Posted 22 November 2004 - 10:38 AM
I'll narrate some account of the story of Huo Qubing (霍去病), the famous Han general.
Huo Qubing was the youngest chief commander of the army in the history of China. As a famed anti-Xiongnu general of the western han dynasty, his career bore a legendary flavour. A native of Pingyang county (now Linfen, Shanxi) in Hedong Prefecture, Huo was born in 140 BC. His father, Huo Zhongru (霍仲孺), was a court attendant of Pingyang county. He was assigned to the palace of Princess Pingyang (平阳公主). His mother, We Shaoer (卫少儿), was also a maid of the palace.
Huo Qubing spent his younger days among the maids and servants. At the age of 13 or so ( during the first year of Emperor Han Wudi's Yuanshao reign), he was able to free himself from the destiny of slavery and follow his mother to Chang'an b'cos his aunt, Wei Zifu (卫子夫), was made an empress and his uncle, Wei Qing (卫青), had rendered meritorious military services to the nation.
Since young, Huo had been yearning for a military career. He trained hard in horsemanship, archery and spearing; he also learnt the art of war. After years of painstaking practice, he soon became a heroic and brave young soldier. Emperor Han Wudi thought extra highly of such a 'hero'. When he was only 18 years old, he was appointed "Military Attendant" (侍中) in the palace in charge of transport and uniform affairs.
Since Emperor Han Wudi came into power, the Western Han Dynasty, based on the administration of Emperor Wen and Emperor Jing, became more and more powerful and prosperous day by day. Following the prosperity of social economy, consolidation of centralised power, growth of the national financial resources and development of the management of horses and cavalry construction, the historical mission of thwarting (with a counterattack) the Xiongnu aristocracy's raids and plunder was correspondingly placed on the daily agenda.
Xiongnu (匈奴) was a nomadic tribe roaming in northern China. During the latter part of the Qin dynasty and early han dynasty, it founded a military regime under the slavery system headed by Chanyu (单于 - 'title of XiongNu's leader'). Its territory stretched to the Liao River in the east, Tianshan Mountain in the west, Lake Baikal in the north and the vast region of Hetao in the south. It possessed a cavalry of over 300,000 men , which was an unprecendented powerful force. To abduct people and plunder livestock and property, the Xiongnu ruling bloc concentrated its target on the rich Han territory. Since Xiongnu was situated at the border of China, its presence caused serious sufferings to the inhabitants in the north and posed an enormous threat to the Western Han regime.
Compelled by weak national strength, China all along carried out the humiliating "heqing" 和亲 policy from the reign of Emperor Gaozu to that of Emperor Wen, but this did not stop the Xiongnu rulers' avarice ("heqing" means marrying a chinese princess to the Xiongnu aristocracy). Instead, it fostered the aristocrats' arrogance and imperiousness; they even attacked Weibei and coveted Chang'an. By the reign of Emperor Jing, though there were some changes in the passively-beaten situation, there was still no reversal basically; Chinese princess had been married to the Xiongnu royalty, with valuable presents.
When Emperor Han Wudi first ascended the throne, he avowed the old treaty on the one hand and carried out preparations for a counter offensive on the other. In 133 BC, when all the conditions were completely ripe, the monarch with great talent and bold vision unleashed a strategy to lure the enemy into the deep part of China's territory and annihilate them by ambush, thus opening the prelude of the large-scale war between China and Xiongnu.
Six years later, according to the Emperor's tactices and strategy and military deployment - changing simple defence to attacks with one's initiative - Wei Qing, leading an army, recovered Hetao region. After a lapse of 3 years, he dealt a heavy blow to Prince Youxian's strongest force. Facing the Xiongnu aristocracy's savage counter-attack and having heard of the Han army's victory, Huo Qubing was filled with the longing to go to the battlefield. In 123 BC (when he was Military Attendant), he followed Wei Qing's troops twice - in the 2nd and 4th months- to Dingxiang (today's Heling-ge-er in Inner Mongolia) to continue attacking the Xiongnus in the south of Gobi desert. In the 2nd battle, the Emperor ordered Wei Qing to pick 800 most elite cavalrymen to be under the sole command of Huo, and conferred on him (Huo) the rank of "Captain Valour/Agility" (票姚校尉).
Huo lived up to his appointment. Leading the 800-man cavalry, he charged into the rear of the enemy which was a few hundred li from the main force of the Han army. Quick as the wind and swift as lightning, they attacked the Xiongnu tents that they found, killing over 2000 Xiongnus and Changyu's granduncle, Duke of Jiro, and capturing alive Chanyu's uncle, Luogubi (罗姑比), the Prime minister and other officials. They then returned triumphantly.
"夫君子之行：靜以修身，儉以養德；非淡泊無以明志，非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮
One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang