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  Conquering Lazikou Pass
Updated: 2004-06-25 15:31

On September 15 an order came through, "In two days we must conquer Lazikou." They skirmished with a battalion of the KMT Fourteenth Division and scattered them. From prisoners they learned the Fourteenth had built blockhouses at Lazikou. The pass at Lazikou was extraordinary narrow. The right side had a cliff that rose almost perpendicularly for a thousand feet. Across the pass, one hundred feet wide and narrowing to twelve at its throat, rose another cliff, not quite so high. It was jagged, not sheer. It could be climbed, perhaps, but not with machine guns looking down at you. The position, as anyone who observes it today can see, is impregnable.

The order was given, "We must take the Lazikou Pass or go back through the Grasslands." Three KMT regiments and two battalions defended the pass. A succession of night attacks failed. There were heavy casualties. Mao ordered direct assaults halted. A band of experienced mountaineers assembled for a new plan. These men, thirty to sixty in all, about twelve Miao and other minority fighters gathered in the darkness. There was no alpine climbing gear. From prisoners they learned additional KMT forces soon would arrive. Toward dawn, explosions came from the mountain. The mountain men had reached the peak and rained down grenades. Within minutes, the KMT soldiers ran for their lives. The Red Army would not have to return to the Grasslands.



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