Gongjin's Campaign Memorials
Gongjin's Campaign Memorials

The Campaign against Dong Zhuo (Dǒng Zhuó tǎofá zhàn 董卓討伐戰) was a battle fought between the forces of Dong Zhuo and the Guandong Coalition, led by Yuan Shao. After the Regular Attendants battle, Dong Zhuo managed to set Liu Xie upon the throne and used him as a puppet. The Guandong Coalition was formed to stop him.

The Battle[]

Turmoil did not cease, following Han victories in the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Eunuch massacre. The General-in-Chief He Jin 何進 had summoned Dong Zhuo 董卓 to aid him in his struggle against Zhang Rang and The Regular Attendants, despite warnings of Dong Zhuo being cruel and having no honour.

Dong Zhuo's Ambitions[]

Dong Zhuo arrived shortly after the eunuchs were slaughtered and Zhang Rang and followers had drowned themselves in the Yellow River. When Emperor Shao suddenly saw Dong Zhuo appear at Bowang slope, he became frightened and cried.

The Excellencies who were with Dong Zhuo said to him: "There is an imperial order to withdraw troops." Dong Zhuo replied: "You may be high ministers of state, but you could not keep the royal house in order and you have made the Emperor a homeless wanderer. What is this about withdrawing troops?"

Dong Zhuo went to speak with the Emperor and asked him what had happened, but he gained no clear answer. He then asked the Emperors younger brother, Liu Xie, about the events. Liu Xie told him everything that happened and nothing was left. This impressed Dong Zhuo and since he had been brought up by the Empress-Dowager Dong, and since Dong Zhuo himself claimed to be of the same clan as the Empress-Dowager[1], he took it in mind to depose the Emperor and set up the King.

On this day, September the 25th, the Emperor returned to the palace. There was an amnesty for the empire and the reign-title Guangxi was renamed Zhaoning.

The Imperial Seal was lust during the eunuch slaying. All six other seals were recovered. [2]

Following the Emperor's return to the Imperial Capital Ding Yuan was made Bearer of the Gilded Mace.

Bao Xin, the Chief Commandant of Cavalry, had lately returned from raising troops in Taishan. He talked with Yuan Shao about Dong Zhuo and said:

"Dong Zhuo has a strong army and will be inclined to rebellion. Unless you take precautions you will certainly fall into his hands. Now that he has just arrived, his men will be weary and exhausted. If you attack him by surprise, you can take him."

However, Yuan Shao was afraid of Dong Zhuo and he did not dare to act against him. Bao Xin therefore returned to Taishan.

Dong Zhuo, a while later, reached the capital. With him were only 3.000 foot-soldiers and horsemen and he thought this might be too few to gain any respect. Therefore, in the first few days after his arrival, Dong Zhuo had his men go out quietly each night to camp nearby, returning at dawn in great array of flags and drums to look as if more troops had come from the west. For some reason, nobody in Luoyang ever saw through this trick. In a short time, He Jin and He Miao's troops, who were leaderless since their generals' deaths, turned to Dong Zhuo.

Acquiring Ding Yuan's Master of Records[]

Ding Yuan had one man he greatly trusted, the Master of Records Lü Bu[3], nicknamed "The Flying General". He was a man from Jiuyuan in Wuyuan Commandery, an adept archer and rider and unmatched in arm strength. In secret, Dong Zhuo arranged for Lü Bu to murder Ding Yuan and take over his forces. Lü Bu followed through, killed Ding Yuan and went to Dong Zhuo with his former leaders' head. At arrival, Lü Bu was bestowed with the title Chief Commander of the Cavalry by Dong Zhuo. Being so fond of each other, Lü Bu and Dong Zhuo also swore to be as father and son.

With Lü Bu and Ding Yuan's forces enlisted, Dong Zhuo's army became much stronger.

Then, on grounds that it had been raining a long time, Dong Zhuo criticised the Minister of Works Liu Hong before the court, implying that he should be dismissed. The order was duly issued, and Dong Zhuo took the vacant post.

Dong Zhuo also summoned Cai Yong. Cai Yong had lived in exile near the Yangzi and the sea for twelve years after the Grand Administrator of Wuyuan, Wang Zhi, reported that Cai Yong had insulted the court[4]. When Cai Yong received Dong Zhuo's summons, he pretended to be ill and would not come. An angered Dong Zhuo threatened: "I can destroy a man's clan". Cai Yang, now afraid, obeyed the order. When he arrived he received provisional appointment as Libationer in the offices of the Minister of Works. He was graded First Class, and in the space of three days he passed through all Three Terraces, and was then made a Palace Attendant.[5]

Dong Zhuo's Plan[]

Sometime after this, Dong Zhuo talked to Yuan Shao about the Emperor:[6]

File:Dong Zhuo.jpg
Dong Zhuo
The master of the empire should be a man of worth and wisdom: I become angry whenever I think of Emperor Ling. Lord Dong [Liu Xie] seems possible. If I give him the throne, however, would he be any better than Lord Shi [Liu Bian]? There are men who can show a little wisdom in some things but great foolishness in others. How shall we judge such things? It may be that the Liu clan has exhausted its virtue.
File:Yuan Shao.jpg
Yuan Shao
The house of Han has ruled the empire for over four hundred years. Its grace and favour have penetrated all the realm, and the people look up to it. Now the Emperor is rich in years, and he has not yet shown the empire anything less than perfection. You wish to do away with the son of the legal wife and set the son of a concubine in his place. I fear people will not accept your arguments.
File:Dong Zhuo.jpg
Dong Zhuo [angered and grasped for his sword]
Silly fool, how dare you defy me! Am I not in charge of the affairs of state? If I want to do it, who shall say me no? Do you doubt the temper of my sword?
File:Yuan Shao.jpg
Yuan Shao [enraged]
Are you the only strong man in the empire!?

He drew his own sword from his belt, gave a curt salute, and went out.

Dong Zhuo did not dare to harm Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao came from an esteemed family and Dong himself had only just taken some power. Yuan Shao hung his insignia of office on the Upper East Gate and fled to Ji province.[7]

In September of 189 A.D., day 27, Dong Zhuo called a great assembly of the officials. He raised his head and said:

"The Emperor is ignorant and weak. He is not capable of maintaining the imperial temples nor acting as master of the empire. I intend to follow the examples of Yi Yin and Huo Guang, and set [Liu Xie] the King of Chenliu upon the imperial throne. What is your opinion?"

All the present Excellencies, ministers and men of lower rank were frightened and confused. They didn't dare to speak against Dong Zhuo, who then continued:

"In former times, when Huo Guang settled policy, Tian Yannian held the sword. Anyone who seeks to impede the grand design will be dealt with by military law."

All those who were present were shaken. Only Lu Zhi, the Master of Writing, said:

"In former times, Taijia held position but lacked understanding, and the faults of [the King of] Changyi were more than a thousand, so there were reasons for the depositions. Our present Emperor, however, is rich in years, and his actions have shown no lack of virtue. There is no parallel with the past."

Dong Zhuo was furious, left his seat and wanted to kill Lu Zhi. Cai Yong pleaded for him and Peng Bo also argued "Master of Writing Lu is a leading scholar of the empire. People look up to him. If you harm him, the whole country will be disturbed." Dong Zhuo stopped and got a hold of himself and did no more then simply dismiss the Master of Writing. Lu Zhi, however, left Luoyang and fled to Shanggu, where he lived in seclusion.[8]

The next day, the 28th of September, Dong Zhuo again summoned all officials for an assembly. This time, at the front apartments of the Hall of Exalted Virtue. This time Dong Zhuo compelled the Empress-Dowager to issue an edict dismissing the Little Emperor:

"In mourning, the Emperor lacked the feelings of a true son, while his dignity and conduct are unworthy of a ruler. We now depose him to be King of Hongnong and we establish Liu Xie, King of Chenliu, as Emperor."

After this, Yuan Wei, uncle of Yuan Shao, removed the Emperor's seal and ribbon and presented them to the King of Chenliu, who was then escorted to the body of the hall and there he faced north to acknowledge himself as subject. The Empress-Dowager muffled her sobs and the ministers restrained their grief. No-one dared to speak.

Dong Zhuo then announced:

"The Empress-Dowager made the Lady of the Palace of Perpetual Joy [the Empress-Dowager Dong] uneasy and miserable, and even caused her to die of grief. This is contrary to the proper behaviour of a daughter-in-law to a mother."

He transferred the Empress-Dowager to the Palace of Perpetual Peace.[9]

Following these events, an amnesty for the empire was held and the reign-title changed from Zhaoning to Yong-Han.

Following Liu Xie's Ascendancy[]

On 30 September 189 A.D., Dong Zhuo had the Empress-Dowager He killed by poison. When her burial ceremony was being held, the Excellencies, ministers and lower officials did not wear linen clothes, but simply wore white clothes, while the ceremony was carried out.[10]

Dong Zhuo also dug up the coffin of He Miao, took out the body, broke up the joints and left it on the side of a road. He killed He Miao's mother; the Lady of Wuyang, and threw her corpse into some brambles in a park.

Following this was an edict which called for the sons and younger brothers of Excellencies, ministers and lower officials to be appointed as Gentlemen. By doing, replacing the eunuchs at the palace.

10 October 189 A.D.; Grand Commandant Liu Yu was appointed as Commander-in-Chief and enfeoffed as Marquis of Xiangfei.[11]

Dong Zhuo made himself Grand Commandant controlling the affairs of the General of the Van. He also took the Staff and Insignia, Battle-Axe, Ceremonial Axe and Gentlemen Rapid as Tigers, and changed his fief to become Marquis of Mei.[12]

On the 11th of October, Yang Biao, who Grand Palace Grandee at that time, was made Minister of Works. On 19 October Huang Wan, Governor of Yu province, was made Minister over the Masses.

Dong Zhuo also ordered the Excellencies to present memorials to justify the actions of Chen Fan, Dou Wu and the men of Faction. Their titles and ranks were restored envoys were sent to offer mourning sacrifices to them, and their sons and grandsons were selected for office.

In the winter, in the tenth month on 29 October they buried Empress-Dowager He of Emperor Ling. She was posthumously awarded with the title "Thoughtful" and was given the honour of burial with her late husband Emperor Ling. His tomb was named Mound of Accomplishment, hers within that complex, was called Mound of Accomplished Display[13]

During the same month, the Bobo bandits ravaged Hedong. Dong Zhuo sent his officer Niu Fu to take care of the matter.[14]

During the eleventh month Dong Zhuo was made Chancellor of State, with the right to perform obeisance without calling his own name, to enter court without hastening step, and to stand in the hall of audience with sword and shoes.[15]

In the twelfth month, 19 February 190 A.D.; Huang Wan, who had recently been made Minister over the Masses, was now made Grand Commandant and Yang Bao, the Minister of Works, became Minister over the Masses. Xun Shuang, the Superintendent of the Imperial Household, was now Minister of Works.

Attempting To Gain Heart[]

Before these events, the Master of Writing; Zhou Bi of Wuwei and the Colonel of the City Gates; Wu Qiong of Runan had suggested an idea that would gain Dong Zhuo the hearts of the people. The idea was that Dong Zhuo should reform the government of Emperors Huan and Ling and appoint famous scholars to office. Dong Zhuo followed the advice.

He commissioned the men Zhou Bi, Wu Qiong, Zheng Tai and He Rong to seek out the dishonest and wicked men and those who had been neglected unjustly in the past. Several people who had received no official rank were summoned. These men were:

Xun Shuang, he was first appointed as Chancellor of Pingyuan, but while he was still on his way there, he was transferred to Wanling. There he became Superintendent of the Imperial Household, but after attending to the duties of that position for three days he was promoted to be Minister of Works. All-in-all, since his first summons it took ninety-three days to his appointment as an Excellency.
Chen Ji became General of the Gentlemen of the Household for All Purposes.
Han Rong became Grand Herald.

There was a fourth man, named Shentu Pan, who also received Dong Zhuo's summons. Unlike the other three men however, he dared to refuse the summons and simply laughed. Dong Zhuo tried, but could not compel him. Shentu Pan was an old man, over seventy years of age. He died of old age.

Further appointments were made later on:

Han Fu, who was Master of Writing at that time, became Governor of Ji province.
Liu Dai, the Palace Attendant, became Inspector of Yen.
Kong Zhou of Chenliu was made Inspector of Yu.
Zhang Miao of Dongping was made Grand Administrator of Chenliu.
And Zhang Zi of Yingchuan became Grand Administrator of Nanyang.

Dong Zhuo's favourite men were appointed only as Generals of the Gentlemen of the Household, or Colonels and were not given important posts.

An edict abolished the three reign-titles Guangxi, Zhaoning and Yong-Han, making the current year count as the sixth of Zhongping.

Cruel Ambition[]

By nature, Dong Zhuo was a nefarious, cruel and vindictive man. All of a sudden he came to supreme power and had control of all the arms and treasures of the empire. His authority shook the empire and his ambitions knew no limit. He said to his retainers: "It is written on my countenance that I should gain the highest honours."[16]

The Attendant Imperial Clerk Raolong Zong went to Dong Zhuo to make a report, and he failed to take off his sword. He was immediately flogged to death.

At this time in Luoyang the mansions of the nobility and the imperial relatives stood one beside the other, every house filled with treasure of gold and silk. Dong Zhuo let his soldiers loose to break into these buildings, to plunder the property and to force into marriage the wives and daughters of their families, regardless and unsparing of high position or connection to the throne. The spirits of the people were fallen in terror and there was no security from dawn to dusk.[17]

The Guandong Coalition[]

190 A.D. - in the first month all the provinces and commanderies east of the passes raised troops to attack Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao, Grand Administrator of Bohai, was elected as leader of the covenant, named as The Guandong Coalition. He named himself General of Chariots and Cavalry, and his associates also awarded themselves temporary commissions.[18]

Qing Dynasty print
Yuan Shao became leader of the Coalition.

The coalition members spread themselves over several locations east of the passages.

  • Yuan Shao, Grand Administrator of Bohai, camped in Henei.
  • Wang Kuang, Grand Administrator of Henei, went with Yuan Shao to camp in Henei.
  • Han Fu, Governor of Ji Province, stayed at Ye and took care of the provisions of the army.
  • Kong Zhou, Inspector of Yu province, camped in Yingchuan.
  • Cao Cao, Colonel of Resolute Cavalry camped in Suanzao.
  • Liu Dai, Inspector of Yan province, camped at Suanzao.
  • Zhang Miao, Grand Administrator of Chenliu, camped at Suanzao.
  • Zhang Chao, Grand Administrator of Guangling, camped at Suanzao.
  • Qiao Mao, Grand Administrator of Dong commandery, camped at Suanzao.
  • Yuan Yi, Grand Administrator of Shanyang, camped at Suanzao.
  • Bao Xin, Chancellor of Jibei, camped at Suanzao.
  • Yuan Shu, General of the Rear, camped at Luyang.

Each of these armies contained several ten thousand men.

Eventually, most of these leaders turned against Yuan Shao. Bao Xin talked to Cao Cao about this and said:

"The ability to make plans is not common, and you are the only one who can end confusion and restore order. Though our forces may be strong we shall achieve nothing if the wrong man holds command. You, however, are like a sign from heaven."

On March the 26th, Dong Zhuo had the Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace Li Ru poison and kill Liu Bian the King of Hongnong after hearing one last song from his favourite concubine Tang Ji.[19]

Dong Zhuo was considering to attack east of the mountains with a great levy of troops, but his Master of Writing, Zheng Tai, said: "Government lies in virtue, not in armies." Dong Zhuo was not pleased and replied: "When you talk that way, do you mean that soldiers are useless?"

"I did not mean that," replied Zheng Tai, "but I do not believe there is any need to send a large army against the east of the mountains. "You are a man from the western provinces, you commanded soldiers when you were still young, and you are well trained in the arts of war. Yuan Benchu [Yuan Shao] is a descendant of great officials. He was born at the capital and he has always lived there. Zhang Mengzhuo [Zhang Miao] is an old man from Dongping. All he knows is the right way to sit in halls of audience, not glancing to left or right. Kong Gongxu [Kong Zhou] has pure conversation and impressive talk, so eloquent he can bring withered things to life just by breathing on them. None of them, however, are any use in dealing with military matters, and now they have taken up arms against you they are simply not in your class. Those men, moreover, hold no authority from the Emperor, and their ranks are in complete disorder. Each will rely upon his own strength, and store up resources till he can assess the situation. They will never agree on plans or co-operate in attack."

"Besides this, east of the mountains there has long been peace and the people have no experience of war. West of the passes they have lately suffered the ravages of the Qiang barbarians, and even women and girls can carry a bow and fight. The men of Bing and Liang, and the barbarian auxiliaries, are feared throughout the empire, and they are your teeth and claws. It will be like driving tigers and rhinoceros against dogs and sheep, or calling up a violent wind to sweep away dead leaves. Who will dare oppose them?"

"If, on the other hand, you make an unnecessary levy of troops to frighten the empire, then you will cause all the people who are afraid of being conscripted to collect together and rebel. You would be abandoning virtue to rely on force, and that way you would lose both authority and prestige."

Dong Zhuo now accepted the argument.

Plans To Shift The Capital[]

Because of the strength of the Guandong Coalition, Dong Zhuo had plans to shift the capital west. The Excellencies and officials disagreed with Dong Zhuo, but they didn't dare to speak against him. Dong Zhuo recommended that Zhu Jun, the Intendant of Henan, became Grand Coachman and act as his Assistant, but when a messenger brought these summons to office, Zhu Jun excused himself and refused to accept. He said:

"If the Emperor moves west, he will surely destroy the hopes of the empire, because he will be confirming the rift with the east of the mountains. I see no advantage in that."

The messenger said: "You were invited to take an appointment and you have turned it down. Nothing was said about shifting the capital, and yet you raise the matter. Why is this?"

Zhu Jun replied: "Assistant to the Chancellor, that is not a position I am competent to fill. Shifting the capital is ill-considered, and that is something important. I excuse myself from what I cannot manage, and I speak of things that are important: that is the duty of a subject."

Zhu Jun was not made Assistant.

Dong Zhuo called a great assembly of the senior officials and said:

"Gaozu set the capital within the passes, and eleven generations later Guangwu made his palace at Luoyang. Now another eleven generations have passed. According to the Shibao prophecies we should shift the capital to Chang'an to follow the will of heaven and man."

All the officials remained silent, except Yang Biao, the Minister over the Masses. A discussion ensued between the two men.

Yang Biao said: "To shift the capital and to change the laws are great affairs of the empire. In ancient times Pan'geng moved to Bo and the people of Yin all resented it. In former times, the land within the passes suffered from the ruin and destruction of Wang Mang, and so Guangwu changed the capital to the city of Luo."

"For many years the citizens have been at peace and contented here. If you now, without good reason, make plans to abandon the temples of the imperial clan and to leave the imperial tombs, then I am afraid the people will tremble in fear and there will surely be confusion like a boiling broth. The Shibao prophecies are superstitious, apocryphal works. How can you trust them?"

Dong Zhuo replied: "The land within the passes is rich and abundant, and that is why Qin was able to conquer its rival states. Moreover, timber is produced west of Long Mountain and there are the pottery kilns of Emperor Wu at Duling. If all combine their efforts, we can manage the work in a day. As for the people, who needs to consult them? If anyone is reluctant I shall set my soldiers onto them, and I could make them go all the way to the sea!"

Yang Biao replied: "It is easy to stir up the empire, but very difficult to soothe it down. Please think again."

A colouring Dong Zhuo demandingly asked: "Would you obstruct the affairs of the state?"

Huang Wan, the Grand Commandant, interfered: "This is a question of national importance. Should you not pay some thought to Lord Yang's argument?"

Dong Zhuo did not reply.

Xun Shuang, the Minister of Works, noticed that Dong Zhuo had already made up his mind. He feared that Dong Zhuo might harm Yang Biao and his supporters and therefore said to Dong Zhuo, in placatory fashion:

"Can the Chancellor of State enjoy this situation? The soldiers east of the mountains are in rebellion. We cannot put them down immediately, so we shift the capital to deal with them properly. This is just like the time of Qin and early Han."

This somewhat cooled down Dong Zhuo.

Huang Wan then left the assembly, but he remained against the proposal.

In the second month, on 28 March, Dong Zhuo memorialised that because of disasters and strange happenings, Huang Wan, Yang Biao and others should be dismissed. Zhao Qian, The Superintendent of the Imperial Household, was made Grand Commandant and Wang Yun, the Grand Coachman, became Minister over the Masses.

The proposal to shift the capital received strong criticism from Wu Qiong, the Colonel of the City Gates, and Zhou Bi, the Colonel Who Controls the Army. This made Dong Zhuo very angry and he said:

"When I first came to court you two urged me to employ fine scholars. I accepted your advice and all these men came to office, but now they take up arms against me. You have betrayed me. How can I use such untrustworthy people?"

Several days later, on 2 April, Dong Zhuo had Wu Qiong and Zhou Bi arrested and beheaded. Huang Wan and Yang Biao were scared to death and immediately went to apologise to Dong Zhuo. Then Dong Zhuo was sorry he had killed Wu Qiong and Zhou Bi, and he recommended that Yang Biao and Huang Wan be restored to office as Imperial Household Grandees.

Dong Zhuo summoned the Intendant of Jingzhao, He Xun,[20] to be Gentleman-Consultant. At this time the General of the Left Huangfu Song held command of thirty thousand soldiers at camp in Youfufeng, and He Xun had made secret plans with him to attack Dong Zhuo. Soon afterwards Dong Zhuo also called Huangfu Song to the capital to take appointment as Colonel of the City Gates.

Liang Yan, Chief Clerk to Huangfu Song, said to him:

"Dong Zhuo ravages and plunders the capital city, he has dismissed one emperor and set up another simply on his whim. Now he has sent a summons to you. If things turn out badly, you will suffer danger and ill fortune, and at the very least you will surely be humiliated and miserable. Take the opportunity now, while Dong Zhuo remains at Luoyang and the Son of Heaven is coming to the west. Lead your men to receive the Emperor, accept his orders to attack the rebels, call up additional troops and gather leaders. Then the Yuan will be pressing on the east as you attack from the west. That will catch him!"

Huangfu Song did not accept this advice and instead went to obey that summons. He Xun's forces were to weak all by themselves and therefore he too went to the capital district. Dong Zhuo made him Colonel of Elite Cavalry.[21]

The Intendant of Henan, Zhu Jun, spoke with Dong Zhuo on military matters, but Dong Zhuo cut him short, saying:

"In a hundred battles I have gained a hundred victories. I have made my decision. Stop this nonsense or I shall dirty my sword on you."

He Xun said:

"In ancient times, Wuding was a brilliant ruler, but he still sought wise rebuke. This is yet more true for someone like you, but you want to force men into silence."

Following this, Dong Zhuo sent his army against Yangcheng county, which was in Yingchuan commandery, Yuan Shu's position. There, all people had gathered for a ceremony at the local altar and the soldiers beheaded all the menfolk.[22]After the massacre, they took heavy carts, loaded the women and girls, bound the heads to the shafts, and returned singing and shouting to Luoyang with the claim that they had attacked bandits and taken a great number of prisoners. Dong Zhuo set fire to the heads and burnt them, and he gave the females to his soldiers as servants and concubines.

Emperor Xian Sent West[]

On 9 April 190 A.D., the Emperor moved west.[23] After the Emperor left, Dong Zhuo arrested all the wealthy men put them to death for wrongdoing and confiscated their property. The amount of dead people was too much to be counted. The millions of remaining people were sent to Chang'an. While being hassled forward by horsemen and foot-soldiers. They trod one another down in confusion. Starving and hungry they scavenged and robbed. Piled-up corpses clogged the roads.

Dong Zhuo remained at camp in the Jade Sceptre Park. He burnt all palaces, temples, government offices and private houses. In a range of 200 li, every building was destroyed and not even a dog or chicken remained. Following this, he sent Lü Bu to to break open the tombs of the emperors and the burial mounds of the Excellencies, senior and lower officials, and collect their treasure.

Dong Zhuo captured some soldiers from the east of the mountains. He took lard and daubed it on a dozen rolls of cloth, then bound the cloth to their bodies and set light to them, beginning at the feet and going up.

In the third month, 27 April, the Emperor arrived in Chang'an, where he stayed in the official residency of Jingzhao commandery.[24] Only later were the palace buildings put into sufficient repair that he could live in them. Dong Zhuo had not yet arrived, and the imperial government in matters large and small was left to Wang Yun.

Outwardly, Wang Yun always acted quietly and tried to smooth things over when Dong Zhuo made an error. However, in secret he was loyal to the Han and had the ambition to aid the Emperor. He possessed all the abilities that an official was expected to have and everyone looked up to him; from the Son of Heaven to the courtiers. Wang Yun always hid his feelings and Dong Zhuo trusted him and treated him well.

On 10 May 190 A.D., Dong Zhuo killed Yuan Wei, the Grand Tutor, Yuan Ji, the Grand Coachman and their families, from babies up. In total over 50 people were killed in this act against Yuan Shao.

Wang Rui, Sun Jian And Cao Yin[]

A while earlier, Wang Rui, who was the Inspector of Jing province, joined Sun Jian, the Grand Administrator of Changsha, to attack bandits in Lingling and Guiyang. Wang Rui spoke sightingly of Sun Jian, because he held a military position. Wang Rui was resentful of the success and honour which had been given a simple fighting man such as Sun Jian. He mistakenly expressed his opinion in public. This was in the year 187 A.D.

Three years later, when forces were gathering against Dong Zhuo, Wang Rui and Sun Jian also raised troops. However, Wang Rui had quarrelled with Cao Yin, the Grand Administrator of Wuling, and he announced his top priority: kill Cao Yin.

Cao Yin feared his own safety and forged an order from an officer of investigation and sent it to Sun Jian. The order listed Wang Rui's crimes and faults and authorised Sun Jian to arrest him, execute him, and then submit a report. As soon as Sun Jian received it he led his forces against Wang Rui. [25]

Not much later, Wang Rui learnt of the arrival of these troops. He climbed a tower and looked out and sent to ask: "What do you want?" Sun Jian's Advance Division replied: "We have long been suffering the toil of fighting and labour, and we have come to ask you for some recompense." But then Wang Rui noticed Sun Jian and was alarmed.

File:Wang Rui.jpg
Wang Rui
The soldiers may want rewards, but why is Magistrate Sun here?
File:Sun Jian.jpg
Sun Jian
I have orders to execute you.
File:Wang Rui.jpg
Wang Rui
What is my crime?
File:Sun Jian.jpg
Sun Jian
You just don't understand things.

Wang Rui, in distress and despair, scraped gold, drank it and died.

As Sun Jian moved forward to Nanyang his army already numbered twenty or thirty thousand men. Zhang Zi, the Grand Administrator of Nanyang, refused to grant them supplies, but Sun Jian tricked him and took off his head. In the commandery there was fear and trembling, and he was given everything he asked for.

Sun Jian continued to Luyang to join Yuan Shu, thus Yuan Shu gained control of Nanyang. He recommended Sun Jian as Acting General Who Routs the Caitiffs and Inspector of Yu province.

The Battle Of Xingyang[]

Dong Zhuo was still at Luoyang. Yuan Shao and the armies of the Guandong Coalition had gotten afraid of the strength of his armies and no one dared to go forward. Cao Cao said:

"You have raised loyal troops to destroy oppression and disorder, and a great army is already collected. Why do you hesitate?

At the beginning, if Dong Zhuo had relied on the imperial house, occupied the old capital [Luoyang] and turned east to take the offensive against the rest of the empire, then even though he was acting as a criminal it would still have made things difficult. But now he is burning palaces and houses, and he has kidnapped the Son of Heaven and sent him away. All within the seas is in disorder and no-one knows where to turn. This is the time he is condemned by heaven. One battle and the empire is settled."

Cao Cao then led his soldiers west with the intention to occupy Chenggao. Zhang Miao sent his officer Wei Zi with a detachment of troops to follow him. They advanced to the Bian River at Rongyang where they met Dong Zhuo's officer Xu Rong at Xuantu. A battle ensued. Cao Cao's men were defeated and Cao Cao himself was hit by a stray arrow and the horse he rode was wounded. Cao Hong, younger cousin of Cao Cao, wanted to give his horse to Cao Cao, but Cao Cao would not accept. "The empire can do without me, but it cannot do without you." said Cao Hong. He then followed Cao Cao on foot and they withdrew by night. Xu Rong observed the few soldiers Cao Cao had under his command, yet they maintained the battle all through the day. Xu Rong then withdrew, realizing an attack on Suanzao would be difficult.

When Cao Cao returned to Suanzao, all the allied armies, which consisted of hundreds of thousands of men, held feasts and laid out wine every day, however, no plans for another attack were made. Cao Cao reproached them, made plans and said:

"Here is what I propose. Let the Grand Administrator of Bohai [Yuan Shao] take the Henei army forward to Meng Crossing, while the commanders at Suanzao blockade Chenggao, occupy the Ao Granary and close Huanyuan and Taigu, so all the passes are held. Then General Yuan [Shu] can lead the armies from Nanyang through Dan[shui], Xi and into the Wu Pass to threaten the Three Adjuncts.

In each case, we prepare strong-points, and position ourselves behind high walls and deep trenches. We avoid any actual fighting, but we make it appear that we are on the move, and it will appear to all the world that we are the righteous men destroying rebels. Then things will settle themselves.

Our men have come to us because the cause is just, but if we hesitate and delay we shall lose the hopes of the empire, and I would be ashamed for you."

But, Zhang Miao and others mentioned in Cao Cao's plan would not accept this. Then, Cao Cao went with the major Xiahou Dun[26]. of Pei state and others to Yang province, where he made a levy of troops. He gathered more than a thousand men, and took them to camp in Henei with Yuan Shao, meaning Cao Cao abandoned his association with the group of commanders at Suanzao[27].

Problems In The Coalition[]

Soon after this, the armies at Suanzao ran out of food and the allied forces dispersed. Liu Dai was on bad terms with Qiao Mao, so he killed him and appointed Wang Gong Grand Administrator of Dong commandery.

The Inspector of Qing province, Jiao He, also raised troops to attack Dong Zhuo. He made every effort to catch up with the other leaders in the march to the west, but he had prepared no defences for his own people, and as his soldiers crossed the Yellow River the Yellow Turbans were already within his borders.

Up to this time Qing province had been prosperous, and well protected by armed men. Whenever Jiao He caught sight of the rebels, however, he would always retreat, and he had never tried the winds and dust of campaigning nor the clash of banners and drums in battle. He liked divination, and he believed in ghosts and spirits. When you visit a man like that you find Pure Conversation to reach the clouds, but when you look at his administration you find rewards and punishments confused, the province bleak and desolate, and everywhere a wasteland.

Soon afterwards Jiao He took ill and died. Yuan Shao sent Zang Hong of Guangling to govern Qing province and maintain order.

In the fifth month, Xun Shuang died. He was the Minister of Works.

In the sixth month, 21 August, Chong Fu, who was Imperial Household Grandee, became Minister of Works.

Latter Months of 190 A.D.[]

Dong Zhuo sent the Grand Herald Han Rong, the Privy Treasurer Yin Xiu, the Bearer of the Gilded Mace Humu Ban, the Court Architect Wu Xiu and the Colonel of Elite Cavalry Wang Gui to negotiate with Yuan Shao and his allies, and make peace with the east of the mountains.

Humu Ban, Wu Xiu and Wang Gui came to Henei. Yuan Shao sent Wang Kuang, who captured all of them and then killed them. Yuan Shu also killed Yin Xiu. Only Han Rong escaped, because he was known for his virtue.[28] Dong Zhuo destroyed the Wushu currency and minted smaller coins. He melted down the statues of Luoyang and Chang'an, such as the Bronze Men, the Zhongju, the Feilian and the Bronze Horses, to cast the new money. So the currency was devalued and goods became dear: the price of a single shi of grain rose to several ten thousand cash.[29]

In the winter Sun Jian was holding a drinking party with his officers, east of Luyang city. Suddenly, twenty to thirty thousand of Dong Zhuo's horsemen and foot-soldiers appeared, but Sun Jian didn't give an inch when he noticed the army. Instead he continued to pass the wine around and talked and laughed with his men. Then, he gave ordedrs for his men to form up in their divisions, but refused to let them do anything reckless. More enemy horses gradually came up and Sun Jian left his seat calmly and led his men back into the city of Luyang. He then explained:

"The reason I did not get up straight away was that I was afraid the soldiers would rush and trample one another, and you would not be able to get in."

Witnessing such discipline, Dong Zhuo's forces turned back. Not even venturing an attack.

Wang Kuang was camped at Heyang Crossing. Dong Zhuo made a surprise attack and completely defeated him.

The General of the Gentlemen of the Household on the Left Cai Yong recommended that

"All the emperors since Xiao-He who possess the temple-name 'Exemplar' should have them removed, to show proper respect for the original tradition."

This was done.

Gongsun Du was recommended to Dong Zhuo by his General of the Gentlemen of the Household, Xu Rong. Gongsun Du was a man from Xu Rong's own commandery at Xuantu and a former inspector of Ji Province. Dong Zhuo appointed him Grand Administrator of Liaodong.

When Gongsun Du took up his post, he punished by law and wiped out more than a hundred of the great and famous families in the commandery, and the whole territory trembled for fear. Then he attacked Gaogouli in the east, and in the west he attacked the Wuhuan.

Gongsun Du spoke to those closest to him, Liu Yi, Yang Yi and some others and said: "The reign of Han is coming to its end. I ask you to join me in making plans for a kingdom." He divided Liaodong to form Liaoxi and Zhongliao commanderies and appointed a Grand Administrator to each of them, while across the sea he collected all the counties of Donglai and set up an Inspector of Ying province. Gongsun Du appointed himself Marquis of Liaodong and Governor of Ping province. He set up temples to the two Han ancestors ,Emperor Gao and Emperor Guangwu, he took the authority to hold state sacrifice to Heaven and Earth and to Plough the Field, he rode in a Phoenix Chariot with a team of four horses, and he established Cavalry of the Feathered Forest with Standard-Bearers of Ox-tail Banners.[30]

Opponents Rise[]

Dong Zhuo had set his sights on Yuan Shao. He offered him rewards in trying eagerly to capture him. Zhou Bi and Wu Qiong argued with him:

"To dismiss one emperor and set up another, these are matters of moment, quite beyond the comprehension of ordinary men. Yuan Shao could not appreciate such a great action, and he ran away simply because he was frightened. If you chase him too anxiously, however, the situation will certainly change. That family has been distributing favours for four generations, so they have clients and officials who have served under them throughout the empire. If Yuan Shao calls up fighting men and raises an army, then bold warriors will join him in rebellion and you will hold nothing east of the mountains. It would be much better to pardon him and give him appointment as administrator in some commandery. Yuan Shao will be glad to escape punishment and will certainly cause no trouble."

Dong Zhuo agreed and made a change of plans; he promptly appointed Yuan Shao as Grand Administrator of Bohai, with enfeoffment as Marquis of Kang District. He also appointed Yuan Shu as General of the Rear and Cao Cao as Colonel of Resolute Cavalry.

Dong Zhuo's plans had an opposite effect. Yuan Shu was afraid of Dong Zhuo and he fled to Nanyang. Cao Cao also fled east, disguised and under a false name As he went through Zhongmou, however, the chief of a village became suspicious: he arrested Cao Cao and sent him to the county office. They had a letter from Dong Zhuo [ordering his arrest] but only the Officer of the Bureau of Merit recognised him. He thought it wrong for one of the leading men in the empire to be imprisoned when the world was in such disorder, so he advised the prefect to release him.[31]

When Cao Cao reached Chenliu, he sold off his family property and recruited five thousand soldiers.

Many warriors of the empire had plans to rebel against Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao was one of them, but Han Fu, the Governor of Ji province, sent several Attendant Officials into the commandery to keep him under control. Yuan Shao was unable to make a move.

In the meantime, Qiao Mao, the Grand Commandant of Dong Commandery, forged letters as if sent by the Excellencies in the capital to the provinces and commanderies. The letters listed faults and crimes of Dong Zhuo and went to say: "We are oppressed and can do nothing to help ourselves. We look eagerly for loyal troops to free the state from danger and harm."

One of the men who received this letter was Han Fu, who then asked the members of his staff: "Do we support the Yuan clan or the Dong?"

Li Zihui, Han Fu's Attendant Official at Headquarters replied: "If you raise troops on behalf of the state, how can there be any question of Yuan and Dong?" Han Fu blushed in shame. Li Zihui continued: "War is bad and you should not be the first to begin it. Wait and see what other provinces do. If they take action you can join them, and since Ji province is one of the most powerful, the chiefs of other provinces will never be able to rival you for the leading position."

Han Fu agreed. So he wrote to Yuan Shao, discussing the crimes of Dong Zhuo, and giving tacit consent to his levy of troops.[32]

Fading Coalition[]

In February of the year 191 A.D., a general council was held among the leaders east of the passes. It was observed that the Emperor was young and weak and under the control of Dong Zhuo. The men of the council were far away from Luoyang and didn't even know if the Emperor was still alive. Liu Yu, Governor of You province, was worthy and able and a member of the imperial clan. It was therefore proposed he be set up as ruler.

Cao Cao said:

"When we raised loyal troops, all the people supported us, and the reason was that our cause is just. Now we have a young ruler who is feeble and weak, in the power of an evil minister. These are not the faults for which [the King of] Changyi [Liu He] forfeited his imperial throne.2 If we make a sudden change, who in the empire can be at ease? You may look north [to Liu Yu], but I turn west [to the Emperor at Chang'an]."

Han Fu and Yuan Shao wrote to Yuan Shu:

"The Emperor is not a true son of Xiao-Ling. We want to act like [the Marquis of] Jiang and Guan [Ying] in former times, when they punished and deposed a puppet ruler, and welcomed the King of Dai to his place. We plan to set up the Commander-in-Chief Liu Yu as Emperor."

Secretly, Yuan Shu desired the throne for himself, but he realised that if the state had a stronger ruler, attaining his desire would become difficult. Because of this, Yuan Shu argued, on the best principles, against the proposal. Yuan Shao wrote to Yuan Shu again:

"Now in the west there is a young ruler who has the name [of an emperor], but has no blood relationship to the imperial clan, while all his officials, high and low, are supporters and flatterers of Dong Zhuo. How can we continue to trust them? We need only send troops to camp at the passes and strategic points, and all [the supporters of Dong Zhuo and the Emperor] will be cramped and die. If a sage ruler is set up in the east, then we may hope for great peace. How can you still have doubts? Moreover, the people of our clan have been slaughtered. Do you not recall [the example of] Wu Zixu? How can you still accept this ruler?"

Yuan Shu replied:

"The Emperor is wise and capable, with the nature of King Cheng of Zhou. The bandit Dong Zhuo has taken advantage of a temporary confusion and compelled the officials to obey him, so this is a moment of difficulty for the house of Han. Now you say the Emperor 'has no blood relationship,' but that is simple slander. You say, 'the people of our clan have been slaughtered,' and 'how can you still accept this ruler?' But this was Dong Zhuo's work, certainly not the Emperor's. "It is with the utmost loyalty that I seek the destruction of Dong Zhuo, I refuse to think of anything else!"

Han Fu and Yuan Shao had send Zhang Qi, the former Grand Administrator of Lelang, to offer Liu Yu the imperial title. Zhang Qi, however, rebuked Liu Yu and his colleagues sternly when he saw them and said:

"The empire has fallen into disorder, and the ruler is forced into exile. I have received great favours from the throne, but yet I cannot clear away the disgrace from our state. You hold provinces and commanderies, and you should join all your forces to save the royal house. Instead, you have made plans of rebellion, and you seek to involve me in your shameful dealings!"

Liu Yu firmly refused them.

Following this, Han Fu and his associates asked Liu Yu to take control of the imperial secretariat, with authority to grant enfeoffments and make appointments. Still, Liu Yu would not hear of it and he threatened to take refuge among the Xiongnu, to cut himself off of these proposals. Yuan Shao and the others gave up the idea.[33]

On 25 March, Dong Zhuo was appointed Grand Master. This ranked him above kings.

Sun Jian's Advance[]

Before this, Sun Jian relinquished his title as Grand Administrator and accepted the authority of Yuan Shu. Following Yuan Shu's joining of the Coalition Sun Jian volunteered to take the vanguard in the attack against Dong Zhuo as Yuan Shu’s Chief Lieutenant. Sun Jian shifted camp to the east of Liang. There he met the forces of Li Meng and Xu Rong, Dong Zhuo's General of the Gentlemen of the Household, but was defeated in a great battle and forced to flee for his life. Thanks to his officer Zu Maohe was able to escape. Zu Mao took the red cap that Sun Jian usually wore as a mark of distinction, and so attracted the enemy pursuit. Sun Jian then managed to break out of the lines that were encircling him, and made his escape.

Some of Sun Jian's men were less fortunate. Li Min, the Grand Administrator of Yingchuan, was captured by Xu Rong's forces and executed by being boiled alive, while other soldiers of the rebel forces were killed with hot oil. Zu Mao managed to escape.[34]

In the meantime, Yuan Shao sent the Grand Administrator of Henei, Wang Kuang, to press an advance along the Yellow River towards Luoyang. He camped at the Meng Crossing, which lied northeast of the capital. Dong Zhuo sent soldiers against him, and Wang Kuang's army was completely destroyed. So Dong Zhuo's defence had been successful on both fronts, and the attack by the main force east of the mountains was quite broken down. Sun Jian was south and gained no support or co-operation from the allied armies near the Yellow River.

However, Dong Zhuo's attack on Wang Kuang and the focus on the troops near the Yellow River gave Sun Jian the time he needed to reassemble his troops after his defeat by Xu Rong. In the first month of 191 A.D. he headed to camp at Yangren, northwest of Liang and laid camp there. Though Dong Zhuo had defeated Wang Kuang, all was to be done again to defeat Sun Jian.

Dong Zhuo now sent his Grand Administrator of Dong commandery, Hu Zhen, with 5.000 horsemen and foot-soldiers to attack Sun Jian. Along with Hu Zhen were the already famous Lü Bu, in command of the cavalry, and Hua Xiong, who held the low rank of Chief Controller. The trio attacked Sun Jian's fortified camp at Yangren, but were completely routed.[35] Hu Zhen and Lü Bu fled. Hua Xiong was killed in battle.[36][37]

Someone said to Yuan Shu:

"If Sun Jian captures Luoyang, you will not be able to control him. This is to destroy a wolf and obtain a tiger."

This made Yuan Shu concerned and he then ordered that the supplies should no longer be sent to Sun Jian. Following this, Sun Jian rode fast by night to see Yuan Shu, drew on the ground to show his plans and spoke:

"The reasons I have taken service with you are that above I am attacking a rebel for the Emperor, while below I give some help to your family in a private feud. I have no thought for my own interests, and no personal enmity for Dong Zhuo. Yet you now pay attention to slander and for no reason at all you are suspicious of me!"

Yuan Shu became embarrased and he immediatly sent supplies to Sun Jian's camp.

Sun Jian returned to camp and Dong Zhuo sent his officer Li Jue to treat with him, make peace and make an alliance. He told Sun Jian to recommend junior members of his family as Inspectors or Grand Administrators and promised to urge their appointment. Sun Jian replied:

"Dong Zhuo opposes Heaven and defies the law. Until I have killed you and all your clan and shown your heads to the four seas, I shall not be able to die in peace. How can there be alliance with you?"

After this, Sun Jian went forward to Dagu[38], ninety li from Luoyang.[39] Dong Zhuo himself came out to fight Sun Jian amongst the tombs of the emperors of Later Han. Dong Zhuo was defeated and fled. He withdrew his camp to Mianchi and gathered troops at Shan.

Sun Jian advanced to Luoyang and attacked Lü Bu. Once again The Flying General was defeated and put to flight.

A Qing Dynasty Print
Sun Jian finds the Imperial Seal

Luoyang now came in the possession of Sun Jian, who cleared out the imperial temples and held great sacrifice.[40] He found the Imperial Seal in a well in the Pottery Office south of the city.[41]

Following his success in Luoyang, Sun Jian sent part of his force forward to Xin'an and Mianchi to threaten Dong Zhuo's defence positions.

Dong Zhuo Talks About Sun Jian[]

Dong Zhuo said to his Chief Clerk Liu Ai:

"The armies east of the passes have often been defeated. All of them are afraid of me and can do nothing effective. Sun Jian, however, the little fool, is quite competent. You must warn my officers to be careful of him.

Some years ago I was sent west with Zhou Shen to attack Bian Zhang and Han Sui in Jincheng. I suggested to Zhang Wen that I should use my troops as a rearguard for Zhou Shen, but Zhang Wen would not agree. Soon afterwards Zhang Wen sent me to attack the rebel Xianlian Qiang. I knew we would have no success, but I could not avoid the duty, and so we marched.

I left the Major with a Separate Command Liu Jing, with four thousand horse and foot, to camp in Anding as a show of strength. The Qiang tried to cut our lines of ommunication, but I opened them with a small attack, and the reason [I could do this so easily] was that the enemy were afraid of the soldiers in Anding. They thought there must be tens of thousands; they had no idea it was only Liu Jing.

At the same time, Sun Jian was with Zhou Shen. He offered to lead ten thousand men forward to Jincheng, leaving Zhou Shen to act as rearguard with twenty thousand. Bian Zhang and Han Sui would have been afraid of Zhou Shen's great force, and would have been cautious about committing themselves against Sun Jian, while Sun Jian's troops were strong enough to cut their line of supplies.

Had the commanders used our suggestions, Liang province would have been settled. But just as Zhang Wen could not use my advice, so Zhou Shen could not use Sun Jian's, and in the end they were defeated and turned back.

So when he was an Associate Major, Sun Jian saw things the way I did, and he has some useful talents. Now, however, for no good reason he has joined the Yuan gang, and in the end he will die too."

To Chang'an And After[]

Dong Yue, the General of the Gentlemen of the Household of the East, was sent by Dong Zhuo to camp at Mianchi. Duan Wei, the General of the Gentlemen of the Household, was sent to camp at Huayin and Niu Fu, Dong Zhuo's son-in-law and the General of the Gentlemen of the Household was sent to camp at Anyi. Other officers were sent to block any attacks coming from the east. Meanwhile, Dong Zhuo led his own troops away to Chang'an.

Sun Jian had just repaired the imperial tombs and went back to Luyang.[42]

In the fourth month, summer, Dong Zhuo arrived in Chang'an. Ministers and excellencies came out to welcome him. They all bowed before his carriage. Dong Zhuo clapped and said to the Palace Assistant Imperial Clerk Huangfu Song: "Yizhen, are you afraid?"

"If Your Excellency uses virtue to maintain the court," replied Huangfu Song, "this will be a time of great blessing, and why then should I be afraid? If you govern badly and inflict arbitrary punishments, however, I shall not be the only person who is frightened."[43]

Some supporters of Dong Zhuo wished to honour him as the Grand Duke and give him the title of Honoured Uncle. Dong Zhuo asked Cai Yong what he thought of the proposal. Cai Yong said:

"Your excellency's majestic virtue, how truly imposing! In my humble opinion, however, it is not yet possible to make a comparison with the Grand Duke. It would be better to wait until the east of the passes is settled and at peace, and the Emperor is returned to his former capital [at Luoyang]. Then we can talk about it."

Dong Zhuo gave up the idea.

The Colonel Director of Retainers Liu Aowas asked by Dong Zhuo arrest those of the officials and people who had not been respectful sons, loyal subjects, honest officials or obedient younger brothers. All those who were arrested were executed shortly after and their wealth was confiscated. This resulted in many people make false accusations against one another and thousands were put to death without good cause. The people became anxious and fearful and when they passed one another on the read they did no more then exchange glances, not daring to speak.

The Coalition Begins To Crumble[]

Zhang Yang had allied himself with Yuan Shao, when the latter was in Hefei. Zhang Yang camped with the Southern Shanyu Yufuluo by the Zhang River.[44]

Han Fu became jealous at Yuan Shao because so many leading men had turned to him. He quietly cut down on his military supplies, hoping his army would drift apart. However, shortly after this his officer Qu Yi rebelled. Han Fu fought him and was defeated, and Yuan Shao made an alliance with Qu Yi.

Pang Ji, a follower of Yuan Shao, said to his general:

"You have undertaken a great work, but you still rely upon others for subsidy and supplies. Unless you take a province for yourself, you will never be able to act independently."

Yuan Shao objected, saying:

"Ji province has a strong army and my troops are hungry and weary. If we fail we shall be left with nothing."

Pang Ji argued:

"Han Fu is a very ordinary fellow. If we make a secret agreement with Gongsun Zan to have him take Ji province, Han Fu will certainly be startled and frightened. Then you send someone who can argue a case well, to explain things to him. Han Fu will be under pressure, he will get flustered and he will certainly be willing to yield."

This made Yuan Shao change his mind and he wrote to Gongsun Zan at once. Gongsun Zan approved and he came up with troops. He pretended he was going to attack Dong Zhuo but then turned against Han Fu. Han Fu fought him but without success.

About this time Dong Zhuo entered the passes to Chang'an and Yuan Shao brought his army back to the Yan Crossing.[45]

He sent his nephew Gao Gan of Chenliu with Han Fu's friends Xin Ping of Yingchuan, Xun Shen, Guo Tu and others to say to Han Fu:

"Gongsun Zan is coming with an army from Yan and Dai [the north] and will follow his success with a further advance. All the commanderies will join him, and you cannot match his strength. Yuan the Chariots and Cavalry General is bringing his army eastwards, and we cannot be sure of his intentions. You seem to be in trouble!"

This frightened Han Fu and he said: "What can I do?" "Judge yourself," replied Xun Shen. "In generosity and charity, as a leader of men admired by all; how do you compare with Yuan?" "I cannot compare with him," replied Han Fu. Xun Shen continued: "Generations of his family have displayed grace and virtue, and all the empire has received their favour; once more, how do you compare with Yuan?" "I cannot compare with him," replied Han Fu.

"Yuan is the hero of the time," said Xun Shen, "and in these three ways your abilities fail to match his fine qualities. You have long held place above him, but he will surely not be satisfied to remain your subordinate. Now Ji province is an important property of the empire. If he and Gongsun Zan join forces to seize it then danger and loss can be expected any moment. On the other hand, Yuan is an old friend and a sworn ally. Here is the right plan for this moment: cede Ji province to Yuan. He will certainly be grateful to you, and Gongsun Zan cannot contest him. So you gain reputation for yielding place to a worthier man, and you yourself will be secure as Mount Tai."

Han Fu was timid and so he followed this plan.

When Han Fu's Chief Clerk Geng Wu, his Aide-de-Camp Min Chun and his Attendant Official at Headquarters Li Li heard of this, they protested, saying:[46]

"Ji province has a million men at arms and sufficient grain to last for ten years. Yuan Shao leads an army which is isolated, dependent and poor; he relies on us for everything. Like a child on the lap, if you end its suckling it will starve and die. Why do you want to give him the province?"

Han Fu's answer was:

"I am a former officer of the Yuan and my ability is not equal to that of Benchu.[47] I have taken account of his virtue, and so I cede it to him. The men of ancient times saw honour in such conduct. Why do you alone find fault?"

Yuan Shao Takes Ji Province[]

Before this, Han Fu's Attendant Officials Zhao Fu and Cheng Huan had led ten thousand Strong Bowmen to camp at the Meng Crossing. They heard what was going on and brought their men quickly back.

At this time Yuan Shao was by Qingshui in Chaoge. Zhao Fu and the others came up behind him with several hundred boats and a force of over ten thousand men. They set their weapons and drums in order and passed, which really annoyed Yuan Shao.

When Zhao Fu returned he said to Han Fu:

"Yuan Benchu's army has not a single measure of grain. Even now his men are deserting. Zhang Yang and Yufuluo have only recently joined him, and they will not accept his orders. He cannot match us. As your junior officers, we ask approval to oppose them with the troops we have at hand: within ten days his power will be like fallen earth and flying tiles. You, wise general, may rest on a high pillow with your doors open [in security and confidence]. Why should you be concerned or frightened?"

Han Fu still refused the advice. He left his office and went to lodge in Regular Attendant Zhao Zhong's former mansion. He sent his son to take the seal and tassel of his appointment as Governor and hand them to Yuan Shao.

As Yuan Shao approached, ten of Han Fu's staff hastened to abandon him and join Yuan Shao. Geng Wu and Min Chun faced them with swords, but could not hold them back and were forced to let them go. Yuan Shao killed the two loyalists.

Yuan Shao made Ju Shou of Guangping General Who Displays Firmness, with responsibility as Supervisor and Protector over all his officers, and he treated him with great favour.[48] Because of their upright conduct, Shen Pei of Wei commandery and Tian Feng of Julu had both failed to fulfil their ambitions under Han Fu. Yuan Shao appointed Tian Feng as his Aide-de-Camp and Shen Pei as Attendant Official at Headquarters. Xu You and Pang Ji of Nanyang, with Xun Shen of Yingchuan, all became councillors.[49]

Zhu Han of Henei was appointed by Yuan Shao as Attendant Official for the Officers at the Capital. Zhu Han had been treated rudely by Han Fu in the past. He now sought to anticipate Yuan Shao's intentions. Without authority he brought troops to surround Han Fu's house, took up a sword and climbed into the building. Han Fu fled to the upper storey, and Zhu Han seized his eldest son, beat him and broke both his legs.

When Yuan Shao heard of this, he immediatly arrested Zhu Han and killed him. Han Fu, however, was still anxious and afraid. He asked Yuan Shao for permission to leave, and he went to stay with Zhang Miao.

Some time later, Yuan Shao had sent a messenger to Zhang Miao, to discuss plans with him. The messenger whispered something to Zhang Miao, while Han Fu was near. This made Han Fu believe they were plotting against him. Soon afterwards he got up and went to the lavatory and killed himself with a writing-knife.[50]

Cao Cao's Ambition[]

Around that time, Bao Xin spoke to Cao Cao and said:

"Yuan Shao is leader of the covenant, but he uses that authority to his own advantage. He will himself rebel and become another Dong Zhuo. You are not yet strong enough to restrain him, and you will only make trouble for yourself if you try. What you can do, however, is establish a position south of the Yellow River and wait to see what happens."

Cao Cao thought this was an excellent idea.

Not long after this, the Black Mountain bandits Poison Yu, Bo Rao, Sui Gu and their men, over a hundred thousand strong, plundered in Dong commandery. Wang Gang could not keep them out. Cao Cao led troops into Dong, attacked Bo Rao at Puyang and defeated him. Then Yuan Shao recommended him as Grand Administrator of Dong and Cao Cao set his government at Dongwuyang.[51]

Further Internal Problems In Both Camps[]

Yufuluo compelled Zhang Yang to join him against Yuan Shao. They camped at Liyang. When Dong Zhuo heard of this, he appointed Zhang Yang as General Who Establishes Righteousness and Grand Administrator of Henei.

The Grand Astrologer examined the omens, and foretold that a great minister would be executed. Dong Zhuo had false accusations made that that the Commandant of the Guards Zhang Wen had been in contact with Yuan Shu. On 5 November 191 A.D. Zhang Wen was flogged to death in the market-place to fulfil the prophecy.

Palace Attendant Liu He, son of Liu Yu, was ordered by the Emperor to help him escape from Dong Zhuo. He wished to return east. Liu He was ordered to go in secret out the Wu Pass, and take a message to Liu Yu that he should lead troops to come and receive the Emperor.

Liu He came to Nanyang, but Yuan Shu kept him there as a guest to force Liu Yu into alliance. He would not let him continue his journey, but promised that when reinforcements came they would advance to the west together, and he made Liu He write a letter to Liu Yu.

When Liu Yu received the letter, he sent several thousand cavalry to aid Liu He. Gongsun Zan knew of Yuan Shu's rebellious ideas. He urged Liu Yu not to send the troops, but Liu Yu didn't listen. Gongsun Zan then started to fear Yuan Shu would hear of his advice and would be angry, so he sent his cousin Gongsun Yueto take another thousand horsemen to Yuan Shu. And he secretly encouraged Yuan Shu to keep hold of Liu He and take the soldiers for himself. So Liu Yu and Gongsun Zan had a grudge against each other.

Liu He fled from Yuan Shu, and got away to the north, where he was detained by Yuan Shao.

Coalition Disbanded[]

By this time, every ruler of a province or commandery east of the passes was trying to seize someone else's territory to make himself more powerful. The coalition existed in name only and thus the 'Campaign against Dong Zhuo' had ended.

If you wish to read what happened with Dong Zhuo's empire after the coalition disbanded, go to The Assassination at Chang'an.


Fact vs. Fiction[]
  • Historically, it was not Li Su who was sent to bribe Lü Bu. It is unknown who was sent.
    read about this fictional event here.
  • Historically, the Red Hare horse was not used in bribing Lü Bu. The methods are unknown.
  • Historically, the Battle of Si Shui Gate did not take place.
  • Historically, the Battle of Hu Lao Gate did not take place.
  • Historically, Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu did not participate in the campaign.
  • Historically, Hua Xiong was killed by Sun Jian and not by Guan Yu.
    read about this fictional event here.
  • Historically, Lü Bu was defeated (twice) by Sun Jian and not by Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu.
    read about this fictional event here.
  • Historically, Sun Jian was never truly damaged by Yuan Shu's withholding of supplies.
  • Historically, Gongsun Zan, Zhang Yang, Kong Rong, Ma Teng and Tao Qian were not part of the coalition.
  • Historically, Sun Jian was an officer under Yuan Shu and not one of the main members of the coalition.
  • Participants as mentioned in ZZTJ.
  • All quotes in this article are translated from historical sources by Professor Rafe and taken from his work.
  1. Dong Zhuo was no close relation of Empress-Dong. Dong Zhuo's family came from the western Longxi commandery, the Empress' family from Hejian in North China's plains.
  2. HHS; Annals of Emperor Ling. This sentence appears to have been inserted by Sima Guang, compiled from sources cited in SGZ 46.
  3. HHS & SGZ say Ding Yuan made Lü Bu Master of Records. HHJ says Major.
  4. HHS; The Biography of Cai Yong. He was banished in 178 A.D. to the far northern region of Shuofang.
  5. HHS 60/50B, and also the HHJ of Zhang Fan, quoted in SGZ 6
  6. Biography of Yuan Shao in HHS and SGZ; here, Dong Zhuo is not sincere and exploring the possibility of taking imperial power for himself.
  7. HHS 72/62, 2324 (4b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo + SGZ 6
  8. HHS 72/62, 2324 (4b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo
  9. HHJ 25, 17a-b;
    HHS 72/62, 2324 (4b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  10. HHS 9, 367 (1a), the Annals of Emperor Xian; HHS 10B, 450 (10b), the Biography of the Empress He; HHS 72/62, 2324 (4b-5a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo; SGZ 6, 175 (9b) PC quoting [Hanmo] yingxiong ji. For the death of an empress, the court was expected to wear plain linen instead of silk during the time of mourning, but on this occasion they paid no such courtesy.
  11. HHS 73/63, 2325 (2a), the Biography of Liu Yu.
  12. HHS 72/62, 2325 (5a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo
  13. HHS 9, 368 (1b), the Annals of Emperor Xian.
  14. HHS 8, 355; The Bobo bandits were an isolated group of Yellow Turbans.
  15. HHS 72/62, 2325 (5a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  16. SGZ 6, 175 (9a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  17. HHS 72/62, 2325 (5a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo. Can be translated as "rich and noble or poor and lowly."
  18. HHS 74/64A, 2375 (3a), the Biography of Yuan Shao.
  19. as mentioned in HHS 10B.
  20. HHS 58/48, 1883 (13a), the Biography of He Xun
  21. HHS 71/61, 2306 (6a), the Biography of Huangfu Song.
  22. HHS 72/62, 2325 (5a-b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  23. The date the court began its journey is given by the Annals in HHS 9.
  24. HHS 9, 369 (2a), the Annals of Emperor Xian.
  25. SGZ 46 (Wu 1), 1096 (8a-9b), the Biography of Sun Jian.
  26. Cao Cao's father Cao Song was an adoptive son of the eunuch Cao Teng, but it is generally believed that the Cao were related to the Xiahou family of Qiao county in Pei state. There are no sources to back this up though
  27. SGZ 1, 7-8 (21b-24a), the Biography of Cao Cao.
  28. HHS 74/64A, 2376 (3a-b), the Biography of Yuan Shao.
  29. HHS 72/62, 2325 (5b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  30. SGZ 8, 252 (25b-28a), the Biography of Gongsun Du.
  31. SGZ 1, 5 (16b-17b), the Biography of Cao Cao
  32. HHS 74/64A, 2376 (3a), the Biography of Yuan Shao
  33. HHS 73/63, 2355 (2b), the Biography of Liu Yu; SGZ 1, 8 (24b) PC quoting Wei shu by Wang Shen
  34. Generals of the South, Rafe de Crespigny, page 113.
  35. Story has it that Lü Bu and the others were contemptuous of Hu Zhen, and they planned together to deceive their commander and their own men, to wear them out and drive them into panic.
  36. Generals of the South, by Rafe de Crespigny, chapters on Sun Jian
  37. Chief Controller was a rank not used in the Han structure, but used more & more in the civil war. Note on Hua Xiong; Prof. Rafe believes Sun Jian took Xua Xiong's head, this theory however, can not be backed up with historical sources. It is more likely Hua Xiong died in battle with Sun Jian's troops.
  38. also known as Taigu Pass.
  39. Dagu, or Taigu, was one of the fortified passes which defended the approaches to Luoyang from the south.
  40. The tailao sacrifice was the slaughter of a bull, a ram and a pig.
  41. The Imperial Seal (chuanguo xi ; or "Seal Which Transmits the State") had been lost at the time of the massacre of the eunuchs at Luoyang two years earlier.
  42. SGZ 46 (Wu 1), 1097 (14b), the Biography of Sun Jian. Note: Luyang is not a typo of Luoyang; similar names, different cities.
  43. According to the main text of HHS 71/61, Huangfu Song had been sent to prison and was due to be executed for his opposition to Dong Zhuo. He was, however, released at the earnest pleading of his son, and was then appointed Palace Assistant Imperial Clerk, formal head of the censorate.
  44. SGZ 8, 251 (24a), the Biography of Zhang Yang.
  45. HHS 74/64A, 2377-78 (4a-5a), the Biography of Yuan Shao; SGZ 6, 191 (40b), PC quoting [Hanmo] yingxiong ji.
  46. SGZ 6, 191 (40b), PC quoting [Hanmo] yingxiong ji
  47. Benchu was the style name of Yuan Shao.
  48. HHS 74/64A, 2378-80 (5a).
  49. This sentence comes from a later part of the biography of Yuan Shao, HHS 74/64A, at 2390.
  50. HHS 74/64A, 2380 (5b)
  51. SGZ 1, 8-9 (24b-25a), the Biography of Cao Cao.