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Yuan was left with only 20,000 men under his command.In 1626 Nurhaci received news of the Ming retreat and decided to advance towards Ningyuan on the advice of a Chinese defector, Li Yongfang.Officials deemed to have any connection to the Donglin faction were removed, and in some cases faced arrest, torture, and execution.Sun Chengzong was replaced with the new commander Gao Di by the end of 1625.The day before the battle Yuan personally walked along the walls inspecting their defenses and publicly declared his defiance against the Later Jin by conducting a blood pact with his remaining soldiers - a public notice of defiance was written in his blood.Yuan then sent orders to Shanhai Pass to execute any deserters they found, The battle began with Nurhaci personally leading an attack on the southwest corner of the city, which he deemed to be the most vulnerable.Heavy cannons were set up along the city walls and gunners from Fujian assigned to them.Lines of saltpeter were placed at the base of the walls to prevent sappers.
The Tianqi Emperor dispatched 40,000 troops to aid in Yuan's construction projects.
The Ming had suffered a series of defeats against the Jurchens prior to 1626 and lost the key city of Shengyang in 1621 and the port city of Lüshun in 1625.
Part of the Ming army's new strategy of defense was to develop Ningyuan into a military stronghold.
Later Jin failed to take the city and Nurhaci was wounded in the assault, dying eight months later.
The Ming emerged victorious, marking a temporary resurgence of the Ming army after an eight-year-long series of defeats.