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Battle of Tian Shui

Date 227
Location Hanzhong, Yong Province
Result Shu victorious
Shu Wei
Zhuge Liang Ma Zun
Jiang Wei

The Battle of Tian Shui was a decisive battle of the First Northern Expedition. Zhuge Liang convinced Jiang Wei, Yin Shang, and Liang Xu to defect to his forces while defeating Ma Zun.


When Zhuge Liang headed north for the first time, his objectives were to take the cities of Tianshui, Nan'an, and Anding, as well as to convince Wei strategist Jiang Wei to surrender. His first order of business was to send Zhao Yun to eliminate the enemy vanguard under command of Xiahou Mao. Zhao Yun smote Han De, Han Yao, Han Jing, Han Qiong, and Han Qi in battle, and forced Xiahou Mao to retreat. Zhuge Liang ordered his men not to pursue Xiahou Mao, but rather use him as bait. He ordered a messenger to go to Cui Liang, the Governor of Anding, and inform him that the Shu army was pursuing Xiahou Mao. Xiahou Mao exited his castle to aid his ally, but was attacked by Zhuge Liang and defected to Shu. Zhuge Liang next made for Nan'an castle, held by Governor Yang Ling and Xiahou Mao, who had rendezvoused with the Wei army. He used Cui Liang as a part of the plan, having him call on his fellow governor to open the gates. They were opened, but suddenly Cui Liang returned to Wei and ambushed Zhuge Liang. Guan Xing quickly killed Yang Ling to defeat the plot, and Cui Liang was smote by Zhang Bao. Xiahou Mao, in the meanwhile, fled Wei forever and was not to be seen again. With only Tianshui left, Zhuge Liang advanced. He faced the two castles of Tianshui County: Tianshui Castle and Ji Castle. He ordered the Shu army to capture the Central Garrison, held by Wang Lang, and they took it over as their main base of operations. From there, they awaited Governor Ma Zun of Tianshui to order Jiang Wei out of Ji Castle. Jiang Wei advanced, but Zhuge Liang ignored him and ordered the Shu to defeat the officers under him: Zhu Ling and Hu Zhi. Once they were routed, Ma Zun grew suspicious of Jiang Wei, noting that the Shu army was not attacking him. Ji Castle's gates suddenly closed, so Jiang Wei was caught in between a dead end and the Shu army. With nowhere left to run or hide, Jiang Wei defected, and his colleague Shangguan Zixiu retired from Wei's army. He ordered an agent to visit Tianshui Castle, where he convinced Liang Xu and Yin Shang to defect. They both did, and the gates to Tianshui castle opened from the inside. The entire Shu army headed forwards into the Wei main camp, and Ma Zun set the castle on fire before fleeing for Hu Province and never returning. Zhuge Liang scored a victory at Tianshui, Nan'an, and Anding, and also secured several new officers for Shu's army.