Northern Expedition Begins

China's Nanjing Decade

East Asia 1927.0327

Northern Expedition Begins

The Northern Expedition, early Chinese Civil War, and Japanese incursions into China (27 March 1927)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

While the warlords fought over northern China, the Kuomintang had been building up its strength in the south under its new leader, Chiang Kaishek. In July 1926, Chiang attacked, his disciplined troops defeating the surprised forces of the Zhili clique.


Warlord China

From the Zhili-Anhui War (1920) to the Nationalist recapture of Beijing (1928), control over China fluctuated as various warlords fought for power. The foreign powers handled this situation by regarding whichever warlords controlled Beijing as the legitimate government of China, even though these warlords often had no influence outside the city.

To depict this situation, this atlas shows the recognized government of China as warlord-controlled rather than as an independent entity, with its size changing depending on how much authority the government had outside of Beijing. However the actual recognized borders of China itself did not change during this period.

Main Events

Northern Expedition

Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek, leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), declares the start of the Northern Expedition, intending to end warlord rule in northern China and reunify China under the KMT. With 100,000 soldiers of the National Revolutionary Army, Chiang invades northern Hunan from the south, capturing Changsha on 11 July.

Kuomintang captures Wuhan from Wu Peifu's Zhili clique

Kuomintang captures Nanjing from Sun Chuanfang's branch of the Zhili clique

US and British ships bombard Nanjing and help evacuate foreign citizens following riots by Chinese population

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