- "Jedi Master Belth Allusis, seven dozen of the Order's finest Knights, and four thousand of the Republic's strongest soldiers dug in to defend the shield generators… or die trying. The disparity was staggering; an unprecedented Imperial army, fifty thousand strong, descended on Bothawui's brave defenders. The defenders were undaunted; with no expectation of survival, they were mindful only of their duty."
- ―Jedi Master Gnost-Dural's account of the battle
The Battle of Bothawui was a major military engagement in 3671 BBY, during the Great Galactic War between the Galactic Republic and the resurgent Sith Empire. The battle was a turning point in the decade-old war, and a major boost to a crippled Republic on the verge of collapse. In that year, the Sith set their sights on the Mid Rim world of Bothawui after having successfully usurped control of much of the Outer Rim Territories. Bothawui, a Republic-aligned world, received the attention of the entire Republic Navy—attention that ultimately foiled the Empire's first attempt at seizing the planet. The Sith assault was a resounding failure, but the Imperials were only more motivated to seize the world in the aftermath of their defeat. As they prepared yet another invasion of Bothawui, a huge majority of the world's Republic defenders left the planet. The only remaining forces were a relatively small contingent of Jedi Knights and Republic soldiers placed under the command of Jedi Master Belth Allusis.
A short time after the departure of the Republic Navy, a massive fleet of the Imperial Navy descended upon the planet, intending to bombard it from orbit. Due to a strong planetary shield erected by Republic engineers, the orbital strike failed, but did not dissuade the Sith. Under the command of the Imperial Grand Moff Zellos, the Sith's army landed on the planet and initiated a massive attack against the shield generator. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Master Allusis's small force of Republic defenders held their ground for days, killing numerous Imperial soldiers and embarrassing the Grand Moff. In response, Zellos continued to throw his forces into battle, but this tactic only created greater casualties for his army. By virtue of numbers alone, the Republic's defeat was inevitable, and the defenders' numbers gradually dwindled to just a few dozen. In a bold last stand, Allusis and his surviving troops fought the Imperials at the base of the generator, killing scores of enemies before being slain themselves—an act that earned them galactic renown as the "Heroes of Bothawui". Despite the annihilation of the defenders, the Empire found itself unable to destroy the shield and hold Bothawui, as its assault force had been largely decimated. As a result of the battle, the Empire halted its incursions into the Mid Rim for a time, and the Sith Emperor was forced to reexamine his strategy. Despite the loss of all the Republic forces on Bothawui, the story of Bothawui's defenders and their determined fight against the Empire inspired many across the Republic, giving birth to new tactics and a new resolve to continue waging the war.
- "It was a considerable risk gathering the entire fleet here to ambush our enemies, but it paid off, and we are hopeful that this may be a major turning point in the war."
- ―Jedi Knight Gnost-Dural reflects upon the battle above Bothawui
Upon its return to known space in 3681 BBY, the Sith Empire launched a widely successful campaign for control of the Outer Rim Territories. For the first ten years of this Great Galactic War, constituent worlds of the Old Republic fell in quick succession, leading the Sith Emperor to believe that his invasion of the galaxy was unstoppable. After the Imperial victory in the struggle for the Seswenna sector, the Emperor had secured the Outer Rim and began plans to move towards the galactic core—the bastion of the Republic's gradually dwindling power. The first target of this refocused assault was the Mid Rim, specifically the Bothan sector.
The Bothan sector, which was home to the planet Bothawui and the Bothan people, was a strategically important region; therefore, Bothawui itself was the focus of the Empire's Mid Rim foray. Although the attack on the planet was intended to be a surprise ambush, information regarding the assault was leaked and eventually came to the attention of the Republic Navy Admiral Greik. Greik moved quickly to set up a trap for the Imperial strike force by amassing the entirety of the Republic naval fleet above the world. Despite the risky nature of the maneuver, it ultimately paid off; the Imperials charged into Bothan Space, but quickly found themselves beset by all the vessels of the Republic Navy. The engagement ended in the complete destruction of the Imperial attack squadron. This first battle at Bothawui was also the first major victory for the Republic since the beginning of the war and provided a much-needed boost of morale for its defenders.
In the aftermath of that first battle, glee spread through the Republic military and civilians rejoiced on the capital planet of Coruscant and other worlds while the Empire prepared itself for another assault. Although individuals within the Republic Navy, such as Jedi Knight Gnost-Dural, predicted that the Sith would plan such retribution, the Navy was forced to disperse once more and return to battlefronts across the galaxy. As a preventative measure, Republic engineers erected a mighty planetary shield on Bothawui's surface to protect the world from the threat of orbital bombardment. Despite this precaution, there were still those within the Jedi Order and Republic Military who believed that the world needed defenders on the surface. As such, Jedi Master Belth Allusis, a prominent member of the Jedi High Council, volunteered to stay on the planet and lead a small contingent of four thousand Republic soldiers, four Special Forces squads, and eighty-four Jedi Knights. Knowing they would face the full might of the Sith's vengeance, the Republic's forces dug into the forest surrounding Bothawui's planetary shield generator and prepared for the Empire's return.
- "Neither pride nor foolhardiness drove the defenders' decision. They were guided by the Force. They had passed beyond the fear of death. Their glorious last stand will never be forgotten. Allusis and his men fell, but not before the Imperials were driven to retreat. The Battle of Bothawui was a draw."
The Empire did indeed strike back at Bothawui. Approximately twenty-seven days after the first battle in the planet's orbit, Imperial battleships from across the galaxy converged on Bothan Space. Under the command of Grand Moff Zellos, this massive invasion fleet—consisting of Harrower-class dreadnoughts, Fury-class interceptors, assault craft, and Mark VI Supremacy-class starfighters—began to bombard the planet from orbit. Despite the strength of the attacking fleet, the planetary shield held, forcing the Imperials to begin a surface-based campaign to sieze or destroy the shield generator complex. Zellos landed an army fifty thousand strong, comprised of regular Imperial soldiers and members of the elite Imperial Guard, and prepared to march on the shield. Confident that the battle would be a swift victory for the Empire, the Grand Moff and his advisors sent their forces to destroy the generator in a direct frontal assault.
Between the Imperials and the shield generator stood the Republic defenders. Master Allusis drew up a defense plan for the generator that outlined both the Imperial landing point and their projected path through the Bothawui forests towards the shield. The Jedi's army of four thousand and eighty-four took advantage of high-ground positions and blaster cannon turrets along the path to ambush and devastate the ranks of the Empire, while Allusis himself took to the battlefront multiple times. The Republic and Jedi forces recognized the severe disparity between their own numbers and those of the Empire, but fought on regardless. In the process, the Bothawui defenders developed new and unorthodox tactics that cut down hundreds of Imperials. These new stratagems resulted in a staggering casualty ratio: for every one Republic soldier that was gunned down, the Empire lost ten. In spite of these figures, Grand Moff Zellos continued to throw wave after wave of soldiers into the Bothawui forest, increasing the number of troops with each successive push. This decision resulted in even greater losses for the Empire, as the Imperial commanders had not anticipated the determination of Bothawui's defenders.
Zellos was eventually forced to call in reinforcements, and although the Republic's soldiers and Jedi were outwitting and outmaneuvering the Sith in every engagement, their numbers ultimately began to dwindle. After days of battle, Master Allusis's perimeter was broken and his forces were slowly beaten back and whittled away.The majority of the Republic's forces were killed in those final hours, leaving only a few dozen soldiers and Jedi to maintain the defense. The survivors rallied to Allusis around the base of the generator for one final stand against the Empire; however, before the Imperials launched their attack, Grand Moff Zellos surprised his opponents by offering to spare Allusis if his men would stand down. Under the guidance of the Force, Allusis and his troops rejected the offer and fought off hundreds of Imperials until their own deaths. Although Zellos succeeded in wiping out the Republic forces, his own army took many casualties. In fact, the number of survivors proved to be too few to seize the shield generator, let alone to maintain an occupation force on Bothawui. Zellos and his remaining troops were forced to retreat from the planet. The Battle of Bothawui was a draw.
- "It is my hope that Allusis's sacrifice will achieve far more than the fact that the planetary shield still protects Bothawui. Word of the battle even now spreads across the Republic, and should our comrades have been encouraged by our victory in Bothawui's orbit, let their spirits be rallied exponentially more by the story of Allusis's last stand."
Despite the seemingly neutral outcome of the battle, the Republic ultimately benefited far more from the conflict than did the Empire. In the aftermath of the engagement, the late Master Belth Allusis and his forces were posthumously honored and gained galactic renown as the "Heroes of Bothawui". Their story inspired Republic defenders fighting elsewhere to continue their struggle with renewed vigor and pride, while disillusioned and jaded Republic citizens were given a renewed sense of hope by their sacrifice. For at least the next four years, the war turned widely in favor of the Republic Military, which succeeded in capturing the Sith Dread Masters, defeating the Imperials at Rhen Var, liberating Alderaan, and scoring series of victories in the Minos Cluster quagmire.
Republic military strategists used the new tactics developed by the defenders of Bothawui throughout the remainder of the war. These tactics put and end to the Sith Empire's coreward encroachment for a time and solidified the Battle of Bothawui's reputation as a turning point in the Great Galactic War. As the Imperials halted their incursion, the Emperor himself was driven to reexamine his own strategic planning. This ultimately resulted in the Empire's Ministry of Intelligence taking several years to form an alliance with the Mandalorian warrior clans. This alliance ultimately resulted in the Mandalorian Blockade of the Hydian Way in 3660 BBY—an act that ended the Republic's victory streak and crippled the economy and infrastructure of the once-great democracy.
In the aftermath of the Treaty of Coruscant and the end of the war, the Kel Dor Jedi historian Gnost-Dural created a holorecord that documented the events surrounding the battle. The holorecord was entered into the Jedi Archives on Tython along with Dural's personal journal, which also contained an account of the battle. In the Cold War years that followed the Great Galactic War, Master Allusis was memorialized with a Valor-class cruiser that was named in his honor. Conversely, Moff Zellos returned to the Empire following his failure and was not heard from again. Although it was widely reported and believed that there were absolutely no survivors from the Republic defense force following the battle, at least one front-line technician, the Zabrak Lem Karner, made it off the planet and was able to continue serving the Republic Military well into the Cold War.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Bothawui first appeared in the fifth entry of the Galactic Timeline, an in-universe historical account of events leading up to Star Wars: The Old Republic, the massively multiplayer online game by LucasArts and BioWare. The entry was released on October 23 of 2009 and is narrated by Jedi Master Gnost-Dural, whose voice is provided by actor Lance Henriksen. The battle was again covered in The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, a reference book released in collector's editions of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game and the journal were released on December 20 of 2011.
Included inside The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural is a pull-out page that details Master Allusis's defense strategy and the topography of the forested area surrounding the shield generator. Information from the pull-out is inconsistent with the information provided in the Timeline and the text of the journal itself, and as such, this article regards any conflicting information as inaccurate. The pull-out asserted that Master Allusis was in command of only twenty-three Jedi and 672 Republic infantry troops—numbers much lower than those provided in other sources. Furthermore, it indicates that four squads of the Republic Special Forces participated in the battle, despite the fact that the codex found within Star Wars: The Old Republic confirms that the Special Forces division of the Republic Military was not in existence until after the Battle of Alderaan, which takes place four years after the Bothawui conflicts. This article includes the special forces squads in its reporting, as it is known that at least one special operations division—Havoc Squad—existed within the Republic Army prior to the Treaty of Coruscant.
- (First appearance)
- (Picture only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Duarl
- According to Timeline 5: The Battle of Bothawui, this conflict occurs eighteen years before the Treaty of Coruscant. The Treaty was proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY, as seen in the novel The Old Republic: Deceived.
- According to Timeline 6: Onslaught of the Sith Empire, the Great Galactic War begins twenty-eight years before the Treaty of Coruscant. The Treaty was proposed and ratified in 3653 BBY, as seen in the novel The Old Republic: Deceived and in The Essential Atlas.
- The Essential Atlas
- Although The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural does not explicitly state how many days passed between the two conflicts, the dating system provided in each journal entry indicates that there was a twenty-seven day gap between the first and second battle at Bothawui.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Flashpoint: "Mandalorian Riaders"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Republic Mission: "Spoils of War" on Balmorra
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Republic Special Forces"