A major ground-and-space battle waged during the Unification Wars between forces of American Centrality
and combined forces of American Empire
and United States of America
, that turned out to be a decisive battle for the Centrality-Empire war.
Liberty Alliance formed as an improvised alliance between United States of America
and American Empire
in the face of American Centrality
offensive that seemed to be gaining momentum.
After the Centrality forces captured the forge world of New Baltimore, the threat become even bigger. The united high command of the Alliance finally decided to react when Centrality began ground invasion on neutral planet of New Denver, whose expansive orbital shipyard complex was decided to be an asset that cannot fall into Alexander Craig's hands.
Fast reaction of the Alliance surprised the Centrality command to the point that numerically inferior Allied forces managed to break the blockade and deploy reinforcements that changed the ongoing blitzkrieg into gruelling war for attrition. This happened 15 June 2182. Merely two weeks later the Allied fleet was forced to retreat after Centrality reinforcements - almost entirety of its First and Second Fleets) entered the system, beginning fifteen month long siege of New Denver.
While New Denver remained neutral prior to Centrality sudden assault, this didn't mean that it wasn't preparing. Expecting troubles, the planetary government issued a massive project of fortifying all key planetary installations. This turned to be a decisive factor during the battle, as while Centrality had enough forces to attack more targets that the planetary garrison could meaningfully staff, this wasn't the case after the Liberty Alliance entered the battle. With Centrality forces forced to capture fortress after fortress (some of them holding for months), its armies were stalled and allowed the Alliance to regroup.
With Allied forces severely demoralized due to their earlier defeats and enemy outnumbering them 2 to 1, the static defense was the only viable tactic on land, as any attempt to face the attackers head-on would turn out to be a disaster. This weakness wasn't partially negated by the extensive fortifications on the ground and the technical advantage in space.
Centrality, in the same time, was drunk with success. While its morale was skyhigh, it turned to be a disadvantage as its command notoriously underestimated their enemy during early skirmishes, which allowed the Alliance ground army to improve its morale by stopping the Centrality blitzkrieg.
Centrality capture of the orbital shipyard was set in stone the second their reinforcement came, due to entire space of the Larimer star system falling into Centrality's hand. Despite this, they couldn't use that to their advantage due to Alliance relentless planetary defence and permanent risk of transport ships being shotdown by ground-orbit defenses.
This started the prolonged planetary war of attrition. With most of the planetary industry and agriculture intact and in Alliance hands, it had no problems with supplying itself in ammunition and food, unlike the Centrality whose much greater army was forced to rely on outside supply. Despite this, the Centrality began gaining ground, separating and forcing to surrender city after city and fortress after fortress, by separating them from the rest (due to their control over orbit and, after several major air battles, skies above the battlefields) and then besieging them until their eventual surrender.
The attempts to terrify the enemy into surrender by executions of the prisoners of war ended up actually reinforcing the defenders by showing them that surrendering is about as dangerous as fighting to the last.
While until the 3 September 2183 most of the planet fell into Centrality's hands, it was achieved by paying a horrible cost. With high casualties and general drop in morale, the best ground forces of the Centrality were almost bled to death and had to call of the offensive to reorganize themselves, with defenders actually succeeding in retaking several key points of the planet.
That's when the relief forces came.
While Centrality was busy laying siege to the planet - and after redirecting its entire Second Fleet to another theatre of war - the Alliance was busy trying to scramble fleet strong enough to lift off the siege. It was finally achieved after almost one and half of the year, with USA and American Empire combined Relief Fleet (under command of admiral/emperor Ross) reached the system at 3 September 2183.
The commanding officer of Centrality's First Fleet, admiral August Connery, made a decision to face the enemy after seeing its forces to be more or less similar in size and composition. While technically not wrong it was a fateful decision that put an end to both Battle for New Denver and American Centrality as a whole.
Battle for Larimer System
The battle ended with decisive victory of an Alliance. The deciding factor was mostly luck... and decision of admiral Ross to bolster his forces with several modified cargo vessels. While they looked outwardly as simple cargo vessels retrofitted to serve as military transport vessels, they were in fact missile barges. Their surprising salvo - combined with all of the Relief Fleet ships unleashing their missile payload - was concentrated on the enemy command vessel, American Spirit a Unity-class fast battleship 'salvaged' from the Federation Navy during its retreat from the sector.
While the salvo failed to destroy the Spirit, it was enough to deal crippling damage to it and silence all communication devices, silencing admiral Connery. This crippled the Centrality's First Fleet AV Defense to the point that the assault of the voidcrafts from US Navy's Ronald Reagan Liberty-class voidcraft carrier managed to cause further damage to First Fleet. Without admiral to command it, the entire Fleet broke and fled, with exception of those ships that suffered engine damages during the voidcraft attack.
Most of casualties the Relief Fleet suffered was caused by American Spirit, as admiral Connery made last desperate attempt to prevent total defeat of his fleet. He managed to fool the Relief Fleet by pretending that the ship suffered much greater damage that it did. When enemies got closer hoping to sent a boarding party to capture the fast battleship, it suddenly opened fire from its main artillery that suffered little damage during the opening missile salvo due to artillery towers being much better armored than communication devices. This caught admiral Ross off guard and managed to score seventeen kills (including three battlecruisers) before its main reactor was breeched by a MAW round from one of surviving battlecruisers and the American Spirit finally exploded.
Seeing its entire First Fleet destroyed in single engagement, most of the ground forces of the Centrality (already demoralized by a long war of attrition) surrendered. Last of the units that decided to keep fighting was finally destroyed at 19 October 2183, an official date of the end of the Battle for New Denver.
While the defeat was a major setback to the Centrality, it didn't have to mean its ultimate collapse. The country had enough reserves to replenish the losses, even if the new armies wouldn't be of the same quality as those lost during the battle. However, it was a decisive blow to the authority of the Alexander Craig, the dictator ruling over it.
Such rulers rely mostly on their authority to remain in power, and his was tarnished. While he, as well, might have recuperated, he was denied that chance by an assasin that shot him to death during visit to one of the Centrality shipyards. This caused increasing internal strife within Centrality and broke its spine, allowing the Alliance to mount a counteroffensive and liberate five more star systems within two years.
Ultimately the battle led to the complete collapse of the Centrality that ceased to exist after eight more years of struggle. The only reason it managed to hold that long was the fact that Liberty Alliance didn't survive its sudden collapse, and ceased to exist after merely two and half years as American Empire and United States of America began waging war over the territory 'liberated' from the Centrality. New Denver was ultimately annexed by the Empire, but its orbital complex quickly lost all meaning due to the expansion of shipyard industries in central worlds of the Empire, making New Denver a simple border world.
Mostly forgotten in USA, since the episode of cooperation between the United States and a local military dictatorship (even if done against literal fascists) isn't precisely good from propaganda point of view, especially when you keep fighting said military dictatorship.
In American Empire it's even more forgotten, because while their first emperor won devastating victory... it was also his biggest blunder, as his attempt to capture a battleship led to great (and completely unneeded) loses.