Biography (SGYY): Jiang Shu

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Jiang Shu
Lifespan: Unknown

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Sam Wrest

Jiang Shu

Jiang Shu was a general serving the kingdom of Shu during the Second Emperor Liu Shan’s reign. He was considered a brave leader whom Shu’s General-in-Chief Jiang Wei prized highly.

Following Jiang Wei’s fourth failed invasion of the northern kingdom of Wei, Jiang Shu was chosen to train the Shu army in Hanzhong. Jiang Shu remained behind to ensure the safety of Hanzhong and to continue the training of Hanzhong’s armies during Jiang Wei’s fifth invasion of the northern heartland, but following its failure was appointed as right commander in the sixth. By the calendar of Shu-Han it was winter, the first year of the reign period Jiang Yao (AD 258-59). Jiang Wei led the Riverlands force to the Qishan hills, where he set camp at the entrance to the gorge. Shu’s army succeeded in scoring several victories over the northern forces, commanded by Deng Ai, but Ai, seeing he would be unable to drive back the Shu army, sent an envoy to Chengdu to spread false rumours of Jiang Wei’s intention to defect to Wei. Consequently, Liu Shan called back the Riverlands army.

When Sima Zhao murdered Cao Mao and instated Cao Huan on the thrown of Wei, Jiang Wei launched his seventh northern campaign; Jiang Shu was selected to join the expedition. The Riverlands forces, split into three, headed for the Qishan hills. Upon reaching Ye Gorge, Wang Guan, a Wei commander, offered to submit to Jiang Wei along with five thousand soldiers. Jiang Wei ordered Wang Guan to take three thousand of his five thousand soldiers to the Riverlands border to transport several thousand loaded grain carts to the Qishan Hills. Wang Guan’s surrender, however, was false, and within ten days of his departure, a courier sent from Guan to Deng Ai was caught and questioned, revealing Guan’s intention to transport the grain to the Wei camp via Yunshan Gorge. The courier was thereupon killed and the date altered on the document to the fifteenth of the month; the letter was then sent back to Deng Ai by a different courier disguised as a Wei soldier.

Jiang Wei ordered Jiang Shu to march out from Ye Gorge to coordinate in the attack against Deng Ai, telling him to attack Ai when a series of grain carts transported by Riverlands commander Fu Qian went up in flames. After arriving at Yunshan gorge, Jiang Shu had his men await the appointed signal before attacking. Some time later, Fu Qian was seen attacking Deng Ai and the grain carts he was transporting going up in flames, and so Jiang Shu urged his forces on to charge Deng Ai and Ai, unable to control his soldiers before the onslaught, was forced to retreat, barely escaping with his life. The Riverlands army later returned to Hanzhong when Wang Guan led a desperate attack on the region. After Wang Guan’s attack had been thwarted and Guan killed, Jiang Shu resumed training Hangzhong’s forces in preparation for the next northern campaign.

When prime minister of Wei, Sima Zhao, began his expedition against Shu in AD 263, Zhong Hui was put in charge of the capture of Hanzhong. Jiang Shu, along with Fu Qian, was assigned to protect the passes. After Zhong Hui had captured Nanzheng pass, his next target was Yang’an; because of the pass’s importance, Jiang Shu and Fu Qian went to personally defend it. Jiang Shu was serving as Fu Qian’s lieutenant commander at the time. Upon Zhong Hui’s arrival at Yang’an pass, the two commanders took counsel. Jiang Shu said, “We cannot hold off so many northerners. A stout defence is our best course.”

“I don’t agree,” Fu Qian answered. “Coming so far, the Wei troops—however numerous—will surely be too tired to pose a threat. We must go down from the pass and fight, or both Yuecheng and Hancheng will be lost.” (1)

1: Yuecheng and Hancheng were another two passes that Fu Qian and Jiang Shu were in charge of defending.

Jiang Shu sat silent and made no reply. Suddenly they were told that a large contingent of Wei troops had come before the pass. The two commanders went to survey the situation. Zhong Hui, raising his whip, shouted up, “I have in my command a force of ten thousand. Submit promptly, and you will be promoted and employed according to rank and station. Remain obstinate, and the good will die with the bad when we destroy your position.”

Fu Qian was outraged and left Jiang Shu in charge of the defence at Yang’an while he led three thousand men out to meet Zhong Hui. Jiang Shu oversaw the battle from the pass and, upon seeing Fu Qian defeated, surrendered Yang’an to Zhong Hui; the flags of Wei were soon standing on the pass. When Fu Qian returned with his defeated force, Jiang Shu shouted down, “I have surrendered to Wei!”

In great fury Fu Qian denounced Jiang Shu, “Faithless, treasonous ingrate! How can you face the world again?” Fu Qian later slit his own throat, and Jiang Shu resumed his original rank in Wei.

Jiang Shu was immediately posted at Yong’an Pass along with Zhong Hui. Following some strange events at Dingjun Mountain, including the illusion of an attacking army, Zhong Hui became uneasy and sought out Jiang Shu’s opinion. “Does Dingjun have a holy temple?” he asked.

“No,” Jiang Shu replied, “Only the tomb of the Martial Lord Zhuge.” (2)

2: “The Martial Lord Zhuge” was the late prime minister of Han, Zhuge Liang. Liang had requested that he be buried at Dingjun Mountain before his death in AD 234.

Startled, Zhong Hui said, “This must be a manifestation of his departed spirit. I must go myself to present sacrificial offerings to it.” Thus, Hui personally prostrated himself before the temple, causing the illusions to cease.

How and when Jiang Shu died is unknown, but with no evidence to suggest otherwise, he most likely continued to serve the kingdom of Wei for the remainder of his life.

Copyright © 2005 Sam Wrest
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong