Shangdang Campaign

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Shangdang Campaign
Shangtang.jpg
Date September 10, 1945 – October 12, 1945
Location Shanxi, China
Result Communist victory
Belligerents
Flag of the National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
PLA
Chinese Red Army
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the National Revolutionary Army Yan Xishan China Liu Bocheng
China Deng Xiaoping
Strength
~35,000 ~80,000
Casualties and losses
35,000, most of them captured 4,708

The Shangdang Campaign (Chinese: 上黨戰役) was a series battles fought between the Communist force under the leadership of Liu Bocheng and the nationalist Yan Xishan’s Kuomintang force. The Campaign lasted from September 10, 1945, through October 12, 1945. Like all other communist victories in the clashes immediately after Japanese's surrender in World War II, the outcome of this campaign altered the course of the peace negotiation held in Chongqing from August 28, 1945, through October 11, 1945, resulting in a more favourable outcome for Mao Zedong.

Prelude[edit]

After the end of World War II, the conflict between the Communists and the Kuomintang resumed the intensity that it had had before the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Under the direction of Chiang Kai-shek, the commander-in-chief of the second war zone, Yan Xishan, ordered the commander of the 19th Army, Shi Zebo (史泽波), to lead the 19th Army, part of the 61st Army, and other units, totaling more than 17,000 to invade the Communist base in the Shangdang (上党) region of southeastern Shanxi in the mid August, 1945. Three Nationalist divisions were stationed in the largest city of the region, Changzhi, while the rest were stationed in the following cities/towns: Xiangyuan (襄垣), Changzi (长子), Tunliu (屯留), Lucheng, Huguang (壶关), and other counties; and, from these newly established bases, the Nationalists planned to take the entire southeastern Shanxi region from the Communists. The Communists anticipated the Nationalist attack and mobilized 31,000 troops from the Taihang (太行), Taiyue (太岳), and Southern Hebei (冀南) military districts to prepare for the upcoming battles.

The Communist commander, Liu Bocheng, was assisted by his political commissar Deng Xiaoping, who was excellent at motivating his soldiers. Many communist troops worried about the safety of Mao Zedong, who was in Chongqing negotiating a peace treaty with Chiang Kai-shek. Deng Xiaoping told his soldiers that the greater the victory for the upcoming battle, the safer Mao Zedong would be, and the stronger the position the Communists would have at the negotiations. This position was observed to be effective in raising the morale of the Communist troops in Shanxi. The Communists also mobilized an additional 50,000 militia to ease logistical concerns associated with the campaign, and to fill vacancies left behind by the regular troops who were on the front lines.

First stage[edit]

The campaign officially started on September 10, 1945, when the first shot of the first battle was fired. The Communist Taihang (太行) column first attacked Tunliu (屯留), while Taiyue (太岳) and Southern Hebei (冀南) columns prepared for an ambush. One day later, the Taihang column entered a skirmish with the 6,000 Nationalist troops from Changzhi, but the Nationalist commander was extremely careful; and, once contact with the Communist force was made, the Nationalist unit immediately withdrew to back to Changzhi. Although the Communist ambush failed, they did take the town of Tunliu (屯留) on September 12, 1945. On September 13, 1945, the communist used the same tactics again, with the Taihang (太行) column attacking Changzi (长子), while the Taiyue (太岳) and Southern Hebei (冀南) columns prepared for another ambush. However, the Nationalist commander Shi Zebo (史泽波) anticipated the Communists’ ambush, and did not sent out any reinforcements from Changzhi.

Realizing that their original plan would not be successful, Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping promptly changed their strategy from decimating the nationalist force to retaking lost territory, taking Xiangyuan (襄垣), Changzi (长子), Tunliu (屯留), Lucheng, Huguang (壶关) and other counties by September 19, 1945, annihilating over 7,000 Nationalist troops in the process. The next day, Communist forces attacked garrisons outside of Changzhi from the south, east and west. The Communists planned to let the Nationalists escape to the north and ambush them while they were fleeing. Again, the Communist plan failed to materialize when Nationalist commander Shi Zebo (史泽波), still at Changzhi, again anticipated the ambush and decided to hold out. When the attack on Changzhi began on September 24, 1945, but the Communists failed to take the city (attributed largely to the superior arms of the Nationalist defenders). A stalemate was reached following the successful defence of Changzhi.

Second stage[edit]

After Yan Xishan learned of the emergency facing Shi Zebo (史泽波) at Changzhi, he sent out reinforcements led by the deputy commander-in-chief of the 2nd Army Group, Peng Yubin (彭毓斌). Peng's units consisted of the 23rd Army, the 83rd Army, and other divisions totalling more than 20,000 men. Learning these troop movements on September 28, 1945, the Communists planned an ambush in the area between Tunliu (屯留) and Xianghuan (襄垣), leaving the Southern Hebei (冀南) Column and local militia to maintain the siege of Changzhi, while redeploying Taihang (太行) and Taiyue (太岳) columns to the north.

On October 2, 1945, the Nationalist reinforcements clashed with the ambushing Communist forces at a region northwest of Tunliu (屯留) known as "Wangjiaqu" (王家渠). After the initial battle, the Nationalist reinforcements were engaged at regions along Laoyeling (老爷岭), Mopannao (磨盘脑), and Yulin (榆林) line. The Nationalists maintained a tight formation, making communication more efficient due to the shorter distance between units. The Nationalists benefitted from superior equipment, and effectively concentrated their superior firepower to inflict heavy casualties on the attacking Communist force. The Communists were forced to redeploy the Southern Hebei (冀南) Column for reinforcement, leaving only the local militia to besiege Changzhi. The Communists changed tactics, attacking from 3 sides while leaving the north side open so that the enemy would escape to the north and be ambushed on the way. This tactic proved successful when, on October 5, 1945, Peng Yubin (彭毓斌) escaped to the north exactly as the Communists had hoped. His force was soon defeated, and Peng Yubin (彭毓斌) himself was killed at Siting (虒亭) by the waiting Communist Taiyue (太岳) column.

Third stage[edit]

Learning that his reinforcements were annihilated, the Nationalist commander Shi Zebo (史泽波) at Changzhi planned a breakout from the west on October 8, 1945, under the cover of darkness, hoping to reach Linfen. Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping immediately ordered Taiyue (太岳) column to move to Mabi (马壁) from Siting (虒亭) to intercept the fleeing enemy. On October 12, 1945, the Communist force caught up with the fleeing Nationalist force at the Jiangjunling (将军岭) and Peach River (桃川) regions, decimating the demoralized enemy and capturing the Nationalist commander Shi Zebo (史泽波) alive.

Conclusion[edit]

The Shangdang (上党) Campaign cost the Kuomintang 13 divisions totaled more than 35,000 troops, with more than 31,000 of those 35,000 captured as POWs by the Communists. Of the two Nationalist commanders, one was killed and the other was captured alive. The Communists suffered over 4,000 casualties, with none captured by the Nationalists. In addition to decimating the Nationalist force with relatively light casualties, the Communist force also obtained an important supply of weapons that its force desperately needed, capturing 24 mountain guns, more than 2,000 machine guns, and more than 16,000 rifles, submachine guns, and handguns from its enemy. The campaign had additional importance for the Communists because it was the first campaign in which a Communist force engaged an enemy using conventional tactics and succeeded, marking a transition from the guerrilla warfare commonly practiced by the Communists.

On the political front, the campaign was a great boost for the Communists in their negotiations at the peace talks in Chongqing. The Kuomintang suffered from the loss of territory, troops, and materiel. The Nationalist also lost face before the Chinese public, which expected the Kuomintang to produce results in the peace talks.

See also[edit]

References[edit]