Chinese generals are famed for their bravery loyalty, and strategic genius. Some of the most impressive generals from history have come from China, as well as some of the most epic battles. This is a list of 10 Chinese generals who crushed their enemies.
Yue Fei started off as a private but rose through the ranks to become Commander of the Imperial Forces. He fought in over 126 battles and never lost a single one. He famously led the Southern Song Forces in defense against the raiding Jurchen Jin. Yue Fei defeated the Jin and managed to stop their advance. He also gained back some territory and was ready to march forward and reclaim more lost territory to the North. However he was stopped by a party in the government who advocated for making peace with the Jurchens. The leader of this party was Qin Hui, who arrested Yue Fei and executed him. Yue Fei is remembered as one of the most patriotic Chinese generals of all time, and the face of resistance against foreign invaders. Qin Hui is now seen as a villain and a traitor.
Li Jing is remembered by many for being one of the greatest Chinese generals in history, largely because of his outstanding victory against the Gokturks. In 630 Jing defeated the Gokturks in battle with only 3,000 cavalry. Li Jing was facing execution when a rebellion deposed the current ruler and made himself regent. At the execution Jing yelled “You, duke, rose in order to eliminate tyrannical rule for the people. You are not concerned about what is important, but instead are executing a brave man on account of personal enmity!” The regent was so impressed by what he said that he decided to let him go. Li Jing was successful in battle after battle, and slowly rose through the ranks. Li Jing is remembered as one of the two great Chinese generals of the Tang Dynasty.
Sun Tzu is likely the most famous Chinese general of all time. He wrote the Art of War, one of the oldest and most famous strategy books in history. He lived during the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. Sun Tzu is said to have won multiple battles against superior armies, and saved his kingdom when it was about to be destroyed, by using revolutionary and innovative tactics and strategies. The Art of War is read and studied by people all over the world, in all walks of life.
Bai Qi served as a general in the Qin army for more than three decades. In that time he captured over 73 cities, and killed possibly 2 million enemy soldiers. Because of this he was nicknamed “Human Butcher”. He didn’t suffer a single defeat throughout his life. He was a brilliant but cruel general. During the battle of Changping in 260 BC, he took charge of the Qin army and defeated Zhao army of 450,000 by cutting off their supply lines and retreat route. Zhao surrendered, but since he didn’t have enough supplies to feed them, he simply buried them all alive. Bai Qi was eventually forced to commit suicide by the king, who feared Bai Qi would become a general for another state.
Wei Qing was a famous general during the of the Western Han Dynasty. Wei Qing distinguished himself in battle, in 129 BC, when sent to fight against the Xiongnu, with three other officers. He was the least experienced of all these officers yet was the only one to score a victory, which was the only victory the Han had ever had over the Xiongnu. Only a year later he devastated the Xiongnu once again, surrounding them and killing thousands. He even captured 1 million cattle in this battle. After both these decisive victories he was heavily promoted.
After countless victories they had forced the Xiongnu to retreat north of the Gobi, under the assumption they would never try to pass through this natural barrier. However the Han forces decided to take a dangerous risk and chase after them through the desert. Unexpectedly they were ambushed by the Xiongnu main force, and heavily outnumbered. However due to Wei Qing’s superior tactics they managed to win the encounter.
Guan Yu was one of the most fierce Chinese generals of the Three Kingdoms Period, and a man so great he has literally become a god in Chinese culture. Guan Yu fought for Liu Bei during the Han dynasty and was famed for his martial skill, leadership, unwavering loyalty. Some of the biggest statues in the world are of him.
Wu Qi was a general during the Warring States period. Wu wrote the Wuzi, one of the Seven Military Classics, a list of seven books on the art of war which are seen as the best works on it in Chinese history. When he joined the state of Chu, he reformed the corrupt government and made it a powerful state. He stopped paying so much money to corrupt nobles, and moved them to the outskirts of the country to lower their influence. He used the money to strengthen the military instead, and managed to defeat the states of Yue and Wei. However the corrupt nobles were sick of him, and when the current king died they planned to assassinate him. At the funeral of King Dao Wu was suddenly bombarded with arrows, and killed.
Chen Qingzhi is one of the most inspiring Chinese generals in history, he was said to be incredibly good looking so he wore a horrifying mask in battle. In 530 AD he defeated an army of 70,000 with only 7,000 troops, in a battle that lasted half a day. He then besieged a city with 20,000 men inside. His luck ran out when he couldn’t take the city of Xingyang, which was defended by an army ten times the size of his. Then he got wind of enemy reinforcements coming his way, numbering 300,000. Chen rallied his men with a speech saying:
“Today, the only way for us to survive against the odds is to resolve to fight and die. We should take advantage of their not having arrived yet, and attack Xingyang with all we’ve got, capture it, and then hold out. Let’s not hesitate. It’s time to take some heads!” They didn’t manage to take the city before the reinforcements attacked them but somehow they managed to destroy the entire army with only 3,000 cavalry and then take the city.
Sun Bin had his kneecaps smashed so he could no longer walk, and his face tattooed, in order to brand him a criminal. However after escaping from the people who abused him like this, he became a strategist and commander for the state of Qi. He then got his revenge by leading Qi in battle against Wei and defeating them at the Battle of Guiling and the Battle of Maling. Many believe he’s a descendant of Sun Tzu.
Han Xin was named one of the “Three Heroes of the Early Han Dynasty”. Even though he had no arms to he went from being a poor fisherman to one of the most respected Chinese generals in history. Han Xin showed unparalleled military genius and because of this he was appointed a senior general but Xiao He, Prime minister of Han. Xin’s military genius led Han to countless victories, and eventually led to the end of the 5 year war with Chu. Han Xin never lost a battle, and was famous for his loyalty. He refused to turn against his master, Liu Bang, even though many tried to convince him to do so. However Liu Bang became increasingly jealous of his talent, and demoted him to a lower position. Eventually Han Xin was framed by the emperors wife and executed.