The Bolan Thumb was a salient of the Free Worlds League that extended into the Lyran Commonwealth, existing from the Age of War until the First Succession War.
The Thumb encompassed 15 worlds, centered around the planet Bolan. It extended Marik borders into the Furillo Province and nearly divided Alarion Province in two.
Age of War
The origins of the Bolan Thumb stem from the Age of War and constant conflict between Lyran and League forces over Bolan, with both sides holding the world and the other launching major campaigns to take it back. Bolan fell to Marik hands for the last time in 2441, and would lend its name to the region going forward. At the time numbering just six inhabited Lyran systems, the Free Worlds League Military firmly seized the Thumb towards the end of that conflict, with the Terran Hegemony–mediated Megrez Treaty in 2531 ending the fighting between the League and the Commonwealth and fixing the borders as they were as of 2531. As part of the treaty agreement, House Steiner begrudgingly accepted the loss of the Thumb worlds, but only on the condition that Hegemony peacekeepers would be stationed in the region. Publicly this was to discourage further League military adventurism and ensure the well-being of former Lyran citizens now living under foreign rule, but the Lyran leadership also hoped this would assist in efforts to reclaim the worlds of the Thumb at a later date via negotiation.
During the waning years of the era, Parliament approved the creation of the Bolan Defenders brigade to reinforce the region. The Defenders were given carte blanche to police the Thumb as they saw fit, and came to be known for their fanatical devotion to the protection of the region, treating it almost as if it was a League province and they were its provincial troops.
The Bolan Thumb would remain under Marik rule during the Star League era, with nine additional systems within the treaty zone colonized in part due to economic and material aid by Lyran and Terran agencies. Despite the Lyran's centuries of political and economic endeavors to maintain ties within the region, the League's efforts to cement their control over the salient were ultimately successful. The Star League Defense Force took major precautions to try and deter major military action in the region, fearing either the Lyran Commonwealth would turn to a military option to reclaim its long-lost worlds, or the Free Worlds League would attempt to cut off the wedge of Commonwealth territory anti-spinward of the Bolan Thumb, effectively holding a significant portion of the Commonwealth's Alarion Province hostage. In 2765, both XLI Corps of the Free Worlds League Military Region and XLIX Corps of the Lyran Commonwealth Military Region were poised to intervene in the event of conflict. Despite the region being noted for its "low-level volatility" by Star League analysts, the situation never escalated and most units in either Corps seldom saw combat save for the occasional pirate raid.
First Succession War
Operation ELBOW JOINT
The Bolan Thumb was the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces first target in the bloody campaigns that would come to be known as the First Succession War. As many Lyrans felt the worlds had been "stolen" from them by the Star League's border decisions, it was an easy first choice. The Lyrans launched Operation ELBOW JOINT in March 2785, and the battle was typical of the campaigns of the time. Initially intended as a surgical strike to head off what intelligence reports said was a coming attack from the League, both sides escalated the scale of the conflict until both sides resorted to nuclear weapons, killing between 3 and 8 million Bolanese people and destroying multiple cities. After the bombs had fallen, Bolan returned to Lyran hands for the first time in centuries but had also hardened the resolve of the already fanatical Bolan Defenders to resist any further attacks.
The Lyran campaign to reclaim the rest of the Thumb would have to wait, as several reprisal attacks by the FWLM and the declaration of war by the Combine forced the Lyrans to try and adjust on the fly. Other than capturing Rochers in 2787, the fight for the Thumb was reduced to sporadic raids for the next five years, as the Lyrans realized the Bolan Defenders would die to a man rather than give ground. In 2790, the Commonwealth attempted to renew the offensive by giving Kommandant-General Aric Hasseldorf command of operations along the Bolan Thumb. Hasseldorf's plan was to wage a nonstop campaign of objective raids that would wear down the readiness of Bolan forces while identifying which worlds were the best targets. After several months, he settled on Valloire as his first target. The campaign for Valloire ran from September to December of that year, and was notable for its relative restraint for the time, limiting their forces to conventional munitions rather than nuclear arms.
By 2800, Hasseldorf's methods had proven their worth, even as the force felt the pinch of decreased access to supplies, JumpShips and WarShips. Of the 15 worlds of the Thumb, 11 were now under Steiner rule. By 2803, only the fortified world of Acrux was still under League control. Though most Bolan Defenders preferred dying in combat to retreat, those who had opted for an organized withdrawal had concentrated on the world and begun fortifying it, creating an entrenched and hardened fighting force intent on resisting invasion. With supplies drying up and reinforcements not coming, LCAF high command recommended that Hasseldorf hold on to his gains and institute a shipping blockade of Acrux.
In 2805, Captain-General Thaddeus Marik ordered a new offensive against the Bolan front, seeking to restore supply lines to Acrux and begin reclaiming the Thumb worlds. The Bolan Defenders responded by moving to capture Radostov and retake Marsalle. The LCAF pivoted to this renewed threat and Marik's campaign bogged down as a result. When the Captain-General's 2811 offensive against Poulsbo was crushed by the unexpected appearance of the infamous Stealths, which he believed to be on the other side of the Commonwealth, Thaddeus decided his campaign was lost. Thaddeus Marik sent a final message to the Bolan Defenders still fighting on Acrux and Marsalle: the Bolan Thumb was lost. The surviving Bolan Defenders realized they had nothing left to fight for but revenge, and fought to the last man. The last of the Bolan Thumb worlds fell to the LCAF in mid-2812.
List of Worlds
The Bolan Thumb comprised the following 15 worlds at the time the Star League fell:
- ↑ Field Report 2765: FWLM, p. 25
- ↑ House Marik (The Free Worlds League), pp. 15–16
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 First Succession War, pp. 68–72
- ↑ Field Report 2765: FWLM, p. 12
- ↑ Field Report 2765: FWLM, p. 4: "Goals of the State"
- ↑ Field Manual: SLDF, p. 122
- ↑ Field Manual: SLDF, p. 142
- ↑ First Succession War, pp. 17–21
- ↑ First Succession War, pp. 72–73