Civil war spread across North China.
So far it was an undeclared and limited war a military offshoot of the unity negotiations between the Central Government and the Communists. But at any time the war might become open and unlimited.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's armies, moving to restore Central Government authority above the Yellow River, had collided with Communist forces moving from their strongholds in the same region.
The Communist aim: to control a belt of territory reaching roughly 500 miles from Soviet-dominated Outer Mongolia to Soviet-occupied Manchuria (see map).
Success would give the...