Why does Cao Cao's bio only mention Liu Bei in Chi Bi?

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Why does Cao Cao's bio only mention Liu Bei in Chi Bi?

Unread postby Lu Kang » Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:04 am

Why Does Cao Cao’s bio only mention Liu Bei at ChiBi?

Cao Cao’s SGZ bio
“The Duke reached Red Cliffs, battled Liu Bei and was defeated. Then there was great plague, many of the officials and officers died, and the army was forced to withdraw. Liu Bei subsequently acquired the various commanderies of Jingzhou and Jiangnan.”
I’ve seen some members (ok, actually only one member) throw this quote around as though it came from the mouth of God. They pretend as though this quote is a defining and all empowering quote that allows them to use to show that Liu Bei was the main enemy at ChiBi. I plan to dispel this vulgar idea and prove once and for all that this line means nothing and anymore spewing it out would only be the work of a fool.

Possible Explanations

1. Liu Bei was the only fighter at ChiBi

This can easily be proven wrong as Han, Wei, Shu, and Wu bios all say that Wu fought at ChiBi.

2. Liu Bei was the main fighter at ChiBi

This one has no backing what so ever on it besides this line. There is nothing in any bio to suggest that Liu Bei did a majority of the fighting. In fact, we only have sources that say otherwise. Since we know that Sun Quan ATLEAST 50% more troops fighting at ChiBi then Liu Bei. Now the question of whether Liu Bei was in charge of the alliance is something else. There are sources that would say he isn’t and there are sources that say he is, each being sources from their respective kingdoms bios.

3. Cao Cao thought that his main/only enemy at ChiBi was Liu Bei but was horribley wrong.

Ding! Ding! We have a winner. This is what happened with the events prior to and into ChiBi. On this road to prove this, lets first take a look at the events that unfolded prior to this event. Liu Biao died and Liu Bei resisted the peaceful and legit surrender of JingZhou (and all officers) to Cao Cao. Cao Cao did some battles with Liu Bei and persued him. Lu Su (from Sun Quan) came to Liu Bei to ask for an alliance. Liu Bei agrees and sends Zhuge Liang to finalize. Now at this point the two were ready to do battle with Cao Cao. Sun Quan sent Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu (and friends) with 30,000 troops to fight. Liu Bei brought 20,000. There are sources that said he used less then that number but it is irrelevant to this topic.

Now these force went and opposed Cao Cao’s forces. Cao Cao was defeated and retreated, that atleast seems to be a consistant theme. The real question is why did Cao Cao think tha Liu Bei was the main enemy? That can easily be answered if we look into Cheng Yu’s SGZ bio. As seen in Cheng Yu’s bio Cao Cao and his general’s considered, at the time, Liu Bei to be a bigger threat then Sun Quan (unrightly so though). They felt that Sun Quan was not strong and could not hold his own. They figured that Liu Bei would call upon Sun Quan to reinforce him. This of course is not true as we know. Lu Su’s bio shows us that Sun Quan was the one to initiate an alliance. Also, they were severely underestimating Wu’s troops and navy (as they would prove to be a formidable foe over the years). Obviously they did not know the truth. The fact of the matter is that Wu stood up and actively put out troops. They started the alliance when they first saw that Cao Cao might attack them. The Wei generals looked like they expected Liu Bei to get to Wu then make an alliance, but the alliance was made prior. They never knew about that. Therefore when the attack happened they could only assume that Liu Bei was the head enemy, which as proven by Shu and Wu bios, is not true. Not even Liu Bei’s bio says that he did the majority of work (confirming Cao Cao’s statement). In fact, Liu Bei’s bio has almost nothing on it (but that is an argument for another time).

This is also proven true by the fact that Cao Cao thought that Liu Bei told Sun Quan to attack HeFei. This is reinforcing the idea that they feel that Sun Quan is not strong enough to go out and make his own decisions. Hefei was all his own idea and there was nothing with Liu Bei about it. Since they figured this monuevor was Liu Bei’s doing its no surprise that they only listed Liu Bei in Cao Cao’s bio. But like stated above, Cheng Yu’s bio does state Wu’s involvement so there is no doubting it at all.

So in conclusion, Cao Cao after battling Liu Bei across JingZhou guessed that Liu Bei would be the main enemy. It was known that there was an alliance between Sun Quan and Liu Bei and that they formed a defence against his force, but what they did is not stated. Cao Cao and his generals all underestimated Sun Quan and Wu to the point where they thought that his attack on Hefei was Liu Bei’s doing and not his own. Therefore from their low image of Sun Quan and their recent battles with Liu Bei, only Liu Bei was listed in Cao Cao’s bio.

In further research one would find that Xiahou Yuan’s bio records that “In the 12th year [208], the Grand Ancestor attacked Sun Quan and returned” So here in yet another Wei bio, it only mentions Sun Quan and not even Liu Bei! A single name by no means, means that there wasn’t another party involved and and doesn’t mean that the other party wasn’t the head leader there.

And to debunk some myths

1. Cao Cao’s bio can’t be wrong because he’s the biggest ruler/warlord!

Emperor Xian’s Bio says that Cao Cao was defeated by Zhou Yu so if you go by the official record of the time, the History of the HAN, then it would also prove that line wrong.

2. But all Wu bios can’t be taken as truths because they contrdict with other bios!

Every Kingdom has bio contradictions, in fact right before Cao Cao says he was defeated by Liu Bei at ChiBI, he says that Sun Quan was sent by Liu Bei to attack Hefei, which is not true. Going by a statement like above, Cao Cao’s account of ChiBi then couldn’t be true.

3. There is no way the Wei histories would have something wrong in it for so long and never correct it.

Well they said that Sun Quan attacked He Fei on behalf of Liu Bei, which not only was out of place being before Chi Bi, but also it was not on behalf of Liu Bei at all! This passage alone seems to suggest that Cao Cao thought Liu Bei was the majority partner and giving Liu Bei credit for things he didn’t do.
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Unread postby Jordan » Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:16 am

Before the battle of Chibi Master Mengde has a very interesting quote in the book where he says that after the battle the land will be united. He mentions his age (53 at the time apparentely) and says some other things. Historically I think that Mengde knew that there were other threats than just Liu Bei & Sun Quan. Ma Teng was an obstacle to Cao Cao as well and there were other enemies and rebels in China who might have opposed him. I think this quote is more of an observation by the writer of the bio that for one of the first times of many Liu Bei was able to stand up and defeat Cao Cao (even if he was getting helped by Sun Quan). Wu and Shu both probably fought at Chibi but Shu's role was probably more minor.
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:23 am

A more simple explanation, IMHO, is that to Cao Cao, the whole point of Chi Bi was to subdue Liu Bei, not Sun Quan. Sun Quan just happened to be in Cao Cao's way, thus why Liu Bei is mentioned and not Sun Quan or Zhou Yu.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Fri Jul 15, 2005 12:10 pm

I agree with this. Liu Bei was Cao Cao's primary concern, someone who he had been wanting to get rid of for a while. He had not really encountered Sun Quan or Zhou Yu before.
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Unread postby Shield of Rohan » Fri Jul 15, 2005 4:31 pm

I am of the opinion that both Liu Bei and Sun Quan contributed fairly equally to the victory at Chibi. There can be no dispute that Sun Quan's forces were there as Lu Kang pointed out. I read one source that mentioned some twenty thousand elite Wu troops were there (Lu Kang pointed out a source that mentions thirty thousand, so we'll have to look into this discrepancy - it could be that some of the Wu troops were left to guard another key position), and that Liu Bei had in his possession at Jiangxia some twenty thousand. So I believe that the victory belongs to both men and it is doubtful that without the other victory would still have come.

But Sun Quan did not initiate the alliance any more than Liu Bei did. It was Lu Su that went on his own idea to Liu Bei and told him to stand with Sun Quan, and Lu Su that convinced Sun Quan to stand with Liu Bei. Lu Su brought the alliance together.

Of course, this argument doesn't have absolute proof and is part speculation, no less than that Ma Chao took Chang'an in history :wink: . I agree though that when the SGZ bios are not perfect and when they can logically be proven incorrect we shouldn't take the old knowledge for truth.
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Unread postby Sam » Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:14 pm

The events at Chibi are not wholly known; there are far too many contradicting sources to establish anything concrete. I never like to get into discussion of Chibi simply because there are far too many people throwing quotes around from various Wu, Shu and Wei biographies - you can draw conclusions from what you read, but those conclusions certainly can't be labelled as facts. If anything, we should just keep to what we know happened at the battle - the division of forces and how much credit should be given to each will most likely remain as speculation.
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Unread postby Lu Kang » Fri Jul 15, 2005 7:13 pm

Shield of Rohan wrote:I am of the opinion that both Liu Bei and Sun Quan contributed fairly equally to the victory at Chibi.


Well I'm not trying to really say who did more or who did what, merely that the claim that Liu Bei was the one to defeat Cao Cao without significant Wu involved, as one could surmise from Cao Cao's bio, is not true. To go into a little more depth right now, the tradinational thought of the battle of Chi Bi, the "huge fire" actually occured at Wu Lin, right across the river from Chi Bi. Like all big campaigns and battles, it is the name "Chi Bi" that the campiagn gets attributed to and some bios only say that Cao Cao was defeated at Chi Bi, really just breezing over the real details. Up to Chi Bi and right after the burning at Wu Lin, I would agree with your statement. It seems like the forces were able to join together and effective stop Cao Cao in his tracks at Chi Bi and then later pursue using both forces very well. However the actual burning that occured at Wu Lin, was a product of Huang Gai. Not to take credit away from Liu Bei forces, but it was a solely Wu operation. There is no knock to the Shu troops, just rather a statement of the facts.

But Sun Quan did not initiate the alliance any more than Liu Bei did. It was Lu Su that went on his own idea to Liu Bei and told him to stand with Sun Quan, and Lu Su that convinced Sun Quan to stand with Liu Bei. Lu Su brought the alliance together.


Heh, here I am generalizing with just a higher up name instead of specifying. Yes, it was Lu Su that really made things happen, however it was Sun Quan who agreed to the plans and ordered them put into motion. In a slightly more detailed sense, Sun Quan was the first to send an officer to propose and alliance, that officer being Lu Su whom convince Sun Quan to send him.

[quote=Sam]The events at Chibi are not wholly known; there are far too many contradicting sources to establish anything concrete. I never like to get into discussion of Chibi simply because there are far too many people throwing quotes around from various Wu, Shu and Wei biographies - you can draw conclusions from what you read, but those conclusions certainly can't be labelled as facts. If anything, we should just keep to what we know happened at the battle - the division of forces and how much credit should be given to each will most likely remain as speculation.[/quote]

I think that you have been disillusioned by the frivolous and destructive debating tactics of the past. When people want to prove that their side did everything or the other side did nothing, they start throwing around sources acting like they are rigid, inflexible, whole truths and the other are wrong, when in actuallity they are not that rigid and can easily be put together. With a nice casual reading of Liu Bei and Zhou Yu's bio you'll find that they do agree on pretty much everything. Zhou Yu's bio does mention a combine Sun-Liu force stalemating Cao Cao at Chi Bi. Zhou Yu's bio also mentions that Cao Cao's men were beginning to feel the plague that would later hit them even harder. The fire attack was a Wu manuever but the Wu bios mention that right after Liu Bei was right there to pursue with Wu. Now if you were to take things far too rigid you'd say that Liu Bei's bio said that "Liu Bei and Zhou yu burned Cao Cao's navy". However, looking at all the other bios it's not hard to be able to see that it's talking in general sense and not specific sense. It's merely saying that the Liu-Sun alliance was able to burn and defeat Cao Cao. Not that Liu Bei and Zhou Yu personally led the fire attack.
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Unread postby Zhao Zilong » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:55 am

Wu was in charge, Shu helped. It was the same instance as Oda Nobunaga attacking Takeda. Tokugawa, though a smaller force, allied with Oda and smited Takeda.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:04 pm

Actually I think the Tokugawa were a far smaller force than the Oda (at this time) and Nobunaga may have achieved victory without Iesayu's help. Shu and Wu were much more equal, one could not have achieved victory without the other in this battle as Cao Cao was just two powerful at the moment.
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Unread postby Jordan » Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:24 pm

At Nagashino you mean? Nobunaga came as reinforcements for Ieyasu and came as the defense. Katsuyori was vastly outnumbered. That's besides the point.

I think it's fair to see that Shu had a very small role in Chi Bi. The two commanders of the battle, Cheng Pu & Zhou Yu were the main characters in charge and Shu officers would have been placed under one or both of those forces.
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