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The Siege of Manassas was a military operation conducted by the Covenant Army to capture the city of Manassas, Reach from the UNSC Defense Force during the Fall of Reach in 2552. The siege began on August 18th, a period of time following the arrival of Covenant reinforcements in the Epsilon Eridani System, during which Covenant forces also laid siege to the cities of and . The battle lasted up until the final moments of the Invasion of Reach, with remaining UNSC forces fighting ferociously for control of the city and for the successful evacuation of it's populace.
Opening Skirmishes (August 18th - August 19th)
The initial Covenant invasion began on August 18th, 2552 following a Covenant offensive in the Epsilon Eridani system. The invasion of Manassas had been planned to take place around the same time as the Siege of New Alexandria, in order to prevent the UNSC from utilizing all available military assets.
The first attacks by Covenant forces in Manassas began at roughly 17:00, when local police agencies reported masses of infantry moving into Virginia Park, a predominately American suburb three miles from the city center. Initial scouting reports had placed the number of Covenant forces in Virginia Park at roughly 23,000 combatants, though it was later recorded as being nearly 30% larger. With the majority of the suburb having been abandoned earlier during the attack on Reach, no evacuation order was immediately issued and nearly all remaining civilians were killed by the approaching Covenant infantry. During the civilian retreat, unorganized groups began looting various stores, as well as burning down their own houses in order to prevent the Covenant from salvaging items. As the Covenant marched through Virginia Park, the Manassas Regional Guard was activated and ordered to entrench outside the suburb. However, the majority of soldiers who had been activated had deserted their units for their own safety. As a result, only three hundred troops arrived at the Virgina Park exit, where they were quickly overrun.
UNSC retreat (August 20th)
- "Sector III is lost, the immediate evacuation of all UNSC forces within this perimeter is now a priority one order. The remaining civilians are going to have to to fend off themselves."
- ―Staff Sergeant Merica O'Hanson, Manassas Regional Guard
Despite the efforts of the local UNSC forces, the humans in city sector three were quickly overwhelmed by the invading Covenant forces. With the lives of the reserve soldiers at stake, Minister Regional Guard commanding officer Colonel Vlandis Heere ordered the full retreat of the remaining military forces. As nearly three thousands guardsmen made their way out of the city, a single company was ordered to stay behind in order to ensure the safe evacuation of as many soldiers and civilians as possible.
- Colonel Vlandis Heere: "Charlie Company, stay put and arm those turrets. I need you staying back and halting the invasion.
- Lance Corporal Morton: "With all due respect Colonel, I can't do that. Staying back here is a death sentence!
- Colonel Vlandis Heere: "So is treason, Corporal."
The ensuring firefight between colonial soldiers and the Covenant would allow time for major civilian evacuation efforts, although a third of the Guard company was wiped out in ensuing battle. The remaining military survivors not assigned to the company met up with the civilian evacuees at the nearby Vyrant Center, having lost control of Manassas's suburbs. Meanwhile, under the command of Major Makai Kadosa, a company of UNSC Army soldiers of the 12th Infantry Brigade returned to the neighborhood of Virginia Park. Upon arrival, they were stunned to have discovered that a mere 72 soldiers remained from Charlie Company, who had been previously assigned to delay the Covenant assault. Under the command of Lance Corporal Kevin Morton, the highest ranking company survivor, and Makai Kadosa, the UNSC Army recruited numerous civilian survivors to assist in the construction of trenches and fortifications around the Virginia Park neighborhood. Ensuing skirmishes took place as Covenant ground forces launched a series of offensives against the entrenched UNSC troops. For the next several hours, wave of Ungoy infantry were deployed in mass to attack. The series of attacks lasted a mere hour as the Covenant forces were devastated by UNSC infantry. During this time period, the first series of civilian evacuations took place, as massive hordes of civilians sought evacuation from the center set up at the Vyrant Center. However, this evacuation effort proved bittersweet, as it was ultimately shown to only be a brief period of success.
Realizing the ineffectivess of the Unggoy assault, Covenant Army forces then moved into the adjacent suburb of Echo Hills, which now laid abandon and devastated from the scorched earth tactics of the retreating civilians the previous day. The lack of resistance in Echo Hills proved to be catastrophic; by the night of August 20th, the entire northern sector of Manassas was under Covenant control.
Encirclement of Manassas (August 21st - August 22nd)
Following the brief UNSC victory at Virginia Park, the remaining Covenant forces struck through Echo Hills and made their way to the district of New Karelia, located a mere three kilometers (1.8 miles) outside Downtown Manassas. At approximately 0:300 a joint UNSC counterattack was lunched in New Kaerlia to prevent a Covenant advance. Under the command of Colonel Vlandis Heere, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 31st Infantry Brigade advanced out of the evacuation in downtown Manassas, moving directly to the center of the Covenant invasion. Meanwhile, the remainder of the 12th Infantry Brigade and B Company, Manassas Regional Guard, moved out of Virginia Park and into a position to the north of the Covenant forces.
- August 14th: The arrives in the space above Reach. After several initial attacks with the fleet, HIGHCOM notifies Ground Command to halt evacuation in the Manassas metropolitan area, thus allowing evacuations forces to concentrate their efforts around New Alexandria.
- August 15th-16th: Minor amounts of Covenant ground forces advance across the rural lands outside Manassas. Human resistance remains minimal in the area, with few reports regarding the potential attack.
- August 17th: Lieutenant Commander Alec Demos engages in what is believed to be the first skirmish at Manassas, while running a scouting mission outside Virginia Park. While several in explicit radio transmissions are sent out from the area. Demos is originally presumed to have been killed by Covenant forces, but a naval investigation released in 2558 reveals he was a direct casualty of friendly fire.
- August 18th: Initial Covenant invasion forces arrive in Virginia Park. Due to an extremely underwhelming UNSC presence it takes less than four hours for Covenant forces to move through the neighborhood. Civilians in Virginia Park and adjacent Echo Hills begin implementing their own scorched earth strategy, nearly destroying their entire neighborhoods prior to Covenant intervention. While this action was believed to have slowed Covenant assault, it also limited evacuation efforts in the area. Large scale looting occurs and several riots are reported in the streets. By 21:00, the remaining Colonial Militia and Army Forces in the area have retreated, and HIGHCOM declares Sector III, consisting of Virginia Park, Echo Hills, and Hévíz, to be under full Covenant control. Evacuation efforts are moved to four different locations, with the largest one located at Kovacs Stadium in central Manassas.