After the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927, Zhu De and Chen Yi led military troops to southern Hunan Province in mid-January, 1928. They took control of the town of Yizhang on January 22, 1928, starting the Xiangnan Uprising ("Xiangnan" means south of Hunan in Chinese).
The troops were later reorganized to the first division of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Revolutionary Army. The uprising soon spread to seven counties in Hunan and involved more than 100,000 people. In less than one month, the Revolutionary Army seized the counties of Chenxian, Leiyang, Yongxing and Zixing, establishing Soviet political powers there.
In late March of that year, the uprising was suppressed by the Kuomintang troops and the Revolutionary Army was forced to move to Jinggang Mountain of Jiangxi Province.