Biography (SGYY): Wu Lan

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Wu Lan
吳蘭
Lifespan: Unlisted

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Mike Holmes

Wu Lan

Wu Lan was a general who served under Liu Yan and Liu Zhang.

In AD 213 , Liu Bei was invited to Yi by Liu Zhang to hold off Zhang Lu (1).

1: Zhang Lu and Liu Zhang were mortal enemies, Liu having killed Zhang’s mother and younger brother. In 211, Cao Cao defeated Ma Chao, opening up the west. Zhang Lu decided to take Yi in order to stand against Cao Cao. Liu Zhang, having no experience in war, asked Liu Bei to help.

Liu Bei soon turned against Liu Zhang and attacked Yi. In response, Liu Zhang sent Zhang Ren, Liu Gui, Ling Bao and Deng Xian to hold off Liu Bei.

After Deng Xian had been killed by Liu Bei’s army, Liu Zhang sent Wu Yi to help. Wu Yi requested that Wu Lan and Lei Tong go with him. Liu Zhang agreed and so Wu Lan went with Wu Yi and Lei Tong.

When Wu Yi, Wu Lan and Lei Tong got to the city of Luoxian, which Zhang Ren was holding, Ling Bao advised diverting a nearby river in order to drown Liu Bei’s army. Wu Yi accepted this advice and ordered Wu Lan and Lei Tong to help him by stationing troops nearby.

Liu Bei found out about this plan and ordered his two generals Wei Yan and Huang Zhong to patrol vigilantly.

Ling Bao prepared to cut the channel, but was attacked by Wei Yan. Ling Bao was easily captured. Wu Lan saw this and tried to rescue Ling Bao with Lei Tong. However, their support force was smashed by Huang Zhong. They fled in defeat. Ling Bao was executed by Liu Bei.

Some time later Liu Bei’s adviser Pang Tong was shot by arrows and was killed in an ambush set by Zhang Ren. Wei Yan had been leading the rear guard and tried to escape to Luoxian. Wu Lan led an army with Lei Tong and nearly captured Wei Yan, but they were once again driven off by Huang Zhong. However, they regrouped and took Liu Bei’s camp. Liu Bei fled to Fu Pass.

Eventually, Liu Bei’s other adviser Zhuge Liang arrived from Jing with Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun. Wei Yan and Huang Zhong were attacking Zhang Ren, but had been stopped by Wu Lan and Lei Tong, as part of Zhang Ren’s plan.

When the two Jing generals had been halted by Wu Lan and Lei Tong, Zhang Ren charged straight for Liu Bei. Liu Bei was driven off again.

Lei Tong, Wu Lan, Huang Zhong and Wei Yan kept on skirmishing for several days. Finally, Liu Bei sent Zhang Fei to help. The two were surrounded and decided to surrender. Liu Bei heartily accepted their surrender.

Eventually, Liu Bei executed Zhang Ren and forced Liu Zhang to surrender. Wu Lan was promoted and became garrison commander under Ma Chao.

In AD 218 , Cao Cao invaded Yi. He sent Cao Hong and Zhang He to take the province. At this time, Wu Lan was a commander under Ma Chao.

Ma Chao sent Wu Lan to scout the area around Xianban, where Cao Hong was stationed. Wu Lan accepted and scouted the area. He stumbled across Cao Hong’s forces in the area. Wu Lan wanted to retreat, but his lieutenant, Ren Kui, advised, “If we don’t break the enemy’s spirit when they’ve just arrived, how can we face General Ma?”

Ren Kui challenged Cao Hong, who raced up to him and cut him down on the third exchange. Wu Lan’s army was badly defeated and they retreated.

Ma Chao was furious. Wu Lan said, “Ren Kui ignored my advice to retreat and was killed. I tried to stop him, but to no avail.” Ma Chao relented and pardoned Wu Lan. Ma Chao ordered Wu Lan to hold all the key points and refuse to fight, while he sent a message to Chengdu, asking for further orders.

Later, after Xiahou Yuan was killed by Huang Zhong (2), Cao Cao led a massive army to Hanzhong. Liu Bei led his own massive army and defeated Cao Cao. Cao Cao retreated to Ye Gorge.

2: Xiahou Yuan was Cao Cao’s cousin and one of two generals stationed at Hanzhong, the other being Zhang He.

Ma Chao and Wu Lan ambushed Cao Cao. However, Cao Zhang (3) met up with Wu Lan and thrust him through, killing the Shu general.

3: Cao Zhang was Cao Cao’s third son; he was a fierce general who fought wild animals bare-handed.

Copyright © 2004 Mike Holmes
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong