Shanghai Campaign - Outcome


The campaign had cost defenders heavily, with the exception of 50,000 defenders included the nationalist commander-in-chief Tang Enbo who managed to escape via sea, the entire 37th Army, the 51st Army and the 5 Traffic Police Divisions were totally annihilated, while the nationalist 12th Army, 21st Army, 52nd Army, 75th Army, and the 123rd Army were badly mauled, and the total nationalist casualties numbered more than 153,000. In addition to the city, more than 1,370 artillery pieces of various caliber, 1,161 automobiles, 11 naval vessels and 119 tanks and armored vehicles were captured by the enemy intact. Although the nationalists attempted to completely destroy the city, the enemy nonetheless managed to taken the city relatively intact due to the local populace’s strong opposition which had prevented the nationalists to carry out the scorch-earth policy as planned.

The nationalists had committed a serious blunder before the campaign had even begun in that due to the political and psychological propaganda reasons, they had refused to evacuate the city, partially to avoid panic. The local populace was not allowed by the defenders to leave the city to surrender to the attacking enemy either and thus when the battle had begun, there were simply not enough transportation assets to evacuate everyone so the stranded populace felt helpless and abandoned. As the nationalists attempted to leave nothing behind for the attacking enemy by trying to transfer the wealth from the city and to destroy the city, such actions enraged the local populace because the very necessities which were essential to the survival of the local populace threatened and had the nationalists plan succeeded as it intended to, the stranded local populace that was already ravaged by the fierce battle would be further left in much greater destitution after the campaign. Like the general populace elsewhere in China, the stranded local populace in Shanghai was already alienated by the mistakes nationalists made earlier, such as corruption, but at least they were not unanimously against the nationalist regime, at least not yet. However, when the nationalist defenders of the city adopted these militarily correct strategies that would cause great harm to the local populace and threaten their very survival, the popular alienation toward the nationalist regime inevitably turned to resentment and the popular support was driven to the enemy side. Although enemy agents certainly played a part in organizing the local populace to protect factories, banks, shops and other infrastructure facilities, which had prevented the nationalists from carrying out the scorch-earth policy as they had planned, these actions were mostly voluntary at the local people’s own wills and it had much more to do with the local populace’s own concern of their survival after the campaign which would depend on these infrastructure, than helping out the attacking communists.

The other nationalist blunder made was more in the military aspect: spending too much resource defending a political symbol instead of utilizing the resources to evacuate the city and transferring the wealth. Much of the nationalist force was spent at Shanghai, leaving other regions vulnerable, and the bulk of the communist VII Corps was able to take the advantage by taking Ningbo and Wenzhou during the campaign. As a result, not only the city was lost to the enemy relatively intact, along with a great portion of its wealth, many other surrounding regions also fell into the enemy hands, many with their wealth and resources.

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