The Civil War 194549

The Nationalists and Communists had unfinished business after World War II, and although attempts were made to settle their disputes peacefully, fighting soon broke out all over China. Chiang Kai-shek was determined to control all China, so he advanced into the Communist stronghold of Manchuria, and it was there that the decisive battles of the Civil War were fought. During the Sino-Japanese war the Nationalists had lost not only their best soldiers but, more importantly, their best officers. This lack of good officers

Well-equipped Nationalist soldier on guard at Tientsin station, dressed in light khaki cotton uniform and field cap. He has a fighting sword on his back and a Mauser rifle with bayonet fixed and ready. The blanket roll, with its many bits and pieces attached, is in place of a back pack or haversack. (Fusiliers' Museum, Lancashire)

Civil War Bayonet Gun

resulted in poor tactics and cost the Nationalists the Civil War. The Nationalists took cities and held them but were gradually surrounded by the Communists in the countryside. Cities became virtual prison camps for the Nationalists as the Communists took stronghold after stronghold. Chiang Kai-shek insisted right up to the end of the war on giving the cream of the equipment to his most loyal divisions, thus weakening most of his army. Some of his most able commanders were not trusted by Chiang, so their units received little of the American equipment that was being supplied in large quantities. It was attitudes like this that severely weakened the Nationalist war effort and helped the Communists, who were united in their aims. At the beginning of the Civil War the Nationalists had overwhelming superiority in men and equipment, but by 1949 the pendulum had swung the other way, and the Communists had overtaken them.

The Civil War wasn't all one sided and the Communists did face many setbacks, but it soon became a matter of when and not if the Nationalists would be defeated. In September 1949 Chiang Kai-shek and hundreds of thousands of supporters left the mainland and set up a government on Taiwan. Mao Tse-tung declared the foundation of the People's Republic of China in October, ending 40 years of fighting for control of China.

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