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The Great War

  • Mr. likes this
  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    Some time ago Mags had brought up an interesting suggestion and while I wondered if this was simply covered in the 'A Tale of Two Centuries' article I thought about it again and realized we could have a centralized topic as well. So thanks to Mags, I've finally got around to doing the first new article in quite some time. Today's topic, The Great War. This is purely about the phases of the three year long war as well as a post script about the subsequent Hammerfell campaign that occurred afterward. There's been a single quintessential source for the material which is aptly called 'The Great War' written by a Legate of the 10th Legion named Justianus Quintius. It uses notes from a collection of sources including prisoners, battle plans, and personal journals of soldiers involved in the conflict on both sides. That said, I'll echo what the Legate said:

    “the full truth of some events may never be known. I have done my best to fill in the gaps with educated conjectures based on my experience as well as my hard-earned knowledge”

    The beginning of the war in itself was initiated by a prospective Thalmor treaty and envoy to the Imperial city on the 30th of Frostfall 4E 172. The ambassador from the Aldmeri Dominion presented a list of demands to ruling Emperor Titus Mede II: tributes, disbanding of the blades, outlawing worship of Talos, and relinquishing large sections of southern Hammerfell, its most prosperous cities of the bay. It was rejected, and the cart that was brought along was poured out, dumping more than a hundred severed heads – the heads of every Blade agent in Valenwood and on Alinor – which was the act that started the Great War.


    The Initial Assault:
    30th Frostfall- Evening Star 4E 172 (October-December)

    The conflict would span three years but had been planned for quite some time, as within days armies of the Dominion invaded Hammerfell as well as Cyrodiil simultaneously from land and sea. The Northern forces that invaded Hammerfell were under the command of Lady Arannelya while then Southern army that marched from carefully selected and hidden camps within the now defunct Elsweyr Confederacy – quite likely Anequina or the hills outside of Rimmen given their positions along the border – was commanded by Lord Naarifin.

    Lady Arannelya's army quickly struck from Valenwood and avoided the major centers of Anvil and Kvatch, instead, crossing the narrow expanse of the Gold Coast and striking into the relatively undefended border of Hammerfell. This was supplemented by a number of forces that landed by sea in along the shoreline to secure a foothold in the perspective territories in a number of locations. This caught the legion before it was fully mobilized for war and the rapid action scattered the decentralized local militias of the Redguard. Imperial Legions stationed in Hammerfell under general Decianus fell back along with the local forces across the Alik'r desert in what's referred to as the March of Thirst.

    At the same time Lord Naarifin's force struck across the southern border if Cyrodiil and towards the Niben river, splitting Cyrodiil in half and eliminating navel support from moving from other provinces and strongholds to the Nibenese Basin and up to Lake Rumare. The stunning move catches Imperial legions flat-footed, Bravil is surrounded and put to siege while Layawiin falls. The diversionary move had caused more damage than the principle thrust to Hammerfell. Reinforcements were sent to augment Lord General Naarifin's army as the focus of the campaign swiftly shifted. A delaying and holding action was turned into a war of conquest.


    Operational Shift:
    4E 172

    Secondary attacks from Valenwood swiftly take Anvil while Lord general Naarifin takes Bravil. The Imperial legions still hadn't been effectively mobilized as the threat spread and now four of nine major cities had fallen sapping logistics and reinforcements. Thalmor armies continue their advance – one can postulate the higher number of mages in service greatly eased logistical issues – where as Imperial armies were in complete disarray at the sudden attacks from two directions and a persistent threat from an aggressive Argonia. By the end of the year Thalmor armies had advanced up the Niben to Lake Rumare and to the Imperial City as Imperial forced are pushed back along the west bank of the river. The Thalmor try to dislodge other Imperial forces from the east bank of the Niben. Before 4E 172 comes to a close, an Alinor fleet engages the remainder of the central Imperial navy in lake Rumare.

    This pressure on Cyrodiil all but gives Lady Arannelya's a free hand in Hammerfell as they consolidate control over the southern expanses of the coastline. Rihad, Tanith, and Gilain had fallen while Hegathe remains in Imperial hands. The remainder of the Legion in Hammerfell reinforces across the Alik'r desert near Skaven as provincial troops from High Rock are dispatched to their aid.

    By the end of the year the initial stage of the war is oven, the Aldmeri Dominion stands entirely in control of their primary objectives at the beginning of the war. But the thrust that had caught the Legion off-guard prompted an escalation of the war. Now the defeat of the Third Empire became the goal for the Aldmeri Dominion and the focus was shifted from the west to Cyrodiil.


    Solitude and Solidarity:
    4E 173

    The Legions of Cyrodiil had finally consolidated themselves and presented a strong line of defense in the east while additional elements converge on the Imperial City where the Emperor remained. Legions from Skyrim are assembled and move to strike south towards the Imperial city as the navel battle on Lake Rumare continues; but with the river cleared and the Imperial forces moving to the capitol Lord Naarifin's forces stage a swift assault across the river and finally seize the eastern bank. The advance continued northward, trying to split the lifeline to Cheydinhal at the Blue Road. At some point during 4E 173 Skingrad either falls or comes under siege.

    On the western front in Hammerfell the situation for the Imperial army improves dramatically. Legion and High Rock forces present a target tempting Lady Arannelya's main army as they strike out across the Alik'r desert in force. This presents the perfect opportunity for a Redguard army dispatched from Sentinel to sweep down from the west and crush the Thalmor besieging Hegathe. It is notable as the Sentinel army was a Forebearer army while that of Hegathe is a Crown city, given the resentment, rivalry, and warfare between these two groups it's a miracle that one would come to the aid of another which likely was the very reason the Thalmor didn't suspect the sudden push.

    Lady Arannelya's principle forces, however, are already committed to action against the combined Cyrodiilic and High Rock army. Decianus's Legions intercept their adversaries at the outskirts of Skaven; the engagement swiftly turns into a bloodbath as Thalmor advances towards the city pushes back the severely outnumbered Legionary troops. General Decainus's force break off and Skaven falls to the Thalmor.

    Yet it is a strategic victory for the Imperials; for the first time in the west the Thalmor forced had been held and the approach had been blunted. Lady Arannelya's tactical victory is a strategic defeat for the Dominion forces as logistics crumble and the Thalmor army grinds to a halt in the city while their opponents were free to fall back and resupply.

    By the end of the year the two belligerents are embroiled in a much longer and more costly war than either had suspected. In the West the Aldmeri forces had suffered mixed fortunes in battle while they continue to advance with significant losses in the grinding war of attrition in Cyrodiil. The situation is critical and holding the Imperial City seems like an untenable situation. The Gold road west to Skingrad and Kvatch is severed, as is the Blue Road to Cheydinhal later on. The Imperial city has only a single lifeline North to Bruma left open.


    White Tower in Flames:
    1st Morning Star – 12th Second Seed 4E 174 (January-May)

    The year 174 marks the greatest expansion of the Aldmeri Dominion as they throw all available reserves into the Cyrodiilic theater. It's a gamble, expending every resource they have as Lord Naarifin organizes the plans for a single push that will cut off the Imperial forces in the Imperial city and crush the major threat in one fell swoop. Forcing the Emperor would also force the Elder Council and likely end the war as well as the whole unified Empire, thus achieving a state of balance exactly the same as had existed in the time prior to Tiber Septim founding of the Third Empire.

    Naarifin commits his army to action during the spring and on the 12th of Second Seed he strikes. One of his contingents sweeps northward to cut the Silver Road north to Bruma. The bulk of Lord General Naarifin's forces assault in a great envelopment, assaulting the city directly from three separate points. Emperor Titus Mede II has no council, his generals refuse to advise him to abandon the Imperial city and many motion to repel the invaders in a final last stand. Titus Mede rejects this plan of action and leads the advance to sally forth from the Imperial city and cut his way through one of the Aldmeri pincers, escaping from the envelopment. At the wall tops, holding back the majority of the Thalmor forces, are the Imperial 8th Legion who make up a suicidal rearguard.

    Titus Mede II's forces break the ring of elven troops and crush the contingent of Dominion forces sent to secure the Silver Road. The Imperial city falls as the bulk of the Imperial army escapes while the 8thLegion are entirely annihilated. Infuriated at the escape, and brought news of the Nord general Jonna's Legions marching from the North, the Thalmor turns on the Imperial city. The city is sacked; the White-Gold tower looted while the Imperial residence is burned and all matter of atrocities met out on the city that refused the typical terms of surrender in a city.


    High Water Mark:
    Second Seed – Evening Star 4E 174 (May-December)

    In Hammerfell General Decianus is entreated to mobilized his forces and return to Cyrodiil to confront the victorious Lord Naarifin. Decianus, loath to abandon the province, instead discharges a large number of veteran soldiers under the guise of being 'invalids' and entrusts them to the Redguard lords while he takes the remainder of his force to Cyrodiil in accordance with his orders.

    The General's departure still leaves a strong capable – and for the first time – united Redguard army to deal with the depleted Aldemeri under Lady Arannalya. The veteran Legionaries provide the core of the Hammerfell armies as they launch the first counter-offensive of the war, catching the elves and repelling them. The Aldmeri retreat across the Alik'r was a vicious affair of running engagements, propelled by a strong backbone of ex-Legion veterans the local Alik'r militias and Redguard forces cut apart the army as it crosses back towards the southern coastal cities that had been held for two years under Aldmeri rule..


    Mede's Gambit:
    Morning Star - 5th Second Seed 4E 175 (January-May)

    The Thalmor had expected the war to be finished with the final push on the Imperial city and even though most of the army had escaped, many were still confident it would come down to a treaty in the end. The Emperor seemed to play this to his advantage as he made overtures of peace to convince the Thalmor that this was in fact the case. Diplomatic negotiations resumed, policy was set forward that would bring the war to a conclusion, and envoys were entreated to the Imperial camp. It would be a treaty would end the war on the Dominion's terms despite the set back in Hammerfell. All the while the Emperor orchestrated his master-plan.

    Three contingents converged at separate points along the roads outside the Imperial city known as the Red Ring. General Decianus's forces had entered Cyrodiil in secret and encamped near Chorrol deep in the Colovian Highlands. The Veteran Legionaries that pushed Lady Arennelya's forces were thought to comprise the whole of general Decianus's Legions. A second force, mostly of Nord soldiers under General Jonna were moved east towards Cheydinhal where as the main body was nearer to Sancre Tor with the Emperor himself..

    Thus, they created a three pronged pincer force much the same as the Thalmor had done in Second Seed of the year before. On the 30th of Rain's Hand the two flank forces attacked. General Decianus's assault scattered the Aldmeri forces on the lightly defended western approach while General Jonna's force drove south and crashed into Eladmeri elements reinforced from Bravil and a contingent dispatched from Skingrad. The attacks on the Skyrim Legion was fierce but poorly organized, assaulting in separate ad-hoc sections rather than as a cohesive whole. This allowed the Nord formation to maintain its integrity and acted as an anvil for the other two formations over the two days it slowly moved across the Niben to link up with General Decianus's forces. The Emperor's main army caught the Dominion army and smashed it, taking Lord Naarifin captive and by the firth day the noose was tightened on the Aldmeri Invasion force as General Jonna's Legion cut the Green road south and Decianus's secured the Gold road west. The result was that the whole of the Dominion army in Cyrodiil, most of their military capacity, had been destroyed and one of their celebrated leaders was taken prisoner.



    Lord Naarifin was gibbeted at the White-Gold tower and survived for thirty-three days. On the thirty-forth he either died and was unceremoniously disposed of, or – as some rumor would have it – he was carried away by a winged Daedra. The war ended soon after with the White-Gold concordat, essentially a reiteration of the earlier rejected treaty from the beginning of the war. This divisive document remained a contentious issue but now it had been accepted on the Empire's terms when public support allowed it to be accepted. Three Legions had been entirely annihilated and no other force in the Empire was above fifty percent of its number. Decianus's 10th legion had lost most of its veterans who were in Hammerfell service, and there was no logistics or ability to press the advantage on the Aldmeri Dominion. After three years of vicious warfare, the Emperor was forced to accept the treaty or face the threat of civil war. Peace was a bitter pill but a necessary one to keep the Empire together.

    Every province, bar one, accepted the terms of the White-Gold Concordat. Hammerfell rejected it, and for another five years fought on. Within those five years the forces of Hammerfell had recaptured the southern expanses from the Aldmeri Dominion though it devastated the southern lands. But in 4E 180 the Second Treaty of Stros M'kai was signed, effectively returning the boundaries to what it had been previously, though now Hammerfell was its own separate realm.


    So then, that's what we know about the Great War. What do you make of the actions and planning around the campaign? Were there any aspects that you find suspect for authenticity? What do you make of the Markarth incident which corresponded with the exact same period of time? Was Argonia a sufficient enough threat to dissuade the Imperials to counter attack against the dominion? What do you suspect about the foreign fleets given the number of naval centers and the notable lack of engagements noted? Always happy to hear what everyone thinks.

  • October 26, 2014

    These maps are pretty great