Guo Tu

Guo Tu


Guo Tu (? - 205) was an esteemed advisor under the warlord Yuan Shao during the Three Kingdoms era in ancient China. Yuan Shao's often sought his advice for civil and military decisions, as Yuan Shao always delayed when faced with a decision.

In the Service of Yuan Shao

Cao Cao and Yuan Shao faced off with each other at the battle of Guan Du. Yuan Shao dispatched Chunyu Qiong and others to guard the Wuchao granaries, where Yuan kept his food supplies. Cao Cao personally led a raid on Wuchao with few men under disguise as Yuan's troops, as to debilitate Yuan Shao. Zhang He, one of Yuan Shao's generals, said to Yuan Shao: “Duke Cao’s armies are elite, they would surely defeat Chunyu Qiong. After Chunyu Qiong is defeated, the army will scatter. Instead let me and Gao Lan reinforce Wu Chao.” Guo Tu remarked, “Zhang He’s plans are bad. Instead, let us attack the original source (referring to Cao Cao’s main camp), power will surely return to our side." "This explanation is why reinforcements should not be sent.” Zhang He then replied: “Duke Cao’s encampment is solidified, it is too hard to uproot. If Chunyu Qiong’s camp is captured we will be depleted and captured in turn.” "Cao will be too enveloped in taking Wuchao to leave a guard. I entreat you to attack his main camp." Yuan Shao didn’t send the reinforcements to aid Chunyu Qiong, instead he sent 5 companies under Zhang He and Gao Lan to attack Cao's main army. Through a ruse involving Xu Chu and Zhang Liao, they beat out Chunyu Qiong and Yuan was led to believe that the granaries had been successfully defended. Yuan Shao's army was attacked on 3 sides, and when the men came back from Wu Chao, they came up on Yuan's rear, surrounding the 5 companies. However, Zhang He and Gao Lan escaped, but altogether Yuan Shao’s army suffered an agonizing defeat. When Chunyu reached the main army, which was devastated, he was brought in to see Yuan Shao. Yuan railed at him asking why the defenses of the granary had been sparse. Chunyu's men told Shao that Chunyu had been intoxicated that night, and Chunyu Qiong was executed forthwith. Guo Tu was ashamed and plotted against Zhang He and Gao Lan, and said to Yuan Shao, "Zhang He and Gao Lan were glad when your armies were defeated. "He was asked how he knew this and thus replied, "They have long wished to defect to Cao Cao, so when you put them on this duty, they did not try their best and brought on this disaster. Yuan then sent a messenger to recall and interrogate them, but Gao Lan knew of the plans ahead of time and when the messenger came to recall them, he killed him and both he and Zhang He truly defected to Cao, lest they be destroyed. They were warmly welcomed by Cao Cao.

After the death of Yuan Shao

After Yuan Shao died in 202 AD, Guo Tu became a staff advisor to Yuan's eldest son, Yuan Tan.During the impending attack on Jizhou, after the defeat at Guan Du, Guo Tu was sent to muster Yuan Tan's troops. Further on, as the leader of the Yuan family was being decided (Yuan Shao being dead) Guo Tu was sent to talk to Yuan Tan's younger brother Yuan Shang, whom Yuan Shao had destined for succession. I must note that Yuan Shang had two advisors that were very crafty in their dealings, and it was Guo Tu's idea to separate the two men as to make it easier for Yuan Tan to win over Yuan Shang's title. When Guo Tu reached Yuan Shang, Yuan Shang gave Yuan Tan the title of General and ordered him to attack Cao Cao. Guo Tu asked, since no men of Yuan Tan were fit to give advice, if Yuan Shang could send his two advisors to help. Yuan Shang could only but send one, whom Guo Tu accompanied back to Yuan Tan. Upon reaching Yuan Tan, the advisor grew suspicious and retired to his chambers. He then entrusted a message to be brought to Yuan Shang saying, "Guo Tu is very guilefull and is likely planning to harm you after Cao Cao is dealt with. Me being here is only to weaken your current situation. I advise letting Cao Cao do your work for you and withhold reinforcements." He did so, but Yuan Tan found out of the ruse and killed his brother's advisor. News of this reached Yuan Shang and he began to worry of his brother's defection, in which case Cao would approach his city without opposition, so he marched to help his brother at once. They arrived and immediately was stricken with many defeats against Cao Cao. So Yuan Tan and Shang went on the defensive and Cao withdrew momentarily. Again suspicion arose between Tan and Shang and Guo Tu advised Tan set up a banquet for his brother's victory and assassinate him forthwith. The ruse was discovered by Shang, who brought 5 companies with him and besieged the city in which Tan resided. Guo Tu, seeing defeat definite, advised surrendering to Cao, which Tan went about doing. Cao came with men and when he came upon the besieged city, Shang retreated back to Jizhou. Jizhou was besieged and Shang surrendered and was spared. Tan was to marry one of Cao's daughters and was sent to the capital, away from Guo Tu. Guo Tu vanishes from history after this point. He may have been given a minor role in government after Cao's victory.

See also

*Three Kingdoms
*Han Dynasty
*End of Han Dynasty
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*"Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms"
*"Romance of the Three Kingdoms"


*Luo Guanzhong's 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'
*Kongming's archives <>
*Kongming's history <>

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