Worst Commander in Chinese History

Discuss historical events and information concerning any culture, time, or location in our world (or even the frontier beyond).

Worst Commander in Chinese History

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:25 am

We've got a "Greatest Commander", so...

Though I don't know if he was the worst ever, I'd say Zhang Shijie was pretty terrible. Granted, Song was done for by the time he came to power, but let's talk about how he made a bad situation even worse:

1. Zhang had to negotiate with a powerful merchant for ships to escort the Song Court out of Quanzhou and away from the Mongols. The negotiations ended with the massacre of Imperial Clansmen who couldn't safely escape and the complete capitulation of the province, which provided the Mongols with the ships to chase down the Song court anyway.

2. Zhang Shijie decided to spend his remaining resources to build a great fleet and take the fight to the seas. Not a terrible idea, but most of those resources went not to warships but defenseless transport boats.

3. Morale was low, so Zhang decided to enable all measures to prevent anyone from deserting. Even if it meant allowing the Mongols to give themselves a strategically advantageous position, keeping the Song troops from gaining supplies and being made to drink sea water. No one would leave, even if it meant chaining the ships together. Even if it meant disarming the cannons from his ships to keep them from breaking the chains. (To be fair, he did at least apply flame-retardant to his ships to prevent a Chibi from happening.) It should be mentioned that Zhang's navy was at least ten times larger than the one pursuing him. Half his fleet could've left him and Sun Tzu himself would've still told him to attack.

4. And when the Mongols launched their assault, the sailors were too nauseous to fight, which didn't matter anyway, as the chained ships couldn't move to support the point the Mongols decided to assault. Perhaps Zhang assumed the Mongols were going to go mano-a-mano with a fleet that outnumbered them ten to one, who knows.

5. He did succeed in one endeavor-no one could retreat. Not even the Imperial Court or the Emperor himself, who was forced to kill himself as the Mongols launched an indiscriminate slaughter on every man, woman, and child they found. It's said over a hundred thousand corpses were found floating in the water.

6. Check that; Zhang escaped, leading a cowardly retreat after the battle was lost. All to be killed in a storm a few days later. I guess even God was fed up with his incompetence. I should mention that the last Song Emperor cursed Zhang and his forces with some of his last words. This emperor was eight.

Even children hate you, Zhang.

Postscript: He's actually known in China as one of the "Three Heroes of the Late Song Dynasty". There's a memorial hall dedicated to them in Jiangmen and a shrine in New Taipei city. Of course, another one of these heroes was the last Prime Minister, who took it upon himself to throw the child Emperor into the sea so he wouldn't be captured and (gulp!) be given a title of nobility and allowed to live out his life in peace just that other emperor who he and the Court abandoned when the Mongols captured the Song capital, so I wonder what the hell passes for heroism for some people.
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
User avatar
TooMuchBaijiu
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:15 am
Location: In 1939, chasing Frida Kahlo with a Gillette

Re: Worst Commander in Chinese History

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:31 am

Actually, I think Generalissimo Jiang Jieshi is going to have to figure into this list somehow, at least for modern times. (My apologies to any Guomindang-aligned Taiwanese visiting this board if this causes any offence.)

Jiang's 'first internal pacification, then external resistance' policy proved to be a total disaster - so much so that his own subordinates (including Marshal Zhang Xueliang and General Yang Hucheng) had to kidnap him in order to convince him to put aside his differences with the Communists and focus on fighting the Japanese first. (Naturally, after Jiang agreed and was released, both men were arrested and Yang was executed along with his wife, children and officers.) Jiang's conduct during WWII was not only militarily incompetent but utterly disastrous for Chinese commoners (including the half-million wiped out during the 1938 Huanghe Flood and the 1938 Changsha Fire).

The American military attaches which were dispatched to China during the war were disgusted at the sheer open corruption and incompetence on display in the Generalissimo's command, to the point where they seriously considered ditching Jiang and opting to militarily back the Communists instead (the Dixie Mission). The infighting between Jiang and Li Zongren (who wanted to take a more conciliatory stance toward Communist-sympathetic commoners in rural areas and generally conserve more resources to defend key cities) led to a massive squandering of military resources during the Chinese Civil War and a number of bad decisions by Jiang which ultimately lost him the mainland.

Thankfully, Jiang was a much better civil administrator of Taiwan (with most military affairs being handled by the US Navy) than he was a military commander in China.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
User avatar
WeiWenDi
Hedgehog Emperor
 
Posts: 3833
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:09 am
Location: L'Étoile du Nord

Re: Worst Commander in Chinese History

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:26 am

There was a post relevant to the topic here, but now would make little sense.
Last edited by TooMuchBaijiu on Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
User avatar
TooMuchBaijiu
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:15 am
Location: In 1939, chasing Frida Kahlo with a Gillette

Re: Worst Commander in Chinese History

Unread postby Shen Ai » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:01 pm

Kai-Shek was pretty bad. Though, during the World War II, his lieutenants and generals did an okay job of repelling the Japanese on some big encounters, like in Changsha.
I've a brave warrior in my army. Shen Ai is his name, and he can slay this Hua Xiong.

Wei has no more famous commanders, Shen Ai takes lead of the vanguard!

Even a commoner on the street knows what Shen Ai is thinking!
User avatar
Shen Ai
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 1903
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:21 pm
Location: That Place You've Been Dreaming Of


Return to World History Deliberation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved