Hao Zhao

Hao Zhao


Hao Zhao (d. April 229), styled "Bódào" (伯道), was a Wei general during the Three Kingdoms era in China. He is famous for defeating a Shu army led by the famed Shu strategist Zhuge Liang during the Siege of Chencang.

He was born in Taiyuan and was described as "a nine-span man, round shouldered and powerful, a good archer and prudent strategist", and was had a reputation for being both heroic and strong. When he was young, he joined the Wei army as the commander of a division, and led a successful military career from early on. He was made General of Miscellaneous Title and was stationed in Hexi for roughly ten years, and earned the awe of both the common people and foreign tribes.

When Zhuge Liang launched his second northern campaign against Wei, Sima Yi, correctly guessing that Zhuge would move his army to Chencang, recommended Hao Zhao to build fortifications there, and said confidently to the Emperor of Wei that Hao Zhao would render Chencang "absolutely secure." Zhao was promoted to General Who Guards the West, and was sent to Chencang.

Zhuge Liang sent out scouts in preparation for his second campaign against Wei. The scouts returned, describing Chencang's fortifications as "very strong and is further defended by thorny barriers". They recommended an alternate route, but Liang was determined to march through Chencang in order to reach the city of Jieting. When they reached the fortress-city, Wei Yan advanced with an army and surrounded Chencang. He met with no success attempting to capture the city, however, and was nearly executed by Liang for his failure. Jin Xiang, a Shu Counselor and childhood friend of Hao Zhao, set out to try to convince Hao Zhao to betray Wei. The first time they spoke, Hao Zhao would hear none of it, saying "There is nothing you can say; I have only to die. Return and thank Zhuge Liang for me; he may launch his attack." Jin Xiang was sent back by Liang, and again tried to persuade Zhao to defect. Hao Zhao this time fitted an arrow and replied "Go! Or I will shoot. I meant what I said at first, and I will say no more." Upon hearing this, Zhuge Liang called the defiant general a fool, and he himself described his confidence best when he boasted "I do not think such a small place can beat me".

The odds were against Hao Zhao. He only had 3000 archers to defend Chencang. Shu's army numbered 300,000. The Shu armies' first attempt to scale the wall used siege ladders. Zhao countered with fire arrows, burning the ladders and the men upon them. Zhuge Liang did not expect this, and became very annoyed. He then sent battering rams to try to smash the gates, which was countered by great stones, tied and suspended from the walls with rope, which were dropped and smashed the rams. The besiegers then attempted to fill the moats and attack the walls directly, but this was countered when a second wall was constructed from the inside. Liao Hua was sent with 3000 men to dig trenches into the city, but was foiled by counter trenches. The struggle continued for 20-odd days, with Zhuge Liang becoming increasingly depressed. News came of Wei reinforcements being led by Wang Shuang, and Zhuge's army was unable to stop Shuang's army from reaching Chencang, and lost two generals in the process. With Wang Shuang building additional fortifications and unable to stop him, Zhuge took advice from Jiang Wei, whom said that Chencang "cannot be taken" with Hao Zhao at the defence. He retreated.

Hao Zhao was given the noble rank of Marquis and the Emperor made the comment to a Palace Writer that "your county has produced such an exceptional general, what worries should I have?" Hao Zhao's services were used frequently thereafter. However, following the death of Wang Shuang, Hao Zhao fell ill and was nearing death. When Zhuge Liang heard the news, he cried out in joy and immediately begun his third Northern Expedition. He organized a raid upon Chencang, and sent Jiang Wei and Wei Yan with 5000 troops to attack Chencang. Hearing of a Shu army at the walls from his deathbed, Hao Zhao roused himself to lead the defense again. Due to a ploy by Zhuge, fires broke out at each of Chencang's gates, and the sick man collapsed, saying his final words to his son Hao Kai. His words were recorded as thus:

"I as a general, know what a general should not do. I have opened up many a grave mound, obtaining their wood to be used in making equipment in attacks during battle, and thus I know a grand funeral is of no use to the dead. You are to dress my body in everyday clothes. In life the living has a place of dwelling, in death where do they go? Today going to my grave is far away, north south east and west, it is up to you."

Zhuge sent the body of Hao Zhao and his family to Wei, respecting the loyalty the man had shown. Upon hearing the news of Hao Zhao's death, Wei general Guo Huai was described as being very frightened.



ee also

*Three Kingdoms
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*"Records of Three Kingdoms"
*"Romance of the Three Kingdoms"

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