Stories from History: Tiandan Used Oxen to Win a War


PureInsight | August 26, 2007

[] During the
Warring Kingdoms period (475-221 B.C.), Yan attacked Qi and captured
all of the Qi territory except two cities: Jucheng and Jimo. Tiandan
was the commanding general in charge of defending Jimo. He had a very
clever strategy. He said to the Yan army: "We are out of food. Please
let us come out to surrender tomorrow."

That night, Tiandan ordered his army to have one thousand oxen covered
with bright red satin sheets painted with dragons, tied a dagger on
each bull horn, and tied a burning rope on the oxen's tails. He then
ordered the oxen to be released and had soldiers follow them. City
dwellers beat drums and shouted together. Yan's army woke up in panic
from their dreams and saw many sharp horns with strange fiery bodies
rushing towards them. Yan's soldiers paniced and fled. Tiandan
exploited the victory and continued to pursue and attack his enemy. In
just a few months he recovered all of the Qi territory.

Who would think of using farming oxen to be the vanguard? His stratagem
produced extraordinary efficacy. Of course, the success of the oxen
with flares tied to their tails to overwhelm the enemy may have been
because Qi wasn't destined to be destroyed at that time.

From Historical Records by Sima Guang


Translated from:

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