Zhu Huan

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Zhu Huan
General of Eastern Wu
Born 177[1]
Died 238 (aged 61)[1]
Traditional Chinese 朱桓
Simplified Chinese 朱桓
Pinyin Zhū Huán
Wade–Giles Chu Huan
Courtesy name Xiumu (Chinese: 休穆; pinyin: Xīumù; Wade–Giles: Hsiu-mu)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhu.

Zhu Huan (177–238),[1] courtesy name Xiumu, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. Although joining the southern warlord, Sun Quan, early on, Zhu Huan was not assigned important tasks until Sun had solidified his influence after the Battle of Jiangling in 209. Henceforth, Zhu Huan was tasked with local defences and successfully quelled some riots. When the emperor of the rival state of Cao Wei, Cao Pi, launched his three-pronged campaign against Sun Quan, Zhu Huan was appointed by the latter as a commander; he resisted the invaders, and was credited for defeating the Wei general Cao Ren outside Ruxu fortress.

Early life[edit]

Zhu Huan hailed from Wu Commandery (吳郡; present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu).[2] He entered Sun Quan's government as a consultant to the latter's office, and was appointed as Prefect of Yuyao (餘姚長). When a plague broke out in Yuyao, provision prices skyrocketed, in response, Zhu Huan opened the granaries to the public, and ordered his civil officers to give medicine to those affected by the plague.[3] As such, Zhu Huan gained recognition among the local population, and was promoted by Sun Quan to a colonel to lead 2,000 men to gather the scattered citizens who fled to avoid the natural disaster. As a result, nearly 10,000 people resettled in the area of Wu and Kuaiji commanderies after several years of Zhu Huan's effort.

Middle career[edit]

However, when Sun Quan sent out his elite generals to do battle with the dominant northern warlord, Cao Cao, Zhu Huan was not given any order to go to the frontlines, rather, he stayed behind and remained obscure for some time until the bandits of Danyang and Poyang revolted openly. Since other generals were garrisoned in the northern or western borders, Zhu Huan was granted command to lead some troops to deal with the rebellious gangsters. To reward his subordinate's success in quelling the rebellion, Sun Quan granted Zhu Huan the title of "Marquis of Xincheng Village" (新城亭候), and promoted him to be a major-general (裨將軍).[4]

As a commissioner at Ruxu[edit]

In 222, Zhu Huan succeeded Zhou Tai as the area commander of Ruxu. The emperor of Wei, Cao Pi, initiated a three-pronged attack against Sun Quan, and ordered his Grand Marshal, Cao Ren, to personally take Ruxu fortress. Cao Ren purposefully leaked the news that he would attack Xianxi (羨溪) with the intention to dilute the defensive forces inside the fortress. Zhu Huan fell victim to Cao Ren's strategy and indeed sent his main forces eastward to strengthen Xianxi. At the time, Cao Ren led his several tens of thousands men to Ruxu, Zhu Huan only had 5,000 troops remained inside the city walls.[5] The defenders were scared because they were outnumbered, so Zhu Huan said to them, "whenever two armies fight, the outcome is determined by the commanders but not the size of forces. You have heard of Cao Ren's military reputation, how is his ability compared to mine? The military doctrine says an invading force should be double than a defending force when they fight on a plain. The condition mentioned is that the defenders do not have a fortress and the morale for both sides is equal. Now Cao Ren is not wise nor brave, his soldiers are faint-hearted, and they have travelled a thousand li, exhausting both horses and men. On the other hand, we occupy a high-walled fortress, which sits to the north of a river and south to a mountain. This is a situation that we have the leisure to prevail over the tired invaders. We will win a hundred battles if situation like this recur one hundred times. We should have no anxiety even Cao Pi comes here in person, why should we worry about the likes of Cao Ren?"[6] Then, Zhu Huan ordered his subordinates to hide the flags and drums to generate an illusion they were weak, in order to lure Cao Ren to attack. Cao Ren sent his son, Cao Tai, to lead the main forces to approach the fortress, and ordered general Chang Diao and Wang Shuang to sneak-attack Middle Island, where defenders' families resided. Zhu Huan sent Yan Gui (嚴圭) to Middle Island and lay traps there, while he led the remaining troops out to battle Cao Tai. Chang Diao and Wang Shuang were ambushed, when they went back to the shore, their ships had already been taken and they could not return. Chang Diao was killed in action and Wang Shang was captured in battle. 1,000 Wei soldiers were drowned when they attempted to flee the battlefield, and the rest of the detachment had their retreat route sealed.[7] Outside Ruxu fortress, Zhu Huan repelled Cao Tai's attack, and managed to infiltrate the enemy and burned their camps.[8] For his accomplishment, Zhu Huan was promoted to general Who Uplifts Military Might (奮武將軍), granted the title of Marquis of Jiaxing (嘉興侯), and he assumed the position of Chancellor of Pang.

Battle of Shiting[edit]

Main article: Battle of Shiting

Six years later, Zhu Huan participated in the Battle of Shiting, where he acted as a subordinate general under Grand Marshal of Eastern Wu, Lu Xun. Zhu Huan once presented a proposal to Lu Xun, stating that they could easily capture the enemy commander-in-chief, Cao Xiu, by blocking the latter's retreat route with 10,000 under his command. Zhu Huan's plan was rejected, but he was assigned with 30,000 men to attack the enemy's flank. When Cao Xiu led 100,000 troops and arrived at Shiting (石亭), Zhu Huan and general Quan Cong charged Cao's left and right flanks while Lu Xun attacked after the enemy was disorganised. Cao Xiu's army was disintegrated, and the casualty numbered tens of thousands.[9]


After Zhu Huan's death in 238 at the age of 62 (by East Asian age reckoning), his family did not have much savings because he used to take care of his subordinates' families to the sixth degree, so Sun Quan financially aided Zhu Huan's family to carry out the funeral. Zhu Huan's son, Zhu Yi, inherited his marquis title and served Wu as a colonel of cavalry.


There's anecdote regarding Zhu Huan which says he was the one and only vassal of Wu able to twirl and stroke Sun Quan's beard while the latter had to laugh and soothe him to go back to office as an exchange.[citation needed]

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Chief of Yuyao
  • Colonel Who Eliminates Bandits (湯寇校尉)
  • Major General (裨將軍)
  • General Who Uplifts Military Might (奮武將軍)
  • General of the Vanguard (前將軍)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Sanguozhi mentioned that Zhu Huan died at the age of 62 (by East Asian age reckoning) in the 1st year of the Chiwu era (238–251) of Sun Quan's reign. Quote from Sanguozhi vol. 56: (年六十二,赤烏元年卒。)
  2. ^ (朱桓字休穆,吳郡吳人也。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  3. ^ (往遇疫癘,谷食荒貴,桓分部良吏,隱親醫藥,餐粥相繼,士民感戴之。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  4. ^ (桓督領諸將,周旋赴討,應皆平定。稍遷裨將軍,封新城亭候。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  5. ^ (魏使大司馬曹仁步騎數萬向濡須,仁欲以兵襲取州上,偽先揚聲欲東攻羨溪;桓分兵將赴羨溪,既發,卒得仁進軍拒濡須七十里問。桓遣使追還羨溪兵,兵未到而仁奄至。時桓手下及所部兵,在者五千人) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  6. ^ (諸將業業,各有懼心,桓喻之曰:"凡兩軍交對,勝負在將,不在眾寡。諸君聞曹仁用兵行師,孰與桓邪?兵法所以稱客倍而主人半者,謂俱在平原。無城池之守,又謂士眾勇怯齊等故耳。今仁既非智勇,加其士卒甚怯,又千里步涉,人馬罷困,桓與諸軍。共據高城,南臨大江,北背山陵,以逸待勞,為主制客,此百戰百勝之勢也。雖曹丕自來,尚不足憂,況仁等邪!") Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  7. ^ (桓部兵將攻取油船,或別擊雕等...遂梟雕,生虜雙,送武昌,臨陳斬溺死者千餘。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  8. ^ (桓等身自拒泰,燒營而退。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  9. ^ (休幅裂瓦解,斬獲萬計。) Sanguozhi vol. 60.