Mao’s troops didn’t want to return through the grasslands and he issued orders to take the pass. The fighting was fierce and Mao’s Red Army took heavy losses.
Mao stopped the direct assaults and sent skilled climbers up one of the canyon’s walls. From the high ground, they shot down at the Nationalist fortifications blocking the pass.
One volunteer wrapped his body in explosives, leaped from the cliff into the middle of the Nationalist fortifications, and blew himself up opening the pass.
Mao’s First Red Army finally reached desolate and rugged Shaanxi Province. The Long March was over, and Mao’s troops linked up with other Red Army elements that already had a base there.
Of the original 87,000 who started the Long March, fewer than 6,000 survived. These survivors would recruit and lead the new army.
The Long March turned Mao into a leader with a following from the common people throughout China.
Eventually, the Fourth Red army arrived, but two-thirds of this army had been killed in battles.
Chiang Kai-shek planned a new campaign to defeat Mao, but Chiang’s supporters and generals forced him to work with the Communists to fight the Japanese. This uneasy alliance would become a Civil War in 1945 when World War II ended.
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