Battle of Songjin
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|Battle of Songjin|
|Part of the Manchu Conquest|
|Qing Dynasty||Ming Dynasty|
|Commanders and leaders|
|80,000 (Eight Banners)||130,000 (Hong Chengchou in Songshan) + 25,000 (Zu Dashou in Jinzhou)|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Songjin (Chinese: 松錦之戰) was fought in 1641 and 1642 at Songshan (Chinese: 松山) and Jinzhou (Chinese: 锦州), hence the name "Song-Jin". It spelled the end of the Ming Dynasty. Hong Chengchou's 130,000 elite troops, sent to break the siege of Jinzhou, were crushed by the Eight banner armies of the Qing Dynasty at Songshan. Hong Chengchou and a small number of the remaining troops were besieged at Songshan and defeated a few months later. The Jinzhou garrison and the general Zu Dashou surrendered to the Qing army shortly after the defeat of Ming armies at Songshan.
The siege of Jinzhou
Since the time of Yuan Chonghuan,the Ming dynasty had rarely changed its Liaodong defensive strategy. Ming leaders largely spent their energies building fortresses, relying on artillery and cannons as defensive measures rather than going on the offensive. For a time this defensive strategy frustrated the Qing army, but eventually Huangtaiji was able to develop a solution for the Qing by reforming their logistical operations, creating supply lines that allowed them to prosecute long-term siege warfare.
Zu Dashou was by then in charge of defense in Jinzhou. Zu at first surrendered to Qing and offered to take Jinzhou. When he succeeded taking Jinzhou, he re-changed his side again to Ming and took control of Jinzhou. In the 6th year of Chongde (1641) Jirgalang ordered his troops to retake Jinzhou and lay siege to the city. Zu then sent a letter seeking reinforcement from Beijing. At the forth lunar month, Huangtaiji decided to maintain the siege upon Jinzhou.
Hong Chengshou's reinforcements
Marshal Hong Chengchou was ordered by the Chongzhen Emperor to rescue Zu Dashou and his army. Under his command, there were 8 area commander in chiefs (Zongbing) and 130,000 troops, which includes Wu Sangui and Cao Bianjiao's troops.
At the tenth lunar month, Hong left Shanhai Pass and summoned eight generals: Cao Bianjiao, Wang Yanchen, Bai Guang'en, Ma Ke, Wu Sangui, Yang Guozhu, Wang Pu and Tang Tong. The Ming troops under their control were numbered up to 130,000 infantry heavily armed with matchlock muskets and 40,000 cavalry and were ordered to liberate Jinzhou. Meanwhile, Zu Dashou still maintained the defence of Jinzhou and used Songshan, Xishan and Tashan as defensive wings. At the Qing side, generals Kong Youde, Geng Zhongming and Shang Kexi were ordered to reinforce the troops laying siege over Jinzhou.
Hong positioned his troops on Mt. Rufeng which stands between Songshan and Jinzhou. First battle erupted and Qing forces were suffering a terrible defeat. When the news approached Huangtaiji, he decided to drown into the battlefield. Though numbered heavily, Hong decided to remain defensive and conducted small scale attack on the enemy front line. When the enemy became exhausted, he then released full-scale attack to achieve victory. Yet, the impatient Chongzhen emperor ordered his general to be more offensive.
Upon seeing enemy's rushing movement, Huangtaiji ordered his troops to set an ambush along enemy's retreat, while also seizing enemy's logistic supply. His troops then slaughtered every single retreating enemy, forcing Hong to conduct desperate attack. His sub-ordinates were in debate upon his plan, some argued that they should retreat to Ningyuan and resupply the troops. Without any official order, Wang Pu and some generals decided to retreat upon hearing that Huangtaiji himself is leading the army, and were horribly slaughtered by Huangtaiji. Only 50,000 survived the massacre.
At Hong's camp, there were only 10,000 soldiers left, and were forced to retreat into Songshan. Cao Bianjiao and Wang Yanchen managed to escape the encirclement and united with Hong. The siege of Songshan thus began.
The siege of Songshan
Songshan then suffered the same fate with Jinzhou, running out of food supply and reinforcement. Hong Chengchou tried to break the encirclement for many times, yet always failed. His desperate sub-ordinate, Xia Chengde then secretly surrendered to Qing and promised to open the city gate. At the 18th day of the second lunar month at the following year, Qing troops succeeded to rush in, and captured Hong Chengchou along with xunfu Qiu Minyang and some other generals. Qiu was then executed by Huangtaiji, along with Cao Bianjiao and Wang Yanchen, while Hong was taken alive to Shengjing.
Hopeless, Zu Dashou was forced to surrender at the 3rd day of the following month. The defense lines in Tashan and Xingshan were crushed at the 4th month, and the battle of Songjin ended.
Huangtaiji regarded Hong Chengchou as an excellent and brilliant general, and offered him to surrender. Hong refused, but Fan Wencheng managed to persuade him to do so. Hong was then put into the Yellow Banner and appointed to be the military governor of Nanjing during the reign of Shunzhi. He also succeeded to persuade numerous Southern Ming generals to surrender to the Qing government, and paved the way for the conquest of Southern China.
Hong's surrender was a huge blow to the Ming dynasty after the execution of Yuan Chonghuan. There were no other competent generals left to protect the Ming empire. With the surrender of Wu Sangui, there was no obstacle left for the Manchus to conquer China proper.
- Frederic Wakeman, Jr., The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-Century China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 213 (the Manchus counted 53,783 enemy corpses after the first engagement outside Songshan), 214 (Hong Chengchou tries to break the siege, but his troops are soundly defeated), 214–15 (a force of 6000 men is entirely lost, "either through death in battle or desertion"), and 216 ("more than one hundred officers and three thousand soldiers" are executed after the Qing seized Songshan).
- 李, 思平 (2007). 大清十二帝. 中国，北京: 北京出版社. p. 62. ISBN 978-7-200-06762-0.