Mǎn Chǒng, appellation Bóníng, was a Shānyáng Chāngyì man. At age eighteen he served as a prefectural investigative officer. At the time in the prefecture there was Lǐ Shuò and others who used their personal retainers to harm the common people, and the Administrator sent Chǒng to investigate and stop this. Shuò and the others all apologized and never again robbed and plundered. He was appointed Magistrate of Gāopíng. A county man Zhāng Bāo became the investigative officer, but was corrupt and accepted bribes, causing disorder in the government. Chǒng sent officials and soldiers out to arrest him as he moved and announced his crimes, and when the interrogation was finished [Mǎn Chǒng] resigned his office and returned home.
When Tàizǔ took command of Yǎnzhōu , he was recruited as an advisor. When [Tàizǔ] was appointed General-in-Chief , he was appointed to the West Department and as Magistrate of Xǔ. At the time Cáo Hóng’s clan and relatives were esteemed, and had retainers at [Xǔ county’s] borders who repeatedly violated the law, and Chǒng arrested them. Hóng wrote in answer to Chǒng, but Chǒng would not listen. Hóng complained to Tàizǔ, so Tàizǔ summoned the officers of Xǔ. Chǒng knew his intentions, so he quickly killed the criminals. Tàizǔ was pleased and said: “Should not affairs be managed like that?”
When former Grand Commandant Yáng Biāo was arrested and placed in the county prison, Director of the Secretariat Xún Yù and Minister Treasurer Kǒng Róng and others all asked Chǒng: “Only ask him words, do not also flog him in interrogation.” Chǒng did not follow this request, and used flogging interrogation following the law.
After several days, he sought audience with Tàizǔ, and said to him: “Yáng Biāo has been interrogated thoroughly and made no confession. A man to be executed must first confess his crime. This man is famed within the seas. If his guilt is not obvious, then [if he is punished] the people’s support will be lost. I humbly ask you as a wise lord to take pity on him.” Tàizǔ pardoned and released Biāo that same day.
Previously Yù and Róng had heard that Biāo had been beaten in interrogation, and had both been furious. When they learned this had led to his release, they became favorable to Chǒng. (1)
- (1) Your servant Sōngzhī believes Excellency Yáng was of an accomplished family, was himself a famed official, so even if he had some transgression, he should have received some protection. How could he have been so obviously oppressed with such excessive punishments? If he deserved to have been so interrogated, then how could the two worthy gentlemen Xún and Kǒng be so presumptuous as to plead on his behalf? Chǒng because of this incident was considered able, but he was only acting as a ruthless official and that is all. Though he later acted well, how can that make up for his previous cruelty?
At the time Yuán Shào was growing powerful north of the [Yellow] River. Rǔnán was Shào’s home commandery. His disciples and retainers were spread wide across its counties, and they gathered troops to resist the government. Tàizǔ was worried about this, so he appointed Chǒng as Administrator of Rǔnán. Chǒng raised five hundred followers, attacked and captured over twenty fortifications. He invited rebel leaders that had not surrendered to a meeting, and once they were seated he killed them, over ten men, and for a time all was pacified. He captured twenty thousand households and two thousand soldiers, and ordered them to return to farm work.
Jiàn’ān thirteenth year  he followed Tàizǔ in the campaign in Jīngzhōu. The main army returned, and Chǒng was left as Acting General Exerting Authority, camping at Dāngyáng. Sūn Quán several times raided the eastern frontier, so Chǒng was summoned back and returned as Administrator of Rǔnán, and titled Marquis within the Passes.
Guān Yǔ besieged Xiāngyáng . Chǒng assisted General Attacking the South Cáo Rén in the garrison at Fánchéng to resist them, but the armies of General of the Left Yú Jīn and the others because of the heavy rains and flooding were destroyed by Yǔ. Yǔ pressed hard and attacked Fánchéng, and the walls were eroded by water and frequently broke down, and all the army turned pale in fear. Someone said to Rén: “We do not have the strength to resolve the present crisis. Before Yǔ’s can completely encircle us, we can take light boats in the night to flee. Though we will lose the city, we can save ourselves.”
Chǒng said: “The floodwaters from the hills came suddenly, and hopefully will not last long. I have heard that Yǔ has already sent a separate commander to Jiáxià, just south of Xǔ, and the common people are disturbed and in unrest. The only reason that Yǔ does not dare advance further is because he is afraid our army will cut off his rear and that is all. If we now flee, all south of the great [Yellow] River will be lost to the state. Sir, you must remain here.”
Rén said: “Agreed.” Chǒng then drowned a white horse for the soldiers to all swear covenant [to hold out]. When Xú Huǎng and the others arrived to rescue them, Chǒng fought hard with distinction, and Yǔ thereupon retreated. He was advanced in fief to Marquis of Ānchāng precinct.
When Wén-dì became King  he was promoted to General Raising Martial ability. He defeated Wú at Jiānglíng with distinction, and was promoted to General Overcoming Waves, garrisoning Xīnyě. The main army went on a southern campaign and arrived at Jīng lake. Chǒng commanded the various armies at the front and faced off with the rebels across the water. Chǒng ordered all the officers: “This evening’s wind is very strong. The rebels will certainly come and attack with fire. We must prepare for this.” The armies were all vigilant.
In the middle of the night, the rebels indeed sent ten regiments secretly in the darkness to burn them. Chǒng attacked them by surprise and defeated them. He was advanced in fief to Marquis of Nán village.
Huángchū third year , Chǒng was given Acting Staff and Battle-Ax of Authority. Fifth year  he was promoted to General of the Front.
When Míng-dì ascended, he was advanced in fief to Marquis of Chāngyì. Tàihé second year  he was appointed Inspector of Yùzhōu.
Third year  spring, a defector said that Wú was making great preparations to attack north of the [Long] River and that Sūn Quán wished to personally go. Chǒng believed the attack was certainly to be on Xīyáng and made preparations. Quán heard of this and retreated.
Autumn, Cáo Xiū was sent from Lújiāng south to Héféi, and Chǒng was ordered to go to Xiàkǒu. Chǒng sent up a memorial: “Though Cáo Xiū is intelligent and resolute he rarely commands troops. The road he is taking now has its back to the lake and its side to the River. It is easy to advance but difficult to withdraw, and the troops are on low ground. If he enters Wúqiángkǒu, he must be very well prepared.”
Before Chǒng’s memorial arrived, Xiū entered and advanced far ahead. The rebels indeed cut off the Jiāshí road at Wúqiángkǒu, obstructing Xiū’s path of retreat. Xiū fought but was unsuccessful, and retreated and fled. It happened that Zhū Líng and others were coming from behind to cut off their road, and they and the rebels met one another. The rebels were taken by surprise and fled, and so Xiū’s army was able to return.
That year Xiū died. Chǒng as General of the Front succeeded him as Regional Commander of Yángzhōu to command all its military affairs. The soldiers and people of Rǔnán all admired him, and young and old all followed after him on the road to his post, and would not be stopped. The Protector of the Army memorialized this and wished to kill the leaders of the following crowd. An Imperial Order permitted Chǒng to take one thousand personal retainers and troops with him, and after this made no further inquiry.
Fourth year  Chǒng was appointed General Attacking the East. That winter Sūn Quán announced he would attack Héféi. Chǒng sent a memorial summoning the armies of Yǎn and Yù provinces, and they all gathered. The rebels saw this and retreated, and an Imperial Order dismissed the gathered troops. Chǒng believed: “Now the rebels have made a large gathering but return. This is not their plan. This is certainly that they wish to appear to retreat to disperse our troops, and then return to take advantage of our weakness and catch us by surprise.” He memorialized that the troops not be dismissed.
After over ten days, Quán indeed came again to Héféi fortress, but could not overcome it and retreated.
The next year , Wú General Sūn Bù sent a messenger to Yángzhōu to ask to surrender, the message saying: “The road is far and I cannot go myself. I beg for troops to come meet and receive me.” The Inspector Wáng Líng presented Bù’s letter and requested soldiers and horses to receive him. Chǒng believed this must be a trick and would not send troops, and so he composed a reply letter for Wáng Líng [to Sūn Bù]: “You acknowledge your wrongs and wish to escape disaster and return to obedience, leave the despotic and return to the correct way, and for this you should be met with deep praise. Now you wish for us to send troops to receive you, but if we send few troops it will not be enough to defend you and if we send many troops the plan will certainly be discovered. For now we must first secretly plan to achieve your ambition and when the time draws near discuss the matter again.”
At that time Chǒng received a letter and was summoned back to Court, so he left orders to the [provincial] government’s Chief Clerk: “If [Wáng] Líng wishes to go receive [Sūn Bù] do not give him troops.”
Líng afterward asked for troops but could not obtain them, and so he sent only one commander with infantry and cavalry, seven hundred men, to receive them [Sūn Bù]. In the night Bù made a surprise attack, the commander fled, and over half were killed or wounded.
Before this, Chǒng and Líng could not work together, so Líng’s faction slandered Chǒng as old and senile, and so Míng-dì summoned him. When he arrived, his body and spirit were healthy and strong, and after one meeting he was sent back. (1)
- (1) Shìyǔ states: Wáng Líng memorialized that Chǒng’s age was advanced and that he indulged in wine, and so should not remain in office. The Emperor therefore summoned Chǒng. The official Guō Móu said: “Chǒng has been Administrator of Rǔnán and Inspector of Yùzhōu for over twenty years, with towering achievements. He also defends the south of the Huái, and the people of Wú fear him. If he is not equal to what I have said, I will accept responsibility. He should be summoned back to Court, and interviewed about his affairs to investigate this.” The Emperor followed this. When Chǒng arrived, he was interviewed, and could drink an entire dàn of wine without becoming intoxicated and confused. The Emperor gave him rewards and then sent him back.
Chǒng repeatedly memorialized asking to stay [at the capital]. The Imperial Order replied: “In the past Lián Pō ate heavily [to prove his body’s rigor despite his age] and Mǎ Yuán [despite his age] remained in his saddle. Now you sir are not yet that old but already call yourself old. Why do you not act like Lián and Mǎ? You must think of calming the frontier and bringing benefit to the central state.”
The next year  Wú General Lù Xùn advanced to Lújiāng, and commentators believed they should hurriedly go there to resist him. Chǒng said: “Though Lújiāng is small, its officers are stalwart and its troops elite, and they can defend for a long time. Further, the rebels have left their ships and come two hundred leagues, leaving only empty counties to their rear, and we should entice them to come. Now it is suitable to permit them to advance, so when they are frightened and flee they will not be able to escape.”
The army orderly converged at Yángyíkǒu. The rebels heard many troops had come east, and that night they retreated.
In those times, [Sūn] Quán came to plan attacks every year.
Qīnglóng Inaugural Year , Chǒng sent up a memorial that said: “Héféi city’s south side faces the rivers and lakes, and north side is far from Shòuchūn. When the rebels attack and besiege it, they rely on the strength of the water. When the officials and troops rescue it, they must first defeat the rebels’ strongest force, and only then break the encirclement. The rebels are able to come very easily, while it is very difficult for our troops to come rescue it. It is appropriate to move the city’s military strength to the west thirty leagues, where there is difficult terrain to rely on, establish another city, and entrench and defend there. This is a suitable plan to force the rebels to come out into open ground and overextend their return route.”
General Protecting the Army Jiǎng Jì commented, believing: “This is showing weakness to the world, destroying one’s own city at the first sign of the rebel’s campfire smoke, and dislodging ourselves from position without even a battle. If it comes to this, they will plunder without restraint, and we will be forced to defend north of the Huái.” The Emperor did not yet give permission.
Chǒng again memorialized: “Sūn-zǐ said: ‘Soldiers are those who act with deception.’ Therefore when strong we must appear weak and incapable, take advantage of arrogance, and appear afraid. This is ‘Appearance and truth are not necessarily the same.’ He also said: ‘It is good to move the enemy with false appearances.’ Now the rebels have not yet come and we move the city inward. This is what is called using an appearance to entice them. It will draw the rebels far from the river. We seize an opportunity and act. In this we will contend with the outer, and bring strength to the inner.”
Secretariat Zhào Zī believed Chǒng’s plan was best, and an Imperial Order thereupon was sent granting permission.
That year, [Sūn] Quán personally came to attack, intending to besiege the New City, but it was far from the river, so he halted twenty days and did not dare leave the boats. Chǒng said to the officers: “Quán knows we have moved the city, and must certainly be speaking boastful words within his army. Now he has come with great strength to settle things with a great achievement, and though he does not dare advance here, he will certainly come ashore to make a dazzling display of his abundant military strength.” Therefore he secretly sent six thousand infantry and cavalry to establish an ambush near [Hé]féi city to wait for them.
Quán indeed came ashore with a magnificent force, and Chǒng’s ambushing army appeared and attacked them, beheading several hundreds, while others were driven into the water and drowned.
The next year , Quán personally commanded a hundred thousand and came to Héféi’s New City. Chǒng rode to resist them, raising several tens of strong warriors, cutting branches to make torches and pouring down sesame oil. When the wind blew they set fire, burning the rebels and attacking, shooting and killing Quán’s younger brother’s son Sūn Tài. The rebels thereupon retreated and fled.
Third year  spring, Quán sent several thousand military families to establish farms north of the Jiāng. In the eighth moon, Chǒng believed the [garrison-]farms were ready for harvest, and all the people male and female would be spread across the fields, with the garrisoned troops several hundred leagues away, and so they could be attacked by surprise. He sent his Chief Clerk to command the entire army eastward down the Jiāng, destroying all the garrisons, burning all the grain, and then returned. An Imperial Order praised this, and so the captured spoils were all distributed to the officers and soldiers as rewards.
Jǐngchū second year , because of his great age Chǒng was summoned back, and appointed Grand Commandant. Chǒng did not manage property, and his household had no surplus wealth. An Imperial Order said: “You sir commanded troops outside and with all your heart served the public good, with the resemblance of Xíngfù and Zhài Zūn. We confer on you ten qīng of land, five hundred hú of grain, and two hundred thousand of cash, in order to honor your loyal and frugal character.”
Chǒng from beginning to end had reached a fief of 9600 households, and his son and grandson, two men, were titled as precinct Marquis.
Zhèngshǐ third year  he died. His posthumous title was Jǐng-hóu “Visionary Marquis.” His son Wěi succeeded. Wěi for his good character became famous, and his office reached Minister of the Guard. (1)
- Shìyǔ states: Wěi appellation Gōnghéng. Wěi’s son Chángwǔ resembled [his grandfather] Chǒng. At age twenty-four he joined the staff of the General-in-Chief [Sīmǎ Zhāo]. After the incident with the Duke of Gāoguì village, he was appointed official in charge of the Palace Gates night gate.Sīmǎ [Zhāo]’s younger brother the Marquis of Ānyáng district [Sīmǎ] Gàn wished to enter. Gàn’s wife was Wěi’s younger sister. Chángwǔ said: “The lord has already come through this gate. No one is to enter. You may use the east night gate.” Gàn therefore went. When [Sīmǎ Zhāo] asked Gàn why he had arrived late, and Gàn said this was the reason.Military Advisor Wáng Xiàn also could not enter, and hated him, so he had [Sīmǎ Zhāo]’s attendants inform [Sīmǎ Zhāo]: “The official Mǎn closed off the gate and would not allow anyone to enter. He should be to dismissed and impeached.”During the Shòuchūn campaign Wěi followed [Sīmǎ Zhāo] to Xǔ, but because of illness could not continue. His son [Chángwǔ] was following and requested that they withdraw to treat the illness. Only after the campaign was finished did they return, and because of this they were hated. Chángwǔ died during interrogation [and torture] beneath the [beating] staff. Wěi was spared and demoted to commoner. The people of the time thought this was an injustice to them. Wěi’s brother’s son Fèn during Jìn’s Kāngzhōng reign [291-299] reached Director of the Secretariat and Colonel Director of Retainers.Chǒng, Wěi, Chángwǔ, Fèn were all eight feet [~1.85 meters] tall.
- Xún Chuò’s Jìzhōujì states: Fèn by nature was honest and just, and knowledgeable and perceptive.
- Jìnzhūgōngzàn states: Fèn’s body was even and elegant, and he resembled [his grandfather] Chǒng.