Battle of Talla nan Larks
|Battle of Talla nan Larks|
|Event Name||Battle of Talla nan Larks|
|Dates and Times||August 26th, 240 AC|
|Location||Kir na Calle, Clannadh Alba|
|People Involved||Dunbrae Levies, Caeren Skirmishers|
The Battle of Talla nan Larks was the penultimate battle of the Caeren-Dunbrae conflicts during the period known as the Caeren Clearances that happened in Clannadh-Alba that put an end to the internal strife in the Highland Territories with the signing of the Declaration of Kir na Calle. By 240 AC, the Dunbrae people of the Highlands had pushed back the opposing Caeren forces to a minimal corner of Clannadh-Alba, with defeat and extermination looming on the horizon, many Caeren families and soldiers broke ranks and fled toward Mannadh-Alba for safety, leaving only a singular standing force left in Clannadh-Alba under the leadership of Airdhan MacDomnhall. The Battle of Talla nan Larks is regarded as the turning point of the Caeren Clearances in the favour of the Caeren, but is more well known as a diplomatic victory for the Dunbrae and the Regalian Empire.
The Caeren Clearances brought about by the influence of the Regalian Empire and Unionist missionaries in the region of Clannadh-Alba had put immense strains on diplomacy between the more imperialized Dunbrae, and their sister Culture the Caeren people. Open conflicts had broken out across the region as a result of Caeren skirmishes and Dunbrae punitive retaliations that resulted in a warring period that lasted for 45 years, between the years of 195 and 240 AC. With the closure of the Skagger Wars in 179 AC, a brief period of peace was enjoyed in Clannadh-Alba between the Caeren until missionaries of Unionism were sent to convert some of the locals during this period of trade and commerce with the burgeoning Regalian Empire, an act that was met with anger from the native Caeren.
Up until the Battle of Talla nan Larks, the warring between the Caeren and Dunbrae had been minimal beyond small border skirmishes and raids on missionaries and sieges on what small population of Unionist temples was being constructed by the Dunbrae at the time. The fighting was limited to such as the Caeren Clans entirely lacked the supplies, tactics or equipment to pose a direct challenge to Dunbrae fortifications and cities, who had since the conclusion of the Skagger Wars focused almost entirely upon the development of such technologies, and it was this boasting of technological an strategic advancements that brought about the events of the Donnachad Massacre that started the Clearances. It wasn’t until 240AC, and with the aid of turncoat General Airdhan MacDomnhall, that the Caeren could directly challenge a large punitive force of Dunbrae, assembled to finally push the Caeren from Clannadh-Alba once and for all, and in their last stand, they marched to meet the opposing force at the Bridge of Talla nan Larks.
The Caeren Advance
With a host of freshly trained soldiers, the main Caeren force numbered some five-thousand strong, by far the largest force the Caeren had mustered throughout the conflict, with men prepared to stake their lives on the line for a gamble under Airdhan’s command. The force mostly consisted of lightly armored pikemen and what fresh recruits could be mustered, with the short time of preparations provided by the slowly encroaching Dunbrae forces. Reports from scouting parties sent out by MacDomnhall had cited that a force of some ten-thousand Dunbrae forces was encroaching, and would require passage over the narrow bridge of Talla nan Larks to continue pressing forth towards the final bastion of Caeren resistance in Clannadh Alba, the town of Cnoc-Sleagh. Airdhan assembled his men at some distance from the bridge itself, setting up camps and awaiting the inevitable approach of the more heavily equipped Dunbrae force.
The Dunbrae Confidence
It wasn’t until some days after the establishment of the Caeren fortifications that the Dunbrae force eventually arrived, standing at the opposing side of the bridge, observers looked on toward the meager Caeren force and the Dunbrae’s morale was raised immensely by what appeared to be a visible lack of showing on the behalf of the Caeren. With a force of ten-thousand, armed properly in more modernized armor, with lines of Wapnbog Archers and heavy cavalry at their disposal thanks to interactions with the Regalians. The Dunbrae commander, the Duke of Kinlass ordered his men to set up camps, and sent messengers out to engage in parlay with the pathetic force of Caeren, offering them terms of surrender and mercy.
Defiance begets the fires of Battle
After two days, and a lack of response, nor the return of the Dunbrae emissaries, the Duke of Kinlass saw it fit to make the first move on seizing the bridge, and sounded his horns for his heavy cavalry to make haste and lead the charge, as they would cross the bridge in the swiftest manner, allowing the infantry to fall behind in the most ideal of situations. Such was rapidly proven by the Caeren force who, after announcing they had taken the emissaries as their hostages, quickly set up a formation of pikes on the opposing side of the bridge. The choice of weaponry, accompanied by the unexpected vigor presented by what should have been disheartened Caeren levies seemed to shake Kinlass’ troops, but by the time they could think to make their retreat and regroup it was much too late. MacDomnhall’s Dhuine-Sleagh pikemen pressed forward and swiftly, the range of their weapons began to decimate the first lines of Dunbrae heavy cavalry, who were unable to retreat due to the infantry advancing behind them. This unfortunate arrangement, as well as the expertly formed pike formations, turned the primary engagement on the bridge into a full-blown rout of the Dunbrae troops after cutting their losses at the first five hundred soldiers.
It was after this first retreat that the Caeren saw their opportunity gradually arising, as surrounding the bridge was a vast river, surrounded by marshland that would surely bog down the Dunbrae’s more heavily armored troops, they sought out to use this. With the Caeren poised to counterattack, they retreated from the bridge and began to charge forth across the marshland and shallower portions of the river, with the intent of catching the Dunbrae force as they were scattered and shaken and in the middle of regrouping, only to be met with the lines of Wapnbog archers hailing arrows down at the slowed pikemen from the distant treeline. Whilst the great distance between the archers and their targets meant that the shots were inaccurate and inconsistent, the wide range of influence their arrows had meant that many of the Caeren footmen were pinned down in the marsh, and slowly being dragged down into the river, suffering a slow, prideless death. Many of the Caeren chose to retreat from such a fate and retook their positions on the opposite shoreline. With both sides taking losses of around five hundred men respectively, a battle of attrition appeared to be in favor of the Dunbrae, but it was clear that after such a harrowing first encounter, neither side wanted to fight.
The events of the second day of battle appeared to have little difference in outcome from the first, though it came in the form of an infantry skirmish on the middle of the bridge. The pride of the Caeren in their more direct approach saw them immediately challenging the better equipped and better trained Dunbrae levies in a direct, frontal engagement upon the bridge. Without archer support of their own, the Caeren had to rely on the risky tactic of breaking through the Dunbrae lines with a wedged formation and then scattering themselves amongst the Dunbrae men. This gamble worked much to their favor, as the pinning fire of the Wapnboggers even pinned down the Dunbrae levies, and, seeing that his own men were being shot, the Duke of Kinlass ordered his archers to stay their bows, and instead ordered two-thousand of his Men-at-Arms to march upstream in search for a vantage point or shallow in the river that they could use for a crossing. With their risky gambit paying off, the Caeren only faced losses of up to a thousand on this day of battle, with the Dunbrae’s losses being twice that.
It was on the third day of battle that the Duke of Kinlass was to receive dire news, the detachment of heavy cavalry sent upstream had been accosted in the night by a third force of Caeren raiders, outside of the command of MacDomnhall, the small encampment established by the Dunbrae was looted and razed, and the detachment of men slaughtered, and their horses and equipment were stolen. Talk further spread amongst his men of dissent, of the cowardice of the cavalrymen and the inevitability of this fight, and, seeing this, the Duke of Kinlass called for parlay again.
The Declaration of Kir na Calle
Following the first few engagements and the whittling down of forces on both sides, messengers had begun to be sent back and forth individual units on either side of the army, supplies ran low for both sides and the battle looked to be dragging on for more than the several days it already had. With morale and manpower dropping, and the talk of desertion ringing louder than ever in the ears of each commander, they arranged a parlay in the town of Kir na Calle, a tiny fishing village consisting of now more than two houses, in a small Ballachan. It was over a bowl of Pancrùban and a serving of Bannuc made by the housewife present that Airdhan MacDomnhall and the Duke of Kinlass held their talks in private. Few people know what was discussed in that talk, but upon returning to their men, each commander issued the warrant for a ceasefire. Two days following the notice of ceasefire, many men and women of both armies came together at the original bridge of Talla nan Larks, and together they burned it down, celebrating the first instance of what became known in common as the Festival of Burnt Bridges, a similar concept to what was known to the Caeren as the Feis na A’tilleadh, in which all of the soldiers came together to lament the fallen and embrace each other as brothers. During these festivities, it is said that the official document citing the end of the war, known as the Declaration of Kir na Calle, was signed by both Generals, as well as those they appointed as their captains and advisors, and the Caeren Clearances were brought to an end, with free rights of passage for all Ceardians through the lands of Clannadh-Alba.
The Battle of Talla nan Larks was a brutal and bloody stalemate that resulted in the conclusion of the Caeren Clearances, and through the quick with and diplomatic tactics employed by the Dunbrae, saw the reunification of the two Highland factions into a single conjoined society, and also saw the integration of the Caeren from the farthest stretches of Talahm-Gall and Mannadh-Alba into the Regalian Empire as citizens. It marked the end of a time of warring that ravaged the land of Clannadh Alba, a period that the landscape is still to recover from completely, with some villages remaining yet as ruins. Some five-thousand Caeren were killed in battle, with greater losses on the Dunbrae side, nearing eight-thousand, such large losses were rare in the Clearances due to the innate desire for the integration of the Caeren, and not the slaughter. To this day, the Battle of Talla nan Larks is viewed as a solemn, sad day, as opposed to a day of glory for either side.
- There are rumors that the Dunbrae side of the conflict was heavily sponsored into the war by the Regalian Empire, seeing the cheap and abundant supplies of fertile farmland and grain held by the Caeren territories as a valuable asset to the Empire, but also as a threat to the Kade House of Trade should they opt to begin trading the assets for themselves.
- Despite the destruction of the bridge of Talla nan Larks during the fighting, no replacement has ever been constructed in that location, however, newer bridge crossings crafted of stone are located further up and down the Kir na Calle river.
- Many of the ‘Rhuithedair’ that partook in battle on the side of the Dunbrae weren’t Rhuithedair at all by Regalian standards and were instead more heavily armored Rhuithedair, competition riders and jousters sponsored by minor Dunbrae Nobles to have an investment in the war.