The Grandmaster Strategist - chapter 201
It was five o’clock in the evening on the twenty-sixth day of the second month in Xiangyang.
Underneath the setting sun, the Yong army slowly retreated. Rong Yuan sighed softly, feeling intense melancholy. After the death of the Prince of De, he became the General of Xiangyang on the prince’s last will recommendation. He was stationed in a strategic city, but in all these years, he had never once felt a shred of joy. In the eyes of the Southern Chu monarch and ministers, Rong Yuan was just a destitute scholar. Although he had some skill in siege defense, he was far from being a famous general, so for a dozen years, he was forced to guard Xiangyang in vain. He really wanted to gain some major victories and be able to hold his head high, then enter the core of the Southern Chu military. However, no matter how hard he worked, he had always remained a defensive general.
He was made gloomier by the fact that after the Prince of Qi’s two assaults on Xiangyang suffered crushing defeats, Great Yong didn’t place another huge army at Xiangyang. Every time war broke out, Great Yong always sent between eighty thousand and a hundred thousand troops to besiege Xiangyang. With the current events, even though Xiangyang could sleep soundly, military achievements were out of the question. For the campaigning season that had just ended, Lu Can and Shi Guan received various rewards, whereas Yu Mian at Jiameng Pass and he hadn’t even received a single commendation letter. He thought that even if he hadn’t achieved the destruction of the enemy army, countless Yong soldiers had still died under the walls of Xiangyang. Moreover, just the city of Xiangyang alone had tied up over a hundred thousand Yong troops. This was in and of itself no small feat. However, after the huge battles, he hadn’t received any acknowledgement whatsoever. With Rong Yuan’s temperament, how could he bear such humiliation?
Gazing at the retreating Yong army, Rong Yuan angrily slapped his palm against a merlon of the stone wall. Zhangsun Ji, that brigand, had actually turned the city of Xiangyang into a training location for his troops. Every day, he rotated units in to assault the city, polishing their combat prowess. They didn’t have any courage to risk everything on one final assault. Did the Yong army not know that if they didn’t take Xiangyang, they would have no way of threatening Jiangling and Jiangxia? And even if they seized Huainan, their position would be precarious?
It was nine o’clock in the evening on the twenty-sixth day of the second month in Suzhou.
At dusk, a cool breeze blowing, a man was sleeping upon a bed in a simple and unadorned bedroom, candlelight flickering. His face was scarred. Even in his dreams, he was furrowing his brows deeply. Two bodyguards were outside the room guarding the entrance, their eyes hawklike. Even with the protection of a powerful army, they still didn’t lose discipline for a second.
As eleven o’clock approached, the next shift of bodyguards jogged over. As they reached the entrance, the two bodyguards being relieved exchanged smiles with them and softly walked away, about to change the guard. One of the bodyguards being relieved swept his gaze over the face of one of the relieving bodyguards and saw he was a stranger. Surprised, he stopped in his tracks and went to ask about him, then realized a glimmer was flashing before his eyes, after which a hand covered his mouth and nose, blood gushing from his throat. He desperately wanted to shout, but he couldn’t make a sound. Meanwhile, the other bodyguard was caught almost completely off guard and only saw his vision darken before he lost consciousness.
The two men disguised as bodyguards swiftly propped the two real guards up against the wall of the entrance. Under the waning moon, if one looked from afar, one would just believe the two men were stealing forty winks. Then one of the pair pushed open the door and entered. The other one hid under the window, his hand reflecting like snow, a dagger in his hand.
Cui Jue tried to crack his eyes open. He watched helplessly as his good friend of many years covered the retreat soaked in blood, watched helplessly as he died in battle. He began sweating profusely, unable to bear the shame and resentment. Then he awoke from his dream with a start. He sat up and opened his eyes, seeing a shadow in the dim candlelight charging at him. Almost without thinking, he rolled off the bed. Blood spurted, an arm falling to the ground. Cui Jue shouted in pain, “Assassins!”
The voice rent the silence of the night. The assassin had wanted to carry out a silent assassination, but he didn’t expect his asleep target to suddenly rouse. As a result, he only cut off Cui Jue’s left arm. And with Cui Jue’s alarmed yell, the outside was immediately abuzz, lamplight and shouts pouring this way. The assassin hesitated only a moment before smashing the window and leaving, joining up with his partner outside. They sprinted out of the house.
However, Cui Jue was a general and had a great deal of bodyguards. If not for Cui Jue always being conceited in his martial arts and not liking too many bodyguards attending to him, the two assassins would never have even gotten this opportunity. Since they had now alerted the city, how could the two men escape?
After killing many people, one of the assassins died in battle, while the other was captured alive by the bodyguards and pushed down in front of the steps of the audience chamber. By this point, Cui Jue was sitting in a chair with a pallid face. A surgeon was next to him wrapping his wound for him. Cui Jue was in grave condition after suddenly losing an arm. He was forcing himself to stay conscious to interrogate the assassin.
The assassin’s lips were sealed. After Cui Jue asked him several times and seeing he refused to answer, he lost his patience and was about to have someone imprison him when distant cries of alarm and shouts of “kill” suddenly carried over. Then a raging inferno flared up at the northern gate. Cui Jue was shocked. He stood up, but he stumbled.
A soldier ran in, prostrated, and said, “Things are bad, General. The Southern Chu army has attacked the city. The northern gate was opened by spies. Chu soldiers have already entered the city.”
“What a vicious trick. But the Chu soldiers have only occupied the northern gate. Spread my order to fight the enemy troops in the streets,” Cui Jue said in disgust. Then he reached out to grab a weapon but felt his head and vision swim. He tumbled into the arms of his nephew, Cui Fang, who had been holding him up.
By this point, most of the generals in the city had swarmed to Cui Jue’s residence. But they only saw Cui Fang clutching Cui Jue and weeping. Cui Jue’s second-in-command, upon seeing the sight, cried out, “The general has suffered a serious injury. Our army hasn’t taken any precautions either. If we get tangled up in battle with the enemy army, I fear tens of thousands of troops will be buried in Suzhou. Why not abandon the city and retreat to Xiao County’s defenses? Then we can request reinforcements from Xuzhou.”
Cui Fang nodded repeatedly and raised his voice. “Deputy general, please dispatch orders on behalf of the general for the time being. I will escort the general and leave first.”
The general emotionally replied, “I will personally cover the retreat. All generals present, quickly gather the troops and retreat. Enemy troops have sealed the northern gate and are approaching from the south. For the sake of safety, we will retreat from the western gate.”
Hearing those words, Cui Jue didn’t have the time to worry about other matters. He mounted a horse while holding Cui Jue. With a contingent of bodyguards, he galloped toward the western gate. However, he saw on the avenue a unit of cavalrymen charging in his direction. The leaders were two young generals wearing white battle gowns. Two silver spears danced through the air like silver dragons, collecting the lives of Yong footsoldiers and officers. In the blink of an eye, their figures were swallowed up by Yong troops flooding in.
Cui Fang threw caution to the wind and galloped for the western gate. Right as he was about to charge through the city gate, he happened to look back and saw a sea of fire. Cui Fang wiped away the burning tears in the corners of his eyes and threw himself into the darkness of the night.
The battle only ended when day broke. Of Suzhou’s thirty thousand troops, half of them perished in the flames, and the second-in-command died in battle in the city. Under the leadership of Lu Yun and Shi Yujin, the Flying Cavalry pursued out of the city for twenty li,2 devastating the Yong army. In defeat, the Yong army retreated to Xiao County. Cui Jue was unconscious due to his grievous wounds.
It was almost five o’clock in the morning on the twenty-seventh day of the second month in Sizhou.
Before dawn, the fog and water cold, boats were constantly crossing the surging Huai River. In the darkness, they sailed toward the opposite shore, silently feeling their way toward the city of Sizhou. Sizhou was only two li3 away from the Huai River. The troops on the boats were all wearing gray clothes similar in color to the night. Under a gloomy sky, fog shrouded the Huai River. Even when the gray figures reached the walls of the city walls of Sizhou, the Yong army still didn’t discover them.
At the walls, a dozen shadowy figures stopped and started climbing the walls with their hands and feet. They were nimble, relying only on the uneven surface of the wall to climb up like monkeys. Before they reached the top of the wall, a person at the top whisper-shouted, “You all have come.” Saying so, he lowered a robe, and the gray-clothed individuals climbed the rope to the top of the wall in no time at all, slipping into the shadows. After a little under the amount of time it took a stick of incense to burn, flames erupted all throughout the city of Sizhou. Then, within the gatehouse, chaotic battle cries arose. Soon after, the gate opened.
Concealed in the darkness, the Southern Chu general saw this and knew the strategy to coordinate from within and without to capture Sizhou was halfway complete. Unfurling the banners, battle cries shaking the air, Southern Chu soldiers charged toward the gate. The general took the lead and plunged into the city. However, he saw a wall of smoke before him, and the guides quickly disappeared into the fighting. The general furrowed his brows and yelled, “Don’t go deeper into the city! Take control of the gate.”
All of a sudden, battle cries rang out from both sides of the gate. The general was taken aback and saw Yong troops flooding in from either side. The gate behind him crashed shut. The general knew the situation was dire and bellowed, “We fell into a trap! Cut your way through with me!” But before he could take a couple steps, a sharp arrow killed him.
On the opposite bank of the Huai River, Yang Xiu, who’d been watching Sizhou from the distance, got an ominous feeling. Half an hour had already passed, but he hadn’t received any reports back. While he was fretting, he saw the gate of Sizhou on the opposite bank suddenly open.
A Yong general urged his horse to the riverside and laughed sonorously. “Thank you for your lavish gifts. This general kindly accepts.” Then he waved his hand, and the soldiers next to him dropped a few dozen human heads. The general said loudly, “General Zhang ordered me to send the heads of all rebels with secret ties to the Chu army who conspired to seize Sizhou and were executed to Yang daren.” With that, the squadron of Yong cavalry galloped back inside. The mist on the river just now cleared up, revealing the turbulent waters of the Huai River as well as the impregnable city on the opposite bank.
Yang Xiu felt a sharp pain shoot through him. He knew the insiders they’d worked hard to get in touch with and the warriors sent to capture the city had died for their country.
Atop the Sizhou walls, Zhang Wenxiu’s palms were sweaty. If not for the tip yesterday that the aristocratic families in the city were showing signs of volatility, as well as receiving Pei Yun’s secret order at dusk yesterday, he wouldn’t have flung caution to the wind and arrested the aristocrats in the city. Through this, he discovered the Southern Chu military’s plot to work within and without. If not for this, the city of Sizhou would probably be on the verge of being lost. Right now, the fifty thousand troops under his command were split guarding Sizhou and Xucheng,4 whereas the Southern Chu army on the opposite bank had already built a camp. If the Huaidong army of Southern Chu took the initiative to march north, the difficulty of the battle would be beyond question.
On the second day of the third month. inside the city of Xiangyang, Rong Yuan was gazing at the secret report in his hands. He was grinding his teeth in rage. Over the past two days, the Yong army had suddenly slowed their offensive. Rong Yuan felt uneasy and sent people out to investigate. He found out over half of the Yong army outside the walls had already left, leaving behind a few tens of thousands as a diversion. Suspicious, he had some Yong soldiers captured and tortured for information, finally learning that the huge battle in Jianghuai had started. Pei Yun’s missive requesting reinforcements had already reached Xiangyang, and Zhangsun Ji had left twenty thousand men here to make an empty show of strength. He himself had taken the main force to Huaibei. After Rong Yuan learned of this, he hated that he didn’t even know about such a major event. Lu Can was pushing it too far.
Mobilizing all his available spies, Rong Yuan quickly learned of the situation in Jianghuai. This battle affected both Huainan and Huaibei, the fighting fierce and intense.
On the twenty-sixth day of the second month, Cui Jue was attacked by an assassin. Suzhou fell, and Cui Jue retreated to Xiao County.
On the twenty-seventh day of the second month, Yang Xiu’s plot to take Sizhou failed.
On the twenty-eighth day of the second month, Yang Xiu left deputy generals behind to attack Sizhou, while he personally led the navy through the Southern Chu portion of the Inner Canal to attack Chuzhou.
On the twenty-ninth day of the second month, the Southern Chu army captured Xucheng, then flooded Sizhou by diverting Hongze Lake. Zhang Wenxiu was forced to retreat to Chuzhou to block Yang Xiu’s path forward.
On the first day of the third month, after Zhang Wenxiu fought hard all day and night, Pei Yun sallied out of Chuzhou and came to the rescue of the Sizhou army. The two armies retreated into Chuzhou, putting Yang Xiu in a difficult position.
On the second day of the third month, after five days of fierce assaults, the walls of Xiao County were breached. The Huaixi army and Flying Cavalry were hot on the tail of the Yong army. An ambush was set on Mount Jiuli, and Lu Yun and Shi Yujin led the troops to break out of the tight encirclement, retreating to defend Xiao County.
However, these repeated pitched battles had nothing whatsoever to do with the Xiangyang army. Every time Rong Yuan thought of this, he felt pain knifing through his heart, jealousy burning through his breast. He was an intolerant person by nature, and the last time Lu Can triumphed, he didn’t even have to toil. This affair had become ironclad proof of Lu Can’s jealousy of talent to people with ulterior motives. Now, Lu Can didn’t consider the Xiangyang army in the slightest and started the Battle of Jianghuai of his own volition, even while he was still busy fighting naval battles in Wuyue. He gave control of the battle to Yang Xiu and Shi Guan, as well as Lu Yun and Shi Yujin, both of whom were wet behind the ears. None of them saw the combat strength of the Xiangyang army. This slight made Rong Yuan feel like fighting for recognition.
On the sixth day of the third month, I stood on the peak of Mount Xian admiring the cliff carvings the previous dynasty had stopped creating. I was tranquil as water, focused on studying the fading characters, when Huyan Shou jogged over and reported, “My Lord, Rong Yuan has gone to Nanyang, as expected.”
I sighed gently at the words. “That man, Rong Yuan, is an old friend of mine. The man’s talent is exceptional, but he’s too petty. When he didn’t receive a reward from Jianye for last time, he was already resentful, and this time, Lu Can raised troops without involving him, so how could he not be indignant? Blinded by greed, as it were. We just needed to implement a strategy that made him believe General Zhangsun was truly going to reinforce Huaidong. He would be bound to look for an opportunity to do battle and render outstanding service, as well as comparing this to the great achievement of retaking Huaibei. If he can capture Nanyang, he will have the opportunity to press an attack on Wu Pass. If he weren’t enticed by such a huge achievement, he wouldn’t be Rong Yuan.”
“The power of Your Lordship’s strategy rests on all of the intelligence being true,” Huyan Shou said with a smile. “In an attempt to make Rong Yuan learn more, General Zhangsun lessened his troops and increased the number of campfires as a tactic to make Rong Yuan not doubt the Nanyang army was marching east. As a result, he became greedy for accomplishments. Unfortunately, General Zhangsun has arrayed a massive army in Nanyang. I fear Rong Yuan won’t be able to take it.”
I smiled briefly and said, “Rong Yuan going to attack Nanyang is simply because he wants to render some service. He must be doubtful of whether to advance or retreat during his journey. If a slight breeze sways the grass, he might run back to Xiangyang, so he must be tempted all the way to Nanyang. Only by being thwarted at Nanyang will he scurry back to Xiangyang. At that point, our army will ambush him on the way back, blocking his return home. Rong Yuan must be attacking Nanyang with light cavalry going north. The city of Xiangyang will still have defenders remaining behind to guard it, so our army will need to besiege Xiangyang. If we destroy the main force Rong Yuan led out, Xiangyang will never have the strength to sally out again. If we take advantage of the situation to attack Xiangyang, we will gain a huge victory. By that point, as long as Xuzhou remains in our military’s hands, even losing Huainan won’t be that important.”
“Your Lordship’s psychological tactics are the most difficult to defend against. Before this, I would never have thought that Rong Yuan would actually sally out of Xiangyang and march north,” admired Huyan Shou.
“There’s more that you haven’t expected,” I replied. “According to my original plan, I would’ve only used rumors to excite Rong Yuan to battle and let him win several battles in a row. Then the main force of the Xiangyang cavalry would be lured to their destruction. However, I didn’t think the Battle of Jianghuai would break out in advance. Hence, I thought of using this opportunity and Rong Yuan’s limited tolerance to trick him into tiring the troops on a long offensive and giving us the opportunity to capture Xiangyang. For now, let us not discuss the possibility of success. Xiangyang is longer a thorn in the side of Great Yong.”
After I said this, I ignored Huyan Shou sinking into deep thought next to me. Standing at the peak of Mount Xian, I gazed into the distance, the city of Xiangyang, the Han River, Fish Dike Island, and Lumen Mountain on the opposite shore of the Han River all vivid in my mind’s eye. I thought how this area would be relighting the signal fires in half a day. With the city losing the commanding general, I wondered whether it would still be impregnable.
The next half a month of changes to the state of affairs occurred unusually fast. At the beginning, I never expected the Second Yong-Chu War to begin this rapidly.
On the seventh day of the third month, Zhangsun Ji dispatched General Mo Ye to attack Xiangyang, cutting off the routes to Xiangyang and Nanyang.
On the eighth day of the third month, Rong Yuan captured Xinye.5
On the ninth day of the third month, Rong Yuan was unable to attack Nanyang, having learned the news that Zhangsun Ji had not rushed to the rescue of the Yong army in Jianghuai.
On the eleventh day of the third month, Rong Yuan engaged Zhangsun Ji in battle in Xinye County under unfavorable conditions.
On the twelfth day of the third month, Rong Yuan suffered heavy casualties but succeeded in breaking through the encirclement.
On the thirteenth day of the third month, Fancheng fell. Rong Yuan was stranded at the Han River.
On the fourteenth day of the third month, Xiangyang’s garrison sallied out in an unsuccessful relief attempt of Rong Yuan.
On the fifteenth day of the third month, Rong Yuan and Zhangsun Ji fought again, this time at the Tangbai River.6 Zhangsun Ji suffered a minor defeat.
On the sixteenth day of the third month, Rong Yuan took a circuitous route to the west side of Fancheng, trying to cross the Han River and enter Xiangyang to hinder Mo Ye.
On the seventeenth day of the third month, the city of Xiangyang fell. Seeing the unsalvageable situation, Rong Yuan led the remains of his army across the Han River and retreated to Yicheng.7 As he passed through Fenglin Pass, he encountered an ambush and escaped with only a little over three thousand horsemen and footmen.
The warfare in Jianghuai was just as brutally intense as the fierce fighting concurrently happening in Xiangyang.
Because Cui Jue was incapacitated, Pei Yun dispatched Zhang Wenxiu on the fourth day of the third month to reinforce Cui Jue’s forces. Up until the nineteenth day of the third month, the Huaixi army fought Zhang Wenxiu in and around Xiao County and Mount Jiuli seventeen times. Xiao County changed hands multiple times, and both sides suffered heavy casualties. Zhang Wenxiu’s troops were exhausted, and he was forced to retreat to defend Xuzhou. The Huaixi army hurled themselves at the city for two days without success.
On the twenty-second day of the third month, the vanguard general of Great Yong’s Jiangnan Command Post, Jing Chi, arrived at Xuzhou. He defeated the Flying Cavalry at the walls of Xuzhou, and Southern Chu’s Huaixi army retreated to defend Suzhou that very night.
On the twenty-fourth day of the third month, Jing Chi assaulted Xuzhou without success and detoured to Chuzhou. Meanwhile, Pei Yun had steadily defended Chuzhou for nearly a month. Chuzhou had been in grave danger, so the arrival of Jing Chi’s relief force gave a huge boost to morale.
On the twenty-fifth day of the third month, Yang Xiu learned of Xiangyang’s fall. Upon arrival of the Xuzhou reinforcements, he had no choice but to retreat to defend the Huai River so Great Yong would only remain with the one city of Chuzhou in Huainan.
Finally, the Yong-Chu War that had been going on for a month ended. However, Southern Chu’s downfall had yet to cease. Jianghuai had been occupied, and Xiangyang was lost.
Way back at the beginning of the year, rumors swirled that Yu Mian intended to desert due to not receiving rewards. Although Lu Can refuted this rumor, Shang Weijun was still uneasy. After the first day of the Lantern Festival, he sent a eunuch to inspect the army. This was Southern Chu custom, so although Lu Can was displeased, he was helpless to do anything about it. Surprisingly, the eunuch failed to exact bribes and repeatedly accused Yu Mian of disloyalty. Although none of it worked because Yu Mian was a friend of Lu Can, Shang Weijun’s suspicions grew stronger. In the end, he gave control of the supplies and wages of the Jiameng Pass garrison to the supervisor. However, the eunuch embezzled most of the wages and provisions, leading to the Jiameng Pass garrison going without pay or food. A general feeling of insecurity pervaded.
After Lu Can learned of this, he sent in a memorial to Jianye, requesting recall of the eunuch for punishment. When the eunuch learned of this, he feared being blamed and secretly surrendered to Great Yong. Working from within and without, on the twenty-ninth day of the third month, Qin Yong stormed Jiameng Pass, and Yu Mian retreated to defend Jiange.8
Perhaps the only thing that set the Southern Chu court at ease was that under Lu Can’s personal supervision of the military, the Wuyue volunteer army firmed up the sea defenses. The Yong navy could no longer enter Hangzhou Bay as easily. However, the minuscule victory in Wuyue couldn’t prevent the losses in Xiangyang and Sichuan.
In the middle third of the fourth month, the army of the Prince of Qi, Li Xian, arrived at Xuzhou. The construction of the Jiangnan Command Post made the Southern Chu court even more apprehensive. Lu Can received the military intelligence report at this time and entrusted the Battle of Wuyue to his deputies. He hurried to Jiangxia to coordinate the war there.
After Li Xian reached Xuzhou, he dispatched Zhangsun Ji to go to Xiangyang, then follow the Han River Valley downstream and attack toward Jiangling. On the twenty-first day of the fourth month, Rong Yuan received Lu Can’s orders and abandoned Yicheng to defend Jingling9 to the death. Zhangsun Ji’s repeated attacks were unsuccessful.
Lu Can set off from Jiangxia with an army, following the Han River to reinforce Jingling. He defeated Zhangsun Ji at the walls, and Zhangsun Ji retreated in defeat to Yicheng. Rong Yuan was impetuous and pursued in spite of orders as Zhangsun Ji abandoned Yicheng and returned north to Xiangyang. Rong Yuan pursued until Fenglin Pass, unaware the Yong army was playing the same old trick, and got ambushed again. Rong Yuan retreated in defeat. Lu Can’s reinforcements hurried to Fenglin Pass and swooped down, catching the Yong army off guard. He retook Fenglin Pass. The Yong army suffered heavy casualties and retreated to defend Xiangyang. Lu Can knew Xiangyang could not be attacked and halted.
Meanwhile, Qin Yong couldn’t conquer Jiange after a protracted campaign, so detoured to Yinping Circuit,10 trying to get to Mianyang by way of Long’an and Jiangyou.11 Yu Mian received Lu Can’s letter sent over a long distance and split off a force to defend Long’an. Qin Yong couldn’t take the town after a long battle, so retreated to defend Jiameng Pass.
Pei Yun received the support of reinforcements and assaulted Huaidong. Yang Xiu used the navy to harass the Yong army at every step along the Huai River and Grand Canal. The Yong army struggled to get even halfway across the Huai River. The situation in Huaidong slipped into a stalemate.
In Huaixi, Shi Guan personally defended Suzhou. The Yong general, Jing Chi, assaulted the city for over a month and finally captured the city. Shi Guan retreated to defend Zhongli but set fire to Suzhou before leaving, leaving only scorched earth. The Yong army was exhausted from the long siege, and with the solid defenses Zhongli possessed as well as having the support of the Flying Cavalry, the Yong army could not enter Huaixi.
Great Yong and Southern Chu were embroiled in war for half a year. They were both utterly exhausted. The Eastern Sea Navy pillaged Wuyue time and again. Even though the Yuhang Navy had the support of the volunteer soldiers and didn’t take massive casualties, no commoners dared to live within thirty li12 of the sea anymore. Wuyue’s economy took a huge hit. The Yong military may have won many times, but the Southern Chu military stayed steady and struck hard. Neither side could gain a decisive victory with the battle lines cemented so.
In autumn, during the tenth month, Shang Weijun dispatched an envoy to Xuzhou to negotiate peace. Great Yong’s monarch and ministers were tired of Southern Chu’s tenacity and difficulty to attack and agreed to a truce negotiation. The peace conference lasted for four months. Great Yong requested Southern Chu cede territory in return for peace. Shang Weijun was interested, but Lu Can put his foot down. They argued for many months.
The peace conference failed, and the next year, the war restarted. Qin Yong entered Sichuan via the Micang Road, traveling through Bazhong and capturing Ba Prefecture. Even though the Lu family had governed Sichuan for many years, it was still territory of the old Kingdom of Shu. Xiahou Yuanfeng of the Bright Inspection Department personally went to Ba Prefecture. Within several months, Ba Prefecture was stabilized. In the meantime, Southern Chu’s Kuizhou army and Yu Mian in Jiange County pincer attacked the region. Qin Yong drove both back, and the southeastern roads into Sichuan were cut off.
In the eighth month of the ninth year of Longsheng, Li Zhi received Jiang Zhe’s proposal and brought up terms of peace. Southern Chu would exchange the regions of Jiange and Chengdu for Ba Prefecture and captured Southern Chu troops under Yu Mian’s command. In the ninth month, the peace talks succeeded, and Southern Chu lost most of the territory of Sichuan they had occupied for many years. Lu Can stood his ground against public opinion and ordered Yu Mian to guard Ba Prefecture and also ordered Kuizhou to raise a massive army to reinforce Ba Prefecture.
For the next year, the Yong military couldn’t make any progress. Yu Mian defended Ba Prefecture without negligence, so the Yong army didn’t get a chance to go downstream. Jingling and Jiangxia were also steady as Mount Tai. The Yong military attacked Jingling and Suizhou13 several times, but all were unsuccessful. Although the front in Huaixi and Huaidong moved from time to time, the Yong military could never enter the region of Jianghuai. For three straight years of war, the Southern Chu military grew stronger the more they fought under Lu Can’s command. Coupled with the danger in Jianghuai and the success of the navy, the war sank into a stalemate.
三千里地山河, sanqianli di shanhe – lit. three thousand li (1600 km/1000 miles) of land, mountains, and rivers; a reference to a poem entitled “Forty Years a Nation, to the Tune of ‘Breaking the Formation’” (破阵子·四十年来家国) by the last ruler of the Southern Tang Kingdom, Li Yu
About 11 kilometers (7 miles)
About 1 km (0.6 mile)
徐城 – an ancient county that governed the southern and eastern portions of modern-day Sihong County
新野 – Xinye County in Henan Province; approximately the same location as the modern Xinye
唐白河 – largest tributary of the Han River; north of Xinye County
宜城 – city in northwestern Hubei; same location as modern-day Yicheng
剑阁 – lit. sword pavilion; a county in Sichuan Province
竟陵 – an ancient commandery located in modern-day central Hubei Province, likely encompassing all of Tianmen
阴平道 – an ancient county in modern-day southeastern Gansu Province; governed the northwestern half of Wen County
Long’an (龙安) and Jiangyou (江油) are cities in Mianyang (绵阳) Prefecture, Sichuan.
About 16 kilometers (around 10 miles)
随州 – a prefecture in northern Hubei