Mixed Unit Tactics v4

Author: Codus Callonus
Released In:

Mixed Unit Tactics in the Five Years War
Volume Four
By Codus Callonus

The siege of Dune continued with a weakened Bosmer force surrounding the city. Neither side had the numbers to make much progress on the other. The Bosmer work on siege engines, mostly trebuchets and scaling towers, continued at a much slower pace.

Minor skirmishes occurred throughout the siege, but none of them were significant, much less decisive. When the siege engines were finally being moved into place and loaded, it seemed the city of Dune was defenseless and would fall within the week, or perhaps even by that evening. The Bosmer engines were huge and imposing, much larger than those used by the Empire, and they appeared capable of throwing boulders weighing five hundred pounds or more. As much as the Bosmer claim to preserve trees, many of them are masters of carpentry and related crafts. Some of the engines were manned by Imga (who have no love for the Bosmer, but allegedly entered the war on the Bosmer side after the Khajiit, accidentally or otherwise, attacked one of their camps).

The first rocks were thrown from the trebuchets and landed a little short of the city walls. As the Imga and the Bosmer adjusted their weights, small fire pots began flying towards the trebuchets from inside Dune. A few minutes after the battle started, one of the trebuchets was already on fire.

But the next two volleys of the trebuchets hit their mark, and the walls of Dune soon had two breaches on the western wall. The Bosmer began to gather their forces for a charge into the city. The fire pots flying from inside the city slackened, and their accuracy was so poor only the one trebuchet was aflame. The Bosmer clearly believed the city was theirs for the taking.

Just as the Bosmer began charging to the larger breach, the gates of Dune (located roughly north and south) opened and Khajiit poured forth from both sides. There were clearly few Khajiit able to do battle, but with clever tactics, they managed to defeat the larger Bosmer forces.

The breaches were defended by heavily armored ground troops, mainly composed of the larger man-like Khajiit, such as the Cathay-raht and Suthay-raht. They were slow and seemed to be easy targets. The Bosmer forces rushed to engage them and enter Dune via the breach in the walls. The Khajiit took heavy losses at the first charge, but they were just there to break the charge and keep the Bosmer outside the walls. At this point, the Bosmer might have won the day if they focused on one breach and overran it.

When the Bosmer were fully engaged, the gates of the city opened and three kinds of units ran out and quickly surrounded the Bosmer formed up at the breaches.

The first were Senche-raht in harness pulling carts with small onagers, manned by the smaller Khajiit. Each cart had two onagers cleverly mounted on some kind of pivot so that one could be wound while the other was aiming and firing. The pivot let them fire in all directions except directly in front or back. They threw fire-pots in great quantity, but with little accuracy at range. However, their maneuverability allowed them to approach a siege engine or mass of Bosmer, fire a few shots, and flee before the Bosmer could retaliate.

Along with them were small groups of archers and wizards, including the dreaded Alfiq, mounted on Senche and Pahmar-raht who used similar tactics, charging into range, releasing their arrows or spells, and then fleeing.

Finally, there were small groups of ground units, mostly the smaller man-like Khajiit, armed with sling-spears. While a Bosmer unit was engaged with the heavy armored forces or distracted by the fire-pots, these would approach and sling stones at the Bosmer. If the Bosmer turned to engage them, they'd flee or charge with their spears and another similar sling-spear unit would attack the Bosmer from the rear.

The units individually could not have won the battle, but they combined their forces brilliantly. The smaller, more maneuverable units were vulnerable, but kept attacking the Bosmer from the rear or the side, and they wore down the larger Bosmer forces with steady losses. The Legions fight in large formations wherever possible, and I fear the Khajiti tactics here might be effective against an unprepared Legion. The Legions are trained to use the dreugh or mudcrab formations where we can defend from attacks on all sides, but the fire pots and hit-and-run tactics might still disrupt a Legion cohort. The Bosmer had greater numbers, siege engines, and their famous archers, but they did not have the training or equipment to form up into something like the mudcrab, and they were routed. I have shared information privately with my superiors on how the Legion's use of javelins, shield formations, and our cavalry could defend against similar tactics, but my efforts to show how small, fast units can win against larger, less mobile units has not yet been incorporated into the Legions' drills and training.

During the Bosmer rout, one of the trebuchets turned towards the fort. To our horror, the trebuchet fired twice with the second shot damaging a section of the fort's outer wall.

A few good Legionnaires could have ended the war within its first year, but we had been ordered not to interfere unless the fort itself was attacked. I am a loyal citizen of the Empire, but I must admit that the orders we received from the Imperial City made little sense. Either the commanders did not understand the situation on the border, or the Simulacrum wanted to maximize chaos and weaken the Empire he ruled. Madness. I recommend giving only general standing orders to commanders in the field, with wide leeway on how to accomplish the Empire's goals. Even the best and fastest reports describe only a portion of what the local commanders know and even minutes of delay, when teleportation is used to transport critical orders, can decide a battle.

First Spear Apinius took advantage of this invitation to form up the Legions and attack the Bosmer from the fort. When the Bosmer saw the Legions approach, they abandoned their trebuchets, four of which were on fire by this time, and fled back across the border. We pursued them only to the edge of the trees and then returned to the fort.

As it turns out, we had been tricked again by the treacherous Khajiit. One of the small Khajiit groups that came out of the city overpowered the Bosmer and Imga manning that trebuchet and turned it on the fort. They anticipated we would leave the fort in response. While we were outside the walls, another group of Khajiit levitated over the walls and captured the fort. There was a perpetual camp of Khajiit merchants near the fort who sold treats and trinkets (and, in a sign of the decline in moral character of the Legion, other services -- even an Ohmes is still a Khajiit, and consorting with them should be punished with branding and expulsion, the same as horse-lovers) to the soldiers and staff. The camp was only a few tents, but elite Khajiti forces had been arriving for weeks and each tent hid a dozen armed Khajiit and at least one wizard.

The Legions have many Khajiit and Bosmer members. Due to concerns about the loyalty of these members in a serious battle, the Commander assigned most of the Khajiit and Bosmer stationed at Fort Sphinxmoth to defense while the rest of us marched out. This turned out to be another mistake. We later learned that the Khajiit, almost without exception, turned on their fellow soldiers, causing chaos inside the fort and opening the gates. All the Bosmer in the fort were slain by the time we surrendered, including the young son of one of the cooks.

Our situation was dire as we returned to Fort Sphinxmoth. We could not easily enter the Fort, now manned by Khajiit, and we were quickly being surrounded by the same fast-moving onager carts that had so effectively turned back the Bosmer forces. First Spear Apinius decided it was better to surrender to the Khajiit than risk our lives and those of the soldiers and staff who remained inside the fort.

Note that I do not blame the First Spear for this decision. It was one he was forced to make due to the large number of Khajiit and Bosmer that had been unwisely assigned to Fort Sphinxmoth. Given the unreliable nature of the elves and beast races, I strongly recommend that these races not be assigned to any fort in or bordering their traditional lands. Even the Khajiit can serve honorably in the Legions, but they should be assigned to forts in Morrowind, High Rock, Skyrim, or the very heart of the Empire where the temptation for betrayal is not too strong for their weak character.

This is the true story of the fall of Fort Sphinxmoth. It was not conquered in a pitched battle that every Khajiit these days claims to have led. The Legions were not defeated. We were betrayed.

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