- "My lord, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed. Com-scan has detected an energy field protecting an area of the sixth planet of the Hoth system. The field is strong enough to deflect any bombardment."
"The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system."
"He...He felt surprise was wiser—"
"He is as clumsy as he is stupid. General, prepare your troops for a surface attack."
"Yes, my Lord."
- ―General Maximillian Veers and Darth Vader
The Battle of Hoth was a major victory for the Galactic Empire and the single worst battlefield defeat suffered by the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War. The battle was an Imperial invasion aimed at destroying the Rebel Alliance's Echo Base hidden on the remote ice world Hoth. The base's location was compromised when a viper probe droid deployed by Darth Vader landed on Hoth. When the Death Squadron fleet commanded by Admiral Kendal Ozzel left lightspeed too close to the Hoth system, the Admiral inadvertently alerted the Alliance of the Imperial's presence, giving the Rebels time to prepare for the necessary evacuation and raise the planetary shield. Thus, Vader executed him for that fatal mistake and immediately promoted Captain Firmus Piett to replace him.
The Imperial attack force consisted of primarily AT-AT walkers, commanded by General Maximilian Veers. His army was tasked with destroying Echo Base's main power generator to allow orbital bombardment of the planet. Spearheading the defense of the generator was the elite Rogue Squadron, manning snowspeeders, commanded by Luke Skywalker, renowned for being the pilot who destroyed the first Death Star. The snowspeeders did not have the necessary firepower to bring down the walkers, so Skywalker suggested an alternative tactic to trip up the walkers with the tow cables issued to every snowspeeder.
Despite the efforts by Rogue Squadron, the power generator was eventually destroyed by Veers. The remaining base personnel proceeded to evacuate, as the 501st Legion, led by Darth Vader, entered the base. The overwhelming Imperial invasion would force the Rebellion to abandon its holdings on Hoth and scatter the Alliance Fleet across the galaxy, leading to a multitude of engagements across the galaxy for over six months before the Empire's sudden and crushing defeat at the Battle of Endor.
Following the Rebel Alliance's major victory at Yavin, the Rebellion abandoned its base on Yavin 4 and began searching the galaxy for new possible bases of operation, considering worlds such as Daxan Beta and Insk. In the subsequent three and a half years of conflict, the Rebel Alliance eventually took refuge on the uninhabited planet of Hoth in the Anoat sector. The Corps of Engineers constructed the base for over the course of two standard years, hoping to claim it as their new base of operations whilst avoiding the watchful eyes of the Empire. The base would be fully inhabited less than a month before the battle took place.
Following the defeat of the Empire three and a half years earlier at the Battle of Yavin, the Rebel Alliance suffered from relentless Imperial attacks during the Mid Rim Retreat. Rumors of a Rebel base, Echo Base, circulated throughout the Rebellion, while only a few in the Alliance actually knew concrete details of its existence. Rebel troopers at Echo Base, far-distanced from the disastrous Rebel tactical situation in the Mid and Outer Rim Territories, had access to better equipment and training than Rebel soldiers throughout the rest of the galaxy.
Shortly before the battle, a strategy conference would be held at the base in which several transports would arrive rumored to carry Princess Leia Organa, General Carlist Rieekan, Commander Chiffonage, a Bothan spy and several other members of Alliance Command. The meeting would end shortly before the battle, yet before Leia and some of the attendees could leave the system.
With the Empire sending out several Viper probe droids to search for hidden Rebel bases throughout the galaxy, it eventually discovered the Alliance's base of operations on Hoth from intelligence gathered from an Arakyd probe deployed from the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Stalker. On the ground, Commander Luke Skywalker spotted the probe droid crash while on a recon mission with his tauntaun—indigenous snow-lizards utilized by Alliance personnel as mounts—and believing it to be a meteorite, went closer to investigate. On his way, Skywalker was attacked by a native wampa and dragged off into a cave before he could get a closer look. Han Solo eventually went off to rescue Skywalker during a harsh snowstorm, in spite of the concern from his comrades.
Later, Solo and Chewbacca were tasked with investigating the lead that Skywalker came across, leading to their discovery of the existence of the probe droid. Upon being spotted by it, Han attempted to destroy it, only to have droid activate its self-destruct mechanism. Receiving new intelligence from the probe, the crew of the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Executor initially dismissed the findings. In spite of Admiral Kendal Ozzel's concern that pictures of the Rebel shield generator merely belonged to smugglers, Darth Vader instructed the Imperial Death Squadron to invade the planet. With their location revealed, the wrath of the Empire would soon be unleashed upon the Rebellion.
Plan Kay One ZeroEdit
Upon dissemination of Han Solo's report on the probe, base commander General Rieekan correctly concluded that the mysterious probe had been sent from the Empire. Rieekan ordered the immediate evacuation of Echo Base, using code K-one-zero. Rieekan then ordered Rebel technicians to raise the base's shields to maximum power in order to minimize damage from orbital bombardment. By dumping energy directly into the planet's interior, the Rebel's planet-based shield allowed protection from bombardments that would normally overwhelm ship shields.
Simultaneously, Princess Leia Organa instructed Rebel pilots within Hangar 7 to escape in groups in order to avoid the Imperial blockade. The Rebel plan was to have all ships meet at a pre-specified rendezvous point. Immediately, the rebel base fluttered with activity, and boarding began on thirty GR-75 medium transports. Noncombat personnel were loaded first, while the Tauntauns utilized by the rebels were set loose onto the frozen plains. A noisy alarm immediately indicated the Empire's arrival, while a subspace alert was sent out to the transports of new recruits heading for the world to avoid the system.
When Darth Vader's fleet arrived in the Hoth system, he quickly discovered that the Rebels were fully aware of the ambush that he had planned, which was not helped by Ozzel's Star Destroyer appearing out of lightspeed too close to the system. Vader promptly force-choked Ozzel to death for poorly handling the situation and immediately promoted Captain Firmus Piett to the rank of admiral, leaving him in charge of the invasion.
- "Sergeant! What's going on?"
"Command says snowspeeders have engaged the walkers. No damage yet, but they're slowing down. The bad news, sir, is that the Empire's sent recon forces fanning out. Troops are heading this way."
"Get ready, then."
- ―First Sergeant Namir and an Echo Base sergeant
Planet-side, decorated General Maximillian Veers was placed in command of the ground assault, and led the contingent of AT-ATs and AT-STs under the unilateral command of Blizzard Force. Veers, wary that Rebel starfighters would swarm the Executor's Incom Y-85 Titan dropships, called upon Death Squadron's more versatile Gozanti-class cruisers, which could carry only two AT-ATs at a time, unlike the Titan's four. Blizzard Force barges and troop carriers, escorted by TIE fighters, converged at the Moorsh Moraine glacial feature, well north of the heavily fortified mountain base. Unable to launch an orbital bombardment due to the presence of the Rebel shield, which utilized projector modules scattered throughout Rebel territory, Gen. Veers was ordered to destroy the central power generator, which would knock out any of its subsidiary projector modules. Gen. Veers also received orders to capture rather than kill surviving Rebel forces from his assault.
In an attempt to impress Vader, Blizzard 4 attempted to cross a direct but treacherous route into the Kerane Valley, only to lose three walkers to crevices in the eastern ice flow. Blizzard 4's AT-AT group then retreated to a more manageable westerly route. The main group of AT-ATs soon emerged from the fog atop the North Ridge.
The Imperial Gozanti-class cruisers were first reported by Perimeter Outpost Delta, while in space the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Tyrant was disabled by Echo Base's ion cannon, allowing the first GR-75 medium transport Quantum Storm and its fighter escort to safely escape. Nonetheless, it wouldn't be long until the Imperial forces on the ground would be reported in by Outpost Beta. Outpost Beta was subsequently the first sentry post destroyed with half a dozen laser blasts from Imperial AT-ST walkers. Blizzard Force then defeated the Rebel scouts at Echo Station 3-T-8, allowing them to continue their march towards Echo Base.
Rebel ground forces attempted to hold the line against the Imperial walkers in recently dug trenches dotted with numerous DF.9 turrets and the concentrated blasts of 1.4 FD P-Tower laser cannons, but were met with little success due to the near-impervious armor that was utilized by the AT-ATs. Due to proximity mines planted by Outpost Beta personnel having failed to damage the advancing AT-ST walkers, the main concern and official order for the rebel troops on the ground was to protect the shield generator. As with its destruction, the energy shield would no longer offer solace to any unlaunched rebel transports in the field. With rebel air support now engaging the walkers the Imperial advance slowed somewhat, if only to allow recon forces to begin fanning out to assault the other rebel positions spread across the battlefield. First Sergeant Namir of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry and the soldiers at Outpost Delta were soon under attack by a force of several Imperial snowtroopers on floating gunnery platforms and an AT-ST walker due to their flanking position on the western edge of the Imperial advance. Despite heavy resistance and the destruction of a gunnery platform, the Scout Transport was not distracted by blaster fire from ground troops in the trenches and proceeded to destroy several rebel artillery emplacements. With the outpost no longer a threat, the walker and its ground support fell back to join the main assault on Echo Base, forcing the survivors of the encounter to proceed back to base on a hijacked Imperial wheeled combat transport.
With T-47 airspeeders flying out of Echo Base's hangar to meet the approaching army, they soon realized that the AT-AT's armor was impervious to their blasters, while a single shot from an AT-AT destroyed one of the rebel airspeeders. Despite this, pilots Thane Kyrell and Yendor managed to badly damage a walker's leg by shooting at its joints, ultimately detaching its foot and disabling the behemoth. Shortly afterwards, Rogue Squadron led by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles were able to utilize T-47 airspeeders to somewhat halt the march of the Imperials. Antilles, aided by his gunner Wes Janson, were able to inventively use their T-47's tow cables to topple an AT-AT before blowing it to smithereens in its weakened state. Unfortunately, Skywalker's own snowspeeder was blasted by an AT-AT, killing his co-pilot Dak Ralter and leaving him stranded on the ground once his ship crashed and was subsequently crushed. Skywalker was able to attach himself to the nearby AT-AT and by utilizing his hoist cable, his Lightsaber, and a Thermal detonator, another AT-AT was brought to a screeching halt.
In spite of their valiant efforts, the Rebels were unable to hold the Imperials back. Concurrently, Blizzards 6, 9, and 8 fired on retreating remnants of hangar defense trenches. With many of the Rebel defense turrets in place to halt the Imperial forces quickly being destroyed, forcing the Rebel troops to retreat back to Echo Base. With the Empire now deploying ground troops in an effort to force the Rebellion out of their crumbling last line of defense, survivors of Outpost Delta smashed through the Imperial front into friendly territory only to discover that rebel command's last order was one of total evacuation. With confusion in the field owing to a sudden communications blackout from Echo Base, which some attributed to a walker firing at it, the demoralized rebel forces hastily made way for their escape.
Upon reaching firing range of Echo Base's power generator, Veers in his AT-AT Blizzard One managed to annihilate the generator, leaving Echo Base vulnerable to an orbital bombardment and allowing for the arrival of Lord Vader's shuttle.
Infiltration of Echo BaseEdit
- "Imperial troops have entered the base! Imperial troops have ent—"
- ―A Rebel soldier
Darth Vader's forces smashed into the Echo Base by punching a hole in the mountains eastern face. With the snowtroopers now pouring into Echo Base, Leia instructed all remaining personnel in the base to evacuate immediately. Many of the survivors were able to escape in the transports unharmed, despite numerous TIE/LN starfighters now entering the planet's atmosphere. With the interior of the base now in chaos, remaining rebels hastily made their way to their respective starships while firefights between Imperial and rebel forces erupted in the corridors, echoing across the crumbling base. Owing to occasional Wampas infiltrating Echo Base, several snowtroopers were slain after entering a room where vicious native Wampas were kept, ignoring a sign clearly marked warning in the process.
Darth Vader, having traveled to Echo Base upon the shield generators destruction seeking his son, Luke Skywalker, marched throughout the base to see personally to the rebels defeat. Encountering First Sergeant Namir, Imperial defector Everi Chalis and several other rebel troopers in a corridor, Vader swiftly dispatched the motley crew, before being informed by a snowtrooper the newly discovered location of the Millennium Falcon. With Alliance friend and smuggler Han Solo and Chewbacca having previously planned to leave Hoth shortly before the Empire attacked in order to pay off their debt to Jabba Desilijic Tiure, they ultimately found themselves stranded with Princess Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2 once the bombardment began. With troopers arriving in the hangar where the Millennium Falcon was kept, the Falcon was not able to start up immediately due to damage it had sustained earlier, but nonetheless held off approaching snowtroopers by utilizing the ship's weapons systems. Just as Vader arrived, the Falcon managed to escape to hangar and subsequently, the Hoth system.
"No. No signs of Rebels."
"All right, let's keep moving."
"Yeah, at least walking will help keep us a bit warmer."
- ―Imperial snowtrooper chatter while flushing out rebel stragglers in Echo Base
Despite most of the remnants of the Rebellion's troops on Hoth managing to escape, the Alliance Fleet and Alliance High Command would be temporarily scattered, leaving many of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance separated from their forces and without orders. Luke Skywalker was able to make his way back to Echo Base before the Empire destroyed it and took off in an X-Wing, escorting the GR-75 medium transport Dutyfree with the aid of Wedge Antilles off the planet. Luke then chose not to go to the rendezvous point in order to find Jedi Master Yoda per Obi-Wan's request. Meanwhile, Solo and his group were unable to go to lightspeed due to engine trouble, and were forced to flee from the Imperial fleet by other means. With First Sergeant Namir and Governor Everi Chalis having barely survived their previous encounter with Vader, the two managed to escape in a rebel transport by sending false codes to a Star Destroyer in orbit owing to Chalis's former Imperial employment. Before the Destroyer could confirm their suspicions, the two blasted off into hyperspace, unknowing of the role they would play in future events.
The last transport to escape was the GR-75 medium transport Bright Hope, and was escorted by Wedge, Tarrin, and Wes Janson. Of the thirty GR-75 transports utilized by the Rebels, only 17 were destroyed.
With Echo Base mostly cleared, Imperial forces began locking down rebel airspeeders with Imperial flight codes to prevent any straggling rebels from escaping.
Two rebels would be stranded on the planet after missing the last transport. Needing to escape the base, Admiral Gial Ackbar would assemble some of his best technicians in an effort to rescue the survivors. After fighting off waves of increasing Imperial assault, Ackbar's technicians were able to crack the Imperial flight codes locking down the Rebel ships at the base, sending them to the two rebels and allowing them to escape.
The battle was a costly blow to the Rebel Alliance, scattering the surviving forces and lowering overall morale to the cause. For the weeks following the Battle of Hoth, Alliance High Command would remain scattered and various rebel elements left fragmented across the Outer Rim, while Imperial battle groups from the Core Worlds would be dispatched to pursue the scattered rebel fleet. Despite the communications breakdown, the Rebels would continue to persist in their effort to battle against the Empire in spite of this crushing defeat, with one fragment eventually assaulting numerous Imperial worlds in Operation Ringbreaker and also freeing the manufacturing world of Sullust. Although Solo would eventually be taken prisoner by Boba Fett, Skywalker, Organa, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca would eventually reunite with the Rebel fleet, joined by a newfound ally, Lando Calrissian.
Imperial tacticians would study the rebel's ability to escape with so few casualties yet inflict so many, while the Rebels were forced to abandon tons of material and snowspeeders following their hasty retreat from Echo Base. While rebel weapons were at par with the Empire's, poor body armor for foot soldiers plagued the rebel forces despite troopers at Echo Base possessing better equipment than many rebel forces during the Mid Rim Retreat. Future Civil War historians would point out that if not for the painful rout at Hoth, the Alliance might never had risked everything at Endor a year later, where they inflicted a crippling blow on the Empire from which it never recovered.
The rebellion would ultimately establish a new base on the even remoter world of 5251977, while the Galactic Civil War would continue to rage across the galaxy. It would not be until six months later that the Alliance would not only destroy the Death Star II and with it the Imperial head of state after the highly successful Battle of Endor, but also kill his right hand man, Lord Vader, ultimately ushering in the formation of the New Republic in its continuing effort to restore freedom to the galaxy.
- Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience" (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Flight of the Falcon" (Appears in flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Crossing Paths" (Indirect mention only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Mentioned only)
Notes and referencesEdit