Battle of Xiapi

Battle of Xiapi

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Xiapi
partof=the wars of the Three Kingdoms

date=Winter 198
place=Xiapi, Xuzhou (Present-day Pizhou, Jiangsu)
result=Cao Cao and Liu Bei victors
combatant1=Cao Cao, Liu Bei
combatant2=Lü Bu
commander1=Cao Cao, Liu Bei
commander2=Lü Bu#
casualties2=10,000 dead, wounded or captured
The Battle of Xiapi (下邳之戰) occurred in the winter of 198 between the forces of Lü Bu against the forces of Liu Bei and Cao Cao in the prelude to the Three Kingdoms period of China and was the result of the Battle of Yan Province. Cao Cao and Liu Bei emerged victorious against Lü Bu's forces.


Lü Bu betrayed Cao Cao and Liu Bei and joined Yuan Shu again. Lü Bu claimed Xiapi as his own forcing Liu Bei to serve him. Zhang Fei began trouble and relations broke down. After Lü Bu seized Xiapi Castle, Liu Bei went to Cao Cao for help. Being surrounded on all sides, Lü Bu was a major threat to Cao Cao and thus sent an envoy to Liu Bei to suggest a joint attack, but Lü Bu discovered the plot.


At Xiaopei, Lü Bu sent Gao Shun to attack Liu Bei for his betrayal. Xiahou Dun was sent by Cao Cao to assist Liu Bei. After being shot in the eye with an arrow Xiahou Dun had to retreat, and Liu Bei was defeated. Thereafter, Cao Cao decided to lead an expedition against Lü Bu personally. When Cao Cao arrived, he surrounded the city, letting the heavy snows lower enemy morale. But the plan didn't work, in doing so, Lü Bu, sends both Hou Cheng and Wang Kai to ask for assistance from Yuan Shu in Nanyang. Lü Bu planned to surrender to Cao Cao, but Chen Gong was conscious of his own guilt and stopped him.

But the greedy Yuan Shu used this opportunity to take advantages from Lü Bu, asking for Red Hare as the prize. During night times sometimes between the day of the attack, Lü Bu marched on to Nanyang, but his way was halted by both Guan Yu then Zhang Fei. Forcing Lü Bu to retreat and the hope of reinforcements from Yuan Shu was dashed. At the same time, he led over 1,000 cavalry out of the castle to battle, but he was defeated and had to retreat back to the city of Bao. From then on, he didn't dare to venture out again.

Yuan Shu did not send any troops to aid Lü Bu. Although Lü Bu was a good fighter, he couldn't think of any plans and became very suspicious of the factions in his army, though he still trusted his generals. His generals; however, had conflicting opinions and many doubts. As a result, they lost most of the battles that they fought. During the third month of the siege, all the defenders lost their heart to fight. Hou Cheng, Song Xian, and Wei Xu tied up Chen Gong and forced his troops to surrender to Cao Cao. Meanwhile, Lü Bu and some of his followers ascended Bai Meng Lou. When the siege intensified, Lü Bu surrendered to Cao Cao. [ Sanguozhi biography of Lü Bu] ]


*This is the second time Lü Bu fights at Xiapi, in the first Battle of Xiapi in 197 A.D. Lü Bu defeats Yuan Shu.

In "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"


Chen Gui wanted to send Han Yin to Xu Chang to be trailed, but Lü Bu hesitated when he heard that Liu Bei was rounding up soldiers. Song Xian and Wei Xu reported that after they bought three hundred horses in the Hua Shang Mountains, rogues on the border of Xiaopei territory attacked them and stole half of their horses. Lü Bu was furious and immediately assembled his army near Xiaopei and waited for Liu Bei to appear. Lü Bu told Liu Bei of Zhang Fei’s act and immediately Zhang Fei came to challenge Lü Bu. Lü Bu rode forth and the two warriors engaged in a reckless battle. They fought for a hundred bouts, without any advantage to either side. Liu Bei recalled Zhang Fei from battle and offered Lü Bu to have all the horses returned in exchange for peace. Lü Bu was ready to accept when Chen Gong interfered.

Liu Bei’s army retired and by the fourth watch, his whole forces left Xiaopei through the north gate. Song Xian and Wei Xu pursued but were driven off by Zhang Fei. Zhang Liao tried as well, but was deterred by Guan Yu. Lü Bu made no effort to chase Liu Bei and entered Xiaopei. [ Sanguoyanyi biography of Lü Bu] ]

Lü Bu learned that Liu Bei and Cao Cao were scheming to bring him down. Lü Bu was alarmed, he planned his counter moves. Zhang Liao and Gao Shun went to attack Liu Bei in Xiaopei. Song Xian and Wei Xu went to take Runan and Yingchuan. Lü Bu took charge of a large body of soldiers, ready to aid when needed.

The attack on Xiaopei was slow; Liu Bei and his brothers defended the gates and kept Zhang Liao and Gao Shun out of the city. In the meanwhile, Liu Bei sent a messenger to Cao Cao for help. Soon news reached Gao Shun about Cao Cao’s reinforcements. He sent messengers to Lü Bu, who sent two hundred cavalrymen along with Hou Cheng, Cao Xing, and He Meng to assist in the attack.

Gao Shun retreated from attacking Xiaopei as Cao Cao’s reinforcements approached. Xiahou Dun was the first one to arrive. He set out his spear and challenged Gao Shun. The two fought for thirty bouts, and Gao Shun became tired and turned back. Xiahou Dun immediately chased him, however from Lü Bu’s troops, Cao Xing shot an arrow full into Xiahou Dun’s left eye. He pulled out his eye and swallowed it. Wasting no time, Xiahou Dun charged towards Cao Xing and mortally wounded him. Both sides stared in amazement. Having slain the man who injured him, Xiahou Dun turned back. Gao Shun immediately pressed the attack, and Xiahou Yuan defended his brother while they fled. Having scored a victory, Gao Shun returned to attack Liu Bei with Lü Bu and Zhang Liao.

Zhang Fei and Guan Yu came out to defend their city, Liu Bei stayed behind as a backup force. Zhang Liao and Gao Shun engaged the two brothers, and Lü Bu attacked their rear, forcing them to flee. Liu Bei and score of cavalrymen went back to Xiaopei, and Lü Bu rushed to catch up with him. The drawbridge was lowered but the archers on the gates were afraid to shoot their arrows because Liu Bei was so close to Lü Bu. The gate guards were unable to stop Lü Bu from coming in, and were scattered in all directions. Lü Bu led his forces into the city. Liu Bei saw no chance of reaching his family, so instead he fled through the west gate. Lü Bu arrived at Liu Bei’s residence where he met with Mi Zhu, their guardian. Lü Bu promised not to harm Liu Bei’s family and sent them to Xuzhou with Mi Zhu. Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei fled to Xuchang.

Cao Cao’s army camped at Ji Bei where the sick Xiahou Dun recovered from his wound. Cao Ren was sent to recapture Xiaopei with three thousand soldiers, while he himself would attack Lü Bu. Cao Cao encountered the Tai Shan Mountain bandits that Lü Bu hired. Xu Zhu went out to battle and easily drove them off. When they scout told Lü Bu, he left Xu Zhou in the care of Chen Gui and took off with Chen Deng.

On Chen Deng’s advice, Lü Bu sent his family to Xiapi along with many carts of grain as a precaution. While Chen Gong was holding off Cao Cao at Xiao Pass, Chen Deng advised Lü Bu to make a night raid on their forces before they would break through. So it was arranged that when the flares were lit, Lü Bu would make a charge at night. Chen Deng also went to Chen Gong and advised him to retreat and use a flare to alert Lü Bu and go back to Xiapi. When Lü Bu saw the flare he moved in to attack, he met Chen Gong’s force who was retreating but with no lights, Lü Bu could not distinguish his ally from his enemy. While the battle went on, Cao Cao vanquished the Tai Shan bandits. When morning came, the plot was discovered and Lü Bu joined with Chen Gong to go back to Xu Zhou. However, as they reached Xu Zhou the gates would not open as Chen Gui and Mi Zhu had taken over the city from inside.

When they couldn’t detect Chen Deng, they made their way to Xiaopei. Zhang Liao and Gao Shun met with them half way and told them Chen Deng had sent them away to help Lü Bu. Chen Deng plotted this and Lü Bu immediately headed for Xiaopei.

Chen Gong advised Lü Bu to attack Cao Cao, but Lü Bu would not listen after so many defeats, and thus he waited for Cao Cao to reach the city. Lü Bu awaited Cao Cao at the top of the gate and proposed peace if Cao Cao would withdraw immediately. However, Chen Gong railed at Cao Cao and shot an arrow in his helmet. Therefore, the attack on Xiapi began. [ Sanguoyanyi biography of Lü Bu] ] Luo, Guanzhong "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"]


For three days, Lü Bu did nothing. Next came news that supplies for Cao Cao were on the way from Xuchang. Chen Gong proposed that Lü Bu intercept the supplies and leave the city to his generals. Lü Bu stayed in his private quarters, drinking away his sorrows with his women.

Zhang Fei and Guan Yu barred the road and Lü Bu was forced to take a side road. Even though he was strong, Lü Bu could not take any risk with the girl on his back. Both parties attacked him and he had no choice but to go back to Xiapi. He was broken hearted as he reached his residence, and the besiegers celebrated their victory. Lü Bu found consolation in a cup of wine.

The siege had gone on for two months, and the city was still standing. News reached Lü Bu that Zhang Yan, Governor of Henei, was inclined to come to the aid of Lü Bu. However, one of his subordinates, Yang Chou, assassinated Zhang Yan and was going to offer his head to Cao Cao. Then, Kui Gu, a colleague of the Governor, killed Yang Chou and led his force to Dai Cheng.

Hearing this, with Xun Yu's advice, utilizing two nearby rivers, Cao Cao devised a new plan to take Xiapi by drowning the city. When Lü Bu was told of this plan, he dismissed any danger and went back to drinking more wine with his wife and concubine. The result of drinking so much wine became visible as Lü Bu looked into his mirror one day, only to see a shadow of his former self. Saddened by this, Lü Bu gave out a new order, saying that anyone who would drink wine would be executed without consideration.

Cao Cao built a floodgate to overcome his reach to capture the city. He let the city flood and Lü Bu's troop morales drastically lowered. With it, many officers and soldiers started to defect. As a result of the flood, Lü Bu's behavior became erratic, and he started drinking, but swore off it. A servant offer Lu Bu a drink, and was severely punished, thus the relationship with his men was tense. Lü Bu's men rebelled against him by giving Lü Bu's steed Red Hare to Cao Cao, in addition to opening the gates and leading Cao Cao to Lü Bu, the drunken Lü Bu was caught off guard and was captured. Brought before Cao Cao, he was executed.

Now one of his generals, Hou Cheng, lost some horses. He found out that his servant Hou Cao stole them and wanted to sell them to Liu Bei. Hou Cheng recovered the horses and killed Hou Cao. To celebrate this occasion, Hou Cheng ordered fine wine to be made. Lü Bu ordered Hou Cheng to be executed; however, Song Xian and Wei Xu persuaded Lü Bu to spare his life. Instead, Hou Cheng received fifty lashes of the whip.

The next day, Hou Cheng had stolen his red hare and given it to Cao Cao. Lü Bu with his trident grew angry with Wei Xu for letting Hou Cheng go, but before anything could be done, a while flag was raised and another attack on Xiapi began. Lü Bu concentrated on the attack and the siege last until noon.

Lü Bu was very fatigued and went to sleep in his tower. Wei Xu and Song Xian stole his weapon, and before Lü Bu could wake up, they threw him to the ground and bound him with ropes. Lü Bu called for his guards but other traitors slew them. A while flag was raised, the gates flung open, and the enemy entered the city. Zhang Liao, Gao Shun, and Chen Gong tried to escape the city, however they were cut off by the water and were captured by Cao Cao’s generals. The rivers were put in their normal course and the siege had ended.

Gao Shun was brought in, but he had no words for Cao Cao and was taken outside to be executed. Next, Chen Gong was brought in and Cao Cao questioned him. Chen Gong had no remorse over his choices, and chose death over the dishonor of defection. Cao Cao promised to take care of Chen Gong’s family, and had him executed along with Gao Shun.

Liu Bei had no intention to let Lü Bu live. Cao Cao ordered Lü Bu to be strangled. Lü Bu was led away by the guards to be executed.

The capture of a drunken Lü Bu by his own men was a fictional part from the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". Historically, Lü Bu surrendered himself, due to the three month siege and many consecutive losses. But nonetheless, Cao Cao still had him executed in February, 199 AD.

Modern References

Despite the inclusion of Lü Bu from the very beginning of the "Dynasty Warriors" series for the Playstation 2, the Battle of Xiapi has not been one of the many playable stages until "Dynasty Warriors 4". Players can follow history by making various generals defect and easily win the battle.


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