. The Song and Jurchens had once been military allies. The Jurchen tribes, unified under the rule of Wanyan Aguda, plotted a revolt in 1114 to end their vassalage under the Khitan-led Liao Dynasty. They negotiated a joint attack with the Song against the Khitans planned for 1121 and then rescheduled to 1122. In 1122, the Jurchens defeated the Khitans and captured the capital of the Liao Dynasty. New negotiations between the Song and Jin in 1123 determined how the former Liao territories were to be divvied up and the question of indemnities to the Jin from the Song. Recognizing the military weakness of the Song, the Jin invaded in 1125.
By 1127, the Jurchens had conquered most of northern China and besieged the Song capital of Kaifeng twice. In the second siege of Kaifeng, Emperor Qinzong of the Song was captured. He and the Song royal family were held as captives by the Jurchens and taken to Manchuria. Members of the Song court that had evaded capture fled south, where they established a temporary capital first in Nanjing, modern Shangqiu, and then in Hangzhou in 1129. The younger brother of Qinzong, Prince Zhao Gou, avoided capture by the Jurchens and was enthroned as Qinzong's successor in Nanjing on 1127. The move of the Song capital south to Hangzhou signals the transition from the Northern Song era to the Southern Song.
The Jin persisted with their advance from northern China into the remaining Song territories south of the Yangtze River. They faced an insurgency of Song loyalists in the north, the loss of important leaders who had died, and military offensives by Song generals like Yue Fei. A puppet government was created by the Jurchens to administer a buffer state between the Song and the Jin, but failed after the military victories by Yue Fei. The Jurchens gave up on conquering the Southern Song, and diplomatic talks for a peace treaty began in 1132. A peace treaty, the Treaty of Shaoxing, was signed in 1142. The boundary between the two states was established along the Huai River, a river north of the Yangtze.
Rise of Emperor Hailing
Emperor Hailing was crowned Jin emperor in 1122 after killing his cousin and predecessor, Emperor Xizong, in a palace coup. Hailing considered himself a Chinese emperor and not a tribal chieftain, and thus his ultimate ambition was to rule over all of China, not just the north. The History of Jin reports that Hailing told his officials that the three desires of his life were conquest, absolute power, and women. During his reign, he pursued a policy of sinicizing the state. He moved government institutions south, tore down palaces of Jurchen chieftains in Manchuria, and constructed new palaces in Beijing and Kaifeng. The capital of the Jin Dynasty was moved to Beijing and Kaifeng was promoted to a regional capital. In his childhood, he was a student of Chinese philosophy and literature. His recreational activities included Chinese chess and drinking tea, practices that he had learned from Song emissaries. Hailing's affinity for the culture of the Song earned him the Jurchen nickname of "aping the Chinese".
Plans for a war against the Southern Song were palpable in 1158. That year, he claimed that the Song had broken a treaty signed in 1142 that regulated the acquisition of horses by the Song. In 1159, Hailing began building up his army in preparation for an invasion. He acquired weapons, which he stored in Beijing, and horses allegedly numbering a total of 560,000. An invasion of the Song required large manpower, a principle that Hailing understood. He ensured that Han Chinese soldiers were drafted into the war effort alongside Jurchen soldiers. The recruitment drive lasted until 1161. The draft was unpopular among locals in the territories formerly ruled by the Song. There were revolts against the draft, many of them in the Jin provinces neighboring the Song. There was no tolerance for dissent. He ordered the execution of his stepmother after hearing that she was critical of the war effort.
Diplomatic exchanges between the Song and Jin did not stop during the run-up to the war. The Song reportedly surmised that the Jin were planning for a military offensive when they noticed that the attitude of one of the diplomats sent by the Jin had changed. Border defenses were fortified by the Song ahead of the invasion. Hailing departed from Kaifeng on October 15, 1161 and passed the Huai River boundary on October 28 advancing into Song territory. Song resistance was minimal because they had fortified on the southern shore of the Yangtze River and not the Huai.
Battle of Caishi
An encampment for Hailing's army was constructed around Yangzhou on the northern bank of the Yangtze River. The military advance had been slowed by Song victories in the west, where Jin prefectures had been lost to the Song. Hailing's forces were sent to cross the Yangtze at Caishi, a city in close proximity to Nanjing. A naval battle ensued between the Jin and Song on November 26 and 27, 1161. The Song troops were led by the Yu Yunwen and his lieutenants Dai Gao, Jian Kang, Shi Zhun, and others. Yu's official title in the Song government was zhongshu sheren, a Drafting Official of the Secretariat. He was in Caishi to give out awards for Song soldiers stationed in the city who were selected for their outstanding service, and it was by chance that Yu's visit coincided with Hailing's campaign. The Jurchens performed a ritual sacrifice of horses a day before the battle. On November 26, the Jurchens set sail from the northern shore and engaged the Song fleet.
The paddlewheel ships of the Song navy gave the Song a technological advantage over the Jin. The paddlewheel ships could move more rapidly and outmaneuver the slower Jin ships. They hid their fleet behind the island of Jinshan, and brought them out at the signal of a mounted scout atop the island's peak. The Song then bombarded the invaders with traction trebuchets, launching "thunderclap bombs", which were soft-cased explosives filled with lime, which would create a noxious cloud when the fuses went off and broke the soft cases.
An account of this battle was given by the Song naval commander Yang Wanli in his Hai Qiu Fu (Rhapsodic Ode on the Sea-eel Paddle Wheel Warships):
In the xin-si year of the Shao-Xing reign period, the rebels of (Wanyan) Liang came to the north (bank) of the River in force, intending to capture the people's boats, and hoisted flags indicating that they wished to cross over. But our fleet was hidden behind Qibao Shan (island), with orders to come out when a flag signal was given. So a horseman was sent up to the top of the mountain with a hidden flag, and then when the enemy were in mid-stream suddenly the flag appeared; whereupon our ships rushed forth from behind (the island) on both sides. The men inside them paddled fast on the treadmills, and the ships glided forwards as though they were flying, yet no one was visible on board. The enemy thought that they were made of paper. Then all of a sudden a thunderclap bomb was let off. It was made with paper (carton) and filled with lime and sulphur. (Launched from trebuchets) these thunderclap bombs came dropping down from the air, and upon meeting the water exploded with a noise like thunder, the sulphur bursting into flames. The carton case rebounded and broke, scattering the lime to form a smoky fog, which blinded the eyes of men and horses so that they could see nothing. Our ships then went forward to attack theirs, and their men and horses were all drowned, so that they were utterly defeated.
From a total of 11 squadrons and 3,000 men [the Song navy] rose in one century to 20 squadrons totalling 52,000 men, with its main base near Shanghai. The regular striking force could be supported at need by substantial merchantmen; thus in the campaign of +1161 (AD) some 340 ships of this kind participated in the battles on the Yangtze. The age was one of continual innovation; in +1129 (AD) trebuchets throwing gunpowder bombs were decreed standard equipment on all warships, between +1132 (AD) and +1183 (AD) a great number of treadmill-operated paddle-wheel craft, large and small, were built, including stern-wheelers and ships with as many as 11 paddle-wheels a side (the invention of the remarkable engineer Kao Hsuan), and in +1203 (AD) some of these were armored with iron plates (to the design of another outstanding shipwright Chhin Shih-Fu)...In sum, the navy of the Southern Sung held off the [Jurchen Jin] and then the Mongols for nearly two centuries, gaining complete control of the East China Sea.
- Naval warfare
- Military history of China (pre-1911)
- Naval history of China
- Jurchen campaigns against the Song Dynasty
- History of the Song Dynasty
- Technology of the Song Dynasty
- Timeline of the Jurchen campaigns against the Song Dynasty
- Gunpowder warfare
- Jiao Yu
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