Got this done 1 year ago but left it lying under virtual dust. Comments and corrections are welcome!
Guo Jia, styled Feng Xiao, was a native of Yingchuan Yangdi . In the beginning, he met Yuan Shao in the north. To Yuan Shao's advisors, Xin Ping and Guo Tu, he cautioned them saying, "A wise person should be careful in gauging his master, so that he could accomplish all his tasks successfully and make a good reputation for himself. Lord Yuan desires to emulate Duke Zhou's virtue of treating subordinates with respect but he knows not how to make full use of his men. He has many resources but little ambition; he adores strategies but is not decisive. If you desire to share the burdens of the world with him and together establish an empire, it will be difficult!" Henceforth, he left. Prior to this, Xi Zhi Cai, a strategist from Yingchuan, was greatly valued by the Founding Lord (Cao Cao). He (Xi Zhi Cai) died early. The Founding Lord wrote a letter to Xun Yu saying, "Ever since the passing of Zhi Cai, there are few people like him whom I can discuss matters with. There are many brilliant scholars in Runan and Yingchuan, who can succeed him?" Xun Yu recommended Guo Jia. Cao Cao summoned him and they discussed worldly affairs together. The Founding Lord commented, "If there is anyone who can help me succeed in my ambition, that person can only be him." As soon as Guo Jia departed from his meeting, he happily remarked, "He is indeed my lord." Guo Jia was bestowed the rank of Head Officer (Ji Jiu) in the Minister of Works (Si Kong) army .
Annotation 1: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "Guo Jia had great potential even as a youth. The country was falling apart towards the end of Han period. Since young, he maintained a low profile even though he befriended talented individuals in private and stayed away from the masses. This is the reason why few people knew about him and among those who knew him, marveled his brilliance. At the age of twenty seven, he held a post in the Minister of Education (Situ)'s office.
Annotation 2: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "The Founding Lord asked (Guo) Jia, "Ben Chu (referring to Yuan Shao) amassed the troops in Yizhou and Qingzhou and Bingzhou were pacified by him. His lands are vast, his troops are formidable and there is no question of his prowess. I wish to conquer him but my strength is insufficient, what should I do?" The reply was, "My lord should know why Xiang Yu was unable to conquer Liu Bang. The Founding Emperor of Han counted on strategy to win, therefore even though Xiang Yu was more powerful, he was defeated. Your humble servant would like to put forth his assumption that, (Yuan) Shao has ten reasons for defeat while my lord has ten reasons for victory. Though his troops are formidable, they are futile. Shao pays too much attention to protocols but my lord is more flexible, hence "method" scores your first victory. Shao moves against the climate but my lord adheres to what the world desires, hence "righteousness" gains you the second victory. The late Han government fails due to lax administration. Yet, Shao used liberal means to deal with lax administration, whereas my lord employs stricter measures to ensure compliance from all ranks, hence "sound administration" brings the third victory. Shao appears to be magnanimous but inwardly he is petty and does not trust those he commands except for his close relatives. My lord is easy-going but careful; you do not suspect those who serve you and practice meritocracy regardless of kinship ties, hence the fourth victory is won in "magnanimity". Shao has many plans but little decisiveness and would fail eventually; my lord executes plans swiftly and can react flexibly, thus a fifth victory is achieved in "strategy". Shao carries with him his family legacy and paved his way through reputation, thus attracting the service of many vain men. My lord treats others with the honesty of your heart, your action driven by sincerity and never for empty glory, thus humbling those who serve you. You are not miserly in rewarding to those who contribute; therefore capable people are willing to serve under you. With that, "virtue" brings about the sixth victory. When Shao witnesses people suffering from cold and hunger, his empathy is etched only on his face. Whatever he sees not, he cares not. This is what is called the "empathy of a woman". My lord may miss small details in front of his eyes at times but when it comes to great matters, your vision connects the four seas, spreading your benevolence to all and missing no one. You may not see every individual person but your concern leaves no one untouched. Thus, "benevolence" gives us the seventh victory. Shao's senior officers wrestle with one another for power, spreading slanders and lies, but my lord rules with principle, giving no room to slanders, hence your "clear-sightedness" attains the eighth victory. Shao does not differentiate good from evil but my lord honours the good and punishes the wrongdoers thus our ninth victory lies in "civility". Shao cares only about how mighty an army appears on the exterior but knows not how to utilize his troops. My lord is able overcome a larger force with a smaller army; your brilliance in military deployment is feared by army masses and dreaded by the enemy, with "might" as the reason for our tenth victory." The Founding Lord laughed and said, "What virtues do I possess to justify your words?" Jia continued, saying, "Shao is currently engaged in a conflict with Gongsun Zan in the north. We can take advantage of their conquest to attack Lu Bu in the east. If we do not eliminate Lu Bu first, consequently, should Shao become our enemy with Bu as his reinforcement, it will be a great calamity for us." The Founding Lord said, "I agree."
An attack was launched on Lu Bu and within three battles he was defeated and forced to defend. During this time, the soldiers were fatigued and the Founding Lord contemplated to retreat. Jia advised the Founding Lord to attack swiftly and capture Bu. This event is recorded in Xun You's biography .
Annotation 3: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "The Founding Lord wanted to withdraw, but Jia said, "In the past, Xiang Ji fought in seventy over battles, and never once tasted defeat. However, in one single defeat he lost his life and his nation was vanquished, proving that he was all brawn and no brains. Now, Lu Bu was defeated in every battle, his energy is spent, defenses broken inside out. Bu was not as mighty as Xiang Ji and since he has already tasted defeat, we should continue with this momentum to crush him further, and capture him." The Founding Lord said, "I agree.""
In the Book of Wei, it says that, "Liu Bei came to seek refuge and he was made the governor of Yuzhou. Some cautioned the Founding Lord that, "Bei had heroic ambitions. If he is not removed soon enough, he will because a problem in the future." The Founding Lord asked Jia for his opinion and Jia said, "Yes indeed. However, my lord has rallied troops to fight for the civilians, ridding them of brutal rule, and garnering the support of talents through sincerity and trust, hence there is no need to be anxious. Since Bei possesses heroic reputation, harming him will only tarnish your name. Astute individuals will bear self-doubt and re-choose their lord. In that case, who will assist my lord to pacify the world? To remove harm for oneself, but tarnishing your repute across the four seas in the process, is a matter with underlying dire consequences, thus it must be given thorough consideration!" The Founding Lord laughed, "You have spoken well."
The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "Initially when Liu Bei surrendered, the Founding Lord treated him amicably as a guest and appointed him as governor of Yuzhou. Jia spoke to the Founding Lord, "(Liu) Bei is heroic and gains the support of many. Invincible warriors like Zhang Fei and Guan Yu who can conquer a thousand men, would fight to the death for him. In my humble observation, Bei would not end up serving others and what he plans to do is difficult to foretell. There is an old saying, "let the enemy be for one day and calamity will befall you for numerous generations"; it is better to take action now." At that moment, the Founding Lord was showing support to the emperor in order to pacify the other warlords, hence he did not adopt Jia's plan. When the Founding Lord commanded Bei to lead an attack against Yuan Shu, Jia and Cheng Yu simultaneously petitioned to the Founding Lord that, "Releasing Bei and he will revolt!" By then, Bei had already left and raised an army against Cao Cao. The Founding Lord was deeply regretful for not listening to Jia's advice.
The statements given in the Book of Wei and Fu Zi are directly in conflict.
Sun Ce's campaign stretched over a large area and soon possessed the entire Jiangdong region. He had news of the Founding Lord and Yuan Shao immersed in battle at Guandu and planned to cross the river to attack Xu (Du). Everyone was terrified by the news but Jia predicted that, "Ce newly acquired Jiangdong and those he killed were all heroes. However, Ce is young and without defence. Although he had masses of army under his command, (his attempt to lead a northern campaign) is no different from him entering the Central Plains alone. If an assassin lies in wait, it will be sufficient to eliminate him. In my humble opinion, he will die in the hands of a brute." Before Ce could reach the banks of the river, he was indeed assassinated by one of Xu Gong's retainers .
Annotation 4: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "The Founding Lord wanted to lead a pursuit after Liu Bei, but there were those who believed that once the army marches out, Yuan Shao would attack from the rear. As a result, not only would the attack become a failure, the base would be lost. This is recorded in Wu Ji. The Founding Lord was in doubt and consulted Jia. Jia advised the Founding Lord, "Shao is slow to react and suspicious in nature, even if he attacks, he would not be swift. Bei has just established himself and has not gained the trust of his men yet. A speedy attack will defeat him surely. This is a matter of life and death; you must not miss this opportunity." The Founding Lord said, "I agree" and led his army eastwards to conquer Bei. Bei was defeated and he fled to Yuan Shao's lands. Shao indeed did not launch an attack.
Your humble servant Song Zhi analysed Wu Ji and conclude that, the idea to attack Liu Bei and predicting that Shao would not mobilize his troops all originated from the Founding Lord. The attribution of these words to Jia, makes the situation entirely different. In addition, this record claimed that Jia predicted Sun Ce's early death and that he would die in the hands of a brute seemed to imply of an uncanny ability to foresee the outcome of things. However, (Guo Jia) was not a saint and could not possibly know when a person would die. His words were passed in the same year when (Sun Ce) attacked Xu Du and died, hence it could merely be a coincidence.
After defeating Yuan Shao, Shao passed away. Following that, (Cao Cao) fought (Yuan) Tan and (Yuan) Shang at Liyang, defeating them in several battles continuously. Many of the generals wanted to take the opportunity to finish them, but Jia said, "Yuan Shao doted on these two sons and had not chosen either as the heir. With advisors like Guo Tu and Feng Ji around, they would be torn apart by the factions. If we attack them too quickly, they will unite against us; if we slower our pace, internal strife will develop amongst them. Instead, we can launch a conquest southwards against Liu Biao at Jingzhou and wait for changes. After the developments are complete, we will attack them and finish them in one stroke." The Founding Lord said, "I agree" and attacked south. When the army reached Xiping, Tan and Shang were indeed fighting against each other for Yuzhou. Tan was defeated by Shang's army and he fled to Pingyuan, sending Xin Pi as emissary to beg for surrender. The Founding Lord returned to save him and from that pacified Ye. From there, (Cao Cao) attacked Tan at Nanpi and pacified Yuzhou. He bestowed Jia the nobility of Honourable Marquis of Weiyang (Weiyang Tinghou). (Note: "Ting Hou" is a title given to those with substantial achievements, but lesser than that of Shi Xian and Shi Xiang.)
Annotation 5: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "As soon as the lands north of the Yellow River were pacified, the Founding Lord summoned many esteemed men from the states of Qing, Yi, You and Bing and gradually employed them under his service. All these plannings were contributed by Jia."
The Founding Lord was about to launch an offense at Yuan Shang and the three Wuwan states, but there were many who feared that Liu Biao might seize the opportunity to command Liu Bei to attack Xu Du while they were at war. Jia said, "The prowess of my lord may be known by others far and wide but the Hu people, having deep faith in the geographical distance between us, may be unprepared for war. Given the enemyˇs unpreparedness, a swift and sudden attack will wipe them out. Moreover, Yuan Shao was benevolent to the common folks and Shang and his brother are still alive. Now, the natives of the four states were threatened but unappeased. Leaving them alone to campaign south will allow Shang to exploit Wuwanˇs resources, rally the retainers of their late master and once the Hu people are mobilized, the commoners will also react. This may well fulfill Ta Dun's wishes and as a result, the states of Qing, Yi, etc will not be ours to claim anymore. Biao, is a person who merely talks; he knows his abilities could not match Bei's. While he is fearful that (Liu Bei) could not be controlled if given too much power, delegating (Liu Bei) with only simple tasks will not be sufficient to keep him under his command. Hence, though the state is left unguarded during this faraway campaign, my lord has nothing to worry." Having arrived at Yi, Jia said, "An army is formidable only if it is swift. As we have come a long way to fight the enemy, we brought along many bulky provisions thus it is difficult for us to gain an upper hand; should the enemy know about this, they will be prepared for our attack. Instead, we should leave the provisions behind, and deploy light troops to attack from small roads and take the enemy by surprise." The Founding Lord thus secretly departed from Lu Long Fortifications and led his troops straight into the Hu leaderˇs base. The slave troops got news of the Founding Lord's arrival and were terrified during the engagement. The enemy was crushed and Ta Dun and the Hu leader Si Xia were executed. Shang and his brother Xi fled to Liaodong.
Jia was a deeply analytical person and could decipher matters well. The Founding Lord commented, "Only Feng Xiao understands my intentions." At the age of thirty eight, he was fatally ill on the way back from Liu Cheng. The Founding Lord enquired where he could meet the sick man en route. Thereafter, he (Guo Jia) passed away. (The Founding Lord) attended his funeral and was deeply aggrieved. He lamented to Xun You and others, saying, "All of you are still in your bachelor years, only that Feng Xiao was the youngest. I would have entrusted the future to him but alas, he died in his prime!" He memorialized, "the Head Officer (Ji Jiu) Guo Jia, since the start of the campaign, had served for a total of eleven years. In every counsel, he was able to come up with a plan to take on the enemy. Should I be undecided on a matter, Jia was able to fill in this gap. Strategic planning is valued most highly in conquest. Given his unfortunate and premature death, our quest remains unfinished. The memory of Jia's deeds will not be forgotten lightly. His lands shall be increased by eight hundred houses, making it a total of one thousand houses." Guo Jia was given a posthumous title of Marquis Zhen and was succeeded by his son Yi .
Annotation 6: The Book of Wei recorded the memorial by the Founding Lord, which wrote, "Your humble servant is aware that rewards to the loyal and wise may not necessarily be bestowed onto the person in question, but can be given to those descendants who succeed him, based on the contributions recorded. In the past, the son of Sun Shu was handsomely rewarded by the lord of Chu after his father's passing; on Cen Pengˇs demise, his nobility was passed on to his relatives. The previous Head Officer (Ji Jiu) Guo Jia was both loyal and virtuous, and was exceptional in his abilities. In every meeting, his opinions graced the halls; he carried out his task well and never once did his strategies fail. He was present in the army for ten years or more, traveling together, and dining with me on the same table. Together, we captured Lu Bu in the east and Gui Gu in the west, executed Yuan Tan, pacified the northern people, crossed over dangerous lands to conquer the Wuwan, thus heightening our reputation in Liaodong as we attacked Yuan Shang. Though acting on behalf of Heaven gave us the mandate for victory, the task of facing the enemy, fulfilling our mission and overcoming the dangers should be attributed to Guo Jia. Just as he was about to be rewarded for his contributions, he passed away prematurely. It was first and foremost a loss of an excellent for the imperial court and on a personal level, the loss of an extraordinary partner. I propose to posthumously increase Jiaˇs current lands to a total of one thousand houses. Rewarding the dead is done for the sake of their living descendants, so that they in turn will serve us well in the future."
Annotation 7: The Book of Wei claimed that Guo Yi possessed a deep understanding of matters. Yi's style was Bo Yi, see also Wang Chang's writings, Jia Jie.
Thereafter, the Founding Lord returned from his expedition of Jingzhou and he encountered an epidemic at Baqiu and his ships were burned. He sighed, "If Guo Feng Xiao is still around, I would not have ended up like this."  Initially, Chen Qun disapproved of Jia for his lack of self-discipline and had on many occasions criticized Jia on this matter in court but Jia did not mind. The Founding Lord valued Jia for his talent but since Qun was a just man, he was also contented . Yi was the literary and civil aide to the Crown Prince (Tai Zi Wen Xue) but he died early. He was succeeded by his son, Shen. After Shen died, he was succeeded by his son, Lie .
Annotation 8: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "The Founding Lord also said, "I mourn for Feng Xiao! I am pained for Feng Xiao! I grieve for Feng Xiao!""
Annotation 9: The records of Fu Zi mentioned, "The Founding Lord wrote a letter to Xun Yu to grieve over Jia, he wrote, "Guo Feng Xiao was not even forty (when he died). We were together for eleven years, going through all kinds of hardships and difficulties. When we exchanged opinions, his ideas were not stagnated and I hoped to entrust him with the future but little did I realized that death would cause me to lose him. This saddens me greatly. Presently, I memorialize for his son to own a thousand houses, but as to how I should reward the dead, I could only remember him deep in my heart. Moreover, Feng Xiao knew me well; few people in the world could be called your confidante, thus another reason for me to grieve. Alas, what can I do?" He wrote another letter to Xun Yu, "My grief for Feng Xiao could not leave my heart. The way he viewed military matters and worldly affairs was way beyond most people. When many people congregate, there will be a fear of sickness. There is an epidemic in the south and also a common saying, "If you go south, you will not come back alive." However, when we discussed about strategy, he said I should first of all conquer Jing (zhou). This proves the devotion underlying his strategies, and his determination to succeed in our goals and overcome the power of fate. This is thus his person and heart, how can anyone forget him?""
Annotation 10: Shi Yu recorded that, "Jiaˇs grandson Chang, styled Tai Zhong, was a knowledgeable person. He held the position of San Qi Chang Shi (an officer who accompanied the emperor and had the authority of admonition).