Battle of Ningyuan

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Battle of Ningyuan
Part of the Qing conquest of the Ming
Battle of Ningyuan, 1626.jpg
The Jin army storming the city walls.
Date 1626
Location Xingcheng, Liaoning
Result Ming victory
Later Jin Ming dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Nurhaci (WIA)
Hong Taiji
Yuan Chonghuan
Man Gui
Zu Dashou
Zhu Mei
Zuo Fu
100,000-130,000 9000-10,000

The Battle of Ningyuan (simplified Chinese: 宁远之战; traditional Chinese: 寧遠之戰; pinyin: Níngyuǎn Zhī Zhàn) was a battle between the Ming dynasty and the Manchu Later Jin (later known as the Qing dynasty) in 1626. The Ming won this battle. This battle marked the temporary resurgence of the Imperial Ming army after a long series of defeats.[1]

Before 1626, the Imperial Ming army had been very badly defeated by the Manchus. Part of the Imperial Ming army's new strategy of defense after defeat was to develop Ningyuan into a military stronghold. Yuan Chonghuan, with the support of Sun Chengzong, was seriously strengthening the defense of Ningyuan in anticipation of a Manchu attack.

After Sun Chengzong was replaced by a new commander, the new commander ordered all Ming Forces outside the Great Wall to retreat inside and abandon all land outside Shanhai Pass. Yuan Chonghuan objected stronglly and was thus left to command a lone army guarding Ningyuan (modern-day Xingcheng, Liaoning).

In 1626 Kundulun Khan Nurhaci, seeing all Ming forces leaving, decided to advance towards Ningyuan, personally leading a force of 100,000-130,000 (At least 60,000) (Nurhaci boasted an unrealistic 200,000).[2]

Yuan Chonghuan had only 10,000 men under his command. He burnt everything outside Ningyuan and wrote an essay of defiance against Jin in his own blood; he also sent orders to guards at the Great Wall to execute any deserters from Ningyuan,[3] thus greatly boosting the city's morale.

20 days later, the Jin army arrived and immediately attacked the city. However, after two days of intense fighting, the citizens and soldiers of Ningyuan inflicted heavy losses on the Jin forces and Nurhaci himself was wounded by cannon fire and decided to retreat.[4]

269 heads were cut off by Yuan Chonghuan's forces and delivered to his superiors.[5]

Nurhaci retreated back to Mukden and died from his wounds. His eighth son or the fourth Beilei (lord) Hung Taiji assumed the title of the Great Khan of the Later Jin Khanate. The Imperial Ming army adopted the same strategy of developing Jinzhou, which is further north of Ningyuan, into another military stronghold. Ningyuan became the headquarters of the Imperial Ming army with Yuan Chonghuan stationed there. Hung Taiji, like his father, was defeated in the Second Battle of Ningyuan about one year later. Then Hong Taiji plotted the death of Yuan Chonghuan.

On the whole, the Manchus did not manage to break the defense of the Ningyuan garrison even after the death of Yuan Chonghuan. However, in 1644, the Ming emperor ordered the Ningyuan garrison to give up Ningyuan and come to Beijing to fight a very strong rebel army. Before the Ningyuan garrison arrived, Beijing fell to the rebel army and the Ming emperor committed suicide. Subsequently, the Manchus defeated the rebel army and then after many more years of war conquered the whole China.


  1. ^ Frederic E. Wakeman (1977). The fall of imperial China (illustrated, reprint ed.). Simon and Schuster. p. 78. Retrieved 2012-03-02. In February, 1626, however, his troops were repulsed at Ningyuan, and eight months later Nurhaci died. 
  2. ^ Swope 2014, p. 57.
  3. ^ Swope 2014, p. 58.
  4. ^ Frederic E. Wakeman (1977). The fall of imperial China (illustrated, reprint ed.). Simon and Schuster. p. 78. Retrieved 2012-03-02. Abahai also realized how important it was to use Chinese military experts against the Ming forces. The great victories of 1618 and 1621 had placed eastern Liaodong under the Latter Chin's rule. But further expansion down the Liao-hsi coast toward the Great Wall had been blocked by the Ming commander, Yuan Ch'ung-huan, whose Portuguese artillery had repulsed Nurhaci at Ningyuan in 1626. 
  5. ^ Swope 2014, p. 59.