Battle of Jiangxia

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Battle of Jiangxia
Part of the wars at the end of the Han dynasty
Date Spring of 208 CE
Location Jiangxia (present-day Yunmeng County, Hubei
Result Sun Quan victory; Huang Zu beheaded
Belligerents
Sun Quan Liu Biao
Commanders and leaders
Zhou Yu
Lü Meng
Ling Tong
Huang Zu
Chen Jiu  
Zhang Shuo  
Strength
25,000 30,000+[1]
Casualties and losses
30,000
Battle of Jiangxia
Traditional Chinese 江夏之戰
Simplified Chinese 江夏之战

The Battle of Jiangxia was a battle fought between the warlords Sun Quan and Liu Biao in 208 in the late Eastern Han dynasty. The battle was the last part of a series of military engagements between Sun Quan and Liu Biao's general Huang Zu in the vicinity of Jiangxia Commandery (present-day Yunmeng County, Hubei).

Background[edit]

In the spring of 208, Gan Ning, who defected from Huang Zu to Sun Quan's side, suggested to his new lord to prepare a full assault on Jiangxia. Gan Ning mentioned that Huang Zu was already old, and his right-hand men only knew how to do business and bully lower-ranked officials, and Huang's arsenal had not been replenished for some time.[2]

Despite opposition from his chief civil clerk, Zhang Zhao,[3] Sun Quan still appointed Ling Tong to lead the vanguard force, Lü Meng to be the naval commandant, and Zhou Yu as Front Commander to regulate the operation. The campaign had two main objectives: elimination of Huang Zu, who was responsible for the death of Sun Quan's father Sun Jian at the Battle of Xiangyang; conquest of Jiangxia, which stood in Sun Quan's path to dominating Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan).

The battle[edit]

Initial clashes[edit]

In response to Sun Quan's aggression, Huang Zu assigned his general Zhang Shuo as the vanguard, and Chen Jiu as the admiral, but he would stay behind the high walls of Jiangxia to avoid conflict in the frontline. Before the battle started, Zhang Shuo led his troop on a large vessel to reconnoitre the riverbank, but was located by Ling Tong, who was also scouting the area. At the time, Ling Tong only had tens of his closest warriors on a light vessel,[4] yet he was able to climb Zhang Shuo's vessel probably under the cover of nightfall or the disguise as Zhang's own men, and surprise attacked his enemy. Zhang Shuo was slain by Ling Tong, and his mariners were captured.[5]

Deadlock[edit]

Upon hearing the news that Zhang Shuo was killed, Huang Zu immediately ordered Chen Jiu to block the entrance of Miankou River with two of his largest capital ships (mengchong) covered with ox-hide at the choke point.[6] In addition, Huang had strong men and archers ambushed on top of the cliff next to the river to thrown down rocks and fire on large enemy vessels. To bring down Huang Zu's mengchongs, Zhou Yu sent out his large vessels, but only to be destroyed by the rocks thrown down from the cliff. After several hours of fighting, Zhou Yu realized Huang Zu's arsenals were not that unchecked, and that Sun Quan's men were exhausted and dealt with casualties by the heavy cross fire from the elite crossbows on the mengchongs.

Fall of the great capital ships[edit]

To change the tide of battle, Zhou Yu had Ling Tong and Dong Xi, along with 100 "die-hard" soldiers, donned two suits of armour each and charged towards the enemy despite the rain of rocks from the cliff and heavy fire from the mengchongs.[7] Through fierce fighting, Ling and Dong finally succeeded in breaking the connections between the two vessels, and the downfall of the mengchongs aspired the fighting spirit of Sun Quan's forces. Lü Meng even engrossed in melee combat, and had Chen Jiu killed in a duel.[8] With the admiral gone, Huang Zu's massive navy was annihilated by Sun Quan's smaller forces. Before the time Lü Meng could eliminate Huang's navy, Ling Tong had led a separate command to attack Jiangxia, and took over the city.[9]

Doom of Huang Zu[edit]

Unable to resist Sun Quan's forces, Huang Zu fled the city, but was caught up and killed by a horseman named Feng Ze.[10] His head was specifically requested by Sun Quan to be placed inside a container for examination. After receiving Huang Zu's head, Sun Quan presented it as a sacrifice at his late father Sun Jian's temple.

Aftermath[edit]

Conflict between Ling Tong and Gan Ning[edit]

With Huang Zu killed, Sun Quan had taken his revenge; however, Ling Tong's father, Ling Cao, was killed by an arrow fired by Gan Ning during the previous Battle of Xiakou, and had not be avenged. Thus, Ling Tong would attempt to provoke Gan Ning during a banquet held in Lü Meng's house some time later. In the end, Sun Quan settled this conflict through political maneuver, as he "exiled" Gan Ning to station at Half Island, hence Ling Tong would perceive as justice done.

Abandonment of Jiangxia[edit]

Liu Biao's son Liu Qi wanted to succeed Huang Zu's position, and went east after Sun Quan took away the captives.[11] However, Liu Qi was not allowed the time to solidify his control over Jiangxia because northern Jing Province had been incorporated into Cao Cao's domain without much resistance after his father died of illness. Therefore, Liu Qi stationed his troop at Han Ford, where he met Liu Bei, who was escaping from Cao Cao's pursuit, they then joined forces and went to Xiakou to ask help from Sun Quan.[12] As Jiangxia was famous for being the cradle of the Huang clan, Sun Quan gave up the idea to hold the city after he received news that Cao Cao had acquired northern Jing Province. Liu Biao's general Wen Ping, who defected to Cao Cao after Liu's death, became the new governor of Jiangxia.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There were several tens of thousands of captives after the war, but the exact size of Huang Zu's army remains unknown.
  2. ^ (祖今年老,昏耄已甚,財谷並乏,左右欺弄,務於貨利,侵求吏士,吏士心怨。舟船戰具,頓廢不修,怠於耕農,軍無法伍。至尊今往,其破可必。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  3. ^ (張昭時在坐,難曰:"吳下業業,若軍果行,恐必致亂。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding. Zhang Zhao argued that Sun Quan's territories in the Wu region were unstable and rebellions might break out if the army was away.
  4. ^ (统为前锋,与所厚健兒数十人共乘一船,常去大兵数十里。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  5. ^ (行入右江,斬黃祖將張碩,盡獲船人。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  6. ^ (祖横两蒙冲挟守沔口,以栟闾大绁系石为碇,上有千人,以弩交射,飞矢雨下,军不得前。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  7. ^ (襲與淩統俱為前部,各將敢死百人,人被兩鎧,乘大舸船,突入蒙沖裡。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  8. ^ (蒙勒前鋒,親梟就首) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  9. ^ (时吕蒙败其水军,而统先搏其城,於是大获。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 55, Biographies of Cheng, Huang, Han, Jiang, Zhou, Chen, Dong, Gan, Ling, Xu, Pan, and Ding.
  10. ^ (祖挺身亡走,骑士冯则追枭其首) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 47, Biography of Sun Quan.
  11. ^ (...黃祖為孫權所殺,琦遂求代其任。) Fan Ye. Book of the Later Han, Volume 74.
  12. ^ (先主斜趨漢津,適與羽船會,得濟沔,遇表長子江夏太守琦眾萬馀人,與俱到夏口。) Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 32, Biography of Liu Bei.

References[edit]