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Map of Yangtze RiverYangtze River

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  From the flat bank appears a Sharp rock escarpment dotted with pavi1ions and paths. This is Yangtze Riverthe site of the great Battle of the Red Cliff between the huge forces of Cao Coif Wei and the combined, 1esser armies of Shu and Wu in AD 208. Cao Cao had consolidated the power of the Kingdom of Wei in the north and sought to extend it to the Yangtze. His troops, all from the northern plains, were not accustomed to naval warfare. Nevertheless, he took his army of 200,000 men to launch his attack on the Kingdom of Shu, whose king, Liu Bet, called upon the King of Wu for assistance.

  In urgent need of 100,000 arrows to repel the invaders, Zhuge Liang (adviser to Liu Bei) devised a brilliant stratagem. Twenty naval junks, beating war drums, but stacked high with only bundles of straw shrouded in black cloth, feigned an advance on the Wei encampment on a dark, foggy night. The Wei commanders Responded by discharging their arrow into the indistinct hulks on the junks. By dawn, each junk bristled with thousands of arrows, more than enough for the army's requirements.

  By another ruse, Cao Cao was persuaded by a spy in his camp to secure all his boats together for a forthcoming attack, so that his soldiers Yangtze Riverwould feel as if they were on firm ground. The armies of Wu and Shu set fire to the boats in the midst of the battle and, with a favorable wind, the great conflagration brought about the defeat of Cao Cao. who fled northwards.

  Red Cliff itself is said to have been forever scorched red by the flames of this day-long battle. In a victory celebration, General Zhou Yu of Wu, flourishing his writing brush, jubilantly inscribed the gigantic characters 'Red Cliff (Chi Bi) on the cliff face, which can be seen to this day.

  Pavilions on the hill commemorate specific incidents in the battle, and there is an exhibition of over 2,000 weapons, dating from the Three Kingdoms period, that were found in the area. The story of the battle is known to all Chinese, and the makestlle site a very popu1ar tourist spot.


DongTing Lake

• Three Kingdom's Red Cliff

Han River