Battle of Rantemario
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This article is about the Alliance–Imperial War battle. For other uses, see Battle of Rantemario (disambiguation).
|Battle of Rantemario|
|(First Alliance-Imperial War)|
Rantemario's energy current
|Date:||February 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE)|
|Result:||Decisive Imperial victory|
The Battle of Rantemario Starzone (Japanese: ランテマリオ星域会戦) was one of the last major battles of the first Alliance–Imperial War. It was the largest battle of the war and was a decisive defeat for the Free Planets Alliance, and helped to cement the Galactic Empire's eventual victory in the war.
Alliance Order of Battle
- The HQ Fleet, commanded by the Space Fleet Commander, Fleet Admiral Alexandre Bewcock, flagship Rio Grande
- The 1st Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Paetta, flagship Patoroklos
- The 14th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Lionel Morton, flagship Achilleus
- The 15th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Ralph Carlsen, flagship Diomedes
In its entirety, the Alliance mustered 32,900 combat ships and 5,206,000 soldiers for the battle.
Imperial Order of Battle
- The HQ Fleet, commanded by the Space Fleet Commander, Fleet Admiral Reinhard von Lohengramm, flagship Brünhild
- The Mittermeyer Fleet, commanded by High Admiral Wolfgang Mittermeyer, flagship Beowulf
- The Black Lancers, commanded by Admiral Fritz Josef Bittenfeld, flagship Königs Tiger
- The Wahlen Fleet, commanded by Admiral August Samuel Wahlen, flagship Salamander
- The Fahrenheit Fleet, commanded by Admiral Adalbert von Fahrenheit, flagship Asgrimm
- The Steinmetz Fleet, commanded by Admiral Karl Robert Steinmetz, flagship Vonkel
- The Müller Fleet, commanded by Admiral Neidhart Müller, flagship Lübeck
In its entirety, the Empire mustered 112,700 combat ships, 41,900 support ships, and 16,600,000 soldiers for the battle.
Early in the year 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE), Reinhard von Lohengramm launched Operation Ragnarok: the invasion of the territory of the Free Planets Alliance. Multiple Imperial fleets penetrated Alliance territory through the Fezzan Corridor, quickly conquering a vast swath of Alliance territory as they sailed toward Heinessen. (LOGH: 'Fezzan Occupied')
Veteran Alliance admiral Alexandre Bewcock commanded a hastily mustered force. Of the 32,900 ships assembled, the 20,000 ships of the 14th Fleet and 15th Fleet came from system security squadrons, old ships about to be decommissioned, and newly constructed ships on space trials. Only the 12,900 ships of the 1st Fleet were regular front line units.
The decision was made to intercept in the Rantemario system in order to prevent civilian casualties due to Rantemario being the last uninhabited system along the Imperial invasion route. All other systems further along the route to the Alliance capital Heinessen were inhabited systems.
The initial Imperial formation was a line astern formation crossing the orbit of the second planet in the Rantemario system. The "double headed snake" formation consisted of 5 fleets in the following order: Duke Lohengramm, Steinmetz, Mittermeyer, Müller, Wahlen. The Fahrenheit Fleet and Black Lancers formed the Imperial reserves and were assembled in a shorter parallel line behind the main formation. The Imperial plan was in anticipation of an Alliance attack on the Mittermeyer Fleet, in the middle of the line, in an attempt to split the Imperial formation. While the middle 3 Imperial formations engaged and pinned the enemy, the plan was for the two "head" formations at the front and rear of the line to swing round and complete an envelopment of the enemy.
The initial Alliance formation was a mass of 3 wedge formations, with 4 screening forces also in wedge formations, aimed at the centre of the Imperial line. Bewcock was aware of the Imperial formation and had correctly deduced the Imperial plan, but felt that the limitations of the Alliance forces precluded any other option other than attacking the centre of the Imperial line, in the hopes of being able to quickly destroy individual Imperial fleets in detail. As the range closed, Bewcock considered changing the Alliance plan by letting the Imperial forces move first and then attempting to target the Imperial right or left flanks in the hopes of being able to envelop and destroy one of the Imperial fleets. However Alliance forces opened fire prematurely at 13:45 on 8 February, and Bewcock was forced to resume the original plan of a central breakthrough.
At 14:15, the Mittermeyer Fleet advanced on the Alliance forces to attempt to provoke a reaction. Positive identification of the Beowulf provoked a fierce desperate counterattack by the Alliance, particularly the forces commanded by Commodore Marinetti and Commodore Zarnial which advanced into the Imperial formation. The ensuing close range combat was chaotic and there were instances of ships colliding with friendly and enemy ships. The Mittermeyer Fleet retreated in good order while waiting for enemy's attack to be spent. At this point the remainder of the Imperial forces began to move assist the Mittermeyer Fleet and Bewcock was aware of the dangerous situation the overextended Alliance forces were in. He ordered Marinetti and Zarnial to withdraw and rejoin the rest of the Alliance formation, and they obeyed. This is in notable contrast to the situation in the Third Battle of Tiamat where the Alliance 11th Fleet did not obey such orders.
Imperial forces counterattacked the retreating Alliance, which engaged in a fighting withdrawal to the orbital path of the 1st planet of Rantemario. The Wahlen Fleet began a concentrated attack on the Alliance right flank at 16:00 and after 3 hours, managed to open a gap in the Alliance formation. Bewcock dispatched Lionel Morton and the 14th Fleet to seal this gap before Imperial forces could exploit the opening. This was done successfully, forcing the Wahlen Fleet to fall back on a strategy of attrition against the 14th Fleet.
At 20:00, the Fahrenheit Fleet took the initiative of attempting to navigate around the main battlefield in an attempt to attack the Alliance rear. The Fahrenheit Fleet encountered a newly formed "current" of space debris and energy released from the weapons fire of the main fighting forces which spiralled inwards towards the Rantemario star. The current was a navigational hazard and the Fahrenheit Fleet abandoned an attempt at crossing after several Imperial ships were lost to the current. Instead, the Fahrenheit Fleet stood off at long range and attacked the Alliance right flank. By this time, attrition had reduced the Alliance to 1/5 of the Imperial forces, and Bewcock had decided to shift to from trying to win to staving off defeat as long as possible so as to prolong the battle in the hope of reinforcement from the Yang Fleet.
From 21:45 to 23:30, the Black Lancers moved to position themselves on the far right flank of the Imperial formation, "upstream" from Alliance forces, in anticipation of being called upon to deliver the decisive blow.
At 23:45, 10 hours after the battle's beginning, Duke Lohengramm decided to temporarily pull back all Imperial forces to rest, as fatigued Imperial forces would have resulted in increased losses. (LOGH: 'The Two-Headed Snake: The Battle of Rantemario')
Battle was resumed at 0900 the following day, 9 February, with all Imperial fleets re-engaging the Alliance forces in the same formation as the day before. The Alliance forces by this time were concentrating on fighting defensively, using the debris of destroyed ships as cover against enemy fire.
Using a plan proposed by Chung Wu-Cheng, Bewcock had all Alliance ships with fighter capacity to launch their fighters. He also directed all carriers and battleships under central HQ command to enter the front lines. Mittermeyer declined to launch fighters in response, reasoning it was an attempt to make the battle chaotic in order to disrupt coordinated ship firing. Instead, he ordered Rear Admirals Droysen and Sinzer to advance with their squadrons to scatter the Alliance fighters.
However the fighters were in fact a ruse to lure Imperial ships into prepared cross-fire points and also so that the fighters could target the Imperial ships' engines and disable them. The disabled Imperial ships drifted helplessly in between the two forces, blocking Imperial attacks until engineering ships could take the disabled ships behind Imperial lines. This served to buy additional time for the Alliance.
At 11:00, the Black Lancers were ordered into action to deliver a decisive blow to the still intact Alliance forces. This was accompanied by a general offensive by all the other Imperial fleets. The Black Lancers entered the still existent energy current and was swept "downstream". Their emergence point was correctly calculated by the Alliance and the Black Lancers emerged at 11:20 to be met with focused Alliance firepower. Bittenfeld exhorted his fleet to press the attack even in the face of losses, and the devastating firepower of the Black Lancers shattered the Alliance formation. Bewcock retired to his quarters and contemplated suicide but was prevented by Chung Wu-Cheng from doing so and was persuaded to remain alive to shield his subordinates from any post-war trials.
At this time, the Yang Fleet arrived on the battlefield behind Imperial forces and opened fire on the rear of the Müller Fleet. The other Imperial fleets were thrown into confusion by the Alliance reinforcements and the threat of having their line of supply and communication with the Empire via the Fezzan Corridor cut off. Bewcock took advantage of this opportunity to counterattack and then disengage from the confused Imperial forces. The Yang Fleet also disengaged and joined Bewcock's forces in heading towards Heinessen. Recovering quickly from their initial confusion, the Imperial fleets had taken a defensive stance in case of attack. Once it was clear no further attack was forthcoming, they moved 2.4 light years to occupy the planet Uruvasi in the Gandharva Starzone as a base of operations, thus concluding the Battle of Rantemario. (LOGH: 'The Two-Headed Snake: The Battle of Rantemario')
The Battle of Rantemario was the last chance the Alliance had of defeating the Imperial invasion in direct open battle. Outnumbered by over 3:1, the Alliance failed in its objective, even though a portion of its forces survived due to the Yang Fleet's intervention. After this battle, the Alliance and Yang's strategy relied on attacking the Imperial supply lines to either force an Imperial withdrawal due to shortage of supplies, or to gain a chance to attack and kill Duke Reinhard von Lohengramm in order to provoke a succession crisis in the Empire.