Battle of Sarhu

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Battle of Sarhu
Part of the Qing conquest of the Ming
Minggunbattle.jpg
The Jurchen cavalry charging Ming infantry in the battle of Sarhu.
Date 14 April 1619 - 18 April 1619
Location Fushun, China
Result Decisive Manchu Victory.
Belligerents
Later Jin Ming dynasty
Joseon
Commanders and leaders
Nurhaci
Daišan
Laimbu
China:
Du Song  
Liu Ting  
Ma Lin
Li Rubai  
Korea:
Kang Hongrip
Kim Eungha (김응하)
Kim Gyeongseo (김경서)
Strength
60,000 160,000[1]
Casualties and losses
Unknown 47,000

The Battle of Sarhū (薩爾滸之戰, Sà'ěrhǔ zhī zhàn) refers to the series of conflicts between the Manchus of the Later Jin (later known as the Qing dynasty) and Ming dynasty of China in the winter of year 1619, which ended in the overwhelming victory for the Manchus.

The Manchu cavalry defeated forces equipped with matchlocks and cannons, so the Battle of Sarhū is sometimes compared to the Battle of Nagashino in Japanese history.

Background[edit]

Nurhaci unified all the Jurchen tribes except the Yehe and took a hostile attitude towards the Ming. In 1618, he proclaimed Seven Grievances (nadan amba koro 七大恨) against Ming government to Heaven and declared war on the Ming forces. He occupied Fushun (撫順), Qinghe (清河) and other cities, and then pulled out. The death of Ming Vice-General (副總兵/副將) Zhang Chengyin (張承蔭) stunned the Ming court. In 1619, he attacked Yehe (葉赫) in an attempt to provoke the Mings.

The Ming Dynasty eventually decided to dispatch massive expeditionary forces, led by Military Commissioner Yang Hao (楊鎬). The Mings planned to besiege Hetu Ala, Nurhaci's home, from four routes.

Unit Commanders Estimated size
HQ Military Commissioner (經略) Yang Hao (楊鎬) several thousand
Left Wing West Route Force Regional Commander (總兵) Du Song (杜松, Route Commander)
Regional Commander Wang Xuan (王宣)
Regional Commander Zhao Menglin (趙夢麟)
Army-inspecting Censor (監軍) Zhang Quan (張銓)
30,000
Mobile Corps Commander (游擊) Xi Niansui (襲念遂)
Mobile Corps Commander Li Jibi (李季泌)
2,000
Left Wing North Route Force Regional Commander Ma Lin (馬林, Route Commander)
Vice-General (副將) Ma Yan (麻岩)
10,000
Army-inspecting Censor Fan Zongyan (范宗顏) 10,000
Mobile Corps Commander Bao Yongcheng (寶永澄)
Gintaisi (金台石) (Yehe)
10,000
Right Wing East Route Force Regional Commander Liu Ting (劉綎, Route Commander)
Army-Inspecting Censor Kang Yingqian (康應乾)
30,000
Mobile Corps Commander (游擊) Qiao Yiqi 喬一琦
Joseon (Korea) Expeditionary Force Commander Kang Hongrip (姜弘立)
20,000
Right Wing South Route Force Regional Commander Li Rubai (李如栢, Route Commander)
Regional Commander He Shixian (賀世賢)
Army-inspecting Censor Yan Mingtai (閻鳴泰)
40,000

The Western Route[edit]

This route was under the overall command of Du Song. Du Song led his forces west from Shenyang (沈陽), and recaptured Fushun, which was undefended. He set off from Shenyang on the night of the 29th of the 2nd lunar month, under torchlight. He had orders to arrive at Yagu Gate on the 2nd of the 3rd lunar month, so he arrived the next day at Fushun, 100 li (里) away. He set off from Fushun on the 1st of the 3rd lunar month. Just beyond Fushun is the Sarhu Mountain Pass (薩爾滸山口) and Jilin Cliff (吉林崖). It is where the Suzi river and Hun River converge. Du Song was advised to camp for the night, but he refused, and so forded the river topless and clouded with liquor on horseback. He was then asked to wear armour, and he replied that being in the military for this many years he did not know how heavy armour was as he never wore it and crossed the river. When his forces were half way across, Nurhaci ordered his bannermen to break the dams they had prepared, and thus a portion of Du Song's men and equipment had to be left behind or were lost in the river.

That night, Du Song divided his forces in two camps, one at Sarhu Mountain Pass and he himself took one at Jilin Cliff. This was the 1st of the 3rd lunar month. Nurhaci had his Eight Banners. He sent two banners against Du Song to keep him in check at Jilin Cliff and himself took six banners and attacked the Sarhu camp. The fighting was fierce, both sides fought valiantly but the Ming forces were completely destroyed.

Du Song heard of the defeat at Sarhu and was now very wary. Nurhaci now concentrated his all his forces against Du Song's Jilin Cliff Camp. Du Song was a courageous warrior and led from the front. But Nurhaci had him besieged. Hilltop, hillfoot, forest and valley, he was totally surrounded, with Du Song's forces firing artillery outwards with lit torches, he was lighting his own forces up clearly for Nurhaci's forces to attack. The Western Route was totally destroyed. Du Song and the other two Generals, (總兵) Wang Xuan and Zhao Menglin, were also killed in combat. Du Song died from an arrow by Liambu, 13th son of Nurhaci.

The Northern Route[edit]

Upon hearing of Du Song's destruction, Ma Lin grew more cautious. He divided his forces in two and together with Du Song's remnant forces, mainly supply units, formed three fortified camps protected by chariots, artillery and trenches. Nurhachi concentrated his Eight Banners on each camp consecutively, initially on Ma Lin's own camp. Ma Lin's artillery opened fire, but due to their slow rate of fire they were cut to pieces by the Jurchen cavalry. Ma Lin escaped as his camp was annihilated. The other two camps also fell after Nurhachi's assault.

The Eastern Route[edit]

On the 3rd, Nurhaci and Daišan rested and recuperated. Reports on Liu Ting and Li Rubai's routes arrived. Nurhaci decided to attack Liu Ting first, as Li Rubai's forces were mainly traversing mountain routes. Nurhaci ordered some of his troops to disguise themselves as Ming Troops and mix them into Liu Ting's forces. He also sent a message to Liu Ting with his messengers disguised as Du Song's messengers and they reported to Liu Ting that Du Song was already approaching their destination and asked him to speed up. Liu Ting took the bait and increased the pace of his advance. This ruse induced Liu Ting's troop lose cohesion with other Ming forces and advanced into a deep valley and walked straight into an ambush.

He was then ambushed in Abudali (阿布達里) Pass as his troops stretched themselves in a serpentine form to traverse the valley. His forces met Daišan's forces and were cut to pieces. He himself, wielding his glaive fought valiantly, but was cut to pieces. He also had around 15,000 Zhejiang contingent whose armour and protection was made of bamboo and were useless against the steel blades of the Jurchen warriors: they were completely slaughtered.

The 13,000 strong Korean force, including at least 10,000 musketeers, were not effective due to direction of windage against them. Also they delivered volley without arrowheads because they did not intend to fight with them in the first place. They wanted to maintain neutral policy between the Manchus and Ming Dynasty. Korean contingent commander Kang Hongrip then surrendered with the remaining troops.

The Southern Route[edit]

When Yang Hao heard of the annihilation of the three routes, he ordered Li Rubai to return home. Li Rubai was mainly traversing mountain routes and also had weak resolve preferring to let the others do the fighting. Nurhaci had a small scouting contingent of roughly 20 man shadowing Li Rubai and when Li Rubai was seen to retreat, this contingent sounded the horn of attack from the mountains, pretending to be the prelude of a major attack. Panic set in amongst the Ming army, and thousands died of trampling and in the ensuing chaos. After this defeat, Li Rubai committed suicide.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ming declare over 450,000