Technically the 2nd Manticoran-Havenite War was a continuation of the first, which ended with a truce and not a formal peace treaty. Opinion is divided as to whether history should record the second war as actually being a second war.
Nonetheless, following the conclusion of hostilities in 1915 PD, both Haven and Manticore had undergone significant political changes. The People’s Republic of Haven had been reformed as the Republic of Haven and the old, pre-DuQuesne Constitution had been restored. For the first time in many decades Haven was a democracy again, though not without problems and not without a measure of resistance, both overt and covert.
Manticore’s Prime Minister, the Duke of Cromarty, had been assassinated at the end of the first war. This led to a new coalition government, in the form of an awkward arrangement between hard right and hard left factions, led by Michael Janvier (known as Baron High Ridge). High Ridge and his government dragged out negotiations with Haven President Eloise Pritchart over a period of four years, benched experienced naval officers over political alliances, and alienated several allied star nations. They also halted ship-building operations and left the Royal Manticoran Navy in a poor state of readiness.
Haven had devoted a considerable effort to closing the technological gap to Manticore, and under the leadership of Pritchart, Secretary of War Thomas Theisman and Admiral Shannon Foraker, they developed a secret base called Bolthole, from which a new wall of battle, not far behind the capabilities of Manticoran units, was constructed. It was never intended as an offensive tool, but rather an insurance policy to protect against possible Manticoran aggression. Unfortunately, whilst Manticore was stalling (so the High Ridge government could use a wartime budget for its social programmes), agents within Haven were sowing additional seeds of sorrow. The Havenite Secretary of State, Arnold Giancola, desired greater political power with the Republic’s government and subtly manipulated diplomatic correspondence, driving up aggressive rhetoric with Manticore until (with the prodding of other interested parties) Haven declared war on Manticore and launched Operation Thunderbolt in 1919 PD.
Much of the reason was centred around the Pritchart administration’s belief that the High Ridge government was going to annex captured Havenite territory. Operation Thunderbolt saw Haven retake all the territory it had lost during the first phase of the war, with the exception of Trevor’s Star (which was only saved because of Grayson reinforcements). Among the worst defeats was the forced scuttling of dozens of uncompleted super-dreadnaught pod-layers at Grendelsbane.
Following the resumption of hostilities the High Ridge government collapsed. First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Janacek had woefully underestimated the abilities of Haven to restore parity and he committed suicide shortly after the war restarted. It fell to a new government, one led by the brother of Admiral White Haven, William Alexander (Baron Grantville), and the skills of Admirals White Haven and Honor Harrington to find a way to stall the Havenite advance. Initially it seemed the Star Kingdom might face another conflict, owing to increasing tension with the Andermani Empire (who desired to annex the corrupt, piracy-ridden Silesian Confederacy, something Manticore opposed), however the sudden speed and scale of the Havnite assault led to the Andermani declaring war on Haven instead. Ultimately the Andermani would have virtually no involvement in the war, for their territory lay beyond Manticore and their military technology was not on a par with Haven.
The momentum was well and truly on Haven’s side, and even allies of Manticore had switched sides (the star nation of Erewhon passed on several technological details to the Republic) and the Star Kingdom was rocked. To try and keep Haven from fully exploiting their industrial advantages, Admiral Harrington was appointed to command Eighth Fleet and sent to operate in Havenite space, with the aim of disrupting Haven’s operations and tying up the Havenite fleet long enough for new ships to be built. Meanwhile, Manticore sought to develop a new generation of weapons to re-open their technological advantage.
Eighth Fleet achieved some victories but also suffered defeats, and Honor’s friend Michelle Henke, commanding officer of the famous battlecruiser Nike, was captured. It is in her captivity that Henke would meet with, and tentatively begin, peace talks with Havenite officials. These talks broke down due to external agents from the Mesan Alignment, and Elizabeth III, believing Haven to responsible for an attempt to kill numerous allied officials, ordered Eighth Fleet to resume the offensive.
By this time Manticore had developed the new Apollo missile system, based on faster-than-light transmissions, and this granted an unbelievable new range advantage, dwarfing even the capabilities of the multi-drive missiles. The Apollo system was only available to Eighth Fleet as stock of the weapons was limited, and President Pritchart, seeing an opportunity to end the war on Haven’s terms, ordered two large fleets to attack the Manticore system directly.
On the 24th July 1921 PD two large Havenite fleets, totalling 336 ships of the wall, emerged from hyper in the Manticore system, performing what Royal Navy officers had to admit was a remarkable piece of astrogation to emerge in the perfect position. Manticore was initially defended by Home Fleet and also Third Fleet, though either fleet would have been outnumbered by one of the Havenite deployments. Further hampering Manticore was the absence of the pod-laying superdreadnoughts – they had some, but other elements of their wall of battle consisted of older, hastily re-commissioned superdreadnoughts.
The initial exchange of battle took place between Home Fleet and Haven’s 2nd Fleet. Home Fleet. Superior Manticoran technology allowed them to destroy 97 Havenite ships of the wall, but over half a million Havenite missiles destroyed Home Fleet. In subsequent engagements both sides took serious losses, but the arrival of Eighth Fleet and the new Apollo missiles tipped the battle in Manticore’s favour. Something of a bluff enabled Harrington to convince Admiral Tourville, commanding officer of 2nd Fleet, to surrender, following the near-ruin of 5th Fleet.
The Battle of Manticore was the end of military action for both sides. Haven lost between 1.7-2 million personnel. Manticore lost nearly 600,000 personnel. Both sides had virtually wiped out the other’s capacity to wage war, with only Harrington’s Eighth Fleet remaining as a serious effective combatant.
With the shooting over, it fell to Harrington to lead negotiations with President Pritchart, and to dangle the blade of Eighth Fleet over Havenite heads. The two governments would talk in more faith than when High Ridge had been Manticoran Prime Minister, but new complications would take things in unexpected directions…