Guo Huai 郭淮 was a loyal general of Wei. He entire military service was spent in Liang and Yong provinces fighting against Shu-Han and suppressing bandit rebellions. It was because of his actions the Zhuge Liang and Jiang Wei could not secure victory in their numerous campaigns north.[1]


Was elected as Filially Pious and Incorrupt. He took a post as an official in Pingyuan county. Served Cao Pi as a General of the Gentlemen of the Household of All Purposes. Served as Secretary to Prime Minister Cao Cao.

Service Under Cao CaoEdit

At the Battle of Mt. Dingjun in 219 A.D., Guo Huai served as a Major under the command of General Who Subdues the West Xiahou Yuan. Xiahou Yuan was going to give command to Guo Huai, but he fell ill so he was unable to participate in the battle against Shu-Han. Xiahou Yuan was killed in battle and the Wei forces were routed.

General Who Subdues Rebels Zhang He and Guo Huai collected the scattered remnants of the army at Nanzheng (east of Mt. Dingjun). Having just lost their leader, the men were troubled and unsure of what to do. It was Guo Huai who proposed that they follow Zhang He, he said: "General Zhang is a celebrated leader of our state. Liu Bei is afraid of him. As the situation becomes more critical every day, our minds will not be easy unless General Zhang takes command."[2] Thereupon, it was agreed, Zhang He was made leader and he brought order to the army.

The next day, Liu Bei wanted to cross the Han to gain access to Baoye Road[n 1] (goes north through Xiegu Valley and comes out near Chang'an). The various generals believed they were too weak to match Liu Bei and wanted to array the troops along the river bank in order to block him. However, Guo Huai said: "Such tactics will only show weakness, and will not give us a strong enough position against the enemy. This is not a good plan. It would be best to set our position some distance from the river as a means to entice them over. When they are half-way across we can attack them. By this means, Liu Bei can be defeated." When Liu Bei saw the enemy troops, he grew suspicious and did not cross. Guo Huai held his ground and showed he had no plans on withdrawing.

When King of Wei Cao Cao 曹操 heard, he fully approved his conduct. He granted the Staff of Authority to Zhang He and confirmed Guo Huai as his Major.

Service Under Cao PiEdit

When Cao Pi succeeded Cao Cao, he ennobled Guo Huai as Marquis of Guannei (關內). Guo Huai was then transferred to serve as Chief Clerk of Zhenxi (鎮西).

Again, Guo Huai went to levy troops from the Qiang and Hu tribes of the north alongside General of the Left Zhang He and Champion?? General (冠軍將軍) Yang Qiu and destroy the bandit Zheng Gan. The Hu tribes around the Lu river revolted, but all were pacified by the Wei forces; Guanzhong was settled and the people kept safe.

In 220 A.D. when Emperor Cao Pi took the Imperial throne, Guo Huai, among other officials, was summoned to attend and congratulate him. However, Guo Huai fell ill, again, which meant he arrived late. Cao Pi was irked by Guo Huai tardiness implied that he should execute him, by making reference to a mythological story about Yu the Great and Fangfeng[3]. Guo Huai quickly responds, saying: "I have heard that the Five Emperors of old first instructed and guided the people in virtue. It was during the Xia dynasty and afterwards that governance declined, and punishments and oppression began to be employed. Finding myself now in the era of Tang and Yu (Emperors Yao and Shun), I thus know that I myself may avoid the fate of Feng Fang.". Cao Pi was impressed by Guo Huai's quick wit and instead of punishing him, enfeoffed him as Inspector of Yong province and Marquis of Sheyang (射陽).

Guo Huai returned to oversee Yong province. In Anding, a great commander of the Qiang, Pi Fan, rose up in rebellion. Guo Huai went and quelled his uprising. Pi Fan surrendered as did the rest of the Qiang.

Zhuge Liang's Northern CampaignsEdit

In 228 A.D., Shu-Han Prime Minister Zhuge Liang led his first campaign north. At the time, Guo Huai was on a tour of inspection along with the Ma Zun, Grand Administrator of Tianshui, on their way west from Luomen.[4] When Guo Huai heard the news, he turned to Ma Zun and said: "This is not going to turn out well."

Ma Su and Gao Xiang acted as the vanguard, advancing to Jieting and Lieliu city, respectively. Whilst Zhang He was dealing with Ma Su, Guo Huai dealt with Gao Xiang. The Shu-Han vanguard forces were crushed and Zhuge Liang forced to retreat.

Unfortunately, the invasion from the south also sent three of the northern commanderies into open rebellion. After driving back Zhuge Liang, Guo Huai led his forces to Baohan (枹罕) to settle the rebellion of the Qiang Chieftain, Tang Ti.

For his role in the campaign, Guo Huai is promoted to General Who Establishes Might.

In 229 A.D., Zhuge Liang attacked for a third time. He appointed Chen Shi as his vanguard and dispatched him to attack Wudu and Yinping commanderies. Guo Huai quickly brought his troops against Chen Shi and they met in open combat at Jianwei (approx. 30 km northwest of Wudu on the west Han river as it flows through Qinling), but Zhuge Liang's main force arrives and Guo Huai is forced to withdraw. Instead of retreating, Guo Huai established a defensive position in order to check Zhuge Liang's advance. Shu had claimed some ground, but not wanting to waste strength fighting a fortified enemy, Zhuge Liang was unable to get more.

In 230 A.D., Cao Zhen launches a three-pronged counteroffensive against Shu-Han. Zhang He is given command of the western advance and Guo Huai serves under him. Zhuge Liang dispatches Wei Yan to the far north to deal with the non-Han people; sowing dissension and trading weapons. Zhang He dispatches Guo Huai and Fei Yao to obstruct Wei Yan's retreat back to Shu-Han. The combined forces meet Wei Yan at Yangqi, but Wei Yan overcomes them and returns to Shu-Han.[5]

In 231 A.D., Zhuge Liang advances on Mt. Qi (Qishan). Through a quick set of manoeuvres, Zhuge Liang was able to advance to Shanggui county. Guo Huai attempted to intercept him on his march, but was defeated and so Zhuge Liang was able to quickly steal the harvest around Shanggui county. To compensate for the loss of food at Shanggui, it was decided that they bring in supplies from Guanzhong. Guo Huai used his reputation among the Qiang, Hu and those who lived in the valley to secure supplies from them, thus was the army sufficiently supplied. Guo Huai was promoted to General Who Rises in Prowess.

In 234 A.D., Zhuge Liang launched what would be his final campaign north. The Shu-Han forces emerged from the Xiegu Valley (斜谷), south of Mei. Commander-in-Chief Sima Yi led forces from Mei across the Wei river and built fortifications east of the exit to Xiegu Valley, blocking Zhuge Liang's advance on Chang'an. With Zhuge Liang's eastern advance blocked, Guo Huai feared Zhuge Liang would attempt to advance north. Guo Huai set a missive to Sima Yi saying: "If Zhuge Liang traverses the river, crosses the northern plains and sets up a position on the northern mountains, he will isolate Longdao and agitate the people and barbarians. This is not in the state's benefit." Sima Yi agreed with Guo Huai's position and ordered him to block Zhuge Liang's advance. Guo Huai's men built a temporary barricade on the northern plain and Zhuge Liang was unable to advance.

After a few days, Zhuge Liang's men began to move west. Many of the generals suspected that he intended to attack Xiwei (西圍). Guo Huai alone suspected Zhuge Liang's movements to be a feint and that he actually intended to head east to seize Yangsui (陽遂). That night, Zhuge Liang did indeed attempt to take Yangsui. But as it was forewarned it did not fall and so Zhuge Liang had to retreat back across the Wei river to Wuzhang Plains.

Latter Days of Shu-HanEdit

In 240 A.D., Shu General Jiang Wei[n 2] came to Longxi (隴西), he attempted to rile up the Qiang and Di tribes. Guo Huai immediately mobilised his forces and pursued Jiang Wei to Qiangzhong (彊中) and ran him out of the north. Guo Huai then led a punitive campaign against the Qiang Mi Dang (迷當) and captured 3.000 Di barbarians before relocating the rebellious tribes to Guanzhong so they could be kept an eye on. Guo Huai is promoted to General of the Left for his achievements.

Leaders of the Xiutu Xiongnu from Liang province named Liang Yuanbi also surrendered to Guo Huai and brought 2.000 families to settle in Yong province. Guo Huai was concerned about the instability in Xiliang so he memorialised the court and asked his base of operations be moved to in Gaoping in Anding commandery so he could better protect the people and defend the border. It was because of Guo Huai's request that the office of Commandant of Xichuan/Xiliang was created. Guo Huai was elevated to General of the Van.

In 244 A.D., Cao Shuang and Xiahou Xuan wanted to make a display of their power so they decided to attack Shu-Han. Guo Huai was tasked with leading the vanguard against the enemy. The whole campaign was a disaster for Cao Shuang and he was badly defeated, but because Guo Huai had never thought the campaign south prudent, his more cautious behaviour meant his own forces were not badly defeated.

In the beginning of 248 A.D., a large number of Qiang in Liang and Yong provinces rebelled. The rebellion, led by several chieftains: Ehe (餓何), Shaoge (燒戈), Fatong (伐同), E Zhesai (蛾遮塞), et al., attacked Weichang (圍城) city and sent envoys to Shu to ask for support. Zhi Wudai (治無戴) also rose in rebellion, joining their ranks. At the time, Protector of the Army Xiahou Ba was supervising the forces stationed at Weichi (為翅), so Guo Huai marched his forces to Didao to coordinate with him. However, they could not decide on a strategy.[n 3] Xiahou Ba said they should pacify Fuhan (枹罕) (in Longxi commandery just south of the river), which inside would suppress the rebellious Qiang and outside break the thieves [Shu].[n 4] But, Guo Huai suspected that Jiang Wei would launch a surprise attack on Xiahou Ba's rear. He quickly headed southwards to reinforce Xiahou Ba. As suspected, Jiang Wei did indeed attack Weichi. But with Guo Huai's additional forces Jiang Wei was defeated and forced to flee. With the Shu forces routed, Guo Huai went after the rebelling Qiang. He beheaded Ehe and Shaoge, and 10,000 of their settlements surrendered to him.

Even with their victories so far, there were still many Qiang in revolt. Zhesai had stationed his forces at Heguan (He Pass, 河關), Baitu (白土) castle and arrayed his forces along the Yellow river in defence. Guo Huai made a show of heading upstream and secretly crossed the river downstream with his troops. He launched a surprise attack against Zhesai's forces at Baitu, scoring a decisive victory. The Qiang rebel Zhi Wudai and his men were causing trouble in Wuwei (武威), but their family members had remained in Xihai (西海). Guo Huai hastily attacked Xihai in an attempt to lure Wudai into an ambush. Wudai hurriedly returned to protect Xihai, but was caught in Guo Huai's ambush just north of Longyi. Wudai's forces were routed. Unfortunately, they didn't flee far. Wudai's forces went and occupied the main road west of Mt. Shitou (石頭), cutting the line of communications. Guo Huai attacked them again and put them to rout yet again.

Now, Jiang Wei may have been routed once, but he hadn't retreated back to Yi province, he had only drawn back to Shiyang (石營). Jiang Wei left his position and received the remnants of the Qiang army at Qiangchuan (彊川). Meanwhile, another Shu officer Grand Administrator of Yinping Liao Hua had set up a fortified position at Mt. Chengzhong (成重), and he too was attempting to gather the scattered Qiang. Guo Huai wanted to split his force in half to take both. However, the other generals all thought this to be a bad idea. Jiang Wei had a large force and would not be overpowered, and Liao Hua held a strategic position so he too could not be beaten, as a result both forces would be crushed; the best solution was to march west as a single unit and sever the lines of communication between the two enemy forces, and deal with them one at a time. Guo Huai said to them: "If we advance immediately against Liao Hua, the enemy will certainly not expect that, and Jiang Wei will be caught flat-footed. We need only to deal with Liao Hua, and that will bring about Jiang Wei’s ruin in itself, and even make him want to abandon his mission. For his soldiers are not very far to the west of us, yet the tribes are all scattered each in their own places. This is a plan that, by making a single movement, fully achieves both objectives." Thereupon, Guo Huai dispatched Xiahou Ba so he could harry Jiang Wei's forces from the rear, while he assaulted Liao Hua's fortifications. Sure enough, Jiang Wei hastily came to Liao Hua's aid, and everything proceeded as Guo Huai had planned. Guo Huai was enfeoffed as Marquis of Duxiang (都鄉) for his efforts.

In 249 A.D., Sima Yi put Cao Shuang to death and also summoned his acquaintances to the capital; Xiahou Xuan was one such friend of Shuang's. Guo Huai selected to be his replacement, he was promoted to General Who Subdues the West, Chief Controller of Yong province and controlled all military activity in the northwest. Chen Tai was given Guo Huai's old position as Inspector of Yong province.

In the autumn of that same year, Shu-Han General-in-Chief Jiang Wei invaded Yong province. He built two fortresses on Mt. Chu and stationed General of the Standard (牙門將) Gou An, Li Xin, et al. within. Jiang Wei also incite the Qiang to invade neighbouring commanderies. Chen Tai advised Guo Huai that although the fortresses were strong, they were far from Shu and the supply lines feeding them along treacherous terrain. Furthermore, the terrain would also inhibit reinforcements. Thereupon, Guo Huai led Chen Tai, Governor of Nan'an Deng Ai, Xu Zhi, et al. to besiege Chu fortress. The Wei forces cut off the supply routes and access to water. The Shu forces requested battle, but they were ignored.

Jiang Wei's reinforcements were able to come to the rescue and they attacked Chen Tai's forces. However, instead of asking for help, Chen Tai tells Guo Huai to move to Jiang Wei's rear and cut his retreat. Guo Huai does so and Jiang Wei panics and then retreats. The isolated Shu-Han forces at Mt. Chu immediately surrender. Guo Huai then proceeds to subdue the rebellious Qiang tribes in the area.

In 250 A.D., an imperial order read: "Several times, the order which the dynasty had established in the Hanchuan region was threatened and on the point of collapse. Guo Huai has braved danger and achieved great merit. In his 30 years of service, outwardly, he punished bandits, inwardly, he soothed the people. Since coming of age, he has defeated Liao Hua and captured Gou An. His significant merits are self-evident. Today, Guo Huai is promoted to General of Chariots and Cavalry, with standing equal to that of the Three Excellencies. He shall bear the Staff of Authority, alongside his duty as Chief Controller of Yong." Guo Huai was now just below Sima Yi in terms of rank. Guo Huai was further ennobled as Marquis of Yangqu, his fief increased to 2780 households.

In Jun. 251 A.D., Sima Yi discovered Wang Ling was plotting conspiracy against him. Sima Yi had Wang Ling arrested along with all others suspected of involvement. The suspects were interrogated and all those found guilty were executed along with three degrees of relatives. Unfortunately for Guo Huai, his wife was Wang Ling's younger sister, meaning she was taken to be executed. Guo Huai's subordinate commanders as well as several thousand Qiang kowtowed before him and urged him to petition the court for her release, but he refused. Then Guo Huai's five sons kowtowed before him and pledged they would die if she did. Guo Huai could not let such a fate come to pass, so he sent a thousand riders to retrieve his wife.

Guo Huai sent a memorial to Sima Yi, saying: "My five sons lamented their mother, heedless of their own lives. With their mother gone, they could not remain. And if they were gone, I could not remain either. That is why I sent men to bring her back again. If I have gone beyond the limits of the law, then let the crime fall on me alone, and I shall present myself to answer for it." Around this time, there were numerous rebellions in the east, Wang Ling was just one example, and Guo Huai was a major stabilising force in the west. Considering the large outcry of support for Guo Huai's wife, Sima Yi could hardly risk Guo Huai's support. On top of this, Guo Huai had an extensive military career. Sima Yi allowed both Guo Huai and his wife to live.[n 5]

In 253 A.D., Wu and Shu-Han launch attacks against the east and west fronts. Guo Huai and Chen Tai are dispatched by Sima Shi to relieve Jiang Wei's siege of Didao in Nan'an. Guo Huai mobilised the entire forces of Guanzhong and advanced on Jiang Wei. Jiang Wei's provisions were limited so he retreated.


In 255 A.D., Guo Huai died. He was posthumously titled Chief General and Faithful (貞) Lord. His son Guo Tong succeeded him. Tong served the Inspector of Jing province till his death. Tong was succeeded by Guo Zheng.

During the Xianxi era (265-266 A.D.), Guo Huai's posthumous title was changed to Viscount of Fenyang.


  • Father
    • Guo Yun (郭縕) - Grand Administrator of Yanmen (雁門).
  • Grandfather
    • Guo Quan (郭祖) - Was a Minister of Finance.
  • Brothers
    • Guo Pei (淮配) - Younger brother, Grand Administrator of Chengyang (城陽).
    • Guo Zhen (淮鎮) - Youngest brother, Supervisor of the Internuncios.
  • Sons
    • Guo Tong (郭統) - Served the Inspector of Jing province.
  • Grandsons
    • Guo Zheng (郭正) - Son of Guo Tong.
  • Nephews
    • Guo Zhan (郭展) - Son of Guo Pei, became Grand Coachman.
    • Guo Yu (郭豫) - Younger brother to Guo Zhan
    • Guo Yi (郭奕) - Son of Guo Zhen. Inspector of Yong province, Master of Writing.
  • In-Laws
    • Jia Chong - Married to Guo Pei's daughter.
    • Pei Xiu - Married to Guo Pei's daughter.

See alsoEdit

Art galleryEdit


  1. Text says Yangping, but this must be a mistake as it is located west of Mt. Dingjun. Zhang He's forces were fighting east of Mt. Dingjun, where Liu Bei was situated. Fleeing forces are hardly going to run through the enemy, thus they must have gone east. Cao Cao also brought his forces down Baoye Road when looking to recapture Hanzhong, so Zhang He and Guo Huai were effectively his vanguard holding the position.
  2. The SGZ actually says 蜀將羌維, but as there is no reference to a Shu general Qiang Wei, it is probably a mistake for Jiang Wei.
  3. Xiahou Ba and Guo Huai were supposedly at odds with one another (it's partially why Xiahou Ba felt the need to defect), if they had personal differences, it doesn't seem like Guo Huai let them get in the way of duty.
  4. Think they are trying to isolate the northern territories by seizing the south of the river. This will then stop Jiang Wei contacting those in the north.
  5. In 255 A.D., there is a law change where a married woman is not subject to the punishment of her birth family. Proposed by Cheng Xian, because of Guanqiu Jian's granddaughter.

Fact vs. FictionEdit


  • …Guo Huai was not killed by Jiang Wei.


  1. SGZBiography of Guo Huai. Translation:
  2. SGZ: Biography of Zhang He. Translation:
  4. SGZ: Biography of Jiang Wei. Translation:
  5. SGZ: Biography of Wei Yan.