The Long March Part 2 (2/4)

July 29, 2010

There is no drainage in the grasslands. As it rains, the water saturates the soil and turns it into a swamp.  Beneath the flowers and grass were hidden bogs that could swallow men and animals whole. 

The temperatures were slightly above freezing. Food became scarce and was rationed.

When there was no food, the troops boiled the grass and added a touch of salt. Everyone was weak. Those who collapsed were left to die, because the survivors were too weak to help.

They could only cry.

The Red Army lost more troops in the grasslands than from the Snowy Mountains.  A Nationalist army followed the Communists into the grasslands but turned back because of the difficulty and risks.

One reason the Nationalists turned back was that Chiang Kai-shek suffered from a lack of loyalty among his troops and generals. He even feared that one of his generals might kill him.

On the other hand, the loyalty of Mao’s troops was unquestioned. 

However, the general of the Fourth Red Army argued with Mao and the two armies split. 

Mao’s army was weak and still had hundreds of miles to go to reach safety. One obstacle remained—the dangerous Lazikou pass, which was also fortified by waiting Nationalist troops. Mao’s troops would have to fight to take the pass or return through the grasslands.

Return to The Long March – Part 2/1 or go on to The Long March Part 2/3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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The Long March – Part 1 (5/6)

July 27, 2010

Mao’s army began to win more battles. One of Mao’s battalions marched 85 miles in one day and night to seize a Nationalist fort without firing a shot. The fort commanded an important river crossing. When Chiang Kai-shek discovered what Mao’s forces had done, he was furious. Meanwhile, Mao was gaining new recruits and support from the peasants.

Chiang’s KMT army did not have the support of most peasants since his army supported wealthy landowners. The KMT also had a reputation for dishonesty, corruption, and heavy taxation—all the wrongs that had collapsed the Qing Dynasty.

Most peasants trusted the Communists, who treated them with respect and refused to take any food while the Nationalists confiscated all the food and supplies they wanted without paying.

One challenge stood in Mao’s way—the Yi minority, who had stayed free of Chinese rule for decades due to their fierceness. Mao sent an envoy to negotiate and an agreement was reached. In fact, many Yi warriors joined Mao’s army.

However, there was another river to cross and Chiang’s army was moving to trap the Communists. A bridge built in 1701 was the key. The race toward this bridge would lead to the most important battle of the Long March.

Return to The Long March, Part 1/4 or go on to The Long March – Part 1/6

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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