Liang Hongyu - From a Courtesan to a Heroine
"For a man to fight, he must have courage". The sounds of a drum are able to revive the soldiers" flagging spirit. This phase comes from the well-known saying, "yigu zuo qi", which means "to press on to the end". From China"s past, we can draw on the example of one woman who, when her nation was in a crisis, faced with a fearsome enemy, was resolute to the end. This lady roused the flagging morale of her troops by pounding a war drum and used it to guide them on to fight their enemies. She is Liang Hongyu and her feat has been remembered for hundreds of years.
Liang Hongyu was the wife of a mighty Song Dynasty general, Han Shizhong. She was a prostitue and had suffered under a tyrannical procuress. Han Shizhong was a just man who came to her rescue. When they met, he was a low ranking soldier who was in no position to marry her and it was only later, after he was made a general, that he and Liang Hongyu were formally married. In Han Shizhong"s eyes, Liang Hongyu was far superior to the other girls who had been forced into her profession.
In the fourth year of the Jianyan reign, when Han Shizhong was in charge of Huangtian Lake, he came into conflict with enemy forces under the command of General Jin Wuzhu from the northern state of Jin. At that time, Han Shizhong"s army had been reduced to no more than eight thousand battle-weary men whereas Jin Whuzhu had one hundred thousand soldiers and countless warships at this command. Liang Hongyu devised a battle plan. Han Shizhong would lead a small flotilla of Song warships out into the lake and lure the heaby enemy ships into the rushes where a larger Song force would be waiting to ambush them with flaming arrows. She suggested guiding the soldiers in the battle with signals from a huge war drum.
Having agreed to the plan, troops were immediately sent to lay an ambush and Liang Hongyu had the war drum carried to a vantage point on Golden Mountain. Han Shizhong led his ships towards the enemy. When he heard the signal of the drums, "Boom! Boom! Boom!" he launched into fearsome battle. On the sound of the second signal, two beats of the drum, "Boom Boom! Boom Boom!", he continued to fight while ordering his troops to retreat; thus luring the enemy into the weeds and rushes. When the drum bear sounded in threes, "Boom Boom Boom! Boom Boom Boom!", the second unit of Song troops knew it was time to shoot their flaming arrows which rained down on the Jin soldiers.
Soon, the vessels were ablaze. Flames soared into the sky. There was utter chaos among the Jin soldiers. Many jumped from their blazing warships into the water where they were either killed or wounded. Liang Hongyu"s fiery wrath was stirred as she watched the frenzied battle from the mountain side and continued to beat the was drum with renewed vigour. The thunderous drum shook the heavens and the spirit of the Song soldiers soared as they smashed the Jin army. The Jin soldiers who fought on were terrified by the ominous sound.
Even today, it is said that, standing on Golden Mountain, one can still hear the "Boom Boom Boom!" of the mighty war drum which stirred the hearts of the Song soldiers.