The Battle of Huan Er Tsui

  By Warhead, 17 December 2004; Revised

The Battle of Huan Er Tsui was fought during the Mongol Invasion of the Jin Empire of Northern China. This battle was the first decisive battle of the Mongol Conquest.

The Battle of Huan Er Tsui is perhaps the most important victory in the history of the Mongol Empire. In the Secret History, it was their greatest accomplishment. The Moslem historian Rashid ad-Din, writing over a hundred years later, declared that the Mongols still regarded it as one of their greatest victories. This battle secured Mongol supremacy, enabled later conquests and marked the begining of Mongol expansion. Yet ironically, it is poorly known to Occidental sources which seem to concentrate on the Mongol's western campaigns. In reality the western campaigns were much less important than the eastern campaigns, which were closer to Mongol homelands.

The numbers [of the Jin army] in this battle are debated. According to the Yuan Shi and Meng Wu Er Shi, the number was 300,000. In the Xin Yuan Shi and Yuan Chao Ming Cheng Shi Liao, Biography of Mukhali, it was 400,000. In reality, the number of 300,000 probably included logistic support and the effective force of the Jin was probably something around 150,000-200,000. Genghis's force is unkown, but taking account of the invading force and those he despatched for patrol, it was more or less around 100,000. The Jin army was composed of Jurchen and Khitan cavalry and Han infantry. The cavalries were the elite of the army and were in the front and wings, while the infantry was placed closely behind.

The two armies were separated by some 15-20 miles. In the Yuan Chao Bi Shi, the earliest record, it merely says that the Mongol army of the center clashed and defeated the main forces of the Jin. The Yuan Sheng Wu Qin Cheng Lu has a more complete account: "After the Jin army had reached the Ye Hu Ling, two Khitan officers of the staff came to Shi Zong and said: "Since the capture of Fu Zhou, the Mongols are grazing loose near town, so if we now attack them with our cavalry they will be unprepared and we shall win a decisive victory. Shi Zong however, disagreed and suggested to attack the next day with combined cavalry and infantry.

When Genghis herd the Jin army was approaching, he ordered his men to prepare for action and move toward Huan Er Tsui. The two armies then met at that palce.

Apparently the Jin emperor deployed his Khitan and Jurchen horsemen on the front and wings of his army and the infantry behind the cavalry. The former were immediately attacked by successive waves of Mongol light troops, and evidently, with too little space to maneuver, at length faltered under the storms of arrows poured into their ranks. Seizing the opportunity, general Mukhali delivered a tremendous assault; his troops charged with lance in hand, supported by the Guard(Keshik) under Genghis Khan. The Khitan and Jurchid cavalry were hurled back upon its own infantry. With no chance to reform and no room to maneuver due to the packed formation, they trampled the soldiers and brought the whole army into confusion, the battle lasted half a day and by noon the disordered Jin was driven from the field. The Mongols pursued the Jin through Huan er Tsui to the valley of Yang, where the Jin suffered tremendous losses, but at Hui He Bao, part of them under the emperor rallied and, attempting to join the forces of Wan ye Hu Sha, turned to fight a second batle. Hu Sha was proceeding towards Ye hu Ling when he herd the Mongol were coming through the ranges. But surprised, he retired to Xuang Ping. The officers begged him to make a stand but he only thought of retreat. But he was slow and at Hui He Po he was first overtaken by the Jin emperor and then by the pursuing Mongols which pursuited relentlessly without rest. Although his troops were more fresh, Hu Sha was in panic and when he finally did give battle he was routed. He escaped to Xuan De Zhou a stronghold he abandoned later which then fell to the Mongols.

Meanwhile the emperor who saw the day lost fought his way off the field with 7,000 picked troops and fled to the Sang Kan River. There on the opposite bankof Hu lai He, Ye Lu Tukha of the rebel Khitans came up with 3,000 cavalry and he was forced to fight another battle, the battle lasted a whole day until the exhausted Jin finally gave up and fled again.

This battle destroyed the core troops of the Jin and paved a way for Mongol conquest.

The main cause for Jin's defeat in the decisive battles of Hu Er Sui, Wu Sha Bao, and Hui He Bao is because of the fact that the Jin did not utilize the mobility of their cavalry as they had in their early conquests, but instead, used a tightly packed formation with the infantry placed close to the cavalry leaving little room for maneuver. And when the decisive charge came, the cavalry was forced back to the infantry causing chaos.

Originally posted by Warhead on All Empires Forum (Dec 17, 2004).