The Cruelest Army

In 771 BC, Hao, the capital of the Western Zhou Dynasty, was captured by Quan-Rong, a tribe of the Rong Nation. The Heaven-Son, Zhou You-King, was killed. The Capital Hao was destroyed. When many states supported Zhou Ping-King who was the heir of You-King to reoccupy Hao, they found it couldn't be a capital again. So Zhou’s royal family had to move to the east, and chose Luo (Modern-day Luoyang) to be the new capital. Qin Xiang-Gong, the chief of Qin tribe escorted the Heaven-Son to move. This tribe belonged to Huaxia, but it was uncultured, so it was ruled directly by the royal family at that time. In order to thank him, Ping-King gave him the western territory which was ruled directly by the royal family. The chief of Qin tribe became the monarch of Qin State. The royal family had never thought Qin would be a strong country. Qin State captured much land of the Rong Nation, so its land became large. The western areas of the Western Zhou Dynasty were strategic places. The royal family abandoned them, so the royal family gradually declined, but Qin State acquired them, so Qin became strong.

After the death of Qin Mu-Gong who was the ninth monarch of Qin State from 659 BC to 621 BC, Qin State was defeated by Jin State in the battle of Mountain Yao. Since that time, Qin State couldn't recover in a very long time. After fifteen monarchs, in 361 BC, Qin Xiao-Gong ascended the throne. This monarch used Shang Yang to reform, and Qin State became a very strong country. Nowadays many people think Shang Yang disintegrated slavery and made Qin State rich. Some wise scholars point out that, in fact Shang Yang’s reform strengthened slavery and increased poverty. The main three things of Shang Yang’s reform were autocracy, physiocracy and militarism. Shang Yang was a representative of Legalists. Legalists believed in totalitarianism, cruel laws and punishments.

In the times of cold steel, autocratic and wild countries often defeated democratic and civilized countries by their martial forces. Qin State was strong because of its martial forces. This country encouraged farming and fighting. In fact, Farming served fighting, not the happiness of the people. Qin State attached importance to military exploits. If an army man got the head of an enemy, a rank, a homestead and several servants would be awarded to this man. If he got more heads of enemies, he would get more ranks, homesteads and servants. For the warriors of Qin State, it is a way of becoming rich to kill enemies and get their heads. In order that enough prizes could be awarded to troops, Qin State must plunder the wealth of other countries constantly. The cruelest army appeared on the earth.

In 331 BC, Qin’s army defeated the army of Wei State and killed eighty thousand troops of Wei State. In 318 BC, Qin's army defeated the allied armies of five states, and killed their eighty-two thousand troops. In 314 BC, Qin’s army killed ten thousand troops of Han State. In 312 BC, Qin's army defeated the army of Chu State and killed eighty thousand troops of Chu. They captured large portions of land of Chu State. In 307 BC, Qin’s army killed sixty thousand troops of Han State and captured Yiyang which was a strategic place. In 301 BC, Qin’s army killed twenty thousand troops of Chu State. In 293 BC, Bai Qi, a general of Qin State who was famous for his cruelty, defeated the allied armies of the Han and Wei States, and killed their two hundred thousand and forty thousand troops. In 275 BC, the army of Qin State killed forty thousand troops of Wei State. In 274 BC, the army of Qin killed one hundred thousand and fifty thousand troops of Wei State. In 264 BC, Qin’s army killed fifty thousand troops of Han State. In 260 BC, Qin’s army invaded Han State and attacked Shangdang Jun of Han State. The army of Zhao State aided Shangdang. Bai Qi defeated the army of Zhao and beleaguered them. The army of Zhao had to surrender, but Bai Qi actually ordered his army to massacre all of them, and four hundred thousand troops of Zhao State were killed without mercy in Changping which was an area of Shangdang. In the following two thousand years, when people talked about the army of Qin, they couldn't forget the massacre of Changping.

In 256 BC, the army of Qin killed forty thousand troops of Han State, and killed ninety thousand troops of Zhao State. Zhou Nan-King, the last king of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, saw the army of Qin had brought too many calamities to other states, so he organized the allied armies of the six east states. The allied armies couldn't defeat Qin’s army, so they had to withdraw. The army of Qin retaliated against the king of Zhou, and the king of Zhou had to surrender for making his people survive. The old dynasty which existed for eight centuries ended. In the later days, the army of Qin State continually seized the lands of the six east states. In 247 BC, the allied armies of east states which included the Yan, Zhao, Han, Chu and Wei States counterattacked Qin State. The army of Qin was defeated. But the allied armies of east states didn't pursue Qin’s army, and they withdrew. In this year, Ying Zheng, who became the First-Emperor in the later days, ascended the throne.

In 245 BC, the army of Qin killed thirty thousand troops of Wei State. In 244 BC, the army of Qin seized thirteen cities of Han State. In 242 BC, the army of Qin seized twenty cities of Wei State. In 241 BC, the allied armies of the Han, Wei, Zhao, Wei and Chu States (the two Wei were two different states) counterattacked Qin State and reoccupied Shouling which was a lost city of Zhao, but they withdrew when the reinforcements of Qin State came. In 239 BC, Chengjiao, the younger brother of Ying Zheng rebelled. Though he soon surrendered, Ying Zheng forced him to kill himself. All the officers and troops who followed Chengjiao to rebel were killed, and their relatives were also killed. In 238 BC, Lao Ai, a minister of Qin State, rebelled. But he was killed soon, and the officers who followed him were turned asunder by five carts. All of their relatives were killed. Other followers were killed or became slaves.

In 234 BC, the army of Qin killed one hundred thousand troops of Zhao State. In 230 BC, Han State was annexed, and Han’s king was captured. In 228 BC, Zhao’s king surrendered, and Zhao State was annexed. Ying Zheng went to Handan, the capital of Zhao State. He killed every person who offended him in his childhood when he lived in Handan as a hostage. Gongzi Jia, the son of Zhao’s king, led his clan to move to Dai Jun, and called himself the king of Dai. He led his army to unite Yan State to resist against Qin State.

In 227 BC, Jing Ke, a great hero, who was the friend of the heir of Yan State, went to Xianyang, the capital of Qin State. He tried to assassinate the king of Qin, but failed unfortunately. Jing Ke was turned asunder by five carts. In 225 BC, Wei State was annexed, and the king of Wei killed himself. The king of Qin sent Li Xin to lead two hundred thousand troops to attack Chu State. The army of Qin met the strong resistance of Chu’s army, and Li Xin was defeated. The king of Qin was very angry, and Li Xin was dismissed. In 223 BC, Qin’s king sent Wang Jian to lead six hundred thousand troops to attack Chu State. The king of Chu was captured, and the general Xiang Yan supported the younger brother of Chu’s king to ascend the throne. But the new king died in battle, Xiang Yan was very sad and killed himself. Chu State was annexed. In 222 BC, Yan State was annexed, and the king of Yan was captured. Later the army of Qin seized Dai Jun and captured the king of Dai. In 221 BC, Jian, the king of Qi State, thought the army of Qin would attack Qi State, so he ordered three hundred thousand troops to guard the west border, but the army of Qin State invaded the north border of Qi State, and the army of Qi State was defeated. Jian had to surrender.

Jian was taken to Qin State, and he was placed in confinement in a mountain with his wife and a daughter. Qin State only gave a little food to them every day, so they were often hungered. Jian’s daughter always cried in night because of hunger. Jian went out and tried to look for food, but he found nothing but the sound of the wind that blew the pines and cypresses. He thought his fate was made by himself because he trusted crafty sycophants. Jian was very sad and became ill. After several days he died because of illness and hunger. His wife hung herself. But their daughter’s whereabouts was a mystery. When the people of Qi State heard the miserable news, they wrote a poem “the Song of Pines and Cypresses” for their king.

In 221 BC, the six east states had been annexed by Qin State. Ying Zheng called himself “Huangdi” which was the title of an emperor. He became the first emperor of China. Qin Empire was then built. The first emperor started to pay attention to other nations. While several hundred thousand people were building the Great Wall, three hundred thousand troops of Qin Empire captured the Great Bend of the Yellow River, a very fertile area, from the Hun Nation. Five hundred thousand troops seized the large areas of the Yue Nation in the south. The territory of the empire extended to modern-day Vietnam.

In 210 BC, the first emperor died. The following years, in 209 BC, the people of the six east states staged a great uprising. The officers who were from Qin State were killed by the people of the east states everywhere. When Qin’s army suppressed the revolt, more revolts sprung up in other areas. When the people heard the insurrectionary army was coming, they killed the local officers or forced them to support the insurrectionary army. Facing more and more insurrectionists, the army of Qin Empire was continuously defeated. The imperial government found its army had not been able to suppress the wrathful people of the east, and it was scared that the people would attack Qin State. So the imperial government admitted that the east six states were self-governed, and the title of the emperor of Qin State was restored to “king”. Qin State wanted to keep the territory of the Warring-States Period, but the fiercely angry people decided to destroy Qin State. The insurrectionary armies of the east states attacked and entered Qin State. In the past, the army of Qin State trampled the lands of other states, but this time, the land of Qin State was trampled by the troops of other states. What the troops of the east states did at this time was what the army of Qin State did in the past. For vengeance, Xiang Yu, the grandson of Xiang Yan, massacred more than two hundred thousand surrendered troops of Qin State in a night in Xin’an. Xianyang, the capital of Qin State, was annihilated. All the members of the royal family of Qin State were killed. The first empire and its cruelest army were destroyed in blood and ruins by the hatred of the people.

Oriental Style
Since February 6th, 2006
Copyright © Yike Jiang