Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:16 am

I asked about "I get the theory but source on such accurate information of an an army in a way one isn't involved in happening in 3 kingdoms?", Zhuge Ke using spies to look at his opponents near by defences isn't the same as spies informing on a distant camapign and delivering accurate and timely reports on an army in the field's formations. In theory, I can see it but there isn't a single case of it happening coming up in the sgz or ZZTJ so can you back it up with a ource

I haven't seen the exact comment within the sgz so no idea if historians there did question it, in Generals of the South chapter 7 has Professor Rafe remark shows some scepticism in note 33
SGZ 2, 80; Fang, Chronicle I, 104, tells how Cao Pi heard of the manner Liu Bei had extended his encampments through the hill country, and forecast his defeat. Even if this anecdote is true, it is doubtful whether anyone foresaw such a catastrophic rout of the invaders


I doubt Liu Bei had somehow, in his long career, never fought in forested area's. Swamps? Cao Pi had shorter career and fought in better circumstances then Liu Bei and yet kept losing as a Cic. Liu Bei was a noted commander, Cao Pi never got that level of miliatry reputation.

and achieved what merit? Sure, he had dealt with local revolts well enough, his friendship is not relevant to his skill as a strategist. The generals who beat Cao Pi's forces just happened to all be unable to understand basics this one occasion in their entire careers? Nothing we have seen suggests Cao Pi was in such a situation with his court.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:26 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:I asked about "I get the theory but source on such accurate information of an an army in a way one isn't involved in happening in 3 kingdoms?", Zhuge Ke using spies to look at his opponents near by defences isn't the same as spies informing on a distant camapign and delivering accurate and timely reports on an army in the field's formations. In theory, I can see it but there isn't a single case of it happening coming up in the sgz or ZZTJ so can you back it up with a ource

I haven't seen the exact comment within the sgz so no idea if historians there did question it, in Generals of the South chapter 7 has Professor Rafe remark shows some scepticism in note 33
SGZ 2, 80; Fang, Chronicle I, 104, tells how Cao Pi heard of the manner Liu Bei had extended his encampments through the hill country, and forecast his defeat. Even if this anecdote is true, it is doubtful whether anyone foresaw such a catastrophic rout of the invaders


I doubt Liu Bei had somehow, in his long career, never fought in forested area's. Swamps? Cao Pi had shorter career and fought in better circumstances then Liu Bei and yet kept losing as a Cic. Liu Bei was a noted commander, Cao Pi never got that level of miliatry reputation.

and achieved what merit? Sure, he had dealt with local revolts well enough, his friendship is not relevant to his skill as a strategist. The generals who beat Cao Pi's forces just happened to all be unable to understand basics this one occasion in their entire careers? Nothing we have seen suggests Cao Pi was in such a situation with his court.


Fu Jia petition to Sima Shi

The rebels have set up beacons and watch towers; in this they are especially prudent, so that our spies cannot operate and our ears and eyes go uninformed. When the army lacks ears and eyes and is without detailed information, to proceed against a great danger with masses of troops would be merely trusting to luck for success. To try to win after the battle is joined is not the best of plans for preserving the army. To move the army forward and undertake extensive agricultural colonies is the only sage and reliable measure. Wang Chang, Hu Zun, and others might be ordered to occupy key positions and to act cautiously when they take any measure; then they should be ordered to proceed from their three different directions to seize the enemy’s fertile lands and make him return to his leaner lands. This is the first point. Second, with our army in front of the people, the enemy will not be able to plunder them. Third, along the nearest route we will bring such pressure to bear that surrenders will increase daily. Fourth, with the beacons and watch-towers being set up far away, their spies will not come to us. Fifth, as the rebels retreat, their system of beacons and watch-towers will be relaxed, so it will be easy for us to make progress with our agricultural colonies. Sixth, living in these places off public stores, our troops need not be bothered with transportation. Seventh, whenever opportunity is offered, we must launch our attack speedily. These seven points are the most urgent military considerations. If we do not take them in hand, the rebels will seize the advantage; if we do take them in hand, the advantage will be to the State. We cannot but take note of this.

Now with the camps and fortifications so close to each other, the respective strength of each side will be communicated to the other. Intelligence and courage will be displayed, skill or stupidity will be applied. By the action will be known the effectiveness or failure of the plans; by the contest will be known whether they were more than ample or inadequate. How is the reality of the enemy’s situation to be concealed from us?


Fu Jia mentioned that spies could record detailed information.

Whats wrong with accurate and timely reports again? Also, the spies reported Liu Bei camp location and set up. No 'field formations'.

It wasnt nearby defences.

Zhuge Ke of Wu had sent his spies afar to reconnoiter strategic points, intending to take Shouchun. The taifu (Sima Yi) led his troops into Shu, from which he intended to attack Zhuge Ke. The Sovereign of Wu was about to dispatch reinforcements when a geomantist held it to be unprofitable, so he transferred Zhuge Ke to Chaisang and stationed him there.


Afar. If Zhuge Ke spies can record strategic points, Cao Pi spies should have information on Liu Bei camp.

So no historian other than RDC seems to argue otherwise.

Than showed me where and when Liu Bei fought in swamps. Again, just because Bei choke once in his 60s doesnt mean Pi would choke too. And you dont need to be a better military commander to point out something in a book. Pi probably just had a better memory. Also, Liu Bei was not fond of studying while Cao Pi was a learned man of literature.

The Sun Wu generals were getting rekt. They were feeling frustrated at their general strategies. They were panicking at their general decisions. It was highly likely they could not make a calm decision in that environment which could explain why they could not spot Bei mistake. I was giving examples for Pi thing.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby greencactaur » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:11 pm

Are there any examples of a general disobeying his commander and actually ending up doing something good for a force? Also how would a supreme leader react if such a thing occurred? Also any examples of a general disobeying, but ending up causing their force failure?
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:16 am

On the subject of failure, Wang Jing disobeyted Chen Tai during Jiang Wei's Northern Campaign. Wang Jing heard the news of Jiang Wei's army marching in two formations, and he wanted to march to Gu Pass and fight them there. Chen Tai, however, told him that he'd only meet disaster and ordered him to remain at Didao. However Wang Jing disobeyed him and marched to Gu Pass anyways, only to be beaten badly by Zhang Yi. Luckily Chen Tai is one of the greatest commanders of the age and he was able to turn a massive defeat into a victory for Wei. Cao Mao stripped Wang Jing of command sometime after this.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Fornadan » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:35 am

greencactaur wrote:Are there any examples of a general disobeying his commander and actually ending up doing something good for a force? Also how would a supreme leader react if such a thing occurred? Also any examples of a general disobeying, but ending up causing their force failure?

There was a massive row in 280 between Wang Hun and Wang Jun over the latter's decision to continue on to Jianye against Wang Hun's orders to halt.

But first of all command arrangements were not entirely clear, and secondly you can get away with many things if you win the war.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:07 pm

greencactaur wrote:Are there any examples of a general disobeying his commander and actually ending up doing something good for a force? Also how would a supreme leader react if such a thing occurred? Also any examples of a general disobeying, but ending up causing their force failure?


I recall from 3kingdoms.net way back that there was precedent of a successful general being executed for disobeying orders even though he won. I don't think it happened during the 3kingdoms, only if things went wrong ala Ma Su, Sun Lang and so on


Han wrote:
Dong Zhou wrote:I asked about "I get the theory but source on such accurate information of an an army in a way one isn't involved in happening in 3 kingdoms?", Zhuge Ke using spies to look at his opponents near by defences isn't the same as spies informing on a distant camapign and delivering accurate and timely reports on an army in the field's formations. In theory, I can see it but there isn't a single case of it happening coming up in the sgz or ZZTJ so can you back it up with a ource

I haven't seen the exact comment within the sgz so no idea if historians there did question it, in Generals of the South chapter 7 has Professor Rafe remark shows some scepticism in note 33
SGZ 2, 80; Fang, Chronicle I, 104, tells how Cao Pi heard of the manner Liu Bei had extended his encampments through the hill country, and forecast his defeat. Even if this anecdote is true, it is doubtful whether anyone foresaw such a catastrophic rout of the invaders


I doubt Liu Bei had somehow, in his long career, never fought in forested area's. Swamps? Cao Pi had shorter career and fought in better circumstances then Liu Bei and yet kept losing as a Cic. Liu Bei was a noted commander, Cao Pi never got that level of miliatry reputation.

and achieved what merit? Sure, he had dealt with local revolts well enough, his friendship is not relevant to his skill as a strategist. The generals who beat Cao Pi's forces just happened to all be unable to understand basics this one occasion in their entire careers? Nothing we have seen suggests Cao Pi was in such a situation with his court.


Fu Jia petition to Sima Shi

Fu Jia mentioned that spies could record detailed information.

Whats wrong with accurate and timely reports again? Also, the spies reported Liu Bei camp location and set up. No 'field formations'.

It wasnt nearby defences.

Zhuge Ke of Wu had sent his spies afar to reconnoiter strategic points, intending to take Shouchun. The taifu (Sima Yi) led his troops into Shu, from which he intended to attack Zhuge Ke. The Sovereign of Wu was about to dispatch reinforcements when a geomantist held it to be unprofitable, so he transferred Zhuge Ke to Chaisang and stationed him there.


Afar. If Zhuge Ke spies can record strategic points, Cao Pi spies should have information on Liu Bei camp.

So no historian other than RDC seems to argue otherwise.

Than showed me where and when Liu Bei fought in swamps. Again, just because Bei choke once in his 60s doesnt mean Pi would choke too. And you dont need to be a better military commander to point out something in a book. Pi probably just had a better memory. Also, Liu Bei was not fond of studying while Cao Pi was a learned man of literature.

The Sun Wu generals were getting rekt. They were feeling frustrated at their general strategies. They were panicking at their general decisions. It was highly likely they could not make a calm decision in that environment which could explain why they could not spot Bei mistake. I was giving examples for Pi thing.


So I'm asking for examples of when spies sent detailed reports of campaigns in other kingdoms, away from borders. Your providing me excellent examples of spying networks of opposing kingdoms on key invasion points and counter-spying which isn't the same thing.

I never said there was a problem with people providing accurate and timely (though by time one gets a report of army in field, it is going to be somewhat out of date given distance) reports. Just there isn't example of something similar to Wei having detailed reports of a camapign they aren't involved in and I tend to be suspicious of such amazingly timed predictions (Liu Bei will be defeated is one thing, within seven days when relying on a report that would have had to travelled a long way so timing would be out anyway is another).

So Zhuge Ke send spies into Wei to record key defence points of places he was about to attack. Which is a tad different from spying on a camapign of two different armies, in Wu lands well away from Wei borders

I have no evidence for or against what other historians think as I said.

Show me when Liu Bei was fighting in swamps at Yiling, that is why I'm puzzled. Forest and mountain gorges yes, swamps though? I don't think Liu Bei can be described as choking at Yiling, he and his entire army failed to spot it. Wu's entire army bar Lu Xun failed to spot it, it was to Lu Xun's great credit he spotted the opportunity when nobody else is. Sure Cao Pi was a superior scholar to Liu Bei but Liu Bei was a superior commander

I don't think SGZ describes them as panicking. Frustrated sure but again these generals, including ones who beat Cao Pi and his armies, were experienced figures yet apparently they can't see it but Cao Pi spots it? They all are unprofessional and every single one loses their heads to such an extent?

Great miliatry minds fail to spot it, man with questionable miliatry record is the sole guy other then Lu Xun, were he would have to have such a detailed report that had never happened, manages to make a spot on prediction even on timing...
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby greencactaur » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:17 pm

I just looked up Sun Lang. He made a pretty big blunder surprised he wasn't executed. :shock:
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:03 am

So I'm asking for examples of when spies sent detailed reports of campaigns in other kingdoms, away from borders. Your providing me excellent examples of spying networks of opposing kingdoms on key invasion points and counter-spying which isn't the same thing.

I never said there was a problem with people providing accurate and timely (though by time one gets a report of army in field, it is going to be somewhat out of date given distance) reports. Just there isn't example of something similar to Wei having detailed reports of a camapign they aren't involved in and I tend to be suspicious of such amazingly timed predictions (Liu Bei will be defeated is one thing, within seven days when relying on a report that would have had to travelled a long way so timing would be out anyway is another).

So Zhuge Ke send spies into Wei to record key defence points of places he was about to attack. Which is a tad different from spying on a camapign of two different armies, in Wu lands well away from Wei borders

I have no evidence for or against what other historians think as I said.

Show me when Liu Bei was fighting in swamps at Yiling, that is why I'm puzzled. Forest and mountain gorges yes, swamps though? I don't think Liu Bei can be described as choking at Yiling, he and his entire army failed to spot it. Wu's entire army bar Lu Xun failed to spot it, it was to Lu Xun's great credit he spotted the opportunity when nobody else is. Sure Cao Pi was a superior scholar to Liu Bei but Liu Bei was a superior commander

I don't think SGZ describes them as panicking. Frustrated sure but again these generals, including ones who beat Cao Pi and his armies, were experienced figures yet apparently they can't see it but Cao Pi spots it? They all are unprofessional and every single one loses their heads to such an extent?

Great miliatry minds fail to spot it, man with questionable miliatry record is the sole guy other then Lu Xun, were he would have to have such a detailed report that had never happened, manages to make a spot on prediction even on timing...


I was posting the full petition that is related to the spying portion.

"Have you examined the wealth and resources, the tools and weapons of Yuzhang?" continued Yu Fan. "And the bravery of the people, how do they compare with my commandery?" "Considerably worse," answered Hua Xin.


Tian Feng, Aide-de-Camp of Ji province, said to Yuan Shao, "Cao Cao has engaged Liu Bei and he cannot break off easily. If you take the army against his rear, you can settle things at once." Yuan Shao replied that his son was sick, and he would not go. Tian Feng beat the ground with his staff, "Alas, in the critical moment he throws away opportunity for the sake of a sick child. The pity of it, the chance is lost."


"Since Cao Cao has destroyed Liu Bei," observed Tian Feng, "the area about Xu city will no longer be undefended. Cao Cao, moreover, is extremely good at using soldiers, and you can never tell what he will do next. Though his army is small he cannot be taken lightly.
"The best policy is to keep him at a distance and make him wait. You occupy the strong places of the hills and rivers and you command the troops of four provinces. Keep contact with leaders outside and encourage
farming in your own lands. "When all is ready, choose your best soldiers and send out raiding parties. Take advantage of his weak points to break through in one place or another so as to trouble the territory south of the Yellow River. If he relieves the right, you attack the left; if he sends help to the left, you attack him on the right. The enemy will be marching backwards and forwards and
his people will have no peace. We shall not be tired, but they will be exhausted. In no more than three years success will come as you wait.


Yu Fan and Hua Xin compare the commanderies of Kuaiji and Yuzhang in terms of ability and readiness. Cao Pi could likewise observe the sturcture of Liu Bei military camps through spies.

Tian Feng observes that Cao Cao and Liu Bei were contending in Xu and Cao Cao would not be able to settle quick. Cao Pi could observe the campaign of Yiling and predict the outcome through spies.

Tian Feng adviced that Yuan Shao should capitalise on Cao Cao weak points during the campaign. Cao Pi could foresaw the weakness of Liu Bei army encampments

The campaign took two years to complete. And it was a stalemate for roughly a few months. Seven days isnt special.

Or... if Zhuge Ke could send spies to record key defenses in Huainan. Cao Pi could send spies during or before the campaign. And he spied on only Liu Bei military encampment. Not really two armies.

Again, Chen, Pei and Sima all are fine with the Cao Pi report thing. I just dont see how its propaganda.

Im do not know geography so thats a difficult question to answer. According to google, swamp is a wetland that is forested(?). If thats the case, the area was forested and probably had water sources considering it was near the Yangtze. Liu Bei lost like 30k troops and many generals in a single campaign. One of the most disastrous losses in the era which completely changed the landscape of the three kingdoms. Even Huang Quan was forced to defect. He choked.

The generals all said, "This was killing our troops to no purpose."


Sounds like panicking to me. Beating Cao Pi in naval battles isnt the same as beating Liu Bei in forests, mountains and swamps.

The detailed report did happen according to SGZ and ZZTJ so...
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:50 pm

Han do you want to create a seperate topic for your likely reply? This has gone beyond Q&A's into another Han vs Dong discussion.

So Yu Fan asks "how do your forces compare to ours" as he tried to persuade Hua Xin to submit, not sure that counts as a spy report, more a negotiation

I never said warlords didn't have some sense of events beyond their own borders. Like a revolt is happening but note Tian Feng doesn't start predicting what day Liu Bei will be defeated and going into detail about the formations, only "hey there is a revolt going on in our foes ranks, let us take advantage of it". Unlike Cao Pi who has rather more detailed accounts of a camapign of a war he has no involvement in and being able to make predictions of exact timing

Tian Feng is suggesting going on defensive and raiding against weak points on the very borders of an enemy they are fighting. Cao Pi is talking of an army miles and miles away from his borders and able to predict week of defeat in a two year camapign

The campaign took two years to complete. And it was a stalemate for roughly a few months. Seven days isnt special.


Yes it is. Predicting the week of defeat in a two year camapign is amazing, particularly given Pi is getting information late and that only one other person foresaw this.

Or... if Zhuge Ke could send spies to record key defenses in Huainan. Cao Pi could send spies during or before the campaign. And he spied on only Liu Bei military encampment. Not really two armies.


Yes he can send spies to his enemies borders, spies that clearly didn't help him much. Whereas Pi is sending spies deep into enemy lands that are giving him such amazing detail and in a timely enough fashion for him to make a prediction like that

Again, Chen, Pei and Sima all are fine with the Cao Pi report thing. I just dont see how its propaganda.


Oh, so you have a direct copy of that moment in the SGZ? Given I have said I haven't been able to find it, I would be grateful if you share which biography it is in. I agree Sima Guang backs it

As for how it could be propaganda, it sure makes Cao Pi seem good being able to predict exact timing of a defeat of a camapign many many many miles away and being one of only two men who spot it in the entire three kingdoms.

Im do not know geography so thats a difficult question to answer. According to google, swamp is a wetland that is forested(?). If thats the case, the area was forested and probably had water sources considering it was near the Yangtze. Liu Bei lost like 30k troops and many generals in a single campaign. One of the most disastrous losses in the era which completely changed the landscape of the three kingdoms. Even Huang Quan was forced to defect. He choked.


There is no account suggesting it was in swamp or marshy land. It is near mountains, there was cities and forests but we can't declare Liu Bei is fighting in swamps

Ma Su at Jie Ting is choking. Suffering a heavy defeat in itself is not choking, there is no suggestion Liu Bei let the pressure get to him or acted out of character and defeats happen.

Sounds like panicking to me. Beating Cao Pi in naval battles isnt the same as beating Liu Bei in forests, mountains and swamps.


Reads like frustrated to me rather then panicked.

They won sieges and battles, Cao Pi should try winning major battles before I consider him anywhere near Lu Xun's level of strategic foresight. Or Liu Bei. Or even those Wu generals :wink:

The detailed report did happen according to SGZ and ZZTJ so...


and sometimes I will disagree with them and side with the pre-eminent western historian of the 3kingdoms. Your free to choose the other way, that's fine
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby greencactaur » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:42 am

Hello i have a questiob about Xun Yu. It is said that in 214 Dong zhao petitioned for Cao Cao to take the rank of duke. Xun Yu however disagreed with the promotion. Apparently after hearing of this it's said cao sent him an empty box signAling him to suicide. Is there any truth to this or is it just a legend? Other records state Xun yu died of illness in qiao. Cao cao was notoriously thirsty for talent and xun yu was stated to be equal to zhang liang. It seems out of character imo for cao cao to order one of his best to end it like that.
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