What would you do if you were Cao Cao

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What would you do if you were Cao Cao

Unread postby Rommel » Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:41 pm

Before the battle of Chibi, Cao Cao had driven Liu Bei to the south of YangZi river. He was facing an ally of Sun Quan & Liu Bei. He had led approximately 150,000 core land force plus newly surrounded navy of roughly 70,000-80,000 men. As he prepared to go across the river a plague stuck and spread out quickly in his camps. While the fighting capacities and morale were low what would you do if you were Cao Cao?

Cao Cao chose to stay and listened to wrong advices trying to build up his own navy. He was tricked and lost the battle of Chibi.

If I was Cao Cao I would consider a retreat because 1) Cao Cao had a new navy which hadn't built up trust on each other; 2) Cao Cao's land force had continuously fought from north to south; His army had shown the "end of powerful arrow", which means they were exhaunted, sicked, and low morale even they started strong; 3) Cao Cao advanced too quick from north to south he should slow down to stablize the areas that he just got; 4) Liu Bei and Sun Quan had issues themselves Cao Cao could wait for the alliance to break down while he kept his army in alert & rest;

What would you think and suggest in this situation?
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Unread postby Separation Anxiety » Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:02 pm

I would retreat to build up my navy and train my army better. Then I would try to lure away some of the naval officers of Wu to help train the navy. Then I would try and pin one of the two other powers so they couldn't become allies. And if the attack wasn't against the combined forces then they would both fall one after another. I would probably try an alliance with Wu since they had no big problem with Wei until Chi bi. So this would give ample oppurtunity for both to destroy Shu, then crush Wu like it was nothing.
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Unread postby didier » Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:56 am

Enjoy my wives. :wink:

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Oh, you mean about Chibi...

OK. Well I would have attacked on a wider front than just at Chibi. Should have attacked at Xiakou, Hefei, and along the coast to Jianye at the same time. So you could be sure of getting through somewhere. Each one of them I would have backed up to prevent any loss of land if the enemy counterattacked. 8-)
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Unread postby Exar Kun » Wed Sep 08, 2004 1:27 am

I would have pulled the bulk of my forces back to the north,leaving heavy garrisons in Jingzhou and consolidating the province.
Fight on land and let the river be a natural border with Wu.Liu Bei will either be destroyed or fall back over the river and fight under Sun Quan.At the same time I would train an elite navy in the north and in Jingzhou and also campaign west to Hanzhong and then Yizhou.

The resource boost would mean that Wu can be attacked on multiple fronts and would probably fall before 220.
Additionally if waiting for victory in Hanzhong isn't needed,pursue the land route south into Jiao and hit Wu moving north,bypassing the Yangzi completely.
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Unread postby Rommel » Wed Sep 08, 2004 3:54 pm

Separation & Ekun, I agree with most of your points (I have the similar plan myself). To my knowledge Cao Cao wanted to stay after he was defeated on water. His generals advised him continously to retreat back to north. Cao Cao left Cao Ren guarding JiangLing and he ran back to the rear.

In hindsight we know that retreating was the better solution before the battle of Chibi was fought. I, however, still don't see that Cao Cao would win against the alliance with his army under that circumstance. It is risky for Cao Cao to gamble the victory on his newly surrended navy. The widespread plague had basically eliminated his chance to win. In contrary to his low morale army, the alliance of Sun Quan and Liu Bei fought for their survival with high spirit. They played the game in familiar environment and They tried to protect their homelands (for Sun Quan at least). While Cao Cao desperately seeked helps to speed up the training of his navy in a short time he was tricked by brilliant plans by the generals from alliance. In conclusion we agree that Cao Cao should slow down his advance and build up defense to stablize his newly acquired territories while waiting for the opportunities from the alliance (breakdown for example).

Strangely though the northern Chinese couldn't field elite navy historically. So I doubt that Cao Cao could train a better navy in the north. The plan to bypass YangZhi river is better but the western China is mainly plateau & rough. To carry out the plan Cao Cao needed a lot of time to prepare & to plan further.
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If i was CaoCao.........

Unread postby SonicSnake » Wed Sep 08, 2004 6:59 pm

I would have invaded the 4 countries to the south securing a strong position surrounding them and then overwhelm the running dogs.
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Unread postby Exar Kun » Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:52 pm

Rommel wrote:Strangely though the northern Chinese couldn't field elite navy historically. So I doubt that Cao Cao could train a better navy in the north. The plan to bypass YangZhi river is better but the western China is mainly plateau & rough. To carry out the plan Cao Cao needed a lot of time to prepare & to plan further.


That's for good reason.As opposed to the south which was full of rivers and marshlands,the north was a bunch of plains.However for victory Cao Cao doesn't necessarily need a navy better than Wu's.He can field numbers to make up for his lack of expertise.

Time to go south isn't a problem.By that point he should have taken a year away from campaigning anyway.The army had been fighting constantly for over a decade by that point and needed to rest.
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:28 am

I would have done something crazy, listen to my advisors. Multiple of Cao Cao's advisors gave great advise which would have prevented the Chi Bi debacle and saved Jing. Of course Cao Cao doesn't take well to other people's opinions. So I would have followed Cheng Yu's advise and not attack the alliance that he predicted would form. Second I would have stabalized Jing like Liu Yu said Cao Cao should do.
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Re: If i was CaoCao.........

Unread postby LiuBeiwasGreat » Thu Sep 09, 2004 1:30 am

SonicSnake wrote:I would have invaded the 4 countries to the south securing a strong position surrounding them and then overwhelm the running dogs.


Why would he have to invade the 4 counties? They were part of Jing and when Liu Zhong surrendered they did as well.
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Unread postby Rommel » Thu Sep 09, 2004 6:26 pm

When I looked at the map of Chibi location, I found something interesting. The YangZhi river runs through Chibi south-northward. Thus when two sides deployed army on both banks. It was that Cao Cao's army stationed at the west bank while the alliance troops defended the east bank (It explains that a wind from east enhanced the effect of fire attack against Cao Cao).

However, the battle of Chibi is also called the battle of red cliff (You can imagine that the terrain on both banks is hilly and full of cliffs). How could Cao Cao deploy his massive army of roughly 150,000 men land force plus the newly surrendered navy with a number between 70,000 to 80,000 on such terrain? He might order his army to set up camps on hills what about his navy? I don't know how advanced the naval technology was during 3k period. I assume that a ship with capacities of 150-200 people should be considered a large ship at that time. If Cao Cao ordered his navy to stay on boat, it took at least 400 ships to accommodate his entire fleet. Wow 400+ ships. I believe that they could block the water flow of the river.

From what I saw from the pictures I give the crossing points of YangZhi river a width of 3,000-4,000 meters. How long can it take to transport goods from west bank to east bank? 1 hour? 2 hours? Why didn't Cao Cao order his army to go across the river but setting up camps on the west bank? Afraid of being attacked by Wu's navy? There was no cannon setting up on ships by that time because gun powder wasn't invented till Song dynasty. All ships, I think, were basically transporters. The best battleship would be a large ship with good speed that had arrow tower built on it. Even Cao Cao had weaker navy they should be able to carry his army across the river with limited casulty with those 400 ships. Why did Cao Cao want to stay at the west bank and commit naval battle against the alliance? Want to try out his new navy? It is odd that he used his weakness to fight against the strength of the alliance. Let me assume that the alliance had set up defense on east bank when Cao Cao's main force arrived in the west bank. Cao Cao's land force weren't trained to fight on water but they originated from Yellow river area they should be able to deal with the 2 hour river trip. Why didn't Cao Cao order an amphibian attack immediately with his overwhelming number over the alliance while his troops still had high morale (before plague)? One possibility is that Cao Cao still believed that he could persuade or scare Sun Quan to surrender so he slowed down the attack to give time to Sun Quan to react. The other possibility is that Cao Cao couldn't trust the navy. It is indeed hard to control 70,000+ men in the middle of the river. Can anyone give out another explanation?

With that thought I suddenly realize why Liu Bei retreated from Xin Ye slowly. As E kun said before Liu Bei had issues with Sun Quan. Liu Bei wasn't sure that if he could step on Sun Quan's territory before ZGL could form an alliance with Sun Quan. Liu Bei thus moved slowly to buy time for ZGL to negotiate? And I believe that Liu Zong surrendered after Liu Bei went across the river. If Liu Zong surrendered before Liu Bei could pass the river his navy would blockage the river and trap Liu Bei in an encirclement. Or his navy was reluctant to capture Liu Bei because they didn't feel like serving under Cao Cao? Any other thoughts?
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