UNIT: White Horse Cavalry 白馬義從


In the bloody aftermath of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, the weakened Han dynasty was further plunged into chaos during the regency of the despotic Dong Zhuo: a man who was so reviled that he poisoned the 13 year old Emperor Shao and held the rest of the entire Han imperial clan as hostage. Over night, nearly all of the governors of the Empire (who had to a fault amassed their own private armies during the Yellow Turban crisis) rebelled. Instead of a cohesive "empire"- the Han had fragmented into hundreds of semi- autonomous military garrisons.


It was every province, every city versus a blighted and usurped capital. Though nearly all of them maintained a public stance to restore the hostage Emperor Xian, to bring Dong Zhuo to justice, and to ultimately restore the authority of the Han dynasty- in their hearts, only few of them truly believed their rhetoric- it was quite apparent the Han was beyond saving. All of them had tasted power- civil plus military power that was due to would- be rulers and none was interested in giving up that power to prop up a terminally failing regime.


Consequently, the defense of their respective domains fell not to the purview of some distant, usurped capital but directly rested on the shoulders of the regional governors themselves. It was in this context- during a drastic transition between centralized power to local power, from a hierarchical imperial bureaucracy to a patchwork of simultaneously distrustful warlords.that the 白馬義從- the "white horse cavalry" or lit: "Righteous White Horses Volunteers" were created.

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FORMATION

While the hundreds of military governors stationed near the heartlands consolidated their forces in great patchwork of alliances, alliances that previous unknown figures like Cao Cao, Sun Jian,and  Liu Bei, would make their names and in time became great warlords. For the governors on the frontiers of the Empire, they were faced with an entirely different sets of problems. To them, Dong Zhuo was for the other generals to be vanquished, for the nomadic Xianbei and the Xiongnus (or Asiatic Huns) the historical arch-nemisis of the Han dynasty have breached through northern China's defenses and raided deep into the Han boarders now that they sensed Han weakness. 


One could imagine the difficult context which the northern governors faced, for those who watched the HBO series "Game of Thrones," it was like the Night's Watch- defenders of the Wall (the Han Great Wall) was not only limited with a paltry garrison against a massive tide of enemy invaders, sometimes several confederacy of hordes. But they were also utterly alone since the rest of the realm was locked in warring with each other and unable to sent any reinforcements for them at all.

Not much is known of his early life but that he studied under Lu Zhi with Liu Bei, and was appreciated by a mayor surnamed Hou who made Gongsun his son-in-law. He was deployed by He Jin to quash rebellions in the north which he did successfully.  Following a misunderstanding with his lord, he attacked his master and won control of the surrounding area; During this time his former classmate Liu Bei came to serve him and got allocated the city of Pingyuan to defend.

THE COMMANDER


公孫瓚任長史間以數十騎兵擊敗數百鮮卑騎兵,升為涿令。光和(三國志)或中平(後漢書)年間,因要討伐涼州賊被授與都督行事傳。

It was recorded in the "Record of the Three Kingdoms" that a fiery military commander named Gongsun Zan of Youzhou (modern Hebei and Liaoning) promptly responded to these incursions with a series of resounding victories. In one recorded instance, riding head on with only a dozen of his bodyguards and "他善使双头铁矛," "his favored two-headed iron trident" he managed to break through and route hundreds of Xianbei horsemen. Gongsun Zan had already been a veteran cavalry commander before the crisis before the empire shattered, and it was this primary attribute that he was posted along the empire's northern front.

Above: Eastern Han around 192 before disintegrating into high warlordom. The Great Wall and other northern defenses are marked in red. On the bottom left you will find a size comparison with Commodus'' Rome. Nominally, the impotent Han Emperors would not be removed until 220 A.D.

In all manners, Gongsun Zan was an extremely aggressive commander- who realized very early on that since the empire was fragmented, he wasn't in any position to depend on the commanders that posted on the sections of the Great Wall to both his left and right flank. After all the empire is in chaos, and without a central power to order all the commanders work together like a unified shield wall, to protect each other for the greater good and to patch up any breaches, each governor along the wall was entirely on their own in dealing with the barbarians.


Gongsun Zan also realized very early on that he could not commit his already limited and outnumbered troopers to endless attrition battles. No, he did not have either the spare men nor reinforcements to realize that kind of defense. Thus- he did the unthinkable, he rode out strongly and openly sought out battle against some of the best riders of the Central Asian steppes. To accomplish this very difficult goal and realize his doctrine, he picked an elite crack cavalry unit of 3,000 riders known as the 白馬義從 "Righteous White Horses Volunteers," or "White Horse Cavalry."

EQUIPMENT & ORGANIZATION


由於公孫瓚酷愛白馬,因而部隊清一色全是白色的戰馬,而部隊為表達忠心,均高喊:「義之所至,生死相隨!蒼天可鑑,白馬為證!」因而得名——白馬義從。

"As Gongsun Zan loved white horses, so his crack troops were all assigned white war horses, and for the volunteers to express devotion to the cause of defending the frontiers, all shouted: "For righteousness in life and death! As Heaven is my eternal witness, my white horse is my evidence!"

This elite section was so named because all 3,000 of them were all assigned pure white horses when they rode into battle. According to fanciful speculations, the chroniclers of the later Three Kingdoms period seemed to believed he was inspired to use all white horses in battle when he learned that the barbarians considered these animals sacred and would run from them instead of fighting. What is incontrovertible was that the 3,000 were his best riders and shooters who fought like their steppe counterparts but was better armored. Essentially a nimble medium cavalry that could both skirmish and exploit weak points in a deadly charge.

Typical armor of a Han dynasty soldier, (both Western and Eastern Han.)  Lamellar armor with flexible scaled paudrons and faulds. These types of troopers would have served as either infantry or cavalry. As with all Han troops, and Chinese troops throughout Chinese history, they were armed with a variety of weapons, including a long sword, a spear, as well as bow and quiver. This soldier wore a distinctive archer's bracer. 

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The horsemen were assigned the best equipment Zan could muster, from medium armor that covered up most of the horseman's body- including lamellar collars and greaves and sometimes a medium lacquered shield. As for weapons, they would have been equipped similar to the rest of the Han cavalry, with ji halberds, which could both thrust as well as cut, a steel forged Han longsword (straight with ringed pommels), a recurve bow and a large quiver. The combination of versatility with decent protection essentially allowed them to attack any position and respond to whatever resistance with appropriate force. It was for this reason that they led many of Gongsun Zan's attacks ahead of his rank and file cavalry and infantry.


DOCTRINE AND CAMPAIGN

To fight foes much bigger than himself, Zan essentially pursued a sustained state of hit-and-run defense. As governor- he was keenly adware of the various advantageous terrains his domain possessed- certainly more than an encroaching horde of foreign invaders. As such, he would post look outs and scouts along the various key points in his territory to detect the movements of the enemy horde. Steppe invaders have always utilized to doctrine of hitting weak Han points while avoiding the slow and lumbering Han retaliation columns- as such Zan always made sure he knew where the bulk- the "heart" of the enemy horde is located.


Instead of defending a large tract of his boarder and garrison each section- which he couldn't possibly do anyway due to his low number of soldier, instead he stationed concentrated detachment of troops at key forts. When a massive horde appears, he would shadow its movements, gauge their numbers, calculate a general time frame for them to receive reinforcements through skirmishing with them. Then, once he probed all the weaknesses and mapped out where the heart of the horde was located he would concentrate his forces into a concentrated vanguard and thrust deep into the enemy center.

Gongsun Zan's doctrine was essentially an intensified version of the classic barbarian-repellent doctrine of the Han dynasty: secure a strong unbreakable line of defense, then project out with an ample, well protected supply train, force and lock the enemy horde into a set piece battle by threatening its heart, then vanquish them. If the battle was lost- retreat to the defense line and regroup with reinforcements. Zan would essentially tailor this classic doctrine to focus almost entirely on scouting and breakthrough tactics.


Usually, he would attacked using hammer and anvil tactics, whenever one wing would pin a foe down the other immediately tried to strike the foe from the flank in a devastating charge. Other times he divided his forces into 3 sections with the White Horse Cavalry at the center. It was recorded in the "History of the Three Kingdoms" and the "Book of Late Han" that against the Hunnic Xianbe and Xiongnu tribes they charged like a meteor.


For nearly ten years from 181 to 191, this doctrine proved extremely deadly against his steppe foes, more than a dozen steppe encroachments were soundly repelled. It would seem that, for the steppe invaders who had always preferred an endless series of running-battles where their nimble horse archers could dart around, encircle a foe then shower them with arrows was utterly unprepared to be forced on the defensive. So as to say- Zan "out Hunned the Huns."

Against such a sudden compact attack that threatened their chieftan's household, the royal corral, their supplies as well as their women and children, there was just nothing in the steppe arsenal that allowed them to "defend"  against this ripper. Since then, Zan became known throughout the northern frontiers as the "White Horse General." However, the fiery Gongsun Zan was not satisfied.


EXPANSION


Above: Political landscape of the Han successor states in 191 after the destruction of the Yellow Turban Rebellion and removal of Dong Zhuo. Gongsun Zan's north is marked in yellow, Yuan Shao in orange, Cao Cao is marked in blue, while Sun Jian held the south and is marked in red. Other governors would hold the south and the west in disdain of any higher authority. Though all the regional governors (professional warlords by this point) paid lip service to the teenager Emperor Xian- who was restored to his throne by the victorious governors. In fact, the boy had no authority at all and was simply propped up by his rescuers as their mouthpiece. 

With the northern frontiers secured, Gongsun Zan turned his sight back toward his shattered realm. It would seem another world has replaced the empire that he once knew. The last embers of the Yellow Turban Rebellion was stumped out, the tyrant Dong Zhuo was slain by his own lieutenant- the invincible and dangerously unstable Lu Bu. Across the Empire, charismatic warlords like Yuan Shao, his brother Yuan Shu, and that willy schemer; Cao Cao - all who had made their name in wiping out the Yellow Turbans and destroying Dong had essentially formed a Triumvirate in the central plains right beneath his boarder. By now they were so powerful- with such a vast legion of lesser garrison commanders who bent their knees to them that they were on the cusp to form their own kingdoms. In fact, that southern general, Sun Jian had flagrantly declared himself as a King of the south, a kingdom which he named as Wu.

Above: Gongsun Zan (yellow) marched on Yuan Shao's hold (orange) on the central plains in 191 A.D. It was one of the first major clashes of what would later be known as the "Three Kingdoms" period. 

A simple fact crept upon him, that while he was busy stumping out the steppe invaders, other factions within the empire had been much more successful in gobbling up their own territories and consolidating their powers. If one would imagine the entire period of chaos as something akin to a strategy game- then he- even with his remarkable gains in the north across several prefectures, was dangerously lagging behind compared to the likes of Yuan Shao, Cao Cao, and Sun Jian. If Zan wanted to preserve all he had won, if he wanted to prevent the powerful (and insanely rich) Triumvirate under his belly from crushing him, he must play his part in the game of supremacy.


A ROYAL GAMBIT

In the winter of 191, when Zan was informed that Yuan Shao- who held vast tract of lands that completely surrounded his southern flank had a major falling out with his brother Yuan Shu- that their armies were openly warring with each other- Zan decided to exploit this advantage and march south under the rhetoric of supporting Yuan Shu (probably in the hope of first removing the most dangerous of the Yuans, and then snuffing out Yuan Shu after the campaign concluded.) It would be the first significant clash of armies between the rival warlords in the contest for dominion of Ji and Qing provinces in northern China. The site of the battle is generally considered to be a site east of Guangzong County, Julu Commandery (present-day Wei County, Xingtai, Hebei).


BATTLE OF JIE BRIDGE 界桥之战

Soon Yuan Shao himself came in force and the two sides met 40 km south of 界桥 Jie Bridge (lit. Bridge of the borderlands, of the margins) a crossing on the Qing River. Gongsun Zan's army had a reported strength of 40,000, consisting of 30,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. He arrayed his infantry in a compact square and divided his cavalry between the left and right wings. In the centre were placed his 3,000 "white horse volunteers" (白馬義從), as the core of his fighting force. Whilst the numbers may have exaggerated, their appearance must have been impressive; Records of Three Kingdoms describes how their white "flags and armor lit up Heaven and Earth". 

Though Yuan Shao's army was of comparable size, it consisted almost entirely of infantry. His commander Qu Yi was placed at the vanguard with 800 crack troops and 1,000 crossbowmen. Behind them stood masses of foot soldiers, numbering in the tens of thousands, commanded by Yuan Shao himself. 

As a historical parallel, it was almost a reflection of the WW2 doctrine between the German Wermacht and the Soviet Red Army, where as Gongsun Zan maximized the almost Blitzkrieg- like concept of a penetration force predicated on the deadly charge of a compact armored vanguard, Yuan Shao essentially thickened his troops into endless defensive layers to dent the enemy thrust, a classic "defense in depth."  

Observing that Yuan's vanguard was thinly spread, the experienced horseman Gongsun Zan ordered a charge by his cavalry. Qu Yi's men formed a shield wall and awaited the onslaught. When Gongsun's cavalry was a mere ten paces away, the crossbowmen loosed waves of bolts, followed by the footsoldiers, who rose with their spears. After a general melée the front of Yuan Shao's line was littered with cut down horses and Gongsun Zan's dead. Gongsun's general Yan Gang was killed in the fighting. Yuan Shao's army is said to have taken 1,000 heads. Having failed to breach the enemy line, Gongsun's cavalry wheeled around and streamed away from the battle, followed by the infantry.

Gongsun Zan attempted to regroup and hold the line of the Qing River. His rearguard clashed with Qu Yi's men at Jie Bridge itself and were driven into retreat. The abandoned Gongsun camp was quickly overrun, its yak tail standard (comparable to the regimental colours of European armies) lost. The White Horse Cavalry as a unit was all but wiped out. 


AFTERMATH

The battle is unique in that it is described in detail in Records of Three Kingdoms. The arrangement of the armies and the tactics used, usually neglected by traditional Chinese histories, are reasonably clear. The battle demonstrates the ineffectiveness of even an experienced cavalry force against a disciplined infantry unit with competent leadership. It is also significant to note that although the numbers involved are very high, the actual fighting is decided by only a small elite portion of the entire army- akin to endemic warfare's use of champions. Once the core was defeated, the demoralized masses quickly follow.

The Battle of Jieqiao halted the southern advance of Gongsun Zan but it was by no means decisive in the protracted struggle between Gongsun and Yuan which lasted until 199. Gongsun returned a year later, in the winter of 192, along the same route. Even though the battle was a setback for Gongsun Zan, it did not impact significantly on his army. Many of the soldiers- including the few remnant of the White Horses who fled must have found their way back to Gongsun in the days and weeks after the battle.

Above: 192-199 Northern China essentially became a dueling ground between Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan, though Zan continued to suffer a series of defeats after the Battle of Jie Bridge, he still had a large army over 100,000 strong that doggedly resisted Yuan Shao's advances. By 199 though, Yuan Shao had essentially became the undisputed master of China's north. 

However, Gong was never in the same position to impose his forces upon Yuan Shao again, in the 8 years of protracted fighting that followed the Battle of Jie Bridge, Yuan Shao would defeat his brother and become the undisputed master of the north as well as western China, crushing Zan in a series of defeats, then, as a last humiliation, Yuan would employ over 10,000 Xianbei barbarian mercenaries from the steppes to crush the beleaguered general. Finally, in early 199, Yuan would besiege Zan's heartlands. Despite all, Zan stil held out with a massive contingent of 100,000 troops.


THE DOOM FORTRESS

Gongsun Zan, after recent military defeats in addition to a famine in his lands, decided to secure his supplies. He built a massive granary- fortress called Yijing to serve as his capital. There he built many large guard towers on top of mounds where his family and his generals lived. There were ten moats around the city and the towers had iron doors with huge grain supplies for Gongsun Zan to use to live out the civil wars for a decade.

In order to "force" his troops to fight harder against the enemy, he locked them out of the fortress city and forced them to held their posts at all costs- thinking this way they would die fighting, instead, most of these troops simply killed their own commanders and surrendered in bulk to Yuan Shao. As for the impregnable city, for half a year it repelled several of Yuan Shao's advances- he even managed to elicit an army of infaous mountain bandits to flank Yuan Shao's siege lines. Despite these flashy ploys though, Zan was utterly surrounded. When he attempted to sally out and outflank Yuan Shao's besiegers, his riders were ambushed and cut down.


Yuan Shao's troops followed up their success by digging tunnels under the city and then supporting them with beams which they later torched. The tunnel went into the center of the city and its collapse caused most of Gongsun Zan's towers to crumble as well- an all out slaughter followed. Realizing the doom of all within the fortress, Gongsun Zan killed his sisters and wives and committed suicide by burning the pagoda where he and his family were locked in. Seeing their lord's death, Zan's advisers to a man rode out and suicidally charged to their death against the lines of incoming halberdiers. Yuan Shao's men climbed into the citadel and cut off Gongsun Zan's head, which was sent to Xuchang to report Yuan Shao's victory to the imperial court. After this "Battle of Yijing" North was Yuan Shao's for the taking.


So...is this it? The miserable end of a regional warlord, the transient career of someone who ultimately failed and the failure of his best troops? You may rightfully ask- what is their significance beyond these desperate years of chaos? Well- it should be stated that the both the spirit of the White Horse Cavalry and a tiny fragment of it "lived" in other iterations.

THE LONE HORSEMAN

An anachronistic modern rendering of young Zhao Yun in Song styled- armor. 

There is a saying that a regiment's men might be wiped out, but so long as the soul of the regiment itself remained: its ethos, its institutional experience, its special expertise remained in the memories of its inheritors, then the regiment still lived, that it could still be reformed around the same ideals and fighting doctrines.

It should be noted that at least one warrior did not forgot the lessons of that fiery General Zan- and the fighting experience of the "Righteous White Horse Volunteers." It was only with hindsight that later historians could appreciate the crucial lessons this frontier corps instilled in a boy among the 3,000 volunteers who had yet to make his name.

The teenager Zhao Yun- who one day would earn the name 赵子龙 "The Son of the Dragon" or "Young Dragon" and be ranked among the legendary "Five Tiger Generals of Shu," would never forget the oath he took when he first joined General Gongsun Zan's service.

A more historically accurate rendering of the armor Zhao Yun and many of his comrades would have worn.

When the north was plunged into chaos, Zhao- then a teenager led a small group of volunteers to join Gongsun Zan's ranks, Around that time, Yuan Shao was recently appointed as the Governor (牧) of Ji Province and his fame was steadily rising, so Gongsun Zan was worried that many people in You Province would choose to serve under Yuan instead of him.

A tomb mural from one of Wuhuan official who served the Han dynasty. Ethnically Proto- Mongolian, they served as vassals to the Han dynasty and throughout the period contributed the best cavalry auxiliary to the warlords of the era, Gongsun Zan, Yuan Shao, and Cao Cao all successively sought out their service. 

When Zhao Yun came to join him, he mocked Zhao, "I heard that all those in your home province wanted to serve the Yuans. Why did you have a change of heart, and decide to correct your mistake?" Zhao Yun, who was known through his life as both an honorable and measured man replied, "The Empire is in a state of chaos and it's unclear who is right and who is wrong. The people are in danger. Those in my home province, after careful deliberation, decided to follow a lord who practises benevolent governance. Therefore, I chose to join you, General, instead of Lord Yuan."

Under Zan, he was assigned as one of the white horses and even led several corps of Wuhuan (some of the best Proto- Mongol auxiliaries who served the Han) cavalry and participated in a dozen of Gongsun Zan's battles against rivals in the north. In late 191, Gongsun Zan appointed Zhao Yun as a general- some say that it was during this time Zhao received his favorite white steed- 白龙, Bai Long, meaning "White Dragon."

Illustration of Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu in anachronistic armor from Koei's massively successful Dynasty Warrior series. Though all three had been no more than mere recruits during the turbulent days following the fragmentation of the Han dynasty, in time these iconic underdogs would establish their own kingdom- called Shu in the semi-tropical Sichuan Basin. Liu would have became a King, and Guan Yu would have been honored posthumously as a literal god of war.

TO DREAM FOR A BETTER WORLD

It was during Zhao's postings that he met another one of Zan's sub generals- Liu Bei who also served Zan with his comrades Guan Yu and Zhang Fei- who all shared bunks and quarters together. Gongsun Zan and Liu Bei had known each other for years having studied together in their younger days- and it was through this introduction that Zhao cooperated with Liu on various tasks in service of Zan. Over the months, Zhao Yun was thoroughly impressed by the brotherly bond of the three warriors, and been greatly inspired by their vision of a better world.


Zhao Yun became very close to Liu Bei and thought about switching his allegiance to Liu. When Gongsun Zan sent Liu Bei to assist his ally, Tian Kai, in a battle against Yuan Shao, Zhao Yun followed Liu Bei and served as a cavalry commander under Liu. Later, when Zhao Yun received news of his elder brother's death, he asked for a temporary leave of absence from Gongsun Zan to attend his brother's funeral. Liu Bei knew that Zhao Yun would not return to Gongsun Zan after leaving, so he held Zhao's hand when he bidding him farewell. Before departing, Zhao Yun- despite his deep wishes said, "I'll not forsake morality" meaning his oath of loyalty.

FOR THE DREAM AGAIN


Around 200 A.D, after the death of Zan and the consolidation of the north under Yuan Shao. Liu Bei- by now a regional commander lost his Xu Province to his rival Cao Cao, he fled north and sought refuge under Yuan Shao, who was also fighting Cao Cao. At the same time, Zhao Yun also came to Ye, the administrative centre of Yuan Shao's territories, where he met Liu Bei again.  The two shared the same room during their stay in Ye. Liu Bei secretly tasked Zhao Yun to help him recruit hundreds of men who were willing to follow him. Using forged documents, they claimed to be soldiers serving under the General of the Left (左將軍) and made off with several regiment interested in joing them before Yuan Shao realized what had happened. With these thousands of new recruits, Zhao Yun and Liu Bei rode out of Yuan's territories and sprinted toward their new homeland in the Jing Province. They would found their own kingdom there. The rest- as they say, is history.

Another illustration of Zhao Yun in anachronistic Song Dynasty armor by the talented Tsuyoshi Nagano which depicted the young warrior carrying Liu Bei's infant son in the siege of Chanban. Zhao would spent nearly 50 years warring for Shu. 

Did he knew then that in the 60 years of war between 3 kingdoms, 3 Kings, hundreds of generals and thousands of champions he would become perhaps the greatest among them all? Did he knew that he would spent nearly 50 years fighting- and nearly winning every battle on Shu's behalf as one of its feared Tiger Generals? Did he knew that when Cao Cao- who eventually brutally united the north and annihilated Yuan Shao would one day invade Liu Bei's capital in Jing Province?

Above: China around 208. Cao Cao (Blue) utterly annihilated Yuan Shao and made the Emperor his puppet, becoming the supreme overlord of all of northern China. In the south, Wu (Red) presided over a vast realm stretching from the Yantze all the way into what is modern Vietnam. The upstart Shu Kingdom (Green), funded by Liu Bei and his ragtag loyalists did their utmost in preserving their small fief in Jing Pronvince. Cao Cao's massive invasion of Jing and subsequent attempt to snuff out Wu in the Battle of Red Cliffs effectively initiated the Three Kingdoms era.

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THE WHITE HORSEMEN LIVES


The an October morning of 208, the walls of Liu Bei's capital of Chanban fell to Cao Cao's onslaught. In the long lead up to the collapse, Liu had uprooted most of its civilians and carried most of them in toll to escape from the plundering army. As the slow snaking column of refugees struggled in a constant sluggish pace, Cao Cao's elite cavalry vanguard appeared on the horizon and dove toward Liu Bei's position. Liu Bei had to flee for his life, galloping away south with Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun and Zhuge Liang, and forced to leave his family and the populace behind. Cao Cao's forces soon captured all of his army and his baggage.

"Zhang Fei on Changban Bridge" (三国志図会内 張飛長阪橋百万勢睨返ス, Japanese ukiyo-e by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi)

Zhang Fei commanded only 20 horsemen as rearguard. He held the river and broke the bridges down; looking fierce and shaking his lance, he shouted, "I am Zhang Yide. Come and battle me to the death!" None of Cao Cao's men dared to go near him, buying time for Liu Bei to escape.

In the chaos, Zhao Yun disappeared, prompting suspicion that he had surrendered to Cao Cao. When someone reported that to Liu Bei, Liu angrily threw a handaxe and said "Zilong (Zhao Yun) would never desert me." What followed was perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in all of Chinese history and one of the most recognized and cherished moments in Asian literature.


In fact, when Zhao Yun heard that Liu's family was left behind, the youth had galloped alone back into the burning besieged city. After carving his way through many besiegers, he found Liu Bei's wife and Liu Bei's infant son- Liu Shang, and strapped the baby on his shoulders. Then, dodging Cao Cao's pursuers and fighting waves of pursuers out of the city, Zhao Yun came back with Liu Bei's infant son Liu Shan along with Liu Bei's wife Lady Gan. With this, Zhao Yun was promoted to General of the Standard (牙門將軍).


For the next 40 years, Zhao Yun would have warred constantly on Liu Bei's behalf in nearly all of Shu's major battles and over hundreds of skirmishes until his death in 228. His particular doctrine of aggressive cavalry charge directly reflected his experiences under Gongsun Zan. The fact that he constantly wore a white armor and rode on his white horse Bai Long "White Dragon" across the battlefields led many to remark that the legacy of the White Horse Cavalry still lived through this lone White Horseman and his soldiers.


"A gentle, affectionate, wise, miraculous being who seemed to be summoned by the land itself to restore order to it. With him, neither accident or disasters could disturb his peaceful balance. I think it reasonable to call him the true general of peace." 

~Wei Yan. One of the Five Tiger Generals at Zhao Yun's funeral in 228.



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