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Hong-wu: Year 21, Month 3, Day 30

6 May 1388

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The Xi-ping Marquis Mu Ying punished Si Lun-fa of the Bai-yi and pacified him. At this time, Si Lun-fa had raised a force of 300,000 men and over 100 elephants and had repeatedly attacked Ding-bian. He wanted to gain revenge for the Mo-sha-le campaign and his force was extremely violent. The newly-attached man and yi secretly formed alliances and they all had rebellious inclinations. The Xi-ping Marquis Mu Ying knew that the yi people were rebellious and thus spoke to the troops, saying: "The Bai-yi are angered about the defeat at Mo-sha-le, and they have dared to raise a great force and wage attacks. When troops are angry, they are certain to be defeated. You will indeed destroy them." He then selected 30,000 skilled cavalrymen and proceeded thither, riding day and night. After 15 days, they reached the bandits' camp and they built a defensive wall against them. First 300 light cavalrymen were sent to provoke them. The Bai-yi met them with 10,000 men and 30 vanguard elephants to do battle. Zhang Yin, commander of the Yun-nan Forward Guard, led 50-plus cavalrymen as a vanguard, while the chieftains, astride their huge elephants, proceeded forward. Our army let fly with their arrows and these hit an elephant in the left knee and the ribs. The elephant fell to the ground and the chieftain was also hit, but fled. He was pursued and killed with arrows. Then, with great screams, the troops rushed forward and hundreds of heads were taken. The army took advantage of the victory and proceeded forward with a great uproar. The bandit forces thus drew back. Ying then again collected his generals and aides and said: "Ding-bian has long been besieged. Now, if we do not destroy the bandits and control over Ding-bian is lost, the bandit's power will grow. What the bandits rely on is their elephants. We have tried doing battle with cavalry against them, but the cavalry cannot compete against them. I know what they will not be able to withstand." He thus issued orders to the army to set up guns and "mystical-mechanism arrows" (神機箭) in three lines within the ranks. Then when the elephants advanced, the front line of guns was to fire its arrows. If the elephants did not retreat, the second line was to fire off its arrows. If the elephants still did not fall back, the third line was to fire its arrows. The following morning, the army was divided into three forces. The commissioner-in-chief Feng Cheng led the forward force, the vice commissioner-in-chief Ning Zheng led the left force and Tang Zhao led the right force. Ying again gave orders to the troops saying: "Now we are deep in bandit territory and are to do battle with them. Victory will mean life and defeat will mean death. We have received the Emperor's great kindness and must repay this. Victory will be achieved today and I make a pact with you on this. Those who realize achievements will indeed be rewarded, while those who shrink back or withdraw will indeed be beheaded." Thus, the generals and troops were aroused and determined to do battle. The bandits came out of their camp and joined ranks to meet them. The chieftains, local commanders and the zhao-gang all rode on elephants. The elephants were all armoured and on their backs they bore a battle-turret like a parapet, while bamboo tubes hung on the two sides. Short lances were placed between these prepared for attacks. When the forces were about to meet, the massed elephants rushed forward. Our army attacked them and fired off arrows and stones. The sound shook the mountains and valleys and the elephants, shaking with fear, fled. The Guard Commander Zhang Yin and the Battalion Commander Zhang Rong-zu took advantage of the victory and led the troops in pursuing them. They followed them to their stockade, which was taken and subsequently put to the torch. The flames and smoke reached to the heavens. Then the commanders again employed troops in attacking the bandits and many of the latter were killed or wounded. The bandits' most valiant and powerful fighter was called Xi-la-zhe and he led their troops in fighting to the death. From a high vantage point Ying saw that the left force of our army had retreated a little. He thus sent urgent orders that the force commander be beheaded. The force commander was thus frightened and roused and, with a yell, rushed into the fray. The troops followed him and each was worth 100 men. The bandit troops were greatly defeated. Over 30,000 heads were taken and over 10,000 men were taken prisoner. More than half of the elephants were killed and 37 were taken alive. The remaining bandits all fled. Our army pursued and attacked them, the bandits were unable to eat for days on end, and their corpses were found lying side by side. Si Lun-fa fled. Ying then sent an envoy to memorialize victory and he took the army back to Yun-nan. In all the towns and villages along the way, the people struggled with each other to rush to the suburbs to greet the victors and present them with meat and wine. Ying soothed them and instructed them and then sent them home.

Tai-zu: juan 189.14b-16a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 7, page 2858/61

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/hong-wu/year-21-month-3-day-30, accessed November 18, 2018