The Story of the Trung Sisters: Undaunted Courage

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Trung Sisters

On February 6, 40 A.D., Trung Trac stood before her troops in full military regalia. She rallied 30,000 soldiers that had gathered at the Hat estuary, and set aside her personal grief. She vowed to gain revenge on behalf of her people and her murdered husband. Later, in the privacy of their home, Trung Trac addressed her younger sister. It is your duty to gather more to our cause. You are skilled in words and persuasion- and you must persuade others to join us in our rebellion. Trung Nhi took this mandate to heart.

Within a year the Trung sisters had recruited more than 60,000 additional troops. They began their onslaught against the Chinese oppressors. In a series of ferocious battles they regained 65 provinces. Their victory definitively ended 150 years of Han domination.

Trung Trac crowned herself queen of the now independent Vietnam and set up her court in Me Linh. The Chinese allowed the audacity of the upstart sisters to prevail for a while. However, three years later the wrath of the Chinese army rained upon them with iron fists.

General Ma Vien, a man of vast military experience and brilliant stratagem, led the expedition against Vietnam and the Trungs. The first major battle occurred at Lang Bac and the Trung sisters suffered defeat. They withdrew to Cam Khe to muster their forces and attend their wounded. They were unable to hold their position and gain retreated, this time to Hat Giang. They set up another defense line and Trung Trac ordered Lady Cao Nhu to fool the Chinese army by leading them to the Hat Giang River and then turning to attack. The Trung sisters led their own troops from ambush to surround Ma Vien and his troops. Outnumbered, Ma Vien withdrew to Tay Ho.

Ma Vien received backup from Luu Long, the second Chinese commander. They led the Chinese troops to a headlong collision with the Trung defense line. On the banks of the river the Viet troops fought valiantly, but the might of the Han dynasty proved to be overwhelming.

The Trung army was decimated and scattered to the four winds. Rather than accept the shame of defeat and risk capture the two sisters flung themselves into the river. Many of their fellow leaders followed their example.

There are several things that the undaunted courage of the Trung sisters teaches us:

  1. Do what you are called to do because it is your destiny.
  2. Give quarter when it is necessary to do so. Show mercy when you have the opportunity to exercise grace.
  3. Do not be afraid to embrace uncertainty.
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