Battle of Dingtao/ Ting-t'ao, 208 BC

The battle of Dingtao (208 BC) saw the Qin army of Zhang Han defeat and Xiang Liang, king of Chu, the third rebel leader to fall to his armies during the course of 208 BC (Fall of the Qin Dynasty).

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

After defeating the kings of Wei and Qi at Linji, Zhang Han moved on to attack Tien Rong (Pinyin)/ Tien Jung (Wade-Giles) at Donga/ Tung-a. Liu Bang, then Lord of Pei, and Xiang Liang/ Hsiang Liang, king of Chu, moved to rescue Tien Rong, and inflicted a defeat on Zhang’s army. Zhang retreated to Chengyang, with the senior rebel leader Xiang Yu in pursuit. Xiang captured Chengyang, massacred its inhabitants, and then followed Zhang to Puyang, where he defeated him again. Despite this setback Zhang was able to hold on to Puyang, which he protected with water defences.

Zhang’s position improved when the rebel armies split. Liu Bang and Xiang Yu moved west to help the new king of Qi (the son of the man killed at Linji. This left Xiang Liang alone to face the Qin army. Although the dynasty was close to collapse, it still had some strength. Zhang received reinforcements, and decided to launch a surprise attack on Xiang’s position at Dingtao (Pinyin)/ Ting-t’ao (Wade-Giles),  in Shangdong Province, part of the former Qi kingdom.

In order to keep his attack a surprise Zhang ordered his men to wear gags, preventing any accidental shouts from giving them away. The gagged Qin army launched a night attack on Xiang Liang’s position, routing his army and killing the king of Chu.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 January 2012), Battle of Dingtao/ Ting-t'ao, 208 BC ,

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