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Battle of Dongxing

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Battle of Dongxing

Battle of Dongxing
Part of the wars of the Three Kingdoms period
Date 12th lunar month of 252
Location Dongxing (東興; southeast of present-day Chaohu City, Anhui)
Result Wu tactical victory
Cao Wei Eastern Wu
Commanders and leaders
Sima Zhao
Zhuge Dan
Guanqiu Jian
Wang Chang
Zhuge Ke
Ding Feng
70,000[1] 40,000[2]

The Battle of Dongxing was fought in the 12th lunar month of 252 between the states of Cao Wei and Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. The battle concluded with a tactical victory for Wu.


As early as 211, Sun Quan (later emperor of Wu) had already ordered the construction of defensive structures made at Ruxu (濡須; north of Wuwei County, Anhui) for defensive preparations against possible attacks from his rival Cao Cao.[3] In 230 Sun Quan had a dam built at Dongxing to contain the nearby Lake Chao.[4] Sun Quan died in 252 and was succeeded by his son Sun Liang as emperor of Wu. In the 10th lunar month of that year, Wu's Grand Tutor (太傅) Zhuge Ke started construction works at the Dongxing dam, increasing its length such that it joined the hills at either side of the dam, and two castles were built in the middle. Zhuge Ke stationed 1,000 troops in each castle and put Quan Duan (全端) and Liu Lue in charge of them, while he led the rest of the men back.[5][6]


Wei felt humiliated when Wu began infringing on its territory by doing construction works on the Dongxing dam. Wei general Zhuge Dan proposed to Wei regent Sima Shi a plan to counter Wu, and Sima accepted his idea.[7] In the 11th lunar month, the Wei imperial court commissioned Wang Chang, Guanqiu Jian, Zhuge Dan and Hu Zun (胡遵) to attack Wu from three directions: Wang Chang would attack Jiangling (江陵; present-day Jiangling County, Hubei); Guanqiu Jian would attack Wuchang (武昌; present-day Ezhou, Hubei);[8] Zhuge Dan and Hu Zun would lead 70,000 troops to Dongxing to attack the two castles and damage the dam.[1][9]

When news of the Wei attack reached Wu, Zhuge Ke led 40,000 troops[2] to resist the enemy.[9] Hu Zun (胡遵) ordered his men to build pontoon bridges to get to the dam and divided them into two groups to attack the two castles. However the castles were situated on high ground and difficult to access.[10]

The Wu generals said, "When the enemy learns that the Grand Tutor (Zhuge Ke) is coming here personally, they'll surely retreat when we reach the shore."[11] However only Ding Feng had a different view, "No. They're making large movements in their territory. They're prepared, as they've mobilised large numbers of troops from Xu and Luo, so why would they go back empty-handed? Don't think that the enemy won't come, we should ready ourselves for battle."[12] When Zhuge Ke reached Dongxing, he placed Ding Feng, Liu Zan (留贊), Lü Ju and Tang Zi in charge of the vanguard[13] and they moved west along mountainous terrain.[14] Ding Feng warned, "We're moving too slow. If the enemy seizes favourable ground, it'll be harder to deal with them." He then led 3,000 soldiers with him, travelling on a different route from the main bulk of Wu forces.[15]

The battle

Strong north winds were blowing at that time. Ding Feng and his 3,000 men reached the frontline within two days and seized control of Xu embankment (徐塘). It was in winter and there was snowfall. The Wei officers were off guard and having a drinking session, so, despite the feeble size of his army, Ding Feng rallied his men, "Today is the day we claim titles and rewards!" He then ordered his troops to remove their armour and helmets, discard their jis and spears, and arm themselves with only shields and short weapons such as swords.[16][17] The Wei soldiers laughed when they saw this event, and instead refused to ready themselves for combat. Ding Feng and his men fought bravely and destroyed the enemy camp at the front. Just then, another Wu force led by Lü Ju and a few others arrived, therefore joining Ding Feng in attacking the enemy camp.[18] The Wei forces were shocked by the sudden fierce assault and were thrown into chaos. Many Wei soldiers scrambled to cross the pontoon bridges but the bridges collapsed. They fell into the water and started trampling on each other while desperately trying to get onto land.[19] Wei's Administrator of Yue'an (樂安), Huan Jia (桓嘉; Huan Jie's son), was killed in action.[20][21] Han Zong, a Wu general who defected to Wei and led the Wei vanguard in this battle, was also killed. Zhuge Ke decapitated Han Zong's body and sent the head to Sun Quan's temple.[22][23]


When Wang Chang and Guanqiu Jian heard of the Wei defeat at Dongxing, they burnt their camps and withdrew as well. Back in the Wei imperial court, many officials heeded for the Wei commanders to be either demoted or dismissed on their failure in the invasion. However Sima Shi said, "I did not listen to Gongxiu (Zhuge Dan) and that resulted in this situation. It's my fault. What have the generals done wrong?" Sima Shi's younger brother Sima Zhao, who was supervising the campaign, was stripped off his title of nobility.[24][25]

On the other hand, Wu forces captured large quantities of equipment and livestock left behind by Wei forces and marched back in triumph. Zhuge Ke received the title of Marquis of Yangdu (陽都侯) and the appointment of Governor (牧) of Jing and Yang provinces, as well as 1,000 jin of gold, 200 fine horses and 10,000 rolls each of silk and cloth.[26] Ding Feng was promoted to "General Who Eliminates Bandits" (滅寇將軍) and received the title of a village marquis (都亭侯).[27]

Order of battle

Modern references

The battle is featured as a playable stage in the seventh installment of Koei's video game series Dynasty Warriors. The battle consists of two halves in Dynasty Warriors 7. The first half is played from Zhuge Dan's point of view and the second features Wang Yuanji saving Zhuge Dan after crossing a bridge and being ambushed by Ding Feng. The game also states that Zhuge Dan successfully captured the two strongholds at Dongxing. In the Xtreme Legends expansion, the battle is playable from Ding Feng's point of view. His aim is to ambush Wei forces from the mountain.


  1. ^ a b (魏以吳軍入其疆土,恥於受侮,命大將胡遵、諸葛誕等率眾七萬,欲攻圍兩塢,圖壞堤遏。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  2. ^ a b (恪興軍四萬,晨夜赴救。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  3. ^ (十六年,權徙治秣陵。明年,城石頭,改秣陵為建業。聞曹公將來侵,作濡須塢。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
  4. ^ (初,權黃龍元年遷都建業。二年築東興堤遏湖水。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  5. ^ (恪以建興元年十月會眾於東興,更作大堤,左右結山俠築兩城,各留千人,使全端、留略守之,引軍而還。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  6. ^ (漢晉春秋曰:初,孫權築東興堤以遏巢湖。後征淮南,壞不復修。是歲諸葛恪帥軍更於堤左右結山,挾築兩城,使全端、留略守之,引軍而還。) Han Jin Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 4.
  7. ^ (諸葛誕言於司馬景王曰:「致人而不致於人者,此之謂也。今因其內侵,使文舒逼江陵,仲恭向武昌,以羈吳之上流,然後簡精卒攻兩城,比救至,可大獲也。」景王從之。) Han Jin Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 4.
  8. ^ (冬十一月,詔征南大將軍王昶、征東將軍胡遵、鎮南將軍毌丘儉等征吳。) Sanguozhi vol. 4.
  9. ^ a b (魏遣諸葛誕、胡遵等攻東興,諸葛恪率軍拒之。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  10. ^ (遵等敕其諸軍作浮橋度,陳於堤上,分兵攻兩城。城在高峻,不可卒拔。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  11. ^ (諸將皆曰:"敵聞太傅自來,上岸必遁走。") Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  12. ^ (奉獨曰:"不然。彼動其境內,悉許、洛兵大舉而來,必有成規,豈虛還哉?無恃敵之不至,恃吾有以勝之。") Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  13. ^ (恪遣將軍留贊、呂據、唐咨、丁奉為前部。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  14. ^ (及恪上岸,奉與將軍唐咨、呂據、留贊等,俱從山西上。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  15. ^ (奉曰:"今諸軍行遲,若敵據便地,則難與爭鋒矣。"乃辟諸軍使下道,帥麾下三千人徑進。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  16. ^ (時北風,奉舉帆二日至,遂據徐塘。天寒雪,敵諸將置酒高會,奉見其前部兵少,相謂曰:"取封侯爵賞,正在今日!"乃使兵解鎧著冑,持短兵。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  17. ^ (時天寒雪,魏諸將會飲,見贊等兵少,而解置鎧甲,不持矛戟。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  18. ^ (敵人從而笑焉,不為設備。奉縱兵斫之,大破敵前屯。會據等至,魏軍遂潰。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  19. ^ (但兜鍪刀楯,夥身緣遏,大笑之,不即嚴兵。兵得上,便鼓噪亂斫。魏軍驚擾散走,爭渡浮橋,橋壞絕,自投於水,更相蹈藉。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  20. ^ (嘉尚升遷亭公主,會嘉平中,以樂安太守與吳戰於東關,軍敗,沒,諡曰壯侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 22.
  21. ^ (樂安太守桓嘉等同時並沒,死者數萬。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  22. ^ (東興之役。綜為前鋒,軍敗身死,諸葛恪斬送其首,以白權廟。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  23. ^ (故叛將韓綜為魏前軍督,亦斬之。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  24. ^ (尋進號都督,統征東將軍胡遵、鎮東將軍諸葛誕伐吳,戰於東關。二軍敗績,坐失侯。) Jin Shu vol. 2.
  25. ^ (漢晉春秋曰:毌丘儉、王昶聞東軍敗,各燒屯走。朝議欲貶黜諸將,景王曰:「我不聽公休,以至於此。此我過也,諸將何罪?」悉原之。時司馬文王為監軍,統諸軍,唯削文王爵而已。) Han Jin Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 4.
  26. ^ (獲車乘牛馬驢騾各數千,資器山積,振旅而歸。進封恪陽都侯,加荊揚州牧,督中外諸軍事,賜金一百斤,馬二百匹,繒布各萬匹。) Sanguozhi vol. 64.
  27. ^ (遷滅寇將軍,進封都亭侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.

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