Chen Dao first served Liu Bei as his aide-de-camp when the latter proclaimed himself to be the Governor of Yu Province". He then followed Liu Bei and fought numerous battles across the land; after the pacification of Yi Province and Liu Bei's ascension to the throne, Chen Dao was particularly authorized to command the "white-eared (or white-feathered)" unit, which was responsible for the emperor's personal safety. As a captain of the imperial guards, Chen Dao assisted Liu Bei's escape to Baidicheng (former name of Yong'an) after the disastrous Battle of Xiaoting.
Later when Zhuge Liang became a co-regent, Chen Dao was made Protector-of-the-Army, but Chen Dao, as well as his unit, was not recalled to the palace in Chengdu; instead, he was placed under another co-regent Li Yan in Yong'an, preventing any potential invasion from the eastern warlord, Sun Quan.
During his reign as regent, Zhuge Liang launched a series of assault on the rival state of Cao Wei. Before the war, Zhuge altered Shu-Han's human resource management in order to solidify his hegemonic position. A few officials were demoted, but Chen Dao was one of the several officers who received a promotion - he was made the General Who Attacks the West, replacing his superior Li Yan as the new commander of Yong'an.
Chen Dao was reputed by Yang Xi (楊戲) to be comparable to Zhao Yun in loyalty in an official memorial after the subject's death. Chen Dao was also praised by the Jin Dynasty historian Chen Shou as a brave warrior whose fame was next to Zhao Yun's.
Appointments and titles held
- Area Commander of Yong'an (永安都督)
- General Who Attacks the West (征西將軍)
- Marquis (亭侯)
- Central Protector of the Army (中護軍)
- Tao Qian once recommended Liu Bei to be the Governor of Yu Province in 194, but Tao Qian's request was not recognized by the Han court. However, this became Liu Bei's self-instituted title known publicly by the people at the time. (The formal Governor of Yu Province, Guo Gong (郭貢), was too busy fighting Cao Cao, and did not bother to care about Liu Bei's usurpation.) See Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 61
- 《诸葛亮集》："(陈)到所督，则先帝帐下白毦，西方上兵也。" In the Compilation of Zhuge Liang, Chen Dao was stated to be Liu Bei's aide-de-camp who controlled a special unit called the "white-eared (or white-feathered)."