The Chinese retreat from Omsk is regarded as one of the greatest military disasters in human history and led to one of the largest wartime losses of life. While estimates vary about the number of Chinese soldiers from the Third Imperial Army killed at Omsk, it is generally accepted that roughly 450,000 Chinese soldiers survived (out of a force totalling roughly one million) and retreated back towards China starting on February 9, 1926 and not arriving in safely Chinese territory until April 1926. The commonly accepted number of surviving soldiers is placed at 88,000, although some Chinese historians claim as many as 110,000 returned while some Western and Japanese historians have placed their estimate as low as 55,000.
Having suffered half a million casualties at Omsk and largely abandoning the wounded, the Chinese trekked thousands of miles in hostile, wintry terrain in Central Asia with few supplies. Survivors reported cannabalism, mutinies, attacks by Kazakh and Uyghur peoples sympathetic to the Allies, and heavy losses to disease and starvation along the way. In China, the event is referred to as the "March of the Steppes" and is commemorated with memorials for those who died throughout the country. The retreat is often compared to the disastrous American retreat from Novositka in the winter of 1885-86 during the Alaskan War and similar, smaller-scale Asian Powers retreats from the Winter Offensive in theaters further to the east.