Littorand military history, part one

Updating late but at least there’s plenty! This is the first of a planned series of pseudo-historical ramblings about Littorand’s on and off wars with the Boscan empire. And yes, Littorand is in the southern hemisphere – thanks for noticing!

While it predated the nation’s independence by nearly a century, the first Boscan civil war was nevertheless a formative conflict in Littorand’s military history. The province was initially left out of the conflict until the recall of imperial soldiers prompted one of the pretenders from the neighbouring southern provinces to make an opportunistic annexation.

When the loyalist armies turned their attention to the southern rebels, the assaults laid a template that all but one of the subsequent major conflicts would follow. The rugged terrain of what is now modern Littorand’s northernmost state slowed the numerically superior loyalists and channeled them into two columns; the rebel troops were able to stall both columns – raiding their rear lines all the while – until winter sealed the mountain passes. The fighting resumed in spring, with no real progress made by either side; the loyalists made no real headway, and the rebels found that any damage they were able to inflict was easily repaired by the flood of fresh troops and goods from the reunified imperial home territories. The stalemate was eventually broken by the pretender’s pride; his arbitrary governance and refusal to keep the peace in his occupied provinces made him deeply unpopular, to the point where the loyalist general found himself meeting a delegation of local lords offering him the pretender’s severed head.

Littorand saw no real conflict through the second and third civil wars, and after independence its fledgling army was only employed to intimidate remaining lawless elements in the early years of nationhood. Its first real war came six years after its formation, when the empire had finally grown impatient with its breakaway province’s stubborn refusal to return to the fold.

The initial occupation force was, in hindsight, far too small to fight an effective war of reconquest – the imperial generals had clearly expected a simple show of force to be sufficient to make the provinces fall into line. It was instead met by an army five times its size: an insufferable provocation to the empire. An overwhelming force was assembled and sent south, but as in the civil war the defenders were able to use the terrain to their advantage. At first, the Littorand soldiers were vastly out of their depth; the Boscan troops were mostly veterans of the northern conflicts, with vastly better equipment and tactics. Half of the battles turned into routs almost as soon as they began, and only the early onset of snow in the high passes prevented an outright victory for the empire. That first brute strike may well have ended the war – and an independent Littorand – within two months if the invasion hadn’t been so poorly timed, beginning in the second week of June.

The winter gave the Littorand army and people much-needed breathing space. While the commanders of the army were sceptical of their soldiers’ ability to continue fighting, the brutal nature of the empire’s response had galvanised political support for independence. Huge surges of volunteers helped to replenish the army’s ranks, but the army remained inferior to the empire’s in both numbers and experience. Knowing that it would be near impossible to win traditional battles against the empire’s armies, Littorand’s leaders diverted the fast-flowing Sorne river into the eastern pass and heavily fortified the narrowest point of the western one. When the snow melted, the attackers found their avenues of attack reduced to a single pass held by a series of truly murderous defences. Littorand was at heart a nation of engineers, and the winter months had given the defenders time to construct fortifications of such strength that even the mostly green troops were at a massive advantage while defending them. The narrow valley stymied the imperial army’s tremendous numerical advantage, and the elevation of the defenders’ position gave their artillery a decisive advantage over the attackers’.

The battles in the valley continued for the better part of seven months before a ceasefire was declared – not because the Boscan army considered itself beaten, but because it needed all of its strength to defend the empire’s eastern provinces from a war with a larger and more aggressive neighbour. Regardless of the reason, the imperial army’s retreat became a tacit acknowledgement of the autonomy – and the resilience – of the young nation of Littorand.

This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *