Cáo Zhēn appellation Zǐdǎn was Tàizǔ’s [Cáo Cāo’s] distant cousin’s son. Tàizǔ raised troops, and Zhēn’s father [Cáo] Shào recruited followers, but was by the provincial and prefecture [government] killed. (1)
- (1) Wèilüè “Summary of Wèi” states: Zhēn was originally surnamed Qín, adopted by the Cáo clan. Some say his father [Qín] Bónán from childhood was friendly with Tàizŭ. Xīngpíng’s end , Yuán Shù’s faction with Tàizǔ fought battle, Tàizǔ escaped, was by the enemy pursued, and fled to the Qín clan, and [Qín] Bónán opened the door to receive him. The enemy asked where Tàizǔ was, and he answered: “I am he,” and therefore they killed him. Because of this Tàizǔ thought of this achievement, and therefore changed his [Zhēn’s] surname.
- Wèishū “History Book of Wèi” states: [Cáo] Shào because he was loyal and true and had ability and wisdom, was by Tàizǔ made a trusted aide. During Chūpíng [190-193], Tàizǔ raised righteous troops, and [Cáo] Shào recruited followers, following Tàizǔ all around. At the time Inspector of Yùzhōu Huáng Wǎn wished to kill Tàizǔ, Tàizǔ escaped this but [Cáo] Shào alone was murdered.
Tàizǔ pitied that Zhēn was young orphaned, and adopted and cared for him like for his own sons, having him stay with Wén-dì [Cáo Pī]. Once he was hunting, was by a tiger pursued, turned back and shot the tiger, and at the sound it fell. Tàizǔ recognized his fierce valor, and had him command the Tiger Leopard Cavalry. He suppressed Língqiū rebels, conquered them, and was given fief as Marquis of Língshòu precinct. As an Assistant-General he commanded troops to strike Liú Bèi’s separate division Generals at Xiàbiàn, defeated them, and was promoted to Central Firm General. He followed to Cháng’ān, with command as Central Manager of the Army.
At that time , Xiàhóu Yuān perished at Yángpíng, and Tàizǔ mourned him. Zhēn became Protector of the Army Campaigning against Shǔ, commanding Xú Huǎng and others to defeat Liú Bèi’s separate division General Gāo Xiáng at Yángpíng. Tàizǔ reached Hànzhōng, pulled back the various armies, sending Zhēn to Wǔdū to call back Cáo Hóng and the rest to return to garrison Chéncāng.
 Wén-dì succeeded as King, appointed Zhēn as General Defending the West, with Staff of Authority as Regional Commander over Yōng and Liáng provinces various military affairs. For his achievements from beginning to end, he was advanced in fief to Marquis of Dōng village. Zhāng Jìn and others rebelled at Jiǔquán, and Zhēn sent Fèi Yào to suppress and defeat them, beheading [Zhāng] Jìn and the rest.
Huángchū third year  he returned to the capital, and Zhēn was appointed General-in-Chief of the Upper Army, Regional Commander of inner and outer military affairs, with Acting Staff and Battle-Ax of Authority. With Xiàhóu Shàng and others he campaigned against Sūn Quán, striking the Niúzhǔ garrison, destroying it. He was transferred to General-in-Chief of the Central Army, with added interior government authority.
Seventh year , Wén-dì was lying ill, Zhēn with Chén Qún, Sīmǎ [Yì] Xuān-wáng and others received final Imperial Order to assist the government. Míng-dì [Cáo Ruì] succeeded, and advanced his fief to Marquis of Shàolíng, (2) and promoted to General-in-Chief.
- (2) Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Zhēn’s father’s personal name was Shào. The fief of Shàolíng, if it is not a recording error, then the matter cannot be understood.
 Zhūgě Liàng encircled Qíshān, and Nán’ān, Tiānshuǐ, Āndìng, three prefectures rebelled in answer to [Zhūgě] Liàng. The Emperor sent Zhēn to command the various armies at Méi, and he sent Zhāng Hé to strike [Zhūgě] Liàng’s General Mǎ Sù, and greatly defeated him. Āndìng man Yáng Tiáo and others seized the officials and people and defended Yuèzhī city. Zhēn advanced the army to besiege them. [Yáng] Tiáo said to his army: “The General-in-Chief has himself come, I wish to quickly surrender and that is all.” Therefore he bound himself and went. The three prefectures were all pacified.
Zhēn knew because [Zhūgě] Liàng was punished at Qíshān and so would afterward certainly set out through Chéncāng, therefore sent Generals Hǎo Zhāo and Wáng Shēng to guard Chéncāng and repair its city walls. Next year  spring, [Zhūgě] Liàng indeed encircled Chéncāng, but it was already prepared and he could not overcome it. [Zhēn’s] fief was increased, adding to the previous to 2900 households. Fourth year  he attended Court at Luòyáng, was promoted to Marshal-in-Chief, bestowed with honors to with sword and shoes ascend the Palace Hall, and enter Court without hastening step.
Zhēn believed: “Shǔ has repeatedly set out to attack the borders, and it is appropriate to therefore attack them. Taking several paths to invade can greatly overcome them.” The Emperor followed this plan. Zhēn was about to set out on western expedition, and the Emperor personally sent him off. Zhēn in the eighth moon left Cháng’ān, following Zǐwǔ path to enter south. Sīmǎ [Yì] Xuān-wáng went up the Hàn river, to join with them at Nánzhèng. Of the various armies some followed Xiégǔ road, some through Wǔwēi entered. It happened that there was great storm and rain for over thirty days, some of the plank roads were cut off, and Imperial Order had Zhēn return with the army.
Zhēn when young with his clansman Cáo Zūn and fellow villager Zhū Zàn all worked for Tàizǔ. [Cáo] Zūn and [Zhū] Zàn died young, Zhēn pitied them, and asked to divide his fief to give fief to [Cáo] Zūn’s and [Zhū] Zàn’s sons. Imperial Order said: “The Marshal-in-Chief [Cáo Zhēn] has the benevolence of a younger uncle comforting orphans, and the nature of Yàn Píng not forgetting where he came from. The gentleman helps people achieve goodness, and so Zhēn’s fief is divided to bestow on [Cáo] Zūn and [Zhū] Zàn’s sons as Marquis Within the Passes, each with 100 households.”
Zhēn in every campaign, labored together with the officers and soldiers, and when the army rewards were not sufficient, then he would use his family wealth to bestow them, and the soldiers all were willing to serve.
Zhēn fell ill and returned to Luòyáng, and the Emperor personally visited his mansion to check on his illness.  Zhēn died, posthumous name Yuán-hóu “Origin Marquis.” His son [Cáo] Shuǎng succeeded.
The Emperor memorialized Zhēn’s achievements, and Imperial Order said: “The Marshal-in-Chief [Cáo Zhēn] walked with loyalty and integrity, served the mandates of the Two Founders [Cāo and Pī], inside he did not rely on favor of family relation, outside he was not arrogant to people of ordinary households. It can be said that he was the sort able to to defend prosperity and protect position, with virtue to labor with modesty. So in all cases fief is given to Zhēn’s five sons Xī, Xùn, Zé, Yàn, Ái, all as Ranked Marquis.” Previously, Wén-dì divided from Zhēn’s fief 200 households to give fief to Zhēn’s younger brother Bīn as a full Marquis.