Yue Fei’s Troops (2)

By Natashe Yang

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Although Yue Fei set very strict military rules for his subordinates, he also took meticulous care of them, too. When one of his troops became ill, Yue Fei personally formulated the medicine. When his soldiers were dispatched to fight in battles, he sent his wife to comfort the soldiers’ family members. When his soldiers were killed in the line of duty, Yue Fei would take it upon himself to raise their children and even made his son marry a soldier’s orphan daughter. When he received rewards from his superiors, he passed it on to his soldiers and did not keep anything for himself.

When Yue Fei was re-united with his elderly mother and two sons, after the war ended, he administered his mother’s medicine every day.

Once, near the Chinese New Year, Yue Fei was full of angst over the lack of food for his troops. As a result, he lost a lot of weight. Thus, his mother killed the only chicken she had in the house and made soup for him. He knelt down to receive the chicken soup and said, “Mother! I must first ask for your forgiveness. I know you made this soup especially for me, but as a commanding general, I cannot enjoy this meal alone.”

Then, Yue Fei brought the chicken soup back to the barracks, and gathered his many commanders around to discuss how to share the chicken soup with all the personnel in the camp. None of his commanders could figure out a fair way to divide the chicken soup. Then, a messenger came in and interrupted the meeting, saying, “A farmer is here to complain.”

After inquiring, Yue Fei found out that his uncle, Yue Ping, a low ranking official, wanted to buy a pig from the farmer because the soldiers did not have enough meat to eat. Unfortunately, Yue Ping got into an argument with the farmer over the price of the pig and out of frustration, grabbed the pig and left.

Yue Fei returned the pig to the farmer and apologized. He immediately ordered Yue Ping’s execution. Yue Fei disregarded his troops’ many pleas for leniency, and did not budge an inch.

At the execution site, Yue Fei, with chicken soup in hand, knelt in front of his uncle and said, “I ask for your forgiveness because I am required to follow military rules. My mother made this chicken soup especially for me, but I cannot share it with everyone in the camp. It is now your last meal. After you are buried, you can rest assured that I will take care of everyone in your family.”

After Yue Ping was executed, Yue Fei wept at the execution ground. Later, Yue Fei sold his possessions and treated his soldiers to a festive Chinese New Year.

In 1130, rebel Guo Ji, led his troops in an attempt to take over Yixing County. The Yixing County magistrate wrote a letter to Yue Fei for help. He told Yue Fei that Yixing had sufficient food for Yue Fei’s troops. Yue Fei was overjoyed and moved the troops to Yixing immediately.

Upon hearing of Yue Jiajun’s (the name of Yue Fei’s army) advance, rebel Guo Ji ordered his troops to retreat. Yue Fei instructed 2,000 soldiers to follow and attack them. It was a huge victory for Yue Jiajun. Guo Ji was defeated and his men were amalgamated into Yue Jiajun.

Afterwards, Yue Jiajun was stationed on the peripheral of Yixing County to ward off rebels and bandits. Within a month, Yixing County regained its peaceful state.

Yue Fei later fought the Jin tribe four times and captured 11 generals. Yue Fei scared the Jin soldiers so much that they respectfully referred to him as Grandpa Yue and his troops, grandpa Yue’s troops.

When Yue Fei’s troops were stationed near Yixing, many local officials and civilians from adjacent areas left their hometown to join him. At one time, his troops numbered around 10,000.

Back in Yue Fei’s time, the military was notorious for being poorly disciplined. Not only did they routinely harass civilians, they were also plagued with numerous desertions.

To prevent deserters from joining the army, commanding officers would brand them as criminals. At that time, society ranked soldiers as low as beggars and bandits.

However, Yue Jiajun stood out among the rest, and it was regarded an honor and privilege to be a member of Yue Fei’s troops. When Yue Jiajun marched on the road, people saluted and bowed to them.

Source – http://en.kanzhongguo.com/culture_history/yue_fei_s_troops_2.html

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