Qu Hui wrote:It would have been impossible for the Yuan Brothers, united or as one, to defeat Cao Cao for several reasons.
1. None of the sons had any real leadership abilities; Yuan Shang was often kept in Ye by his father, while Yuan Tan and Yuan Xi were governors.
2. Following Guandu, Cangting and Yuan Shao's death, the Yuan army was severly weakened and demoralized, while Cao Cao's army was expertly trained and riding a wave of momentum.
3. Several of Yuan Shao's best officers, such as Yan Liang, Wen Chou, Shen Pei, Ju Shou and Tian Feng were dead. His remaining officers, assuming they would have served the children, were not up to par.
Dong Zhou wrote:Yet Yuan Shang seems to have managed to drive Cao Cao back and had some success in the field, despite Yuan Tan under-performing.
Dong Zhou wrote:Despite Cao Cao's claims of victory, I'm inclined to support Professor Rafe's assertion that the Yuans had the better of the fight so forced Cao Cao to withdraw.
Dong Zhou wrote:I think the Yuan's still had the resources and some capable generals left to make it difficult if they stood united.
Dong Zhou wrote:Yuan Tan and Gou Yuan both needed careful observance as the first had got lax, the second could be overly confident but they were good generals.
Dong Zhou wrote:Yuan survival would also rely on support from Liu Biao but if Wu presses Jing then Cao Cao can slowly grind down Yuan, using his tactical superiority to find an eventual breakthrough.
Lu Kang wrote:I agree that the Yuan brothers had more power than it may appear. While Guandu was a serious defeat and changed the political landscape, it served more to bring Cao Cao onto equal footing with Yuan rather than destroy all northern strength. Guandu took place in 200 and it took 7 years before Cao Cao defeated them, with their own infighting. If they had been able to present a united front how much longer would it have taken? 10 years? 15? What would be the implications of this with Liu Biao, Ma Chao, Sun Quan, and Liu Bei all on the horizon?
Lu Kang wrote:Qu Hui, I believe that Shen Pei actually served Yuan Shang and defended Ye. He only lost it due to treachery too.
When did Yuan Shang drive Cao Cao back? The only records I can find of Shang's success are Shang against Yuan Tan, and as you said Tan underperformed.
But the question here is, were those generals a match for Cao Cao's extraordinary generals, or even Mengde himself?
Guo Yuan was indeed a good general, but I think that his arrogance got the best of him. Even then, though, I don't think he would have lasted too much longer against Cao. As for Yuan Tan, I don't know much of his accomplishments, but if his later battles were any indication, then he was a poor general.
Isn't that almost exactly what happened in history?
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