Battle of Sarhu

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Battle of Sarhu
Part of the Qing conquest of the Ming
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.
Later Jin Ming dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Du Song  
Liu Ting  
Ma Lin
Li Rubai
Kang Hongrip
Kim Eungha (김응하)
Kim Gyeongseo (김경서)
60,000[1][2] 70,000[3]
Casualties and losses
2,000[4][5] 45,000

The Battle of Sarhū (薩爾滸之戰, Sà'ěrhǔ zhī zhàn) refers to a series of battles between the Later Jin dynasty (later known as the Qing dynasty) and the Ming dynasty and their Joeseon allies in the winter of 1619.

The battle is notable for the heavy use of cavalry by the Later Jin in defeating Ming and Joseon forces equipped with hand cannons, matchlocks, and cannons.


Prior to the battle Nurhaci had unified the Jurchen people, excluding the Yehe, and took a hostile attitude towards the Ming for favoritism and meddling in the affairs of the Jurchen tribes. In 1618, he proclaimed his Seven Grievances (nadan amba koro 七大恨) with the Ming to Heaven and subsequently declared war. He occupied Fushun, Qinghe (清河) and other cities before retreating. The death of the Ming Vice-General Zhang Chengyin (張承蔭) stunned the Ming court. In 1619, he attacked the Yehe (葉赫) in an attempt to provoke Ming. Ming responded by dispatching expeditionary forces led by Military Commissioner Yang Hao to besiege Hetu Ala 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)
Mobile Corps Commander (游擊) Xi Niansui (襲念遂)
Mobile Corps Commander Li Jibi (李季泌)
Left Wing North Route Force Regional Commander Ma Lin (馬林, Route Commander)
Vice-General (副將) Ma Yan (麻岩)
Army-inspecting Censor Fan Zongyan (范宗顏) 10,000
Mobile Corps Commander Bao Yongcheng (寶永澄)
Gintaisi (金台石) (Yehe)
Right Wing East Route Force Regional Commander Liu Ting (劉綎, Route Commander)
Army-Inspecting Censor Kang Yingqian (康應乾)
Mobile Corps Commander (游擊) Qiao Yiqi 喬一琦
Joseon Expeditionary Force Commander Gang Hong-rip (姜弘立)
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)

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 defeated by the Jurchen cavalry. Ma Lin escaped as half of his troop was lost. 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. Before Nurhaci marched,Liu had captured 3 fortresses and killed 2 Manchu generals, as well as taken 3,000 heads of Manchu soldiers.[6] 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 resisted the enemy stubbornly, although the number of manchu soldiers is 5 or 6 times as much as himself. Approximately 3,000 Zhejiang army and more than 7,000 Hmong minion was annihilated under the swarming attack of Manchu. Liu Ting died in the combat, after killed several Manchu soldiers by his hand.

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. Li Rubai withdrew his troop to Ming's side of the border without casualties.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inaba, Kunzan. 《清朝全史(The Full History of Qing Synasty)》. p95, China Social Sciences Press. 2008. ISBN 9787500472087.
  2. ^ National Defense University (Republic of China). 《中國歷代戰爭史 第16冊 清(上)Chinese Military History, Vol 16, Qing Dynasty 1》. p78. Zhongxin Press. 2013. ISBN 9787508637112.
  3. ^ Ming Shi Lu
  4. ^ Inaba, Kunzan. 《清朝全史(The Full History of Qing Synasty)》. p95, China Social Sciences Press. 2008. ISBN 9787500472087.
  5. ^ National Defense University (Republic of China). 《中國歷代戰爭史 第16冊 清(上)Chinese Military History, Vol 16, Qing Dynasty 1》. p80. Zhongxin Press. 2013. ISBN 9787508637112.
  6. ^ Guo Que, vol.l83, p.5133.