New Fourth Army incident
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1940, Chinese Communist New Fourth Army under Su Yu attacked Chinese Nationalist troops in Jiangsu Province, China. The subsequent Nationalist counter offensive initially overwhelmed the Communists by surprise, but ultimately turned the near seeming defeat at the Battle of Huangqiao into a victory that inflicted heavy casualties on the Nationalist side. During this time, the two Chinese factions were nominally united under the central government under Nationalist leader Chiang Kaishek's leadership, and Chiang viewed it as a betrayal, thus he ordered the New Fourth Army to be disbanded. Defiantly, Communist leadership rejected, instead ordered the New Fourth Army further inland to recuperate. On 5 Jan 1941, a 9,000-strong contingent of the Communists suddenly realized they were surrounded by a 80,000-strong Nationalist force under General Shangguan Yunxiang at Maolin, Anhui Province, China, which began to attack two days later. Realizing that the battle was impossible to win, Communist officer Ye Ting went to Shangguan's headquarters to offer surrender, but Shangguan refused to negotiate with him and ordered Ye arrested; Ye would remain in captivity until 1946. Political commissar Xiang Ying took command after Ye's arrest, but he would soon be killed in combat shortly after. Ultimately, only 2,000 Communists under the leadership of Huang Huoxing and Fu Qiutao would be able to break the encirclement and escape, while the remaining 7,000 were killed, captured, or missing. The Nationalists suffered trivial losses. On 17 Jan 1941, Chiang made an official announcement of the disbanding of the New Fourth Army; three days later, however, Communist leadership countered Chiang by announcing Chen Yi the new commanding officer of New Fourth Army, with Liu Shaoqi as its political commissar. Although the New Fourth Army incident was the direct result of New Fourth Army's treachery, the Communists achieved a propaganda victory by using this incident to establish an argument that the Nationalists had no interest in fighting against the Japanese, instead focusing its strength against their own countrymen.
Last Major Update: Aug 2015
New Fourth Army incident Timeline
|4 Jan 1941Â||Chinese Communist New Fourth Army moved out of Yunling, Anhui Province, China.|
|5 Jan 1941Â||A 9,000-strong contingent of the Chinese Communist New Fourth Army became surrounded by overwhelming Chinese Nationalist force at Maolin, Anhui Province, China.|
|7 Jan 1941Â||Chinese Nationalist forces began attacking the surrounded Chinese Communist New Fourth Army troops at Maolin, Anhui Province, China.|
|17 Jan 1941Â||Chiang Kaishek officially declared the disbanding of the Communist New Fourth Army.|
|20 Jan 1941Â||Chinese Communist leadership defiantly declared a re-organized New Fourth Army after Chiang Kaishek called for the army's disbanding due to treachery.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945
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