Meng Zhifan (孟之反) was a minister of the state of Lu. According to an account in the Chronicle of Zuo (左傳/ Zuǒzhuán), he led an army that was soundly defeated by a force from the state of Qi in a battle that took place near to Qufu, the capital of modern-day Shandong province, in 485 BC. During the retreat he showed great valor by fighting off the enemy in an effective rearguard action that allowed his surviving soldiers to escape.
Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 6, Chapter XV
Confucius said: “Meng Zhifan is not given to boasting. When he and his soldiers were in retreat he was the last to flee. It was only when they reached the city gate that he spurred his horse and said: ‘It wasn’t courage that kept me at the rear. My horse wouldn’t run.’”