Biography (SGYY): Lu Kang (Youjie)

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Lu Kang (Youjie)
陸抗 (幼節)
Lived: C. 226–274

Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by SlickSlicer

Lu Kang (Youjie)

Lu Kang was the son of Lu Xun and the grandson of Sun Ce (1). When the kingdom of Shu fell to Wei in around AD 263, the Wu ruler Sun Xiu realized that the usurper of the kingdom of Wei, Sima Yan, a.k.a. the sovereign of Jin, might attack Wu next. In preparation for such an attack, Sun Xiu appointed Lu Kang as General Who Guards the East and had him defend Wu’s holdings in Jingzhou and the various river ports of the province. Shortly after this appointment was made, a Wu officer named Bu Chan defected and surrendered the city of Xiling to Jin. Unfortunately for Jin, Lu Kang swiftly marched to Xiling and defeated and killed Bu Chan, thus retaking the city Wu had lost before reinforcements led by Jin commander Yang Hu could aid the traitor (2).

1: The latter fact is inferred by evidence that Lu Xun married Sun Ce’s daughter, thus making Lu Xun Sun Ce’s son in law and Lu Kang Sun Ce’s biological grandson.
2: The novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, does not go into much detail regarding this incident. The slaughter of Bu Chan, his armies and generals at the hands of Lu Kang’s soldiers is mentioned passively by Yang Hu, who remarks to his soldiers in the book, “You must not despise Lu Kang, for he is able and crafty. Formerly his master sent him to attack Xiling, and he slew Bu Chan and many of his generals, before I could save that city. So long as Lu Kang remains in command, I shall remain on the defensive. I shall not attack till there be trouble and confusion among our enemies. To be rash and not await the proper moment to attack is to invite defeat.” Historically it seems that Yang Hu and Yang Zhao, another Jin officer, attacked Jiangling at the time of Bu Chan’s rebellion, but defectors from Wu leaked false information to Yang Zhao and because of this Yang Zhao was caught in a Wu ambush and defeated. Shortly afterwards, Lu Kang seems to have taken back Xiling.

Following Sun Xiu’s death, the cruel tyrant Sun Hao rose to the position of Emperor. Sun Hao commanded Lu Kang to camp at Jiangkou and invade Xiangyang. Before Lu Kang could gather the force to launch such an expedition however, the Ruler of Jin, Sima Yan, heard what Wu was planning and sent the old, veteran general Yang Hu to protect the city. Yang Hu regarded Lu Kang highly, and Lu Kang admired Yang Hu as well. Both Yang Hu and Lu Kang respected each other’s camps and neither one of them dared to attack the other unexpectedly. On one occasion, Lu Kang and Yang Hu both sent out hunting parties on the same day, but Yang Hu gave strict orders to his troops not to cross over to the Wu border and hunt there. One day Lu Kang sent wine to Yang Hu and to return the favor Yang Hu sent medicine to Lu Kang when Lu Kang fell ill. Lu Kang’s subordinates warned, “This medicine is surely harmful: It comes from the enemy!” Lu Kang knew his rival was honorable however and replied, “No, old Uncle Yang Hu would not poison a person. Do not doubt his chivalrous intentions.” After drinking the concoction sent by Yang Hu, Lu Kang felt much better and so relations between Yang Hu’s soldiers and Lu Kang’s were always good.

Soon the Emperor of Wu grew suspicious of the activity of Lu Kang’s army, or rather the lack of activity thereof, and ordered Lu Kang to begin the attack on Xiangyang as soon as possible. In response, Lu Kang wrote a letter to the Emperor of Wu advising against an assault and suggesting that Sun Hao rule more virtuously. Infuriated after reading Lu Kang’s memorial, Sun Hao reportedly yelled, “They say Lu Kang has come to an understanding with his enemy, and now I believe it!” Immediately Sun Hao made the foolish mistake of demoting Lu Kang and appointing Sun Ji, Wu’s General of the Left, to replace him. Forced into retirement, Lu Kang became sicker than ever before and died. At around the same time, Ding Feng, another great commander of Wu, also met his demise. With the last great heroes of Wu dead, Jin soon defeated Wu and unified the land.

Copyright © 2006 SlickSlicer. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms