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|Cacertian Empire||Republic of Syara|
|Commanders and leaders|
Empress Elliana Sarissita-Trento|
Zoran Milaković |
|Armed Forces of the Syaran Republic|
|Casualties and losses|
2,624 guns destroyed
257 tanks destroyed
1,012 aircraft lost
51 ships sunk
The Divide War (sometimes known as the Cacertian-Syaran War) was an armed conflict fought between the Republic of Syara and the Cacertian Empire from 18 March 1916 to 6 October 1918. The conflict began as a result of Cacertian efforts to expand their presence into western Siduri and ended with a Syaran victory that led to the full withdrawal of all Cacertian forces from Syara and the Sanguine Sea.
The war was initiated by the Cacertian Empire as part of the Empire’s attempts to expand its influence and imperial control while seeking a means of force projection into western Tyran. The Empire initially sought to negotiate terms of a treaty with Syara in mid 1915, but when the Syaran government refused to agree to terms the Cacertian Royal Navy was dispatched to force the Syarans to agree to a settlement. The decisive conventional naval battle the Cacertians hoped to utilize to destroy the Syaran Navy never materialized. Instead Syaran forces employed a number of asymmetric means, including torpedo boats, hit-and-run tactics, and naval mines to harass the Cacertian fleet, sinking several dreadnought battleships in the process.
When naval forces failed to produce desired results, the Cacertians invaded Syara proper during the Desopya Campaign, with the intention of capturing the Syaran capital of Zovahr and forcing the Republic to come to terms. Unexpectedly stiff resistance by the Army of the Syaran Republic led to a stlatemate on the ground, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Despite several offensives the Cacertians were unable to capture the capital, eventually forced by superior Syaran numbers and firepower to abandon the invasion and withdraw. Soon after the Empire negotiated a peace treaty to end the war a month later, bringing the conflict and Cacertian ambitions in the Sanguine Sea to a close.
At the time, the Cacertian Empire was widely considered to be one of the great powers of the region, with its military forces considered the premier of Tyran. The inability of the Empire to defeat Syara stunned the international community and is widely considered to mark the beginning of the decline of the Cacertian Empire. Syara's victory saw a surge in Syaran nationalism and international prestige, this in turn would lead to Syaran efforts to dominate Siduri and eventually the Siduri War. Technologically the Divide War ushered Tyran into a new era of warfare, including the first major use of tanks on the battlefield by the Cacertian Royal Army, along with airships, aircraft, automatic weapons and machine-guns, and new theories of artillery bombardment used by both sides.
After the Ruvelkan-Symmerian War, the Unification of Syara into the Republic transformed the balance of power in north-west Siduri. The Republic's rapid industrialization and modernization rapidly overtook its neighbors, the Ruvelkan Socialist Republic and Górska, and was followed by a military modernization program to replace the forces of the Syaran Successor States with the Armed Forces of the Syaran Republic. These actions alarmed the governments of both Ruvelka and Górska, both of whom held territorial disputes with the Republic. Górska lay claim to the island of Chryse, most of which had been conquered by the Kingdom of Symmeria in the Second Chryse War, while Ruvelka lay claim to the regions of Zemplen and Imerti along the border with Syara.
Mutual concerns and animosity towards Syara drove Ruvelka and Górska to pursue closer diplomatic ties in the hope of countering Syara's military buildup. Between 1895-1905 a naval arms race emerged between the three powers, producing such ships as the Republic-class battleship, the Battlecruiser Khoytka, and the Opolski-class battleships. In the early 20th Century both Gorska and Ruvelka made plans for war against Syara to reclaim their lost territory, which Zovahr did not expect due to the assumption that the ideological gap between their two rivals would preclude any significant alliance.
In June 1905 Górska and Ruvelka jointly made war against Syara, starting the Third Chryse War. The Górskan Federal Navy bombarded Sena to destroy the Navy of the Syaran Republic while it was still in port, but failed to deliver a decisive defeat at sea, while on land Górskan forces invaded Syaran-controlled Chryse and the Ruvelkan Red Army invaded eastern Syara. Hopes for a quick victory were dashed as the Syarans reinforced Chryse and managed to halt the Ruvelkan advance at the West Lushan River, but the Syarans were unable to prevent the Ruvelkans from making serious inroads into Zemplen. Extensive usage of trenches, and mass employment of heavy artillery and machine guns turned the fighting on land into a stalemate, but Górskan plans to destroy the Syaran fleet while at anchor failed. In the winter of 1905-1906 the Syarans launched a series of counter-offensives which drove the Ruvelkans back to the pre-war border, but a second counter-invasion into the Kunhegyes District in the spring failed. In the summer the Syarans drove the Ruvelkans from Hayreniky and shelled Aszod by sea, but a Ruvelkan offensive into Zemplen in Autumn 1906 seized Sopron.
The Syarans attempted to break the deadlock in spring 1907 with an invasion of the Balatonalmádi District, but it was repulsed in heavy losses. Frustrated by failures in Siduri, the Syarans shifted focus towards Chryse and managed to repel Górskan efforts to capture Svajec and Konta. Renewed efforts against heavy Górskan resistance managed to regain control of half the island by winter 1907; Górskan demands for assistance led the Ruvelkan Red Army to invade Galania in March 1908, which ended in unsuccessful sieges of Kedziebrzych, Krasnovan, and Mislava. Between summer and autumn however the Syaran navy inflicted a series of defeats on the Górskan Federal Navy, culminating in an attack on Kalikie that crippled the Górskan fleet. Unable to challenge the Syarans at sea, Górska unilaterally negotiated an armistice and withdrew from the war. Syara was unable to leverage its gains to achieve success against Ruvelka; over the winter of 1908-1909 the Ruvelkans solidified their control over Zemplen and a Syaran attempt to dislodge them in spring 1909 ended in costly failure. An armistice was negotiated but an official peace treaty was never signed; this was rendered irrelevant by the collapse of the Socialist Republic in 1914.
Although the Syaran Navy had succeeded at sea, the Syaran Army struggled to defeat the Ruvelkan Red Army, and the peace that followed resulted in the loss of 70% of Zemplen and most of Imerti to the Socialist Republic. Syara's defeat was a bitter blow to the Republic, and although the balance of power remained in Syara's favor after the conflict, the shock to national prestige and defeat at the hands of Ruvelka cast doubt on the security and future of the Republic.
The Cacertian Empire had dispatched observers during the fighting in the Third Chryse War, coordinated by the Cacertian Naval Attache in Zovahr, Admiral Clara Santora. The naval campaigns were of particular interest to the Cacertians, namely the employment of dreadnoughts by the Navy of the Syaran Republic. Syara's usage of its dreadnoughts in many ways overshadowed other aspects of its naval operations, including its usage of offensive naval mining, destroyers, and torpedo boats which were arguably just as, if not more, critical than the performance of the Syara-class. A full assessment of Syaran naval capabilities had been limited by Syaran refusal to allow foreign personnel or journalists on their warships, forcing intelligence reports to rely on second hand information.
Despite such limitations, the Cacertian embassy in Syara had reported back frequent updates on the course of the war to Cacerta. Cacertian interest in north-west Siduri had been steadily growing in the years after the annexation of Shirvaniya, driven heavily by a Cacertian desire to better secure Cacertian interests in the Sundering Sea. A strategic concern for the Cacertian Royal Navy had been the threat of the closure of the eastern Sundering by either Acrea or Serikos, potentially cutting off Cacertian forces in Shirvaniya who would then have to circumnavigate nearly half of Siduri to reach the Andria Protectorate. The threat of another power also cutting off the western Sundering further alarmed Cacertian strategic planners, who pushed for the Empire to establish a presence in the Sanguine Sea to counter this threat and complete the "encirclement" of Siduri.
Cacertian interests were complicated by several factors. Chief among them, and identified by Foreign Minister Sireno Fioravanti, was Cacerta's growing international isolation as a result of more than a decade of expansionism and military build-up. By 1910, Cacerta's growing dominion over Siduri and military strength had caused a cooling of relations with many of the states of both Siduri and Eracura, who began to regard Cacertian intentions with suspicion. A growing worry in the Cacertian Foreign Ministry was that further expansion of Cacertian territory risked retaliation in form of the creation of a anti-Cacertian power bloc. In a letter to Prime Minister Ilaria Smaldone, Fioravanti warned that Eracuran powers such as Acrea or Ossoria could form alliances to counter any further Cacertian endeavors, and undermine the Empire's security by forging ties with Siduri states that were concerned by the Empire's position and status.
Discussions between Empress Elliana Sarissita-Trento, Prime Minister Smaldone, and Foreign Minister Fioravanti ultimately established Cacertian policy going forward. The Empire would still pursue a presence in the western Sundring/Sanguine Sea, but with the caveats that
- The Empire would achieve this through diplomacy, ideally by forging an alliance with a regional power
- The Empire would mitigate the impact of its presence by painting it as a mutually beneficial relationship
- The Empire would avoid the appearance of military expansionism by establishing peaceful relations with the neighboring states through non-aggression pacts and other forms of diplomacy
It was hoped that these terms would allow the Cacertians to achieve their strategic goals, while avoiding the formation of an anti-Cacertian power bloc that could challenge the Empire in the future.
The next decision was which state to approach with the offer of an alliance. Eracuran states such as Górska and Æþurheim were ruled out; the Foreign Ministry argued that any Cacertian foray into Eracuran territory would prompt immediate backlash that no level of diplomacy would counter. This left three Siduri countries; Syara, Mansuriyyah, and Ruvelka. Mansuriyyah was ruled out for a variety of reasons; it was the most distant from the Sundering Sea, its' relationship towards the Empire was neutral at best, and its complex ethnic and political makeup worried Cacertian leaders of a potential internal conflict would could spread to neighboring Shirvaniya.
The Ruvelkan Socialist Republic was likewise discounted. Ruvelka only had two major powers, one in the north (Mátészalka) and one in the south (Aszód). The Socialist Republic's relationship with the Empire was also poor, and more worryingly, it seemed that the Ruvelkan SR was growing increasingly politically unstable, threatening to undermine any long term planning. Syara was thus left as the most sensible choice.
Like the Empire, by 1910 Syara was isolated, recovering from a bitter war with both of its neighbors that had ended with forced territorial concessions. Unlike Ruvelka the Republic was largely stable, and more significantly Syara's extensive coastline contained numerous ports such as Moddra, Sena, Vyerzhany, and Vechad.
War breaks out
Following the outbreak of hostilities on 8 September, Grand Admiral Cianna Davion ordered her niece Admiral Lea Davion to commence operations against the Republic of Syara. Cianna Davion estimated that the Syarans would sue for peace after approximately a week of naval action, by which point the Cacertian Admiralty expected to have destroyed or captured the Navy of the Syaran Republic's primary heavy warships, namely its dreadnought battleships. Despite efforts to gather intelligence on the disposition of the Syaran fleet, Lea Davion remained largely unaware of its exact location, but believed that the Syarans would be drawn into action by threatening the major cities and ports along the northern coast of Makedon. With 146 warships in tow, she possessed nearly as many ships as the entire Syaran fleet (214 vessels), and most were of noticeably superior quality. The Cacertians enjoyed a significant advantage in numbers of battleships, fielding 51 (both dreadnought and pre-dreadnought) to Syara's 22.
On 17 September Davion sailed her main body into the Slaveiko Bay to engage and defeat the Syaran fleet. The ensuing battle pitted Davion and 16 battleships, 6 cruisers, and 10 destroyers against a Syaran fleet commanded by Admiral Filip Kostadinov, consisting of 8 battleships three cruisers and 8 torpedo-boat destroyers. The small size of the Syaran force came as a surprise to Davion and the Cacertians, who had expected the Syarans to position more of their fleet in the vicinity of the Bay. Nevertheless, Davion engaged and decisively defeated the Syarans, sinking three of their battleships and damaging one cruiser and one destroyer in exchange for the loss of one destroyer and damage to one cruiser. The Syarans withdrew, leaving the Bay in Cacertian hands. Davion expected to be counter-attacked or receive notice that the Republic was willing to re-negotiate. When neither came, she elected to sail west and target the small coastal of Lira, believing a short bombardment would further intimidate the Syarans.
The Cacertians anchored off the coast of Lira on 23 September and began a light bombardment of the nearby hills, intent on a show-of-force rather than an actual force destruction. Nevertheless, the shelling killed eleven local farmers and farmhands who were in the vicinity of the shelling. Again waiting to hear for news of the Republic's desire for a ceasefire, Davion remained anchored near Lira, only to be attacked by a small group of Syaran submarines on 27 September. Although no ships were damaged in the attack, neither did the Cacertians succeed in sinking any of the submarines. Wary of continued lack of intelligence on the location of the Syaran fleet, Davion ordered her ships to sail west into the Veylo Channel in the hopes of finding the Syaran fleet.
Davion's Grand Fleet encountered unexpected delays in the relatively short trip upon discovering the Syarans spent the intermittent time laying down minefields in the channel. Disarming the mines took longer than expected owing to Cacertian unfamiliarity with Syaran designs, further strained by frequent attacks by small flotillas of Syaran destroyers, which would fire off torpedoes volleys from beyond the range of Cacertian destroyers, while Cacertinan gunners were unused to targeting the smaller, fast Syaran ships. In the evening of 30 September the main body of the Grand Fleet made contact with a Syaran fleet of six battleships, 12 cruisers, 26 destroyers, and 13 submarines, becoming the Battle of the Veylo Channel. After only a brief exchange in the evening, both sides broke contact, only for Davion to order part of her fleet to sail south-west and then swing north to prevent the Syarans from escaping.
However the Cacertian task force found itself under attack by a Syaran flotilla of destroyers, led by the armored cruiser Valorous Chronicler. Again Syaran torpedo strikes forced the Cacertians to disperse and prevented them from bringing their full body of firepower to bear. In the ensuing battle the Syarans once more were unable to match the Cacertians gunnery skills, resulting in the loss of two more battleships and three cruisers, in addition to four destroyers and two submarines. However, the Cacertians suffered a surprising blow when the former flagship Adrianna Luna was hit by a Syaran torpedo and sunk within three minutes, taking 80% of her crew with her. The loss of the former flagship of the Cacertian Royal Navy was a sharp blow to the Grand Fleet, which had also lost two cruisers and six destroyers in the fighting.
The Cacertians attempted to re-engage the Syarans but lost contact on 2 October. By now frustration was beginning to build in the Grand Fleet. Expectations of a brief conflict were beginning to fade away, growing losses, and the difficult nature of engaging the elusive Syaran fleets and ships were beginning to wear Cacertian temperament and morale thin. Rather than continue to sail west, Davion turned the Grand Fleet around and sailed for Sena, a major port on the Syaran coast, anchoring in the Slaveiko Bay on 8 October. The subsequent shelling of the city was, by contrast to the earlier bombardment of Lira, intended to cause significant damage. Counter-fire from Syaran coastal batteries, coupled with harassment from more Syaran destroyers and coastal craft, led to the loss of another pre-dreadnought battleship on the 10th on October.
With still not sight of the Syaran fleet from the observation airships of the Cacertian Aerial Fleet, Davion sailed west again through the Veylo Channel to shell Khorzany on 14 October. Meeting no resistance, the Grand Fleet then sailed to Nemyta and bombarded the city, inflicting around 1,500 casualties. Before the Grand Fleet could move elsewhere, Davion was contacted by her aunt Grand Admiral Cianna Davion in Cacerta who informed her negotiations had restarted with Zovahr and that she was not to take further action until informed otherwise. Lea Davion took this time to reorganize her forces, dispatching damaged ships for repairs and rerouting wounded personnel out of the fleet back for Arkoenn.
In Zovahr there was disagreement on how to proceed. President Zoran Milaković was concerned with the frequent shelling of the Syaran coast by the Cacertian fleet, and the seeming inability of the Syaran Navy to prevent it. Grand Admiral Cvjetko Dorić however resisted the President's request to force a decisive battle, warning that the engagement would likely favor the Cacertians. He instead urged to stick to his strategy of asymmetric response, prioritizing defeating the Cacertians through attrition. As negotiations faltered between the Republic and the Empire however, Milaković insisted that the Navy produce a cessation of Cacertian raiding along the northern coast. On 26 November, while still operating under her orders from her aunt, Lea Davion's Grand Fleet came under attack from several flotillas of Syaran cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, resulting in the loss of another Cacertian cruiser and two destroyers.
After relaying the information back to the Empire, Davion ordered her fleet to sail north on 29 November, having heard from her reconnaissance airships that the Syaran fleet was operating off the western coast of the Mysian Peninsula. Hopes that this would finally result the decisive battle the Cacertians favored were dashed when the Syaran fleet withdrew rather than engage; by 2 December Davion broke off the chase and headed south-west, for the Bay of Ruchalas. Davion had decided to try to destroy the naval port at Vechad, hoping to deliver a serious blow to the Syarans before the winter set in and conditions limited the effectiveness of the Grand Fleet. On 5 December the Cacertians entered the Bay to find the waters heavily mined and patrolled by Syaran destroyers and submarines; in the ensuing clash things went for the Grand Fleet. Unable to maneuver effectively and harassed by mines and Syaran small craft, the Cacertians suffered the loss of another battleship, one cruiser sunk, another heavily damaged, and four destroyers for the the loss of five Syaran destroyers, one cruiser, and two submarines.
Recognizing that further action in the Ruchalas Bay would risk the Grand Fleet being picked part and surrounded, Davion withdrew and sailed north, where she was informed that the Syara fleet was operating in the Sanguine Sea. Guided by her airships, Davion managed to meet the Syarans and force a battle on 17 December. The Battle of the Sanguine Sea was the largest engagement of the naval campaign; 32 Cacertian battleships, 25 cruisers, and 40 destroyers against a Syaran fleet of 14 battleships, 15 cruisers, and 50 destroyers. Once again the primary heavy warship clash favored the Cacertians, who broke the Syaran battle line and forced the Syaran battleship squadrons to withdraw, but it was the Syaran destroyers who inflicted heavy losses, sinking two battleships, three cruisers, along with the loss of 11 destroyers. Although the engagement had ended with the Syarans rapidly retreating and sailing west for the protection of the Scitarian coast, the outcome was a bitter one to the Cacertians. Although most of her dreadnought battleships were still intact, much of the Cacertian destroyer fleet had been decimated and her cruisers were in poor shape and in need of rest and refit. With her fleet too large to be anchored in Arkoenn alone, this would require sailing all the way back to Cacerta, or splitting up her fleet between Arkoenn and the Andria Protectorate.
Davion decided to sail for Cacerta, recognizing that the journey and subsequent repairs would grant the Syarans ample time to refit themselves, and bitterly notified her Aunt that the Grand Fleet had failed to achieve its objectives. Before leaving Syara, the fleet sailed and shelled the city of Svajec on Chryse on 26 December, before returning to Cacerta via the Sundering Sea. After four months of naval combat, the Cacertians had lost seven battleships, 13 cruisers, and 26 destroyers. An additional 17 battleships were damaged and in need of repair, along with another 14 cruisers. In exchange, the Cacertians had sunk or heavily damaged nearly a dozen Syaran battleships, 23 cruisers, 37 destroyers, and 14 submarines. Davion estimated that it would take nearly five months to bring her fleet back up to full operational status, unless the Royal Navy was willing to strip its assets from elsewhere to supplement the Grand Fleet.
Although both Davions expressed confidence that given enough time to adapt to Syaran tactics the Grand Fleet could emerge victorious, the unexpected failures of the campaign weighed heavily in the minds of the Cacertian High Command. There was growing concern that another large scale commitment would deprive the Empire of the resources necessary to safeguard its increasingly extended domain. Furthermore, the failure of the Navy had given the Army the foundation from which to argue for its own inclusion in the debate on how to tackle the Syaran Republic. With support from Empress Eliana, it was eventually agreed that when the Grand Fleet returned to Syara, they would be escorting an invasion force of the Cacertian Royal Army, bound for the the Desopya Coastal Plain.
The Desopya Campaign