Dong Zhou wrote:Maybe the Yan Liang troops were in such a state of surprise at the sudden appearance of the Wei army, then in a state of shock and panic when their commander quickly died that they fell apart?
To back up Aaron K I would add the following:
As Rafe says, every commander tended to have his own personal loyal guard that would enter every fight with him. Surely Guan Yu would have had to have gotten through these guys first. Not everyone is simply going to panic upon the attack of an enemy army. They must be at least some experienced warriors in Yan Liang's ranks.
The line that 'none withstand him' implies to me that a fair number tried. Otherwise if Yan Liang's army simply panicked from the attack and his ranks scattered then it seems more apt to say something like 'Guan Yu's attack threw the enemy's lines into disarray. In the confusion, Guan Yu located Yan Liang and killed him'. I'm pretty certain I borrowed words from someone else's SGZ though but can't recall which. Anyhow, why would the records say that no one could withstand Guan Yu if few if even bothered trying?
Aaron.K wrote:Thing is, with that many troops around, it's even more amazing for Guan Yu to return with his head. Especially knowing the fact that Guan Dao's didn't exist as weapons at this period in history, there's no way that Guan Yu could have cut off Yan Liang's head while on horseback (and even if he did have a Guan Dao, that would be a pretty difficult feat nonetheless). But if Yan Liang was on foot or horseback, Guan Yu clearly impaled him with his spear and would have had to get off his horse to cut his head off (and also be completely vulnerable in that instance. All it would take would be a spear in his back while he's trying to hack Yan Liang's head off.
Didn’t halberds exist back then? Couldn’t you cut someone’s head off with the battleaxe part of this weapon whilst on horseback? Regardless I like the thought you’ve put into this. The problem is though that Guan Yu wasn’t likely alone at the time when he was killing Yan Liang. He attacked with Zhang Liao and others. Some of them would have been with him at the time. They may have covered him while he decapitated Yan Liang.
Aaron.K wrote:I find it quite hard to believe that nobody in the 10,000 army that Yan Liang lead, made any attempt at all to prevent Guan Yu from returning to Cao Cao's lines. Or for that matter, not just one person, but even a group of them. Even with conscripted forces, there is always a high percentage of people who are going to try to be heroes, and the interesting thing is that this usually ends up influencing those who have a follower mentality "Hey that guy is charging that man over there, let's go help him!" I've seen it happen in my own military service.
This I do agree with. A decent portion of these soldiers would have had battle experience. Some may be veterans, i.e Yan Liang's personal followers. They are not simply going to flee, absent of orders. I do believe that Guan Yu was challenged by many but managed to beat a number personally hence the relevance of that line I talked about above.
''I've never fought for anyone but myself. I've got no purpose in life. No ultimate goal. It's only when I'm cheating death on the battlefield. The only time I feel truly alive.'' ~Solid Snake