Battle of Ulan Butung

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Battle of Ulan Butung
Part of First Oirat-Manchu War
Date 3 September 1690
Location Ulan Butung, Outer Mongolia
Result Inconclusive
 Qing dynasty Zunghar Khanate
Commanders and leaders
 Qing dynasty Fuquan (prince) Galdan Boshughtu Khan
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown, but heavy Unknown

The Battle of Ulan Butung was fought on 3 September 1690 between the forces of the Qing dynasty and those of the Zunghar Khanate. When attacked by the superior Qing army, the Zunghars formed a camel wall to defend their camp and defeated Qing assaults on their right flank, but were driven back on the left. They were able to withdraw into the wooded hills behind their camp in good order. The Qing commander, Fuquan, reported it as a victory, but was discredited by political opponents.[1]


The Dzungar Khanate ruled the Oirat tribe, which had a longtime rivalry with the Khalka tribe, which was ruled by the Northern Yuan dynasty. After the death of the Zunghar Khan's brother at the hand's of the Northern Yuan, he attacked them, decisively defeated them and occupying Mongolia. The Northern Yuan rulers submitted to the Qing dynasty in the hope of being restored as client kings . Motivated by the opportunity to gain control over Mongolia and by the threat posed to them by a strong, unified Mongol state such as the Oirats threatened to form, the Qing sent their army north to subdue the Dzungars.


The Qing, running low on supplies due to the complications of operating in the difficult, dry terrain of Outer Mongolia, wanted to end the war with a decisive battle as soon as possible. Their army caught up to the Dzungars at Ulan Butung, trapping them against a range of wooded hills. The Qing started the battle with an artillery bombardment, causing light casualties among the Dzungars. The Qing launched an attack on the Dzungar left flank, driving this part of the army into the hills, where it fled. To ward off attacks on the centre,the Dzungars constructed a camel wall, or tuo cheng, by lining up 10,000 camels which they used for pack animals, roping their legs together, and firing between them.[2] Intimidated by this,the Qing attack slid off to the right, only for their cavalry and artillery to become bogged down in wet ground. The Dzungars now disassembled their camel wall and withdrew into the hills unharassed.[3]


The Dzungars escaped intact, inflicting more casualties than they had suffered, enabling them to fight the Qing successfully several more times. The Qing commander, Fuquan, claimed a victory, but he had failed to destroy the Dzungar army and the Khanate remained in control of Mongolia. He was discredited by political opponents and forced into retirement.


  1. ^ Perdue (2005), 155
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Classic Warfare,pg. 229,2011.
  3. ^ Perdue (2005), 155