Biography (SGYY): Shi Huan (Gongliu)

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Shi Huan (Gongliu)
史渙 (公劉)
Lived: ?–209

Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Sam Wrest

Shi Huan (Gongliu)

Shi Huan was a lieutenant commander in the employ of Cao Cao.

In AD 199, Cao Cao received word that the Governor of Henei, Zhang Yang, had been killed by one of his own subordinates, Yang Chou, who intended on delivering the newly captured district to Cao. Chou himself, however, was in turn killed by another of Zhang Yang’s commanders, Sui Gu, who took on governorship of Henei in Yang’s stead. In response, Shi Huan was ordered by Cao Cao to attack Sui Gu and secure the district in Cao’s name. Huan set off immediately and, by the fourth month of AD 199, had captured Henei and killed Sui Gu in a decisive battle. (1)

1: The outcome of Shi Huan’s campaign against Sui Gu is not actually mentioned in SGYY, and there are conflicting accounts of the battle in SGZ. Xu Huang’s SGZ biography states that he, together with Shi Huan, defeated and killed Sui Gu at Henei. Cao Cao’s SGZ biography, however, claims that Shi Huan defeated Sui Gu at Quancheng with Cao Ren, enabling Cao to capture Henei. What the conflicting sources share in common, though, is that Shi Huan played a pivotal role in the expedition.

After the campaign against Sui Gu, Shi Huan was appointed as a corps commander under General Xu Huang. In AD 200, Yuan Shao, who controlled the majority of districts north of the Yellow River, led an attack on Cao Cao at Guandu. In response, Cao mobilised an army seventy thousand strong to reinforce the besieged garrison, in which Shi Huan was selected to command a unit with Xu Huang. During the second month of the conflict, Shi Huan was patrolling the area still under Cao Cao’s control when he spotted a lone soldier in the distance. Suspecting something amiss, Huan quickly apprehended the man, who turned out to be a spy in Yuan Shao’s employ. Taking him back to camp, Shi Huan and Xu Huang interrogated the northerner until he eventually revealed his purpose. “Yuan Shao expects General Han Meng with a shipment of grain,” he said. “They had me out to check the roads.”

The news was quickly reported to Cao Cao, who ordered Shi Huan to attack Han Meng with Xu Huang before Meng could successfully transport his shipment. Huan and Huang set off immediately and discovered Han Meng and his contingent dead into the night. Rallying their few thousand cavalry, Shi Huan and Xu Huang attacked the northern force and drove them into confusion. While Xu Huang was engaging Han Meng himself, Shi Huan led his squad to the grain carts the northern commander was transporting and, after sending their defenders in full flight, set them ablaze. Han Meng quickly fled the scene, and Shi Huan completely destroyed the remainder of his cargo. Returning to Cao Cao after the successful raid, Huan was richly rewarded for his vital role.

Following the removal of Yuan Shao’s grain shipment, Cao Cao was able to thoroughly defeat the northern leader, who fled to his home province of Jizhou. In AD 201, Cao Cao began a campaign against Yuan Shao, beginning with an attack against the town of Cangting. Shi Huan was selected to join the expedition and, together with the rest of Cao’s army, deployed his unit along the northern river. Reports soon arrived that Yuan Shao had mustered his northern army in its entirety and had moved to Cangting to head off Cao Cao’s invasion. In response, Shi Huan and the rest of Cao’s army deployed their own forces in opposition just outside of the town. As the two sides formed up, Cao Cao shouted, “Yuan Shao, your plans have come to naught, your strength is spent. Why hold out?”

Shi Huan then heard Shao turn to his line of commanders, bellowing, “Who will begin?”

Huan recognised Shao’s youngest son, Yuan Shang, quickly taking to the field. In response, Shi Huan couched his spear and raced out from Cao Cao’s line. Huan soon came to grips with Shang, but after several bouts, neither could overcome the other. As the duel wore on, Yuan Shang broke off and began riding hard back to his line. Shi Huan eagerly took up the chase, but as he was, an arrow shot by Shang fatally pierced him through the left eye.

Copyright © 2008 Sam Wrest. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms