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Hu Zongnan
General Hu Zongren
Nickname Eagle of the Northwest[1]
Born (1896-05-16)May 16, 1896
Died 14 February 1962(1962-02-14) (aged 65)
Place of birth Zhenhai, Zhejiang
Place of death Taipei, Taiwan
Place of burial Yangmingshan, Taipei
Allegiance  Republic of China
Years of service 1924–1959
Rank Captain, June 1926
Brigadier General, November 1927
Major General, 1930
Lieutenant General, 1936
General, 1947
Unit First Corps
Commands held 2nd Regiment, 1st Div, July 1926
1st Division, First Army, May 1927
22nd Division, November 1927
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, April 1928
1st Division (reorg.), 1930
First Army, April 1936
Seventeenth Army, 1938
34th Army Group, 1938
8th Military Region, 1940
1st Military Region, 1944
Battles/wars Northern Expedition
Chiang-Gui War
Chiang-Feng-Yan War
Chinese Civil War (1935-1951)
Battle of Shanghai
Battle of Wuhan
First Taiwan Strait Crisis
Awards Order of Blue Sky and White Sun, Order of Cloud and Banner
Other work Governor of Zhejiang Province

Hu Zongnan (Chinese: 胡宗南; pinyin: Hú Zōngnán; Wade–Giles: Hu Tsung-nan; 16 May 1896–14 February 1962), courtesy name Shoushan (壽山), native of Zhenhai, Ningbo. A general in the National Revolutionary Army and then the Republic of China Army. Together with Chen Cheng and Tang Enbo, he formed the triumvirate of Chiang Kai-shek's most trusted generals during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After the retreat of the Nationalists to Taiwan in 1949, Hu served as the President's military strategy advisor until his death in 1962.

Campaigns against warlords[edit | edit source]

Hu was in the first graduating class of Whampoa Military Academy (1924). One of Chiang Kai-shek's favourite students, he took part in the Northern Expedition as CO of 2nd Regiment, 1st Division, First Army. In May 1927 he was promoted to deputy CO of 1st Division while retaining command of 2nd Regiment. In November of the same year he was assigned as CO of the 22nd Division and led the division during the second Northern Expedition in April 1928. In August his division was downsized to the 2nd Brigade of 1st Division, and he served as CO of this brigade which Chiang thought highly of. In 1929 and 1930 he led his brigade in the Central Plains War to defend the central government against the regional warlords such as the Gui clique, Feng Yuxiang and Yan Xishan. He was promoted and given command of a reorganised 1st Division upon his return. [1]

He participated in Chiang's communist extermination campaigns, was given command of First Army in 1936, and took part in the Battle of Shanghai and Wuhan, variously leading the Seventeenth Army, 34th Army Group, 8th Military Region and 1st Military Region. Hu proved himself in these battles and along with Tang Enbai, Xue Yue, and others, Hu became one of the Kuomintang generals his enemy deeply feared and respected. However, Hu's glory on the battlefields was short-lived, and much to the delight of his Japanese enemy, Hu nearly vanished after these battles and rarely participated in the rest of war because he was put in charge of more than 140,000 Kuomintang troops by Chiang Kai-shek to blockade the communist base in Shaanxi from Soviet influence. Hu Zongnan was a fearless general. Hu had shown his eagerness to fight the Japanese from time to time, but as a professional soldier, he dutifully carried out his order given by Chiang Kai-shek by staying at this job for the rest of World War II.

Hu vowed he would remain as single until the war was over. However, he married Ye Xiazhai(叶霞翟) in 1948 when he was 52.

Resumption of the Chinese Civil War[edit | edit source]

After World War II, Hu Zongnan battled the Communist Party of China and in the early stage of the struggle, was once successful in taking Yan'an, the capital of the communist base in Shaanxi. However, Hu was unable to achieve any further significant victories for one year partly there were Communists mole informed all military plans. Although Hu Zongnan was a capable commander, he was nonetheless not a match for his communist opponent Peng Dehuai, and with the absolute numerical and technical superiorities, Hu's quarter million troops not only failed to defeat the communist Peng Dehuai's 20,000+ strong force, but after their initial success, also continuously suffered numerous defeats where his troops were annexed by the communists all together. However, it must be said that Hu's defeat had much more to do to his political personality than his military capability. More importantly, Chiang Kai-shek's confidence who tried to hold on to land than coast. The rugged terrain of the northwestern China favored the communists defenders and their guerrilla warfare and not suitable for the mechanized troops. Mao Tsetung was playing hide and seek near Yenan since Mao has insider information on where nationalist troops schedule and plans through spies who were staff and un-noticed by Hu.

In 1949 the entire Kuomintang defenses were falling apart. General Hu was taking orders from Chiang only to establish a stronghold in Sikang. He failed the mission due to logistics. He got on a military plane dragged in by his staff and left for Taiwan.

Upon return to Taiwan he was in charge of civilian formed forces on several offshore islands in East China Sea and in Penghu Islets. He retired shortly and died. He is survived by his family and son 胡為真 who became a politician in Taiwan.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Hu Zongnan, as a capable military commander was not unaware of these problems the nationalists had faced, but as a loyal subject of this superior. Therefore Hu dutifully followed his directives and ended up in the inevitable defeats. Hu Zongnan's failure was large not due to his military capability, but he was blamed by his rivals afterward. Another reason for Hu's failure was because that his most trusted assistant, Major General Xiong Xianghui (熊向晖, originally named Xiong Huiquan 熊汇荃) was a communist spy. Xiong secretly joined communist party in December 1936 at Tsinghua University and under the direct order of Zhou Enlai, Xiong went to work for Hu Zongnan in December 1937. Xiong excelled in his work and since March 1939, he had become Hu's most trusted subordinate and named Xiong his secretary, a position Xiong held until May, 1947, when he was sent to USA by Hu Zongnan to study. It was not after Xiong left Hu did Hu discovered Xiong's true identity, and obviously, it was not Hu Zongnan's fault and Hu himself was fooled and thus a victim as well, but Hu's political enemy, such as those in Chen Cheng's camp, accused him of harboring communists, a charge later resurfaced after the nationalist had withdrawn to Taiwan, and Hu was cleared for both times. After the KMT fled to Taiwan, he served as governor of Zhejiang (Chekiang) from 1952, commanded the ROC defense in the First Taiwan Strait Crisis and retired from the army in 1955. He went on to serve as the President's military strategy advisor until his death on 14 February 1962.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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