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Pan Zhang
Born (Unknown)
Died 234[1]

Pan Zhang (died 234),[1][2] Wengui, was a military general serving under the warlord Sun Quan in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He continued serving in the state of Eastern Wu (founded by Sun Quan) during the Three Kingdoms period until his death.

Early life and careerEdit

Pan Zhang was a native of Fagan (發干), Dong (東郡), which is located east of present-day Guan County, Liaocheng, Shandong. In 196, he became a follower of a 14-year-old Sun Quan, who was then serving as the Chief (長) of Yangxian (陽羨) under his elder brother Sun Ce, who controlled many territories in the Jiangdong region.[3] Pan Zhang was known to be a heavy drinker and compulsive gambler, and he had to frequently borrow money to support these habits because his family was poor. When his creditors came to pursue debts, he always claimed he would pay them back when he became endowed with wealth. Sun Quan felt that Pan Zhang was extraordinary and favoured him, so he sent the latter on a recruitment drive. Pan Zhang returned with more than 100 men and Sun Quan appointed him as a military officer. He became a "Major of Separate Command" (別部司馬) after defeating some bandits. Later, he was appointed as a da shi cijian (大巿刺姧; similar to a police chief) in Wu commandery (吳郡; capital in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu) and became famous after achieving success in maintaining high standards of security in the area. He was reassigned as the Chief (長) of Xi'an (西安) county in Yuzhang (豫章) commandery later.[4]

Around the time, bandits were rampant in Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), and its governor Liu Biao was unable to deal with them. However, the bandits did not dare to cross the border into Yuzhang commandery in Yang Province (covering most of southeastern China) to pillage the area when they heard that Pan Zhang was stationed there. When an uprising broke out in Jianchang (建昌) county, Pan Zhang was reassigned to be the Chief of the county, appointed as "Colonel of Martial Vehemence" (武猛校尉), and sent to suppress the revolt. He succeeded in doing so within a month and managed to gather back 800 soldiers who were scattered during the rebellion. He was summoned to Jianye (建業; in present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu), the capital of Sun Quan's domain.[5]

Battle of Xiaoyao FordEdit

In 214, Sun Quan led an army to attack Hefei, a city defended by Cao Cao's general Zhang Liao, leading to the Battle of Xiaoyao Ford. When Sun Quan's forces were just setting up their camps outside Hefei, Zhang Liao suddenly led hundreds of troops to attack them, completely catching the enemy off guard. Chen Wu was killed in action while Song Qian and Xu Sheng were defeated and their men dispersed. Pan Zhang chased the deserting soldiers on horseback and executed two of them, forcing the others to return to battle. Sun Quan's forces managed to hold up against Zhang Liao's assault that day despite sustaining heavy casualties, but eventually suffered a crushing defeat when Zhang Liao launched a surprise counterattack while they were withdrawing. Sun Quan was impressed when he heard of Pan Zhang's actions and he promoted to the latter to Lieutenant-General (偏將軍), put him in charge of more troops. and ordered him to garrison at Banzhou (半州).[6]

Wars against Liu BeiEdit

In 219, Pan Zhang participated in a campaign led by Sun Quan's general Lü Meng to seize control of Jing Province from Guan Yu, a general under Liu Bei. Pan Zhang and Zhu Ran blocked Guan Yu's retreat routes and stationed at Jiashi (夾石) when they reached Linju (臨沮). Guan Yu, along with his son Guan Ping and subordinate Zhao Lei, were captured alive in an ambush laid by Ma Zhong, a Major (司馬) under Pan Zhang. In recognition of Pan Zhang's contributions, Sun Quan split Yidu (宜都) and Zigui (秭歸) counties to form Guling commandery (固陵郡) and appointed Pan as the Administrator (太守) of the commandery, in addition to promoting Pan to "General of Inspiring Might" (振威將軍) and awarding him the title of "Marquis of Liyang" (溧陽侯). When Gan Ning died, Sun Quan placed Gan's subordinates under Pan Zhang's command.[7]

In late 221, Liu Bei launched a campaign against Sun Quan to retake Jing Province, leading to the Battle of Xiaoting of 221–222. Pan Zhang participated in the battle under the leadership of Lu Xun, the commander-in-chief of Sun Quan's forces. After enduring some initial defeats and months of stalemate, Lu Xun eventually ordered a large-scale counterattack with the use of fire, inflicting a crushing defeat on Liu Bei's forces. During the attack, Pan Zhang's subordinates killed Feng Xi, a Protector of the Army (護軍) under Liu Bei, as well as several enemy soldiers. For his achievements, Pan Zhang was further promoted to "General Who Pacifies the North" (平北將軍) and appointed as the Administrator of Xiangyang.[8]

Wars against WeiEdit

In Pan Zhang's later years, he was tasked with defending Sun Quan's territories from invasions by the state of Cao Wei (founded by Cao Cao's successor Cao Pi). In 223, Cao Pi sent Zhang He, Xu Huang, Cao Zhen, Xiahou Shang and others to lead armies to attack Nan commandery (南郡; around present-day Jingzhou, Hubei) with the objective of capturing Jiangling (江陵; present-day Jiangling County, Jingzhou, Hubei), which was defended by Zhu Ran. Xiahou Shang sent 30,000 troops to build pontoon bridges for crossing over the Yangtze River to Bailizhou (百里洲), an island stretching over 100 li in the river around that area. Zhuge Jin and Yang Can (楊粲) wanted to lead their men to defend the island but were unable to locate the Wei troops' crossing points. Pan Zhang told them, "The Wei army's morale is very high at the beginning and the tide is low, so we shouldn't fight them yet." They moved to about 50 li upstream, where Pan Zhang ordered his men to collect thousands of bundles of reeds, attach them onto some large rafts, and set them on fire. The flaming rafts were then allowed to sail downstream and they destroyed the enemy's pontoon bridges. Xiahou Shang sensed that he was in danger of being isolated so he withdrew his forces from the island before his retreat route could be sealed. Pan Zhang moved to Lukou (陸口) and stationed there. Sun Quan praised Pan Zhang for his efforts and promoted the latter to "General of the Right" (右將軍).[9]

In 227, Pan Zhang followed Sun Quan to a battle against Wei forces at Shiyang (石陽). He was tasked with covering the rear as Sun Quan's men were withdrawing after the battle. However, he lowered his guard that night and could not hold up against the enemy when the latter attacked. Zhu Ran led reinforcements to resist the enemy's advance until Sun Quan's forces at the front had completely retreated before he withdrew.[10]


Pan Zhang died in 234. His cause of death was not documented in history. His military appointment and marquis title were not inherited by his son, Pan Ping (潘平), because the latter was exiled to Kuaiji (會稽; present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang) for poor behaviour. Pan Zhang's wife remained in Jianye (建業; in present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu) and was granted land and 50 taxable households.[11]


Pan Zhang was known for his courage and ferocity in battle, for being a stern disciplinarian, and for his eagerness to earn fame and glory. He had only a few thousand men under his command, but when they were deployed in battle, their fighting power was equivalent to that of an army of ten-thousand troops. Every time after a battle, he would set up a market for the distribution of military equipment. Other units would replenish their stocks by taking from him.[12]

However, Pan Zhang led an extravagant lifestyle, especially in his later years. The quality of his personal items and clothing actually exceeded that befitting his rank and status. He also killed some wealthy officials and seized their property for himself, and had broken the law on several occasions. When others reported these incidents to Sun Quan, the latter did not pursue the matter in consideration of Pan Zhang's contributions.[13]

In fictionEdit

Pan Zhang appeared as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, Pan Zhang was credited as the person responsible for capturing Guan Yu and Guan Ping an ambush during the Wu invasion of Jing Province in 219. He obtained Guan Yu's weapon, the Green Dragon Crescent Blade, as a spoil of war. He was killed by Guan Xing in around 221 during one of the early engagements in the Battle of Xiaoting. See Battle of Xiaoting#Guan Xing killing Pan Zhang for details.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Sanguozhi stated that Pan Zhang died in the third year of the Jiahe era (232-238) in the reign of Sun Quan. Quote from Sanguozhi vol. 55: (嘉禾三年卒。)
  2. de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 683. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0. 
  3. (兄策旣定諸郡,時權年十五,以為陽羨長。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
  4. (潘璋字文珪,東郡發干人也。 ... 孫權為陽羨長,始往隨權。性博蕩嗜酒,居貧,好賒酤,債家至門,輒言後豪富相還。權奇愛之,因使召募,得百餘人,遂以為將。討山賊有功,署別部司馬。後為吳大巿刺姧,盜賊斷絕,由是知名,遷豫章西安長。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  5. (劉表在荊州,民數被寇,自璋在事,寇不入境。比縣建昌起為賊亂,轉領建昌,加武猛校尉,討治惡民,旬月盡平,召合遺散,得八百人,將還建業。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  6. (合肥之役,張遼奄至,諸將不備,陳武鬬死,宋謙、徐盛皆披走,璋身次在後,便馳進,橫馬斬謙、盛兵走者二人,兵皆還戰。權甚壯之,拜偏將軍,遂領百校,屯半州。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  7. (權征關羽,璋與朱然斷羽走道,到臨沮,住夾石。璋部下司馬馬忠禽羽,并羽子平、都督趙累等。權即分宜都、秭歸二縣為固陵郡,拜璋為太守、振威將軍,封溧陽侯。甘寧卒,又并其軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  8. (劉備出夷陵,璋與陸遜并力拒之,璋部下斬備護軍馮習等,所殺傷甚衆,拜平北將軍、襄陽太守。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  9. (魏將夏侯尚等圍南郡,分前部三萬人作浮橋,渡百里洲上,諸葛瑾、楊粲並會兵赴救,未知所出,而魏兵日渡不絕。璋曰:「魏勢始盛,江水又淺,未可與戰。」便將所領,到魏上流五十里,伐葦數百萬束,縛作大筏,欲順流放火,燒敗浮橋。作筏適畢,伺水長當下,尚便引退。璋下備陸口。權稱尊號,拜右將軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  10. (六年,權自率衆攻石陽,及至旋師,潘璋斷後。夜出錯亂,敵追擊璋,璋不能禁。然即還住拒敵,使前船得引極遠,徐乃後發。) Sanguozhi vol. 56.
  11. (嘉禾三年卒。子平,以無行徙會稽。璋妻居建業,賜田宅,復客五十家。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  12. (璋為人麤猛,禁令肅然,好立功業,所領兵馬不過數千,而其所在常如萬人。征伐止頓,便立軍巿,他軍所無,皆仰取足。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  13. (然性奢泰,末年彌甚,服物僭擬。吏兵富者,或殺取其財物,數不奉法。監司舉奏,權惜其功而輒原不問。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.

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