Second Battle of Tiamat
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|Second Battle of Tiamat|
|(First Alliance-Imperial War)|
Incomplete ring formation
|Date:||745 UC (436 IC / 3545 CE)|
|Result:||Major Alliance victory|
The Second Battle of Tiamat (Japanese: 第二次ティアマト会戦) marked the second major battle in the Tiamat Starzone during the first Alliance–Imperial War and was the single largest battle of the war up to that time, with a total of 104,000 ships and 10,136,000 soldiers participating. The battle was a horrendous defeat for the Galactic Empire, costing them an enormous number of ships and soldiers, as well as the lives of more than 60 admirals.
Alliance Order of Battle
The Alliance Order of Battle as of 4 December 745 UC (436 IC / 3545 CE) was:
- The HQ Fleet, commanded by the Space Fleet Commander, Admiral Bruce Ashbey, flagship Hard Luck
- The 4th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Frederick Jasper, flagship Bridget
- The 5th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Wallace Warwick, flagship Lugeilan
- The 8th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Fang Tchewling, flagship Gora-Daileng
- The 9th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Vittorio di Bertini, flagship Tlahuixcalpantecuhtli
- The 11th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral John Drinker Cope, flagship Vivasvat
In its entirety, the Alliance mustered 48,000 ships and 3,636,000 soldiers for the battle.
Imperial Order of Battle
The Imperial Order of Battle was:
- The HQ Fleet, commanded by the Space Fleet Commander, Fleet Admiral Zieten, flagship Audhumla
- The Schrieter Fleet, commanded by Admiral Schrieter, flagship Bergelmir
- The Kosel Fleet, commanded by Admiral Kosel, flagship Diarium
- The Steiermark Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Hauser von Steiermark, flagship Vanadis
- The Mückenberger Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Wilhelm von Mückenberger, flagship Quermark
- The Keit Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Keit, flagship Embla
- The Kartenborn Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Kartenborn, flagship Dagda
For the battle, the Empire mustered 56,000 ships and 6,500,000 soldiers.
The battle started on 5 December, at approximately 9:50 AM. As the Empire started its plans, detaching a portion of its forces to back-turn around the Alliance's left flank, Ashbey ordered the 9th and 11th fleets to advance upon the enemy's centre and right.
Although the 11th Fleet moved with swiftness, the 9th, led by a despondent Bertini, was slower in its movements due to a certain paralysis in its command staff. This allowed the Mückenberger Fleet to cut between the slow-moving 9th and the swift-moving 11th, attacking the latter while the Steiermark Fleet stopped its movements and the 9th was stopped by Zieten's forces. This put the 11th Fleet in danger of being encircled and destroyed.
Recognizing the danger, Ashbey sent the 5th Fleet to aid the 11th, and Vice Admiral Warwick quickly moved his fleet to attack Muckenberger's forces. During this time, Cope retained good cohesion of his command and, skilfully avoiding a crippling blow from the Steiermark Fleet, had his ships turn around and assault the Mückenberger Fleet.
As it was, Mückenberger, eager for victory, had rushed his flagship too far ahead, and it was quickly destroyed by the 11th's firepower, momentarily collapsing the command structure while the 5th and the 11th pressed their advantage. Bringing himself out of his depression, Bertini then promptly took control of his 9th and went to the aid of the 11th. The three-pronged assault virtually annihilated the Mückenberger Fleet, and it no longer played any part in the battle.
While this was happening, Ashbey sent the 4th Fleet to counter the enemy back-turn, utilising a sector which would allow Vice Admiral Jasper to fight on equal grounds despite being outnumbered 3-to-1. This baffled his general staff as there did not seem to be sufficient intelligence to conclude the Imperial forces were attempting a back-turn. Although Jasper agreed with the general plan, his demands for more precise information were stonewalled by Ashbey, prompting Chief of Staff Alfred Rosas to question his recently increasing dogmatism.
Seeing a chance to strike a deeper blow against the Imperial forces, and acting upon his own personal initiative, Vice Admiral Warwick then decided to move his own forces forward in an arc, in order to break a wing of the Imperial formation off, against standing orders from headquarters. Later documents would show that Warwick undertook this action largely out of a sense of resentment, as Ashbey had taken most of the credit for past battles, slowing down his own friends' advancements up the ranks.
Unfortunately for Warwick, Steiermark had seen through the ploy, and deployed his own forces more swiftly, taking the 5th Fleet from the side and damaging it. Quickly recognizing that his forces would be crippled if this went on, Warwick asked for aid from Alliance HQ.
Surprising his command staff, Ashbey took a dangerous gamble: temporarily delaying the sending of reinforcements, he put his fleets on hold and waited. This caused Steiermark to re-evaluate the battlefield, realizing that the 4th Fleet was moving to counter the three imperial fleets undertaking the back-turn movements.
Knowing that if the Alliance successfully paralysed three fleets, the remaining four would be at a numerical disadvantage against the Alliance's five remaining fleets, Steiermark broke through the 5th Fleet, abandoning the tactical victory in order to further the strategic goal of warning Zieten. Warwick's forces, although battered, rejoined the main Alliance lines. Receiving Steiermark's report, Zieten ordered his forces to pull back and reorganize, while Ashbey did the same.
Although inconclusive, the first part of the battle had generally gone in favour of the Alliance, with the destruction of the Mückenberger Fleet.
The second part of the battle saw the Alliance, with the relationship between Ashbey and his subordinates worsening, having rearranged its formation. Jasper's 4th Fleet in 15 minutes cut into the Imperial formation. Keit's fleet attempted to respond and hit the 4th Fleet's right flank but was in its turn hit by the 5th Fleet. The coordinated assault by the 4th Fleet and the 5th Fleet greatly damaged the Keit Fleet, seriously wounding Vice Admiral Keit, and forced its withdrawal. However the Alliance forces were themselves fatigued and in need or re-organizing their formation so the battle quickly became stalemated, with neither side having the advantage all through December 8 and 9.
Foreseeing - again, with no factual basis that the other admirals could see - that the Imperial forces would attempt the back-turn manoeuvre once more, Ashbey asked Fang Tchewling to transfer 3,000 of his ships to Ashbey's HQ Fleet so that Ashbey could disengage and re-engage the Imperials at the right angle. After a short, heated exchange, Fang agreed to do so.
As Ashbey had predicted, the Imperials once again attempted the back-turn movement, which the Alliance attempted to negate, forcing the two sides into an awkward, circular formation, which would be replicated more completely during the Battle of Astarte, fifty years later. The stalemate continued this way through 10 December.
An attempt was made by Vice Admiral Kartenborn to break the stalemate by attacking right in the middle of Alliance forces, but his fleet reached its limit with the occupation of the F4 sector. Jasper's 4th Fleet counterattack killed Kartenborn and scattered his fleet. Steiermark attempted to rescue the remaining ships, but Fang's 8th Fleet flanked him, destroying 2,000 Imperial ships. During that time, Ashbey successfully broke away from the main battle lines, and disappeared from sensors.
On 11 December, however, the Imperial forces managed to complete an imperfect back-turn and rear attack, shifting the neutral stance squarely in their favour at 16:40. Without Ashbey's now 11,000-ships strong HQ Fleet, the Alliance forces were outnumbered nearly two-to-one, and the Alliance lines began to slowly collapse under the weight of the relentless Imperial barrage. During that particular moment of the battle, Vice Admiral Bertini's ship was destroyed, killing the first of the 730 Mafia. Command of the 9th Fleet passed to Rear Admiral Copperfield, 9th Fleet's vice-commander.
At 18:10, the situation was drastically overturned once more, as the Alliance HQ Fleet returned to the battlefield. In what historians would later call a 'God-like military move', Ashbey's forces penetrated the bulk of the Imperial forces from their left rear and then changed course midway to penetrate the Imperial centre, completely disintegrating the Imperial formation. Not letting the Imperial forces time to regroup, the Alliance fleets launched several assaults, killing Admirals Schrieter and Kosel, and greatly destabilizing Zieten's command structure. In 40 minutes, the Alliance forces reportedly killed 60 Imperial admirals.
Only the Steiermark Fleet retained true cohesion during the debacle and it remained the last pocket of organized Imperial resistance. But by 18:52, Steiermark recognized that the battle had been lost, and retired from the field, acting as a rearguard for the fleeing Imperial forces.
As the remaining Imperial forces were reduced to isolated pockets of resistance, Asbey's flagship, the Hard Luck, entered the main battlefield escorted by 3 cruisers and 6 destroyers. The cruisers turned to respond to scattered shots from stranded isolated Imperial ships, momentarily separating from the flagship. At this moment, a stray shot struck the flagship, mortally wounding Bruce Ashbey who died within minutes.
Aftermath and Legacy
The Second Battle of Tiamat was a tremendous tactical victory for the Alliance. A large scale Imperial invasion had been defeated and so many prominent Imperial admirals had been killed that it took at least a decade before the Empire recovered from its losses.
In retrospect, however, the Alliance lost more than it gained on the strategic scale. With the loss of Bruce Ashbey, the 730 Mafia essentially disbanded, depriving the Alliance Star Fleet of a coordinated group of talented admirals. Although each of the remaining members of the Mafia went on to become excellent, talented officers holding powerful offices, none of them ever managed to rebuild a group like the one they had been part of, nor were they capable of stopping the Galactic Empire from gaining long-term strategic advantage in the 760s UC with the construction of Iserlohn Fortress, a decision the Empire made as a result of this battle. (SL: 'The Man Loved by the Goddess of Time: Chronicle of the Second Battle of Tiamat, Part I', 'The Death of a Hero: Chronicle of the Second Battle of Tiamat, Part II')