Cao Cao's Chi Bi Strategy

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Unread postby Exar Kun » Mon Dec 06, 2004 1:23 am

An honour*bow*
I've heard so much about you.

Cao Cao's lapse shows itself even before he refuses to consider a fire based attack strategy by the alliance.His fleet should never have been deployed once the disease started ravaging it.Though the heavy losses wouldn't have started by that point,the mere action of keeping so many men close together makes the disease far more susceptible to spreading.

If he were not in such a hurry he might have seen the wisdom of a withdrawal to Jingzhou where he could hold fast until his force is 100% once again.Without the morale altering effects of the epidemic and burnings,and with a beefed up Jingzhou garrison,it is unlikely that Zhou Yu and Liu Bei would have been able to make inroads there.
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Unread postby Frank » Mon Dec 06, 2004 1:37 am

True. But the employment of incendiary tactics, especially on the part of an outnumbered force, must always be a primary concern. Huang Gai should never have been allowed within bowshot of Cao Cao's force; he and his men should have been escorted to shore (perhaps even met there by Lord Cao himself--and a proper bodyguard--to make a show of courtesy and respect) and his vessels then manned by Lord Cao's men. Any show of resistance should have signaled the deployment of an ever-ready screening force of vessels equipped with long poles to snag fireships (allowing them to burn up at a safe distance) and a force of skilled crossbowmen to launch fire-arrows at the approaching enemy in order to ignite them prematurely. Had appropriate precautions been taken, Huang Gai's ruse would not have been successful, either failing when the contents of his vessels were examined upon commandeering them or when his refusal to comply with Lord Cao's conditions on surrender threw up all sorts of red flags! :wink:


That, too, is true. But I think, on a preliminary caution, Cao Cao didn't arrive in case there was some kind of ruse he didn't forsee. He left the matter of Huang Gai to be dealt with a trusty officer or two. But, once again, I think it was Kan Ze's convincing story that won over Cao Cao, and he felt that he could trust Huang Gai without much of a problem. But, unfortunately for he, the folks at the Wu camp were a crafty bunch. Oh, and you couldn't forget Jiang Gan, or at least I believe that was his name. Given the fact that he didn't report any sort of suspicious actions about Huang Gai, Cao Cao didn't feel any harm. I think, in the novel (forgive me if I'm wrong) that Wu developed several plots to feed Jiang Gan misinformation, like the ploy that Gan Ning would "defect" to Wei.

And, I've just found more info on Kan Ze's plot. This is from Chapter 47 of the novel:

Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel wrote:Cao Cao ordered the lictors to thrust forth the messenger and take off his head. Kan Ze was hustled out, his face untroubled. On the contrary, he laughed aloud. At this Cao Cao told them to bring him back and harshly said to him, "What do you find to laugh at now that I have foiled you and your ruse has failed?"

"I was not laughing at you; I was laughing at my friend's simplicity."

"What do you mean by his simplicity?"

"If you want to slay, slay; do not trouble me with a multitude of questions."

"I have read all the books on the art of war, and I am well versed in all ways of misleading the enemy. This ruse of yours might have succeeded with many, but it will not do for me."

"And so you say that the letter is a vicious trick?" said Kan Ze.

"What I say is that your little slip has sent you to the death you risked. If the thing was real and you were sincere, why does not the letter name a time of coming over? What have you to say to that?"

Kan Ze waited to the end and then laughed louder than ever, saying, "I am so glad you are not frightened but can still boast of your knowledge of the books of war. Now you will not lead away your soldiers. If you fight, Zhou Yu will certainly capture you. But how sad to think I die at the hand of such an ignorant fellow!"

"What mean you? I, ignorant?"

"You are ignorant of any strategy and a victim of unreason; is not that sufficient?"

"Well then, tell me where is any fault."

"You treat wise people too badly for me to talk to you. You can finish me and let there be an end of it."

"If you can speak with any show of reason, I will treat you differently."

"Do you not know that when one is going to desert one's master and become a renegade, one cannot say exactly when the chance will occur? If one binds one's self to a fixed moment and the thing cannot be done just then, the secret will be discovered. One must watch for an opportunity and take it when it comes. Think: is it possible to know exactly when? But you know nothing of common sense; all you know is how to put good humans to death. So you really are an ignorant fellow!"

At this Cao Cao changed his manner, got up, and came over to the prisoner bowing, "I did not see clearly; that is quite true. I offended you, and I hope you will forget it."


That bold part is the part that, I believe, explains why Huang Gai was still believed to be a defector. Right afterwards, Cao Cao quickly changed his tone. And it does state the Cao Cao easily suspected this plot, but it was Kan Ze's quick thinking that pulled that whole plot off.
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:22 am

Exar Kun wrote:If he were not in such a hurry he might have seen the wisdom of a withdrawal to Jingzhou where he could hold fast until his force is 100% once again.Without the morale altering effects of the epidemic and burnings,and with a beefed up Jingzhou garrison,it is unlikely that Zhou Yu and Liu Bei would have been able to make inroads there.


Well keep in mind that when preparing to attack Cao Cao, Zhou Yu predicted that his soldiers would suffer from an epidemic and this clearly was worked into his strategy. If the situation was different that Cao Cao's men were well rested (they were pretty weary after all that campaining) and adjusted to the south, Zhou Yu and company most likely would have devised a different plan.
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Unread postby Exar Kun » Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:31 am

Lu Kang wrote:Well keep in mind that when preparing to attack Cao Cao, Zhou Yu predicted that his soldiers would suffer from an epidemic and this clearly was worked into his strategy. If the situation was different that Cao Cao's men were well rested (they were pretty weary after all that campaining) and adjusted to the south, Zhou Yu and company most likely would have devised a different plan.


Yes,but the alliance responses were reactionary.If Cao Cao fields a rested army,the alliance has less factors to take advantage of.
Well men may not necessitate the chaining of ships for example.The lengthier stay in Jing might have caused Cao Cao to look at other alternatives.

Cao Cao wants to move with a large navy,while the men are being rested there's no reason why he can't dispatch field armies further south in the meantime.His forces are far more experienced on land than alliance forces.
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Mon Dec 06, 2004 3:33 am

True, but also keep in mind that ZHou Yu could not mobilize his full strength and he could only throw together 30,000 just in time to meet him.

Cao Cao was not resting at Chi Bi, that's just where the confrontation occured. It appears he set up camps at Wu Lin when it became apparent that he would not be able to just continue down the river unabated, likely to start a supply line of of sorts.

Now as I've pointed out, going the southern route is just a terrible idea all around. First off, the supply line is horribely streche. Secondly, the area is all mountainous which makes going slow, makes teh supply line worse, and finally, there is nothing down there. It's just a lot of open space of Shanyue and not really any Han colonization. There would be no engagements until all the way up by the Yangtze again, and by then they'll be doubly tired and will only end up as an easy victory for Wu.

There's a reason people only attacked Shu and Wu on the Jing/Yi border by the river, it's a helluva lot easier and it's the only practical and efficient way to go.

Cao Cao wanted Sun Quan to surrender in the face of his giant force, and when that didn't happen he wanted to quickly sweep in and take Wu, which required the fastest attack route, which was the river.
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Unread postby Huang_Zhong » Mon Dec 06, 2004 11:49 am

To Poe

I don't know for sure either, but I'll still try to give my opinion.
As you know, most of Cao's troops are from the north, and are not used to naval battle. The only part of their army which is used to naval battle are the troops from Jing. As you said, the area is indeed a long river. Cao Cao might have been thinking that if he deployed his troops in more than one area, he might had a difficulty to organize such large troops to get into land battle (because the army of Wu might sweep them when they tried to change into land battle, which is possible since the river itself was pretty wide).
But anyway, it was just a guess. :wink:
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:49 am

Exar Kun wrote:An honour*bow*
I've heard so much about you.

Tianshan Zi returns the bow.

I had no idea I still had any any sort of reputation around here. I hope it is a good one. :lol:

Prime Minister Cao wrote:That bold part is the part that, I believe, explains why Huang Gai was still believed to be a defector. Right afterwards, Cao Cao quickly changed his tone. And it does state the Cao Cao easily suspected this plot, but it was Kan Ze's quick thinking that pulled that whole plot off.

The novel's dramatization may or may not be closely related to the reality of the situation. (For example, look at SGYY's undue emphasis on the efforts of Zhuge Liang in the victory of Chibi for the sake of popular tradition.) In the quotation you provide, the novel may be making more of Kan Ze's role in the matter and giving the reader a further thrill at the irony in Cao Cao's words. It makes for a good story, regardless. My criticism of Cao Cao, perhaps, relies more on historical research, sound military tactics, and a heavy dash of speculation. :) Of course, there is no substitute for the novel when it comes to a good tale! :wink:
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Unread postby Exar Kun » Tue Dec 07, 2004 10:25 pm

Was it that he could only mobilize 30K,or that that was all he asked for?
Sun Quan we know,was prepared for the possibility of defeat.If he sends all his troops to fight and loses,he has no negotiating position.With no significant armies,Cao Cao is better off sweeping through Yang than letting him surrender and gain a Dukedom.The reserve soldiers give the strength to let Cao choose between immediate victory or 2 years of fighting small battles.

I've not said he was resting at Chi Bi,makes little sense for a northern army to rest on the water.I was talking about if he had chosen to let his men rest and recover from the sickness rather than push on.

You're missing the point when I say go south.I'm not talking about going south in a day,I'm talking about long term deployment that will integrate the south such that it becomes part of his base rather than just occupied territory for supplies to move through.

Cao Cao wanted Sun Quan to surrender in the face of his giant force, and when that didn't happen he wanted to quickly sweep in and take Wu, which required the fastest attack route, which was the river.


Funny Bofu.
Didn't I say that last week and you were contradicting me? :wink:
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:01 am

Zhou Yu could only mobilize 30,000 that quickly to go and intercept Cao Cao. But undoubtly more could be called upon just with greater delay. Zhou Yu said he had 30,000 prepared, and that was all he have ready. Sun QUan most likley has about 100,000 back up troops and a defensive plan, he isn't going to give up Yangzhou without a fight.

I've seen sources that say that the allied forces followed up the burning with a charge. It makes sense since they chased Cao Cao all the way back to Jiang Ling. The sickness was something that probably didn't come into effect until they were on way and by then it's really an idea of go or no. They were most likely tired but Cao Cao was probably banking on their high moral (or one can assume they had high moral, if they were too too tired then it's a different story).

In other words you are saying that he should have taken the advice presented to him by Jia Xu or Liu Ye (one of his many advisors) to fortify then go? I've seen some pretty counter arguements to that though.

Long--term deployment isn't going to solve any. Liu Bei had the loyalties of Jing if he needed to call upon them. Cao Cao was banking on taking them all fast before they could establish themselves and have a well thought out counter strike. Remember that he's dealing with the full force of all Wu and Shu advisors including Zhuge Liang.

Funny Bofu.
Didn't I say that last week and you were contradicting me? :wink:


No you were talking about them trying to "beat them at their own game", it was a matter of speed, not pychological effect at that point.
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Unread postby Xingba of the Bells » Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:12 am

Cao Cao was going for both a speedy and psychological victory, the river is much faster than land, and he needed to beat Wu at their own game. If he succeeds then the whole of Yang is his, Liu Bei is out of the way, Sun Quan is out of the Way, Zhou Yu and Kongming are probably out of picture. The oter Rulers would probably submit to him after he takes out Sun Quan and Liu Bei, the 3 kingdoms then deosnt happen (all speculative but its probably the biggest possibility) besides if he goes on land the allies have more time and a better chance to retreat. or hold out in a siege of some sort whence ma teng or liu zhang can strike from behind. Cao needed to do things this way, he lays his cards on the table and goes for it all, unfortuneatly he loses this gamble and the rest his history...
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