strategic thinking

From Susan Wise Bauer‘s The History of the Ancient World, p. 673f:

By 101 BC, the Han general Li Kuang had been put in charge of the most expensive campaign in Chinese history: the conquest of the northwestern land of Ferghana, or T’ai-yuan. Li Kuang had been fighting for the Han emperors for over thirty years; his first military expedition had been against invading Xiongnu, back in the days of the Emperor Wendi. Sima Qian writes that, on a later campaign, he demonstrated his intelligence by escaping from several thousand Xiongnu horsemen who had cut him off with only a hundred of his own men around him. He told his riders to get down from their horses and undo the saddles: “They expect us to run away,” he said, “and if we show that we are not ready to flee, they’ll suspect that something is up.” His men obeyed him, and the Xiongnu, suspecting a trap, kept their distance. Dark was now creeping up on the trapped band, and Li Kuang told them to roll up in their blankets and lie down under their horses. The Xiongnu, seeing this, “concluded that the Han leaders must have concealed soldiers in the area and be planning to fall upon them in the dark.” They all retreated, upon which Li Kuang and his men sprang up and rode back to the main body of the army.


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