The young emperor Wu of Han Dynasty established the official ideology of a unified empire through his exclusive respect for Confucianism. With the support of strong national strength, he launched a series of counter attacks against the Xiongnu and lifted the threat of the Xiongnu; At the same time, it carried out a comprehensive external expansion, which not only restored but also surpassed the territory of the Qin Dynasty. Until more than twothousand years later, the Chinese people are still enjoying his heritage.
A decisive battle across the desert
In the autumn of the second year of Yuanshou, hunxie king and XiuTu king of Xiongnu decided to surrender to the Han Dynasty because they were killed and captured tens of thousands of people by the Han Army and were afraid of being killed by Shan Yu. Fearing that they would pretend to surrender, Emperor Wu ordered Huo Qubing to lead his army to attack. King Hugh repented, was killed by the evil king, and his subordinates were swallowed up. When the Huns saw the Han Army, most of them did not want to surrender, so Huo Qubing rode into the Hun army camp to meet the hunxie king, killed 8000 people who wanted to escape, and coerced more than 40000 people under the hunxie king, claiming that 100000 people crossed the river to surrender to the Han. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was overjoyed. He rewarded the meritorious generals and Huns with billions of dollars, and granted hunxie king Luoyin Marquis, a city of thousands of households, four of his subordinates, and 1700 households of Huoqubing food city; Due to the surrender of these two ministries, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty reduced half of the garrison troops in Longxi, Beidi and Shangjun (now near Yulin City, Shaanxi Province) at the same time, so as to reduce the corvee in the world.
The two expeditions of Huo Qubing and the surrender of hunxie king of Xiongnu made the Han Dynasty occupy the whole Hexi corridor which belonged to Xiongnu. The Huns lost this land with abundant water and grass, warm winter and cool summer, which is suitable for animal husbandry. For this reason, they lamented: “the death of Qilian mountain will make my six livestock no longer live; the loss of Yanzhi mountain will make my wife colorless.” Book of Han, volume 94, biography of Xiongnu. Later, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty set up Wuwei, Jiuquan, Zhangye and Dunhuang in the Hexi Corridor, known as the “Hexi four counties” in history. It is the most important channel connecting the Central Plains and the western regions, and has extremely important strategic significance. Only by controlling the four counties of Hexi, could they seize and control the western regions from the Huns, and the territory of the Han Dynasty could be extended to the west of the Pamir Plateau; The Silk Road between China and Central Asia, West Asia and Europe can be opened up; The Hexi Corridor has changed from a nomadic area to an agricultural area. A large number of Central Plains immigrants live here, isolating the two nomadic areas of the Mongolian Plateau and the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, changing the unfavorable strategic situation of the Central Plains Dynasty. At the same time, the economy and culture of this area have also been greatly developed. In the next 1000 years, this land will play an important role in Chinese history.
The second year of Yuanshou was a year when the Han Dynasty made great achievements. Nearly 100000 Huns were killed and captured, and the whole Hexi corridor was occupied. However, the price paid was extremely high. In this year alone, more than 10 billion yuan was spent for this purpose. Although the price was so high, the fighting emperor decided to launch a general attack on the Xiongnu. The Hun cavalry were very mobile. They could take the initiative to choose the location of the invasion and take it by surprise; Accordingly, if they do not take the initiative to strike, the Han army can only set up heavy troops on the thousands of kilometers of border line, set up defenses everywhere, and be beaten everywhere. They are very passive, exhausted, and the effect is very poor. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty chose to take the initiative to attack and destroy the effective power of the Huns, so as to eliminate the ability of the Huns to invade. Only by establishing a strong cavalry force can this goal be achieved.
In the fourth year of Yuanshou (119 BC), Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty decided to take it by surprise and assemble hundreds of thousands of troops and 140000 horses to cross the desert and directly attack the Huns. The Han army was divided into two routes, with 50000 cavalry led by general Wei Qing and Hussars general Huo Qubing respectively, followed by hundreds of thousands of infantry and logistics troops. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty assigned all the elite to Huo Qubing, and wanted him to achieve the great feat of annihilating Shan Yu’s main force. It turned out that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty wanted Huo Qubing to send troops from Dingxiang to attack Shan Yu. Later, he heard that Shan Yu was in the East, so he sent him to Daijun to send troops. Wei Qing sent troops from Dingxiang instead.
This event fully proved that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was a man who loved Huo Qubing so much that he did not hide his love for him. He not only promoted Huo Qubing, who was only 21, to the same level as his uncle general Wei Qing, but also assigned all the elite to him. Even he did not hesitate to change the pre War deployment, in order to make him get the greatest credit for annihilating Shan Yu’s main force, without worrying about Wei Qing’s feelings. However, Huo Qubing was very lucky. Since he first joined the army to invade the Xiongnu at the age of 17, every time he proved with his war achievements that he did not live up to the extraordinary preference of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty for him. This is also the fundamental reason why Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty doted on him. Otherwise, he would turn his face against others with his temper.
At this time, the doctor asked Li Guang to join the army. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty thought that he was old and would not be allowed. After a long time, he reluctantly agreed, so he was appointed as the former general. Together with gongsunhe, the left general, zhaoshiqi, the right general, and Cao Rensuo, the later general Pingyang Hou, all belonged to general Wei Qing. Zhao Xin planned for Shan Yu: “the Han soldiers were tired after crossing the desert, so we sat down and waited for the prisoners.” The Huns stored their supplies in the northern rear and gathered their elite troops in Mobei to wait for the Han army. People’s calculation is not as good as heaven’s calculation. Wei Qing led his army out of the frontier for more than a thousand miles. When he crossed the desert, he happened to meet Shan Yu’s main force. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty deliberately failed to make the arrangement. When Wei Qing saw that the Huns were waiting, he ordered to surround them with Wugang chariots (a kind of chariot) and send 5000 cavalry to attack and fight with the Huns’ 10000 cavalry. At this time, the sun set, and a strong wind blew. The sand and gravel hit the surface. The two armies could not see each other. The Han Army surrounded Shan Yu from the left and right wings. Shan Yu saw that there were many strong soldiers and horses in the Han Dynasty, so in the evening he broke through the siege and fled to the northwest in a mule cart and hundreds of fine horses.
The Han and Hungarian armies continued to scuffle in the dark, and the casualties of both sides were equal. When the Han Army knew that Shan Yu had escaped, they immediately sent Qingqi to pursue him at night. Wei Qing led a large army to follow him. After daybreak, Shan Yu has been pursued for more than 200 Li and still disappeared. The Han Army chased and killed all the way to zhaoxincheng (the southern foot of today’s Hangai mountain in Mongolia) to obtain the food stored by the Huns here. The army stayed for a day to withdraw and burned all the remaining food. Wei Qing’s headquarters captured and beheaded a total of 190000 people. When Wei Qing returned to the south of the desert, he met the lost former general Liguang and the right General Zhao Shiqi. In order to report the situation to the emperor, Wei Qing ordered Chang Shi (the official in charge of the daily affairs of the relevant official office) to interrogate Li Guang one by one according to the criminal charges listed in the law. Li Guang committed suicide because he was “more than 60 years old and could not recover from the knife and pen officials”, and Zhao Shiqi was sent to prison to redeem himself as a commoner.
It is not that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty and Wei Qing intended to persecute Li Guang. On the contrary, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty still trusts, appreciates and forgives Li Guang very much. He promoted Li Guang as the guard of Weiyang palace and defended the palace as soon as he ascended the throne; Ligung was sentenced to death for his defeat in the war and redeemed as a commoner. After drinking alcohol, he went to baling Pavilion at night (now the eastern suburb of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province). The baling captain was drunk and scolded ligung. Li Guang immediately said, “I am former General Li.” Baling replied, “the current generals can’t go at night. Don’t talk about the former generals!” He ordered Liguang to sleep under the pavilion and wait until the morning. Soon after the Huns invaded, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty reappointed Li Guang as the right Beiping prefect. Li Guang asked Lieutenant baling to join the army. He killed him before he arrived, and then wrote a letter to apologize. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty pardoned Li Guang and replied: “general, the pawn of the country, should use his own reputation to intimidate the rest of the world, and use his own prestige to intimidate neighboring countries. I hope the general will remove the scourge for the country and give up the brutal massacre. Do I want to see you bareheaded and barefoot, bow down on your knees, and touch your forehead to the ground to apologize to me?” Book of Han Dynasty Volume 65 biography of Li Guangsu.
The killing of Baling shows that Li Guang is narrow-minded and has a strong sense of revenge, putting personal gratitude and resentment above national affairs; When the Huns invaded and assumed the heavy responsibility of resistance, they even brutally and selfishly took advantage of the opportunity to resist aggression to indiscriminately kill innocent people. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty answered this question with emotion, reason and restraint, and showed his tolerance. He pointed out that as a general with a heavy responsibility, Li Guang’s mission was to resist foreign aggression, not to take the opportunity to kill innocent people because of personal gratitude and resentment. Even so, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty still appointed Li Guang as a doctor under the rank of Gongqing, who was only under the rank of Sangong, and was fully responsible for the security of the Imperial Palace and himself, which fully showed that he had absolute trust in Li Guang and attached great importance to him; Not only that, Li Danghu, Li Jiao and Li Gan, the three sons of Li Guang, served as bodyguards of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Li Jiao was promoted to be the prefect of Dai County, and Li Gan served as a doctor. Li Danghu, Li Guang’s eldest son, is also similar to his father in character. He is very upright and loyal. The flattering Han Yan, who was favored by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, made fun of him. Li Danghu, who was standing beside him, thought that Han Yan was too presumptuous, and even beat him to pieces on the spot. Instead of being punished, Li Danghu was appreciated by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. It was a pity that he did not have time to be reused because of his early death. Later, Li Ling, the posthumous son of Li Danghu, also served as the bodyguard of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. It can be said that the three generations of Li Guang’s family were deeply appreciated and trusted by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty.
Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was generous, even too generous. He never grudged rewarding meritorious officers and men. When Wei Qing recovered Henan, he once appointed ten of his subordinates as marquis. If Li Guang had meritorious deeds, how could he not? Li Guang once claimed that his cousin Li Cai, whose reputation was far inferior to his own, could also be granted Marquis with military merit. In addition, the rank of all the officers below the rank of colonel was not high, and their talents were inferior to those of the Chinese. Of course, they were even worse than themselves, but dozens of people could be granted Marquis with military merit. Although these facts made Li Guang very unconvinced, it just proved that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty granted Marquis only by military merit, not by reputation and status. Before Wei Qing sent troops, because Li Guang was too old and his luck in fighting the Huns was too bad, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was worried that his incompetence would affect the decisive battle, so he secretly ordered Wei Qing not to let Li Guang be a striker against the main force of the Huns; In addition, Wei Qing also wanted his old subordinate, Gongsun Ao, who had recently lost his throne, to perform meritorious deeds against the main force of the Xiongnu, so he also wanted to transfer Li Guang, but he mainly obeyed the order of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, which led to the tragedy that Li Guang lost his way and could not arrive on schedule.
Sima Qian has deep sympathy for Li Guang. The biography of General Li in the historical records is a famous piece that has been handed down through the ages. Therefore, the image of Li Guang is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Everyone seems to think that Li Guang was not reused by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. It is generally believed that “Li Guang was highly meritorious and had no share in the Marquis” and even died of being ostracized and persecuted by Wei Qing. However, this is not the case in history. As mentioned earlier, Emperor Gaodi of the Han Dynasty stipulated that “no marquis is allowed unless meritorious service is rendered”, which was strictly observed at that time. Li Guang not only failed to perform meritorious service in several major battles with the Huns, but even lost the battle. Finally, he committed suicide because he got lost. Otherwise, according to the laws of the Han Dynasty, it would be a capital crime. Because of the involvement of Li Ling, Li Guang’s grandson, Sima Qian suffered cruel punishment. Therefore, Sima Qian resonated with Li Guang, who had a bumpy fate, and felt pity for each other; People in the Han Dynasty also generally liked the qualities of being strong, simple, upright and loyal. Therefore, the experiences of Li Guang and his family, who had been born in the family for generations, won a lot of sympathy. His deeds, such as miraculous escape after being captured, shooting an arrow into the stone, and being very prepared for his subordinates, became legends at that time. Therefore, he enjoyed a high reputation.
Obviously, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was not satisfied with the performance of Wei Qing’s department this time. He did not seal Wei Qing himself, and none of his subordinates was a marquis. In sharp contrast, Huo Qubing and his subordinates were rewarded: 5800 food towns were granted to Huo Qubing himself. Five subordinates were granted Marquises, including Li Gan, the son of Li Guang. Because of his bravery in battle, he won the flag and drum of King zuoxien, beheaded many times, was granted the Marquis of the pass, and served as a doctor’s order, responsible for the important task of protecting the emperor’s personal safety. At this time, Li Guang has committed suicide, which once again shows that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty has great trust in Li Guang and his son. There is no objection in his heart. Otherwise, it is impossible for him to appoint Li Gan to be responsible for protecting his personal safety after Li Guang’s death. All these facts prove that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty never belittled or excluded Li Guang, let alone persecuted or framed him.
Although Huo Qubing didn’t meet Shan Yu’s main force, his military achievements far exceeded Wei Qing’s. He traveled more than 2000 miles north from daiguo and youbeiping, traversed the desert in light, took food from the enemy, captured three Huns, including tuntou king and Han king, and 83 generals, prime minister, Danghu and Duwei. He sealed wolf juxu mountain (today’s Kent mountain in Mongolia, where he worshiped the heaven) and changuyan mountain (north of today’s Kent mountain in Mongolia, where he worshiped the land), and reached the Hanhai (the desert, which is in today’s Mongolia; first, the Baikal Lake in Russia), Beheading more than 70000 levels was an unprecedented and brilliant victory over the Huns since the establishment of the Han Dynasty.
The price of this victory was also very high. The two Han armies had 140000 horses when they left the fortress, but only 30000 were left when they entered the fortress. Huo Qubing’s office also lost three tenths of its personnel. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty specially set up the position of chief commander. Wei Qing, a senior general, and Huo Qubing, a general of hussars, served as chief commander, which was equivalent to the previous Taiwei. It was stipulated that the rank and treatment of Hussars were the same as those of the senior general. Since then, the general Wei Qing has become more and more modest, and the Hussars general Huo Qubing has become more and more prominent. Most of Wei Qing’s disciples have gone to take refuge in Huoqubing to seek an official. Only Ren an, a good friend of Sima Qian, refused to do so.
So far, in the 11 years from the fifth year of Yuanguang to the fourth year of Yuanshou, the Han Dynasty sent troops to take the initiative to subdue the Huns several times, captured and beheaded about 240000 people, of which Huo Qubing accounted for nearly half; During the four-year Northern Expedition in Yuanshou, more than 90000 Xiongnu people were captured and beheaded. The Xiongnu suffered heavy losses. From then on, the Xiongnu fled to the north and dared not set up a royal court (the ruling center of the Xiongnu) in the south of the desert. After that, the Han Army crossed the Yellow River from Shuofang county to lingju (now Yongdeng County, Gansu Province) to build a defense line, dug irrigation canals and garrisoned the fields. The number of garrison soldiers reached 50000 or 60000, and encroached on some Hun lands to the north. However, due to the small number of horses and the fact that the Han army was attacking Minyue and Nanyue in the south, Korea in the East and Qiang and southwestern barbarians in the west, the large-scale expedition of the Huns was no longer carried out for a long time, and the relationship between the Han and the Huns temporarily entered a relatively gentle period.
It seems that he was born to conquer the Huns. Only two years after fenglang juxu reached the peak of his life, Huo Qubing, a 23-year-old big Sima and Hussar general, died. His short life was like a brilliant meteor. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was deeply saddened and buried him next to his mausoleum Maoling (located in Xingping City, 40 kilometers northwest of Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province). Huo Qubing’s tomb was shaped like Qilian mountain to show his military exploits; Huo Qubing, the former hunxie king and XiuTu king of Xiongnu, were mobilized to wear iron armor and arrange from Chang’an to Maoling for his funeral.
Huo Qubing was the favorite courtier of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. He was silent and cautious, willful and aggressive. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty wanted to teach his grandson and Wuqi the art of war in person, but he thought that combat should be flexible and there was no need to learn these ancient art of war; Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty once bought a house for him and ordered him to see how it was done. What he answered was a sentence that still makes people excited: “the Huns are not extinct, and there is no home for them.” Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty doted on him even more.
However, due to Huo Qubing’s ambition as a young man, he was only 17 years old, so he didn’t care about the situation. He led his troops to the battle. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty sent special personnel to send him dozens of carts of wine and meat. When the class teacher had not finished eating, the soldiers were hungry at the same time. When he was outside the Great Wall, the soldiers were demoralized due to lack of food. However, he ordered the soldiers to build a football field for him. He has also done many similar things. The doctor ordered Li Gan to force his father ligung to die because of his resentment against general Wei Qing. He once wounded Wei Qing for this, but Wei Qing hid it. Before long, Li Gan followed Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty to go hunting in Ganquan palace. Hearing about this, Huo Qubing shot and killed Li Gan, who was appointed as a doctor. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty claimed that Li Gan was killed by a deer antler, thus shielding Huo Qubing’s audacity.
In daily life, Huo Qubing is a typical noble young master. He is young and energetic. He is extremely self-centered, arrogant, and even misbehaved. However, he is an unborn military genius. Such a person can only be used in a strong and fierce era, and only an emperor like emperor Wu can appreciate and tolerate him. In nature, Huo Qubing and Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty are the same kind of people, and their behavior is very similar.
Perhaps it was from him that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, who was 16 years older than Huo Qubing, found the shadow of his youth, so he doted on him without any scruples and made an exception. In Chinese history, there was only one emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Only he could discover and dare to appoint a young military genius. Therefore, in Chinese history, there was only one Huo Qubing, who led tens of thousands of elite riders across the desert and granted wolf residence.
Although Huo Qubing’s uncle Wei Qing was a high-ranking general and a supreme minister, he was kind and yielding. He was liked by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty with a gentle and soft figure, but no one praised him in the world.
This may be because at that time, people in the Han Dynasty were generally simple and strong. They could not see Wei Qing’s worldly sophistication. They were happy with Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. They also looked down on him as a slave and made his fortune because of nepotism. Wei Qing’s behavior style may be natural, but it is more likely to be caused by the bitter experience of the day after tomorrow. He is a slave, which determines that he must always be cautious and observe his words and expressions.
Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was a man who loved his life, hated his death, took life and death, made a decision to kill and destroy, and had supreme power. What’s more, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty’s love and hate changed quickly. After the last two expeditions, Wei Qing was not sealed, and the young Huo Qubing came from behind to catch up. These are obvious signals that Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty’s love for Wei Qing has declined sharply. In this sense, Huo Qubing’s early death was not necessarily a bad thing. There was no large-scale war between Han and Hungary in the years to come. He lost his place to play. Once Emperor Wu’s love for him declined, he would end up in danger with his rebelliousness.
During the years of Yuanguang and Yuanshou, the Han Dynasty’s war against the Xiongnu was magnificent. The battlefield was more than 2000 kilometers from east to west, and more than 1000 kilometers from north to south. The Huns were all cavalry, with strong mobility, difficult to capture and strong combat effectiveness. However, the old famous generals of the Han Dynasty, such as Han Anguo, Li Guang and Cheng Buji, could not adapt to such large-scale and high-intensity mobile warfare. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty found that the two young men who were born in humble backgrounds had military talents, so they had the opportunity to exercise in actual wars, prove their abilities, and then make exceptions, Let them surpass all the generals and grant them the supreme command of the Northern Expedition; Wei Qing and Huo Qubing also proved themselves to be the best militarists with their superhuman command ability and amazing military achievements.
Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was unique in Chinese history in his ability to know and employ people and his great courage. I am afraid that one of the most important qualities of a leader is to know people and to be good at their posts. On this basis, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty is worthy of being one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history.