成語故事

Every Bush and Tree Looks Like an Enemy

During the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Fu Jian, king of the State of Qin, controlled northern China. In the year383, Fu Jian led 900,000 infantry and cavalry troops to assault the State of Jin which was south of the Yangtze River. Xie Shi and Xie Xuan, senior generals of the Jin army, led 80,000 troops to offer resistance. Knowing that the Jin army was short of men, Fu Jian wanted to seize this opportunity of being much more numerous in armed forces to stage a quick attack.

Unexpectedly, the van of Fu Jian's army of 250,000 troops was defeated in the Shouchun area by an ingenious military move of the Jin army and suffered heavy losses. The senior general of the van of Fu Jian's army was killed, and there were heavy casualties of more than 10,000 soldiers. Fu Jian's army was dispirited and its morale was shaken. Many soldiers were in such a great panic that they waited for opportunities to run away. Standing on the city wall of the Shouchun City, Fu Jian and his brother Fu Rong saw that the ranks of the Jin army were in good order and that the morale of the Jin army was high. Turning to his brother, Fu Jian said, "What a powerful enemy this is! Why did people say that the Jin army was short of men?" He deeply regretted that he had taken the enemy too lightly.

Overshadowed by the disastrous defeat, Fu Jian ordered his troops to be deployed in battle formation on the north side of the Feishui River, in an attempt to regain the initiative by relying on the superior geographical conditions. Then Xie Shi and Xie Xuan, the senior generals of the Jin army, suggested that Fu Jian's army retreat a little bit, leaving some space, so that the Jin army could cross the river to conduct ooperations. Fu Jian thought that his chance had come, believing that the senior generals of the Jin army did not have the elementary knowledge of warfare. It was his plan to stage a sudden attack while the troops of the Jin army was busy crossing the river, and he was sure that his plan would word. So he willingly accepted the suggestion of the Jin army.

Unexpectedly, the moment the order to retreat was given, Fu Jian's troops were utterly routed and could by no means be controlled. Taking advantage of this favorable situation, the Jin army crossed the river, pursuing and attacking the enemy. The trooops of Fu Jian's army threw away everything in headlong flight, and the field was littered with the corpses of the soldiers of Fu Jian's army. Fu Rong was killed in the tangled fighting, and Fu Jian was hit by an arrow and ran away. The Jin army won a brilliant victory by defeating a big army with its limited armed forces.

This story comes from "The Life of Fu Jian" in the volume "Records" of The History of the Jin Dynasty. The set phrase "every bush and tree looks like an enemy" is subsequently used to refer to a state of extreme nervousness.

草木皆兵

東晉時代,秦王苻堅控制了北部中國。公元383年,苻堅率領步兵、騎兵90萬,攻打江南的晉朝。晉軍大將謝石、謝玄領兵8萬前去抵抗。苻堅得知晉軍兵力不足,就想以多勝少,抓住機會,迅速出擊。

誰料,苻堅的先鋒部隊25萬在壽春一帶被晉軍出奇擊敗,損失慘重,大將被殺,士兵死傷萬餘。秦軍的銳氣大挫,軍心動搖,士兵驚恐萬狀,紛紛逃跑。此時,苻堅在壽春城上望見晉軍隊伍嚴整,士氣高昂,再北望八公山,只見山上一草一木都像晉軍的士兵一樣。苻堅回過頭對弟弟說:「這是多麼強大的敵人啊!怎麼能說晉軍兵力不足呢?」他後悔自己過於輕敵了。

出師不利給苻堅心頭蒙上了不祥的陰影,他令部隊靠淝水北岸佈陣,企圖憑借地理優勢扭轉戰局。這時晉軍將領謝玄提出要求,要秦軍稍往後退,讓出一點地方,以便渡河作戰。苻堅暗笑晉軍將領不懂作戰常識,想利用晉軍忙於渡河難於作戰之機,給它來個突然襲擊,於是欣然接受了晉軍的請求。

誰知,後退的軍令一下,秦軍如潮水一般潰不成軍,而晉軍則趁勢渡河追擊,把秦軍殺得丟盔棄甲,屍橫遍地。苻堅中箭而逃。

故事出自《晉書·苻堅·載記》。成語「草木皆兵」,形容神經過敏、疑神疑鬼的驚恐心理。


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