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Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty-part4

Source:  Time: 2009-07-23 06:28:38

The defeated Khan of Xiongnu and his men moved to the far north, away from the Han border. The Han Empire recovered the region south of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia and relieved its capital Chang'an of any direct threat from the Xiongnu.

However, the Hexi Region was still under the control of the Xiongnu. Ambitious for territorial expansion, Emperor Wu shifted his attention to this region and embarked on a war to eliminate the Xiongnu forces in the west. In a battle fought in 121 BC, over 30,000 Xiongnu soldiers were killed or wounded and over 40,000 surrendered to Han troops, and thus the Xiongnu forces in Hexi were smashed. The control of the Hexi Region by the Han troops opened up the road to the Western Regions and to Central Asia beyond. Emperor Wu brought Jiuquan and Zhangye into the Han Empire by establishing them as two commanderies immediately after the war and then settling over a million migrants in these two places.

In 119 BC, a larger-scale and fiercer war broke out to the north of the Gobi. The aim of the Han troops was to resolve all border problems by pushing deep into the heartland of the Xiongnu-occupied area and crushing them. The two commanders of the battle were General Wei Qing and General Huo Qubing, names which have entered the annals of China's military history. Altogether 100,000 Han cavalrymen and 140,000 horses were thrown into battle and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians were employed to transport food and forage. The entire army showed extraordinary bravery and pushed all the way to today's Ulan Bator in the State of Mongolia.

This was the height of the 24-year-old General Huo Qubing's military career. He returned to Chang'an at the head of his victorious troops after viewing the beauties of the exquisite Lake Baikal. Two years later, this famous young general died.

Having suffered near annihilation in these battles, the Xiongnu people were forced to the far north of the Gobi and for a long time afterwards did not have the strength to take on the Han army.

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