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Battle of Wancheng

Battle of Wancheng

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The Battle of Wancheng or Battle of Wan City was a battle fought between the warlords Cao Cao
Cao Cao
Cao Cao was a warlord and the penultimate chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during the dynasty's final years. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously titled...

 and Zhang Xiu
Zhang Xiu
Zhang Xiu was a minor warlord during the late Han Dynasty era of Chinese history. He eventually surrendered to Cao Cao in 200. Having contributed greatly to the decisive Battle of Guandu and subsequent campaigns against the heirs of Yuan Shao, Zhang Xiu died en route Liucheng on a campaign to...

 in 197 during the prelude to the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 period of Chinese history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

. Zhang Xiu emerged victorious in the battle while Cao Cao escaped after his defeat.


In 197, Cao Cao led his army from Xuchang to attack Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 and Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

), which was governed by Liu Biao
Liu Biao
Liu Biao , style name Jingsheng , was a warlord and the governor of Jing Province during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He was a member of the extended family of the Han Dynasty emperors...

. On the way, Cao Cao arrived at Wancheng, which was controlled by Zhang Xiu. Zhang Xiu's strategist Jia Xu
Jia Xu
Jia Xu , style name Wenhe , was an advisor to the warlord Cao Cao during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He previously served Dong Zhuo, Li Jue and Zhang Xiu before finally joining Cao Cao...

 suggested to his lord to feign surrender to Cao Cao first, and then draw up a plan to drive Cao away. As Jia Xu predicted, Cao Cao accepted Zhang Xiu's surrender and allowed him to remain in control of Wancheng.

However, later, Cao Cao was attracted to Lady Zou (鄒氏), the widow of Zhang Xiu's deceased uncle Zhang Ji, and he took her as a concubine. Zhang Xiu felt humiliated and wanted to take revenge on Cao Cao. When Cao Cao heard of Zhang Xiu's displeasure, he plotted to kill Zhang, but the plan was leaked out. Zhang Xiu revolted against Cao Cao and launched a surprise attack on Cao's camp at night.

The battle

Zhang Xiu gained an advantage over Cao Cao, as the latter was unprepared for the sudden assault. Cao Cao mounted a horse and sped away, while his general Dian Wei
Dian Wei
Dian Wei was a military general serving under the warlord Cao Cao during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. Famed for his enormous strength, Dian Wei excelled in wielding dual halberds, each of which was said to weigh 40 jin...

 remained behind to prevent the enemy from passing through the gate. However, Zhang Xiu's troops broke through the other gates and eventually surrounded Dian Wei. By then, Dian Wei had only slightly more than ten men left with him, and they were fighting desperately. Dian Wei used his long crescent halberds to slash left and right, cutting down ten or more enemy soldiers. The surrounding area was littered with many casualties and dead bodies. Dian Wei had sustained over ten wounds but he continued to fight on, crushing two enemies under his arms with brute strength. The remaining enemy soldiers did not dare to advance further, while Dian Wei continued attacking and killing several of them until he reached his threshold, when he let out a loud yell and died. Zhang Xiu's men dared not move forward to take his head until they were sure he was dead and finally returned to their camp.

In the meantime, Cao Cao had retreated to Wuyin. He wept upon hearing news of Dian Wei's death. His son, Cao Ang
Cao Ang
Cao Ang was the eldest son of the late Han Dynasty warlord Cao Cao. He was killed during the Battle of Wancheng after giving up his horse to his father during their escape.-Biography:Cao Ang was born to Cao Cao and Lady Liu...

, offered his steed to him, and bravely stayed behind to hold off Zhang Xiu's soldiers. Although Cao Ang managed to buy time for his father to escape, he was eventually overwhelmed and killed. Cao Cao's nephew Cao Anmin
Cao Anmin
Cao Anmin was the nephew of the warlord Cao Cao, who lived during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history.In 197, Cao Anmin followed Cao Cao on a campaign to conquer Jing Province . Zhang Xiu, a minor warlord who occupied Wancheng , surrendered to Cao Cao...

 also died in the battle.

Modern references

This battle is featured in Koei's video game series Dynasty Warriors
Dynasty Warriors
is a series of tactical action video games created by Omega Force and Koei. The award-winning series is a spin-off of Koei's turn-based strategy Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, based loosely around the Chinese classical novel of the same name. The first game titled Dynasty Warriors,...

as a playable stage and the highlight of Dian Wei's story mode. If the player is not playing as Dian Wei, Dian Wei makes his last appearance in that stage and does not appear again in the subsequent stages. In Dynasty Warriors 7
Dynasty Warriors 7
is a hack and slash video game and the seventh official installment of the Dynasty Warriors series. It is developed by Omega Force and published by Koei. The game has been confirmed to be PS3 exclusive in Japan. The story is based on Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms....

, after Cao Cao's escapes from the castle, he attacks Zhang Xiu with Xiahou Dun and Xu Zhu and ends up gaining Jia Xiu in his ranks. If Zhang Xiu is defeated by Cao Cao, it is not known if he was killed by Cao or retreated from the battle.