This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
Marshal Wu Pei-fu was born in the Pang-lai district of Shantung Province in 1873: and comes from very humble parentage. At the age of twenty-one, he received a degree equivalent to that of Bachelor of Arts, through competitive literary examination. Finding Chinese literature lacking in interest, and deciding to become a military man, he enrolled at the Kaiping Military Academy, near Tientsin, in 1898: and, being an apt pupil, he graduated therefrom with honors. After attending the Military Surveying School at Paotingfu and the Military Lecturing School of Kan-kai-sz, at Tientsin, he discontinued his studies and began life as a common soldier.
At the outbreak of the Revolution, Marshal Wu was sent to the front with orders to supervise the firing lines: which meant a gradual promotion. In 1916, he was made Brigadier-General: and he aided in the defeat of the Yunnan-Kweichow Army: which was considered a great achievement. In 1917, he was made Commander of the Third Division: and in Hunan Province he defeated a number of rebellious armies who were aiding in the attempt to restore an absolute monarchy in Peking. In 1920, Marshal Wu was instrumental in forcing the Anfu Party out of power.
In the year 1921, after defeating the Hupeh armies at Yochow, Marshal Wu was promoted to be Assistant High Inspecting Commissioner of Chihli, Shantung, and Honan Provinces; and was also made High Inspecting Commissioner of Hunan and Hupeh. Since the establishment of the Republic, he has participated in all military campaigns which have taken place in the provinces of Honan, Shansi, and Szechuan: and his most notorious success was the defeat of Marshal Chang Tso-lin, of Mukden in May 1922. He then planned to reorganize the country’s affairs; and thus promulgated the Constitution of the Republic of China which was adopted by Parliament. Marshal Tsao Kun was elected President of China: and Marshal Wu became the High Inspecting Commissioner of Chihli, Shantung, and Honan Provinces.
After the beginning of hostilities between Kiangsu and Chekiang Provinces, in October 1924, Marshal Wu, as Commander-in-Chief of the Central Government forces, advanced against the Fengtien forces under Marshal Chang Tso-lin; but, due to the coup d’etat which was effected by General Feng Yu-hsiang, his forces were surrounded. Marshal Wu returned to Tientsin and then after consulting with his officers, decided to return to his base at Loyang: conferring with the Yangtze Tuchuns, en route. An attempt to establish a military government, under his control, at Wuchang was abandoned; and Marshal Wu, after being oppressed by opposing forces and harassed by disloyalty among the troops under immediate command at Loyang, definitely decided to retire to private life.
Marshal Wu was born to be energetic, frugal, and hard working. When training is troops, he arose each morning at six to review them personally: and continued this throughout the year without variation. Marshal Wu is a strategist as well as a tactician of both the old and modern school. He has trained a great number of young men, between the ages of fourteen and nineteen, in the study of literature and military tactics. Besides having military ability, he has a good knowledge of agriculture. He is fond of poetry and art: and is interested in the preservation of ancient Chinese books. He possesses a strong personality: is honest and sincere: and is a very able military man.