The Battle of Muye (or Mu), fought in China in 1046 BC, is not only one of the most well-known battles to win with a few, but also a teaching example of ancient chariot war. It ended 600 years’ Shang Dynasty and established the Zhou Dynasty, the commencement of feudal phase of Chinese history. The Battle of Muye embodied in the strategy and operational art, which was thought with significant meaning to the development of Chinese military.
By the 13th century BC, Shang’s influence had reached what is now Gansu Province, a region that was occupied by a people known as the Zhou. Ji Chang (King Wen), the ruler of the Zhou, who was a Shang’s vassal, was given the title “Count of the West” by the king of Shang, Zi Xin. Zi Xin used Ji Chang to guard his rear while he was involved in a south-eastern campaign. However, fearing Ji Chang’s growing power, Zi Xin imprisoned him, who soon died from sick in captivity. Ji Chang’s son Ji Fa (King Wu) thus led the Zhou in a revolt.
Leading several thousands of Shang defectors, Ji Fa withdrew troops from every tribe that supported him, and finally formed an army of 45,000 soldiers. Nevertheless, his army was much smaller than Zi Xin’s, which was accounted to 700,000. Seeing outnumbered army, Zi Xin instructed his troops to march in strict formation and advance slowly, and ordered an overwhelming attack in the morning. Right then, Ji Fa asked his elite cavalry and chariot troops to rush into enemies, hence the front rank of Zi’s army was thrown into confusion, disordering those behind them. Ji Fa was victorious and showed little mercy to the defeated Shang – the Shang had 180,000 soldiers died, 330,000 captured alive, shedding enough blood “to float a log”. After the battle Zi Xin committed suicide in his palace, leaving Ji to master most of the Huang He (Yellow River) valley. Ji Fa proclaimed the Zhou Dynasty.