Battle of Ng%E1%BB%8Dc H%E1%BB%93i-%C4%90%E1%BB%91ng %C4%90a
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Battle of Ng%E1%BB%8Dc H%E1%BB%93i-%C4%90%E1%BB%91ng %C4%90a
Qing invasion of Vietnam
Battle at the River Tho-xuong.jpg
A depiction of the Battle at the Th? Xng River (present-day Thng River),
engraving, co-produced by Chinese and European painters.
Date1788 - 1789
northern Vietnam
Result Decisive Tây S?n victory
Lê dynasty ended
Qing China recognized the legitimacy of Tây S?n dynasty
Qing dynasty Qing Empire
Lê dynasty
Tây S?n dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Qing dynasty Sun Shiyi
Qing dynasty Xu Shiheng 
Qing dynasty Shang Weisheng 
Qing dynasty Zhang Chaolong 
Qing dynasty Li Hualong 
Qing dynasty Qingcheng
Qing dynasty Wu Dajing
Qing dynasty Cen Yidong 
Qing dynasty Tang Hongye
Lê Chiêu Th?ng
Hoàng Phùng Ngh?a
Nguy?n Hu?
Phan V?n Lân
Ngô V?n S?
Nguy?n T?ng Long
ng Xuân B?o
Nguy?n V?n L?c
Nguy?n V?n Tuy?t
ng Ti?n ?ông
Phan Kh?i c Surrendered
Nguy?n V?n Di?m
Nguy?n V?n Hòa
20,000-200,000 Chinese troops[note 1]
20,000 Lê dynasty supporters
100,000 (50,000 regulars, 20,000 newly recruited militia)
Casualties and losses
more than half loss 8,000+ killed

The Battle of Ng?c H?i-ng ?a (Vietnamese: Tr?n Ng?c H?i - ng ?a; Chinese: ), also known as Victory of K? D?u (Vietnamese: Chi?n th?ng K? D?u), was fought between the forces of the Tây S?n dynasty of Vietnam and the Qing dynasty of China in Ng?c H?i (a place near Thanh Trì) and ng ?a in northern Vietnam from 1788 to 1789. It is considered one of the greatest victories in Vietnamese military history.[2]


Since the 17th century Vietnam was divided into two parts: the southern part was ?àng Trong or Cochinchina, ruled by the Nguy?n lords and the northern part was ?àng Ngoài or Tonkin, ruled by the Tr?nh lords under the puppet Lê emperors. In 1771 the Tây S?n rebellion broke out in southern Vietnam, led by the brothers Nguy?n Nh?c, Nguy?n Hu? and Nguy?n L?, who removed the local Nguy?n lord from power.

After the capture of Phú Xuân (modern Hu?), Nguy?n H?u Ch?nh, a traitor of Tr?nh's general, encouraged Nguy?n Hu? to overthrow the Tr?nh lord. Hu? took his advice, marched north and captured Th?ng Long (modern Hanoi). In 1788, Lê Chiêu Th?ng was installed the new Lê emperor by Hu?. Hu? then retreated to Phú Xuân.

However, Nguy?n H?u Ch?nh became the new regent just like the Tr?nh lords before. After learning about the actions of Ch?nh, an army under V? V?n Nh?m was sent by Hu? to attack Th?ng Long. Ch?nh was swiftly defeated and executed. Lê Chiêu Th?ng fled and hid in the mountains. Nh?m could not find the emperor, so he installed Lê Duy C?n as a puppet prince regent. Not long after Hu? executed Nh?m, he replaced him with the generals Ngô V?n S? and Phan V?n Lân.

Meanwhile, Lê Chiêu Th?ng never abandoned his attempt to regain the throne. Lê Quýnh, Empress Dowager M?n and the eldest son of Lê Chiêu Th?ng, fled to Longzhou, Guangxi, to seek support from Qing China. A large Qing army invaded Vietnam to restore Lê Chiêu Th?ng to the throne.

What motivated the Qing imperial government to interfere in Vietnam's domestic affairs has always been disputed. Chinese scholars claimed that the Qianlong Emperor simply wanted to restore the Lê emperor and rule all Vietnam, seeking no territorial gains.[3] Vietnamese scholars on the other hand have argued, that Qianlong intended to make Vietnam a vassal. China would station troops in Vietnam and install Lê Chiêu Th?ng as its puppet king.[4][5][6]

Chinese invasion

Two army contingents invaded Vietnam in October of the year M?u Thân (November, 1788). The Liangguang army under Sun Shiyi and Xu Shiheng marched across the South Suppressing Pass (present day Friendship Pass) and the Yungui army under Wu Dajing marched across the Horse Pass. The two armies aimed to attack Th?ng Long directly. According to the Draft History of Qing, a navy had been dispatched from Qinzhou to attack H?i Dng, which, however is not mentioned in Vietnamese records.

A sizeable force under Sun Shiyi approached L?ng S?n and in order to put pressure on the Tây S?n forces, Sun announced that there was a much larger Qing army yet to come. He also promised that who ever helped the Chinese army, would be installed the future regent just like the Tr?nh lords before. As a consequence Lê dynasty supporters took up arms against the Tây S?n army.

The Chinese defeated the Tây S?n army in L?ng S?n and Nguy?n V?n Di?m () fled, while Phan Kh?i c () surrendered. The Chinese swiftly pushed further towards the south, threatening the unprepared Tây S?n army, which dispersed in all directions. Nguy?n V?n Hòa () rallied the remnants of the army and occupied Tam Giang, Yên Phong District to confront the Chinese.

Having assessed the situation Ngô V?n S? ordered Lê Duy C?n to write a letter to Sun Shiyi. C?n described himself as a popular ruler and tried to persuade Sun to retreat, which was rejected by Sun. Realizing the Tây S?n army could not stop the Chinese army from marching towards Th?ng Long, Ngô Thì Nh?m suggested that the Tây S?n army should retreat to Tam ?i?p and seek aid from Phú Xuân (present day Hu?). S? accepted his idea. Troops in S?n Nam, S?n Tây and Kinh B?c retreated to Th?ng Long. S? gathered them, then abandoned Th?ng Long and orderly retreated to Tam ?i?p. However, Phan V?n Lân did not agree. Lân then led a troop to attack the Chinese army at the Nguy?t c River (present day C?u River), but was utterly beaten by Zhang Chaolong and fled back. S? concealed the fact. In Tam ?i?p, Ngô V?n S? sent Nguy?n V?n Tuy?t to Phú Xuân to ask for aid.

On November 29 (December 16, 1788), the Chinese army marched across the Nh? River (present day Red River). They occupied Th?ng Long the next morning without meeting any resistant. On November 24 (December 21, 1788), Sun Shiyi installed Lê Chiêu Th?ng as "king of Annam" in Th?ng Long. Sun regarded himself as the patron of the Lê rulers and looked down upon Lê Chiêu Th?ng. It was whispered among the Vietnamese that they never had a monarch as unworthy as this before. Lê Chiêu Th?ng increasingly disappointed his supporters as he reportedly was narrow-minded and exceptionally cruel, who had cut off the legs of his three uncles, whom had surrendered to Tây S?n army before. He had also cut open the wombs of pregnant princesses alive, who had married Tây S?n generals.[4]

Tây S?n reinforcements march north

On November 24 (December 21, 1788), Nguy?n V?n Tuy?t arrived in Phú Xuân. Nguy?n Hu? declared Lê Chiêu Th?ng was a national traitor, not qualified for the throne. On the next day, Hu? proclaimed himself Emperor Quang Trung. After the coronation he marched north with 60,000 soldiers, recruited volunteers while in the Ngh? An Province thereby increasing his force to 100,000 troops. In Th? H?c (Thanh Hóa) he inspired his soldiers with an epic address:

His men, encouraged, expressed their approval and quickly marched on. Meanwhile, the Chinese generals had after a few facile victories become overconfident and looked down upon the Tây S?n army. Hu?, who had noticed it sent an envoy to sue for peace. Sun ordered Hu? to retreat to Phú Xuân, but Hu? ignored.

Hu? arrived in Tam ?i?p on December 20 (January 15, 1789). He approved of the idea of Ngô Thì Nh?m's plan. Hu? gathered all forces and divided them into five columns. The main force led by Hu?, marched north to attack Th?ng Long directly. A navy led by Nguy?n V?n Tuy?t sailed from L?c u River to attack the Lê supporters in H?i Dng. Another navy led by Nguy?n V?n L?c, sailed from the L?c u River to attack Phng Nhãn and L?ng Giang. A cavalry contingent (including war elephants) led by ng Ti?n ?ông, marched to attack Cen Yidong in ng ?a; another cavalry (including war elephants) led by Nguy?n T?ng Long marched past S?n Tây to attack Xu Shiheng in Ng?c H?i (a place near the Thanh Trì).[4][5]


Nguy?n Hu?, supreme commander of the Tây S?n forces

The Chinese armies decided to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival and then march further south to capture Phú Xuân (present day Hu?) on January 6 of the next year (January 31, 1789). As the Vietnamese New Year (T?t) was generally celebrated on the same day, the Chinese generals assumed that the Tây S?n army would not attack during the holidays. Subsequent events, however, would prove that they were wrong.

The Tây S?n army crossed the Giao Th?y River (present day Hoàng Long River in Ninh Bình Province) on New Year's Eve and eliminated all Chinese scouts they encountered on their way. The Tây S?n army reached Th?ng Long during the night of January 3 of the next year (January 28, 1789) and immediately launched a surprise attack on the Chinese, who were celebrating the New Year festival. Nguy?n Hu? had the Hà H?i Fort besieged as his soldiers shouted at them to surrender. The Chinese were frightened and dispersed into the night. At dawn of January 5 (January 30, 1789), Hu? besieged the Ng?c H?i Fort. The Chinese in the fort opened fire at the Tây S?n army, who attacked the Chinese with big wet wood blocks to protect themselves. Nguy?n Hu?, riding an elephant, inspired his men by fighting in the front. The fort was breached by war elephants and the Tây S?n entered the fort and fought the Chinese with daggers. They then captured V?n ?i?n, ng ?a, An Quy?t and other forts. The Chinese forces, disastrously defeated, disbanded and fled. When Sun Shiyi learnt that his army was defeated, he fled with a dozen men, and while crossing the Nh? River (present day Red River) lost his official seal, which was later found by Tây S?n soldiers and handed to Nguy?n Hu?. Lê Chiêu Th?ng also fled to China. The Qing generals Xu Shiheng, Shang Weisheng, Zhang Chaolong and Cen Yidong were killed in action. Countless Chinese soldiers and supporters drowned while crossing the river, including general Li Hualong.

ng Xuân B?o or Nguy?n T?ng Long was the first general to enter Th?ng Long followed by Nguy?n Hu? and his main force and recaptured the city.

The army under Wu Dajing reached S?n Tây. There, Wu heard that Sun was defeated. Wu decided to retreat to Yunnan. His army was ambushed by the Tày local chief Ma Doãn Dao. However, unlike Sun, most of his soldiers arrived in China safely and was praised by the Qianlong Emperor.[4][5]


The Qianlong Emperor receiving Nguy?n Hu?'s peace envoy Nguy?n Quang Hi?n

Seven days later, Sun Shiyi arrived in Guangxi. There, he met Lê Chiêu Th?ng. According to the Khâm nh Vi?t s? Thông giám cng m?c, Sun comforted Lê Chiêu Th?ng and promised that he would gather new troops and reinstall him. Lê Chiêu Th?ng and his supporters were accommodated in Guilin.

Meanwhile, a secret order of the Qianlong Emperor came into the possession of the Tây S?n army and was handed to Nguy?n Hu?. In it Qianlong ordered Sun to march slowly and let the Lê officials come back to Vietnam to find Lê Chiêu Th?ng. In case the Tây S?n army retreated, which was best, Lê Chiêu Th?ng was to take the lead and have the Chinese army in the rear. If not, Qianlong would order the Chinese navy to attack Thu?n Hóa and Qu?ng Nam, Hu? would surrender when the Tây S?n force would be pressed by a two-pronged attack. He then would order Hu? to recognize the dominion of Lê Chiêu Th?ng in northern Vietnam and separate Vietnam into two countries. Nguy?n Hu? realized that the restoration of the Lê dynasty was only an excuse, as the true intention of Qianlong was to take control of Vietnam. The defeat of the Qing army had embarrassed Qianlong and Hu? did not sue for peace. Hence, Qing China needed to invade Vietnam again. Understanding tnis, Hu? attempted to find a diplomatic solution with Qing China and ordered Ngô Thì Nh?m to take care of the peace negotiations. Then, he went back to Phú Xuân.

However, the irate Qianlong Emperor replaced Sun Shiyi with Fuk'anggan and planned another attack on Vietnam. Fuk'anggan did not want a conflict with Nguy?n Hu? and he sent a letter to Hu? in which he expressed that a necessary prerequisite for a cease-fire was an apology of Hu? to the emperor. Hu? agreed and changed his name to Nguy?n Quang Bình and sent Nguy?n Quang Hi?n () and V? Huy T?n () to Beijing. Hu? also agreed to recognize and honor the traditional tribute and attend the official imperial audience. Qianlong approved the proposal and bestowed him the title An Nam qu?c vng ("King of Annam"). The title indicated that Hu? was recognized as the legal ruler of Vietnam and Lê Chiêu Th?ng was no longer supported.

A so-called "king of Annam" went to Beijing and was warmly welcomed by Qianlong. However, both, the Chinese[7] and the Vietnamese records have stated that the "king" is a political decoy.

Nguy?n Hu? was resentful, trained his army, built large warships and waited for an opportunity to take revenge on China. He also provided refuge to anti-Manchu organizations such as the Tiandihui and the White Lotus. Infamous Chinese pirates, such as Chen Tien-pao (), Mo Kuan-fu (), Liang Wen-keng (), Fan Wen-tsai (), Cheng Chi () and Cheng I () were granted official positions and/or noble ranks under the Tây S?n empire.[8] All attack plans had to be given up due to Nguy?n Hu?'s sudden death.[9]

The Nguyen enjoyed the support of the Chinese due to a Tay Son massacre on ethnic Chinese settlers.[10][11] The Nguy?n lords eventually defeated the Tây S?n dynasty thanks to ethnic Chinese support and took complete control of Vietnam and established the imperial Nguy?n dynasty in 1802.[5]

Cultural influence

The Battle of Ng?c H?i-ng ?a is considered one of the greatest military victories by the Vietnamese people. In China it holds rank among the "Ten Great Campaigns" that took place during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

The Vietnamese victory is seen as the next step after the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty's heroic victory over the Qing Chinese in the earlier Sino-Burmese War. Registered as a military victory so severe, it has been speculated, that the event might have prevented the Qing from other attempts to invade Southeast Asia. Emperor Quang Trung, however has taken his place as an icon of Vietnamese culture. As a national savior he is depicted on the South Vietnamese 200 ng banknote and temples and streets are named after him.[4]

See also


  1. ^ The Chinese strength was disputed. Qing Shilu (Veritable Records of Qing) mentioned 20,000 Chinese troops.[1]i Nam th?c l?c (Veritable Records of i Nam) mentioned 200,000 Chinese troops.
  1. ^ Guo & Zhang, p. 523-526
  2. ^ Tucker, p. 20: "Quang Trung promised to treat humanely all Chinese who surrendered and many did so.53 The Vietnamese know this series of victories as the Victory of Ng?c H?i-ng ?a, the Emperor Quang Trung's Victory over the Manchu, or the Victory of Spring 1789. It is still celebrated as the greatest military achievement in modern Vietnamese ..."
  3. ^ Guo & Zhang, p. 519-523
  4. ^ a b c d e "The First Tet Offensive of 1789". HistoryNet. December 6, 2006. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "SINO-VIETNAMESE RELATIONS, 1771-1802: FROM CONTENTION TO FAITHFUL CORRELATION". Research Gate. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Tay Son Uprising (1771-1802) In Vietnam: Mandated By Heaven?". Research Gate. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Draft History of Qing, vol. 527: "?;?," (Actually Quang Bình ordered his brother to come (to China) as political decoy; Quang Bình dare not come personally, he was cunning like this.)
  8. ^ Murray, Dian H. (1987). "3". Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790-1810. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1376-4.
  9. ^ "Maritime violence and state formation in Vietnam: Piracy and the Tay Son Rebellion, 1771-1802 (book chapter, 2014)". Research Gate. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ Choi, p.35-37
  11. ^ Choi, p.74-


  • Tucker, Spencer (1999). Vietnam. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-0966-4.
  • Choi Byung Wook (2004). Southern Vietnam Under the Reign of Minh M?ng (1820-1841): Central Policies and Local Response. SEAP Publications. ISBN 978-0-87727-138-3.
  • Phan Huy Lê (1998). M?t s? tr?n quy?t chi?n chi?n lc trong l?ch s? dân t?c ta (in Vietnamese). Nhà xu?t b?n Quân i Nhân dân.
  • Guo Zhenduo; Zhang Xiaomei (2001). Yue nan tong shi (in Chinese). China Renmin University Press. ISBN 978-7-300-03402-7.

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