After Chiang's various extermination campaigns against the Jiangxi Soviet, the communists were rapidly dying and the KMT were approaching fast.
Although Mao wanted to attack the KMT from behind, Otto Braun and other Soviet advisors got their way, leading to the Red Army's retreat. They forced their way through KMT troops, with a small portion escaping from the KMT's blockhouse tactics.
In the ZunYi conference of January 1935, Mao was told to lead the Long March, thus helping him begin to grow increasingly powerful.
As a result, the remaining CCP members embarked on their Long March, a desperate retreat from the communists. They also aimed to gain the support of the peasants along the way.
The Red Army trekked through mountains, rain and the cold, travelling 6000 kilometres in total. 160000 soldiers started, but only 15000 made it to ShanXi. Only the toughest remained.
Despite the Long March realistically being a flee for survival for the CCP, Mao convinced the public that the March was a success. He emphasised how it showed the communists were tough, the KMT were flawed and the revolution the communists promised was one of liberation and heroism.