Battle of Vermilion
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|Battle of Vermilion|
|Part of the Operation Ragnarök campaign|
(First Alliance-Imperial War)
Reinhard's flagship Brünhild targeted by Yang
|Date:||24 April 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE) to 5 May 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE)|
|Result:||Tactical Alliance victory/Strategic Imperial victory|
The Battle of Vermilion Starzone (Japanese: バーミリオン星域会戦) was the final battle of the first Alliance–Imperial War and the culmination of Reinhard von Lohengramm's Operation Ragnarök. Though the combined fleets of the Free Planets Alliance were able to obtain a tactical victory in the battle, they were forced to surrender to the Galactic Empire following the Alliance's High Council surrender to the Empire in May 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE).
In 799 UC (1 NIC / 490 IC / 3599 CE) Alliance admiral Yang Wen-li led an attack against Reinhard von Lohengramm's fleet in an attempt to destroy the Brunhild and throw the invading Imperial fleets into confusion and disarray.
The battle was precipitated by the fact Reinhard had launched a full-fledged invasion into Alliance space. Having been spent by the disastrous invasion of the Galactic Empire and subsequent coup the year earlier, the Alliance could not stand up to a fully united Imperial Space Fleet in direct combat. Yang's single fleet thus took the strategy of engaging Lohengramm's admirals one-by-one, and using supplies from local Alliance supply bases rather than one central supply base. The result was that Yang could not be tracked by the Imperial Fleet, and defeated admirals Sombart, Steinmetz, Lennenkampf, and Wahlen in turn.
Realizing that a decisive conflict was needed to prevent a prolonged campaign that would deplete the Empire's already overtaxed supply lines, Reinhard sent all but his command fleet off to different sectors of Alliance space. Reinhard understood Yang had decided killing Reinhard was the easiest way to stop the Imperial invasion, because Reinhard had no clear successor and his death would likely mean infighting between his admirals for power and upheaval in the Empire. Thus Reinhard acted as bait, hoping that Yang would not pass up the opportunity to engage Reinhard with a numerically similar force, and that he would be able to withstand the assault long enough to either win outright or have one of his admirals return after hearing battle was joined.
Yang in fact did attack at star system Vermilion, and took an initial advantage as a result of Imperial confusion when Vice Admiral Therneysen rashly advanced into Vice Admiral Brauhitch's fleet. Afterwards, both parties broke off combat, and once reorganized, Yang advanced against Reinhard's fleet. However, Reinhard implemented a tactic he developed in advance in which he arranged his fleet into many thin screens of ships. One at a time, each screen would drift into Yang's flight path, and engage Yang. Yang would break through, but then another screen would appear to engage Yang. The previous screen would reorganize and move to the rear of the Imperial fleet and would attack Yang again once it was its turn once one. Thus Yang would fight an endless stream of small skirmishes and presumably become exhausted.
Julian realized this plan, and Yang decided after several screens to break off the attack and regroup in a nearby asteroid belt. Cautious, the Imperial Fleet declined to enter. After some time, 10,000 ships from Yang's fleet appeared to break out of the asteroid to port of the Imperial Fleet. Reinhard decided to send the bulk of his ships to engage this force, reasoning that this was actually Yang's main force, deliberately acting like a decoy in order to deter Imperial attack. It then turned out that the majority of this Alliance force, led by Marino was made out of construction ships with asteroids attached, and the main Alliance fleet engaged the rear of the Imperial attack force. The Imperial forces turned to engage the new Alliance force, but failed to realize that there were still a significant number of Alliance combat vessels in the decoy force, and that the asteroids had been rigged to launch into the Imperial force. Furthermore, they mistakenly believed the Alliance main force was giving way to their attack, but in reality the Alliance was forming an encirclement. The Imperial attack force was thus heavily damaged by massive asteroids from Marino's force and surrounded.
With the majority of the Imperial fleet neutralized, Yang sent ships to attack Reinhard's flagship. Reinhard was about to be forcibly evacuated by his staff, when Müller arrived, having returned before all of Reinhard's other Admirals. His task had been to capture a supply depot, and the Alliance commander, not wanting meaningless bloodshed, had surrendered. This cut down the required time for Müller to return, and he managed protect Reinhard from this Alliance attack. His tenacious fighting in this battle, switching from flagship to flagship as each was shot down, earned him his sobriquet, "Iron Wall", and his reputation as the third most competent of Reinhard's combat admirals (after Mittermeyer and Reuental).
However, Müller became entangled in the encirclement of Reinhard's other forces, and was unable to assist Reinhard after this point. Yang was then able to lead a detachment to fire upon Reinhard. However, Hildegarde von Mariendorf had foreseen this scenario and had secretly enlisted Mittermeyer and Reuental to capture the Alliance capital of Heinessen, and force their leaders to order Yang Wen-li to surrender. Hildegard had suggested this course of action to Reinhard earlier, but his pride prevented him from seeking other than combat victory over Yang and he had rejected it.
The order to surrender reached Yang Wen-li just as he was about to destroy Reinhard's flagship, and not wanting to set a precedent of military command overruling civilian command, Yang obeyed despite the objection of almost his entire fleet. The Alliance fleet stood down and was eventually faced with the combined forces of each of Reinhard's admirals as they returned from their original deployments.
A total of 26,940 Imperial ships participated in the battle. Of these, 14,820 were destroyed and 8,660 were damaged. Imperial personnel casualties were 1,594,400 killed and 753,700 wounded. (Fleet File Collection Vol.10)
Reinhard's initial fleet before Müller's arrival numbered 18,860 ships and 2,295,400 personnel. Yang commanded 16,420 ships and 1,907,600 personnel. (Legend of Galactic Heroes Volume 5: Wind and Clouds)
Müller therefore reinforced with 8,080 ships and 967,700 personnel. As this was only 60% of his total fleet, this meant the total Müller Fleet was about 13,300 ships and 1,612,833 personnel.