Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on Jun 10, 2007 in Front Page Features, War College

The Huaihai Campaign

By Joshua Gilbert

The campaign had begun. On November 6th Huang Baitao’s 7th Army began moving out to Xuzhou itself. While on the march a new set of orders arrived telling the 7th Army to halt at Xinanzhen and await the arrival of the 44th Corps, which was protecting refugees. Huang was unhappy with these new orders, since they contradicted those he had already received. What neither Huang Baitao or anyone in the NRA command  knew was that the Communists had orchestrated the whole thing. The defense of Xuzhou was set roughly in a triangle, with the 7th Army on the right, Qiu Qingquan and the 2nd Army on the left, and on the south Li Mi and the 13th Army.

The city was itself defended by reserves, under Du Yuming. When the ECFA under General Chen Yi arrived in the area they found themselves opposite the 2nd Army, which was comprised of the veterans of the Burma Campaigns during WWII. Chen Yi knew the Burma vet’s would tear his men apart, but Su Yu had a solution. As part of the 7th Army were the men who had formerly served under Feng Yuxiang, the Christian General. On top of that these men were also Manchurians, and thus resented by most of the Chinese they served with. Using this the Communists played a game of propaganda with the Manchurians, stirring up dissension (even going as far as broadcasting messages read by Feng’s wife to them). When Huang Baitao moved out of his positions exactly as planned, Chen Yi also moved out. The strategy here would be to puncture the 7th Army where the Manchurians held the line, drive a wedge in the formation, then turn and destroy them.

{default}

24174.jpg
The Communist leadership, from left to right: Su Yu (mastermind of the campaign), Deng Xiaoping (future Premier of the People’s Republic), Liu Bocheng (The One-eyed Dragon), Chen Yi (the ECFA’s field commander), and Tan Zhenlin (Su Yu’s behind the scenes man).

By November 7th a terrified Huang was informed that the Eastern China Field Army had changed positions and was advancing towards them. He immediately abandoned Xinanzhen as soon as the 44th arrived and made for Xuzhou. But when the Nationalist troops began crossing the Grand Canal the artillery of the ECFA opened fire on them, officially commencing the battle. Communist soldiers surged forward, breaking the Manchurians easily, and essentially breaking the 7th Army in two. Meanwhile, on November 8th, a second group arrived in the form of the Shandong Army Group under Xu Shiyou. Xu launched his attack quickly, breaking the GMD Hanzhuang-Taierzhuang defense line and crossing the Canal they reached Jiawang. That was the signal for two moles in the NRA, He Jifeng and Zhang Kexia, to lead their commands (the 59th and 77th Corps respectively) in revolt, carrying their men and the city over to the PLA. With Jiawang in Communist hands the Longhai Railway could be cut, making sure the 7th Army would be unable to escape.

On November 9th two corps (the 64th and 44th), the only formations in the entire 7th Army to remain intact, were able to reach Zhanzhuang and get word out to Xuzhou. Liu Zhi’s reaction was swift and he set parts of the 2nd and 13th Armies in motion to rescue Huang Baitao. But just he did so the Central Plains Field Army, commanded by Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping arrived in the area. The 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 9th Columns (the PLA used columns as a corps-level formation) were the first to arrive in Xuzhou. These formations, under Deng, cooperated with Chen Yi to encircle what remained of Huang Baitao’s command. This was accomplished when Linhuanji fell, allowing for the Communists to cut the Xu-Beng Railway, a segment of the Jinpu, thus making sure that Xuzhou was cut off from outside aid. On November 15th Li Yannian’s 6th Army and Liu Ruming’s 4th Pacification Area Force (PAF) attempted to enter Xuzhou. The Communists reacted quickly, with Deng and Chen’s united command halting the advance at Guzhen, driving them back.

Over the next several days the Communists were able to eliminate many crippled divisions of the 7th Army, as well fighting off the attempted reinforcements. Starting at dusk, November 19th, Communist forces penetrated Zhanzhuang. By the following morning Huang Baitao realized the situation was untenable and he fell back to the nearby towns of Dayuanshang and Xiaoyuanshang with the 64th Corps. On November 22nd the 159th Division surrendered to Communist forces, making Huang’s new position untenable. With all routes of escape closed, and all attempts at rescue either blocked or driven away, Huang Baitao committed suicide. In the course of a 15-day action the entire 7th Army had been destroyed, 100,000 men in all. Not only that, but all of the remaining Armies in Xuzhou were in danger, and attempted reinforcements were either encircled or driven back.

[continued on next page]

Pages: 1 2 3 4

4 Comments

  1. It is well documented about this historical even which determined th fate of China.

  2. I disagree with the statement in the article that the Nationalists were “war-weary” from fighting the Japanese while (the article says) the Communists were “fresh.”

    The Nationalists had low morale due to systemic and political shortcomings: internal corruption and dissention, and economic problems.

    The Communists had subsisted for years in the Japanese rear, but morale was high because they seemed to offer a vision of a new China.

    Anyhow, the war against Japan had ended three years earlier.

    • Also the fact that the US provided miss matched ammunition and weapons.

    • Mao did not attempt t o engage the Japanese in open pitched battle but Chiang Kai Shek did and his army suffered enormous casualties as a result. Next, the US cut off funds at a certain point to Chiang due to the fact communist spies in our Treasury Department and other branches of government (yes McCarthy as correct) spread the usual leftist canard that Chiang was corrupt etc.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On 6 November in Asian history | The New ASIA OBSERVER - [...] 1948: Huaihai Campaign, the largest operational campaign of the Chinese Civil War begins.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaihai_Campaignhttp://armchairgeneral.com/the-huaihai-campaign.htm [...]
  2. On 6 November in Chinese history including Hong Kong and Taiwan | The New ASIA OBSERVER - […] 1948: Huaihai Campaign, the largest operational campaign of the Chinese Civil War begins.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaihai_Campaignhttp://armchairgeneral.com/the-huaihai-campaign.htmhttp://lishi.huisongshu.com/en.php/HisMain/10549 […]
  3. Wars and conflits on 6 November in Asian history | The New ASIA OBSERVER - […] 1948: Huaihai Campaign, the largest operational campaign of the Chinese Civil War begins.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaihai_Campaignhttp://armchairgeneral.com/the-huaihai-campaign.htmhttp://lishi.huisongshu.com/en.php/HisMain/10549 […]
  4. On 10 January in Chinese history including Taiwan | The New ASIA OBSERVER - […] 1949: During the Chinese civil war, end of the decisive Huaihai Campaign (淮海戰役) or Battle of Xu-Beng) It was…
  5. On 10 January in Asian history | The New ASIA OBSERVER - […] 1949: During the Chinese civil war, end of the decisive Huaihai Campaign (淮海戰役) or Battle of Xu-Beng) It was…
  6. Wars, conflits and strategy on 10 January in Asian history | The New ASIA OBSERVER - […] 1949: During the Chinese civil war, end of the decisive Huaihai Campaign (淮海戰役) or Battle of Xu-Beng) It was…

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *