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The Invasion of the Fire Nation was an attempt by the 32nd Earth King, Gao, to subjugate the archipelago that would later become known as the Fire Nation. At the time, it was ruled by shogunates, that fought over control of the islands, though did unite when the Earth Kingdom, which itself was recently unified, attacked. It started 1,983 years before Sozin's Comet, and ended three years later.

The war was important in Fire Nation history, since it caused the nation's unification. The Earth Kingdom, wanting to expand their territory beyond their continent, attacked shortly after the shoguns of the most powerful and influential shogunates declined the Earth King's offer of becoming vassal states of the Kingdom. The war included some of the largest naval battles in history before the Siege of the North. The Avatar, a Waterbender, did not interfere with the war, since the Water Tribes were at war as well.


Unification of the Earth Kingdom

The Earth Kingdom was united after nearly thirty years of warfare under Earth King Gao, the son of the Earth King who originally started the unification wars of the continent. Most territories were then under the King's control, with the exception of Omashu, whose king made a treaty with Gao. By the time the war ended, the Earth Kingdom possessed the largest military force on Earth.

During the war, Gao had to capture a strategically important city state on the western coast of the continent. It possessed a small army, though a large navy. The city was captured, and the navy vessels were used as the base of the Earth King's fleet. The armada was used to capture more coastal towns, taking light casualties. By the war's end, the navy was some 400 ships strong.


After the war, the King began to look for a way to show he was a worthy ruler to his people, solidifying his position and preventing uprisings or rebellions. His scouts reported a chain of islands to the far west. They were ruled by small separate kingdoms, called shogunates, and had no central governments, similar to the Earth Kingdom prior to unification. Gao assumed it would be a quick and easy victory, so he sent sent a peace offering to the leaders of the top three shogunates, stating:

I, the Earth King, am giving you an offer to join my glorious Kingdom as vassal states. It is only logical that we unite peacefully, and when I have control of the Water Tribes and the Air Nomad territory as well, you will be rewarded greatly, along with being left as my official regional regents of your original territories. If you do not comply and give in peacefully, I will be forced to take hostile action against you. However, I do not wish for hostilities.'

The shoguns came together to decide a course of action. They decided that it was pretty obvious that they could not become puppet states of King Gao, and began military preparations while sending a response to the King stating they would remain sovereign. The King, enraged at the response, sent half of the Earth Kingdom Army to the western shores, and amassed 300 warships of the navy's total of 400, leaving only 100 to patrol Kingdom waters. The amassed army also helped build an additional 200 vessels, brining the total fleet count to 500. The army trained in marine tactics while the construction was going on, and set off about four months after the completion of the fleet.

Chin's armies

The Earth Kingdom Army and Navy prepare for the invasion on the western coast of the Earth Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the shogunates sent a combined of 150 vessels to blockade the Mo Ce Sea, the water way leading to the Fire archipelago. They were not aware that the largest task force ever assembled was heading there. Meanwhile, on Gao's orders, mass conscription of recruits into the army and navy began, while an additional 400 ships were being constructed by orders of the Council of Five, who did not underestimate the shoguns like the King did.


Battle of Mo Ce Sea

The first battle of the war occurred when the small shogunate flotilla of 150 ships met up with the Earth Kingdom Army's and Navy's combined invasion force 500 vessels. The battle began with great advantage to the shogunate fleet, because the Earth Kingdom vessels were lower quality and their crews were not well trained. The shogunate flotilla destroyed around 50 ships in the first thirty minutes, giving the Earth Kingdom unexpected casualties. The Earthbender naval commander, Admiral Ling Sao, was nearly killed, and though he survived, he remained unconscious for some time, leaving his fleet without orders from the top.

Recovering from the initial casualties, the Earth Kingdom fleet dealt several blows by destroying about 60 shogunate vessels during the middle stage of the battle. Many men who survived the sinking of the ships and were stranded n the water managed to board the Kingdom vessels and had fights with he men aboard. Some managed to even capture Earth Kingdom ships. However, by the end of the battle, a mere 30 ships of the shogunate were left, causing their commander, Admiral Mitsuru Nishimura, to order a retreat.

Luck was on their side though, and the Kingdom fleet ran into a storm, loosing additional vessels. After the end of the storm, the total Earth Kingdom casualties amounted to 170 ships lost, leaving 430 to attack the islands.

Early Campaigns

King Gao become angry with his officers on the front after losing to what he thought was a rag tag flotilla of small frigates. He considered the casualties too high, and ordered his officers on the front to do something good while he tried to cover up the embarrassing result of the battle (which was considered a draw by both sides). His officers, fearing for their ranks and lives, began landing troops at uninhibited small outlying islands to make staging bases for supply convoys and additional reinforcements to stop at when coming in from the Earth Kingdom. They then begun the first wave of attacks.

A fleet of 50 vessels carrying an army of 30,000 troops, under General Han Zhao, attacked a small trading outpost of the Kumakura shogunate. They took the 4,000 defenders by surprise and scoring their first victory, though at the cost of 24 ships and 9,000 men. The outpost stored a reasonable amount of supplies for General Zhao to launch another attack, and use that outpost as a base. The Earth King was pleased, and finally had some good news to boast about for a bit, and ordered his generals to achieve some more.

A few days later, they got a follow up victory by attacking a city state on a small island, called Simatra. That city was powerful and more influential than even some of the multi-island shogunates in the area. They had a significant amount of troops as a defending force and were a major obstacle in the King's domination of the eastern islands. Earth Kingdom forces, under General Qin Beifong, attacked the city with 120 vessels carrying a total of 70,000 men. The city's Firebenders burned many ships, and mines took their toll. A large number of Earhbenders and warriors were killed before landing, weakening the ground forces as well. General Beifong's troops were forced to land outside the city, taking more than the intended casualties fro trying to break through the walls. After three days of sieging, the army finally captured the city, after Beifong executed Emperor Sung, the city's leader, at the Simatra Royal Palace.

The King however was not pleased with the high casualties and did not make the battle's details public, other than the fact that it was a major victory. Which it was. Simatra was the major obstacle that the Earth Kingdom had to capture in order to proceed in their campaign. The next major target was Hing Wa Island, which held the Capitol city of one of the largest opposing shogunates, the Hing Wa Shogunate.

To conquer it, General Hong Tzu and Admiral Ling Sao, who was the commanding officer of the Earth Kingdom forces at the battle of Mo Ce Sea, amassed a large fleet at the Simatra to prepare. However, scout ships of the Ember Shogunate spotted the formation and warned the Hing Wa Shogunate of it. In an attempt to weaken Kingdom forces and buy time for the Hing Wa to prepare, a small hit-and-run flotilla of light and agile vessels was prepared to raid the fleet while it was docked over night at the Simatra port. They hit the fleet at night in their surprise lightning raid. Their raiding force was comprised of 30 ships while Sao's armada was 200 ships strong. The Firebenders however, did heavy damage to the fleet, with fire spreading fast through the wooden, closely packed vessels of the fleet. The shogunate attack force took no casualties, though the Earth Kingdom armada lost 80 vessels and another 40 were damaged. General Tzu decided to proceed with the attack nonetheless.

Their next target was the original one planned: Hing Wa Island. However, the Shogunate had enough time to prepare for defense. The island would become one of the most hellish fronts of the war, and quickly earned itself a nickname from the Earth Kingdom troops: hell.

Battle of Hing Wa Island

Admiral Sao's fleet managed to reach the east side if Hing Wa Island without losing any of the warships damaged in the earlier shogunate attack. The scout vessels reported that Hing Wa had to be taken by land. Large fleets guarded the south and north sides of the island, preventing the Earth Kingdom from simply going around and heading to the Hing Wa Shogunate Capitol on the western tip of the island. Sao's sailors commenced repair work on the damaged ships while General Tzu and his men step up camp on the beach.

The island was almost entirely covered in thick jungles, making the idea of bringing tanks or siege equipment impossible. Tzu realized his men would have to move in on foot. He landed 45,000 troops, and sent out a vanguard scout force into the jungle at all directions, made up of 5,000 men. By the end of the day, the situation became worse: a little more than a thousand men returned alive. Apparently, guerrilla fighters under Commander Hayashi Ayami were in the jungles, waiting for them to enter. Secondly, around 6,000 of Tzu's army became sick with jungle diseases, which the guerrillas were immune to, since they lived on the island for most of their lives. Already down to 41,000 men (including the sick ones), Tzu took a force of 15,000 inland to take out the Capitol himself.

By the first day, the six thousand who were infected died from the diseases. Tzu's little assault force, already down to 9,000 men without seeing any combat, continued on anyways. The force soon saw actin at a small village near the centre of the island another 5,000 troops were lost by the end of the day, since the guerrillas lured them out of the village and into a swamp. Down to only 4,000 men, Tzu retreated to the coast where his remaining 30,000 were waiting at camp. He returned to find that the two armadas came down from the north and south and destroyed most of Sao's fleet. The admiral himself survived and retreated with a handful of ships back to Simatra. He left a message saying his fleet would make nightly supply runs, though Tzu knew they wouldn't get passed the Shogunate blockade. They were on their own.

The next day, Tzu left camp with 25,000 men, leaving behind five thousand to see to the camp. They came across opposition almost immediately. The guerrillas took them by surprise, killing nearly five thousand in their ambush. They killed a further seven thousand when half of Tzu's troops pursued them into the jungle when they retreated. Those men were killed after getting stuck in a swamp and coming across various traps. Losing already 12,000 troops, he pushed onwards to the central village they fought at the first time. The guerrillas set yet another trap. All of the wooden buildings were connected by bundles of hay, and were filled with explosive powder barrels. The Firebenders waited as Tzu's forces secured most of the village before lighting the nearest buildings. The fire spread all over the village and trapped the general. Another 8,000 men were lost. Tzu, disgraced, ordered an immediate retreat. When they got back to camp, they saw that only one thousand out of the original five thousand remained at the camp; the rest fell to disease.

Having no other options, Tzu surrendered. The guerrilla commander, recently promoted General Hayashi Ayami, took them prisoner, though most of them either died of disease or were executed.

Battle of Iskijima Island

Earth Kingdom ravaged

Iskijima Island after the battle.

The Earth King was furious to hear of what happened on Hing Wa. The Kingdom's people were finding out about the defeats were getting on edge. However, his reinforcement conscripts were now trained, and his new fleet was done. Another 300 ships, under Colonel Xiu Wei, headed to the staging port of Simatra. There, they would meet up with the 50 ships left under Ling Sao, Qin Beifong, and Hong Zhao.

While the Earth Kingdom's Council of Five was debating the next move based on the defeat at Hing Wa, a large force assembled at a small island under Shoguns Mao Li and Ryujo Sato. They were in high spirits, given their crushing victory over the Earth Kingdom at Hing Wa. Knowing King Gao, they knew he would want a quick and easy victory to cover up the Kingdom's disastrous defeat, and the Council of Five was already trying to decide what do next. So they set a trap for the Earth Kingdom's forces at the island of Iskijima. A fleet of ships, 50 strong and manned by skeleton crews, under Admiral Mitsuru Nishimura, was anchored off coast of the island. A much larger fleet of 250 ships would wait near by. When the Earth Kingdom took the bait and near victory, the larger fleet would strike from the rear.

They took the trap, as expected. The only one who advised against it, Admiral Sao, was sacked by King Gao and returned to Ba Sing Se. The other officers proceeded, but took more caution. A fleet of one hundred would attack first, led by General Zhao, followed by a fleet of 250 led by General Beifong. They attacked and, as expected, neared victory. When the shogunate fleet was down to their last ships (the first Kingdom force of one hundred was down to 70 ships), Beifong's reinforcements attacked as well. At that point, the shogunate larger fleet attacked, taking the Kingdom navy by surprise. General Zhao's flagship was one of the many vessels lost in the surprise attack. The entire fleet of the Earth Kingdom was down to 220 ships after the surprise was gone and Beifong's fleet recovered. The battle became intense, though the shogunate had superior soldiers and sailors. Firebender marines boarded the Kingdom vessels, burning them and killing sailors. Beifong ordered a bombardment of the island, knowing it was populated, though was killed when marines boarded his flagship. By then, the Earth Kingdom Navy sustained heavy casualties, and the highest-ranking officer that remained (Xiu Wei), seeing that the day was the shogunate's, ordered a retreat.

Ba Sing Se Riots

Peasant uprising

Royal Earthbender Guards hold back protestors in the Lower Ring.

Though Gao tried to keep the result of the battle covered up, the info was leaked and the greater populace found out. Mass riots were held all over the Earth Kingdom. The people had enough of the pointless war; it was taking a heavy toll in the form of taxes and dead relatives. Gao wanted to continue the war, and called in the military to keep down the riots that were erupting all over the kingdom, though many military units agreed and instead joined the protestors. In Ba Sing Se, the King's elite Royal Guard kept the riots closed in the lower ring.

The King made a public statement that the war would continue, but only for a little while longer, probably a month or two. He decided to attack the most important centers of shogunate activities. However, he had to transfer the last of his armada and conscripted soldiers to the islands. The Council of Five decided to strike the Capitol of the Kumakura Shogunate and Caldera City, a city state that was the largest and richest in the archipelago.

Battle of Kumakura Island

The Council of Five's new plan was to strike two of the most important targets in the shogunates. The first of these was Kumakura island in the northern archipelago. It was the Capitol of the Kumakura Shogunate. The second was Caldera City, the most powerful city state which was ruled by an emperor, the leader of the Council of Shoguns. The council decided to strike Kumakura first, with the remainder of their navy.

So a squadron of 180 warships under recently promoted Admiral Xiu Wei was sent from Simatra to Kumakura island. It was defended by a fleet of 150 warships under Shogun Lao Musashi and General Shinji Mimura. The two fleets engaged in combat a few kilometers just south of the island, where ground defense forces were getting ready for a siege. The ships of the shogunate were three masted cruisers and four masted destroyers, lead by a five masted ship-of-the-line. The battle began shortly. During the battle, the Earth Kingdom's fleet was nearly destroyed, as it was made up of support ships. However, several got passed and many stranded marines and sailors swam to shore.

Since Shogun Musashi was killed when his flagship sunk, it was up to General Mimura to lead the ground forces against Earthbender marines and sailors. Around 4,000 Earth Kingdom soldiers attacked the coast, which was defended by 9,000 Shogunate troops. After an intense battle, Kingdom troops were routed, with about a thousand survivors being taken prisoner.

King Gao ordered an attack on Caldera City after the battle, using the remaining 60 warships that the Kingdom navy had left. If the attack on the city could be won, then it would make up for the series of previous defeats.

Battle for Royal Caldera City



Creation of the Fire Nation

International Reaction


  • Earth Kingdom - The most powerful nation on the planet at the time. Recently united, the Kingdom possessed the world's largest military. In the beginning of the war, their morale was high, but after the raid on Sao's fleet in Simatra, it faded.
    • Kingdom of Omashu - The kingdom remained independent after the unification wars because of a treaty with King Gao, since his army was defeated attempting to take the city. They provided marines for the war efforts.
  • Fire Nation - The country did not yet exist, though the islands were ruled by separate shogunates and city states. The Nation was created after the war.
    • Hing Wa Shognate - One of the most powerful of the shogunates, ruling the southern Fire Nation islands from their Capitol on Hing Wa Island. They played a major role in the war, and were one of the founders of the Fire Nation.
    • Ember Shogunate - A small, but very rich shogunate on Ember Island. They provided funds and most of he naval fleet for the combined forces during the war.
    • Kumakura Shogunate - A medium-sized shogunate in the northern islands. They provided many soldiers for the war, and attempted to fight off the Earth Kingdom Navy in the Mo Ce Sea.

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