Huang Zhong, styled Hansheng, was a native of Nanyang. He was appointed by the Governor of Jingzhou, Liu Biao, as Zhonglang Jiang, and guarded Changsha Province with Liu Biao’s nephew, Liu Pan. When Cao Cao attacked Jingzhou, he feigned allegiance and had the rank of Shan Jiangjun (assistant general) and maintained his official duties, this time under the command of the governor of Changsha, Han Xuan.
When Liu Bei united the various southern provinces, Huang Zhong joined his ranks and subsequently participated in the conquest of Shu. Ever since his appointment at Jiameng and the attack on Liu Zhang, Huang Zhong was always the first to charge into the enemy’s ranks and his valour was well-known in the three armies. After Yizhou was pacified, Huang Zhong was appointed as Taolu Jiangjun (General Who Exterminates the Caitiffs).
Huang Zhong confronted Xiahou Yuan’s troops at Dingjun Mountains. Xiahou Yuan’s troops were elite and well-trained, thus Huang Zhong analysed that such a battle-ready troops would be easily provoked, thus ordered his own troops to lure the enemy into the valley. In the midst of the loud war drums and cheering, Huang Zhong’s army killed Xiahou Yuan in the first encounter and Xiahou Yuan’s army was utterly defeated. As a result of this victory, Huang Zhong was appointed ZhenXi Jiangjun (General Who Conquers the West).
When Liu Bei became the Prince of Hanzhong, Huang Zhong was appointed as Hou Jiangjun (General of the Rear). Zhuge Liang spoke to Liu Bei that, “Huang Zhong’s fame used to be way too far to be equal to that of Guan Yu or Ma Chao, but ever since this battle, he can be said to be of equal status as them. Ma Chao and Zhang Fei were nearby to witness the battle exploit, hence they could be convinced. However, Guan Yu is currently not with us here and should he hear of this, he would not be too happy.” Liu Bei replied,”I will do the explaining personally.” Thus, Huang Zhong was ranked equal with Guan Yu and the rest (Zhang Fei and Ma Chao) and given the noble title of Marquis of GuanNei. In the coming year, Huang Zhong passed away and he was given a posthumous title of Marquis of Gang. Huang Zhong had a son named Xu but the latter passed away young, thus Huang Zhong did not have a descendant.
Chen Shou’s final thoughts on the Five Tiger Generals: Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, etc were known to be powerful generals who could fight ten thousand men and accredited to be among the best of their times. Guan Yu repaid Lord Cao’s favour, Zhang Fei’s releasing of Yan Yan out of righteousness were deeds held in high esteem in the country. However, Guan Yu was unyielding and overly self-respect, whereas Zhang Fei was hot-tempered and without kindness, their short-comings leading to their defeats. This is common logic indeed. Ma Chao betrayed the minority tribes and lacked courage; he was a disappointment for his people, what a pity! Having been able to rise from rags to riches, is this not better? Huang Zhong and Zhao Yun both strong and valiant were good subordinates of their lord, like the claws and teeth to a beast. Can they not compare to the likes of Guan Yin and Xiahou Yin?
Copyright © 2002–2004 Sonken
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s annotations