Battle of Hanoi
|Battle of Hanoi|
|Part of the First Indochina War|
| French Union
||Democratic Republic of Vietnam|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Louis Morlière||Vuong Thua Vu|
On December 19, 1946 Vietnamese Viet Minh soldiers detonated explosives in Hanoi, and the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of Hanoi marked the opening salvo of the First Indochina War. The explosives, set off at 20:03 in the evening, had been smuggled past French Army guards into the city's power plant. The result explosion plunged Hanoi into darkness, and throughout the city the Viet-Minh began attacking French military positions and French homes. Surviving French troops, alerted by friendly spies, gradually gained a numerical superiority. French artillery shelled the city, and house to house searches were conducted searching for the Viet-Minh leadership.
Ho Chi Minh was at the time ill with fever, and Vo Nguyen Giap ordered "all soldiers... to stand together, go into battle, destroy the invaders, and save the nation." Eventual French superiority in firepower forced the Viet-Minh to withdraw to mountains 80 miles to the north of the Hanoi. However, it took the French 60 days to gain complete control of the city, which had bought enough time for their enemy to evacuate all of its central offices, as well as most of its main forces. After expunging the Viet-Minh from the city, the French demanded the military surrender of their opponents, but the latter refused. The United States, alarmed at the incident, despatched Abbott Low Moffat on a special mission to Saigon and Hanoi to consider a negotiated referendum. However, the realisation that the Viet-Minh would not accept compromise led to the US abandoning the idea.
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