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Battle of Poyang Lake


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#1 Kong Zhixue

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:57 PM

Hey,


I would like to know more about the Battle of Poyang Lake. I tried searching for it on the internet and all I get is a Osprey book. Does anyone have infomation about this battle? I am deeply interested in learning about it, since Poyang seems to be the largest naval battle in Chinese history.


Thanks in Advance and God bless,

KZ

#2 snowybeagle

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 08:43 PM

Map & info provided by www.unitedcn.com, translation by snowybeagle :)
Posted Image

Battle of Lake PóYáng (鄱阳湖之战) - 7th month of AD 1363

This was the battle which ended Chén YŏuLiàng (陈友谅) as a major contender for supremacy in China during the anti-Yuan Dynasty (元) uprisings. It was considered a significant event in Chinese military history, with unprecedented scale in terms of personnel and number of vessels involved.

A pre-battle analysis of the forces of the opponents involved showed Chén YŏuLiàng having overwhelming numerical advantage against Zhū YuánZhāng (朱元璋).

Chén's troops claimed to be 600,000 strong against Zhū's 200,000.
Chén's warships were newly built, large and powerful. Zhū's were a motley assortment of mostly smaller boats and vessels rummaged from various places.
Chén's forces were well-supplied in terms of equipment and provisions.

Nonetheless, the crushing defeat of Chén YŏuLiàng highlighted once again that in warfare, the battle goes not always to the many.


Prologue

In the 2nd month of AD 1363, the warlord Zhāng ShìChéng (张士诚) whose turf extended from XúZhōu (徐州) in the north to ShàoXīng (绍兴) in the south, despatched his subordinate general Lü Zhēn (吕珍) to launch an attack on the last bastion of Little Ming King (小明王) at ĀnFēng (安丰). ĀnFēng was cut off from supplies and reinforcements, and its major general Liú FúTōng (刘福通) was killed in battle.

As Little Ming King was the nominal overlord of Zhū YuánZhāng, the latter received urgent requests for relief. Zhū YuánZhāng decided to go to the rescue as ĀnFēng's fall would expose his main base in YìngTiān (应天), and crossed the Long River in the 3rd month. He battled against Lü Zhēn and won three successive battles, causing the latter to flee.

Zhū YuánZhāng's departure with the bulk of his forces from JiāngNán (江南) gave what Chén YŏuLiàng thought would be a great opportunity to recover the territories of JiāngXī which Chén lost earlier to Zhū YuánZhāng at the battle of JiāngZhōu.

In the 4th month, Chén personally led his forces (claiming to be 600,000 strong) by water and land routes to attack the city of HóngDū (洪都). HóngDū was situated on the lower reaches of the Gàn river, along the plains of the northern banks. It was connected to the Long River via Lake PóYáng to the north. It was considered as a militarily strategic place.

For this battle, Chén had ordered the constructions of several hundred huge warships, painted bright red on the exterior, each vessel several zhàng (丈, 10 feet) in height. The triple decked warships had thoroughways for horses, and equipped with armoured hulls and scores of sculling oars. The largest of these ships could accomodate 3,000 people each, and the smaller ones 1,000.


Attack on HóngDū

Upon arrival, Chén's forces disembarked an launched aggresive attacks against HóngDū.

HóngDū was stoutly defended by Commander Zhū WénZhēng (都督朱文正) and staff officer Dèng Yù (参政邓愈), drill instructor Xuē Xiăn (指挥薛显) and the marshals Zhào DéShèng (元帅赵德胜) and Niú HăiLóng (元帅牛海龙). Zhào DéShèng and Niú HăiLóng perished protecting the city, and Zhū YuánZhāng's forces suffered heavy casualties. Nonetheless, the city held and was besieged for months, being cut off from the outside. In the 6th month, Zhū WénZhēng managed to get news to Zhū YuánZhāng through the subordinate Zhāng ZĭMíng (千户张子明).

Geographical Localities:
XúZhōu (徐州) : 今江苏省徐州市, in present day N of JiangSu province.
ShàoXīng (绍兴) : 今浙江省绍兴市, in ZheJiang province.
ĀnFēng (安丰) : 治今安徽寿县, present day Shou county in AnHui province.
YìngTiān (应天) : 今南京, present day Nanjing.
JiāngZhōu 江州 : 今江西九江, present day JiuJiang in JiangXi province.
HóngDū (洪都) : 今南昌, present day NanChang, capital of JiangXi province.

[to be continued ...]
Well, what do you expect? The actual battle took some 37 days, and you wanted to know more, didn't you?
You can read more in the link I gave above.

Edited by snowybeagle, 07 November 2005 - 08:54 PM.


#3 Kong Zhixue

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 09:54 PM

Ah thanks alot snowybeagle! I appericate the info! Unfortunatly I can't read Chinese :( ....... But thanks for what you gave me!

#4 snowybeagle

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 10:38 PM

Unfortunatly I can't read Chinese :(

Okay, I decided to earn a few brownie points by adding the hanyüpinyin of the names listed in the maps and involved in the battles to assist those who do not read Chinese.

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#5 Kong Zhixue

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 07:46 PM

OoOoO!


Thanks for the translation on the map snowybeagle!

#6 naruwan

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 08:19 PM

One must also note the important role 李善長 played during this battle. If 陳友諒 didn't fall for the trap at 洪都, instead went ahead to attack 應天, he would have won. 李善長 was the one defending 應天, also the one who was involved in the plan to lure 陳友諒 to 洪都.
mudanin kata mudanin kata. kata siki-a kata siki-a. muhaiv ludun muhaiv ludun. kanta sipal tas-tas kanta sipal tas-tas. kanta sipal tunuh kanta sipal tunuh. sikavilun vini daingaz sikavilun vini daingaz.

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#7 snowybeagle

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 09:52 PM

One must also note the important role 李善長 played during this battle. If 陳友諒 didn't fall for the trap at 洪都, instead went ahead to attack 應天, he would have won. 李善長 was the one defending 應天, also the one who was involved in the plan to lure 陳友諒 to 洪都.

I found references to Liú Jī (刘基), alias Bó Wēn (伯温), arguing against Zhū YuánZhāng's decision to go to the rescue of the Little Ming King Hán Lín'Ér (小明王韩林儿), citing that it would be a disaster if they failed, and it would be extremely awkward if they succeeded - as Zhū had technically swore fealty to Little Ming King, who would be the leader if Little Ming King were to be brought back to YìngTiān (應天/应天)? Zhū would either risk sullying his own reputation by confining or murdering his nominal overlord, or lose his leadership position by having to actually defer to the Little Ming King. In the end, Zhū decided to go ahead because he felt the exposure of YìngTiān from the loss of ĀnFēng would be too perilous to ignore.

Lĭ ShànCháng (李善長/李善长) was oft appointed to be in charge of YìngTiān while Zhū YuánZhāng was away campaigning. Lĭ ShànCháng did, together with Kāng MàoCái (康茂才), play a role in formulating the strategy in defeating Chén YŏuLiàng's attempt to seize YìngTiān in AD 1360 (mentioned in passing in post #2), which resulted in Chén's loss of his dominance in the region of JiāngXī.

However, I could not find any references to the role played by Lĭ ShànCháng in tricking Chén YŏuLiàng into being obsessed with taking HóngDū (洪都) and overlooked the more promising prospects of going directly for YìngTiān which was weakly defended. In the article I am translating from, it was concluded that had Chén YŏuLiàng gone for the jugular, he would have succeeded and Zhū YuánZhāng would almost certainly be crushed, his forces cut off from each other and he personally caught in a pincer between Zhāng ShìChéng and Chén YŏuLiàng.

I would appreciate very much any information on the role played by Lĭ ShànCháng in the Battle of Lake PóYáng.

Edited by snowybeagle, 08 November 2005 - 09:54 PM.


#8 snowybeagle

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 10:52 PM

[continued ...]
When Zhū YuánZhāng who had returned to YìngTiān received the news of Chén YŏuLiàng's attack, the bulk of his forces were still away campaigning in Lúzhōu (庐州). Zhū YuánZhāng also got information that the water-level in the lake was falling, which eroded the advantages enjoyed by Chén YŏuLiàng's gigantic warships, and together with reports of Chén's forces experiencing mounting supply shortages and rising casualties, concluded it was a great opportunity to wipe out this rival.

Zhū immediately despatched orders to his generals who were commanding the bulk of his forces elsewhere. The Right Premier Xú Dá (右丞徐达) and Vice Premier Cháng YùChūn (参知政事常遇春), who were besieging Lúzhōu, were instructed to return with their armies. Meanwhile, he also sent messages to HóngDū to encourage them to hold on a little longer to wear out the enemy and buy time.

On the 6th day of the 7th month, Zhū YuánZhāng personally led Camp Commandant Féng GuóShēng (帐前亲军指挥使冯国胜), the military administrators Liào YŏngZhōng and Yú TōngHăi (同知枢密院事廖永忠, 俞通海), assembling a 200,000 strong force and set out to HóngDū's rescue.

On 16th/17th day of the 7th month, Zhū YuánZhāng arrived at HúKŏu (湖口) and methodically set about to trap Chén YŏuLiàng's forces within the lake and cut off his retreat:
(1) Commander Dài Dé (指挥戴德) stationed at JīngJiāngKŏu (泾江口),
(2) Another unit stationed at NánHúZuĭ (南湖嘴)
(3) Transferred soldiers from XìnZhōu (信州) to secure the river crossing at WŭYángDù (武阳渡).
Zhū then proceeded to lead his waterborne forces to enter the Lake PóYáng from SōngMén (松门).

On the 19th, Chén YŏuLiàng who had been unsuccessfully attacking HóngDū for 85 days and the morale of his forces were low. Upon learning of Zhū YuánZhāng's arrival, he lifted the siege of HóngDū and led his forces east into the Lake PóYáng for a showdown.

On the 21st, both forces faced off each other in the waters of Mount KāngLáng (康郎山水域).
Chén's warships were positioned upstream and adopted an imposing link formation stretching for tens of miles, .
Zhū YuánZhāng observed the linking of the enemy warships and concluded their mobility would be severely hampered. He told his men that the enemy would be out for a fierce fight after a long and futile siege, and said the day's battle would be crucial.
According to chapter 217 of 《续资治通鉴》, Zhū's forces were deployed into 11 units (some accounts 20), each unit equipped with large and small cannons, handguns, rocket-powered arrows, shrapnel-grenades, fire lances, multiple bolt launcher and crossbows (每队配备大小火炮、火铳、火箭、火蒺藜、大小火枪、神机箭和弓弩等)*. The units were ordered to get close to the enemy warships, and used the gunpowder weaponry first, then the crossbows, before finally engaging in melee battle.
* there might be more accurate technical terms for these weapons, ask Thomas Chen or Liang Jieming or Kenneth etc, CHF's weapon experts.

[to be continued ...]

Geographic Notes:
LúZhōu (廬州/庐州) : Present day Hefei in AnHui Province (今安徽合肥).
HúKŏu (湖口) : Present day Hukou in JiangXi Province (今江西湖口).
JīngJiāngKŏu (泾江口) : Present day along southern banks of ShuoSong in AnHui Province, (今安徽宿松南长江边).
NánHúZuĭ (南湖嘴) : Present day N of Hukou in JiangXi Province (今江西湖口北).
WŭYángDù (武阳渡) : Present day E of Nanchang County in JiangXi Province (今江西南昌县东).
SōngMén (松门) : Present day S DuChang in JiangXi Province (今江西都昌南).
Mount KāngLáng (康郎山) : Present day the Kang Mount within the Lake Poyang in JiangXi Province (今江西鄱阳湖内康山)

Additional References
影响中国的100次战争 - 59. 鄱阳湖之战

Edited by snowybeagle, 15 November 2005 - 10:53 PM.


#9 snowybeagle

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 10:51 PM

[I have made rectifications to some of the names of weapons used in the previous post]

[continued ...]
Both sides engaged in a battle which was fierce and bloody. Xú Dá, Cháng YùChūn and Liào YŏngZhōng led the charge by Zhū YuánZhāng's forces. There were torrents of missiles, thunderous booms from the explosives, fiery blazes seen within 50 miles, which saw the waters of the lake bloodied red from burnt or drowned casualties numbering between ten to twenty thousand.

Xú Dá personally led the charge which routed Chén's vanguards, killing 1,500 opponents, capturing one of Chén's gigantic warship, boosting the morale on Zhū YuánZhāng's side. Shortly afterwards, Yú TōngHăi with favourable winds behind him launched cannon attacks which destroyed more than 20 enemy warships. Chén suffered numerous casualties killed or drowned.

Zhū YuánZhāng's side also took on heavy losses. Xú Dá's ship caught fire and Zhū YuánZhāng came to the rescue in the nick of time to chase off Chén's attacks. Chén's valiant general Zhāng DìngBiān tried to turn the tide by leadìng a ferocious attack on Zhū YuánZhāng's command ship, which hit shoals while retreating. Only the sacrificial fightings of Zhū YuánZhāng's loyal henchmen, includìng commandant Hán Chéng, Marshal Sòng Guì and Chén Zhàoxiān who perished, kept Zhū YuánZhāng from being harmed.

In the heat of battle, Cháng YùChūn shot Zhāng DìngBiān while Yú TōngHăi and Liào YŏngZhōng arrived on small boats to the rescue. Zhāng DìngBiān withdrew after seeing it was difficult to get near Zhū YuánZhāng. Liào YŏngZhōng pursued the retreating Zhāng DìngBiān, and hit him with another arrow.

By evening, both sides disengaged with heavy casualties respectively in a draw. Fearing Zhāng ShìChéng would attack from his rear, Zhū YuánZhāng ordered Xú Dá to return to guard YìngTiān.

[to be continued ...]

Edited by snowybeagle, 17 November 2005 - 09:50 PM.


#10 snowybeagle

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 10:18 PM

[continued ...]

On the 22nd, Zhū YuánZhāng personally commanded the formations of his troops and led the water-borne forces out to battle. Chén YŏuLiàng's monstrous warships came out in a tight formation and thwarted three direct attacks by Zhū's smaller vessels.

When his right wing was forced to retreat, Zhū YuánZhāng ordered executions of more than 10 officers to no avail. His subordinate Guō Xīng (郭兴) intervened and pointed it was not due to lack of effort on the part of his soldiers but the disparity of sizes between the opposing vessels. Guō Xīng suggested using fire, which Zhū adopted. He ordered 7 ships as decoys, to be loaded with explosives, mounted with strawmen dressed in armour and made to carry weapons. Brave volunteers steered these ships in a sneak attack.

In the evening, a northeastern wind blew across the lake's surface, providing them with a good opportunity. When the decoys neared Chén's warships, they were set ablazed, and aided by prevailing winds, soon set Chén's fleet on fire. The conflagration of hundreds of giant warships transformed the waters into a lake of inferno. More than half of Chén's troops were burnt alive, including Chén's younger brother and valiant general Chén YŏuRén (陈友仁) and Chén YŏuGuì (陈友贵), as well as his doughty commander Chén PŭLüè (陈普略).

Zhū's forces seized the chance to launch another attack and killed over 2,000 enemies.

The day ended in favour of Zhū, though he lost five generals that day.

[to be continued ...]

#11 snowybeagle

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 09:50 PM

[continued ...]

The fighting resumed the following day on the 23rd. Chén YŏuLiàng concentrated the attacks against Zhū YuánZhāng's flagship. Unable to withstand the intensity of the onslaught, Zhū YuangZhāng exchanged clothes with Hán Chéng to escape.

Hán Chéng plunged into the water while being witnessed by Chén YŏuLiàng's forces. Thinking Zhū YuánZhāng dead, Chén relaxed his attacks slightly. That gave Zhū YuánZhāng a chance to board another boat. As soon as Zhū was away, his original flagship caught fire from cannon shots and was destroyed.

Aware that Chén identified his flagship by its white mast (or boom), Zhū ordered all his ships to paint their masts/booms white.

The turning point of the battle came on the 24th day. Chén's large warships encountered difficulty in maneouvering due to its complex operating mechanisms. Zhū YuánZhāng deployed Yú TōngHăi, Liào YŏngZhōng, Zhāng XīngZŭ (张兴祖) and Zhào Yōng (赵庸) to lead 6 fast ships to attack. The fast ships were able to dart in and out at will between Chén's warships, causing much damage, but more importantly, boosted the morale of Zhū YuánZhāng's forces. Zhū launched a general attack which smashed Chén's troops in a battle that lasted from early morning to the noon.

Unable to withstand the onslaught, Chén's forces retreated, leaving behind much weaponry, signal drums and flags floating on the lake's surface.

Chén tried to retreat to XiéShān (鞋山), but as Zhū already stationed troops to block off the route, he had withdraw to form a defensive line.

That evening, Zhū followed on his victory to block the escape route via ZuŏLí (左蠡), controlling the upper reaches of the River. Chén had to withdraw to the breakwater jetty of ZhūJī (诸矶).

Geographical Localities:
XiéShān (鞋山) : (今江西湖口南大孤山) S DaHu Mountain at HuKou in Jiangxi province.
ZuŏLí (左蠡) : (今江西都昌西北) NW of Duchang in Jiangxi province.
ZhūJī (诸矶) : (今江西星子南) S of Xingzi in Jiangxi province.

[to be continued ...]

Edited by snowybeagle, 25 November 2005 - 12:56 AM.


#12 snowybeagle

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 12:52 AM

[continued ...]

For the next 3 days, the situation deteriorated for Chén YŏuLiàng who continued to suffer repeated defeats.
His Right Golden General (右金吾将军) proposed that since it was impossible to sail out from the lake, they should disembark their forces from the vessels and withdraw overland to HúNán (湖南) and stage a comeback (“出湖难,宜焚舟登陆,直趋湖南图再举。”).

His Left Golden General (左金吾将军) cautioned against it, pointing out that it was exposing their weakness and they could lose everything when the enemy dispatched light cavalry after them. (“此示弱也,彼以步骑蹑我,进退失所据,大事去矣。”)

Chén was undecided for sometime before agreeing with the Right Golden General. Seeing his advice unheeded, the Left Golden General surrendered with his units to Zhū YuánZhāng. Upon learning of the matter, the Right Golden General also surrendered as well. Chen’s forces were even more demoralized as a result.

Zhū YuánZhāng sent messages calling for Chén to capitulate. Chén reacted angrily by ordering all the captives he took massacred. Zhū did the opposite, releasing his captives, providing medical care to the wounded and funerals for those killed. This contrast created further dissessions within Chen’s ranks while boosting Zhū’s standing.

Anticipating that Chén would have to attempt a breakout towards the Long River soon, Zhū transferred his troops to HuKou, erected wooden barriers on both banks of the river and positioned fire-rafts in the middle of the lake. At the same time, he dispatched forces to take QíZhōu (蕲州) and XīngGuó (兴国), giving him control over the upper reaches of the Long River. After a more than a month of fighting, the Chen’s army’s supply route and retreat route were cut-off.

On the 26th day of the 8th month, Chén led his starving and worn-out troops in more than a hundred ships to attempt a break-out through NánHúZuĭ to enter the Long River and make for WŭChāng (武昌).

Arriving at HúKŏu, they were beset by Zhū’s forces who attacked them with fire-rafts and other warships. Thwarted, Chen’s forces tried to escape through JīngJiāngKŏu, only to be ambushed by Zhū’s forces from all directions.

Chén YŏuLiàng was killed by an arrow-shot, his army collapsed totally. His subordinate Chén RóngYú (平章陈荣于) led more than 50,000 trooops to surrender to Zhū YuánZhāng. Chén YŏuLiàng's heir, Chén Shàn’Ér (陈善儿) was executed, his second son Chén Lĭ (理), due to valiant efforts from Marshal Zhāng DìngBiān (太尉张定边), managed to escape back to WŭChāng.

Chén YŏuLiàng’s extravagance had amassed vast quantities of valuables such as gold-plated beds. Seeing the hoard, Zhū YuánZhāng compared Chén YŏuLiàng to Mèng Chăng (孟昶), the last ruler of Later Shu (后蜀) from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era, who commissioned a urinal made of precious materials. Zhū ordered the extravagant items destroyed.

In the 2nd month of the following year, Chén Lĭ capitulated to Zhū YuánZhāng, who gained all the territories formerly controlled by Chén YŏuLiàng.

Additional References:
明史 : 列传第十一 陈友谅 张士诚 方国珍 明玉珍

Geographical Localities:
QíZhōu (蕲州) : Present day QiChun county in Hubei province (治今湖北蕲春县境).

[to be continued with a post-mortem ...]

#13 snowybeagle

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:46 AM

[continued ... finally got a little time to finish off my translation]

Zhū YuánZhāng
Chén YŏuLiàng

The scale of Battle of PoYang Lake was unprecendented in Chinese maritime naval history - with Chén YŏuLiàng claiming to have 600,000 troops against Zhū YuánZhāng's 200,000. The actual battle lasted some 37 days from the time 20th day of the 7th month to 26th day of the 8th month.

Chén YŏuLiàng, despite his superiority in number of troops, and sizes and numbers of warships, made a strategic error which led to his defeat. Instead of taking the chance to sail downstream to attack the unguarded base of Zhū YuánZhāng in YìngTiān (Nanjing) while leaving a smaller force which would have been adequate to tie down HóngDū, he focussed on the small but stoutly fortified and defended city, cramping his forces in a confined region where their advantage could not be brought into play.

Furthermore, Chén YŏuLiàng failed to despatch his troops to secure the various avenues of approaches and retreats to the theatre - the opportunity was seized by Zhū YuánZhāng who despite having fewer troops, wisely deployed them to secure these routes, a move which would prove crucial to the outcome of the battle.

Zhū YuánZhāng also perceived that Chén YŏuLiàng's forces, despite their numbers, were not united in purpose, with various factions rivalling against each other. Chén YŏuLiàng had not been able to achieve much gains despite heavy fighting in recent years while Zhū YuánZhāng's forces were high in morale.

Chén YŏuLiàng was also inflexible in conducting the war, while Zhū YuánZhāng was ready to learn from mistakes and adjust his methods accordingly. Thus, Zhū YuánZhāng was able to turn the disadvantage of his smaller ships into advantage, as well as seize upon favourable external elements such as the lowering of the waters of the lake which made it difficult for the gigantic enemy ships to manoeuvre.

[concluded]

#14 snowybeagle

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 08:29 PM

Zhū YuánZhāng sent messages calling for Chén to capitulate. Chén reacted angrily by ordering all the captives he took massacred. Zhū did the opposite, releasing his captives, providing medical care to the wounded and funerals for those killed. This contrast created further dissessions within Chén’s ranks while boosting Zhū’s standing.

I just wanted to add a couple of notes after reading a biography of Liú Jī (刘基).

According to the biography:

It was Liú Jī who advised Zhū YuánZhāng on repainting the rudders of all his ships to confuse the enemy.

It was also Liú Jī who stopped Zhū YuánZhāng from breast-for-tat retaliation in response to Chén killing the captured soldiers, and instead treated his own prisoners kindly, tending their wounds, giving the dead proper burial and releasing the survivors.

It was not just a ploy that depended on the soldiers at the time having a sense of honour.

Releasing the POWs also created a quandry for Chén YŏuLiàng - what to do with his men who were captured and then shown kindness by the enemy and released back to him?

If Chén YŏuLiàng accepted the men back, they would inevitably spread word of the magnamity of Zhū YuánZhāng, which would either make the leader of the enemy more admired, or otherwise make his own men less prepared to fight to the bitter end, knowing that the enemy would probably spare them.

However, imprisoning or killing the released soldiers was also out of question, as it would alienate many of his own troops against him too.

Notice that this tactic would not be appropriate in each and every situation.

The reason Zhū YuánZhāng could afford to use it because he did not have to fear that releasing captured enemy troops might strengthen the enemy.

At that juncture, Zhū YuánZhāng already won the upper hand and Chén YŏuLiàng was basically trapped in the lake.

It was only a question of time before Chén YŏuLiàng run out of food.

It was only a question of how much casualty Zhū YuánZhāng would have to suffer to finish off his foe.

Thus, releasing the captured soldiers back into enemy lines would pose no threat to Zhū YuánZhāng.
On the other hand, they'd probably help to deplete Chén YŏuLiàng's supplies even faster! :lol:




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