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  • The Han Dynasty of China had endured for over 4 centuries, yet as time progressed, its monarchs

  • became more apathetic, while its officials ever more self-serving and corrupt. Thus,

  • by the end of the 2nd century, the Han was only a shell of its former self. Though all

  • still claimed nominal allegiance to the emperor, true power now lay in the regional warlords.

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  • The ongoing rebellions had resulted in the empowerment of general Dong Zhuo in 184. He

  • was charged with restoring order to the realm and by 189 his task was complete. Yet with

  • the army at his back, Dong Zhuo did not stand down, and marched on the two capitals of the

  • empire. Initially, Dong burned the eastern capital

  • Luoyang to the ground, and then situated himself within the walled western capital, Changan,

  • thus seizing power for himself. Deposing the sitting emperor and placing a child in his

  • stead, Dong Zhuo initiated a reign of terror as cruel as it was short-lived. After little

  • more than two years, his second-in-commandBu finally turned on him and assassinated

  • him in 192. Dong Zhuo’s tyranny had forged an unlikely

  • alliance of regional warlords to oppose him, but they were united only in their hatred

  • of the mad general. Thus, with his execution, so too did the coalition fragment. In the

  • northeast of China were Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, two of the region’s most powerful warlords.

  • Both of these men held sufficient forces to be able to offerprotectionto the underage

  • Emperor Xian of Hanthereby ensuring their own ability to rule in the boy-king’s name.

  • While Yuan Shao debated the wisdom of such an action, Cao Cao moved first, spiriting

  • the young emperor away from his place of refuge in the ruins of Luoyang, to his own fortress

  • at Xu in Yan Province. Safely ensconced within Xu and using edicts

  • stamped with the emperor’s own seal, Cao Cao spent much of 196 to 200 bringing the

  • other northern warlords to heel. This process was greatly aided in 197 when southern China

  • quickly splintered into multiple warring states. Yuan Shao had meanwhile realized that his

  • slowness to act had likely cost him the empire. Both clearly understood that there wasn’t

  • enough room in the north for two ambitious warlords with dreams of empire. It was in

  • the year 200 that the building friction between the two former comrades erupted into full-scale

  • conflict. The location of the primary battle, Guandu, was significant because it was situated

  • near the Yan Ford of the Yellow River and on the road to Cao Cao’s capital Xu. This

  • made it a key staging point for both militaries to control in order to further their objectives.

  • As early as August of 199, Cao Cao realized the critical importance of holding Fort Dushi

  • on the southern bank of the main crossing of the Yellow River. Thus, he stationed a

  • garrison there to expand and improve its defenses in preparation for the inevitable conflict

  • with Yuan Shao. There was a clear difference in the strength

  • of each side. Cao Cao fielded a respectable force of some 40,000, but was dwarfed by Yuan

  • Shao’s coalition of more than 110,000, including 10,000 heavy cavalry.

  • The moment for Yuan Shao to strike came in the first month of 200, with an unexpected

  • turn of events. The governor of Xu Province in the south, Liu Bei, rebelled against his

  • lord Cao Cao’s control, and pledged himself to Yuan Shao’s half-brother. As Cao Cao

  • hurried to redeploy his armies and deal with this betrayal, he gambled that Yuan Shao was

  • not yet ready to attack. Therefore he personally led the expedition against Liu Bei, leaving

  • his lieutenant Yue Jin in command of Dushi. This left the northern border of Yan exposed

  • an opportunity Yuan Shao could scarcely afford to ignore.

  • With Cao Cao absent, Yuan felt he could easily seize control of Yan Province, along with

  • the emperor himself. He immediately mobilized his massive army to the crossing at Yan Ford.

  • Here, hoping to establish a beachhead on the southern bank, he dispatched a vanguard of

  • 4,000 infantry and cavalry to seize the river crossing. It was here that Cao Cao’s early

  • preparations in reinforcing Fort Dushi were rewarded.

  • In spite of Cao Cao’s absence, the entrenched forces of Guandu repeatedly rebuffed Yuan

  • Shao’s initial attempts. Though they were vastly outnumbered, with only 2000 defenders

  • in all, the narrow confines of the ford negated Yuan Shao’s numerical advantage. The commander

  • of Fort Dushi, though, knew that their luck would not hold if Yuan launched his full strength

  • against them. Reinforcements arrived under the command of Yu Jin with a detachment of

  • 2,000 men, which were dispatched up the river to raid and disrupt Yuan Shao’s encampments,

  • thus preventing them from unifying in a concerted push.

  • Liu Bei’s rebellion against Cao Cao disintegrated almost immediately, with the traitorous warlord

  • fleeing first south, and ultimately into the protection and employ of Yuan Shao. Despite

  • his surprise attack failing to achieve the desired quick victory, and Cao Cao once again

  • personally leading the defense of Yan, Yuan ignored advice to end his campaign. Instead

  • he and his army to crossed the Yellow River downstream of Yan Ford and laid siege to Fort

  • Boma. Rather than directly aiding the besieged fort,

  • Cao Cao led his armies in a feint upriver toward Yan Ford. This fooled Yuan Shao into

  • believing Cao’s intent was to cross the river and attack his main camp. To defend

  • against this, Yuan was forced to divert reinforcements bound for the Siege of Boma and instead counter

  • Cao Cao’s purported river crossing. Cao Cao, however, had double-backed to strike

  • at the enemy forces outside Boma and lift their siege of the fortress.

  • Cao Cao’s army utterly routed the besiegers at Boma, and in the course of the battle Yuan

  • Shao’s general in charge of the siege was killed. Nevertheless, Cao Cao, having decided

  • that the fortress was no longer defensible, ordered his forces to withdraw southwest,

  • and take up their prepared positions at Guandu. Again trying to seize the initiative, Yuan

  • Shao ordered a force of 6,000 cavalry to attack the retreating enemy and take them by surprise.

  • Having been Yuan Shao’s battlefield ally for many years, however, Cao Cao had anticipated

  • such a maneuver. He thus ordered many of his soldiers to dismount and drop their weapons

  • and valuables along the way. As expected, the attacking cavalry were lured by the scattered

  • roadside goods, and they halted their pursuit to collect the bounty. At that point, Cao

  • Cao’s own force of 600 elite cavalry ambushed them, killing hundreds, including their force

  • commander, and routing the rest. Guandu and its fortress not only lay on the

  • southern bank of the Bian River south of the Yellow River, but was also ringed by a series

  • of massive earthwork fortifications. These functioned as trenches, holding defenders

  • within each concentric ring. Despite these formidable barriers, Yuan Shao decided not

  • to set up siege lines and starve the defenders out, but to commit his army to storming Guandu.

  • His soldiers constructed massive siege platforms taller than the earthwork barriers, from which

  • archers would fire arrows down into the enemy. But Cao Cao now revealed his own counter-siege

  • weapon: his mangonels, also known as traction trebuchets, capable of shattering the wooden

  • platforms with ease. Yuan Shao’s attempt to storm Guandu’s

  • defenses was a failure.. As Cao Cao countered Yuan Shao’s every move, the Battle of Guandu

  • devolved into a stalemate. This was not, however, to Cao Cao’s advantage, as his province

  • was rapidly running low on food and supplies. Without swift relief, starvation would force

  • his defeat. Word reached Cao Cao that his means of salvation

  • may have been found. He received a report that a mere 20 km away, Yuan Shao’s army

  • had been stockpiling its own stores of grain at the nearby village of Gushi. Yet rather

  • than attempting to seize the grain for his own soldiers, Cao Cao dispatched a small force

  • of light cavalry to surround the village and incinerate it, grain and all. This certainly

  • did not help his own situation, but Cao Cao had wagered that it would cost Yuan Shao’s

  • army even more, especially given that his own supply lines had been extended deep within

  • Cao’s territory. Shortly thereafter, in the 10th month, Yuan’s

  • own emergency reserves of supplies were indeed called to the front and stored at Wuchao,

  • near Gushi. Yet it was lightly defended, and when one of Yuan’s subordinates attempted

  • to alert the warlord to that oversight, he was brushed asideresulting in the miffed

  • officer’s defection to Cao Cao, where he informed him of this new supply cache.

  • Though suspicious of this conveniently timed information, Cao Cao’s army was nonetheless

  • at a critical point and could not afford to ignore the opportunity. Cao Cao personally

  • led a nighttime raid with 5,000 infantry and cavalry to capture, or failing that, destroy

  • the Wuchao depot. Using the darkness and the expectation of an incoming relief force to

  • their advantage, Cao Cao and his men quickly overran the defenders and, when recovery proved

  • impractical, again set fire to the supplies. When word reached Yuan Shao that his granary

  • had again been destroyed, rather than attempting to save his supplies, he committed almost

  • his entire army to storming the defenses at Guandu and achieving an immediate breakthrough.

  • The battle raged on through the night at tremendous human cost, but as before, no significant

  • gains were made against the fortress. When dawn broke the next morning, Yuan Shao’s

  • soldiers, already thoroughly demoralized by the loss of the last of their food, were horrified

  • to discover that Cao Cao had ordered the lips and noses of the enemy dead removed, mixed

  • with pig entrails, and scattered on the outskirts of their comradescamps. As hopelessness

  • swept the camps, two more commanders defected to Cao Cao, causing even more despair and

  • confusion. It was at this moment that Cao Cao’s counterassault

  • came. Launching his full strength at the exhausted and unsuspecting enemy camps, 20,000 Yan soldiers

  • ploughed into Yuan Shao’s disorganized ranks, broke their lines and caused the panicked

  • soldiers to rout. By the end of the day, by Cao Cao’s own (perhaps overblown) estimation

  • to Emperor Xian, more than 70,000 of Yuan’s 110,000-strong army lay dead, and the rest

  • had been captured. The majority of these captives would subsequently be buried alive by Cao

  • Cao’s order. Though Yuan Shao himself had managed to slip

  • away in the retreat with a force of 800 cavalry, his power across the north was broken. He

  • would die two years later, and his sons would quickly tear the remnants of his realm apart,

  • making them easy targets for the armies of Cao Cao. In little more than 5 yearstime,

  • Cao Cao had gone from just one of many regional northern warlords, to absolute ruler of the

  • entire north.

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The Han Dynasty of China had endured for over 4 centuries, yet as time progressed, its monarchs

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Battle of Guandu 200 - Three Kingdoms DOCUMENTARY(Battle of Guandu 200 - Three Kingdoms DOCUMENTARY)

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    香蕉先生 發佈於 2022 年 07 月 03 日
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