Chapter 277 – Crossfire
“Everyone hold out. Hold out just like how I taught you!” Hao Shao walked at a side and boosted the morale of the defenders. The enemies below the city were getting closer. The siege ladders was also being placed on the walls at a faster rate.
“Concentrate well and victory will be certain!” Hao Shao knew that these people were nervous. This was fine with him as anyone would be nervous. It was still the first wave of attack. The first wave of enemies regarded them lightly and has a scattered formation. Some of the ladders that were placed had been pushed down by a team of a hundred men dispatched by Hao Shao. Hao Shao only had about one thousand people on the walls. They were divided into two teams of five hundred soldiers onto both sides of the walls. The remaining one thousand defenders were kept as reserves.
Hao Shao had excavated trenches outside the walls of Guangzhou. The trenches were two thirds the size of the wall. Water from the Huaihe River flowed into the trench, forming a moat. Only the middle where the gate was had no trench. This is for the entrance to the city. There was no suspension bridge.
“Digging a moat is not bad. But what is the use of an incomplete moat?” Liu Pi looked at the moat at the city walls. Hao Shao had dug a deep moat. People would be unable to cross without any appropriate aid. However, the undug area made Liu Pi criticize it.
“All units charge! Capture Guangzhong! Those that kill the rebel leader will be rewarded!” Liu Pi’s anger towards Hao Shao had made him forget that he was the governor of Yuzhou and not a Yellow Turban. He could pay a little bit of attention about this during peace but not during the time he was agitated.
Although Liu Pi’s army was Yellow Turban, they were elite troops. Were they a disorderly mob, Cao Cao would have long gotten rid of them. Yuan Shao would not have arranged for them to become a thorn in the flesh for Cao Cao. These twenty thousand were Liu Pi’s main force. It was because of them that Cao Cao could not get rid of him.
Twenty thousand soldiers is too many people to fit Guangzhou. That was why only a team of five thousand people went up. There were also moats on both sides. (TN: As in left and right of the main gate.) If they want to cross on both sides of the wall, they would need to put up the ladders and cross the moat. If they were careless they could fall into the moat. The moat was deep and even those that could swim would have a hard time climbing out. After all, the water level on both sides were high. Those that cannot swim would die. The soldiers were not dumb. Since both sides cannot be crossed, they would take the middle.
A team of five thousand rushed towards the middle.
“I had thought that the young general of Lu Bu’s Army would have abilities. Half completed moat aside, he spread out his archers on both sides of the wall. It is as though he is inviting us in.” Liu Bei looked at the small Guangzhou in disdain. He wanted to capture it and let Lu Bu’s young general to die without a burial ground. Liu Bei had experienced the battlefield for a long time. In his opinion, the moat should have been completed and there should be a suspension bridge. This way, the defenses would be at its best.
The enemy would not have an entrance to use. When they arrive, the suspension bridge could be raised. If the enemy wants to siege, they would need to cross the river and fight a protracted war.
“Hm?” Pang Tong did not think with such common tactics. This was because Guangzhou’s defenses could really be criticized. There was a wide middle road. Rushing along that path would allow them to quickly reach the city. The moats on both sides become useless because of the middle road. However, Pang Tong was a strategist. He would not take the middle path like the other generals. A general would attack cities while a strategist attacks the mind. Pang Tong thought to himself about what Lu Bu’s young general Hao Shao was trying to do.
Why did he make an incomplete moat? Could it be that they do not have enough time? Pang Tong looked at the entire Guangzhou city. No! If that is the case, there must be a place where construction has not started or half completed. However, the moat is in perfect condition. This shows that they had enough time. Otherwise, there should be some half-completed work.
Not enough manpower? This cannot be. If that is the case, they would not had dug in the first place. This is because the moat becomes useless with this middle road. They can completely bypass the moat. So what is the point?
Pang Tong then looked at the archers spread out on both ends of the walls. Each team has five hundred people. The middle section of the walls was empty. Pang Tong could not understand. The archers should be placed in the middle. Why did they placed the archers at the moat where no one would go?
Pang Tong could not understand but was filled with anxiety. This was because the young general did not look like someone without skill. He did not surrender even when surrounded with a force ten times larger than his.
After being uneasy for a while, Pang Tong realized that the middle path was purposefully left behind by Hao Shao. Guangzhou was a small city. Even if it was surrounded by a moat, it would not do much. There were not many defenders and there were also little provisions. Guangzhou was also not strategically located. By surrounding it with a moat, the defenders would no longer be able to go out and fight.
Rather than building a large moat, it was better to build an incomplete one. The incomplete moat can protect Guangzhou while the unfinished part had its purpose. As the middle had no moat and was flat ground, Guangzhou would be difficult to defend. Any general would see this as a treasure for merits. The army would just need to take the middle road instead of going towards the moat and climb the siege ladders. After all, a small place like Guangzhou would not have many soldiers.
Liu Bei and Liu Pi both thought like this. This was what Hao Shao wanted them to think. Seeking profits and avoiding dangers were human natures. No one would swim across the moat to reach Guangzhou and all of them would squeeze onto the flat plains.
Five thousand soldiers were very little for the decisive battle at Guangzhong but was twice as much as Hao Shao’s subordiantes. The soldiers surged forward and blocked the middle road. Although Liu Pi’s Yellow Turbans also had a formation where they stood at the moat, there were no complains. That being said, it was unrelated to Hao Shao.
Hao Shao sneered and raised his hand. More and more soldiers crossed the middle road.
“Shoot!” Hao Shao spat. With his command, a thousand arrows rained towards the flat grounds.
“Raise the shields!” Liu Pi shouted loudly when he saw the arrows fall with feelings of disdain. He had already prepared for the front row to carry shields before the siege. This kind of rain of arrows would just be like drizzles before the shield. He just needed to wait for his troops to rush to the walls. With the soldiers rushing continuously, Guangzhou would fall. Liu Pi could then kill the man that shamed his idol.
Liu Pi felt disdain for the young general for putting the archers at both sides of the wall. If it was placed in the middle, it was still possible to cause Liu Pi harm. What could these large arrows from these spread out archers do?
Liu Pi smiled ferociously. He would charge forward with his bodyguards once he saw his Yuzhou Army reach the city. He was about to lift up his hand when he became unable to do it. This was because the scene in front of him made him shocked.
The arrows from the walls shot across the shields. The spread out archers did not become worthless people like what Liu Pi had thought. Instead, the concentrated rain of a thousand arrows became terrifying.
The soldiers that rushed in front were like chives while Hao Shao’s army was like the sickle. The arrows covered the entire path. It could be said that it was raining from all directions on that middle road.
Some were struck by more than one arrows. There were also some arrows that pierced through the first person and struck the next person behind him. Before Liu Pi could react, a second wave of arrows rained down.
“How could this be?” Liu Pi was not the only one paying attention to the siege below the walls. There was also Liu Bei, Pang Tong and Zhang Xiu’s army. They did not expect the dispersed arrows to be able to cause such damage. Zhang Xiu thought to himself. If the thousand archers were placed in the middle, only about a hundred people would be harmed at most. After all, arrows could usually harm ten or even twenty people at a time as no one is a natural shooter. Besides that, garrison soldiers must be archers and must also be able to defend the walls. In other words, they cannot master bows and arrows. Yet, at minimum, almost a thousand died from this volley.
Why not? Hao Shao was also shocked by this achievement. He did not expect to cause this kind of damage after splitting up the one thousand archers. He obtained this idea from his Little Lord, Liu Mang.
Liu Mang had once jokingly told them that it would have been better to split up the archers onto both sides instead of putting them together. This way, a crossfire could be formed and the damage output could be maximized. When Liu Mang said this, he was thinking about war using hot weapons. He thought about the might of crossfire with trenches. He never would have expected Hao Shao to adopt this technique with cold weapons.
If the archers were placed in front, most will cross over the shields and cause damage to the soldiers at the back. However, a lot of arrows will become redundant. A person could be struck by ten to twenty arrows. However, it does not matter how many arrows struck the victim as he would be dead. However, the current situation is different. After spreading out, not only does it avoid the first row of shields. It could be said that both flanks of Liu Pi’s forces were exposed to the attacks from Hao Shao’s archers.
The rain of arrows made Liu Pi’s eyes turn wide.
Strike while the iron is hot. This was something Hao Shao also understood. Initially, it was just unwavering faith in Liu Mang that Hao Shao decide on using this formation. He did not expect it to be so effective. Hao Shao would be a fool if he did not make use of this opportunity.
“Rush! Rush forward!” Liu Pi became angry. The Yuzhou Army was his capital. It was the reason Liu Bei wrote to the imperial court to give make Liu Pi the provincial governor of Yuzhou. Besides that, Liu Pi had given Runan to Liu Bei and also had his twenty thousand elite Yellow Turbans. Liu Bei felt it would be embarrassing to seize Liu Pi’s military power and so, he made Liu Pi the third top general in his army to appease Liu Pi.
The first two spots were given to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei. He had already achieved what Chen Dao had and was also a commander.
If the twenty thousand Yellow Turbans were lost, Liu Bei might actually consider making him just a lieutenant.
“Rush! Rush forward!”