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Dong Xi

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Subject: Huang Zu, Battle of Ruxu (213), 217 deaths, Liu Yao (warlord), 215
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Dong Xi

Dong Xi
General of Sun Quan
Born (Unknown)
Died 217[1]
Traditional Chinese 董襲
Simplified Chinese 董袭
Pinyin Dǒng Xí
Wade–Giles Tung Hsi
Courtesy name Yuanshi (Chinese: 元世; pinyin: Yuánshì)

Dong Xi (died 217),[1][2] courtesy name Yuanshi, was a military general serving under the warlords Sun Ce and Sun Quan in the late Eastern Han dynasty.


  • Service under Sun Ce 1
  • Service under Sun Quan 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Service under Sun Ce

Dong Xi was from Yuyao County (餘姚縣), Kuaiji Commandery, which is in present-day Yuyao, Ningbo, in Zhejiang. He was eight chi tall (approximately 184-190 cm) and was described to be ambitious, generous and highly skilled in combat.[3][4] In 196, after Sun Ce occupied Kuaiji during his conquests in the Jiangdong region, Dong Xi welcomed him at Gaoqian Village (高遷亭). Sun Ce was impressed with Dong Xi at first sight and recruited the latter to serve him. Dong Xi became a Chief Constable (賊曹) under Sun Ce. At the time, the bandits Huang Longluo (黃龍羅) and Zhou Bo (周勃) had gathered thousands of followers in Shanyin (山陰; in present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang). Sun Ce led his army to attack the bandits. Dong Xi participated in the campaign and he personally slew the two bandit chiefs in the midst of battle. For his achievements, he was promoted to "Major of Separate Command" (別部司馬), placed in charge of thousands of troops, and appointed as "Commandant Who Spreads Martial Might" (揚武都尉). He also joined Sun Ce in the campaigns against Liu Xun at Xunyang (尋陽) and Huang Zu at Jiangxia (江夏; around present-day Yunmeng County, Xiaogan, Hubei).[5]

After Sun Ce was assassinated in 200 CE, Lady Wu (the mother of Sun Ce and Sun Quan) was worried that Sun Quan, who had succeeded his elder brother, would be too young to handle the precarious situation in Jiangdong. She consulted Dong Xi about her incertitude, and Dong emboldened her by saying, "The lands in Jiangdong enjoy natural barriers from mountains and rivers, while the good government and virtue of Sun Ce have already won the hearts of the people. The young lord can build on these foundations so that everyone can follow his commands. Zhang Zhao can take charge of internal affairs, while others like me can serve as 'claws and teeth' (a euphemism for military servicemen). With both geographical advantage and popular support, there is certainly nothing to worry about." His sanguine speech was applauded by many.[6]

Service under Sun Quan

Once, Peng Hu (彭虎) from Poyang (鄱陽) rallied thousands of followers and started a rebellion against Sun Quan. Dong Xi, along with Ling Tong, Bu Zhi and Jiang Qin, led separate forces to attack the rebels. Dong Xi knocked down all opposition in his way, and Peng Hu fled when he recognised Dong's banner from a distance away. The revolt was suppressed within 10 days. Dong Xi was appointed as "Colonel of Surpassing Might" (威越校尉) and was later promoted to Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) for his efforts.[7]

In 208, Sun Quan launched a punitive expedition against Huang Zu to avenge his father, who was killed in a battle against Huang around 17 years ago, leading to the Battle of Jiangxia. After losing his vanguard commander to Ling Tong, Huang Zu set up two mengchongs to block the channel across Miankou (沔口), and had a long rope made of coir-palm fibre secured across the gateway, with stones attached to the rope as anchors. In addition to all these defensive measures, Huang Zu also stationed more than 1,000 crossbowmen at Miankou, who rained arrows upon Sun Quan's forces when the latter attempted to push further. Dong Xi and Ling Tong were both commanders of Sun Quan's vanguard force. Each of them led 100 "die hard" soldiers wearing two layers of armour, boarded a large boat, and charged towards Huang Zu's mengchongs. Dong Xi managed to cut the rope with his sword and clear the blockade. The bulk of Sun Quan's army then resumed its advance. Huang Zu escaped through a gate but was pursued and killed by one of Sun Quan's horsemen. The following day, Sun Quan held a banquet to celebrate the victory, during which he toasted to Dong Xi, "The purpose of today's feast is to honour the person who cut the rope!"[8]

In 217, when the warlord Cao Cao led an army to attack Sun Quan's fortress at Ruxu (濡須),[1] Dong Xi accompanied Sun Quan to the frontline to resist the invaders. Dong Xi was appointed as the captain of a five-storey warship (五樓船) and ordered to defend the entrance to Ruxu. One night, a heavy storm broke out and imperiled the warship to capsize. Dong Xi's subordinates evacuated the warship and boarded the smaller boats (走舸; zouges) and pleaded for him to join them. However, Dong Xi replied sternly, "I've received orders to defend this position from the enemy. How can I abandon my post like this? Anyone who dares to speak of this again will be executed!" He then remained alone on the ship, which eventually sank and brought him down as well. Sun Quan donned mourning attire and personally attended Dong Xi's funeral. He later gave out heavy rewards to Dong Xi's family to honour Dong's loyalty and courage.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Sanguozhi mentioned that Dong Xi drowned when his ship sank due to a storm during a battle against Cao Cao's forces at Ruxu. There were more than one battle fought at Ruxu between Sun Quan and Cao Cao during that period. Dong Xi's biography did not state the year in which he died, and lacked details on the battle, so it cannot be accurately determined which Battle of Ruxu he died in. Quote from Sanguozhi vol. 55: (曹公出濡須,襲從權赴之, ... 其夜船敗,襲死。) De Crespigny (2007) believes he died in 217.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ (董襲字元代,會稽餘姚人,長八尺,武力過人。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  4. ^ (謝承後漢書稱襲志節慷慨,武毅猛烈。) Xie Cheng's Hou Han Shu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  5. ^ (孫策入郡,襲迎於高遷亭,策見而偉之,到署門下賊曹。時山陰宿賊黃龍羅、周勃聚黨數千人,策自出討,襲身斬羅、勃首,還拜別部司馬,授兵數千,遷揚武都尉。從策攻皖,又討劉勳於尋陽,伐黃祖於江夏。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  6. ^ (策薨,權年少,初統事,太妃憂之,引見張昭及襲等,問江東可保安不,襲對曰:「江東地勢有山川之固,而討逆明府恩德在民。討虜承基,大小用命,張昭秉衆事,襲等為爪牙,此地利人和之時也,萬無所憂。」衆皆壯其言。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  7. ^ (鄱陽賊彭虎等衆數萬人,襲與凌統、步隲、蔣欽各別分討。襲所向輒破,虎等望見旌旗,便散走,旬日盡平,拜威越校尉,遷偏將軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  8. ^ (建安十三年,權討黃祖。祖橫兩蒙衝挾守沔口,以栟閭大紲繫石為矴,上有千人,以弩交射,飛矢雨下,軍不得前。襲與凌統俱為前部,各將敢死百人,人被兩鎧,乘大舸船,突入蒙衝裏。襲身以刀斷兩紲,蒙衝乃橫流,大兵遂進。祖便開門走,兵追斬之。明日大會,權舉觴屬襲曰:「今日之會,斷紲之功也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  9. ^ (曹公出濡須,襲從權赴之,使襲督五樓船住濡須口。夜卒暴風,五樓船傾覆,左右散走舸,乞使襲出。襲怒曰:「受將軍任,在此備賊,何等委去也,敢復言此者斬!」於是莫敢干。其夜船敗,襲死。權改服臨殯,供給甚厚。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.

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