Talk:Battle of Vermilion

From Gineipaedia, the Legend of Galactic Heroes wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Müller's Moniker

鉄壁 is what it is in Japanese kanji. Now strictly speaking it is "Iron Wall" not "Iron Shield". 壁 can mean wall or cliff, and is for example the character in the "Battle of Red Cliff" that occurs in Chinese history (and recounted in such things as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms). "Shield" is 盾, and is the character used in describing the nobles' "shield ships". When I did the translations for the fansub at Cornell, I translated as "Iron Wall" for the reasons above and also because of the possible reference to "Stonewall" Jackson. Somehow though CA chose "Iron Shield" and it remains a pet peeve of mine. Iracundus 08:52, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

Yang's decision

I've always seen this as Yang's great controversial decision. Most in his fleet - including the great majority in his command staff - were for continuing the battle while they still had a chance of crippling the Empire. As Attenborough pretty much said, 'We're winning! No, we've WON!'

Its not 'betrayal' due to ill will. However, even Yang himself, when all was said and done, admitted to Frederica that his decision was foolish 'If it were anybody else, I'd call them a fool.' and pretty much says that its the only way he could live his life. The 'setting a precedent' was half-admitted later as a pretext. To put it simply, Yang didn't want to kill Lohengramm, and also didn't want the greater spotlight that such an act would give him. He also admitted that he betrayed the men who died under his command by doing this.

In order to follow his rather stubborn and sometimes unrealistic ideals for democracy, Yang was willing to risk it being extinguished. As Schenkopp once said, Yang always was a 'mass of contradictions'. FPA Forever 23:59, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Yang didn't want to set a precedent of the military ignoring the civilian government, which would have been all too much like the recent military coup, since Yang believed in the primacy of civilian government and control over the military. The disproportionately large and powerful military was already like a society within a society, and Yang was wary of the dangers if the military started deciding it knew best and could override the civilian government whenever it wished to.
That said, I am not sure the Alliance was truly salvageable by that stage anyway. Yang might have prolonged things for another few years, maybe a generation more, while the Empire fell into chaos. However with Trunicht still lurking around, I could see the situation being a replay of Dagon. Like Lin Pao, Yang would be raised up as a hero while simultaneously being sidelined when there was no crisis, much like how he was earlier when in command of Iserlohn (and effectively exiled to the border). The Alliance was in a sorry state by then with most of its military forces expended, and burdened with a crushing sovereign debt load. To rebuild its military would have required further ruinous military spending and strain on society, while a winding down of military spending to reduce the debt would have left the Alliance still vulnerable to the Empire. The key balancing factor of Fezzan was also no longer present since Rubinsky had chosen to deliberately upset the balance of power. Fezzan would have to be resurrected and resume its old role of restoring the balance of power, but the difficult was that its old neutrality was safeguarded by the military power of either side. The Alliance would no longer have the power to guarantee Fezzan's neutrality in case of renewed Imperial invasion. Iracundus 12:24, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
These are good points. Let me answer them as best as I can.
Yes, I agree, one of Yang's arguments was about setting a precedent. However, historically, there have been democratic soldier who were on the field and decided what was best because, well, they could see what was happening for themselves. Besides, lets remember that Trunicht was pretty much alone in wanting to surrender. Even the Defense Chairman was adamantly against it. Yang couldn't know that, of course. Still, had he taken the risk, he certainly wouldn't have had it any worse than what he actually had by following orders. I mean, they still worked against him despite the fact that he never took his better judgement (which was better than most of theirs) over their orders.
What if he'd been sidelined? I doubt he'd have cared. If they had demanded his resignation, he'd have given it, and thats likely the worst - and most unlikely - that they could have done had they followed his better judgement.
Besides, when Yang falsified records to allow a few ships to vannish and then mount a resistance movement, wasn't he acting in plain illegality? Stand down meant stand down for everybody.
As for the Alliance, I don't see exactly how its unsalvageable. If the Empire truly fell into chaos, its economy might collapse (none of the admirals were financial geniuses, although several were good administrators) and the social upheavals would likely be large and long-lasting (this is in fact what Yang lamented would happen to the Imperials if his plan worked). The reforms gave the people of the Empire much greater rights, and since they just got them, they likely wouldn't allow the old system to come back. Nor would they countenance a full military junta. And a full military takeover would likely be the best bet for Lohengramm's admirals, but thats only if they could agree with each other, which might not be that easy.
So with the Empire pretty much unable to deal with its own problems for a long time, the Alliance might have enough time to look at its own. Sure, its in sorry shape, but coming an inch from being totally conquered would likely force the republican people out of their complacency. As for the crushing national debt, well, thats with Fezzan. And Fezzan - at least those in power - would have sided with the Empire. If nothing else, it would give the Alliance economic leaders room to negociate with Fezzan. And part of that would be whether this is the Fezzan they owe a debt to or not. Once the French Revolution happened, and the revolutionaries asked for the USA to make good on their treaties and promises, the Americans responded that those had been made with the French Monarch, not the Assembly.
In short, I don't see the Alliance unable to pull itself back from the brink. Yes, there's Trunicht. But a Trunicht who, alone, surrendered, something the Alliance population was later shown to want to lynch him for. His political power would have taken a severe hit.
On another note, Yang's resistance had to move quick because of the actions of a few extremely irrational and paranoid politicians, the cold, cruel genius of Oberstein's, and the incompetence and rather foolishly risky moves by Lennenkamp. His original plan was to wait several years, build up slowly, and gain the backing of Lebello and other liberal-minded leaders to help. How much stronger would Yang's rebellion have been had he managed to convince Lebello to help, and he had had roughly the time he estimated he needed to put everything in place? Since we know that, by then, Reinhard would have, you know, died (and given that his romance with Hilda started out of a one-night stand he started over him being depressed and lost with no Yang alive to give his life the necessary momentum he always needed, likely died childless)?
And its just me on this last one, but would Yang have managed to work out enough of his shyness issues to get a kid with Frederica a few years down the road, you think? I mean, one year married and he was still at the 'awkward peck on the cheek' phase! O_o FPA Forever 16:32, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
By sidelining for Yang I meant similar to what happened previously with Yang, rather than outright forced resignation. Given an important sounding title or command post, maybe even Iserlohn again if retaken, but essentially shunted out of the main power structure, though on hand if a new military crisis should occur. It was clear the Alliance had grown reliant on Yang as a trump card but simultaneously the politicians were wary of him, so a post like Iserlohn (or something like it) would have given the best of both worlds for the Alliance politicians.
I don't think the matter is as simple as just repudiating the debt towards Fezzan. Aside from the simple monetary sum, the Alliance was exhausted materially and as a society. Prior to Amritsar, the High Council debate had already shown Alliance civilian society was suffering from the brain drain into the military. Prior to Vermilion, the restaurant Yang goes to suffers shortages of food so its menu is limited, showing the privation suffered by the civilians. The aftermath of Vermilion also said the Alliance civilians were tired enough of war to accept, almost even welcome Imperial rule (despite being angry at Trunicht for surrendering). The Alliance's society needed time to rebuild and repopulate a lost generation. A massive rebuilding of the military (aside from its pure monetary cost) would have entailed further social and manpower costs, and ones which I am not sure the Alliance was up to bearing. If a generation should pass with some rebuilding, I'm still somewhat doubtful that the systemic issues within the Alliance government would have been resolved even if Trunicht the individual was gone. Cornelia Windsor and the like were also self serving politicians, so it may have simply been a whole new generation of corrupt politicians rising to the top (or well meaning ones like Rebelo but paralyzed by lack of ability to enact systemic reform). Yang might have been immortalized as a hero like Lin Pao, but then his image or tale used to further continuation of the war or the needs of the new generation of politicians.
Chaos in the Empire would have given the Alliance some time, which is why I think Yang killing Reinhard at Vermilion might have bought another generation's worth of time. However short of a full scale partition of the Empire by internal factions, like by the Diadochi following the death of Alexander the Great, ultimately the chaos would have settled down. Personally I think the situation might have settled down eventually with one military leader in control of a puppet Goldenbaum (or starting a new dynasty). What then? Unless the balance of power were to be restored with either a strengthened Alliance or greatly weakened Empire, the lopsidedness in their relative military strengths would be inviting a new Imperial invasion sooner or later.
Ultimately I think for the balance to have been restored, the Terraists would have had to return to their old balancing policy rather than trying to upset the status quo. A resurrected Fezzan leaning in favor of the Alliance might have been sufficient to counterbalance a weakened Empire. However, as Yang himself questioned, would this really have been good for humanity in the long run? It would have prolonged a bloody conflict yet further and kept humanity divided into two armed camps. Iracundus 02:27, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Or... the civilian population finally takes over in the Empire, turning it into a republic, negating the need for a war. I don't see Mittermyer, one of the two most powerful Imperial military leaders left, stopping such a thing, he's no elitist. What bugged me the most was the implication that a war could only be settled by force. Was peace that impossible?
I mean, two countries at peace is better than one country that came into being through violent conquest.
Oh, and what do you think would have been Yang's rebellion had he had the needed time and the alliance he wanted with Lebello? FPA Forever 03:29, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Peace was not possible between the Empire and the Alliance due to first, the interference by Fezzan/Terraists, and second, the political paradigm the Empire had constructed for itself. The Empire did not recognize the existence of any other nations as it laid claim to being the sole government of all humanity. Unless that changed (and until Reinhard conquered the Alliance, there was no sign of that changing since it would have required effectively a dictate from the Kaiser), the Empire could not and would not sign any formal peace, since again in their eyes, there was only a band of rebels and not any legitimate entity to sign any treaties with.
Was peace in the Empire in case of internal conflict possible? I think only through either a partition of the Empire or through one victor, or through a power sharing arrangement like between Reinhard and Klaus von Lichtenlade. The Empire, even reformed, was about rule from the top by autocrats. The reforms also were only enacted very recently so if Reinhard had died at Vermilion, they might have fallen apart, especially if the excuse of a national emergency is invoked to clamp down. Remember that there was the "Legitimate Imperial government" harbored in the Alliance, and no doubt there would still be some remnant nobles and distant Goldenbaum relations still in the Empire. I would not entirely see it impossible that Merkatz and the old guard might try for a Goldenbaum restoration (while distancing themselves from the Westerland Massacre). The peasants in the Empire's sparsely populated systems were already shown to be largely apolitical, swinging to whatever side could provide for their livelihood whether that be the Alliance or the Empire.
It would be pure speculation with regard to Yang's plans. The key point would be whether they revolved around preservation of the Alliance or not. Yang didn't seem too concerned so long as the idea of republican democracy was preserved, whereas Lebello and Bewcock are more tied to the Alliance, the nation they grew up in. Iracundus 11:54, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Honestly, everything so far is pure speculation. This is an amusing intellectual discussion based on what-ifs. On the subject of the plans, several fact are known about them, either stated by Yang outright, stated by people who were in the know outright, or all but stated by Yang at several points. I've been able to discern these.
1) Take the carriers and battleships before they're scrapped. Since the Alliance were still allowed to produce cruisers and destroyers, no problem there.
2) Do not confront the Empire at any point until Yang's say-so. The point is to wait until a crucial moment when Reinhard's system would either crack or suffer an upheaval.
3) Retake Iserlohn Fortress.
4) Make alliances with those within the FPA who can provide political and/or social cover.
5) Get in touch with dissatisfied Fezzani merchants for financial back-up.
No.1 was done pretty well. So was No. 3, and Yang started No. 5. Its No. 2 and 4 that didn't work. Partly because Lebello ultimately choose the path he actually hated the most because he believed it was the only path he had left, partly because the Alliance leaders still wanted to bring down Yang for - at that point in time - rather shallow reasons. Had Lebello backed Yang up, No. 2 and 4 might have worked.
Yang never seemed to have the intention of leaving the Alliance behind. He lamented when events closed any possibility of himself returning. His reasons were pragmatic rather than patriotic: the Alliance offered more ressources and possibilities than El Facil and Iserlohn by themselves.
Had Yang been able to carry out all 5 points to his satisfaction, his rebellion likely would have packed a much greater punch. Unlikely? No. No more than Reinhard's rise to power. FPA Forever 21:09, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Alliance Ships at Vermillion

Aw, no data on the Alliance side of Vermillion? Would love to know those numbers, too. FPA Forever

Unfortunately, only the Imperial numbers were given as it was part of the file on one of the Imperial flagships. The only data we have to work with that I know of is episode 50 where Sombart is attacked by 17,000 Alliance ships, meaning Yang's forces numbered at least that many. Iracundus 00:14, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
This battle showed Yang's actual superiority to Lohengramm. With around 17,000 ships, he beat 27,000 (the fact that Mueller came later with 30% of his fleet left behind in no way negates the feat). Its made even more flagrant when Yang first destroyed 50% of two fleets at outset of the War of the Corridor, and then over 24,000 ships (for a total of over 39,000 ships) out of a massive fleet around 140,000 ships-strong during its main phase... with himself having just over 20,000 ships and losing less than 10,000.
Does it mean that Lohengramm and his admirals weren't as good as they seemed to be, or was Yang just THAT good? FPA Forever
Episode 52 gives a breakdown of the personnel casualties and they were comparable in percentages between Lohengramm and Yang. This along with Cazerne's warnings of supplies running low suggest it was actually a fairly close run thing, with Yang coming out ahead because the bulk of the remaining Imperial forces were reduced to a disorganized mess within Yang's encirclement while Yang retained a cohesive force at the end.
As for the War in the Corridor, the tight confines of the usable space played a role in the disproportionate exchange. This was further compounded by Yang's use of minefields to further break up the ability of the Imperials to mass and effectively utilize their numbers. In the first phase, with Fahrenheit and Bittenfeld, I would think a good chunk of those casualties came near the end when they were running for the exit through Yang's gauntlet of fire, which would fit with historical parallels of the bulk of casualties actually being inflicted during the pursuit of a fleeing enemy. However it must be remembered that during the second main phase against Reinhard's main fleet, Yang was being worn down through attrition even when the exchange rate was in his favor. Even though the Imperials could not effectively fully utilize their numbers, their relentless wave attacks were exhausting Yang's supplies and fatiguing him and his followers to the point of near collapse. If the fighting had not ceased when it did, I actually think Yang would have been on the point of losing and being forced to retreat to hole up in the fortress, through attrition and exhaustion. If the Imperials could have gritted their teeth and taken the heavier losses, they could have whittled Yang's mobile forces down, especially if Mecklinger could have been contacted eventually (via Fezzan) to make a move on the fortress and call Yang's earlier bluff.
Quantity has a quality all its own. A fact Reuenthal found himself realizing when he found himself on the less numerous side during his rebellion. The advantage of numbers means mistakes are potentially less critical and allows one to cover numerous areas simultaneously, a luxury Yang did not have. If the Empire had truly wanted to press the fighting regardless of the heavy cost, I don't see how Yang could have ultimately prevailed unless Reinhard slipped up and exposed himself to attack directly again. I am reminded somewhat of Napoleon's defensive fighting in 1814 where with a much smaller force, he inflicted multiple defeats on the enemy but still lost ultimately due to facing overwhelming numbers, and multiple enemy movements that he could not all counter simultaneously.
Yang had only 2 options available, either to achieve a negotiated peace or to manage to kill Reinhard. Military victory over any other member of the Empire would not have achieved the final goal of peace as everyone else except for Reinhard was expendable to the Empire as a whole, even Mittermeyer, Reuenthal, or as we see, Oberstein. If Reinhard had been less concerned with facing Yang directly and kept sending wave after wave of his subordinates, I think he would have won, though it would not have been the type of victory Reinhard so desperately hungered for and the casualty count would have been enormous. Iracundus 14:43, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually, that only shows Yang's superiority over Reinhard on the tactical and strategic scale. On the tactical scale, his usage of the terrain to negate numerical superiority is brilliant. On the strategic scale, the fact that he could goad Reinhard into pretty much what he wanted showed a better strategic insight, as well as better military composure. Throwing mass at someone doesn't need particular brilliance. I say Yang was a better fleet commander than Reinhard in general. Everything points to that, and even Reinhard himself later attested that Yang had beaten him in both tactics and strategy. It both mortified and infuriated him. And since Reinhard did not push forward at the Corridor, that circumstances made his fleets leave the field to the tired Yang Fleet, Yang won that engagement by default. Thus Yang, when he died, was truly undefeated. FPA Forever
Part of the difference also stems in part from the distribution of talent in their subordinates. Yang had very talented subordinates in fleet movements (Fischer), fighter combat (Poplin), ground combat (Schönkopf), logistics (Cazerne), intelligence (Baghdash), organization/admin (Greenhill), and a handful of talented squadron commanders, but they were all concentrated in one fleet. Reinhard's subordinates were more generalist fleet commanders and the distribution of talent was less uneven. The end result was Yang and one elite fleet that could seemingly do everything versus many fleets of decent to very good ability. It also rendered the Yang Fleet vulnerable to losses, such as losing Fischer, in a way that the Imperial fleets were not since no Imperial commander had such a crucial irreplaceable role to the functioning of their fleet. As Hilda demonstrated, the best way to deal with Yang was to NOT face him directly in battle and instead apply force or pressure on other people or institutions. However this went against Reinhard's own ideology of sharing in the risks of war with his troops and his own personal emotional desire for conquest and overcoming obstacles. Yang was like Mt. Everest to Reinhard, and had to be overcome by virtue of existing in the first place. Reinhard appeared to have intent to press on with the fight, which would have ultimately been to Yang's detriment especially with Fischer's loss. The narrator even says in episode 81 that Yang would have been forced to retreat to the fortress if the Imperials had launched another wave of attacks. Yang was indeed undefeated at the end, but it was more through a quirk of fate of Reinhard falling sick and then having his dream to cease the fighting. Yang himself was under no illusions about his fleet's capabilities at that stage to withstand another attack so withdrew voluntarily to the fortress. Just as coincidence or fate saved Reinhard at Vermilion (the supply base commander surrendering), in this instance it acted to save Yang. Iracundus 17:07, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
Had the roles been reversed, at Vermillion and The Corridor, would things had gone pretty much the same way with Reinhard, and not Yang, as the underdog?
By the way, the narrator also noted at several points that Yang's fleet became such an elite force because (1) he had a keen eye for talent, (2) he took their advice and (3) gave them some leeway while remaining freely in command. As much as Reinhard's armada was powerful and, admittedly, splendid and grandiose, Yang's fleet was more human and sympathetic. Purely as an analogy, I'd have been more at ease having a drink with people like Schenkopp and Attenborough than with Reuentahl or Mittermyer. Not that I dislike the Imperial admirals, I like them. But in general, Reinhard's people are colder and more aloof in general. FPA Forever
Not sure what you mean by role reversal. Just the chief commanders switching or their entire teams of subordinates? I think anyone in the War in the Corridor in Yang's position with just one fleet versus an armada would have been the underdog and likely ultimately the loser if the armada pressed forward regardless of casualties. It could have been even worse off if Yang had the armada because he didn't have that emotional need to be present to overcome an obstacle or enemy, so there might not have been any chance to get at him directly.
As for personal likability, well the military system as a whole isn't run to be a band of brothers. Yang's people became more informal and close knit because they were a single unit, and one that was often isolated at the fortress away from the rest of the establishment. Reinhard's relations with his subordinates were more formalized because of the hierarchical structure of the Empire. Certainly I think there was mutual respect even admiration between him and his subordinates but aside from Kircheis and maybe Mittermeyer, I don't think there was personal friendship. We don't see Reinhard socializing with the rest of his admirals outside of what can be seen as a formal role, even counting the opera and poetry readings. In fact Oberstein's objections to Kircheis's status was because he felt Reinhard was playing favorites and shouldn't let personal feelings influence managing his subordinates equally and impartially, and more so when this favorite could be a potential focus of a second power base. Hence the same reason why he was not in favor of Reuenthal's appointment as governor of the former Alliance. Iracundus 00:17, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Hey, that's all good to me. I think Yang was better a fleet commander for several reasons, but that doesn't take away from Reinhard's own talents. Rei hard is almost as good on the military scale, but he's also a shrewd politician who could play factions against each other and come out on top. There's genius to that, too.FPA Forever
Personal tools
Tool box