Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Research Maps

I've got a few more great maps for my research into Mao's early insurgency. I'm the kind of guy that really enjoys looking at maps. In fact, I was at Deseret Industries today scouting out some Christmas presents and bought a large 24x36 Book of Mormon wall map. Its laminated so I want to buy some erasable markers and really dive into it with arrows and boxes.  Without further ado, here are the maps with a bit of explanation.
This map puts the fighting in Jiangxi into proper perspective. The thick black line is the route of the Long March (you'll notice the Chinese language is rather literal.) They marched over 6,000 miles which is twice the width of the continental U.S.  Source: The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh, by Agnes Smedley.

Topographic map of Jiangxi province. Outside of a small valley in the north, the terrain of the province was mountainous and difficult to traverse. Source: Counterrevolution in China, by William Wei.

The First Encirclement Campaign, November 1930- January 1931.  All of these campaigns occurred in the south east part of the province shown above.  Notice the large gap between the left and right circles.  My paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Nationalist advances. That gap allowed the Communists under Zhu De and Mao Zedong to attack and defeat isolated units.  I had to print, hand copy some elements that didn't print, and then scan that copy, I'm fairly proud at how well it turned out.  Source: Survival through Adaptation: The Chinese Red Army during the wars of Extermination- 1927-1936, by Wilbur Hsu. 
The Second Encirclement Campaign, April- May 1931. The important part of this campaign is the East to West movement of Communist forces.  Mao (really Zhu De as you'll see from my research) believed it was better to chop off one finger than to wound ten. So Communist forces would find one isolated unit which advanced too far, and then use the snowball effect to defeat others. The defeated unit retreated East, and undermined the morale of other units and caused confusion which would lead to those units being defeated. And so on from East to West during a rapid campaign. 
Third Encirclement Campaign, July- September 1931. This is the first campaign personally led by Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Sheck). As a result the troops were better trained, equipped, and led. That being said the Nationalist core strengths such as advancing rapidly and independently to force a decisive battle and quick conclusion played into Communist strengths of luring enemies deep into Communist territory and using rough terrain to attack isolated units. The Nationalists did have some units isolated and lured into the deep, but you'll noticed the swarm of dark squares converging at the center of the map. I argue that Chiang was poised to obtain victory when outside events, such as the Guangxi revolt, and the Mukden incident with Japan gave Mao a reprieve. Thus it wasn't his genius that assured victory; he simply benefited of events outside his control to obtain essentially a draw.
Fourth Extermination Campaign, January- March 1933. Notice the two year gap between the Third and Fourth campaign as Chiang was dealing with an international crisis and warlord rebellion. The Communists used this period to expand a great deal. This is the only campaign where they didn't lure the enemy into the deep. The Communists preemptively attacked Nationalist forces securing a decisive victory. Mao was not in a leadership position at this time and his lure into the deep strategy was thoroughly discredited.  
The Fifth Extermination Campaign, September 1933- October 1944. Notice that this campaign lasted almost a year. The Nationalists built blockhouses and slowly advanced into Communist held territory. They adopted political reforms and an effective economic blockade as the Communists withered trying to attack fixed and fortified positions. This campaign was utterly disastrous for the Communists but Mao benefited once again.  Because he was out of power he used the defeat to regain power and then Monday Morning quarterback the decisions to elevate his opinions on what should have been done. 
The Roads of Jiangxi.  The key is a bit hard to read. The dark lines were the few page roads in the province.  Those dark lines don't extend into the center of Communist strength. But the dotted double line was a road constructed during the Fifth Campaign that allowed the Nationalists to project power right into the Communist capital.  Source: William Wei. 
I often joked that I could tell the story of the Book of Mormon just using the pictures in the front of the book. But you can also do the same thing with a series of good maps. I really enjoyed discussing these maps and I hope you get a chance to read the article. I have a rough draft that needs reviewers, and I'm hoping to have a publication announcement soon. Thanks for reading.

Which map did you like the most and why? Which map do you think was most helpful?

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