A Qing dynasty illustration of Wen Chou
|General of Yuan Shao|
Wen Chou (died 200 AD) was a military general serving under the warlord Yuan Shao during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. His force was defeated by that of rival warlord Cao Cao in the Battle of Yan Ford and he was killed in the midst of battle.
Historical records pertaining to Wen Chou are scarce. References to him could be found in Chen Shou's Records of Three Kingdoms, in the biographies of Yuan Shao, Cao Cao, Xun Yu, and Xun You, from where it could be gathered that Wen was a fierce warrior whose prowess in battle matched that of his counterpart, Yan Liang.
In 200, after Yan Liang was killed in the Battle of Boma, Yuan Shao brought his main army south of the Yellow River and launched a full-fledged attack on Cao Cao. Wen and Liu Bei were sent forth with a vanguard force of more than 5,000 riders to pursue the retreating army of Cao. Making a stand atop a knoll, Cao retained less than 600 cavalry and let loose the remaining horses.
As Wen's troops arrived, many broke ranks to loot the horses and other supplies. Cao then gave order for a counterattack. The small but elite cavalry force scored a brilliant victory over the disorganized enemy and killed Wen in battle.
In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Wen was said to have a face like that of the xiezhi[I]. In chapter 5, Yuan Shao gave high praise to Wen's prowess in battle. Faced with the indomitable enemy commander Hua Xiong, Yuan lamented, "If I had either Yan Liang or Wen Chou here, I would have nothing to fear."
This comment foreshadows the appearance of Wen in chapter 26, where he volunteered to avenge his close friend Yan Liang, who was killed in the Battle of Boma. Given 70,000 troops, Wen crossed the Yellow River and came for Cao Cao's camp. In an unusual move, Cao turned his entire formation around, placing the supplies in front. While Wen's soldiers were busy looting the supplies, Cao directed his men south onto a knoll, from where they allowed their horses to graze. Wen's soldiers pounced upon the horses as they approached the knoll and became disorganized. Cao then gave the order for a counterattack, forcing the enemies to retreat.
Zhang Liao and Xu Huang, two of Cao's best generals, gave chase. Wen fired two arrows from atop his horse, one of which sliced off the feather on Zhang's helmet and the other hit Zhang's horse in the face. Brandishing his poleaxe, Xu came for Wen but had to retreat when a band of enemy soldiers came to their commander's rescue.
Leading a dozen riders, Guan Yu then cut off Wen's escape and engaged in a duel with the enemy. Within three bouts, Wen withdrew and attempted to evade. However, Guan's horse, the Red Hare, was of a superior breed and soon caught up. Guan then slew Wen from behind.
I.^ The xiezhi (獬豸) is a legendary beast which supposedly looks hideous.
- Chen Shou (2002). San Guo Zhi. Yue Lu Shu She. ISBN 7-80665-198-5.
- Luo Guanzhong (1986). San Guo Yan Yi. Yue Lu Shu She. ISBN 7-80520-013-0.
- Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor (2002). Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3467-9.