Yu Jin

Yu Jin

Three Kingdoms infobox
Name=Yu Jin

Title= Military general
Kingdom=Cao Wei
Pinyin=Yú Jìn
WG=Yu Chin
Zi=Wenze (文則)
Post=Marquis Li"' (厲侯)

Yu Jin (? – 220 styled Wenze), was a military general under the powerful warlord Cao Cao during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era of China. He joined Cao Cao in the early years of the civil wars that led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty. He fought in many of the campaigns that established the warlord's position as a central figure of the Three Kingdoms.

Despite having surrendered to enemy forces at the Battle of Fancheng, Yu Jin was considered by Chen Shou, author of the Records of Three Kingdoms, to be one of the top five generals of the Kingdom of Wei, along with Zhang Liao, Xu Huang, Yue Jin, and Zhang He.


A local of Juping (巨平, southwest of present day Tai'an, Shandong), Yu Jin first joined the Yanzhou (兗州) government force against the Yellow Turban Rebellion in the early 180s. When Cao Cao took over Yanzhou in 193 (see Battle of Yanzhou), Yu Jin became a subject of the rising warlord and was placed under the command of general Wang Lang (王朗). Wang Lang was impressed by Yu Jin's talent and recommended the man to Cao Cao, who promoted him to an army commander. Yu Jin had since played active roles in campaigns against Tao Qian (陶謙) in Xuzhou (徐州), Lü Bu in Puyang (濮陽), and remnants of the Yellow Turbans.

In 197, after Cao Cao lost to Zhang Xiu at the Battle of Wancheng and retreated to Wuyin (舞陰, northwest of present day Qinyang, Henan), Yu Jin led several hundred men to hold off the pursuers, alternatively engaging the enemy and retreating to avoid a rout. As the army approached Wuyin, the enemy slowed down its pursuit, giving Yu Jin the chance to reorganize his troops and return in the most orderly manner.

Outside Wuyin, however, Yu Jin saw around a dozen men walking along the road, injured and naked. When asked, they replied that they had been robbed by the Qingzhou Army. The Qingzhou Army was the name given to the former Yellow Turban rebels who surrendered to Cao Cao in Qingzhou (青州). The enraged Yu Jin led his troops to attack the die-hard bandits, who quickly ran to Cao Cao to accuse Yu Jin of treason.

When Yu Jin arrived in Wuyin, he did not first report to his lord but instead set up camp to guard against pursuing forces of Zhang Xiu. When others reminded him that the men from the Qingzhou Army had spoken foully of him before Cao Cao, Yu Jin shrugged it off on account that his lord was a wise man. Furthermore, external enemies would prevail if defensive preparations failed to be made because of internal disagreements, he explained. After the entrenchment was completed, Yu Jin finally sought audience with Cao Cao and explained the situation to the latter, who was pleased and lauded the commander for his leadership quality.

After Cao Cao defeated rival warlord Yuan Shao at the decisive Battle of Guandu in 200, Yu Jin was promoted to a deputy general for his valor in battle. As Yuan Shao's heirs were eradicated, Chang Xi (昌豨), a local warlord who had previously surrendered, rebelled again. Yu Jin was deployed with a force to quell the rebellion. As they were old friends, Chang Xi then submitted to Yu Jin. Many suggested that Chang Xi should be sent to Cao Cao, but Yu Jin admonished them, saying, "Don't you know the lord's law is that those who surrender after being besieged shall not be pardoned?" Personally meeting Chang Xi to say his parting words in tears, Yu Jin then had the rebel executed. When Cao Cao heard of this, he respected Yu Jin even more and promoted the latter to General of Tiger's Might (虎威將軍).

Henceforth, whenever Cao Cao personally led a campaign abroad, Yu Jin would be placed in front as the vanguard commander. When the army returned, he would be placed at the back as a rear guard. When an enemy loot was plundered, Yu Jin would reward his men handsomely, keeping nothing for himself. On the other hand, the punishment he dished out was as heavy, but just.

In 219, Cao Ren was besieged by the leading general under Liu Bei's power, Guan Yu, at the city of Fan (樊城). Yu Jin, then already promoted to General of the Left (左將軍), was sent to the rescue, alongside Pang De, who had newly joined Cao Cao's force. As the autumn came, however, a long spell of heavy rainfall flooded the Han River next to the city, drowning the majority of the relief forces. Yu Jin and Pang De climbed onto a segment of yet unsubmerged dyke and made a last stand there. As Guan Yu came round onboard a large boat, Yu Jin surrendered but Pang De, refusing to give in, was captured and executed. Cao Cao heard of this and grieved for a long time, saying, "I've known Yu Jin for three decades. How could he have shown less courage than Pang De in the face of death?"

When Sun Quan, the warlord of the Southern China, defeated Guan Yu in the same year, he kept Yu Jin in his territory. After the death of Cao Cao in 220, Cao Pi declared himself the first emperor of the Kingdom of Wei. Sun Quan then swore allegiance and returned Yu Jin to Wei. By this time, however, Yu Jin was already a frail old man with a headful of white hair. Cao Pi reinstated him to the Borders-Pacifying General(安遠將軍) and intended to send him back to Wu as an envoy. Before he departed, Yu Jin was instructed to travel to Ye to pay his respects at Cao Cao's tomb. When Yu Jin arrived, he found that the emperor had had artists paint on the tomb, scenes of the Battle of Fan, in which Yu Jin was shown begging for his life to be spared and succumbing to the victorious Guan Yu, while Pang De was shown dying an honorable death. Upon seeing the mural, Yu Jin was so filled with regret that he fell ill and soon died. He was given the posthumous title of Marquis Li (厲侯), literally meaning the cruel marquis.


*cite book|author=Chen Shou|title=San Guo Zhi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=2002|id=ISBN 7-80665-198-5

ee also

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

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