Chinese History: Mao, The Red Army, and the Long March Part 3 Eyewitness Report
About the long march of the Red Army of China an eyewitness report.
MAO AND THE LONG MARCH
By September, they were deep in the nearly uninhabited Great Grasslands. It rained almost all the time, and they had to pick their way, guided by captured natives, along narrow foot-holds. Many people were lost as they foundered in the wet grass or disappeared in the swamps. There was nothing to eat but wild vegetables and herbs. At night they tied bushes together to make rude shelters. And in spite of the rain, there was no safe water, so that sometimes they had to drink their own urine. By the time they came into the Kansu Plain, there were only 7,000 of them left. After resting for a while, they broke through Muslim cavalry and joined the local Red forces in northern Shensi. It was October 25, 1935. The Long March was over.
Of the 368 days in the journey, 235 were spent in marches by day and 18 in marches by night. The Army had averaged a skirmish with the enemy a day and had spent 15 days in major battles. They had crossed 24 rivers and 18 mountain ranges, 5 of which were always snow-covered. In Peking, an entire floor of the Revolutionary Museum is devoted to the Long March. On a huge map, colored lights trace each stage of the march, while a guide retells the story.
EYEWITNESS REPORT: According to Chou En-lai: "For us, the darkest time in history was during our Long March, 24 years ago--especially when we crossed the Great Grasslands near Tibet. Our condition was desperate. We not only had nothing to eat, we had nothing to drink. Yet we survived and won victory."
According to Mao Tse-tung's poem: "The Red Army, never fearing the challenging Long March,/Looked lightly on the many peaks and rivers,/Wu Meng's range rose, lowered, rippled,/And green-tiered were the rounded steps of Wu Meng./Warm-beating the Gold Sand River's waves against the rocks,/and cold the iron chain spans of Tatu bridge./A thousand joyous li of freshening snow on Min Shan,/And then, the last pass vanquished, the Armies smiled."
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