Biography (SGZ): Xu Sheng (Wenxiang)

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Xu Sheng (Wenxiang)
徐盛 (文嚮)

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Translated by Han Xin

Xu Sheng, styled Wenxiang, was originally from Langxie in the old state of Ju and was well known for his prowess. Seeing chaos in his homeland, he sought refuge and moved to Wu. When Sun Quan became the ruler of Wu, Xu Sheng was promoted to Major with a Separate Command (Bei Bu Sima), was given control of 500 soldiers, and was appointed Chief of Zhaisang to guard against Huang Zu.

Huang Zu often sent his son, Huang She, with about 1000 men down to attack Xu Sheng. During then, Xu Sheng’s troops numbered not more than 200 and he engaged the enemies, wounding more than a thousand of the enemies' troops. Following which, he opened the castle's gate for an open battle and served a major defeat to Huang She. The defeat forced Huang She into hiding and he did not return to Huang Zu but instead turned to banditry. Sun Quan promoted Xu Sheng to the rank of Colonel (Xiaowei) and magistrate of Wuhu county (Wuhu Ling). After Xu Sheng had taken back Lin city and had many merits dealing with the mountain bandits, Xu Sheng was made General of the Gentlemen of the Household (Zhonglang Jiang) with the main task of training soldiers.

When Cao Cao attacked Ruxu, Xu Sheng was with Sun Quan to resist him. When Wei wanted to begin a large invasion to Heng Jiang, Xu Sheng and other generals raced to attack them. Xu Sheng and the other generals were on board some Meng Chong (some type of warship) and they met with some strong winds. Their vessels were stranded on the enemies’ shore where they were forced to disembark. The rest of the generals were frightened and dared not disembark. Xu Sheng alone led some soldiers to engage the enemies at the shore. The enemies were forced to retreat with some casualties. When the wind stopped, they managed to board their vessels and returned. Sun Quan was full of praises.

When Sun Quan sought allegiance from Wei, they sent over Xing Zhen to bestow Sun Quan the title of King of Wu. Sun Quan personally came out of his palace to greet Xing Zhen. Seeing that Xing Zhen was acting arrogantly made Zhang Zhao very angry and Xu Sheng was also furious and remarked, "The others and I were unable to sacrifice ourselves for the country and conquer Xu Chang and Luo Yang, as well as Ba Shu. This results in the present humiliating treaty with Zhen (referring to Xing Zhen, the diplomat sent by Wei), which is indeed insulting!” and he sighed deeply. On hearing those remarks, Xing Zhen said, “If all of the generals in Jiang Dong was like him, Jiang Dong would not remain as Wei’s subordinate for long.”

Later Xu Sheng was made General who Established Martial, promoted to Marquis of the Capital District (Douting Hou), Prefect of Lujiang, and was bestowed the cities and counties in Lin as part of Xu Sheng’s fief.

When Liu Bei attacked Xiling, Xu Sheng had many merits for attacking Liu Bei's garrisons. When Cao Xiu mobilized to attack Dongkou, Xu Sheng was with Lu Fan and Quan Cong, together they crossed the river to defend it. A typhoon hit the fleet and many seamen were killed. Xu Sheng gathered the remaining troops and managed to deter Cao Xiu at the river. Cao Xiu then ordered his generals and troops to gather the ships to attack Xu Sheng’s force. Xu Sheng, using a very small force to counter him and halted Cao Xiu advance. Cao Xiu withdrew his forces. Xu Sheng was then promoted to General Who Pacifies the East and Marquis of Wuhu.

Later, when Emperor Wen of Wei (Cao Pi) mobilized a large force, determined to cross the great river, Xu Sheng came up with a strategy to save Jianye from besiege by building a fake wall along the river. Many of his officers thought that such strategy was useless, however, Xu Sheng refused to listen to them and was determined to build it. When Emperor Wen of Wei arrived at Guangling, he looked around and was very surprise to see Xu Sheng’s wall stretching along the river over 100 li, he then withdraw his force. All of Xu Sheng's generals acknowledged his talents.

Xu Sheng died during the reign of Huangwu, his son, Xu Kai, succeeded Xu Sheng’s title and taken over Xu Sheng’s army.

Copyright © 2003 Han Xin
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi