Biography (SGZ): Jiang Wei (Boyue)

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Jiang Wei (Boyue)
姜維 (伯約)

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
translated by Battleroyale

Jiang Wei zhi Boyue was born in Tian Shui Yi Xuan. He lost his father when he was young and left only with his mother. His father was a county official who died in an attempt to protect the governor during an uprising by the northern tribes. As a result, Jiang Wei took over his father’s post and was tasked to advice the military affairs of the county.

In Jian Xin 6th year, Zhuge Liang launched the first northern expedition aiming at Qi Shan region. Several neighbouring counties of Tian Shui had surrendered to the Shu army. At that moment, Jiang Wei was patrolling the outskirts with his governor. Afraid that Jiang Wei might be colluding with the Shu army, the governor fled secretly at night. When Jiang Wei discovered about that, it was already too late and on returning to Yi Xuan, his own city refused to open the city gates. As such, Jiang Wei proceeded to meet Zhuge Liang. Coincidentally, the Shu army had suffered a setback at Jie Ting, when Zhang He defeated Ma Su. Zhuge Liang gave the order for a retreat back to Shu territory bringing Jiang Wei along with him. Jiang Wei was conferred the Duke of Yang Ting and he was only 27 years old then. Back at Shu, Zhuge Liang had high opinions of Jiang Wei after observing and testing him. As such, Jiang Wei was further promoted to Zhen Xi Jiang Jun after seeking audience with Liu Shan.

In Jian Xin 12th year, Zhuge Liang passed away. Jiang Wei returned to Cheng Du and he was promoted to Duke of Ping Xiang. In Yan Xi 6th year, Jiang Wei was promoted again to Zhen Xi Da Jiang Jun (different Zhen Chinese character) and also in Yan Xi 10th year to Wei Jiang Jun, sharing administrative power with Fei Wei. This year, Jiang Wei led some troops to quell a minor uprising at Han Shan county Ping Kang Xuan. Following which, he ordered his troops to invade Long Xi, Nan An and Jing Cheng. He engaged the Wei generals Guo Zhun, Xiahou Ba at the region west of Tao River.

In Yan Xi 12th year, Jiang Wei embarked on the second northern expedition after receiving orders but was not successful. Jiang Wei always had high opinions of his knowledge of the cultural and lifestyle of the northern tribes as well as his own military abilities. As such, he often intended to use the northern tribes to aid him in the subjugation of the region west of Long Shan. However, Fei Wei frequently restricted Jiang Wei’s actions, rejected his proposals and did not allow him to mobilize more than 10,000 troops.

In the spring of Yan Xi 16th year, Fei Wei passed away. In that summer, Jiang Wei led several tens of thousands troops to attack Nan An. Wei sent Chen Tai to reinforce Nan An and Jiang Wei had to retreat back to Shu territory due to food shortage problem. In the following year, Jiang Wei attacked Long Xi and the defender of Di Dao, Li Jian, surrendered. Jiang Wei proceeded to attack Xiang Wu Xuan and defeated Wei general Xu Zhi’s army, beheading him. Nevertheless, Jiang Wei had to retreat back to Shu territory together with some of the civilians of Di Dao, He Guan and Lin Tao. In Yan Xi 18th year, Jiang Wei, together with Xiahou Ba (who had joined Shu), attacked Di Dao. They defeated the Inspector of Yong province, Wang Jing, at the west of Tao Xi, causing Wei to lose tens of thousands soldiers. Wang Jing retreated back to the city of Di Dao and Jiang Wei laid seige to it. However, Jiang Wei was forced to retreat when the reinforcement led by ChenTai arrived.

In the spring of Yan Xi 19th year, Jiang Wei was appointed as Da Jiang Jun. Once again, Jiang Wei embarked on the northern expedition and he had arranged for Hu Ji to assist his expedition. However, Hu Ji broke his promise and did not arrive. As such, Jiang Wei was badly defeated at Duan Gu by the Wei general Deng Ai. Casualty rate was very high, the region west of Long Shan was destabilized and Jiang Wei suffered heavy criticisms from the populace. Jiang Wei offered apologies and a self-demotion to Hou Jiang Jun. Nevertheless, he resumed his original responsibilities.

In Yan Xi 20th year, Zhuge Dan, Wei’s Zhen Dong Da Jiang Jun based in Huai Nan, rebelled. Seeing this as an opportunity to attack Wei, Jiang Wei led several tens of thousands troops to attack Chen Ling. Wei sent Sima Wang and Deng Ai as reinforcements. A stalemate resulted at Wei Shui, despite Jiang Wei repeated challenges. In Jin Yao 0th year, the rebellion led by Zhuge Dan ended in failure. On receiving the news, Jiang Wei gave orders to retreat. Back at Cheng Du, Jiang Wei was reinstated back to his original rank of Da Jiang Jun.

Jiang Wei proposed to change the defensive strategy and troop deployment for the region of Han Zhong. Previously, Liu Bei and subsequently Wang Ping had adopted an individual defensive strategy for each strategic position. Sufficient troops were thus deployed at each position to repel enemies’ invasion. However, according to Jiang Wei, this strategy, although sufficient for defensive purpose, would not offer any room for a counter-offensive. As such, he proposed a strategy whereby in the event of invasion, the troops at each strategic position would retreat to Han Cheng and Yue Cheng together with all their supplies and equipments. This was to prevent enemies from advancing to the Ping Yuan region. Numerous passes would be set up and troops to be sent to look out for weakness in enemy’s position. When the enemies failed to capture those passes, the morale of its army would drop and food shortages would ensue. During such circumstances, Jiang Wei proposed that a counter-offensive from Han Cheng and Yue Cheng would be launched. This plan was subsequently accepted and troops from various strategic positions were redeployed.

In Jin Yao 5th year, Jiang Wei embarked on another northern expedition but was defeated once more by Deng Ai. Jiang Wei, originally a Wei general, had by now little successes in his military career in Shu. When he got news that there was a possible plot against him by the eunuch Huang Hao and Shu's You Jiang Jun, YanYu, Jiang Wei felt uneasy and did not return to Cheng Du again.

In Jin Yao 6th year, Jiang Wei warned Liu Shan of Zhong Hui militaristic intentions at Guan Zhong. In accordance to that, Jiang Wei proposed to Liu Shan to dispatch troops to Yang Ping Guan in case of emergency. However, the eunuch Huang Hao invited a shaman who predicted that Wei would never invade Shu. As such, the warning was suppressed and the other court ministers did not have a chance to hear of it. It was not until the actual invasion of Zhong Hui at Luo Gu and Deng Ai at Da Zhong that troops led by Liao Hua and Zhang Yi were dispatched to Yang Ping Guan. Nevertheless, Jiang Wei was defeated at Yang Ping by Deng Ai and retreated to Yin Ping. Zhong Hui laid siege to Han Cheng and Yue Cheng. Han Cheng was captured when its defenders surrendered but Yue Cheng put up a strong defense stand and continued to resist. Faced with strong resistance and after learning that the other pass had fallen, Zhong Hui sent his troops deep into the Shu territory. Jiang Wei and Liao Hua gave up Yin Ping and together with Zhang Yi and DongJue faced Zhong Hui at Jian Ge. During then, Jiang Wei rejected Zhong Hui's proposal to surrender to Wei and continue to resist Zhong Hui's attack.

However, Deng Ai had by then infiltrated through Yin Ping Gu Dao and proceeded to attack Zhuge Zhan at Mian Zhou. Subsequently, Deng Ai captured Cheng Du and Liu Shan accepted Deng Ai's proposal to surrender. On receiving orders from Liu Shan to surrender, Jiang Wei proceeded to Fu Xuan with his troops to surrender to Zhong Hui who treated him amicably. Soon, Deng Ai was implicated by Zhong Hui and the latter took over as the governor of Yi Zhou. Zhong Hui plotted to rebel but did not get the support of the Wei soldiers. As a result, Jiang Wei and Zhong Hui were both killed by the soldiers. Jiang Wei's wife and daughters were also not spared.

Copyright © 2002 - 2003 Battleroyale
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi