Cheng Pu 程普 was a military general serving three generations of the Sun family; Sun Jian, Sun Ce and Sun Quan. Though it seems Cheng Pu fought for the Sun family in many battles, and gained merit throughout, details of his participations are rather scarce.
Records of the Three Kingdoms official biography [translation]
Cheng Pu, style name Demou, was a native of Tuyin 土垠 county, Youbeiping 右北平 commandery. During his earlier days he took several petty offices. He was handsome, was good at stratagems, and was a good debater. When he followed Sun Jian 孫堅 he fought against the Yellow Turban rebels at Wan 宛 and Deng 鄧 counties and defeated Dong Zhuo 董卓 [his forces] at Yangren.[n 1] He besieged cities and fought on the fields of battle, and so his body became covered with battle scars.
After [Sun] Jian passed away, he went to Huainan 淮南 commandery and followed Sun Ce 孫策. He stormed Lujiang 廬江 commandery with him before returning in triumph, sailing eastward over the Yangtze River. When Sun Ce led his troops toward Hengjiang 橫江 and Dangli 當利, besting Zhang Ying 張英, Yu Mi 于糜 and then south into Moling 秣陵, Hushu 湖熟, Jurong 句容 and Qu’e 曲阿 Cheng Pu earned merit in every battle and was granted an additional 2.000 troops under his command and fifty steeds. Cheng Pu further distinguished himself in battles at Wucheng 烏程, Shimu 石木, Bomen 波門, Lingchuang 陵傳 and Yuhang 餘杭. Upon entering Kuaiji commandery, Sun Ce made Cheng Pu Commandant of Wu commandery (Wú jùn dūwèi 吳郡都尉) with his headquarter in Qiantang county 錢唐. Later Cheng Pu was made Commandant of Dangyang commandery to defend Shicheng 石城 county before vanquishing rebels in Xuancheng 宣城, Jing 涇, Anwu 安吳, Lingyang 陵陽 and Chun’gu 春穀 counties.
Once, Sun Ce attacked Zu Lang 祖郎, but was surrounded by the enemy. Cheng Pu took one mount with him to defend Sun Ce. He gallopped on his horse, made loud yells and struck down enemies with his spear. Later Cheng Pu was made General of the Household Who Defeats Bandits (dàngkòu zhōngláng jiāng 盪寇中郎將) and an additional assignment as Grand Administrator of Lingling commandery before following Sun Ce to attack Liu Xun 劉勛 at Xunyang county and Huang Zu 黃祖 at Shaxian 沙羨 county. Returning with flying colors to guard Shicheng county.
After the death of Sun Ce, Cheng Pu, with Zhang Zhao 張昭 and others, supported Sun Quan 孫權 going around three commanderies and pacifying various rebellious factions there. Later he followed Sun Quan to storm Jiangxia before making a detour at Yuzhang to lead his unit against Le’an. After pacifying Le’an, he succeeded Taishi Ci 太史慈 for the defense of Haihun county, and with Zhou Yu 周瑜 became the Left Commander (zuǒdū 左督) and the Right Commander (yòudū 右督). After defeating Duke Cao 曹公 at Wulin county, he went on to conquer Nan commandery and caused Cao Ren 曹仁 to flee. Cheng Pu was made Major-General (pì jiàngjūn 裨將軍) and Grand Administrator of Jiangxia commandery with his headquarter at Shaxian county, being enfeoffed four counties.
Cheng Pu was the eldest general [who followed Sun Jian] and therefore often called “Lord Cheng” (Chéng gōng 程公). Cheng Pu was born gallant, loving to make acquaintances with civil officials. After the early death of Zhou Yu, he succeeded Zhou Yu as Grand Administrator of Nan commandery. After Sun Quan divided up Jing province with Liu Bei, Cheng Pu resumed his office of Grand Administrator of Jiangxia commandery and was recommended as General Who Defeats Rebels (dàngkòu jiāngjūn 盪寇將軍) shortly before his death. Later Sun Quan proclaimed himself Emperor and recalled Cheng Pu’s meritorious service and made his son Cheng Zi 程咨 Marquis (hóu 侯) of a commune.
-  Book of Wu (Wú shū 吳書) states: “Cheng Pu slayed hundreds of men who defected, and had the bodies burnt. On that day, his illness worsened. About a hundred days later he died.”
- GJCM notes: though the text says he defeated Dong Zhuo, it probably meant he defeated an army of Dong Zhuo, which was not led by Dong Zhuo himself, but by Hu Zhen and Lü Bu. They made a surprise attack on Sun Jian at Yangren. But Sun Jian routed them. The Chief Controller Hua Xiong was killed in the battle.
Fact vs. Fiction
- …Cheng Pu was not part of a group called the Five Elders of Wu. In history, nor fiction, there was no such group.
- de Crespigny, "Cheng Pu" in A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, page 90.
- Chen Shou 陳壽 (233–297). Sanguo zhi 三國志 “Records of the Three Kingdoms”, with official commentary compiled by Pei Songzhi 裴松之 (372-451).
- de Crespigny, Rafe. A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23 - 220 AD). Leiden: BRILL, 2007.