This is a story from Three Kingdoms that happened before the Battle of Chibi. One night, Zhou Yu was thinking hard in his tent about how to defeat Cao Cao’s army, when Huang Gai came in. He suggested attacking with fire. “Well, it’s exactly what I mean to do.” Said Zhou Yu. “That’s why I’m keeping those two spies: to convey false information to Cao’s camp. But I need a man to play the same game for us.” Huang Gai said he was willing to do it. They decided to carry out the trick of being flogged to win the enemy’s confidence.
The next day Zhou Yu convened a general assembly of his commanders outside his tent. He ordered the commanders to take three months’s rations and prepare to defend their line. Huang Gai came forward and said: “We don’t need three months. If not, we’d better throw down our weapons and sue for peace.”
Zhou Yu exploded in fury. “I bear our lord’s mandate,” he cried, “to lead our troops to destroy Cao Cao. How dare you weaken our morale? Remove him and execute him!”
Huang Gai proudly, “I have served the Southland through three successive reigns. Where do the likes of you come from?”
The entire assembly got on their knees to intercede for Huang Gai. Zhou Yu said at last: “In consideration for the commanders’ views, I shall not kill you. Give him one hundred strokes across the back!”
Huang Gai was forced facedown to the ground. Not yet at fifty blows of the rod, his skin was broken and his oozing flesh was crossed with welts. He fainted several times.
Zhou Yu let Kan Ze, Huang Gai’s friend, to deliver the letter of surrender to Cao Cao, which Huang Gai had prepared. Before long, Cao Cao received a letter from the two spies, saying “Look for a boat with a blue-green flag at the bow. That will be Huang Gai.” In Huang Gai’s boat there were combustibles . In this way,Huang Gai was able to set fire to Cao Cao’s camp. When the red current of fire passed through the surface of the river,Cao Cao’s ships,linked with chains, turned into ashes.