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Cao Cao's Chi Bi Strategy

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 2:43 am
by Poe
Looking over the events of the battle of Chi Bi, one thing kept bothering me about Cao Cao's strategy. The Chang Jiang is a very long river. Why in the world, with such a preponderance of numbers, did he concentrate all his troops in one place? It seems to me that if he had divided his army, keeping all of his detatchments larger than Wu's main body, and placing them at different points on the river, he would badly overextend Wu's already weak defenses, lengthen the odds that all of their troops could be defeated by strategems from Kongming or Zhou Yu, and also have an opprotunity of outflanking Wu's forces altogether and forcing them into a land battle.

Did the terrain make this impossible, was it just considered bad military strategy at the time, or was there another reason Cao felt compelled to concentrate his forces at Chi Bi? Does anyone know?

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 3:38 am
by PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
Well, if he seperated his army, then the allies would just defeat every regiment he has. Remeber his men are sick.

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 4:22 am
by Lu Kang
Chi Bi is within Jingzhou, which was for all political matters part of Cao Cao's realm. It's not as though Cao Cao felt he should put his navy there and let it sit. He had plans to go and attack Chai Sang. The only reason there was even an event at Chi Bi is because Zhou Yu and Liu Bei came up the attack him and that's the location it occured. The actual burning itself happened on the northern shore at Wu Lin too.

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 3:57 pm
by Exar Kun
The whole idea of using such a large navy seems uncharacteristic of Cao Cao on the whole as he isn't playing to the strengths of his military.The only conclusion I can come to is that he wanted a shock victory at Chai Sang to show his complete superiority over the allies and force a surrender.

May have worked if he had a navy that wasn't on it's deathbed but who knows?

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 5:32 pm
by Frank
It does seem unlike Cao Cao to overextend such a massive force like that, so I think you're right on this, Exar Kun. He wanted to use Sun Quan and Liu Bei's alled force as an example to all the other rulers. He just wanted to say, " Hey, I'm Cao Cao! Don't mess with me!". However, even if his army wasn't so sick, it was purely the combined strategy of Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu. But, yeah, an entire army of hunched over soldiers that can't move or stop vomiting propably would do a lot better without the vomiting. But the fact is that he did have another force stationed at the mouth of Chi Bi, so he really did divide his force. And if you read it closer, Cao Cao doesn't attack with all of his men at once, which may have worked. However, he attacked in a large number of small waves, all of which were repelled by Gan Ning, Han Dang, Cheng Pu, Zhou Tai, and other such generals. And every single ploy he attempted failed, which is uncharacteristically sucky for Cao Cao. Poor, poor, Cao Cao... :cry:

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 5:54 pm
by Exar Kun
That he divided his force isn't really as important as how he divided it.A much smarter plan would have been to use a land route for as long as possible,his crossing into Yang should be from as far south Jing as possible.
Then once he's pushed back Wu military over the river he can cross at multiple points,ensuring that enough of his force will make the transition that they can outnumber the Wu military.

The Wei army is very powerful in land battles,easily the strongest kingdom,but by not playing to that strength,going for a psychological rather than a military victory,Cao Cao plays to his own vulnerability.

Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 7:17 pm
by PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
I agree with Exar as well.
This is similiar to Alexander the Great's final battle agianst Darius. Instead of using a night attack, he decided to have a battle where his opponent cannot blame anything on his defeat other then the army strength of Alexander.
Cao Cao figured that if he can dominate Wu at their own game, they would definatly surrender.

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:01 am
by Frank
Oh, okay. I didn't get that part. Beating Sun Quan at his own game would definitely dispirit his men. That's very clever, but hey, he is Cao Cao! That's how he does things, he's a genius! But, man, he really blew it. I mean, he used such generals like Cai Mao and Zhang Yun, and their not exactly the BEST generals, but I understand the reasoning, to use officers skilled in naval battles, but he could of done much better than them! Or, he could have just fought on land. Much easier that way. No problem there.

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:33 am
by Lu Kang
I don't see anything in his attack route as "trying to beat Sun Quan at his own game".

Cao Cao used what he had. He just received 70,000 fresh troops who were adept at naval skills. He had a huge navy and the fastest way to move from Jiang Ling to Chai Sang is by river. He was just trying to make it to Chai Sang to score a quick victory, I don't think he expected the Sun-Liu alliance to come up so fast and attack him. In fact he disregarded Sun Quan completely (and in turn got a fire attack by Huang Gai).

Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:40 am
by Frank
When we say "beat Sun Quan at his own game", we mean in the sense that Sun Quan's officers are primarily skilled in naval combat, whereas Cao Cao is superb at land battles. Sun Quan's southern terrain was filled with several water routes, giving Cao Cao more of a reason to attack through this route. And, plus, as you said, the soldiers he had recieved from Liu Zong when he surrendered and was killed were also skilled in naval warfare.

So, I guess Cao Cao wanted to just prove himself to everyone else in the country, to prove that he was the greatest general and ruler. He wanted to show that he can defeat Sun Quan in the same type of battle that Sun Quan excelled at. That's the best I can put it.