During the end of Han Dynasty, regional leaders and government officials turned into warlords and constantly waged wars on each other to merge the smaller forces. When one of the most powerful warlords, Yuan Shu, attempted to expand his territory into southeaster China, Fan, along his comrades, Yu Mi and Zhang Ying, were sent by Liu Yao, the Governor of Yang Province, to the frontier to resist Yuan's aggression. They set up fortification along the Yangtze River, effectively repelled Yuan's attacks over a year. Observing Yuan had lost confidence in conquering Yang Province, Sun Ce, who Yuan had been hesitated to let go, suggested Yuan to lend him troops for the task. Although Sun was only given 1,000 soldiers by Yuan, he was joined by Zhou Yu and Ling Cao on the way, strengthening his army size to more than 5,000 when he reached Liyang (present-day He County, Anhui.)Then, he ordered a crossing, and personally engaged in close combat with the enemies, boosting the moral of his tiny army. During one battle, Fan and his colleagues succeeded in wounding Sun with an arrow, wherein Sun was rumored to be killed, but they were eventually outmaneuvered by Sun when the latter regained health and overtook their supply depot. Sun treated the locals nicely and was welcomed by them, who joined his forces, and greatly inflated his strength, so forces of Liu relinquished their bases in the east and went to Yuzhang Commandary. However, they were betrayed by the notorious Ze Rong, who arrived Yuzhang first and usurped control of the area. Thus, a bitter battle was fought, resulting in heavy losses on Liu's side.