Ma Yin - Background and Early Career - Service Under Sun Ru

Service Under Sun Ru

In 887, Qin Zongquan sent his brother Qin Zongheng (秦宗衡), with Sun as his deputy, to advance into Huainan Circuit (淮南, headquartered in modern Yangzhou, Jiangsu), to contend for control of the circuit, which by that point had fallen into an internecine struggle between Qin Yan and Bi Shiduo on one side, and Yang Xingmi on the other. Liu and Mawere both in this army commanded by Qin Zongheng. When they arrived at Huainan's capital Yang Prefecture (揚州), Yang Xingmi had captured it and forced Qin Yan and Bi to flee. Qin Yan and Bi then joined forces with Qin Zongheng as well. Soon thereafter, when Qin Zongquan, himself facing military pressure from Zhu Quanzhong the military governor of Xuanwu Circuit (宣武, headquartered in modern Kaifeng, Henan), tried to recall Qin Zongheng's army, Sun assassinated Qin Zongheng and took over the army, thereafter executing Qin Yan and Bi. Sun soon defeated Yang Xingmi and took over Yang Prefecture, claiming the title of military governor of Huainan. (Yang subsequently took Ningguo Circuit (寧國, headquartered in modern Xuanzhou, Anhui and became its military governor.)

In spring 891, Sun launched the initial phase of an ambitious plan to first destroy Yang Xingmi and then Zhu. He took all of the army available to him and headed for Xuanshe's capital Xuan Prefecture (宣州). Liu was part of Sun's army. Sun's army was initially victorious, and by spring 892 had put Xuan Prefecture under siege. However, Sun was unable to capture Xuan, and soon got bogged down, with Yang sending raiders to cut off his food supplies. Further, his army was soon troubled by torrential floods and illnesses, and Sun himself was suffering from malaria. He was forced to send Liu and Ma out to raid the nearby regions for food. Meanwhile, Yang, hearing that Sun was suffering from malaria, attacked. He crushed Sun's army and killed Sun. Most of Sun's soldiers surrendered to Yang. Liu and Ma took 7,000 soldiers and headed south, toward Zhennan Circuit (鎮南, headquartered in modern Nanchang, Jiangsi); the soldiers supported Liu as their leader, with Ma as his forward commander and Zhang Ji (張佶) as his strategist. The army's size eventually ballooned to over 100,000.

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