First of the 15 Passes: Jiumenkou Pass

By Simatai Great Wall

Dong Yaohui

Jiumenkou Great Wall by Heidelberg Design / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

Well-Preserved Jiumenkou Great Wall Section

Jiujiang River flows from deep within the mountains. There is a nine-arch bridge straddles the River, and a relatively intact section of the Great Wall snakes up the steep mountain. This is Jiumenkou Great Wall.

Jiumenkou Pass is a nine-hole gate built over the Jiujiang River where the water passes through it and out the other side. 

Jiumenkou Great Wall by Heidelberg Design / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

The nine gates that allow the water to flow through span the riverbed, and an imposing bridge sits atop them. The bridge sections between each gate are water-dividing structures that begin narrow and gradually widen. There is a walled structure at each end of the bridge, which look like bridgeheads from a distance. 

Jiumenkou Great Wall by Heidelberg Design / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

Construction

Jiumenkou Great Wall was originally built during the Northern Qi period. The Ming Great Wall at Jiumenkou, on the other hand, was built during the Hongwu era (1368 – 1398) under the command of General Xu Da. In the 14th year of the Hongwu era (1381), Xu Da led more than 15,000 troops from Yanshan and other divisions to build the 32 passes of the Ming Great Wall, of which Jiumenkou was the easternmost, and of great military importance.

Jiumenkou Great Wall by Heidelberg Design / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

In the Zhili–Fengtian War of 1924, Jiumenkou was a key battleground. The Second Zhili–Fengtian War was fought between the Zhili and Fengtian cliques over control of Beijing. Both troops concentrated their main forces on the front battlefield at Shanhaiguan Pass. The Fengtian army was unable to break through the defenses of the Zhili army, as the high ground they controlled was advantageous for both attack and defense.

When the two sides were stuck in a stalemate on the front side of Shanhaiguan Pass, Guo Songling of the Fengtian army advocated a surprise attack on Jiumenkou. He personally led three infantry regiments and a mountain artillery battalion to raid Jiumenkou. The Fengtian troops launched a fierce attack on the defense troops as quickly as possible, and managed to turn the battle around to achieve victory.

Jiumenkou Great Wall by Heidelberg Design / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

The defeats at Jiumenkou and Shimenzhai disrupted the strategic deployment of the Zhili army. Now at a disadvantage, the Zhili army was about to make a last stand against the Fengtian army when news came of Feng Yuxiang’s betrayal in Beijing. Feng, commander of the Zhili Third Army, suddenly returned to Beijing on October 23rd from his journey to Gubeikou and arrested Cao Kun, launching the Beijing Coup that shocked China and the rest of the world.

Wu Peifu, who was supervising military action at Shanhaiguan Pass, hastily withdrew his troops to hurry back to Beijing and rescue the city. On the 28th, Zhang Zongchang’s Fengtian troops conquered Lengkou Pass on the Great Wall and moved into Luan County, cutting off the Zhili army's route back into Shanhaiguan Pass. Guo’s Fengtian division marched straight to Qinhuangdao from Shimenzhai, utterly defeating the troops positioned on the frontline of Shanhaiguan Pass.

This war fought in modern times and with modern weapons is a testament to the critical role Jiumenkou played in military conflicts. Its role was even greater in the cold weapon era.

Jiumenkou Great Wall, Heidelberg Design / Tuchong, From the collection of: Simatai Great Wall
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Jiumenkou Great Wall, Heidelberg Design / Tuchong, From the collection of: Simatai Great Wall
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Credits: Story

Author: Dong Yaohui

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