Seventh Battle of Iserlohn
From Gineipaedia, the Legend of Galactic Heroes wiki
|Seventh Battle of Iserlohn|
|(First Alliance-Imperial War)|
The Hyperion docking in Iserlohn Fortress
|Date:||May 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE)|
|Result:||Major Alliance victory|
The Seventh Battle of Iserlohn (Japanese: 第7次イゼルローン攻防戦) was the seventh military offensive launched by the Free Planets Alliance against the Galactic Empire's front-line stronghold, Iserlohn Fortress.
During the Battle of Astarte in January 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE), Yang Wen-li made a name for himself by saving the Alliance 2nd Fleet from the verge of destruction. Upon his return to Heinessen however, he offended Secretary of Defence Job Trunicht by defending his friend Jessica Edwards from the brutality of the Patriotic Knights Corps, who had targeted her after she publicly criticised Trunicht in a memorial service honouring the casualties from the Battle of Astarte.
Fleet Admiral Sidney Sithole, as one of the few senior military officers opposed to the growing power of the Secretary of Defence, was finding his position increasingly tenuous in the aftermath of the major Alliance defeat at Astarte. It was under such circumstances that he appointed Yang Wen-li as the commander of the 13th Fleet and tasked him with the seemingly impossible task of capturing Iserlohn Fortress, hoping that success would serve to strengthen his own position and check Trunicht's growing power. (LOGH: 'Birth of the 13th Fleet')
Recognising that his newly formed 13th Fleet could not take the fortress directly through firepower or numbers, Yang Wen-li resolved to use subterfuge.
On 14 May 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE), the Rosen Ritter flew the damaged captured Imperial cruiser Bremen to the fortress, pretending to be wounded Imperial forces. Yang Wen-li drew the Iserlohn fleet away from the fortress with decoys, and advanced towards Iserlohn whilst the Imperial fleet was too far away to maintain contact. The Imperial fleet commander Seeckt, and the fortress commander Stockhausen, had had an intense rivalry and often bickered with each other. Although Stockhausen had voiced caution about responding to what would ultimately prove to be decoys but due to their rivalry, this only made Seeckt more intent to do the exact opposite.
The 13th Fleet then began manoeuvring back and forth just outside the range of Iserlohn's main cannon, the Thor Hammer. By this time, Walter von Schönkopf had docked and demanded to see the fortress's commander immediately, claiming to have access to vital intelligence concerning an Alliance invasion of the Iserlohn Corridor.
Iserlohn's commander, Admiral Thoma von Stockhausen, was confused by the odd movements of Yang's fleet. The Rosen Ritter infiltrators, brought to the fortress command room, indicated that the strange movements were part of the Alliance's plan to seize the fortress. The Rosen Ritter were then allowed close to Stockhausen, enabling Schönkopf to tackle the admiral and hold him hostage. Within seconds, the Rosen Ritter infiltrators seized complete control over Iserlohn's command centre. Stockhausen surrendered, and the Rosen Ritter were able to lock down the fortress and disable all of its weapon systems.
Yang was able to bring the 13th Fleet inside the fortress unmolested; he then sent a message to the Imperial fleet commander, Admiral Hans Dietrich von Seeckt, informing him that he had occupied Iserlohh Fortress, and asking for Seeckt to surrender. Of course, although Yang's fleet had access to the fortress, and the Rosen Ritter were in control of the command centre, the Imperial forces stationed within were still active. Seeckt's staff officer, Paul von Oberstein, advised Seeckt to attack the fortress, correctly determining that Iserlohn was not yet under Yang's control. Seeckt, however, ignored Oberstein's advice, and kept his fleet a safe distance away from the fortress to observe the situation.
This gave Yang and the Rosen Ritter ample time to complete their take-over of Iserlohn. By the time Seeckt realised he had been tricked, Iserlohn had fallen to Yang already. Seeckt belatedly ordered the Imperial fleet to attack, and Yang used the massive destructive power of the Thor Hammer to rout the Imperial forces, destroying more than 1,000 Imperial ships with a single shot. Yang again sent a message to Admiral Seeckt, requesting that he either surrender or withdraw from battle.
Admiral Seeckt responded, saying, 'You do not understand a soldier's heart: our code will not allow us to endure living with dishonour. Dying to fulfil our honour, that is our code. For the glory of the Kaiser, all ships will charge to die in an honourable defeat.' Seeckt then ordered the Imperial fleet to advance; in an effort to prevent excessive casualties, Yang targeted Seeckt's flagship with the Thor Hammer and destroyed it (along with several nearby Imperial ships). With Seeckt dead, the Imperial fleet withdrew, thus ending the Seventh Battle of Iserlohn in a major victory for the Free Planets Alliance.
Six times before, the Alliance had attempted to take Iserlohn from the Empire, and six times before they had failed. Yang managed to take the fortress with the smallest fleet out of the seven total attacks, and did so without a single casualty. For this, he became the greatest hero in the Free Planets Alliance, earning the nicknames 'Miracle Yang' and 'Yang the Magician'. (LOGH: 'Iserlohn Captured!')
Iserlohn Fortress had been a major supply base and staging area for Imperial invasions of the Alliance. Its capture had secured the Alliance's borders against easy Imperial attacks and Yang had hoped this might enable the Alliance to negotiate a favourable peace treaty with the Empire. However the Alliance High Council, for private political gain, and Alliance public, giddy with the taste of victory, instead opted to invade the Empire ostensibly to liberate its people and overthrow autocracy. Despite his own strengthened position and reservations about the proposed invasion, Fleet Admiral Sithole was unable to prevent this decision. (LOGH: 'Invasion of the Imperial Territory')
The fall of the fortress shocked the Empire. As the only survivor of Seeckt's flagship, Paul von Oberstein was targeted for court-martial and punishment. The three Imperial joint chiefs of staff (Steinhof, Ehrenberg, and Mückenberger) also felt compelled to resign in order to assume responsibility for the loss. Reinhard von Lohengramm interceded on their behalf and persuaded Friedrich IV to reject their resignations. In exchange, they dropped any plans for punishing Oberstein, who then joined Reinhard's staff. (LOGH: 'Cool, Clear Artificial Eyes')