Biography (SGYY): Zhuge Shang

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Zhuge Shang
Lifespan: Unlisted

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

Zhuge Shang

Zhuge Shang was the eldest son of Zhuge Zhan and grandson to Zhuge Liang. At nineteen years of age, Shang was a commander in the Riverlands, widely read in military texts and skilled in martial arts.

When Sima Zhao organised an invasion of the Riverlands, Deng Ai was put in charge of the expedition. By slipping through Yinping Pass, Ai successfully took Jiangyou and Fucheng, and it was at this time that the Second Emperor, Liu Shan, gave Zhuge Zhan command of all Chengdu’s troops, some seventy thousand, for a fight to the finish with the northerners. After taking leave of the Emperor, Zhuge Zhan marshalled his forces and gathered his commanders around him. “Who dares take the van?” he asked. Zhuge Shang stepped forward. “Since my father wields great power,” he said, “his son volunteers for the van.” Thus, Zhuge Shang was placed in the vanguard and, together with his father, went forth to confront the invaders. The Riverlanders encountered the northerners, commanded by Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong, at Mianzhu. Zhuge Zhan had his forces assume the Eight Ramparts formation and had a four wheeled carriage bearing a wooden statue of his father, Zhuge Liang, made. Alongside the carriage hung a yellow banner inscribed “Prime Minister of Han, the Martial Lord Zhuge.” At the sight, Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong burst into sweat and, turning toward their officers, said, “So Kongming still lives! We are done for.” and attempted to retreat, but Zhuge Shang and Zhuge Zhan then led their army forward and drove the northerners back in a major defeat, stopping the onslaught only when Deng Ai arrived with reinforcements.

Upon learning that the figure seated in the carriage was but a wooden statue of Zhuge Liang, Deng Ai again sent Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong against the Shu forces with ten thousand men. Zhuge Shang went forth to meet the two and successfully drove them back—Zhuge Zhan then led his soldiers on both sides against the Wei forces. Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong, unable to resist the Riverlanders, suffered many casualties and were even injured themselves. Zhuge Shang and Zhuge Zhan pursued with their forces for twenty li and then took up positions to parry a counterattack.

After having suffered two successive defeats at the hands of Zhuge Zhan and Zhuge Shang, Deng Ai attempted to incite surrender by offering rank to Zhan, but the envoy he sent with the proposal was executed and the head taken back to Ai’s camp. The Shu army then began preparing for another attack on the enemy, but before completion, reports came of the approach of Deng Ai. The Riverlands army charged directly into the enemy lines and Deng Ai began to retreat. After pursuing for a brief distance, the Riverlands army came under attack from ambush parties led by Wang Qi and Qian Hong, forcing them to withdraw. They retreated to Mianzhu, to which Deng Ai laid siege.

When the situation began to look dire, Zhuge Zhan ordered Peng He to take a letter to the Southland requesting aid. Upon receiving the letter, the ruler of Wu, Sun Xiu, ordered Ding Feng, with a force of fifty thousand, to relieve the Riverlands army. Zhuge Zhan, however, seeing no relief on the way, said to his commanders, “Prolonging our defence is poor policy,” and left Zhuge Shang to guard Mianzhu along with Zhang Zun (Zhang Fei’s grandson). Zhan then led his army out of the three gates of the city to attack the besiegers. Deng Ai withdrew before the Riverlands force, Zhan in pursuit. Before long, a bombard sounded and Zhan’s forces were attacked from four sides. Zhuge Zhan fought furiously, but his army was overcome when Deng Ai had his archers rake them with arrows—one arrow knocked Zhan from his horse, but he slit his throat before the northern army could move in for the kill. Zhuge Shang, seeing his father perish on the battlefield, leapt to his horse in a burst of anger. Zhang Zun cautioned him, “Young general, do not act recklessly.” With a sigh Zhuge Shang replied, “For three generations my family has enjoyed the generosity and kindness of this kingdom. Now that my father has fallen on the field, what have I to live for?” Lashing his horse, Shang plunged fighting into the fray and perished. Deng Ai was so moved by their loyalty that he had father and son buried together. Later someone left these lines in praise of Zhan and Shang, father and son:

Think not Shu’s vassals failed in policy!
Heaven ended Liu’s reign, fire-signed,
Though Zhuge Liang left worthy heirs to Shu,
To carry on the Martial Lord’s design.

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