Yan Liang and Wen Chou are brave generals in command of his troops. Here are serious problems.
Kong Rong to Xun Yu

Wen Chou 文醜 was a fierce cavalry commander who served under Yuan Shao 袁紹. He and Yan Liang 顏良 are often regarded as Yuan Shao's finer generals, but both were dealt with swiftly by Cao Cao's forces at the Battle of Guandu.


During the Battle of Guandu in 200 A.D., Yuan Shao, despite objections from his Cavalry Commander Cui Yan, made plans to attack Xu city.[1]

When the people from Xu heard of Yuan Shao's plans, they all became afraid. Kong Rong talked to Xun Yu about Yuan Shao's men and mentioned Wen Chou:

"Yuan Shao's lands are broad and his troops are strong. Tian Feng and Xu You are wise men to plan for him, Shen Pei and Pang Ji are loyal ministers acting in his affairs, Yan Liang and Wen Chou are brave generals in command of his troops. Here are serious problems."

Xun Yu was less impressed by Yuan Shao's forces and replied:

"Yuan Shao has many soldiers, but his government is not well-ordered. Tian Feng is stubborn and insubordinate; Xu You is greedy and ill-disciplined. Shen Pei is self-opinionated and lacks original ideas; Pang Ji is too adventurous and independent. People like that find it hard to co-operate, and they will certainly disrupt his councils. Yan Liang and Wen Chou have the bravery of common fellows. One battle will be enough to deal with them."

Later, Yan Liang was sent to attack Dong commandery, but when Cao Cao came to aid the Grand Administrator of Dong commandery, Liu Yan, Yan Liang was beheaded by Guan Yu and his men retreated.[2]

Following Yan Lian's defeat, Yuan Shao marched his army across the Yellow River, in pursuit of his enemy. His strategist Ju Shou, once again advised him, saying:

"When you are fighting a war, you must be careful to think of every possibility. The best plan now is to stay in camp at the Yan Crossing and send an advance guard towards Guandu. If they can capture the place you will still have time to join up with them. If, however, you go forward now and something goes wrong, none of the army will be able to get back."

And once again, Yuan Shao did not heed the advice.

Cao Cao camped under the southern slope of the river and sent men to look out. When Yuan Shao's army came south from the Yan Crossing, the men reported: "Some five or six hundred horsemen", a short while later they reported: "Horsemen gradually increasing; too many foot-soldiers to count."

"No more reports", ordered Cao Cao. His cavarly had to dismount and let the horses go. The baggage from Boma was still on the road.

Cao Cao's troops thought it would be better to guard the camp, but Xun You said: "This is a trap for the enemy, how can we leave?" Cao Cao looked at him and smiled.

Wen Chou and Liu Bei, both cavalry commanders, came up together with 5.000 or 6.000 horsemen and the officers once again said they should mount. "Not yet", replied Cao Cao. There was a pause, the enemy approached in greater numbers. Some of them split from the rest to go for the baggage. "Now!" said Cao Cao. All his men jumped on their horses. They did not have the 6.000 men, but they charged with speed and completely defeated the enemy. In the process Wen Chou's head was taken.[3]

Wen Chou and Yan Liang had been two of Yuan Shao's most celebrated captains, and in just two engagements they had both been killed. Yuan Shao's army was discouraged.

Art GalleryEdit


Fact vs. FictionEdit


  • ...Wen Chao did not attack Cao Cao's forces in an attempt to avenge Yan Liang.
  • ...Wen Chao was not killed by Guan Yu. He died in battle with Cao Cao after falling for one of Cao Cao’s plots.
    read about this fictional event here.
  • ...Yuan Shao did not mention Yan Liang and Wen Chou during the Campaign against Dong Zhuo.


  1. SGZ 12, 367 (2a-b), the Biography of Cui Yan.
  2. TTK Wiki; Biography of Yan Liang.
  3. SGZ 1, 19 (46b-47a), the Biography of Cao Cao.