After Zhuge Liang died of illness, Sima Yi led his troops in pursuit, why did he retreat without fighting when he encountered Jiang Wei?

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Today’s Three Kingdoms idiom story is found in the 104th chapter of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, which happened after Zhuge Liang died of illness in Wuzhangyuan, and the related characters are Sima Yi and Jiang Wei. The original text is as follows:

Suddenly, a cannon rang out from the back of the mountain, and the shouting was loud, and all the soldiers of the Shu army returned to their flags and drums, and the Chinese army flag floated in the shadows of the trees. Yi was shocked. When I looked closely, I saw dozens of generals in the Chinese army, with a four-wheeled car coming out; on the car sat Kongming: luntou feather fan, crane cloak and soap sash. Yi was startled and said, “Kongming is still here! I’m too light to enter the heavy ground, I’ll fall into his trap!” Jiang Wei shouted from behind: “The thief will leave! You have fallen for my prime minister’s plan!”

Two days later, the villagers rushed to report: “When the soldiers of Shu retreated into the valley, a wailing sound shook the ground, and the army raised a white flag: Kong Ming is indeed dead, and Jiang Wei was stopped to lead a thousand soldiers to break the back. Kong Ming is a man of wood.” Yi sighed and said, “I can predict his life, but I can’t predict his death!” Therefore, there is a saying in Shuzhong: “Dead Zhuge can survive and live Zhongda.”… Sima Yi knew that Kong Ming had believed in his death. Indeed, the re-introduction of troops to pursue. When they reached Chi’anpo, they saw that the soldiers of Shu had gone far, so they led them back, and Gu Wei said to the generals, “Kongming is dead, and we can all sit back and relax!” Along the way, he saw Kongming’s camp and the place where he had set up his village, front, back, left and right, and there was a neat way. Yi sighed and said, “This world is a genius!” So he led his troops back to Chang’an, divided the generals, each guarded the pass, and Yizi returned to Luoyang to face the king .

According to the plot of the novel, Zhuge Liang died of illness in Wuzhangyuan, and Jiang Wei led the Northern Expedition to retreat to Hanzhong. Sima Yi sent Xiahouba to the Wuzhangyuan area to investigate. He learned that the army of the Northern Expedition had left, and judged that Zhuge Liang had died of illness, so he led his troops to pursue him. However, Zhuge Liang had expected Sima Yi to catch up before his death, and ordered someone to make a wooden sculpture exactly like himself. When Sima Yi’s army arrived, Jiang Wei unveiled this sculpture. Sima Yi mistakenly thought that Zhuge Liang was still alive, so he retreated in a hurry. Jiang Wei and the others took the opportunity to cover up for a while, annihilating many enemy soldiers. After the incident, the people of Shu made up a proverb to ridicule Sima Yi: “Dead Zhuge can live Zhongda.”

The idiom to be introduced in this article is “sit back and relax” in Sima Yi’s mouth, which means to rest your head on the pillow and sleep comfortably. The earliest source of this idiom is in “Records of the Grand Historian? Biography of Zhang Yi”, “If Qin is involved, then Chu and Han will not dare to move. If there is no trouble between Chu and Han, then the king will lie on his head, and the country will be safe.”

In the years of confrontation between Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang, Sima Yi has always adopted the tactic of playing steadily and never taking risks. Why did he suddenly lead his troops to chase after the retreat of the Northern Expedition? One of the most important reasons is related to Zhuge Liang’s strategy and tactics in this Northern Expedition. According to “Three Kingdoms? Zhuge Liang Biography”, in the previous several northern expeditions, Zhuge Liang’s food, grass and material supplies were transported from Hanzhong to the front line, which also caused a shortage of Zhuge Liang’s food, grass and material supply shortly after the war started. . During the Northern Expedition in Wuzhangyuan, Zhuge Liang took a new approach to deal with this drawback. The legend said: “When Liang suffers from a lack of food, he makes his ambitions unresolved, so he divides his troops into the fields and forms the basis for a long-term station. The cultivators are mixed among the residents of Weibin, and the people are blocked, and the army is selfless.” The purpose is very clear, it is to deal with Sima Yi for a long time in the Wuzhangyuan area.

Sima Yi was very clear about Zhuge Liang’s intentions. In response to Zhuge Liang’s approach, Sima Yi’s corresponding strategy was also very clear. He stationed heavily in the surrounding areas of Wuzhangyuan to resist Zhuge Liang’s offensive and dragged the war into a stalemate. In such a situation, any concession by either side will result in full restraint. Therefore, when the Northern Expedition army abandoned Wuzhangyuan and the land of the fields, although Sima Yi did not know that Zhuge Liang had passed away, it was easy to judge that Zhuge Liang or the Northern Expedition army had undergone major changes and had to retreat.

Judging from the whole incident, Jiang Wei led his troops to meet Sima Yi, and Sima Yi immediately ordered to retreat. Sima Yi has always adopted this strategy and tactics since he was in the northwest. Everyone in the world thinks that Zhuge Liang is careful with his troops, but Sima Yi is more than that. He sent troops to pursue him because he noticed a major change in the Northern Expedition army. In the face of Jiang Wei’s frontal attack, Sima Yi returned to the fixed tactic of not launching a strategic decisive battle with the Northern Expedition army. Therefore, Sima Yi ordered the entire army to retreat. From a tactical point of view, Sima Yi’s decision is undoubtedly correct.

Reference books: “Three Kingdoms”, “Three Kingdoms”

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