Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Timeline

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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:21 pm

Why in the world would Wei attack Wu while they have a powerful Shu-Han to their southern flank?


Because Shu-Han's committed the bulk of their resources to Jing to stop an all out Wu invasion.

So, as a result, if Wei attacked Wu then Shu-Han could easily make successful campaigns towards Fancheng or Chang An.


Not at this point in time because Shu-Han's committed the bulk of their resources to Jing to stop an all out Wu invasion. Right now it's pretty much a purely defensive force at Han Zhong. Also why would Shu be able to take Chang An in this situation? Zhuge Liang, with almost total strategic surprise and a large commitment of resources (more than Shu would be able to spare in this scenario) not only couldn't do it, he didn't even try which is why he rejected the Wei Yan blitzkrieg idea.

If Wei goes too long without attacking Wu then yes Wei committing to a Wu invasion could put Guangzhou or Fancheng in danger, but does Wu really want to take that chance?

Furthermore, Wu's in a horrible spot diplomatically, given that there's really no reason for Wei to continue supporting Wu. And while Wu would have reserves, would they be enough to defend against an all out Wei invasion? Yes, Wu has stopped Wei invasions from the north cold but in this timeline their army west of Lake Powang has been decimated while their navy has taken a good deal of damage and is still committed to fighting Shu. And Cao Pi is certainly reckless enough to decide he'd rather try to hit a home run and destroy an weakened Wu than collaborate with Wu to fight a strong and prepared Shu.
I just can't see the terms of the treaty as favorable in any way, shape, or form. Sun Quan was practically bowing down to Liu Bei and that, no matter where, when, or in what age, is a massive humiliation. It's a huge slap in the face to Sun Quan, his children, and their forefathers. No ruler would ever dare accept the terms that Sun Quan did, it would be tantamount to political suicide. Any respect the officers and officials of Wu had for their ruler would be gone, and a coup against Sun Quan could be expected to follow.


I find the terms Shu accepted to reestablish the alliance in OTL to be just as onerous from a Shu-HAN perspective. I don't think people understand the magnitude of that. Only 6 short years after establishing that they were the one true Empire and the legitimate continuation of the Han Dynasty, they literally rolled over to Sun Quan declaring himself Emperor because Shu was in no position to resist. All Shu could do was hint at "sharing the mandate" (fat chance) just to keep what was a glorified defensive pact going. A lot of Shu officials were flat out outraged by Sun Quan's declaration, because it undercuts the very ideological foundations of Shu-Han: that they are Southern Han, and Zhaoliedi is filling the same shoes as Guangwudi.

The terms Sun Quan agrees to are essentially that Sun Quan keeps the 215 borders (as opposed to losing Jing entirely) and essentially transferring Sun Quan's allegiance as "King of Wu" from Wei to Shu, which was Wu's political status from 200 to 221 while maintaining autonomous control over Wu. That is a good deal compared to losing strategic control of the Yangzte entirely, having to fear an imminent Wei invasion, and being diplomatically isolated as Wei begins to demand more and more concessions to a weakened Wu.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Jordan » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:04 am

Why in the world would Wei attack Wu while they have a powerful Shu-Han to their southern flank?


For the record, Liu Ye actually suggested this to Cao Pi.

http://the-scholars.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6398
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Jolt » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:37 pm

Jordan wrote:
Why in the world would Wei attack Wu while they have a powerful Shu-Han to their southern flank?


For the record, Liu Ye actually suggested this to Cao Pi.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6398


To be fair, he did suggest that on account of the anger of Liu Bei at the sneak attack and execution of his brother. Liu Bei's anger would take defining shape over what Shu would do, to the detriment of its own position and survivability as a State. Since that defining disposition in Liu Bei is missing, it is likely he would act more rationally in case of a Wei attack on Wu. Or he might not, but this is speculation, and hence entirely left up to the author to decide on what suits the story best.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:52 pm

To Establish Peace wrote:Because Shu-Han's committed the bulk of their resources to Jing to stop an all out Wu invasion.

Except it would make far more logical sense for Wei to attack Shu's flank while their main force was occupied with Wu. Sun Quan, while not the most loyal of allies, was still more useful for Wei to keep around.

To Establish Peace wrote:Zhuge Liang, with almost total strategic surprise and a large commitment of resources (more than Shu would be able to spare in this scenario) not only couldn't do it, he didn't even try which is why he rejected the Wei Yan blitzkrieg idea.

Zhuge Liang also only had ~25,000 troops at any given time. Meanwhile, given the numbers on Cao Shuang's invasion, Chang'an most likely had 50,000-100,000 troops at any given time.

To Establish Peace wrote:Furthermore, Wu's in a horrible spot diplomatically, given that there's really no reason for Wei to continue supporting Wu.

While their relationship would still be tenuous and not particularly friendly, Wei would still be invested in keeping Wu territory out of Shu hands even if it meant giving up their chance to take it, especially if Shu is as strong as your narrative puts forward.

To Establish Peace wrote:And while Wu would have reserves, would they be enough to defend against an all out Wei invasion?

Given that Wei has no particularly impressive standing navy and troop disparity has always been an issue in Wei vs. Wu and Shu fights in Wei's favor, I'd say yes.

To Establish Peace wrote:Yes, Wu has stopped Wei invasions from the north cold but in this timeline their army west of Lake Powang has been decimated while their navy has taken a good deal of damage and is still committed to fighting Shu.

Refresh my memories, was the Powang bit actually mentioned in the text itself?

To Establish Peace wrote:And Cao Pi is certainly reckless enough to decide he'd rather try to hit a home run and destroy an weakened Wu than collaborate with Wu to fight a strong and prepared Shu.

Cao Pi was actually pretty conservative when it came to military tactics.

Double-post incoming because goodness can I be wordy.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:54 pm

To Establish Peace wrote:Only 6 short years after establishing that they were the one true Empire and the legitimate continuation of the Han Dynasty, they literally rolled over to Sun Quan declaring himself Emperor because Shu was in no position to resist.

That's a pretty idealistic take on why Liu Bei decided to take up the mantle of the Han. Most likely, he did so to put himself in direct opposition to Cao Pi and Wei, his longtime political enemies and also possibly because it was expected of him. I doubt that if Liu Bei had historically not been a member of the Imperial Family, he would have still called his nation Han (unless he was trying to manipulate people and did so, in which case he would have been a usurper). Not to mention that I doubt most of Shu's officials and commoners cared. The Han was either a decaying shell of a nation or a non-entity for them, depending on when they were born.

To Establish Peace wrote:All Shu could do was hint at "sharing the mandate" (fat chance) just to keep what was a glorified defensive pact going.

A "glorified defensive pact" that Shu needed because of how bad their situation post-Yiling was.

To Establish Peace wrote:A lot of Shu officials were flat out outraged by Sun Quan's declaration, because it undercuts the very ideological foundations of Shu-Han: that they are Southern Han, and Zhaoliedi is filling the same shoes as Guangwudi.

Proof, please.

To Establish Peace wrote:The terms Sun Quan agrees to are essentially that Sun Quan keeps the 215 borders (as opposed to losing Jing entirely) and essentially transferring Sun Quan's allegiance as "King of Wu" from Wei to Shu, which was Wu's political status from 200 to 221 while maintaining autonomous control over Wu.

Those are terrible terms, for both Sun Quan and the defensiveness of Jingzhou, and Sun Quan would never agree to them.

To Establish Peace wrote:That is a good deal compared to losing strategic control of the Yangzte entirely, having to fear an imminent Wei invasion, and being diplomatically isolated as Wei begins to demand more and more concessions to a weakened Wu.

Except that's not what would happen at all. Historically post-221, Wei invaded Shu three times: once in 231, once in 244 and once in 263. That's three times in the span of 42 years. Compared to their invasions of Wu, which happened a lot (I'm going to give a conservative estimate of probably 20 or so in the span of 221-263), it was pretty clear that Wei was ignoring Shu, who wasn't really a threat to them, and going after Wu because they were a legit threat. I don't doubt that, given the power reversal here, Wei would focus on Shu and ignore Wu, especially since Wu is still their nominal ally and also still useful to them.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:29 am

Thanks for the feedback.

Now the question becomes, is there a peace treaty that both Shu would offer and Wu would accept?
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Jolt » Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:43 am

Qu Hui wrote:
To Establish Peace wrote:The terms Sun Quan agrees to are essentially that Sun Quan keeps the 215 borders (as opposed to losing Jing entirely) and essentially transferring Sun Quan's allegiance as "King of Wu" from Wei to Shu, which was Wu's political status from 200 to 221 while maintaining autonomous control over Wu.

Those are terrible terms, for both Sun Quan and the defensiveness of Jingzhou, and Sun Quan would never agree to them.


Why exactly would those be bad terms for Sun Quan?

The reason the invasion in real life was a master stroke for Wu was because Wei was then currently in the defensive while Shu's military in Jing was outmanuevered and desintegrated, allowing Wu to take over half a province, with no threat of contest from either Shu or Wei.

Whereas in this story, Wu would hypothetically have been repelled twice, with no small amount of casualties I would assume, meanwhile as far as we know from the story, Wei had no outstanding military campaign that exhausted either finances or manpower, making them hypothetically more threatening to both Shu and Wu, in case of a joint invasion of Jing (By Wu and Wei). And it was known even from before the Jing invasion, that Wei was a far greater threat to the existence of Wu than Shu, and the political elites of each of the Southern States recognized that fact. It would certainly be considered politically expedient for Wu and Sun Quan to concentrate on removing or mitigating the bigger threat (As apparently as Sun Quan's own intention prior to being convinced to strike at Jing by his own staff) first, and accept the seal and titles from who would come to be his ally, that had more legitimacy to the Empire than that of Sun Quan, and if domain size or honor mattered beforehand in making such a decision, Sun Quan had already been beaten back by the same forces he now nominally bowed to.

Overall, I take Sun Quan for a realist. And in such a scenario, the reality was that an alliance with Wei is far more threatening for the long-term existance of Wu, then an alliance with Shu. With its own prestige shrunk from having several failed campaigns against both Wei and Shu over the course of several years, declaring itself as Emperor wouldn't be very propituous. So if such an offer from Shu arrived, I have little doubt that, in Sun Quan's situation, it would be accepted and modus vivendi established.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:56 am

Sorry everyone, I've been a bit busy, I'm gonna post a cleaned up Part 3, and then post Part 4 at the same time in the next few days.

Thank you for all the feedback.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:18 am

Wow I've been so busy. haven't had time to work on this. But here we go. First the redone Part 3 based on the wonderful feedback.

221 was a year of relative quiet militarily, as Shu began to consolidate their massive gains of the last two years. In the west, Zhuge Liang and the Shu military began solidifying the administration and military readiness of the Han Zhong area, making it into both an impregnable fortress and a base of operations for future operations. Guan Yu and Pang Tong began to disperse the surrendered Wei soldiers throughout Jing to lower their burden on food supplies. However , on the political front, there was a great deal of action. Cao Pi, the successor to Cao Cao, had to fight off sporadic rebellion for other contenders to his father’s position. At the same time, there were rebellions aimed at restoring Emperor Xian’s power with Wei’s power seemingly at an ebb. However, and this is a move that is still debated to this day (some scholars believe that formally ending the Han was a mistake), Cao Pi moved to remove Xian from the court and declare himself Emperor of Wei, formally ending the 400 year Han Dynasty. This created consternation in the Shu court, with Liu Bei expressing personal outrage (historians have debated the extent to which Liu Bei was a heartfelt Han loyalist but the consensus is that he genuinely believed in the Han Dynasty, though he also certainly wanted power within the framework of the Han) and swearing revenge. At the same time, a growing movement of his officers, led by Zhuge Liang, began pushing for Liu Bei to assume the title of “Emperor of Han” in Xian’s place. While Liu Bei was initially reluctant, the support of his followers convinced him to take that step. In early 222, Liu Bei was declared Emperor of Han, with Zhuge Liang as Chancellor of Han, Guan Yu as Viceroy of Jingzhou, and Pang Tong as General Who Commands Armies.

Meanwhile, Sun Quan grew restive. Sun Quan was “merely” a king while the two other powers made plays for empire. He also knew he needed all of Jing to make a play for power. At the moment, he was largely confined to Jiang Nan and eastern Jing. Slowly, he and the new Wei Emperor Cao Pi began to reach out to each other once more, with Cao Pi trading non-aggression and Sun Quan’s recognition of his regime, for recognition of Sun Quan’s authority over Jiangnan and Jingzhou. Unlike the sneak attack in 220, Sun Quan would go for broke here, launching an all-out assault on Shu’s Jingzhou territory. In the spring of 223, the attack came, with Wu troops attacking on land and sea from Chang Sha, Jiang Xia and Chai Sang.
While Shu had some advance warning of Sun Quan’s assault, they simply did not have enough time for an effective response. Despite Shu numerical superiority, Wu’s navy enabled to bypass much of the land invasion and besiege key Jing installations directly. In response, Guan Yu launched all out attacks on Wu positions and staging areas. However, Lu Xun’s efficiency and tactics ensured that Lu Xun would be able to maintain beachheads while the Jing defense force lost thousands of troops. After a 3 month siege, Gong An was on the brink of falling and Jiang Ling was under threat. However, by the middle of 223, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei had come from the capital with reinforcements. Liu Bei, surveying the situation, gave the order to fight defensively, only attacking enough to disrupt Wu pushes towards Shu cities or to probe for weaknesses. The overall difference between Liu Bei’s command and Guan Yu’s command was plain to see, and the Wu attacks begain to lose momentum. Even though Jiang Ling and other areas was still under threat by the beginning of 224, the offensive had ground to a halt. Shu armies were either retreating in good order, where before they had taken large losses due to Guan Yu meeting the Wu advance with headon attacks, or they were standing their ground and not allowing Wu marines to make decisive pushes into Shu territory. With Shu defenses consolidating around the Gong An area, the opportunity for a successful attack began to fade. Slowly, Wu morale began to drop as their momentum stalled. Lu Xun was well supplied and had control of much of the middle Yangtze, and Shu was not in position to threaten Wu on the river. They had a solid beachhead on the river that was still a threat to Shu cities along the Yangzte. However, Wu could not make forward progress. Lu Xun then changed his plan in order to defensively against Shu counterattacks, and hope Shu made a mistake that would allow a breakthrough. This mistake never came, due to able leadership from Liu Bei and Pang Tong.

On the Wu side, the endless waiting nearly brought the army to the point of mutiny. Lu Xun was being unfavorably compared to the more aggressive Lu Meng, who Lu Xun was considered an understudy of. Commanders under Lu Xun were secretly writing back home asking for orders to attack in order to break the stalemate. Finally, Lu Xun gave in, and launched an attack on Gong An to finally take the city after a long siege. That was the chance that Shu was waiting for. Sending Zhang Fei with roughly 5,000 troops to lie in wait on Lu Xun’s flank, the main Shu army gave ground, almost to the gates of Gong An. It was at that point that Zhang Fei’s flanking attack struck. While casualties were relatively low given the sheer chaos the ploy caused, the attack threw the entire Wu army into confusion, compounded by the false rumors spread by Shu informants that Lu Xun had been killed in battle.
While Lu Xun survived, it was clear that the Jing offensive had failed. In the summer of 224, Sun Quan gave the order to retreat.

Realizing his strategic position, with a still dangerous albeit nominally allied Wei to the north, and a victorious Shu-Han primed to take a nearly indefensible Eastern Jing given the state of the Wu Army, Sun Quan asked for terms from Liu Bei. Liu Bei at first was inclined to demand all of Jingzhou, returning the situation to the 214 borders, as well as a large indemnity. However, Zhuge Liang argued against this, stating that the logistical burden would be too great in regards to absorbing Eastern Jing (as well as not particularly useful on a strategic level for the battle against Wei) and would create too much ill will. From a strategic perspective, Zhuge Liang found the 3 Eastern Jing commanderies to be far less valuable than regaining Wu as a strategic ally and securing their control over the Jiang Ling/Nanyang attack path/ The final settlement would have Wu retain most of the Chang Sha and Ling Ling commanderies, as well as retaining Jiang Xia. Furthermore , due to Zhuge Liang’s diplomacy, the alliance between Shu and Wu was restored, under terms far more favorable to Shu, including Sun Quan “permanently” renouncing all imperial aspirations and recognizing Liu Bei and his line as the legitimate continuation of the Han Dynasty. Wu would later repel a major invasion by Emperor Cao Pi, who felt personally slighted by Wu’s betrayal and was determined to smash the Wu state. This provided the opportunity for Lu Xun to salve his somewhat blemished reputation by leading the defense.

With the defeat of the Wei invasion, the borders of the Three Kingdoms were established. Shu confirmed its control over Western Jing and Yizhou, Wu maintaned control over Eastern Jing and Jiangdong. A period of repose would settle on the land - but this repose would not last long.



Note: (Speaking as OOC/author) Essentially, Wu launched a two pronged attack against Gong'An and Jiang Ling. Guan Yu initially tried to counterattack in force, and while he didn't lose any territory at first, he was losing more troops than he was killing and was unable to drive the Wu army into the river. After a while, the quality of these armies began to decline, creating room for Wu advances towards Gong An and Jiang Ling. There was also some comparatively minor fighting with Wu pushes towards Wu Ling.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:54 am

The next 5 years were years of repose for Shu. This period would have important Shu commanders die of old age, such as Ma Chao, Fa Zheng (who played an important role in the Han Zhong campaigns), and Guan Yu, who got a massive state funeral upon his death in 226. However, all of these were overshadowed by the death of Liu Bei in 227. Liu Bei was not only the emperor of the Shu Han state, but arguably the greatest commander of the army, and certainly its most charismatic leader. It would fall to Liu Bei’s young son, Liu Shan, to fill his father’s massive shoes.

While Liu Shan has been underrated by history, due to his lack of involvement in Shu’s military campaigns coupled with his gentle, mild-mannered outward nature, Liu Shan was never the ignoramus that later generations described him as (to the point where his personal name, Adou is generally used as slang for “a person who is carried to glory on the backs of others”, - Chinese tradition has largely seen him as being carried by men such as Pang Tong, Zhuge Liang and Zhao Yun).

Yet in 228, Liu Shan would throw his political weight behind Zhuge Liang’s Longzhong Plan, just as his father did. Despite calls within the government for a focus for internal security, Zhuge Liang and Liu Shan both agreed that an aggressive foreign policy was the only option from both a strategic, political, and ideological perspective. The fact is, Shu Han existed specifically to oppose Cao Wei, and Zhuge Liang’s foreign policy was recognition of this. Furthermore, even with Jing and Yi, Shu was still significantly weaker than Wei, and barely stronger than Wu. Therefore, a policy of defense would just leave Wei with a free hand to either strengthen its position against Shu, or act against Wu. With that, Liu Shan made the decision to embark upon the Northern Campaigns.

In examining the success of the Northern Campaigns, it is important to note that while Zhuge Liang is rightly commended for his cautious, meticulous planning, Pang Tong was equally vital to the success of the campaign, even though he didn’t move a single Shu soldier outside Shu borders during the period. Pang Tong, in his role as Grand Marshal of Jingzhou, replacing Guan Yu, tied down a huge amount of Wei troops in fear of an attack through Nanyang into the Central Plains. With Wei’s heavy investment in defending Nanyang against a second drive against the north, and with Wu directing the bulk of its efforts against Wei, Wei could never afford to commit a large amount of troops to Northwestern China to fight Zhuge Liang. For a state that was still by far the largest in terms of resources and manpower, they were never able to gain the kind of local superiority over Shu needed to defend against the concerted efforts of Shu-Han to attain victory. While Zhuge Liang’s campaigns generally used 30,000-50,000 soldiers, Wei generally fielded 40,000-80,000 soldiers, unable to commit more due to threats from Pang Tong and Sun Quan.

Of course, there were political intrigues involved as well. Zhuge Liang has been compared by some historians not so much to Zhang Liang but to Cao Cao, in that Zhuge Liang, once becoming Chancellor, took decisive steps to secure his power in the court. While Pang Tong had expressed interest in returning to Cheng Du’s court, Zhuge Liang quickly moved to secure personal influence over Liu Shan, and was able to keep Pang Tong confined in his role as something of a decoy for Wei, while Zhuge Liang got much of the military glory. It is now understood by most scholars that Zhuge Liang, while a first class commander in chief and administrator, he was only an above-average tactician at best and actually made several key mistakes (many occuring in his very first campaign) that nearly cost him the war against Wei. Some believe he was threatened by Pang Tong, who has much more of a flair for creative strategy and innovative tactics than Zhuge Liang ever did. A pro-Pang verse in Chinese poetry is translated as such “While the dragon ascends, the phoenix sits in a birdcage”

Nevertheless, with the blessing of the Shu-Han emperor and his court, Zhuge Liang embarked on his long campaign for Longzhou.
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