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CHAPTER 30. Shunning Advice, Yuan Shao Loses Leaders and Granaries; Using Strategy, Cao Cao Scores Victory At Guandu.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 7, 2011

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Hearing that Yuan Shao was hastening to attack
at Guandu, Xiahou Dun wrote to the capital urgently
asking for reinforcements, and Cao Cao told off
seventy thousand troops with which he marched.
Xun Yu was left to guard the capital.
Just as Yuan Shao’s army was starting, Tian
Feng sent out a remonstrance from his prison cell,
saying, “My lord, a hasty attack in full scale will bring
disaster to our army. It is best now to wait upon such
times as Heaven should appoint.”
Peng Ji said to Yuan Shao, “Why does this Tian
Feng utter ill−omened words? My lord is sending
forth an army in the cause of humanity and justice.”
Easily moved to anger, Yuan Shao was going to
execute Tian Feng, but this time he forbore at the
entreaties of many of his officers. However, he was
not appeased, for he said, “I will punish Tian Feng
when I return from conquering Cao Cao.”
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Meanwhile Yuan Shao hastened to start. The
banners of his host filled the horizon, their swords
were as trees in the forest. They marched to Yangwu
and there made a strong camp.
Then Ju Shou once more opposed any hasty
movement, saying, “Though our soldiers are many,
they are not so bold as the enemy; however,
veterans as are the enemy, they have not ample
supplies. Therefore they will wish to force on a
speedy battle, while our policy is to hold them off and
delay. If we can keep from a decisive battle long
enough, the victory will be ours without fighting.”
This advice did not appeal to Yuan Shao.
Said he, threateningly, “Tian Feng spoke
discouraging words to my armies, and I will
assuredly put him to death on my return. How dare
you follow in the same way?”
Yuan Shao summoned the lictors and sent away
the adviser in chains, saying, “When I have
overcome Cao Cao, then will I deal with you and
Tian Feng together “
The huge army was camped in four divisions, one
toward each point of the compass. The camps were
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thirty miles in circuit. Scouts and spies were sent out
to discover the strong and the weak points of the
Cao Cao’s army arrived and were smitten with
fear when they heard of the strength of their enemy.
The leader called together his council.
Then said Adviser Xun You, “The enemy are
many but not terrible. Ours is an army of veterans,
every soldier of ours worth ten of theirs; but our
advantage lies in a speedy battle, for unhappily our
stores are insufficient for a long campaign.”
“You speak to the point,” said Cao Cao. “I think
the same.”
Therefore Cao Cao issued orders to press noisily
forward and force on a battle. Yuan Shao’s soldiers
took up the challenge, and the two sides were
arrayed. On Yuan Shao’s side, Shen Pei placed ten
thousand of crossbowmen in ambush on the two
wings, while five thousand of archers held the center.
The signal for general attack was a bomb, and the
onset was to continue through three rolls of the
Yuan Shao wore a silver helmet and breastplate
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and an embroidered robe held in by a jeweled belt.
He took up his post in the center with his
commanders—Gao Lan, Zhang He, Han Meng,
Chunyu Qiong, and others—ranged right and left.
His banners and ensigns made a brave show.
When Cao Cao’s army’s center opened and the
banners moved aside, the chieftain appeared on
horseback with his staff of doughty leaders all fully
armed—Xu Chu, Zhang Liao, Xu Huang, Li Dian,
and others.
Pointing with his whip at Yuan Shao, Cao Cao
cried, “In the presence of the Emperor, I pressed
your claims to consideration and obtained for you the
title of Regent Marshal; why do you now plan
Yuan Shao replied, “You take the title of a
minister of Han, but you are really a rebel against the
House. Your crimes and evil deeds reach to the
heavens, and you are worse than the usurper Wang
Mang and the rebel Dong Zhuo. What are these
slanderous words about rebellion that dare you
address to me?”
“I have a command to make you prisoner!”
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“I have the Girdle Decree to arrest rebels!” replied
Yuan Shao.
Then Cao Cao became wrathful and bade Zhang
Liao ride forth as his champion. From the other side
rode Zhang He on a curvetting steed. The two
champions fought four or five bouts with no
advantage to either. In his heart Cao Cao thought
the contest amazing. Then Xu Chu whirled up his
sword and went to help. From the other side, to
match him rode out Gao Lan with his spear set, and
the contestants were now four, battling two and two.
Then Cao Cao ordered three thousand troops under
Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong to attack the opponents’
array. Thereupon on Yuan Shao’s side, Shen Pei
gave the signal for attack, and the legion of
crossbowmen on the wings shot and the center
archers let fly all together. The arrows flew all over
the field in front, and Cao Cao’s troops could not
advance. They hastened away toward the south.
Yuan Shao threw his soldiers on their rear, and they
were broken. They fled away toward Guandu, and
Yuan Shao advanced another stage. He camped
near them.
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Then Shen Pei said, “Now send one hundred
thousand soldiers to guard Guandu, and get near
Cao Cao’s camp; then build up observation mounds
to get a clear view of the enemy, and choose
vantage points whence to shoot arrows into the
midst of their host. If we can force him to evacuate
this place, we shall have gained a strategic point
whence Capital Xuchang can be attacked.”
Yuan Shao adopted this suggestion. From each
of the camps, they sought out the strongest veterans
who dug with iron spades and carried earth to raise
mounds near Cao Cao’s camp.
Cao Cao’s soldiers saw what their enemies were
doing and were anxious to make a sortie and drive
them off. But the archers and crossbowmen came
out commanding the narrow throat through which it
was necessary to attack and stayed them. At the end
of ten days, they had build up more than half a
hundred mounds, and on the summit of each was a
lofty tower, whence the archers could command their
opponents’ camp. Cao Cao’s soldiers were greatly
frightened and held up their bucklers to keep off the
various missiles. From the mounds the arrows flew
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down like a fierce rain after each roll of drums. The
soldiers of Yuan Shao’s army laughed and jeered
when they saw their enemies crouching under their
shields and crawling on the ground to avoid their
Cao Cao saw that his troops were getting out of
hand under this attack, so he called a council.
Liu Ye spoke up, saying, “Let us make catapults
and so destroy them.”
Cao Cao at once had models brought and set
cunning workers to make these stone−throwing
machines. They soon constructed some hundreds
and placed them along the walls of the camp inside,
just opposite the high ladders on the enemy’s
Then Cao Cao’s troops watched for Yuan Shao’s
archers to ascend the towers. As soon as the
archers began to shoot, all the catapults began to
heave stone balls into the skies and they wrought
great havoc. There was no shelter from the falling
stones, and enormous numbers of the archers were
killed. Yuan Shao’s troops called these machines
“Rumblers,” and after their appearance the archers
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dared not ascend the mounds to shoot.
Then Shen Pei, the strategist, thought out another
plan. He set troops to tunnel under the walls into the
midst of Cao Cao’s camp and called this corps “The
Sappers.” Cao Cao’s soldiers saw the enemy digging
out pits behind the mounds and told the chief, who at
once sought a counter plan from Liu Ye.
“As Yuan Shao can no longer attack openly, he is
attacking secretly and is tunneling a road under
ground into the midst of our camp,” said Liu Ye.
“But how to meet it?”
“We can surround the camp with a deep moat
which renders their tunnel useless.”
So a deep moat was dug as quickly as possible,
and when the enemy sappers arrived thereat, lo!
their labor had been in vain and the sap was
Cao Cao held Guandu throughout the eighth and
ninth months when, his army being worn out and
provisions failing, he began to think of giving up and
returning to the capital. As he could not make up his
mind, he referred his difficulties by letter to Xun Yu,
whom he had left to guard Xuchang. The reply he
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got was to this effect:
“I have received your command to decide
whether to continue the campaign or retire. It
appears to me that Yuan
Shao assembled such large forces at Guandu
with the expectation of winning a decision. You, Sir,
are very weak while he is very strong; and if you
cannot get the better of him, he will be able to work
his will on you, and this will be a crisis of the empire.
Your opponents are indeed numerous, but their
leader knows not how to use them. With your military
genius and discernment, where are you not sure to
succeed? Now though your numbers are small, your
situation is still brighter than Liu Bang’s when he
faced against Xiang Yu in Jungyang and Chenggao.
You are securely entrenched with your hands on
Yuan Shao’s throat; and even if you cannot advance,
that state of things cannot endure forever but must
change. This is the time to play some unexpected
move, and you must not miss it. The device I leave
to your illustrious ingenuity.”
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This letter greatly pleased Cao Cao, and he urged
upon his troops to use every effort to maintain the
Yuan Shao then retired some ten miles, and Cao
Cao sent out scouts to ascertain his new
dispositions. One of Xu Huang’s officers, Shi Huan,
captured an enemy spy and sent him to his chief. Xu
Huang interrogated him and found out that a convoy
of supplies was expected and that this spy and
others had been sent to find out what were the risks
of the route. Xu Huang went at once to tell Cao Cao.
When Xun You heard that the commander of the
convoy was Han Meng, he said, “That fellow is a
valiant fool. A few thousand light horse sent to
intercept him can capture the whole train and cause
much trouble in the enemy’s camp.”
“Whom should I send?” asked Cao Cao.
“You might send Xu Huang; he is capable of such
a task.”
So Xu Huang was deputed, and he took with him
Shi Huan, who had captured the spy, and his
company. And this party was supported by Zhang
Liao and Xu Chu.
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It was night when the commissariat train of many
thousands of wagons drew near Yuan Shao’s camp.
As they passed through a defile, Xu Huang and Shi
Huan came out and stopped the train. Han Meng
galloped up to give battle but was soon overcome.
The guard was scattered, and soon the whole train
was in flames. The escort and their leader fled away.
The glow of the flames seen from Yuan Shao’s
camp caused great consternation, which became
fear when the escaped soldiers rode in and told their
Yuan Shao sent out Zhang He and Gao Lan to try
to intercept the raiders, and they came upon Xu
Huang and his company. Just as Zhang He and Gao
Lan were attacking, reinforcements from Zhang Liao
and Xu Chu came up, and the Yuan Shao’s troops
were between two fires. They were cut to pieces and
the successful generals of Cao Cao rode back to
Guandu, where they were richly rewarded.
As an additional safeguard, Cao Cao made a
supporting outpost in front of the main camp to be
the apex of a triangle of defense.
When Han Meng returned with his woeful tidings,
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Yuan Shao was angry and threatened to put him to
death. His colleagues begged him off.
Then said Shen Pei, “Food is very important for
an army in the field and must be defended with the
greatest diligence. Wuchao is our main depot and
must be carefully guarded.”
“My plans being complete;” said Yuan Shao, “you
may as well return to Capital Yejun of Jizhou and
undertake the control of the supplies. Let there be no
So Shen Pei left the army. Then a force of twenty
thousand troops was told off to defend the depot in
Wuchao. The leaders of this body were Chunyu
Qiong, Gui Yuanjin, Han Juzi, Lu Weihuang, and
Zhao Rui.
Of these generals, Chunyu Qiong was a hard
man and a heavy drinker, who in his cups was a
terror to the soldiers. Under the idle life of guarding
the supply depot, the leaders gave themselves up to
indulgence and drank heavily.
In Cao Cao’s army also food was getting scarce,
and a message was sent to Capital Xuchang to send
grain quickly. The messenger with the letter,
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however, had not gone far when he fell into the
hands of Yuan Shao’s guards, who took him to the
adviser Xu You.
Seeing from the letter that Cao Cao was short of
supplies, Xu You went to Yuan Shao and told him,
saying, “Cao Cao and we have been at grips here for
a long time, and Capital Xuchang must be
undefended. A small army sent quickly could take it,
and at the same moment an attack here would
deliver Cao Cao into our hands. Now is the moment
to strike, for his supplies are short.” Yuan Shao
replied, “Cao Cao is full of ruses, and this letter is
artfully designed to bring about a battle to suit
“If you do not take this chance, he will do you
some injury by and by.”
Just at this juncture in came a dispatch from
Yejun in which, after some details regarding the
forwarding of grain, Shen Pei said he had discovered
that Xu You had been in the habit of receiving bribes
while in Jizhou and had winked at his relatives
collecting excess taxes. One of his son and nephew
were then in prison.
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At this Yuan Shao turned on Xu You angrily and
said, “How can you have the face to stand before me
and propose plans, you extortionate fellow? You and
Cao Cao have old liking for each other, and he has
bribed you to do his dirty work for him and help his
base schemes. Now you want to betray my army. I
ought to take off your head, but temporarily I will let
your neck carry it away. Get out and never let me
see you again.”
The discredited adviser sighed and went out,
saying, “Faithful words offend his ear. He is a pest
and unworthy of advice from me. And now that Shen
Pei has injured my son and nephew, how can I look
my fellow folks in the face again?”
And Xu You drew his sword to end his life. But his
people prevented that.
They said, “If Yuan Shao rejects your honest
words, then assuredly he will be taken by Cao Cao.
You are an old friend of Cao Cao’s; why not abandon
the shade for the sunlight?”
Just these few words awakened Xu You to
consciousness of his position, and he decided to
leave Yuan Shao and go over to Cao Cao for he was
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an old friend.
Vainly now for chances lost
Yuan Shao sighs; once he was great.
Had he taken Xu You’s advice,
Cao Cao had not set up a state.
Xu You stealthily left the camp and set out for
Cao Cao’s lines. He was captured on the way. He
told his captors: “I am an old friend of the Prime
Minister; go and tell the Prime Minister that Xu You
of Nanyang wishes to see him.”
They did so. Cao Cao was resting in his tent, his
clothing loose and comfortable after the toils of the
day. When he heard who wished to see him, he
arose quite joyfully and hastily ran out, on bare feet,
to receive Xu You. Cao Cao went forth to greet him.
They saw each other in the distance, and Cao Cao
clapped his hands with gladness bowing to the
ground when near enough to his visitor.
Xu You hastened to help him rise, saying, “Sir,
you, a great minister, should not thus salute a simple
civilian like me.”
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“But you are my old friend and no name or office
makes any difference to us,” replied Cao Cao.
“Having been unable to choose the lord I would
serve, I bowed my head before Yuan Shao wishing
to support him sincerely. But he was deaf to my
words and disregarded my plans. Wherefore I have
left him and come now to see my old friend from
whom I hope employment.”
“If Xu You is willing to come, then have I indeed a
helper,” said Cao Cao. “I desire you to give me a
scheme for the destruction of Yuan Shao.” “I
counseled him to send a light force to take Capital
Xuchang and at the same time attack here in full
scale so that head and tail be both attacked.”
Cao Cao was alarmed, saying, “If he does so, I
am lost!”
“How much grain have you in store?” said the
new adviser.
“Enough for a year.”
“I think not quite,” said Xu You, smiling.
“Well, half a year.”
The visitor shook out his sleeves, rose and
hurried toward the door of the tent, saying, “I offer
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him good counsel and he repays me with deceit.
Could I have expected it?”
Cao Cao held him back.
“Do not be angry,” said he. “I will tell you the truth.
Really I have here only enough for three months.”
“Everybody says you are a marvel of wickedness,
and indeed it is true,” said Xu You.
“But who does not know that in war there is no
objection to deceit?” replied Cao Cao.
Then whispering in Xu You’s ear, he said,
“Actually here I have only supplies for this month’s
“O do not throw dust in my eyes any more. Your
grain is exhausted and I know it.”
Cao Cao was startled, for he thought no one
knew of the straits he was in.
“How did you find that out?” said Cao Cao.
Xu You produced the captured letter, saying,
“Who wrote that?”
“Where did you get it?”
Whereupon Xu You told Cao Cao the story of the
captured messenger.
Cao Cao seized him by the hand, saying, “Since
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our old friendship has brought you to me, I hope you
have some plan to suggest to me.”
Xu You said, “To oppose a great army with a
small one is to walk in the way of destruction, unless
you inflict quick defeat. I can propose a plan which
will defeat the innumerable hordes of Yuan Shao
without fighting a battle. But will you follow my
“I very much desire to know your plan,” said Cao
“Your enemy’s stores of all kinds are at Wuchao,
where the commander of the guard is that drunkard
Chunyu Qiong. You can send some of your trusty
veterans to pretend they belong to one of Yuan
Shao’s generals, Jiang Qi, sent to help guard the
depot. These soldiers can find an opportunity to fire
the grain and stores of all kinds, which will upset all
Yuan Shao’s calculations. In three days Yuan Shao
is no more.” Cao Cao greatly approved. He treated
Xu You very liberally and kept him in his camp.
Forthwith he chose five thousand of horse and foot
ready for the expedition.
Zhang Liao protested, saying, “The enterprise will
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be futile as the grain depot will certainly be well
guarded. Without caution, we may be victims of the
treachery on the part of the newly arrived Xu You.”
“Xu You is no traitor,” said Cao Cao. “He has
come sent by Heaven to defeat Yuan Shao. If we do
not get grain, it will be hard to hold out; and I have
either to follow his advice or sit still and be hemmed
in. If he were a traitor, he would hardly remain in my
camp. Moreover this raid has been my desire for a
long time. Have no doubts; the raid will certainly
“Well, then, you must look out for an attack here
while the camp is undefended.”
“That is already well provided for,” said Cao Cao
The arrangements for the raid on the grain depot
were made with extreme care to ensure success.
Cao Cao assigned Xun You, Jia Xu, and Cao Hong
to guard the main camp, together with Xu You;
Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan to guard the left camp;
Cao Ren and Li Dian to guard the right camp. When
all was ready they set out, Cao Cao himself in the
center, with Zhang Liao and Xu Chu as van leaders
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and Xu Huang and Yu Jin as rear guard. The army
showed the ensigns of their opponents. The troops
carried bundles of grass and faggots to make a
blaze. The soldiers were gagged and the horses tied
round the muzzles so as to prevent any noise. They
set out at dusk.
The night was fine and the stars shone brightly.
Ju Shou, still a prisoner in Yuan Shao’s camp,
saw the stars were very brilliant and told his gaolers
to conduct him out to the central pavilion whence he
could study them. While watching he saw the planet
Venus invade the quarter of the Bear and Lyra,
which startled him very greatly.
“Some misfortune is near,” said Ju Shou.
So although it was still night, he went to see his
master. But Yuan Shao was sleeping after
indulgence in too much wine and was in bad humor.
However, when they had roused him saying that the
prisoner had a secret message to deliver, he got up.
“While I happened to be studying the aspect of
the heavens,” said the night visitor, “I saw Venus,
then between Hydra and Cancer, suddenly shoot
into the neighborhood of the Bear and Lyra. There is
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danger of a robber raid, and special precautions
must be taken at the grain depot. Lose no time in
sending good soldiers and vigorous leaders thither,
and keep a lookout on the byways among the hills
that you may escape the wiles of Cao Cao.”
“You are a criminal,” said Yuan Shao. “How dare
you come with such wild nonsense to upset my
And turning to the gaolers Yuan Shao continued,
“I bade you confine him; why did you let him come?”
Then he issued orders to put the gaolers to death
and appointed others to keep the prisoner in close
Ju Shou went away, wiping his falling tears and
sighing deeply, “Our soldiers’ destruction is at hand,
and I know not where our poor corpses may find a
resting place.”
Blunt truth offended Yuan Shao,
Too stupid any plan to make,
His stores destroyed this is evident
That Jizhou also is at stake.
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Cao Cao’s raiding party went along through the
night. Passing one of Yuan Shao’s outpost camps,
they were challenged. Cao Cao sent forward a man
to say, “Jiang Qi has orders to go to Wuchao to
guard the grain stores.”
Seeing that the raiders marched under the
ensigns of Yuan Shao, the guard had no suspicions
and let them pass. At every post this ruse was
effective, and they got safely through. They reached
their objective at the end of the fourth watch, the
straw and wood were placed in position without loss
of time, and the blaze started. Then Cao Cao’s
commanders beat to attack.
At this time Chunyu Qiong and his companions
were all asleep after a heavy drinking bout. However,
when the alarm was given, they sprang up and
asked what was the matter. The hubbub was
indescribable. Very soon the fuddled officers were
caught with hooks and hauled out of their camp.
Yuan Shao’s generals Gui Yuanjin and Zhao Rui
were just returning from taking grain to the camp and
seeing the flames arise, they hastened to assist.
Some of Cao Cao’s soldiers ran to him, saying,
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“The enemy is coming up in the rear. Send
But Cao Cao only replied, “Press on to the front
till the enemy is actually close at hand and then face
So the attack was pressed on and they all
hastened forward. Very soon the fire gained
strength, and thick smoke hung all around filling the
sky. When Gui Yuanjin and Zhao Rui drew near, Cao
Cao turned about and attacked them. They could not
stand this for a moment, and both generals were
killed. Finally the stores of grain and forage were
utterly destroyed.
The commander, Chunyu Qiong, was made
prisoner and taken to Cao Cao who ordered him to
be deprived of ears, nose, and hands. He was bound
on a horse and sent, thus horribly mutilated, to his
From Yuan Shao’s camp, the flames of the
burning depot were seen away in the north, and they
knew what they meant. Yuan Shao hastily
summoned his officers to a council to send a rescue
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Zhang He offered to go with Gao Lan, but Guo Tu
said, “You may not go; it is certain that Cao Cao is
there in person, wherefore his camp is undefended.
Let loose our soldiers on the camp, and that will
speedily bring Cao Cao back again. This is how Sun
Bin besieged Wei and thereby rescued Hao ((two
ancient states)).”
But Zhang He said, “Not so; Cao Cao is too wily
not to have fully prepared against a chance attack. If
we attack his camp and fail and Chunyu Qiong
should be caught, we shall all be captured too.”
Guo Tu said, “Cao Cao will be too intent on the
destruction of the grain to think of leaving a guard. I
entreat you to attack his camp.”
So Yuan Shao sent five thousand soldiers under
Zhang He and Gao Lan to attack Cao Cao’s camp,
and he sent ten thousand with Jiang Qi to go to
recover the grain store.
Now after overcoming Chunyu Qiong, Cao Cao’s
troops dressed themselves in the armor and clothing
of the defeated soldiers and put out their emblems,
thus posing as defeated force running back to their
own headquarters. And when they happened upon
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Jiang Qi’s rescue body, they said they had been
beaten at Wuchao and were retreating. So Cao
Cao’s troops were suffered to pass without
molestation while Jiang Qi hastened on. But soon
Jiang Qi came to Zhang Liao and Xu Chu who cried
out, “Stop!”
And before Jiang Qi could make any opposition,
Zhang Liao had cut him down. Soon his force were
killed or dispersed, and the victors sent false
messengers to Yuan Shao’s camp to say that Jiang
Qi had attacked and driven away the attackers of the
granaries. So no more relief were sent that way.
However, Yuan Shao sent reinforcements to
In due course, the Yuan Shao’s force came down
upon Cao Cao’s camp at Guandu, and the
defenders—Xiahou Dun, Cao Ren, and Cao
Hong—at once came out and fought them on three
sides so that they were worsted. By the time
reinforcements arrived, Cao Cao’s army, returning
from the raid, had also come, and Yuan Shao’s army
were attacked in the rear. So they were quite
surrounded. However, Zhang He and Gao Lan
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managed to force their way out and got away.
When the remains of the defenders of the grain
stores reached their master’s camp, they were
mustered. Seeing the mutilated state of their one
time leader, Yuan Shao asked how Chunyu Qiong
had come to betray his trust and to suffer thus, and
the soldiers told their lord, “The General was
intoxicated at the time of the attack.”
So Yuan Shao ordered Chunyu Qiong to be
forthwith executed.
Guo Tu, fearing lest Zhang He and Gao Lan
would return and testify the whole truth, began to
intrigue against them.
First Guo Tu went to his lord, saying, “Those two,
Zhang He and Gao Lan, were certainly very glad
when your armies were defeated.”
“Why do you say this?” asked Yuan Shao.
“O they have long cherished a desire to go over
to Cao Cao; so when you sent them on the duty of
destroying his camp, they did not do their best and
so brought about this disaster.”
Yuan Shao accordingly sent to recall these two to
be interrogated as to their faults. But Guo Tu sent a
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messenger in advance to warn them, as though in
friendly guise, of the adverse fate that awaited them.
So when the orders reached them to return to
answer for their faults, Gao Lan asked, “For what
reason are we recalled?”
“Indeed I do not know,” said the messenger.
Gao Lan drew his sword and killed the
messenger. Zhang He was astonished at this
demonstration, but Gao Lan said, “Our lord has
allowed some one to malign us and say we have
been bought by Cao Cao. What is the sense in our
sitting still and awaiting destruction? Rather let us
surrender to Cao Cao in reality and save our lives.”
“I have been wanting to do this for some time,”
replied Zhang He.
Wherefore both, with their companies, made their
way to Cao Cao’s camp to surrender.
When they arrived, Xiahou Dun said to his
master, “These two have come to surrender, but I
have doubts about them.”
Cao Cao replied, “I will meet them generously
and win them over, even if they have treachery in
their hearts.”
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The camp gates were opened to the two officers,
and they were invited to enter. They laid down their
weapons, removed their armor, and bowed to the
ground before Cao Cao, who said, “If Yuan Shao
had listened to you, he would not have suffered
defeat. Now you two coming to surrender are like
Wei Zi leaving the falling House of Shang to go to
Yin and Han Xin leaving Xiang Yu to go over to the
rising House of Han.”
Cao Cao made then Generals and conferred
upon Zhang He the title of Lord of Duting and upon
Gao Lan Lord of Donglai, which pleased them much.
And so as Yuan Shao had formerly driven sway
his adviser, Xu You, so now he had alienated two
leaders and had lost his stores at Wuchao, and his
army was depressed and down−hearted.
When Xu You advised Cao Cao to attack Yuan
Shao as promptly as he could, the two newly
surrendered generals volunteered to lead the way.
So Cao Cao sent Zhang He and Gao Lan to make a
first attack on the camp, and they left in the night
with three thousand troops. The fighting went on
confusedly all night but stayed at dawn. Yuan Shao
Three Kingdoms Romance
had lost half of his army.
Then Xun You suggested a plan to Cao Cao,
saying, “Now is the moment to spread a report that
an army will go to take Suanzao and attack Yejun,
and another to take Liyang and intercept the enemy’s
retreat. Yuan Shao, when he hears of this, will be
alarmed and tell off his troops to meet this new turn
of affairs; and while he is making these new
d i s p o s i t i o n s , w e c a n h a v e h i m a t g r e a t
Cao Cao adopted the suggestion; and care was
taken that the report spread far around. It came to
the ears of Yuan Shao’s soldiers, and they repeated
it in camp. Yuan Shao believed it and ordered his
son Yuan Tan with fifty thousand troops to rescue
Yejun, and General Xin Ming with another fifty
thousand to go to Liyang, and they marched away at
once. Cao Cao heard that these armies had started,
and at once dispatched troops in eight divisions to
make a simultaneous attack on the nearly empty
camp. Yuan Shao’s troops were too dispirited to fight
and gave way on all sides.
Yuan Shao without waiting to don his armor went
Three Kingdoms Romance
forth in simple dress with an ordinary cap upon his
head and mounted his steed. His youngest son,
Yuan Shang, followed him. Four of the enemy
generals—Zhang Liao, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, and Yu
Jin—with their forces pressed in his rear, and Yuan
Shao hastened across the river, abandoning all his
documents and papers, baggage, treasure, and
stores. Only eight hundred horsemen followed him
over the stream. Cao Cao’s troops followed hard but
could not come up with him; however, they captured
all his impedimenta, and they slew some eighty
thousands of his army so that the watercourses ran
blood and the drowned corpses could not be
counted. It was a most complete victory for Cao Cao,
and he made over all the spoil to the army.
Among the papers of Yuan Shao was found a
bundle of letters showing secret correspondence
between him and many persons in the capital and
Cao Cao’s personal staff suggested that the
names of those concerned should be abstracted and
the persons arrested, but their lord said, “Yuan Shao
was so strong that even I could not be sure of safety;
Three Kingdoms Romance
how much less other people?” So Cao Cao ordered
the papers to be burned and nothing more was said.
Now when Yuan Shao’s soldiers ran away, Ju
Shou, being a prisoner, could not get away and was
captured. Taken before Cao Cao, who knew him, Ju
Shou cried aloud, “I will not surrender!”
Said Cao Cao, “Yuan Shao was foolish and
neglected your advice; why still cling to the path of
delusion? Had I had you to help me, I should have
been sure of the empire.”
Ju Shou was well treated in the camp, but he
stole a horse and tried to get away to Yuan Shao.
This angered Cao Cao who recaptured him and put
him to death, which he met with brave composure.
“I have slain a faithful and righteous man,” then
said Cao Cao sadly.
And the victim was honorably buried at Guandu.
His tomb bore the inscription “This is the tomb of Ju
Shou the Loyal and Virtuous.”
Ju Shou was honest and virtuous,
The best in Yuan Shao’s train,
From him the stars no secrets held,
Three Kingdoms Romance
In tactics all was plain.
For him no terrors had grim death.
Too lofty was his spirit,
His captor slew him, but his tomb
Bears witness to his merit.
Cao Cao now gave orders to attack Jizhou.
In feeling over confident, that’s where one’s
weakness lay;
The other bettered him by plans which never went
The following chapter will tell who won the next
Three Kingdoms Romance

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