The Book of Han (漢書) 94 (English)

The Book of Han is a History of China finished in 111 B.C.E. It covers the history of the Western, or Former Han dynasty from the 206 B.C.E. to 23 C.E. Ban Biao (班彪) began the work, but It was finished by his son Ban Gu (孟堅), a Han court official, with the help of his sister Ban Zhao (班昭). Its structure was based off Sima Qian's (司馬遷) Scribe's Records (史記).

The following year, Ju-di-hou Darǧa died. It was the fifth year of his reign. His eldest son Hu-lu-gu, the Tägin of the East, became the Darǧa. It was the first year of Tai-shi (96 B.C.E.).

Ju-di-hou Darǧa had two sons. His eldest was the Tägin of the East and his youngest was the Grand General of the East. Prior to his death, Ju-di-hou had bequeathed the throne to the Tägin. However, before the Tägin could arrive (at court), the nobles, believing him to be ill, chose to establish (his brother) the Grand General as the next Darǧa. Upon hearing their decision, the Tägin did not risk arriving (at court).

The Grand General then summoned his envoys in order to offer the throne to the Tägin. The Tägin replied that he could not take the throne due to his illness. However, the Grand General would not accept this and stated:

“You should ascend (the throne) for now. Should you succumb to your unfortunate illness, (then) you may give me the throne.”

Upon (hearing) this, the Tägin accepted the throne. He was forthwith named Hu-lu-gu Darǧa. When Hu-lu-gu became Darǧa, he named his younger brother the new Tägin of the East. However, when his brother fell ill and died several years later, he did not name his (brother's) son, Xian-xian-dan, the Tägin of the East. Instead, Xian-xian-dan was granted the title of Ri-zhu King, a rank lower than that of a Tägin. The Darǧa then granted the title of Tägin to his own son.

In the sixth year of Hu-lu-gu's reign, the Xuŋa entered Shang-gu and Wu-yuan, pillaging and massacring the officials and people. In the same year, they returned to Wu-yuan and entered Jiu-quan, killing two district Commandants. Thereupon, the Han dispatched the Er-shi Army General along with 70,000 soldiers to march from Wu-yuan. Similarly, the Imperial Counselor dispatched more than 30,000 soldiers from the Xi-he, while the Chong-he Marquis General Mang-tong traveled over 1000 li from Jiu-quan with 40,000 cavalry.

Word of the Han’s large forces reached the Darǧa, who sent for his baggage train to be moved north of the Çikä River from Zhao Xin City. The Tägin of the East then gathered his people and crossed the Yu-wu River; after traveling 600 to 700 li, he set camp at Dou-xian Mountain. The Darǧa commanded the main army himself and with the An-hou King of the East, (he) crossed the Gu-ju River. The Imperial Counselor arrived in chase, following them through a sloping path. When he could no longer see (them), he retreated.

The Xuŋa (then) sent a force of over 30,000 cavalry under the command of a Grand General to join General Li Ling in pursuit of the (retreating) Han army. (The armies) met at Jun-ji Mountain, (thereupon) they fought battle upon battle for nine days. Although many were killed, wounded, or captured, the Han army (eventually) broke the enemy’s ranks and pushed back (their troops). Upon reaching the Pu-nu River, the barbarians realized their disadvantage, turned (their troops) around, and retreated.

As the Chong-he Marquis and his army reached Taŋri Mountain, the Xuŋa sent their Grand General Yan-qu, their Hu-zhi Kings of the East and West, and over 20,000 cavalry to intercept the Han army. Upon seeing the strength of the Han army, they retreated. The Chong-he Marquis experienced neither success nor failure. At that time, the Han feared that Ju-shi soldiers would intercept (the path of) the Chong-he Marquis; therefore, they sent the Kai-ling Marquis General to rout the Ju-shi soldiers. He defeated them and returned, capturing their king and many of their people.

As the Er-shi Army General reached the border, the Xuŋa sent their Grand Commandant of the West and the General Wei Lu to intercept and attack the Han army at _____ Mountain. The Er-shi (Army General) sent 2000 cavalry from allied (vassal) barbarians to engage (the enemy). The (Xuŋa) barbarians scattered (after incurring) 100 casualties. The Han army wished to take advantage of their victory and pursued (the Xuŋa) north, arriving at the city of Fan Fu-ren. The Xuŋa did not risk opposing (them) and fled.

(It so happened that) the Er-shi (Army General) received news that his wife and children were arrested for witchcraft and sorcery. (Hearing this,) fear and anxiety took hold of him. One of the barbarian officials who served under him and had enlisted in the army as punishment for his crimes advised him:

“Your wife and entire household were detained by government officials. If you choose to return, do not anticipate praise. For should you do so, you will be found guilty and imprisoned. Thus, is it not better to return north of the Çikä (river) and see what can be gained?”

(Upon hearing the man’s words) the Er-shi (Army General) considered (his options). Seeking to obtain merit, he proceeded north and reached the Çikä (river). (However) the barbarians had already fled (the area). So, the Er-shi (Army General) sent the Protectorate General along with 20,000 cavalry beyond the Çikä River.

The day came when they encountered the Tägin and Grand General of the East. The (Protectorate) General, his 20,000 cavalries, and the Han army engaged in battle for a day. The Han army killed the Grand General of the East and (inflicted) many casualties on the barbarians. The Martial Chief Secretary (of the Han) conspired with the Jue-sui Commandant Hui-qu Marquise stating that:

“The (Er-shi) Army General harbors deceitful motives. He seeks merit (at the risk of) great danger to the troops. I fear (his actions will) certainly result in defeat.”

Thus, they sought to detain the Er-shi (Army General). The Er-shi (Army General) heard of this and beheaded the Chief Secretary, leading the army back to Su-ye-wu (near) Yan-ran Mountain.

The Darǧa predicted that the Han army was exhausted, so he led 50,000 cavalries to intercept and assault the Er-shi (Army General). In the end, both sides suffered great casualties. Come nighttime, (the Xuŋa) dug trenches that were several chi deep ahead of the Han army. Thus, when they attacked from the rear, the Han army fell into great disorder and suffered defeat, leading the Er-shi (Army General) to surrender. The Darǧa considered him to be one the greatest generals among the Han (and believed that he would make a) valuable vassal, so he married him to his daughter. (It was said that) he was favored more than Wei Lu.

The following year, the Darǧa sent the following letter via envoy to the Han:

“In the South (rules) the mighty Han and in the North (rules) the powerful (Xuŋa). The (Xuŋa) is the proud Son of Heaven who does not trouble himself over petty gifts. (Yet) it is now my desire to make peace with the Han, to open the great trade routes, and to take for wife a Han princess. Just as it was in the years prior, (the Han will also) bestow upon me 10,000 dan of yeast (for producing wine) and wine, 5,000 hu of millet and rice, (as well as) 10,000 pi of various silk fabrics. In accordance with the agreement of old, (I will) see to it that the borders are not raided.”

The Han sent an envoy in response to see off the (Xuŋa's) envoy. (At that time) the Darǧa's envoy put the Han's envoy in a dilemma, stating:

"The Han's country is indeed one that is moral and just! Yet, the Er-shi (Army General) informs us that the former Crown Prince has dispatched his troops in revolt. Why is that?"

The (Han) envoy replied:

"While that may be true, it was actually the Grand Chancellor who manipulated the Crown Prince into revolt. For the Grand Chancellor had framed the Crown Prince, (thus) forcing (the Crown Prince) to execute him. (If) the son uses the father's soldiers, it is a minor offense. The punishment is equal to a flogging (with bamboo sticks). (Is it not) civilized when compared to the barbaric behavior of Bağatur Darǧa, who personally killed his father, wife, and step-mother in order to usurp the throne."

(Hearing these words) the Darǧa detained the envoy. Three years went by until the envoy was permitted to return.

The Er-shi (Army General) had spent a year among the Xuŋa. (During this time) Wei Lu had grown discontent with the favor shown to him. It came to be that the Yan-zhi Dowager became ill, (whereupon) (Wei) Lu instructed a Xuŋa shaman to (feign possession of) the former Darǧa (Ju-di-hou) and furiously exclaim: ​

“When the Xuŋa went to war, we offered sacrifices for (the benefit of) our warriors! (And we) always said that (if we) captured the Er-shi (Army General), we would sacrifice him to the Earth God! (You have finally captured him so) why have you not sacrificed him!”

Upon (these words) they detained the Er-shi (Army General), who angrily exclaimed:

“My death will certainly (lead to) the destruction of the Xuŋa!”

The Er-shi (Army General) was then slaughtered and offered as scarified (to the Earth God). It came to be that (the Xuŋa experienced) month of continuous hailstorms, the death of their crops and livestock, and (even) a plague among their people. The Darǧa became afraid, and thereupon erected a sacrificial alter for the Er-shi (Army General).

With the death of the Er-shi (Army General), the Han lost a great Army General and ten thousand (of his) troops. (The Han) did not send troops out (to campaign) again. Three years later, Emperor Wu (of Han) passed away. For the last twenty or so years, the Han army had penetrated (the Xuŋa's defenses), relentlessly chasing them. (The Xuŋa) had suffered greatly from exhaustion, (so that even) their pregnant began to miscarry. Therein after, the Darǧa constantly desired (to establish) Heqin treaties (with the Han).

The Darǧa died three years later, succumbing to his (prior) illness. He died, yearning for a He-qin treaty.

Initially, the Darǧa's half-brother, the Commandant of the East, (was favored) by the people (to become) the Tägin. The Yan-zhi Dowager feared that the Darǧa would pass the thrown to the Commandant of the East rather than her son (and his brother). Thus, she had him killed in secret. The Commandant of the East’s natural-born brother was furious, refusing any summons to the Darǧa's court. (Meanwhile) the Darǧa's illness had gotten worse. Summoning the Xuŋa nobles, he proclaimed:

“My child is young and incapable of ruling a nation. Thus, I name my younger brother the Lu-li of the West as my heir.”

After some time, the Darǧa died. However, Wei Lu conspired with Zhuan-qu Yan-zhi to conceal his death and issue commands in his name. They secretly invited the noble chieftains to a banquet, wherein they all pledged their fealty to her son. Thus, (her son) the Lu-li of the East was named Hu-yan-di Darǧa. It was the second year of Shi-yuan (85 B.C.E.).

When Hu-yan-di Darǧa took the throne, rumor of the Xuŋa's desire for a He-qin treaty reached the Han envoy. The Tägin of the East and the Lu-li of the West were resentful (towards the Darǧa for) usurping their throne. Thus, they led their people South in hopes of defecting to the Han. Fearing that they could not (defeat the Darǧa) by themselves, they attempted to coerce the Lu-tu King (to join in) their (joint) attack against the Xuŋa with the Wu-sun, who they hoped would attack the Xuŋa from the West. However, the Lu-tu King (secretly) informed the Darǧa, who then sent his envoy to investigate (the matter). The Lu-li of the West did not accept (the accusation) and (insisted) that the Lu-tu King was the guilty (one). The people believed he was being treated unjustly. Consequently, both kings left for their homes, refusing any summons to Yılan Balıq.

After two years had gone by, the Xuŋa invaded Dai and killed its Commandant. The Darǧa was still an infant when he ascended the throne. (His mother) the Yan-zhi Dowager was a corrupt (ruler) who’s rule led to internal divisions. (The people) feared that the Han would (take advantage of the situation and) attack. Therefore, Wei Lu was named the (regent) Darǧa. He (then conveyed his) plan to build an (irrigated) city with deep wells, wherein the people of Qin would be placed. In return, they would guard and store grain. If the Han army were to come, they would be unable to defend themselves and get killed.

As the number of wells reached 100 and the timber reached 1000, some began to say that:

“The barbarians (Xuŋa) are not capable of defending the city. (Should there be an attack) they would abandon (the city and) the grain to the Han!”

Wei Lu consequently stopped (all work on the city) and changed his plan. He (decided to) return the Han envoys Su Wu, who had (previously) refused to surrender, and Ma Hong. Ma Hong was previously the assistant to the Court Counselor Wang Zhong, who was sent as an envoy to the Western Regions only to die fighting during a Xuŋa ambush. Ma Hong survived (the attack) but refused to submit (to the Xuŋa). The Xuŋa decided to return both these envoys so as to convey their feelings of sincerity. It was the third year of the Darǧa's reign.

The next year, the Darǧa sent 20,000 cavalries from the East and West (divisions of the army). Divided into four divisions, (the armies) simultaneously breached the (Han) border (with the intention) to invade. The Han army pursued them, executing one of their leaders, capturing 9000 prisoners, and imprisoning the Ordu Başı. The Han suffered no losses. Upon realizing that the Ordu Başı was alive (and in the custody of) the Han, the Xuŋa began to fear that he could be used to pave an attack. Consequently, (the Xuŋa) fled North-West. They did not risk sending people South (in search of) pasture and water, (opting) to reinforce the Ordu with more troops.

The next year, (the Xuŋa) sent 9000 cavalries to subjugate the city of Shou-xiang in preparation for the Han. They built a bridge north of the Yu-wu River in the event they (needed) to cross (the river) in retreat. By that time, Wei Lu was already died. When he was alive, Wei Lu frequently advocated the benefits of a He-qin treaty, but the Xuŋa did not trust his counsel. After his death, the army grew weary (of constant warfare) and the nation (continued to suffer from) impoverishment.

The Darǧa's younger brother, the Lu-li of the East, considered what Wei Lu had said. In truth, he too desired a He-qin treaty, but feared that the Han would not agree. Thus, he did not (want to be) the first (to bring up the issue). (Rather, his) envoy (was instructed to) frequently hint to the Han envoy (that the Xuŋa desired a He-qin treaty). At the same time, the Xuŋa reduced the frequency with which they raided. Moreover, they treated the Han envoy with increasing hospitality, hoping that (such actions) would gradually result in a He-qin treaty. The Han also (began acting in way as to) win over (the Xuŋa).

Sometime later, the Lu-li of the East died. The next year, the Darǧa sent the Li-yu King to spy on the border. He reported that Jiu-quan and Zhang-ye were poorly defended, making them advantageous locations to attack. (He advised for) the deployment of troops in order to test (their defenses and whether or not) the territory could be recovered.

The Han became aware of their plans, hearing (the details) from their (Xuŋa) defectors. The Son of Heaven then issued an imperial order to strengthen the border. After some time, the Lu-li of the West and the Li-yu King led 4000 cavalries, divided into three divisions, into Ri-lei, Wu-lan, and Fan-he. Zhang-ye was heavily guarded by the Commandant(s) of the (Han) vassal states, who engaged with and devastated the (Xuŋa's army). Several hundred (Xuŋa) escaped. The vassal country's Yi-qu Bin Başı shot and killed the Li-yu King on horseback, earning 2000 jin of gold, 200 horses, and the title of Li-yu King. The vassal country Commandant, Guo Zhong, was named the Marquise of Cheng-an. Afterwards, the Xuŋa did not risk invading Zhang-ye (again).

The next year, the Xuŋa sent 3000 cavalries to invade Wu-yuan. They killed roughly a 1000 people. Afterwards, they sent 10,000 horse riders south along the border to hunt. They traveled along the border, attacking (the people there) in addition to the District Head. They left after capturing some minor officials and people. At that time, the Han (began to) utilize signal fires along the border to signal incoming attacks. Consequently, the raiders sent by the Xuŋa were at a disadvantage, leading to fewer raids along the border.

When the Han released their Xuŋa prisoners, they were informed (by the prisoners) that the Avars had attempted to break into the ancestral burial mounds of the Darǧa. The Xuŋa were furious and sent around 20,000 cavalries to attack the Avars. The Grand Army General, Huo Guang, wanted to send troop in order to attack them. He asked the Protectorate General Commandant, Zhao Chong-guo, for advice. Chong-guo told him:

“The Avars frequently attack our border. If the Xuŋa are attacking them, it is to the benefit of the Han. Moreover, the Xuŋa have decreased their attacks on our border. Our northern territories are fortunately peaceful. If the Man barbarians attacked one another, and we sent troops to intercept them, it would cause a disturbance. This would not be strategic.”

Guang then asked the General of the Royal Guard, Fan Ming-you, what he thought. Ming-you told him that he advocated for an attack. Thereupon, Ming-you was given the title of the Du-liao Army General. He (promptly) left Liao-dong with 20,000 cavalries (to attack the Xuŋa). The Xuŋa heard the Han army approach and retreated. However, Guang had privately ordered Ming-you that:

“If the (Xuŋa’s) army does not retreat, immediately engage them. Otherwise, attack the Avars.”

The Avars had just suffered a major attack from the Xuŋa when Ming-you decided to take advantage of their loss and attack them. Ming-you decapitated over 6000 of their soldiers and captured 3 of their kings, earning the title of Ping-ling Marquise.

The Xuŋa heard frightening tales (of the battle) and were unwilling to dispatch their troops. (Nonetheless) they sent envoys to the Wu-sun, requesting that they return the Han princess. (When their demands were not met) they attacked the Wu-sun, capturing Ju-yan and E-shi. The Wu-sun princess wrote a letter, addressed to the Three Dukes and Nine Ministers, urgently requesting assistance.

Emperor Zhao (of Han) passed away. Emperor Xuan (of Han) was promptly enthroned. The Wu-sun Kun-mi sent him a letter stating:

“Together we can halt the Xuŋa invasion. The Kun-mi is prepared to lead half of the nation’s strong army of 50,000 cavalry West. We will do our best to attack the Xuŋa; however, (we hope) that the Son of Heaven can dispatch troops (to aid us). We beg that you take pity and save the princess.”

It was the second year of Ben-shi (92 B.C.E.) when the Han sent many light infantry troops from Guan-dong. The units were 300 dan strong soldiers trained as mounted cavalry units, chosen from all around the nation. Each (soldier) was (completely) obedient to the army. The Imperial Counselor Tian Guang-ming was appointed the Qi-lian Army General and given command of 40,000 cavalries. He departed (with his troops) from Xi-he. The Du-liao Army General Fan Ming-you departed from Zhang-ye with 30,000 cavalries. The Vanguard Army General Han Zeng departed from Yun-zhong with 30,000 cavalries. The Rear Army General Zhao Chong-guo