Wu graduated from the Japanese Army Military Academy in 1904 and War College in 1910.
Military and Civil governor of Hunan in 1920. Army Minister 1924–1925. After the Republic of China was established, he held command of the 20th Division.
In 1916 Wu was given the task to reestablish northern military control over Yuezhou in northern Hunan.
In August 1917 Duan obtained Feng Guozhang"s appointment of Wu as Commander-in-Chief of the Upper Yangtze River, and concurrently Inspector of Sichuan, with orders to advance into Sichuan to resolve its internal conflicts. In January 1918, during the 1st Constitutional Protection War, Wu Guangxin who had retreated from Sichuan to the Sichuan-Hubei border, attacked Shi Xingchuan and Li Tiancai"s army from the west along the Yangtze.
Caught between Wu and Wang Zhanyuan in the Wuhan area, Shi and Li were defeated. Hubei independent forces ceased to be a serious threat to Beiyang power in Hubei.
In 1920 Wu became Military and Civil governor of Hunan.
During the Zhili–Anhui War Wu was captured, and detained as one of the Anhui cliques leaders by Wang Zhanyuan, but in 1921 he was released. Due to the victory of Zhang Zuolin and Feng Yuxiang in the Second Zhili-Fengtian War, Zhang Zuolin named Duan Qirui as the new Chief Executive of the nation on November 24, 1924. Wu was appointed as the Army Minister and latter in December 1925 was appointed inspector general.
On February, 1925 he was appointed Reconstruction Conference Association president
Due to the March 18 Massacre, Feng Yuxiang again revolted, against the Fengtian clique, and deposed Duan who was forced to flee to Zhang"s protection and Wu deposed, went into seclusion in Shanghai. He died of illness on November 15, 1939, in Shanghai.