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Jiang Wei: Where does he rank compared to other Shu Generals

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:45 pm
by Mikhail
Jiang Wei is known to be a very controversial character in the three kingdoms era. The guy draws from both sides of an argument, whether one praises him or one criticizes him.

The novel portrays Boyue as the last possible saviour of Shu giving all that he could to save the kingdom, only to be foiled by a weak internal government and a weak heart. He also has one of the most heroic deaths in the novel, truly giving his all until his last breath. He was the successor of Zhuge Liang and was one of the finest warriors of his time (he had the ability to catch an arrow in mid-air and shoot it back). In short, the novel portrayed him as the closest thing one could be to a perfect combination of wit and prowess.

Historically, he's a guy that had early successes in the northern campaigns but was defeated again by a weak internal government, but also by the combined abilities of the Wei army which included Deng Ai, Chen Tai, Zhong Hui and Guo Huai. He was simply outmatched by some of Wei's best. Boyue also had a massive defeat against Wei when reinforcements he thought he was going to receive never came and was blamed heavily for the loss.

In both cases, he tried to incite a rebellion which both failed. But in both cases, it caused the death of Deng Ai and Zhong Hui as well. As mentioned before, internal mismanagement limited his abilities somewhat as well.

So, where do you think he stands among Shu's generals?

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Quick highlights of Jiang Wei's military career:

Novel
- Was able to outsmart Zhuge Liang and prevent the capture of Tian Shui (the first time)
- Was able to procure a couple of victories against Wei but was ultimately turned back just as he was about to attack Chang'An by slander
- Was almost able to kill Sima Zhao but was prevented due to a turncoat Qiang force
- Killed Guo Huai by catching an arrow and shooting it back
- Was able to hold Zhong Hui at the pass
- Almost caught one of Cao Zhen's generals in a feign surrender trick

(If I am missing anything, please feel free to add - I know I don't have a lot of his defeats)

Historically
- Defeated a minor uprising at Han Shan county Ping Kang Xuan
- Lost against Chen Tai due to food shortage
- Defeated Li Jian of Long Xi and Xu Zhi but retreated
- Able to defeat Wang Jing but retreated due to Chen Tai reinforcements
- Lost against Deng Ai because of missing reinforcements. Suffered major defeat
- Stalemate against Deng Ai and Sima Wang in Zhuge Dan revolt
- Numerous defeats against Deng Ai
- Resisted Zhong Hui's advance until the surrender of Shu

(Like the novel section, feel free to add anything that I am missing)

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:44 pm
by Sima Hui
http://the-scholars.com/viewtopic.php?t=2941

Got a thread discussing Jiang Wei, his life and exploits here. This is a slightly different thread, so I'm gonna leave it open for now, but if anyone else disagrees, this is the place to be.

In answer to your question, my feelings are that Jiang Wei should not have been the supreme commander of the Shu army. He was a very hasty man, to the point where he disregarded even the basics of preparing for warfare; his ninth campaign was started barely after the eighth one had ended. It is true that he had some minor successes in putting down rebellions and winning skirmishes, but overall, his campaigns cost the state dear in blood and treasure. This isn't necessarily his fault; it was too bad that reinforcements didn't turn up in one campaign, but that does not excuse his appalling conduct during the Chen Guan (right person?) affair where he let his supplies be burned by a defecting Wei general.

Jiang Wei acquitted himself well as a subordinate under Zhuge Liang, Jiang Wan and Fei Yi, but he was not a man who was fit for creating overall strategy. His loyalty can be commended and his last-ditch effort to restore Shu was an interesting and ingenious plan, but ultimately the weaknesses he created in Shu's defences and wasting of money and manpower far outweigh the meagre gains that he made.

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:54 pm
by Cao Shang
Well I still value Jiang Wei and think that he was unlucky and in a very bad position.

Shu hadn't that many generals and in the end I would rate him Top 5, but how can he be rated less than Top 10? Who should be Top 10? Some nobodies?

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:07 pm
by ZhouTai50
Shu had more talent in the later days than you give them credit for. People like Zhang Yi, Zhang Ni, Fu Qian, Liao Hua, Luo Xian, Xiahou Ba, etc. Of course, many of them were killed during Jiang Wei's Northern Campaigns, though.

While Jiang Wei was in a bad position, he made it worse by continuing the campaigns after everyone around him could see that they would fail. He cost Shu valuable officers, soldiers, and resources, all of which they were lacking before the campaigns. Along with this, his ignoring of all political affairs caused Shu to fall that much further and allowed more corruption to seep in. I wouldn't rate him anywhere near the top Shu commanders, but I don't think he was without talent. Had he been assigned under a capable Supreme Commander, I think he could have done well.

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:26 pm
by Cao Shang
Well they failed because no one supported him and you can't really blame him for letting corruption and civil matters worsen even more. Liu Shan and Huang Hao caused that. Jiang Wei just wasn't a civil matters guy. Leading armies and handling military matters, with support from home, yes, but nothing more.
He surely made errors and could have done things better, but afterwards one is always smarter...
Who should have replaced Jiang Wei?

And how can you compare Jiang Wei with these you mentioned? For me they are not comparable with Jiang Wei. They might have done something good here and there, yes, but are in another category. At least thats how I see it.

Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:45 pm
by ZhouTai50
The officers that Shu previously had in his position were very actively involved in the politics of the state, so why not Jiang Wei? He absolutely ignored it when it was obviously a large problem. Huang Hao was a leading cause of it, yes, but Jiang Wei offered no solution whatsoever. As for who I think would have been a good candidate, I would choose Wang Ping, had he lived longer. Of the officers of that time, I would go with Liao Hua or Zhang Ni, myself. And all of the ones I mentioned were Shu's most talented military generals of the later era. I would rank quite a few of them ahead of Jiang Wei in command talent.

Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:07 am
by Mikhail
I appreciate everyone's opinions (even the guy who decided to vote Jiang Wei on the bottom 5) but lets try to keep this strictly in military matters and his commanding/generalship abilities. Talking too much about Jiang Wei's lack of participation in Shu's politics (no matter how important it is to the overall viewpoint of his campaigns and Shu's military stability) makes this topic too similar to the other Jiang Wei topic that Sima Hui has already linked to.

Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:49 am
by Xiahou Mao
Below average is my pick. The fault of Jiang Wei is more that he was fighting wars he wasn't capable of winning, rather than actually being bad in and of itself. He has to take the blame because he was putting himself in those situations. Zhuge Liang was good enough to wage a war of attrition against Wei and come out ahead. Jiang Wei tried to do the same, but was nowhere near as capable.

Decent, if somewhat treacherous subordinate. Incapable commander.

Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:52 am
by Dong Zhou
As a subordinate general, he seems above average and quite good but doesn't really get enough time as one to give a fair analysis. As a commander, in the field of battle he was again quite good but it requires more, not just the civil and political that we can discuss elsewhere, but the planning of how to use what he has, using his officers better, long term vision, planning the defences of Shu, he was awful

Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:28 pm
by Mikhail
My points on his planning of the defenses of Shu.

First, there was no way that anyone could have planned that Deng Ai would have been incredibly successful traversing the paths that he did to get to Cheng Du. Im sure there is probably some contradictory evidence towards this, and I have read that some of the forces of Shu Han knew about Deng Ai's trek, but paid no attention to it because of the near impossibility they probably have thought of the trek itself.

Two, Jiang Wei had to contend with a three-pronged attack on Shu. His changing of defenses around the Hanzhong area should/would have worked if Liu Shan sent reinforcements and if no one in his side defected. At that point, there was really nothing Jiang Wei could have done.

There was just too many things going wrong outside of his control that should not have been blamed on Jiang Wei. The lack of reinforcements at key moments and defections of key areas should not be burdended on Boyue.