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1934 - Mao's Long March

1934 Long March_min.JPG

Title: 1934 - Mao's Long March


About: During China's civil war, Mao Zedong led a retreat of communist forces through Nationalist lines, although over the course of the grueling journey only a fraction made it to safety.

Civil war in China had broken out between the Nationalists and the Communists in 1927. Under the leadership of Mao, the Communists employed guerrilla tactics to successfully resist the attacks of the  Nationalists, but were gradually worn down and encircled by a huge force under the command of Chiang Kai-Shek. Mao was removed as chairman, but when the new Communist leadership employed more conventional warfare tactics, its Red army was decimated. With defeat imminent, the Communists decided to break out of the encirclement at its weakest points, and the Long March began. 


Secrecy and other tactics confused the Nationalists, and it was several weeks before they realized that the main body of the Red army had fled. The retreating force initially consisted of more than 85,000 troops and thousands of accompanying personnel. Weapons and supplies were carried on men’s backs or in horse-drawn carts, and the line of marchers stretched for miles. The Communists generally marched at night, and when the enemy was not near, a long column of torches could be seen snaking over valleys and hills into the distance.

Mao began to regain his influence, and in January, during a meeting of party leaders in the captured city of Zunyi, he re-emerged as a top military and political leader. He then changed strategy, breaking his force into several columns that would take varying paths to confuse the enemy. The ultimate destination was now  to be Shaanxi province, in the northwestern region of the country, where the Communists hoped to fight the Japanese invaders and earn the respect of China’s masses.

After enduring starvation, aerial bombardment and almost daily skirmishes with Nationalist forces, Mao halted his columns in northern Shaanxi on October 20, 1935, where they met other Red army troops. The Long March was over. By some estimates, 8,000 or fewer marchers completed the journey, which covered more than 4,000 miles and crossed 24 rivers and 18 mountain ranges.

The Long March marked the emergence of Mao Zedong as the undisputed leader of the Chinese Communists. Learning of the Communists’ heroism and determination in the Long March, thousands of young Chinese traveled to Shaanxi to enlist in Mao’s Red army. After fighting the Japanese for a decade, the Chinese Civil War resumed soon after the end of World War II. In 1949, the Nationalists were defeated, and Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. He served as head of the Communist Party of China until his death in 1976.

Decade: 1930s

Year: 1934

Region: Asia

Country: China
Conflict: Civil War

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 7

Artist: Bryan Willian


Group: Genesis

Number: 34/100

Price: 0.7 ETH


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