Battle of Julu, 207 BC

The battle of Julu (207 BC) was a key victory for rebels against the tottering Qin Dynasty, and resulted in the surrender of Zhang Han, their most able general.

After winning victories at Linji and Dingtao the Zhang Han decided to cross the Yellow River and attack Zhao Xie, king of Zhao. Zhao Xie was forced to abandon his capital, and was besieged in the city of Julu (Wade-Giles Chu-lu). The siege was conducted by Wang Li, but Zhang Han remained in the general area.

Map showing the main areas in revolt against Qin, 209-206 BC
Map showing the main
areas in revolt against
Qin, 209-206 BC

Zhao Xie was able to get messages out of the besieged city, calling for help from his fellow rebels. King Huai of Chu, the nominal rebel leader, decided to send his main army north to rescue the Zhao, while Liu Bang, soon to be the founder of the Han dynasty, was sent to attack the Qin heartlands. The northern army was to be commanded by Song Yi, with one of the most able rebel leaders, Xiang Yu, as second general. Xiang Yu was already angry that he hadn’t been sent to attack Qin, as the rebels had agreed that the first general to capture that area would become its king. He reacted by killing Song Yi and taking command of the entire army. He then advanced north, and inflicted a major defeat on the Qin army besieging Julu. Wang Li was captured, but Zhang Han was still at large, and retreated to the west.

Qin politics now hastened their final defeat. When Zhang asked for reinforcements Zhao Gao, the power behind the throne, refused the request. Zhang decided that further resistance was futile, and surrendered to Xiang Yu (who would later reward him by making him king of part of the Qin heartland). Soon after this Liu Bang entered the Qin heartland. Zhao Gao responded by ordering the Second Emperor to commit suicide and attempting to come to terms. When this failed the emperor’s nephew was set up as King of Qin, but he soon surrendered, ending the Qin dynasty.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 January 2012), Battle of Julu, 207 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_julu.html

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