Born in Sangzhi, Hunan province, he was the son of a minor military officer who was a member of the Gelaohui (Elder Brother Society), a secret society dating back to the early Qing dynasty. A cowherd during his youth, he received no formal education. He killed a local government tax assessor who had murdered his uncle, and afterwards became an outlaw. By the mid-1920s, he had emerged as an important local military figure, rising to command the Nationalist Twentieth Army in 1923. In 1927 He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC). Chiang Kai-Shek continuously tried to make him rejoin the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), but, failing to succeed, Chiang ordered one hundred of He's relatives killed, including three sisters and his brother. In 1934 he received command of the Second Army of the Chinese Red Army. During the Long March, he emerged as a supporter of Mao Zedong's approach. The Second Army of the Chinese Red Army under He Long's command was the only communist force that instead of having its number reduced, its number actually increased slightly during the Long March.
After the LiberationEdit
After the communist victory and the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, He headed the National Sports Commission. He was made a marshal in 1955, and was also made vice-premier. During the Cultural Revolution he was branded an anti-Party element and purged in 1966.