Shen Yunying (1624-1660) was a general of the Ming Dynasty.1 Yunying picked up her formidable martial arts skills from her father General Shen Zhixu, the commander in charge of Daozhou in Hunan.2 As a child, she was fond of reading history books, particularly Wars of the Spring Autumn Era. Even more than reading, she loved practicing the arts of war and was an excellent archer and rider.3
In 1643, the rebel forces of Chen Xianzhong besieged Dazhou City. Shen Zhixu, the Defence Commander, was killed in battle.4 Shen Yunying stood up in a high place and shouted, "To complete my father's last wish of defending this city, I will fight to the death. I hope that all of us, whether soldiers and civilians, will defend our homes!"
The city's residents were moved by her speech and swore to regain the lost territories.5 She led a cavalry charge that drove the rebels back to their camp.6 Under Shen's leadership, the battle was won. Shen Yunying recovered her father's body from the battlefield and wept openly. To show their solidarity with her, all the soldiers and civilians put on mourning garb and attended the funeral of General Shen.7
In recognition of Shen Yunying's achievements, the Imperial Court decreed that Shen Yunying be given the rank of Deputy Commander. She accepted the Court's mandate to serve as General of the Guerilla Forces, taking over command of her father's troops.8 Not long later, Yunying's husband Jia Wance was killed while fighting rebels on the frontline.9 The loss of her father followed by the loss of her husband was a huge blow to Shen Yunying. She was given official clearance to take their remains back to her hometown, where she took charge of their burial.10 Amidst the chaos of civil war combined with the invasion of the Qing Dynasty, it was not long before the Ming Dynasty, which Shen had served so faithfully, fell.
Back home, Shen Yunying opened a school for the girls of her clan, personally seeing to the girls' instruction in literacy and martial arts.11 Following her death in 1660, the people from her hometown and beyond went into mourning.12 Later, people built Shen Yunying a memorial commemorating her heroism.13 She has since inspired an opera and been the subject of children's books.14