Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nanma-Linqu Campaign

The Nanma-Linqu Campaign was consisted of two battles fought at Nanma and Linqu in Shandong between the communists and the nationalists during the Chinese Civil War in the post World War II era, and resulted in the nationalist victory.


After the communist victory of Southwestern Shandong Campaign in early July of 1947, Zaozhuang, Yi City , Fei County, Dawenkou and Tai'an fell into the enemy hands, while Xuzhou was threatened, and the nationalists were forced to redeploy seven reorganized divisions for reinforcement since July 12, 1947 to reinforce southwestern Shandong. As a result of this redeployment, the nationalists only had four divisions in the mountainous regions in central Shandong. Taking this advantage, the communists hoped to take the nationalist strongholds of Nanma and Linqu and annihilating the nationalist defenders in the process, little did they know that they were gravely mistaken.

Order of battle

Defenders: nationalist order of battle:
*The Reorganized 8th Division
*The Reorganized 11th Division
*The Reorganized 25th Division
*The 64th Division
*The Shandong 1st Security Division
Attackers: communist order of battle:
*The 2nd Column
*The 6th Column
*The 7th Column
*The 9th Column


On July 17, 1947, the advance guard of 4 enemy columns approached the town of Nanma and by the next day, all nationalist positions outside the city wall had fallen to the enemy hands. The nationalist Reorganized 11th Division was forced withdrew behind the city wall on July 18, 1947. Confident that the town would fall just as easily as the nationalist positions outside the city wall, the enemy advance guards unleashed their attacks on the town before the arrival of the main force. However, the bad weather the enemy had counted on turned against them by completely soaking the poorly equipped communist peasantry army, including their ammunition, while the flood caused by the heavy rain prevent the enemy reinforcement from arriving. Hu Lian , the defenders' brilliant nationalist commander who had badly mauled the enemy numerous time, was well aware that the isolated city would be attacked for certain and prior to the battle, had ordered the completion of a comprehensive fortifications within 20 days. These fortifications proved to be instrumental in defeating the attacking enemy. Meanwhile, the better equipped nationalists had mobilized the Reorganized 8th Division to reinforce Linqu from north, and the Reorganized 25th Division and the 64th Division to reinforce Nanma from south. After three nights and four days of fierce fighting without any necessary equipment and thus any progress, and the nationalist reinforcement approaching fast, the enemy attacking Nanma was forced to withdraw when they learned that their main force could not make it in time.

On the different front, another battle was raging on in the region of Linqu . On July 23, 1947, the nationalist Reorganized 8th Division and the Shandong 1st Security Division took Linqu and camped behind the city wall to wait until the heavy rain to stop. The enemy planned to launch a surprise attack on the nationalists in the town under the cover of darkness and bad weather by concentrating a total of 4 communist columns. At night of July 24, 1947, communist 2nd Column reached the suburb of Linqu while communist 9th Column managed to cut off the defenders’ escape route by first taking Dragon Hill and then Northern Pass , wiping out two nationalist battalions in the process, and the town was thus besieged. On July 25, 1947, the communist 2nd Column attacked the town from the southwest while the communist 9th Column attacked the town from the northwest, and by July 26, 1947, a regiment of the communist 2nd Column managed to breach the defense at the city wall and penetrated into the town, and the defenders' morale begun to shake and many defenders begun to abandon their posts to flee. Realizing that failure was not an option, the brilliant nationalist commander Li Mi had a fleeing battalion commander shot and restored the morale and resolve of the defenders, who fought back with everything they had with Li Mi personally lead the charge, and successfully annihilated the enemy regiment inside the town and eliminated the defensive gap along the city wall, thus secured the defensive perimeter. Again, the bad weather the enemy had hoped to help them turned against them instead: only one of the two communist columns had reached the town and the other was stopped by the heavy rain and the flood it caused. Furthermore, the poorly equipped peasantry army was completely soaked once again, including their ammunitions. Lacking the necessary equipment and heavy weaponry needed to breach the fortifications along the city wall, the enemy nonetheless attempted yet another futile assault on the town on July 29, 1947, but again was beaten back. With the nationalist reinforcement approaching fast and no hope of taking the town, the enemy was forced to withdraw and the campaign ended with the nationalist victory.


The nationalist victory was significant political and morale boost and had profound impact on the nationalist tactics in the following engagements. In the earlier Menglianggu Campaign, numerically and technically superior nationalist force was defeated by the numerically and technically inferior enemy out in the open, while in this campaign, the only advantage the nationalists had was the technical superiority, and the numerically inferior defenders were able to thwart the numerically superior enemy’s offensives with the help of the fortifications and the city wall. The result of the Nanma-Linqu Campaign obviously demonstrated clearly that such static defensive posture not only enabled the nationalists to defeat the enemy, but also enabled them to fulfill an uncompromising doctrine of Chiang Kai-shek: hold on the land they were defending. The tactic was therefore not only militarily practical, but also politically safe, and thus it was only natural for the nationalist commanders to adopt this tactic for the conflicts followed.

However, as the nationalists adopted the static defensive posture proved to be very effective against the communist peasantry army at the time, the success of the Nanma-Liqu Campaign became a victory that lead to disaster: the tactic required the defenders to concentrate their forces behind the city wall and the fortifications next to it, and thus the enemy was able to occupy and consolidate their positions in the vast rural regions within immunity. As the rural area fell into the enemy hands, the urban regions strongly defended became isolated and strangled when the supply lines were severed in sieges. The nationalist troops were still better off in the sieges because all available resources were devoted to combat troops, but the civilian populace would be starved and suffering. As a result, the very urban populace the nationalists attempted to protect inevitably turned against the nationalist troops, thus contributing to the eventual downfall of the nationalist regime. Militarily, the tactic would no longer work toward the end of the Chinese Civil War as the enemy begun to possess the necessary equipments to assault the cities / town, but the tactic certainly worked at the time, and nobody had anticipated the rapid advance the enemy would make, and the enemy therefore unexpectedly gained in the long run from this defeat.

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