The First Encirclement Campaign (Template:Zh-c) was a series of battles launched by the Chinese Nationalist Government that intended to annihilate the Chinese Red Army and to destroy the Jiangxi Soviet. It was later responded by the Communist's First Counter Encirclement Campaign (Template:Zh-c), in which the Red Army successfully defended their Soviet base in the southern Jiangxi against the Nationalist attacks from November 1930 to January 3, 1931.
The plan of the campaign was already in process in the mid August 1930, as Chiang Kai-shek had directed He Yingqing, the commander of Wuhan headquarter to hold the conference at Hankou on how to suppress the communists in the Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces. Decision was made to concentrate on the military, with less emphasis on the politics, and to launch multiple attacks on main communist base, the Jiangxi Soviet. The plan was temporarily interrupted by the Central Plains War, and when Chiang’s victory was certain by October 1930, he immediately redeployed his troops in preparation to exterminate communists with in 3 to 6 months.
Nationalist strategy planned for the 1st phaseEdit
Chiang Kai-shek appointed the nationalist Jiangxi provincial governor and the commander of the 9th Route Army, Lu Diping (鲁涤平) to organize the nationalist troops for redeployment. On November 2, 1930, Lu Diping organized the nationalist troops that totaled 7 divisions and 1 brigade into 3 Columns, and reinforcement in the form of Chiang Kai-shek's own troops departed from Hunan, while the Nineteenth Route Army departed from Wuhan by October 20, 1930. Lu Diping set a deadline on November 5, 1930, by which the nationalist troops must be reach their designated deployment areas, and the nationalist order of battle was:
Commander-in-chief: Chiang Kai-shek
- Deputy commander-in-chief: Lu Diping
- Frontline commander-in-chief: Zhang Huizan (张辉瓒)
- The 1st Column:
- The 2nd Column:
- 50th Division deployed at Western Mountain (西山)
- 14th Independent brigade deployed at Jingan (靖安)
- The 3rd Column:
- 5th Division deployed at Gaoan (高安)
- 77th Division deployed at Shanggao (上高)
- Strategic reserve:
- 8th Division deployed at Nanchang
The nationalists totaled over 100,000 and planned to crush the communists in the Linjiang (临江) region.
Communist strategy planned for the 1st phaseEdit
The communists originally disagreed on how to defend Jiangxi Soviet. In numerous debates, many believed in the decision made in early August 1930 which suggested that the majority of the 40,000 strong Chinese Red Army should strike Nanchang and Jiujiang, forcing the nationalists on the defensive, thus abandoning the encirclement campaign. However, the general commissar of the Chinese Red Army, Mao Zedong opposed the idea, accurately pointed out that the numerically and technically inferior communist force was in no place to leave the communist base and take major cities in the nationalist heartland. Instead, the communists should fight the enemy within the Jiangxi Soviet and defeat the enemy with the support of the people. Mao Zedong finally prevailed and on October 30, 1930 at the Luofang (罗坊) Conference, everyone eventually agreed with Mao that the Chinese Red Army should cross the Gan River and defeat the enemy on the eastern shore of the Gan River.
As a result of the communist strategy, Zhu De, the commander-in-chief of the Chinese Red Army and the general commissar Mao Zedong lead the 3rd Legion, the 4th Army and the 12th Army of the 1st Legion crossed the Gan River, moved eastward to Xingan (新干)、Eternal Abundance (永丰)、Chongren (崇仁)、Yihuang (宜黄), letting the nationalists taking Qingjiang (清江), Xingquan (新淦), Yellow Earth Street (黄土街), Luofang (罗坊), Xinyu (新余), Fenyi (分宜) by early November 1930. Only the 3rd Army of the Chinese Red Army remained in the former communist region to harass the enemy via guerilla warfare, while Mao Zedong and Zhu De moved their troops toward Zhangshu and Linchuan. Fearing Zhangshu and Linchuan would be lost to the communists, Lu Diping ordered the 3rd Column to continue the attack in the western shore of Gan River, while the 1st and the 2nd Columns to cross Gan River to pursuit the major communist force.
After the crossing, the nationalists succeeded in taking Xingquan (新淦)、Chongren (崇仁)、Southern Town (南城)、Southern Abundance (南丰)、Jishui (吉水), Lukou (路口)、Oil Field (油田)，Donggu (东固)、Dragon Hill (龙冈) by mid November 1930. From November 18, 1930 to November 20, 1930, the nationalists took Ji'an, Jishui (吉水), Eternal Abundance (永丰), Yuean (乐安), Yihuang (宜黄)、Southern Town (南城). By early December 1930, the nationalist force was overstretched and stopped their offensives to regroup and re-supply. In the meantime, the communists planned their next move, and also regrouped and re-supplied first at Yellow Slope (黄陂), Little Cloth (小布), Luokou (洛口), and then moved to Pingtian (平田), Firewood Gathering Hill (砍柴冈), Anfuyu (安福圩) by mid December 1930. At the same time, the 20th Army of the Chinese Red Army acted as decoy in the Rich Field (富田)、Donggu (东固)、Dragon Hill (龙冈) regions to distract the enemy. A Communist counter-attack defeated the Nationalist force and drove them back. A stalemate was reached and both sides used this period to plan and prepare for the next phase.
Kuomintang strategy planned for the 2nd phaseEdit
Chiang Kai-shek reached Nanchang in early December 1930, personally took the command and decided that all nationalist force would attack Donggu in mid December. More nationalist troops were mobilized, with Nineteenth Route Army from Wuhan joined the battle, and the 49th Division, 56th Division and the 2nd Independent Brigade attacking from Fujian, and the nationalist forced by then had been boosted to a total of 11 Divisions and 2 brigades, totaling more than 100,000. To better command the troops, Lu Diping was named as Chiang’s deputy, while Zhang Huizan (张辉瓒), the commander of the 18th Division was promoted to frontline commander-in-chief. The Kuomintang troops slowly begun their push to their objectives and the order of battle of the attacking nationalist force was:
- 77th Division attacking Anfu (安福) from Ji'an
- 49th Division and the 2nd Independent Brigade attacking Ruijin, Huichang
- 34th brigade of the 12th Division defending Ganzhou
- The 6th Route Army:
- 8th Division attacking Guangchan (广昌)、Ningdu (宁都)、Yudu (于都) from Yellow Slope (黄陂)、Southern Abundance (南丰)
- 24th Division attacking Dongshao (东韶)、Luokou (洛口)、Ningdu (宁都) from Chinese Alligator Lake (蛟湖)
- 56th Division attacking Stone City (石城) from Jianning (建宁)
- The 9th Route Army:
- 5th Division attacking Rich Field (富田), Donggu from Ji'an
- 18th Division attacking Ancient County (古县)、White Sand (白沙), Donggu from Eternal Abundance (永丰)
- 50th Division attacking Shaoxie (招携)、Tengtian (藤田), Dragon Hill、Donggu (东固) from Yuean (乐安)
- The 19th Route Army:
- 60th Division attacking Wanan (万安) from Pingxiang, Jiangxi
- 61st Division attacking Taihe (泰和) from Pingxiang, Jiangxi
Communist strategy planned for the 2nd phaseEdit
The communists held a conference at Yellow Slope (黄陂) of Ningdu (宁都) county in the mid December 1930 to discuss their next move, and in order to solve the technical inferiority problem the communists had, Mao decided to independently crush individual enemy units in a single direction by concentrating the communist forces to achieve absolute numerical superiority. In the mean time, smaller local communist forces would take advantage of landscapes to slowdown other enemy units in different direction, preventing them from reinforcing each other. Mao’s idea was accepted, and the 35th Division of the 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army was sent to Yue Creek (约溪) region northeast of Xingguo (兴国) county to distract the enemy while the main force was concentrated to Yellow Slope and Matian (麻田) for the preparation of the upcoming battle.
The stalemate ended on December 16, 1930 when the nationalist started the 2nd phase of their offensive. The 5th Division (later renamed as the 28th Division) and the 18th Division reached Donggu on December 19, 1930 and December 20, 1930 respectively. However, heavy fog and poor communication prevent the coordination between the nationalist forces and both Divisions mistaken the other as the communist force and battled each other with heavy artillery duels for nearly a day. It was not until the December 21, 1930 when the fog dissipated when the nationalist realized their mistakes, but hundreds of casualties were already inflicted.
- The nationalist 50th Division was stopped at Zhaoxie (招携)
- The nationalist 60th Division was stopped at Wangan (万安)
- The nationalist 61st Division was stopped at Taihe (泰和)
- The nationalist 24th Division was stopped at Caotaigang (草台岗)
- The nationalist 8th Division was stopped at New Abundance (新丰)
- The nationalist 28th Division (renamed 5th Division) was stopped at Triple Craters (三坑)
- The nationalist 18th Division was stopped at regions near Yinfu (因富) and Nanlong (南垄)
After the initial setback, the nationalist 50th Division continued their push, reaching River Origin (源头), and prepared to take Little Cloth (小布). Learning the news, the communists tried to ambush the nationalist 50th Division twice on December 25, 1930 and December 27, 1930 respectively, but both time failed because the nationalist troops were very cautious and would not leave their fortified positions in River Origin, and the communists were thus forced to withdraw and regroup, waiting for the next opportunity.
On December 28, 1930, Lu Diping ordered the five nationalist divisions within the heart of the Jiangxi Soviet to launch a general offensive toward Yellow Slope、Little Cloth, Matian (麻田) regions north of Ningdu (宁都). The nationalist 18th Division under the command of the divisional commander and the frontline commander-in-chief Zhang Huizan (张辉瓒) pushed toward Dragon Hill from Donggu. Once the Chinese Red Army learned the news, it was decided to use local militia and guerilla to stop and distract the nationalist 50th Division at River Origin, the nationalist 24th Division at Luokou (洛口), and the nationalist 8th Division at Head Slope (头陂), while the main force would concentrate on defeating the 18th Division.
On December 29, 1930, was the Chinese Red Army was on its way, the news of the nationalist 18th Division taking Dragon Hill reached the communists, and a battle plan was made to engage the enemy via a pincer movement:
- Left wing:
- The 64th Division of the 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army would push to Watch Lake (表湖) by dawn of December 30, 1930, and with a portion of its force, taking the Blind Man’s Mountain (盲公山), thus cutting off the link between the Dragon Hill and Nanlong (南垄).
- The main force of the 64th Division of the 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army would attack the 18th Division of the nationalist 9th Route Army from behind from Orchid Stone (兰石) and Maoping (茅坪).
- The 35th Division of the 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army would push toward the region between Dragon Hill and Nanlong (南垄) from Yue Creek (约溪) before noon December 30, 1930, helping the 64th Division of the 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army attacking the enemy, and guard the communist force from possible nationalist attacks from Nanlong.
- Right wing:
- The 3rd Legion of the Chinese Red Army would push to Wooden Crater (木坑) by the morning of December 30, 1930, and continued on to Shanggu (上固), attacking Dragon Hill.
- The 4th Army of the Chinese Red Army would push to Xiagu (下固), and continue on to Huanpu (还铺), attacking Zhang's Family’s Cart (张家车) northwest of Dragon Hill, and guard the communist force from possible nationalist attacks from Xiagu (下固) and Tantou (潭头).
- Chinese Red Army headquarter was moved to the Yellow Earth Ridge (黄土岭) near Short Separation (小别) to command the upcoming battle.
On the morning of December 30, 1930, the 18th Division of the nationalist 9th Route Army begun their push toward Five Gates Ridge (五门岭) from Dragon Hill (龙冈), headed by the 52nd brigade. Around 9 AM, the most important battle of the First Counter Encirclement Campaign begun with the 7th Division of the 3rd Legion of Chinese Red Army firing the first shot when both side met at Short Separation, east of Dragon Hill.
The first major battleEdit
By noon of December 30, 1930, the entire 3rd Legion of the Chinese Red Army was devoted to the battle. Zhang Huizan (张辉瓒), the commander of nationalist 18th Division, still mistakenly believed that the opposing communist forces engaged were only guerillas harassing his troop, only devoted two more regiments in support of his 52nd brigade, mistakenly expecting the communist resistance would soon be swept away. By 3:00 PM, Zhang Huizan personally lead the charge of 4 regiments to clear the communist resistance, but was driven back. Taking the advantage, the 4th Army and part of the 3rd Legion of the Chinese Red Army took Zhang’s Family’s Cart, cutting off the nationalist 18th Division from Donggu (东固) and Yinfu (因富), attacking Dragon Hill from behind. In the meantime, the majority of the 3rd Legion of the Chinese Red Army took Shanggu (上固), thus cutting off the northwestern escaping route of the nationalist 18th Division at Dragon Hill, and preventing any nationalist reinforcement from northwest.
Learning the news, Zhang Huizan and his nationalist soldiers’ confidence rapidly decreased as they realized the dire situation they were in, and began their desperate attempt to escape. By 4:00 PM, the encirclement of the nationalist 18th Division was complete and the nationalist attempt to escape toward northwest was beaten back. The failure of the escape attempt crashed the nationalist morale and everyone was running for his own life, only to be captured alive by the communists, and Zhang Huizan was not able to command his troops for any organized retreat and counterattacks, and himself was taken prisoner by his communist captors. By 6:00 PM, it was all over for the trapped nationalists, the entire division was wiped out by the communists.
Consequence of the first major battleEdit
The complete destruction of the 18th Division of the nationalist 9th Route Army marked the immediate end of the nationalist assaults, with the five nationalist divisions deep inside the Jiangxi Soviet immediately started to retreat back toward the nationalist positions. The communists, however, decided not to let the nationalists go that easily and planned another attack on their enemy.
The 50th Division of the nationalist 9th Route Army became the enemy's next target as it begun its retreat toward Dongshao (东韶) from Southern Regiment (南团) on January 2, 1931. The communist headquarter decided on the same day to pursuit the enemy in three directions:
- Left wing:
- The 3rd Legion of the Chinese Red Army would push to Head Slope, attacking Dongshao from north.
- Right wing:
- The main force 3rd Army of the Chinese Red Army would push to Tianying (田营) to engage the 24th Division of the nationalist 6th Route Army, preventing it from reinforcing the 50th Division of the nationalist 9th Route Army at Dongshao, while a portion of 3rd Army of the Chinese Red Army would attack Dongshao from the east.
- The 12th Army of the Chinese Red Army would push to Southern Regiment and Linchi (琳池), attacking Dongshao from the west. The 4th Army of the Chinese Red Army would act as strategic reserve, following the 12th Army.
- The headquarter of the Chinese Red Army would move forward to Longtan (龙坛) to command the upcoming battle.
The second major battleEdit
On January 3, 1931, communist forces at the left and center reached Dongshao and started their attack, succeeding in driven the enemy from Dongshao by 3:00 PM. However, the communist force at the right failed to reach the battlefield, resulting in successful escape of the nationalist force, resulting in only a single brigade the nationalist 50th Division been decimated.
Consequence of the second major battleEdit
The battle of Dongshao was the second important battle during the First Counter Encirclement Campaign in that the communist victory marked the beginning of the nationalist general retreat after the battle from Jiangxi Soviet back to their original positions prior the campaign, thus abandoning all of the regions newly gained during the campaign. The communist First Counter Encirclement Campaign had succeeded.
The communist victory decimated four nationalist brigades totaling more than 15,000 troops, capturing more than 12,000 guns and artilleries. The success of the communist First Counter Encirclement Campaign marked the Chinese Red Army’s transition from guerilla warfare to mobile warfare and accumulated important experience in conventional warfare, setting the funding pattern and model for the next three successful counter encirclement campaigns.