Battle of Wuzhang Plains

Battle of Wuzhang Plains
Part of the Fifth Northern Expedition of Shu of the Three Kingdoms
DateApril 234 - Autumn 234
LocationWuzhang Plains, Shaanxi
ResultInconclusive; Shu retreats
Combatants
Cao WeiShu Han
Commanders
Sima YiZhuge Liang
Yang Yi, Fei Yi
Strength
200,000100,000


The Battle of Wuzhang Plains (五丈原之戰) is a famous standoff between the kingdoms of Wei and Shu in 234 A.D. during the Three Kingdoms period of China. The battle is part of the fifth and last of the Northern Expeditions led by Shu statesman Zhuge Liang, who fell ill and died during the standoff.

Background

In the spring of 234, Zhuge Liang led 100,000 soldiers through Xiagu Pass (斜谷口) after three years of preparation since his last northern expedition. At the same time, Zhuge Liang sent an emissary to the allied Eastern Wu, hoping that Wu would attack Wei at the same time. In April, the Shu forces reached the Wuzhang Plains near the Wei River and made camp there. The Wei commander, Sima Yi, well prepared for such a move with a 200,000-strong army, built a fortified position on the southern bank of the Wei River.

The battle

Initial clashes

Guo Huai suggested that Sima Yi should form a position in the plains' north, since Zhuge Liang would likely strike there. Sima Yi agreed, and sent Guo Huai to set camp there. Shu forces attacked the Wei camp there while it was being built, but Guo Huai was able to repel them.

Stalemate

Sima Yi would not engage the Shu forces, instead trying to make the Shu forces to retreat through attrition. Zhuge Liang understood the problem, and implemented Cao Cao's tuntian system to keep his troops fed.

The Shu army awaited an agreed offensive by Wu for the moment to strike. However, Sun Quan's armies in the Huai region were defeated by Cao Rui and succumbed to an endemic disease. Thus the stalemate remained in place and continued for hundreds of days. Shu forces tried to engage the Wei forces several times, but Sima Yi kept his place and would not meet the enemy.

Once Zhuge Liang sent women's clothes to Sima Yi, suggesting that he was a woman for not daring to attack. The Wei officers were enraged by this, but Sima Yi would not be provoked. To appease his officers, Sima Yi asked the Wei Emperor Cao Rui for permission to engage the Shu forces. Cao Rui, understanding the situation, sent his advisor Xin Pi to Sima Yi telling the Wei forces to be patient.

Death of Zhuge Liang

In an attempt to engage the Wei forces, Zhuge Liang sent Sima Yi an emissary urging him to battle. Sima Yi, however, would not discuss military matters with the emissary, instead enquired about Zhuge Liang's tasks. The emissary replied that Zhuge Liang personally manages matters both big and small in the military, from military tactics to meals for the night, but he consumes very little. Sima Yi then told an aide that Zhuge Liang would not last long.

In August, Zhuge Liang fell sick due to exhaustion and his condition became worse everyday. The news reached Shu Emperor Liu Shan, who sent Li Fu to ask Zhuge Liang for Shu's future plans. Zhuge Liang replied that Jiang Wan could take his position after he dies, and after Jiang Wan dies Fei Yi could take over. When asked about Fei Yi's successor, Zhuge Liang fell silent. Li Fu then returned to the capital.

Zhuge Liang also gave instructions on how the Shu forces should withdraw back to Hanzhong: Yang Yi and Fei Yi would lead the forces while Jiang Wei and Wei Yan would guard the rear; if Wei Yan disobeyed, the Shu forces were to leave without him. In the early autumn of 234, Zhuge Liang died at the age of 54.

The Shu retreat

Following Zhuge Liang's death, the Shu forces quietly withdrew from their camps while keeping Zhuge Liang's death a secret. Sima Yi, convinced by the locals that Zhuge Liang had died, gave chase to the retreating Shu forces. Jiang Wei then had Yang Yi turn around and pretend to strike. Seeing this, Sima Yi feared that Zhuge Liang only pretended he was dead to lure him out, and immediately retreated. Common folklore tells of a double, or a wooden statue, that was dressed as Zhuge Liang, driving Sima Yi away in this incident. In any case, word that Sima Yi fled from the already dead Zhuge Liang spread, spawning a popular saying, "A dead Zhuge scares away a living Zhongda" (死諸葛嚇走活仲達), referring to Sima Yi's courtesy name. When Sima Yi heard of such ridicule, he laughingly responded, "I can predict the living, but not the dead."

News of Zhuge Liang's death was withheld until the Shu army had reached the safety of the Baoye valley to return to Hanzhong. Sima Yi, fearful that the announcement was false and merely another opportunity for Zhuge to demonstrate his talent for ambuscade, hesitated to pursue. Only after his inspection of the empty Shu encampment did he resolve that pursuit was appropriate, but after reaching Baoye and deciding the advance could not be supported with supplies, the Wei army returned to the Wei River.

Aftermath

Conflict between Wei Yan and Yang Yi

Wei Yan, dismayed that the Shu forces are retreating "over the death of one man", collected his men and rode ahead of the main army and razed the gallery road behind them to prevent the main army from returning home. Yang Yi, who held a personal grudge against Wei Yan, sent the emperor a letter accusing Wei Yan of treason; Wei Yan did the same against Yang Yi. Emperor Liu Shan asked Dong Yun and Jiang Wan for their opinions, and both were suspicious of Wei Yan. Liu Shan then sent Jiang Wan to lead a force of imperial bodyguards north to cope with the disorders.

Later, Yang Yi led the main army through the mountains despite the loss of the gallery roads and confronted Wei Yan's detachment at Nangu Pass (南谷口). There, Wei Yan sent troops to attack Yang Yi while Yang Yi commanded Wang Ping to resist Wei Yan. Upon meeting, Wang Ping scolded Wei Yan, "His Excellency so lately died that his body is not yet cold; how dare you act this way!" Hearing this, Wei Yan's forces scattered, knowing their commander was in the wrong. Wei Yan, along with his sons and a few followers, fled to Hanzhong. Yang Yi sent Ma Dai to give chase, and soon Ma Dai chopped Wei Yan's head off and sent it to Yang Yi. Yang Yi then ordered the execution of Wei Yan's family to the third degree.

Jiang Wan was about ten li away from the Shu capital Chengdu when he heard news of Wei Yan's death, so he returned.

Long-term influences

After Zhuge Liang's death Jiang Wan took his post, but Jiang Wan was more interested in domestic matters than military expansion. Thus the death of Zhuge Liang ended a huge strategic threat to Wei and the Wei court soon began development of ambitious public works.

Sima Yi's success and subsequent rise in prominence paved the way for his grandson Sima Yan's foundation of the Jin Dynasty, which would eventually bring an end to the Three Kingdoms period.

In popular culture

Ever since the beginning of the Dynasty Warriors series on the Playstation 2, the Battle of Wu Zhang Plains has always been one of the final stages of the game.

References

Northern Expeditions (北伐) were a series of five military campaigns launched by the state of Shu against the northern state of Wei from A.D. 228 to 234. All five expeditions were led by the famed statesman and commander Zhuge Liang.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Three Kingdoms era (Traditional Chinese: 三國; Simplified Chinese: 三国; Pinyin: Sānguo
..... Click the link for more information.
3rd century - 4th century
200s  210s  220s  - 230s -  240s  250s  260s
230 231 232 - 233 - 234 235 236
..... Click the link for more information.
3rd century - 4th century
200s  210s  220s  - 230s -  240s  250s  260s
230 231 232 - 233 - 234 235 236
..... Click the link for more information.
The Wuzhang Plains (五丈原) are plateaus near the Wei River in China. They are now in the Shaanxi province, 56 kilometres from Baoji. The name "Wuzhang" means "five zhang", where zhang
..... Click the link for more information.
陕西省
Shǎnxī Shěng

Abbreviations: 陕 or ?  (Pinyin: Shǎn or Qín)

Origin of name
..... Click the link for more information.
Cao Wei (Chinese: 曹魏; Pinyin: Cáo Wèi; Wade-Giles: Ts'ao Wei) was one of the regimes that competed for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period.
..... Click the link for more information.
Shu Han (Traditional Chinese: 蜀漢, pinyin: Shǔ Hàn), sometimes known as the Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shǔ) was one of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty, based on areas around Sichuan which was then known
..... Click the link for more information.
Sima Yi (179 - 251) was a strategist, general, and politician of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms era of China. He is perhaps best known for defending Cao Wei from Zhuge Liang's Northern Expeditions.
..... Click the link for more information.
Zhuge Liang (181 – 234) was one of the greatest strategists during the Three Kingdoms era of China. Zhuge Liang was not only a military strategist, but also a statesman, astrologist, engineer, scholar, and inventor. Zhuge is an uncommon two-character compound family name.
..... Click the link for more information.
Yang Yi (楊儀, ? - 235) was a minister of the Three Kingdoms period in China's history. Yang Yi was originally a subject of Cao Wei and later defected to Guan Yu, who sent him to Liu Bei.
..... Click the link for more information.
Fei Yi (費禕) (* after 200; † 253), courtesy name Wenwei (文偉), was an official of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of China. He served as regent after Jiang Wan.
..... Click the link for more information.
Northern Expeditions (北伐) were a series of five military campaigns launched by the state of Shu against the northern state of Wei from A.D. 228 to 234. All five expeditions were led by the famed statesman and commander Zhuge Liang.
..... Click the link for more information.
battle of Xincheng was a total of two rebellions from 227 to 228 A.D. each led by Meng Da and co-ordinated with Zhuge Liang against Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period in China. Sima Yi settled Meng Da's rebellions in 228.
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clear distinction between fact and .
Please [ edit this article], according to the fiction guidelines, to meet Wikipedia's . (talk, )


Battle of Tianshui
Part of the First Northern Expedition of Shu of the Three Kingdoms

Date Spring 228
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The battle of Jieting (街亭之戰) was a battle fought in 228 during the First Northern Expedition led by Zhuge Liang.

Jieting was a crucial region for the securing of supplies, and Zhuge Liang sent generals Ma Su and Wang Ping to guard the region.
..... Click the link for more information.
siege of Chencang was a battle between Wei and Shu from December 228 to 229 A.D. during the Three Kingdoms period in China as part of Zhuge Liang's northern expeditions.

Background


..... Click the link for more information.
Cao Wei (Chinese: 曹魏; Pinyin: Cáo Wèi; Wade-Giles: Ts'ao Wei) was one of the regimes that competed for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period.
..... Click the link for more information.
Shu Han (Traditional Chinese: 蜀漢, pinyin: Shǔ Hàn), sometimes known as the Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shǔ) was one of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty, based on areas around Sichuan which was then known
..... Click the link for more information.
3rd century - 4th century
200s  210s  220s  - 230s -  240s  250s  260s
230 231 232 - 233 - 234 235 236
..... Click the link for more information.
The Three Kingdoms era (Traditional Chinese: 三國; Simplified Chinese: 三国; Pinyin: Sānguo
..... Click the link for more information.
This page contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
China (Traditional Chinese:
..... Click the link for more information.
Northern Expeditions (北伐) were a series of five military campaigns launched by the state of Shu against the northern state of Wei from A.D. 228 to 234. All five expeditions were led by the famed statesman and commander Zhuge Liang.
..... Click the link for more information.
Zhuge Liang (181 – 234) was one of the greatest strategists during the Three Kingdoms era of China. Zhuge Liang was not only a military strategist, but also a statesman, astrologist, engineer, scholar, and inventor. Zhuge is an uncommon two-character compound family name.
..... Click the link for more information.
This page contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.


Eastern Wu (Chinese: 東吳; pinyin: Dōng Wú), also known as Sun Wu
..... Click the link for more information.
The Wuzhang Plains (五丈原) are plateaus near the Wei River in China. They are now in the Shaanxi province, 56 kilometres from Baoji. The name "Wuzhang" means "five zhang", where zhang
..... Click the link for more information.
Wei River (Simplified Chinese:渭河; pinyin: Wei He; Wade-Giles: Wei Ho) may refer to one of two rivers in China.
  • The first is a river in west-central China and is the largest tributary of the Yellow River.

..... Click the link for more information.
Sima Yi (179 - 251) was a strategist, general, and politician of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms era of China. He is perhaps best known for defending Cao Wei from Zhuge Liang's Northern Expeditions.
..... Click the link for more information.
Guo Huai (郭淮) (187 - 255) was a Wei general during the Three Kingdoms era of China who served under Cao Cao. He later rose up through the ranks during Cao Pi's reign, eventually becoming a top commander serving under Sima Yi.
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Attrition warfare is a strategic concept which states that to win a war, one's enemy must be worn down to the point of collapse by continuous losses in personnel and material. The war will usually be won by the side with greater such reserves/resources.
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