biography_of_general_li_guang

biography_of_general_li_guang - 116 ‘ Han Dynasty [I Han...

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Unformatted text preview: 116 ‘ Han Dynasty [I Han Anguo suffered this increasing estrangement from the emperor in gloomy silence. After he was made garrison commander and was tricked by the Xpngnu into losing so many of his men, he was filled with the deepest humiliation and requested permission to resign his post and return home. Instead of this, however, he was transferred further east to command another garrison, where he continued to grow more depressed and melancholy than ever. A few months after his transfer, he fell ill and spat blood and died. His death occurred during the second year of the era yuanshuo (127 BC). The Grand Historian remarks: i worked on the establishment of the new calendar with Hu Sui, whom Han Anguo had recommended to office, apdhad an opportunity to observe Han Anguo’s strict sense of duty and iiu Stir stdeep and abiding loyalty. It is no wonder people these days say that hang is rich in worthy men. Hu Sui advanced as high as the post of steward in the household of the empress dowager and the heir apparent. The emperor had-great faith in him and was planning to make him chancellor when death ended his career. rind he lived, he would, with his integrity and fine conduct, have been one of the most conscientious and diligent men alive today. SHI H.109: THE BIOGRAPHY 0F , GENERAL LI GUANG Valorous in the face of the enemy, good to his men, he gave no petty or vexatious orders, and for this reason his subordinates looked up to him with admiration. Thus I made “The Biography of Genera! Li Guang”. General Li Guang was a native of Chengji in Longxi i’rovince. Among his ancestors was Li Xin, a general of the state of Qin, who pursued and captured Dan, the crown prince of Yan.l The family originally lived in Huaili but later moved to Chengji. The art of archery had been handed down in the family for generations. ' In the fourteenth year of Emperor Wen’s reign (166 BC) the Xiongnu entered the Xiao Pass in great numbers. Li Guang, as the son of adistinguished family, was allowed to join the army in the attack on the barbarians. He proved himself a skilful horseman and archer, killing and capturing a number of the enemy, and was rewarded with the position of paiace'attendant at the Han court. His cousin Li Cai was also made a palace attendant. Both‘men served as mounted guards to the emperOr and received a stipend of 800 piculs ofgrain; Li Guang- always accompanied Emperor Wen on his hunting expeditions. The emperor, observing how he charged up to the animal pits, broke through the palisades, and struck down the most ferocious beasts, remarked, “What a pity you were not born at a better time! Had you lived in the age of Emperor Gaozu, you would have had no trouble in winning a marquisate of at least 10,000 houSelioldsl" When Emperorling came to the throne, Li Guang was made chief corn~ mandant of Longxi; later he was transferred to the post of general of palace horsemen. At the time of the revolt of Wu and Chu, he served as a cavalry commander under the grand commandant Zhou Yafu, joining in the attack on the armies of Wu and Chu, capturing the enemy pennants, and distinguishing I . . . . He had sent a man to the Qin court in an unsuccessful attempt to assasstnate the king who tater became the First Emperor of the Qin. See Rewrds of the Grand Historian. Qin Dynasty. Han Dynasty [1 l 18 himseif at the battle of Changyi. But because he had accepted the seals of a general from the king of Liang without authorization from the Han government, he was not rewarded for his achievements when he returned to the capital. Following this he was transferred to the post of governor of Shanggu Province, where he engaged in almostdaily skinnishes With the Xiongnp. e director of dependent states Gongsun Kunye went to the emperor an? wiser: in his eyes, said, “There is no one in the empire to match Li Guanghor s Ema in spirit and yet, trusting to his own ability, be repeatedly engages t e enef y d battle. I am afraid one day we will lose him!” The emperor therefore trans erre . 7. him to the post of governor of Shang Provrnce. At this time the Xiongnu invaded Shang Province in great force. Emperpr J ing sent one of his trusted eunuchs to join Li Guang, ordering hincil-to Italiolue troops and lead them in an attack on the Xiongnu. The eunuch, iea a g Clap of twenty or thirty horsemen, was casually ridin g about the countrysr feolnte Th: when he caught sight of three Xiongnu riders and engaged them to a tig l . m three Xiongnu, however, began circling the party and‘shooting as it1 my :2“ untii they had wounded the eunuch and were near to killing all of his ors‘eTh . The eunuch bareiy managed to flee back to the place where L1 Guam g was. ey must he outhunting eagles!” said Li Guang, and galloped offwi-th 100 horsemen suit of the three Xiongnu. The Xiongnu, having lost their horses, fled on in pm ght up with them foot. After they hadjourneyed twenty or thirty li,.Li Guang can and ordering his horsemen to fan out to the left and right of them, began to shoot at them. He killed two with his arrows and took the third one alive. As he had- guessed, they were eagle hunters. ' ‘ d Li Guang had hound his prisoner and remounted his horse, when he spie several thousand Xiongnu horsemen in the distance. The Xiongnu, catcf-inng1 sight of Li Guang and his men, supposed that they were a decoy sent 0:1; f10c: a the main body of the Han forces to lure them into combat. They ma e nearby hill in alarm and'drew up their ranks on its crest. I Li Guang’ s horsemen were thoroughly terrified and begged him to flee back. to camp as quickly as possible, but he replied, “We are twenty or thirty It away from the main army. With only 100 of us, if We were to try to make a dash for it the Xiongnu would be after us in no time and would shoot down every one 2The thirty—one characters which follow‘at t translation to a point farther aiong in the narrative, in Han shu 54. his point in the text have been shifted in the following the reading in the parallel passage g l. t l ,l L. General Li Guang . l 19 of us. But it we stay where we are, they are bound to think we are a decoy from the main army and will not dare to attack!“ Instead of retreating, therefore, Li Guang gave the order to his men to ' advance. When they had reached a point some two [i from the Xiongnu ranks, he told his men, “Dismount and undo your saddles!” ' “But there are too many of them and they are almost on top of us!” his men protested. “What will we do if they attack?” “They expect us to run away,” said Li Guang; “But now if we all undo our saddles and show them we have no intention of fleeing, they will be more convinced than ever that there is something afoot." ' The Xiongnu in fact did not venture to attack, but sent out one of their leaders on a white horse to reconnoitre. Li Guang mounted again and, with ten or so of his horsemen, galloped after the barbarian leader and shot him down. Then he returned to his group and, undoing his saddle, ordered his men to turn loose their horses and lie down on the ground. By this time night was falling and the Xiongnu, thoroughly suspicious of what they had seen, stiil had not ventured to attack. They concluded that the Han leaders must have conceaied soldiers in the area and be planning to fall upon them in the dark, and so during the night the Xiongnu chiefs and their men all withdrew. When dawn came Li Guang finally managed to return with his grouP to the main army, which, having no idea where he had gone, had been unable to follow him. After this Li Guang was assigned to the gmemorship of several other border provinces in succession, retuming'finally to Shang Province. In the course of these moves he served as governor of Longxi, Beidi, Yanmen, Dai, and Yunzhong Provinces and in each won fame for his fighting. After some time, Emperor ~iing passed away and the present emperor came to the throne. The emperor’s advisers informed him of Li Guang’s fame as a general, and he made Li Guang the colonel of the guard of the Eternal Palace, while allowing him to retain the governorship of Shang Province. At this time Cheng Bushi was the colonel of the guard of the Palace of Lasting Joy. Cheng Bushi had been a governor in the border provinces and a garrison general at the same time as Li Guang. When Li Guang went out on expeditions to attack the Xiongnu, he never bothered to form his men into battalions and companies. He would make camp wherever he found water and grass, leaving his men to set up their quarters in any way they thought conve- nient. He never had sentries circling the camp at night and beating on cooking pots, as was the custom, and in his headquarters he kept records and other 120 Han Dynasty [1 clerical work down to a minimum. He always sent out scouts some distance around the camp, however, and he had never met with any particular mishap. Cheng Bushi, on the other hand, always kept his men in strict battalion and company formation. The sentries ‘ banged on the cooking pots, his officers worked over their records and reports until dawn, and no one in his army got any rest. He likewise had never had any mishaps. Cheng Bushi once expressed the opinion, “Although Li Guang runs his army in a very simple fashion, if the enemy should ever swoop down on him suddenly he would have no way to hoid them off. His men enjoy plenty of idleness and pleasure, and for that reason they are all eager to fight to the death for him. Life in my army may be a good deal ‘ but at least i know that the enemy will never catch me napping!" hi were both famous generals at this time, but the Xiongnu were more afraid of Li Guang’s strategies, while the Han soldiers for the most part preferred to serve under him and disliked being under Cheng Bushi’s command. Cheng Bushi advanced to the position of palace counsellor under Emperor ling because of the outspoken advice he gaVe the emperor on several occasions. He was a man of great integrity and very conscientious in matters of form and law. ‘ Sometime later, the Han leaders attempted to entice the Shanyn into entering the'city of Mayi, concealing a large force of men in the valley around the city to ambush the Xiongnu. At this time Li Guang was appointed as cavalry general under the command of Han Anguo, the leader of the supporting army. the Sharrth discovered the plot and escaped in time, f the other generals connected with the plot more irksome, Li Guang and Cheng Bus As it happened, however, so that neither Li Guang nor any 0 achieved any merit. _ Four years later {129 B the guard, was made a general ‘Xiongnu. But the Xiongnu force- C) Li Guang, because of his services as colonel of and sent north from Yanmen to attack the he was pitted against turned out to be too numerous and succeeded in defeating Li Guang’s army and capturing him alive. The Shanyu had for a long time heard-of Li Guang’s excellence as a fighter and had given orders, “If you get hold of Li Guang, take him alive and bring him to me!“ As it turned out, the barbarian horsemen did manage to capture Li Guang and, since he was badly wounded, they strung a litter between two horses and, laying him on it, proceeded on t to be dead but managed to peer aroun was a young Xiongnu boy mounted on a the litter and onto the boy’s horse, seizing his how an d him and noticed that close by this side fine horse. Suddenly he leaped out of d pushing him off the horse. heir way about ten li. Li Guang pretended . Genera! Li Guang l 2 l T u > I Er:::£fi:hltpplng the :orse to full gailop, he dashed off to the south After g wenty ort irty if he succeeded in catch' ‘ . I h. ‘ I mg up With what was left of “f: army/{land led the men back across the border into Han territory. While he capst m: his escape, several hundred horsemen from the party that had- are im came in pursuit but he turned and h ' i h I ‘ _ ‘, . v s ot at them With the how he ad girlie: from the boy, killing his pursuers, and was thus able to escape Whom en e got back to the capital, he was turned over to the iaw officials . commended that he be executed for losing so many of his men and being ca ture ' ' ' ‘ p d alive. He was allowed to ransom his life and was reduced to the status of commoner. Fol ' ' ' ' ' ' iowrng this, L1 Guang lived in retirement for several years, spending his ' time I ' " ' ' I iunting. His home was in Lantian, among the Southern Mountains adjoining the estate of Guan ' ran , th ' mag-aims of Ymgym Q g e grandson of Guan Ymg, the former O . . . 60 if:ne evening In Guang, havurg spent the afternoon drinking-with some in pd out I: the fields, was on his way back home accompanied by a rider en ant, w who passed the watch station at B ’ a - . altn .Thew t drunk at the time, yelled at Li Guang to halt. g a Chman' Who was ‘This is the fonner Generai Li," said Li Guang’s man mLICh[Elvenfpresent generals are not allowed to go wandering around at night ess ormer ones!” the watchman retorted a ' ‘ I ' , nd mad spend the night In the watch station. 6 Li Guang ha}; and defe:::2y aftegérisjhe Xiongnu invaded Liaoxi, murdered its g0vernor and enera an nguo. Han Anguo was tran f ' ' ‘ he died and the em ‘ A s erred to Youbel ping, where , peror forlhwrth summoned Li Gua b I of Youbeiping When he acce - mg to e the new governor . pted the post Li Guan ask d h ' I of Eating be ordered to accent ' 1 g e E at {ha wamhman I pany him, and as $00 . ‘ duty L1 Guang had him executed.3 n as the man reported for A . _. . _ With fitter Li Guang took over in Youbeiprng, the Xiongnu, who were familiar ' IS reputation and called him “The Flying General”, stayed away from th region. for several years and did not dare to invade Youeeiping 6 he mI'JItGuErég wasout hunting one time when he spied a rock in the grass which is on or a tiger. He shot an arrow at the rock and hit it with such force 3 Th' -- - ' apologmi: paf: text in Ham sfm 54 records that Li Guang wrote a ietter to the em ero generals £0ng IS. act of personal vengeance, but the emperor replied that he ex ectefi h'f mercrless so that they would inspire awe in their men and terrify thepenemy ls Han D nasty H 122 y that the tip of the arrow embedded itself in the rock. Later, when he discovered that it was a rock, he tried shooting at it again, but he was unable to pierce it a second time. 3 Whatever province Li Guang had been in in the past, whenever he hear that there was a tiger in the vicinity he always Went out to shoot it in person. When he got to Youbeiping he likewise went out one time to hunt a tiger. The beast sprang at him and wounded him, but he finally managed to shoot it dead. Li Guang was completely free of avarice. Whenever he received a reward of some kind, he at once divided it among those in his command, and he was content to eat and drink the same things as his men. For over forty years he received a salary of 2,000 piculs, but when he died he left no fortune behind. He never discussed matters of family wealth. He was a tall man With long, ape-like arms. His skill at archery seems to have been an inborn talent, for none of his descendants or others who studied under him were ever able to equal his prowess. He was a very clumsy speaker and never had much to.'say.‘ When he was with others he would draw diagrams on the ground to enplain his military tactics or set up targets of various widths and shoot at them With his friends, the loser being forced to drink. in fact, archery remained to the end of his life his chief source of amusement. When he was leading his troops through a barren region and they came upon some water, he would not got near it until all his men had finished drmktn g. Similarly he would not eat until every one of his men had been fed. He was very lenient withhis men and did nothing to vex them, so that they all loved him and were happy to serve under him. Even when the enemy was attaching, it was his custom never to discharge his arrows unless his opponent was within twenty or thirty paces and he believed he could score a hit. When he did discharge an arrow, however, the bowstring had no sooner sounded than his victim would fall to the ground. Because of this peculiar habit he often found himself in considerable difficulty when he was leading his troops against an enemy, and this is also the reason, it is said, that he was occasionally wounded when he went out hunting wild beasts. I I I Sometime after Li Guang was made governor of Youbeiping, Shi J tan died, and Li Guang was summoned to take his place as chief of palace attendants. in the sixth year ofyuanshuo (123 BC) Li Guang was again made a general and sent with the general in chief Wei Qing to proceed north from Dmgxrang and attack the Xiongnu. Most of the other generals who took part in the expedition killed or captured a sufficient number of the enemy to be rewarded Genera! Li Guang 123 for their achievements by being made marquises, but Li Guang's army won no distinction. ' Three years later Li Guang, as chief of palace attendants, was sent to lead a force of 4,000 cavalry north from Youbeiping. Zhang Qian, the Bowang marquis, leading 10,000 cavalry, rode out with Li Guang but took a somewhat different route. When Li Guang had advanced Several hundred li into enemy territory, the Xiongnu leader known as the Wise King of the Left appeared with 40,000 cavalry and surrounded Li Guang‘s army. His men were all terrified, but Li Guang ordered his son Li Gan to gallop out to meet the enemy. Li Gan, accompanied by only twenty or thirty riders, dashed straight through the Xiongnu horsemen, scattering them to left and right, and then retumed to his father’s side, saying, “These barbarians are easy enough to deal with!” After this Li Guang’s men were somewhat reassured. ' Li Guang ordered his men to draw up in a circle with their ranks facing outward. The enemy charged furiously down on them and the arrows fell like rain. Over half the Han soldiers were killed, and their arrows were almost gone. Li Guang then ordered the men to load their bows and hold them in readiness, but not to discharge them, while he himself, with his huge yellow crossbow, shot at the sub-commander of the enemy force and killed several of the barbarians. After this the enemy began to fall back a little. By this time night had begun to fall. Every one of Li Guang’s officers and men had turned white with fear, but Li Guang, as calm and confident as though nothing had happened, worked to get his ranks into better formation. After this the men knew that they could never match his bravery. The following day Li Guang once more fought off the enemy, and in the meantime Zhang Qian at last arrived with his army. The Xiongnu forces withdrew and the Han armies likewise retreated, being in no condition to pursue them. By this time Li Guang’s army had been practically wiped out. When the two leaders returned to the capital, they were called to account before the law. Zhang Qian was condemned to death for failing to keep his rendezvous with Li Guang at the appointed time, but on payment of a fine he was allowed to become a commoner. in the case of Li Guang it was decided that his achievements and his failures cancelled each other out and he was given no reward. .Li Guang’s cousinLi Cai had begun his career along with Li Guang as an attendant at the court of Emperor Wen. During the reign of Emperor J ing, Li Cai managed to accumulate sufficient merit to advance to the position of a 2,000 picul official, and under the present emperor he became prime minister of Dal. 124 . Han Dynasty H In the fifth year of yuanshuo (124 BC) he was appointed a generai of light carriage and accompanied the general in chief Wei ang in an attack on the Xiongnu Wise King of the Right. His achievements in this campaign piaced him in the middle group of those who Were to receive rewards and he was accord— ingly enfeoffed as marquis of’Lean. In the second year of yuanshou {‘121 BC) he replaced Gongsun Hong as chancellor of the central court. In abihty one would be obliged to rank Li Cai very close to the bottom, and his reputation came nowhere near to equalling that of Li Guang. And yet, although 1.41 Guang never managed to obtain a fief and never rose higher than one of the nine tower ‘ offices of the government, that of colonel of the guard, his cousm Li Car was enfeoffed as a marquis and eventually reached the position of chancellor, one of the three highest posts. Even some of Li Guang’s own officers and men succeeded in becoming marquises. ' Li Guang was once chatting with Wang Shuo, a diviner whoc‘told men’s fortunes by the configurations of the sky, and remarked on this fact. Ever Since the Han started attacking the Xion gnu, I have never failed to be in the fight. i ve had men in my command who were company commanders or even lower and ivho didn’teven have the ability of average men, and yet twantyor thirty of them have won marquisates on the strength of their achievements in attacking the barbarian armies. I have never been behind anyone eise in doing my duty. Why is it I have never won an ounce of distinction so that I couid be enfeoffed iike the others? Is it that i just don’t have the kind of face to become a marquis? Or is it ail a matter of fate?" “Think carefully, general,’.’ replied Wang Shuo. “Isn’t there something in the past that you regret having done?” “Once, when l was governor of Longxi, the Qiang tribes in the west started a revolt. i tried to taik them into surrendering, and in fact persuaded~ over 800 of them to give themselves up. But then I Went back on my word and killed'them all the very same day. Ivvhave never ceased to regret what i did. But that s the only thing I can think of.” I _ “Nothing brings greater misfortune than kiiiing those who have already surrendered to you," said Wang Shuo. “This is the reason, generai, that you have never become a marquis!” . Two years later the general in chief Wei Qing and the general of swrft cavalry Huo Qubing set off with a large force to attack the Xtongnu. in Guang severai times asked to be allowed to join them, but the emperor consrdered that he was too bid and would not permit him to go. After some time, however, the General Li Guang 125 emperor changed his mind and gave his consent, appointing him as general of the vanguard. The time was the fourth year of yuanshon (I19 BC). Li Guang accordingly joined the general in chief Wei Qing and set off to attack the Xiongnu. After the group had crossed the border, Wei Qing captured one of the enemy and iearned the whereabouts of the Shanyn. He therefore decided to take his owu best troops and make a dash for the spot, ordering Li Guang to join forces with the general of the right Zhao Yiji and ride around by the eastern road. The eastern road was rather long and roundabout and, since there was littie water or grass in the region, it presented a difficult route for a large army to pass over. Li Guang therefore asked Wei Qing to change the order. “i have been appointed as general of the vanguard,” he said, “and yet now you have shifted my position and ordered me to go around by the east. 1 have been fighting the Xiongnu ever since I was oid enough to wear my hair bound up, and now i would like to have just one chance to get at the Shanyn. i beg you to let me stay in the vanguard and advance and fight to the death with him!” Wei Qing had been warned in private by the emperor that Li Guang was an old man and had already had a lot of bad luck in the past. “Don‘t let him try to get at the Shanyu, or he wili probably make a mess of things!” the emperor had said. Also, at this time Gongsun Ao, who had recentiy been deprived of his marquisate, was serving as a general under Wei 'Qing, and Wei Qing wanted to take him along with him in his attack on the Shanth so that Gongsun Ao would have a chance to win some distinction. For these reasons he removed Li Guang from his post of general of the vanguard. Li Guang was aware of all this and tried his best to get out of obeying the order, but Wei Qing refused to listen to his arguments. Instead he sent one of his clerics with a sealed letter to Li Guang’s tent and orders to “proceed to'your division at once in accordance with the instructions herein!” Li Guang did not even bother to take leave of Wei Qing but got up and went straight to his division, burning with rage and indignation and, leading his troops to join those of the general of the right Zhao Yiji, set out by the eastern road. Lacking proper guides, however, they iost their way and failed to meet up with Wei Qing at the appointed time. Wei Qing in the meantime engaged the Shanyu in battle, but the latter fled and Wei Qing, being unable to capture him, was forced to turn . ‘ back south again. After crossing the desert, he joined up with the forces of Li Guang and Zhao Yiji. When Li Guang had finished making his report to Wei Qing and returned to his own camp, Wei Qing Sent over his clerk with the customary gifts of dried 126 ' Han Dynasty H rice and thick wine for Li Guang. While the cleric was there, he began to inquire - how it happened that Li Guang and Zhao Yiji had lost their way, since Wei Qing had to make a detailed report to the emperor on what had happened to the armres. Li Guang, however, refused to answer his questions. Wei Qing sent his clerk again to reprimand Li'Guang in the strongest terms and order him to report to general headquarters at once and answer a list of charges that had been drawn up against him. Li Guang replied, “None of my, commanders was at fault. I was the one who caused us to lose our way. I will send in a report myself.” Then he went in person to headquarters and, when he got there, said to his officers, “Since I was old enough to wear my hair bound up, I have fought over seventy engagements, large and small, with the Xiongnu. This time I was fortunate enough to join the general in chief in a campaign against the soldiers of the Shanth himself, but he shifted me to another division and sent me riding around by the long way. On top of that, I lost my way: Heaven must have planned it this way! Now I am over sixty m much too old to stand up to a bunch of petty clerks and their list of charges?” Then he drew his sword and cut his throat. All the officers and men in his army wept at the news of his death, and when word reached the common people, those who had known him and those who had not, old men and young boys alike, were all moved to tears by his fate. Zhao Yiji was handed over to the law officials and sentenced to death, but on payment of a fine he was allowed to become a commoner. ' Li Guang had three sons, Danghu, Jiao, and Gan, all of whom were palace attendants. One day when the present emperor was amusing himself with his young favourite, Han Yan, the boy behaved so impertinently that Li Danghu struck him and drove him from the room. The emperor was much impressed with Danghu’s courage. Li Danghu died young. Li Jiao was made governor of Dal Province. lie and Danghu both died before their father. Danghu had a son named Li Ling who was born shortly after Danghu died.lLi Gan was serving in the army under the general of light cavalry lino Qubing when Li Guang committed suicide. The year after Li Guang’s death his cousin .Li Cal, who was serving as chancellor at the time, was accused of appropriating land that belonged to the funerary park of Emperor Sting. He was to be handed over to the law officials for trial, but he too committed suicide rather than face being sent to prison, and his fief was abolished. Li Gan served as a commander under Hue Qubing, taking part in an attack ‘ Genera! Li Gating £27 on the Xiongnu Wise King of the Left. He fought bravely in the attack, seizing the drums and pennants of the barbarian king and cutting off many heads. He was rewarded by being enfeoffed as a marquis in the area within the Pass, receiving the revenue from a city of 200 households. In addition he was appointed toreplace his father, Li Guang, as chief of palace attendants. Sometime afterwards, deeply resentful at the general in chief Wei Qing for . . having brought about his father’s disgrace, he struck and wounded Wei Qing. Wei Qing, however, hushed up the incident and said nothing about it. Shortly afterwards, Li Gan accompanied the emperor on a trip to Yong. When the party reached the Palace of Sweet Springs, an imperial hunt was held. Huo Qubing, who was on very close terms with Wei Qing, took the opportunity to shoot and kill Li Gan. At this time line Qubing enjoyed great favour with the emperor, and the emperor therefore covered up for him, giving out the story that Li Gan had been gored and killed by a stag. A year or so later, Huo Qubing died. ‘ Li Gan had a daughter who became a lady in waiting to the heir apparent and was much loved and favoured by him. Li Gan’s son Li Yu also enjoyed favour with the heir apparent, but he was somewhat too fond of profit. So the fortunes of the Li family gradually waned. {When Danghu’s son Li Ling grew up, he was appointed as supervisor of the lianzhang Palace, being in charge of the cavalry. He was skilful at archery and took good care of his soldiers. The emperor, considering that the Li family had been generals for generations, put Li Ling in charge of a force of 800 cavalry. Once he led an expedition that penetrated over 2,000 11' into Xiongnu territory, passing J uyan and observing the lay of the land, but he returned without having - caught sight of the enemy. On his return he was appointed a chief commandant of cavalry and put in command of 5,000 men from Danyang in the region of Chu, and for several years he taught archery and garrisoned the provinces of J iuquan and Zhangye to protect them from the Xiongnu. In the autumn of the second year of tianhan (99 BC) the Sutrishna General Li Guanin led a force of 30,000 cavalry in an attack on the Xiongnu Wise King of the Right at the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains. He ordered Li Lng to iead a force of 5,000 infantry and archers north from Juyan and advance about 1,000 It' into enemy territory. In this 'way he hoped to split the Xiongnu forces so that they would not all race in his direction. Li Ling had already reached the point he was ordered to proceed to and had begun the march back, when the Shanyn with a force of 80,000 men surrounded his army and began to attack. Li Ling and his army of 5,000 fought a running {28 - I Han Dynasty [1 battle for eight days, retreating as they fought, until all their weapons and arrows were gone and half the men had been killed. In the course of the fighting they managed to tan or wound over 10,000 of the enemy. ‘ When they reached a point only £00 li' or so from Iuyan, the Xiongnu cornered them in a narrow valley and cut off their avenue of escape. Li Ling’s- food supplies were exhausted and no rescue troops were in sight, while the enemy pressed their attack and called on Li Ling to surrender. “I could never face the emperor and report such a disaster,” Li Ling. told his men, and finally surrendered to the Xiongnu. Practically all his soldiers perished in the fight; only some 400 managed to escape and straggle back to Han territory. The Shanyu had already heard of the fame of Li Ling’s family and observed his bravery in battle, and as a result he gave him his own daughter as a wife and treated him with honour. When the emperor received news of this, he executed Li Ling’s mother and his wife and children. From this time on the name of the Li family was disgraced and all the retainers of the family in Longxi were ashamed to be associated with it.)‘1 The Grand Historian remarks: One of the old books says, “If he himself is upright, those under him will act without being ordered to; if he himself is'not ‘ upright, they will not obey even when ordered.”5 It refers, no doubt, to men lilce General Li. ‘ I myself have seen General Li ~— a man so plain and unassuming that you would take him for a- peasant, and almost incapable of speaking a word. And yet the day he died all the people of the empire, whether they had known him . I or not, Were moved to the profoundcst grief, so deeply did mentrust his sincerity of purpose; There is a proverb which says, “Though the peach tree does not speak, the World wears a path beneath it." It is a small saying, but one which is capable of conveying a great meaning. 4This last section in parentheses is most likely not by Sima Qian‘, but alater addition. it differs from the account of Li Ling’s life in Hart shu 54 and deals with events that are later than those described'elsewhere in the Shr'jt'. It may be recalled that Sima‘ Qian was condemned to castration for speaking out in defense of Li Ling to the'emperor when the news of Li Lin g’s surrender reached the court. Sima Qian‘s own account of Li Ling's battle and surrender is found in his letter to Ron Shaoqing, translated in Stu—ma C h'ien: Grand H istnrinn of’China, pp. 575367. Analects Kill, 6. Still .11 110: THE ACCOUNT OF ‘ THE XIONGNU From the time of the Three Dynasties on, the Xiongnn have been a source of constant worry and harm to China. The Han has attempted to determine the Xiongnu’s periods of strength and weakness so that it. may adopt defensive measures or launch punitive expeditions as the circumstances allow. Thus I made “The Account of the Xiongnu”. The ancestor of the Xiongnu was a descendant of the rulers of the Xia I dynasty by the name of Chunwei. As early as the time of Emperors Yao and Shun and before, we hear of these people, known as Mountain Barbarians, Xianyun, or Hunzhu, living in the region of the northern barbarians and wandering from place to place pasturing their animals. The animals they raise consist mainly of horses, cows, and sheep, but include such rare beasts as camels, asses, mules, and'the wild horses known as [com and weft. They move about in search of water and pasture and have no walled cities or fixed dwellings nor do they engage in any kind of agriculture. Their-lands, however, are divided into regions under the control of various leaders. They have no writing, and even promises and agreements are only verbal. The little boys start out by learning to ride sheep and shoot birds and‘rats with a bow and arrow, and when they get a little older they shoot foxes and hares, which are used for food. Thus all the young men are able to use a bow and act as armed cavalry in time of war. It is their custom to herd their flocks in times of peace and make their living by hunting, but in periods of crisis they take up arms and go off on plundering and marauding expeditions. This seems to be their inborn nature. For long-range weapons they use bows and arrows, and swords and spears at close range. If the battle is going well for them they will advance, but if not, they will retreat for they do not consider it a disgrace to run away.M;ngf—advanw tage, andhtlflhnowpgtmhingyf prophiielty'worjighteousness. . From the chiefs of the tribe on down, everyone eats the meat of the domestic animals and wears clothes of hide or wraps made of felt or fur. The young men eat the richest and best food-while the old get what is left over, since the tribe ...
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biography_of_general_li_guang - 116 ‘ Han Dynasty [I Han...

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