Posted On: Saturday - January 19th 2019 8:31PM MST
In Topics:   Commies  History  China  Geography
Comrade Mao takes a few hundred mile breather on the march:
This post comes out of left (yes, LEFT) field, though Peak Stupidity did mention the 1934-5 Chinese "Long March" back in one paragraph in the post called Long Marches, never-ending marches, and Revolutions. I've been reading through this Wikipedia article and another on the site Alpha History about this period of Chinese History near the beginning of the 1st phase of this (of many in the 5,000 year history) civil war. (It had to be interrupted for a few years in order to fight off the Japanese, with American help, I might add.)
The Wiki article seems fairly unbiased, as many can be, when the politics are left out. I was surprised to find the Alpha History site even disparaging this period in the Communist's history and Mao himself. It should be easy enough to find diparaging material on the tyrant/butcher/torturer Mao Zedong, but it's not as easy as it should have been.
If it weren't for the fact that the winners write the history, we'd be calling this whole deal the "Long Retreat" rather than the "Long March". See, the Kuomingtang, the Chinese Nationalists (and on-off-on-again anti-Communists) under General Chiang Kai-Shek had built fortifications all around the eastern province of Jiangxi (just west of Fujian province, which is 100 miles across the straits from Taiwan) to surround this first Chinese "Soviet" with its armed forces of 130,000 men, located in Ruijin, in the SE of the province (the closest big city being Ganzhou, with it's current population of 9,000,000, located about 600 miles SSW of Shanghai).
After a diversion in a different direction by some of the Red forces, of 86,000 people trying to break out past the fortifications of the Nationalists, only 36,000 made it out of the area, the rest having been killed or having deserted. The group headed west, through northern Guangdong province, then northern Guangxi province, into deepest, mountainous Guizhou. During this time there were power struggles among the leaders Mao, General Zhou, a guy named Bo, and a German Commie advisor named Otto Braun*. General Mao, who was able to remain in charge, moved his forces, the 1st Army, in a continual retreat from the Kuomingtang, sometimes back and forth and around-and-round, adding to the mileage. There were regroupings eventually with the 2nd Army and the 4th Army, but they resulted in more division again and both the other two armies had their own subsequent just-as-long (2nd) and not-quite-as-long (4th) marches to go.
The dashed curve is the path of Mao's 1st Army.
The southern dotted curve is the path of the 2nd Army,
and the northern dotted curve is the path of the 4th Army
Almost until the end, the Long March was a retreat from the Chiang Kai-Shek's forces, with battles of all sizes along the way. One of them, the early-on Battle of the Xiang River, was reported to leave 40,000 Commies dead, and another, over the Luding Bridge (on the Dadu River), a famous victory said to be a fierce battle by the Reds, was reported later to be a skirmish in which the local warlords (no Nationalists) just turned and ran. The worst of it must have been the trek across the over 13,000 ft high mountain passes through the Snowy Mountains heading north from Yunnan into Sichuan province. Mao's Army ended up by the Great Wall in late October of 1935, with something like 8,000 people remaining of the 160,000 total people who had participated. I don't think any general in any army in world history would consider this a successful operation.
The length of that miserable trek is on the order of a round-trip from Chicago, Illinois to LasVegas, Nevada. I'd prefer the latter, myself. I'd much rather get my kicks on Route 66 than travel with a bunch of stinking Commies on the run in the backwoods of China. However, for a Commie with propaganda at his disposal, this Long March is a thing to celebrate and reminisce about. That town of Ruijin, where the Red Chinese had their 1st little Soviet, with their "28 Bolsheviks" (they were good with that abacus) is considered a destination for a pilgramage of the hard-core Commie, Mao-sackhanging set to this day. In the meantime, as bad as things are here, I'd rather be in the south side of Chicago (for not too long) or losing my blogging profits in the pits of Lost Wages!
* The Nationalists had their own Germans, including one Hans von Seeckt, who helped General Chiang in developing the plan to surround the Commies back in Jiangxi. "Whose Germans were better?" is always the question that crops up in military history.