Dong Xi

Dong Xi
Dong Xi
General of Sun Quan
Born (Unknown)
Died 215
Simplified Chinese 董袭
Traditional Chinese 董襲
Pinyin Dǒng Xí
Wade-Giles Tung Hsi
Style name Yuandai (元代)

Dong Xi (died 215) was a military general serving under the warlord Sun family of Eastern Wu during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He hailed from Yuyao county, Kuaiji commandery (present-day Yuyao city, Zhejiang), and entered Sun Ce's camp when the later pacified Jiangdong. Since Dong Xi's height and martial skill were extraordinary, he was relied by the Sun family from time to time. Despite being adept in elocution, he was a cussed man in core, and his obdurate nature would eventually cost his life on the battlefield.



Service under the Sun family

Dong Xi entered Sun Ce's service around the time Sun was pacifying northern Yang Province (or Jiangdong), but he would distinguish himself later when he was ordered to quell the rapacious Shanyue barbarians. Both Shanye leaders, Huang Longluo (黃龍羅) and Zhou Bo (周勃), were slew by Dong in the midst of battles, such warrior skill earned Dong several ranks and a thousand more soldiers under command.

After Sun Ce was assassinated in 200, Lady Wu (mother of Sun Ce and Sun Quan) was worried that his successor Sun Quan would be too young to handle the precarious situation in Jiangdong. She consulted Dong about her incertitude, and Dong Xi emboldened the former by saying, "The lands east of the Yangzi enjoy natural barriers from mountains and rivers, while the good government and virtue of Sun Ce have already attracted the people, lord Sun Quan can build on these foundations, so that great and small may follow his commands. Zhang Zhao can look after affairs of government, while others like me can act as "claw and teeth (militiamen)". With both geographic advantage and popular support, there is certainly nothing to worry about.".[1] His sanguine speech was applauded by many.

Still, there were people who deemed Sun Quan as ineligible to be their new lord, Peng Hu (彭虎) was one of them, and he led the bandits of Poyang to rebel. Sun then ordered Dong Xi with Ling Tong, Jiang Qin and Bu Zhi to suppress the riot army which had numbered to tens of thousands. Fearing Dong Xi's prowess, the traitors fled whenever Dong went, and the rebellion was dealt with in ten days.

In 208, Sun Quan led a punitive expedition against Huang Zu. Zhou Yu, Ling Tong, Lu Meng, and Dong were dispatched for the campaign. After lossing his vanguard general to Ling, Huang set two ships covered with ox-hide to guard the channel across Miankou (沔口), and he had a great rope of coir-palm fibre, with stones attached as anchors. Above all these were 1,000 crossbow men to give covering fire. The arrows poured down like rain and the army could not get forward. Dong Xi along with Ling Tong were together in the van, each in command of 100 volunteers in double armour. They boarded a great barge, charged the covered ships, and fought a harsh battle with numerical disadvantage of 1 to 10 before Dong cut the two ropes with his sword, clearing the blockade. The main body of the army then resumed advance. Huang escaped through a gate but was pursued and beheaded by a rider. At a great gathering the next day, Sun Quan raised his goblet to Dong saying, “Today’s gathering is to celebrate the achievement of the one who cut the two ropes!”

Incident in Ruxu and death

At the Battle of Ruxukou against Cao Cao's serried army of 400,000, Sun Quan sent Dong Xi to command the “five-storied ship” and station at the mouth of Ruxu. One night, a cyclone stormed the bay, and imperiled the “five-storied ship” to capsize. His subordinates evacuated the warship, and pleaded for Dong Xi to come out, but the loyal, yet stubborn Dong replied sternly, “As a general who have received responsibility to get ready to face the rebels, how can I leave my post? Anyone who dares utter this again will be beheaded!”[2] He then stayed on the ship alone, while the pusillanimous others awaited him to change his mind from a distance. However, Dong tabled to abandon the defunct ship. When the ship eventually foundered, Dong went down with it. His subordinates who fled the ship earlier marvelled at the scence and reported to Sun about how loyal the general was. Therefore, Sun mourned for his brave aide, and supported Dong's family handsomely.

Appointments and titles held

  • Senior Major (別部司馬)
  • Commandant Who Spreads Martial Might (揚武都尉)
  • Colonel Who Awes the Yue (威越校尉)
  • Lieutenant General (偏將軍)

See also

  • List of people of the Three Kingdoms


  1. ^ “江东地势,有山川之固,而讨逆明府,恩德在民。讨虏承基,大小用命,张昭秉众事,袭等为爪牙,此地利人和之时也,万无所忧。” Chapter 55, Records of the Three Kingdoms
  2. ^ “受将军任,在此备贼,何等委去也,敢复言此者斩!” Chapter 55, Records of the Three Kingdoms


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