Siege of Johannesburg
|Siege of Johannesburg|
|Part of the Coalition War|
The Siege of Johannesburg was the final battle in the Coalition War and undoubtedly the most important. While little fighting was actually done in the battle, it was by far the most devastating battle of the war, with Philip I detonating a thanhium bomb in the city, killing all those that didn't escape. This battle was by far the most controversial in the war. The allies of Oren generally view it positively, seeing it as a way of going out with honor rather than surrendering to the enemy. Meanwhile, the members of the Coalition viewed it as an act of cowardice and dishonor, destroying the homes and livelihoods of the city's people rather than let them live under new leaders.
The Battle of Goldfields which had preceded the siege had stripped the Oren of almost anything and everything they had with which to fight. All of their allies had pulled out of the fight in an attempt at self preservation. The majority of their veteran soldiers which hadn't perished in the Battle of the Gorge had perished there, leaving the Orenian army down to what few veterans remained, alongside a majority of conscripted soldiers. The only fortress standing between the Coalition and the capital, Cantal, capitulated without a fight. Philip I was powerless to act as he watched his uncle declare his independence from Oren, taking Cantal and Mardon with him and allowing the Coalition to pass through. With that, there was nothing left standing between Johannesburg and the Army of the Coalition.
The better part of 1595 was spent outside of Johannesburg, with the Coalition army skirmishing against the small number of Imperial soldiers that remained, generally in an attempt to try and clear a path of supplies to the beleaguered city. These skirmishes most often went the way of the Coalition, only further weakening Oren's army. Meanwhile, siege engines rained down on the thick walls of Johannesburg. During the midst of the siege, an evacuation order was issues, causing most of the citizens to flee the city in order to seek refuge elsewhere, and likely to help preserve the city's supplies. However, even though the majority of the citizens were gone, the situation did not improve. Both armies knew that soon enough, the walls would fall. When that happened, there would be nothing anyone could do to stop the Coalition from taking the city.
As the walls grew dangerously thin, Philip I called a feast for all of the remaining nobles and soldiers within the city. He told them about his accumulation of a large cluster on thanhium beneath the palace itself, and of his plans. He would not see Johannesburg fall to the Coalition, and planned to detonate the bomb himself in order to ensure it did not. With that, the majority of the army and nobles, in the midst of the night, flooded out of the West gate of the city. However, five men stayed behind, to die with their Emperor. Philip I dropped alchemist fire on the thanhium setting off an explosion which ripped apart the city.
From outside the city, the Coalition looked on in shock and awe as they saw and explosion tear apart the palace and spread out. Men from the Coalition, and those who had formerly been fleeing the city, poured into Johannesburg. Fighting did not ensue, but rather both sides took to looting whatever it was they could find. A few of the Hanseti nobility managed to break into the catacombs of the city before they were sealed, and stole the ashes of several notable Horens. Overall, great mourning took place on both sides after that battle, as men sat at the edge of the crater, looking in at what had once been the city.
The Siege of Johannesburg was an undeniable Coalition victory. While they may not have taken Johannesburg itself, it accomplish the goal of effectively wiping out the Orenian government and forcing them to destroy their own capital in order to avoid its capture. The army was in shambles and with no nearby fortresses left to defend, they chose to admit defeat rather than face off in one last skirmish, which would have undoubtedly annihilated the remaining portion of the army. This battle effectively ended the war, as a peace treaty favoring the Coalition was signed shortly after, giving them the victory they had fought for.