|Previous: Draenei Orc War|
|Next: Second War|
|Part of: Burning Crusade|
|Place: Continent of Azeroth|
|Outcome: Orcish Horde / Burning Legion victory
| Major Battles: |
|view template • talk about template • edit template|
The First War was a result of a conflict fought between the orcs and humans following the arrival on Azeroth of the orcish clans of Draenor. The human kingdom of Azeroth was completely destroyed, its survivors forced to flee to Lordaeron.
The true timeline of the First and Second Wars is blurred somewhat. The initial invasion of the Horde was crushed completely by the Humans, but after a change in power the Orcish Horde came back for a second attempt. The Second War begins when the humans attempt to retake the fallen Kingdom.
Prelude to the War
The humans of Stormwind lived in peace and prosperity on the continent of Azeroth for many years. But that ended when the sorcerer Medivh - possessed by the Dark Titan Sargeras - opened the dimensional gate that later became known as the Dark Portal. Through the Portal came the Orcish Horde (corrupted by Sargeras' lieutenant Kil'Jaeden) seeking to exterminate the humans. The Orcs overconfidently unleashed their first assault directly on Stormwind Keep, but failed to defeat the Human defenders. This attack is considered the start of the First War.
(Note: This section contains lore that is no longer considered canon due to the Warcraft Chronicles.)
- The Orcish Horde conquer the planet of Draenor.
- Orc clans begin fighting amongst themselves.
- The child sorcerer Medivh is born of a coupling between the court Conjurer and a mysterious traveler.
- Medivh falls into a coma, and his father dies.
- While unconscious, Medivh sends Gul'dan a vision of Azeroth and the vast resources it contains.
- Medivh awakens from a six year coma on the same day that Llane becomes Prince of Azeroth, and sometime thereafter begins work on the Dark Portal. The warlocks on Draenor find a small tear in the dimensional fabric and begin studying it, using this information to unite the Orcish Horde once again.
- The Dark Portal is opened and the Horde begins their invasion.
- Initial battles do not go well for the Horde. Expecting an easy victory against a weak opponent, the orcs rush to assault the fortress of Stormwind Keep, only to suffer a defeat of catastrophic proportions. Few orcs survive the initial battle.
- The Age of Chaos begins with the First War and the death of King Adamant.
- The Horde is humiliated by the unexpected rout, and the clans swiftly descend into turmoil. Chaos ensues, with factions blaming each other for the orcs' defeat.
- Gul'dan manipulates a ruthless dictator onto the throne of the Warchief. Known as Blackhand the Destroyer, the new Warchief rallies the clans back together again and prepares them for a new assault on Azeroth. The orcs begin raiding activities against outlying human settlements near the Black Morass.
- Medivh sends Gul'dan another vision, teasing him with images of the Tomb of Sargeras and the power it contains.
- The orcs bring reinforcements surging into Azeroth, decimating towns and villages and plundering everything in their path. The towns of Grand Hamlet and Sunnyglade are destroyed.
- Lord Anduin Lothar realizes Medivh's betrayal. He leads a small band of warriors to Medivh’s tower and confronts the wizard. Lothar and Khadgar slay Medivh, but Sargeras' spirit escapes.
- While searching the mind of Medivh for the true location of the Tomb of Sargeras, Gul'dan falls in a coma during the death of the Grand Magus, leaving Blackhand and the Shadow Council helpless.
- Blackhand the Destroyer is betrayed and slain by Orgrim Doomhammer, a trusted general and close friend. Doomhammer replaces Blackhand as Warchief of the Horde.
- Stormwind Keep falls before the full might of the Horde and is sacked. During the battle, King Llane is slain by one of Gul'dan's assassins, the half-orc Garona.
- Durotan, chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, and his mate Draka seek an audience with Doomhammer and tell him that Gul'dan seeks to betray the Horde. On their return trip, they are ambushed and slain by orcs loyal to Gul'dan. The assassins leave Durotan's infant son for dead, but the young orc is quickly discovered and saved by a band of humans under the command of Aedelas Blackmoore. The infant is taken as a slave and given the name Thrall.
- Spies loyal to Orgrim Doomhammer capture and torture Garona. In agony, she reveals the existence of the Shadow Council and directs them to the location of Gul'dan's warlocks near the ruins of Stormwind Keep.
- Doomhammer dispatches his elite wolfriders to the ruins. They slay or execute most of Gul'dan’s warlocks and disperse the remaining members of the Shadow Council. Gul'dan awakens from his coma and pleads for mercy from Doomhammer, offering complete submission. Doomhammer accepts and grants him mercy.
- Lord Anduin Lothar concedes that the Kingdom of Azeroth has been lost. He rallies his countrymen and leads them in a desperate retreat north on the Great Sea, eventually landing upon the shores of Lordaeron.
- The Warlocks resume their experiments with the dark portal.
The First War
King Llane dispatched Sir Anduin Lothar to uncover what these new creatures were. Lothar led a small force of knights to scout the Black Morass, resulting in the Knights of Stormwind clashing with orcs for the first time in a series of bloody skirmishes. Lothar and his men scored a number of small victories, yet for every orcs killed two more seemed to take its place. The humans were more outnumbered in each subsequent battle, and Lothar was eventually forced to pull back without venturing deep enough into the heavily guarded Black Morass to find the Dark Portal. Lothar informed King Llane the invaders were bringing in reinforcements from somewhere, and the kingdom readied itself for a full-scale war. Elsewhere, the orcs reported to Warchief Blackhand that the region's humans were now aware of their presence. Preparations and scounting ceased, and the First War had began in earnest.
Lothar and his soldiers soon crossed paths with the Guardian Medivh and his apprentice Khadgar on a scouting mission to the Black Morass. He had encouraged his friend to rejoin Stormwind's defense, though understood that Medivh struggled with the power he unleashed on the Gurubashi years ago. The Guardian played along and feigned a fear of tapping into unwieldy magical powers, though his true intention was to buy time for the Horde to gain power. Lothar also spoke with Khadgar, telling him about Medivh's troubled past and asking him to act as a caretaker in addition to an apprentice. Medivh became more erratic afterward, disappearing for days at a time and being exhausted when he finally returned.
Warchief Blackhand ordered raiding parties to cut deep into Stormwind's lands to drive panic into the human populace. Entire villagers in Brightwood, Westfall, and the southern Redridge Mountains fell, their inhabitants either killed or forced to flee. By the time Stormwind's patrols rode to defend the villages, the Horde was already gone. They were an enemy unlike any the humans had ever faced.
King Llane had named Lothar the "King's Champion", the highest military rank in the kingdom. Deciding to use the orcs' mobility against them, Lothar studied the pattern of targets the Horde would strike and set up ambushes along their paths of retreat. A loyal knight named Gavinrad the Dire was given command of large numbers of troops by Lothar. In some cases, small units of human knights were able to bring down entire orc raiding parties without any casualties. The orcs soon realized the humans were unlike any enemy they had ever faced as well.
Messengers were dispatched by King Llane to the other human kingdoms, warning of mysterious, fearsome green-skinned invaders. However, no help was received as the reports were not believed. Lordaeron was considered the most likely nation to help. However, Deathwing disguised as a visiting Stormwind noble openly mocked King Llane and claimed the threat was actually a rebellion of disgruntled citizens, causing Lordaeron to only politely wish Llane luck with his troubles. In the past, Stormwind had prided itself on standing alone and developed a policy of isolationism in recent decades, which many other nations saw as arrogant and likely influenced their passiveness.
While most of the Horde attacks were focused on Stormwind forces, Chieftain Kilrogg Deadeye and his Bleeding Hollow clan led a few raiding parties into the western jungles of Stranglethorn Vale, as the region reminded them of their ancestral home and they had aims of claiming it for themselves. However, the Gurubashi jungle trolls who dwelled in the jungles united to fight back against this new threat and began a guerrilla campaign against the orcs. The fighting between the two groups was unspeakably vicious. While the Bleeding Hollow seemed to outnumber the Gurubashi in every skirmish, they were still at a severe disadvantage against the trolls' knowledge of the region. The Gurubashi were willing to give up vast swathes of jungle to draw the orcs deeper into their territory, only to then launch bloody ambushes from all directions, resulting in horrific losses for the Bleeding Hollow. When Blackhand learned how many orcs were dying in Stranglethorn for no apparent gain, he ordered the Bleeding Hollow to retreat and join the fight against the humans. The Horde would deal with the trolls later.
The clerics from the Brotherhood of Northshire risked their lives to heal soldiers wounded in combat. In the past the clerics were known to heal gnolls and trolls, which had granted them safety on the battlefield in some cases. This was not the case with the orcs, who ruthlessly targetted every cleric they found after learning of their abilities. Many clerics died without armor or weapons, but they never hesitated from joining battle, making their bravery legendary among Stormwind's forces.
As the war unfolded, the Twilight's Hammer clan became a source of irritation for Warchief Blackhand. The clan's members were known to disobey orders, and too many wandered off never to be seen again. Blackhand considered destroying the clan to make an example of them, but the ogre mage Cho'gall, who had been acting as the Twilight's Hammer's de factoleader, offered to become the clan's official leader and keep it in line, which Blachand allowed. The clan's disciplinary problems ended almost overnight and they became obedient and effective soldiers, to the pleasant surprise of Blackhand. Cho'gall had understood the clan and their beliefs. A clan attuned to the dark energies, they had been hearing the Old Godswhispers louder and clearer after arriving in Azeroth. Cho'gall told the clan the Hour of Twilight was near and depended on the Horde's success. Until then, the clan had to keep up appearances with Warchief Blackhand while obeying their true masters in secret.
The first siege of Stormwind Keep
Three years after the Dark Portal had been opened, the orcish raids on the countryside had razed farms, towns, villages, forges, and trade houses, causing ruin to Stormwind's economy. Even more dire, many sources of food supply had been destroyed or fallen into the Horde's control, threatening Stormwind City with running out of supplies in a few months. With this knowledge in mind, Warchief Blackhand decided to bring the Horde north to conquer Redridge Mountains and from there launch an attack on Stormwind City. The Horde marched on the foothills of Redridge with little resistance and believed the humans would not attack before they reached Stormwind City, which was exactly what Commander Anduin Lothar wanted them to think.
An orc raiding party led by Blackhand went into the mountains hoping to claim Lakeshire. However, Lothar and his knights suddenly charged down the slopes without warning and surrounded the orcs in a spectacular ambush. The Horde raiders fought hard but almost all of them were slain. Lothar himself had almost killed Blackhand, but the two Shadow Council warlocks accompanying Blackhand had turned the tide of battle with their fel fire and forced Lothar to withdraw. Blackhand was humiliated by his brush with death and blamed the Shadow Council for not sensing the ambush. He personally executed the two warlocks that saved his life for incompetence, which angered Gul'dan as they were his subordinates and limited in number. Weeks later, a larger force took Lakeshire and the surrounding land.
After Brightwood, Westfall, and the Redridge Mountains had fallen, the Horde marched onto Stormwind City, the capital of the Kingdom of Stormwind. Thousands of Horde soldiers marched through Elwynn Forest and encircled Stormwind, cutting off all access except for the sea. Blackhand had ordered Kilrogg Deadeye and Cho'gall to lead their Bleeding Hollow and Twilight's Hammer clans in the assault on Stormwind. To weaken the city's defenses, siege engines bombarded the city walls through the night, and at dawn Kilrogg and Cho'gall launched their attack. While orcs charged the battlements, warlocks engulfed Stormwind's soldiers in fel fire, resulting in staggering losses. As it seemed Stormwind would fall that day, there were suddenly cries of an attack from the Horde's rear lines. Lothar and the majority of Stormwind's knights had moved around the Horde by sea. The King's Commander was now leading a charge through Elwynn Forest, catching the orcs in the rearguard completely by surprise as the knights cut through their lines. As the Bleeding Hollow and Twilight's Hammer tried to push back the knights, Stormwind's large gates opened and soldiers poured out of the city to flank the orcs in a counterattack. Outflanked on both sides and suffering many casualties, the orcs were left with no choice but to flee. This was the greatest disaster to ever happen to the Horde. Blackhand was infuriated and barely stopped himself from executing Kilrogg and Cho'gall because their clan members might revolt. The Horde withdrew to Redridge to devise a new plan. Lothar and King Llane had received information about the Horde's battle plans from Khadgar, who had learned them from Garona, which helped prepare for the attack on Stormwind.
The Orcish Horde marches north
After their initial assault on Stormwind Keep, the Orcish Horde now knew what to expect from the human troops. Blackhand assigned Orgrim Doomhammer to oversee the construction of an outpost in the Swamp of Sorrows. The task was simple enough, the orcs had to build at least six farms, so that they could keep their troops well fed and ready to do battle, and a barracks; to protect the farms and to create a strategic outpost, Kyross. From the Swamp of Sorrows, Orgrim led his troops onward, while crushing any opposition that they encountered. His troops' first real opposition was Grand Hamlet. With orders from Blackhand, Orgrim built a simple outpost nearby and prepared his troops for battle. Orgrim's troops razed Grand Hamlet to the ground and left no survivors standing.
One night a runner sent by Warchief Blackhand reported that Griselda, the Warchief's own daughter, had run off with the outlaw Turok and his band of ogres. Wolfriders were assigned to track them down; they were discovered to be hiding out in the dungeons below the Deadmines. By order of his Warchief, Orgrim led a small group of warriors into the dungeons and eliminated Turok, his forces and even Griselda. On their return from the dungeon, Orgrim received word from advanced scouts that the recently established outpost near the Redridge Mountains was under siege. A group of raiders were dispatched to assist Orgrim's troops in taking back the outpost and crushing the human opposition. After saving the outpost from destruction, Orgrim's troops were ordered to search the area and seek out from whence the human troops came from. Once the location was found Orgrim ordered the remainder of his troops to dispose of it. The encampment was completely destroyed and the threat was put to an end for good.
Wanting for his troops to learn how the humans' magic was created, Blackhand ordered Orgrim to lead an army into the town known as Sunnyglade and ravage it, leaving intact the mage tower to study its knowledge. The humans of the town were fat and lazy with their prosperity and their weak human armies were easily smashed into pieces.
The Kingdom retaliates
The kingdom of Stormwind sent emissaries to the orcs hoping to negotiate with them but if any returned, they did so in pieces. The mages of Stormwind also asked Dalaran's Kirin Tor for help but they thought the orcs little more than a local nuisance.
As a test for his abilities, King Llane appointed the Defender of the Crown as Regent over a small parcel of land; the Defender of the Crown changed the town into a farming center with six farms in order to feed Stormwind's troops. A barracks was also constructed in the farming center, as spies reported that there were orc patrols in the area. The few orc patrols in the vicinity were wiped out. Some time later, spies reported that the orcs around Grand Hamlet were amassing a large army to march against the town. The King sent the Defender of the Crown along with a small detachment of troops to rally the townspeople of Grand Hamlet and defend the town from any attack. The Defender of the Crown was successful in rallying the townspeople and managed to save Grand Hamlet from being overrun.
With Grand Hamlet saved and Blackhand's raiding parties routed, the time to secure a lasting peace in the area around Grand Hamlet arose. The Defender of the Crown sought out the outpost known as Kyross, from whence the army against Grand Hamlet amassed. After building a small encampment in the vicinity of the outpost to gather his troops, the Defender of the Crown led them into battle against the outpost, managing to destroy it.
By that time it had been some twenty months since Sir Anduin Lothar had led an expedition into the Deadmines to search for the lost Tome of Divinity. They were never heard from again. However, the King's Champion had recently appeared to the Abbot of Northshire Abbey in a vision - battered and pleading for assistance. The King, having heard of the news, sent the Defender of the Crown along with a detachment of warriors and healers into the mines in an attempt to find Sir Lothar and his expedition crew, heal them and bring them back alive. Even though the mines were littered with ogres, the Defender of the Crown along with his soldiers still managed to cut through the ogre's ranks and finally managed to find the gravely wounded Sir Anduin Lothar along with some other injured members of his expedition. The healers at the scene immediately healed Sir Lothar and soon after he resumed his job as the King's Champion.
After a period of time, the King assigned some of his knights to aid the Defender of the Crown so that the latter's task of ridding Elwynn Forest from Blackhand's dark minions could be more readily completed. They set up in an outpost near the south-east edge of the forest. It wasn't long before an orc encampment filled with orc warriors was found and destroyed, thus earning the Kingdom of Stormwind a strategic key to securing the Borderlands. Later on, the King ordered the Defender of the Crown to go defend Northshire Abbey; the monks living in the town were under siege by a band of human warriors that had been convinced by enemy agents to fight against the crown. A platoon of knights was once again put under the Defender of the Crown's army, whom with them managed to successfully defend Northshire Abbey in time. With the Abbey secured, the Defender of the Crown marched his army to the source of the attackers and laid waste to them.
With Sunnyglade completely overrun by the Orcish Horde, a group of scouts were sent into the remnants of the city to scout out the place; they reported back that the survivors had been taken to a hidden orcish compound to serve as slaves. Intelligence had also confirmed that all the slaves were grouped together in a offsite location and that an enclosure had to be destroyed in order to make a path for the prisoners from which they could escape from. The Defender of the Crown took a detachment of warriors to the town and managed to crush all opposition, destroying the orcish encampment in the process. With the peasants of Sunnyglade set free, the rebuilding of Sunnyglade was commenced.
The final march towards Stormwind Keep
After the destruction of Sunnyglade, the orcs mastered the new found magic. With this power in their hands, the time was ripe to burn the human occupation from the nearby lands. The Kingdom of Stormwind held two outposts to the south of Orgrim's encampment. After a reconnaissance of the area, orc scouts reported that the key to a victory for them in this confrontation would be to hold back the human forces at their bridges while strengthening the orc's attack force to prepare for a massive all-out attack. After all the troops were prepared, the attack commenced; the outposts were laid to waste and all the human troops were slain.
After tasting victory at the battle in northern Elwynn Forest, it was clear to Orgrim that one decisive blow to the Kingdom of Stormwind would make the total and complete domination of the humans a simple matter. His spies had gathered intelligence that pointed to an encampment near the center of the Kingdom, a place where their knights and soldiers were sent to be trained. Since the humans were not expecting an attack, it was a simple task. Orgrim's troops destroyed the entire place and left no survivors, in the process greatly weakening the Kingdom's forces.
The final march towards King Llane's home, Stormwind Keep, was at hand. Only two settlements stood in the Orcish Horde's way. The hour of doom had arrived for the humans; Orgrim had ordered the complete and utter destruction of the twin cities, Goldshireand Moonbrook, in order to sever the lifeline between the King and his people. The orc troops, under the command of Orgrim, marched onto the twin cities, and after a lengthy battle, razed them both to the ground. With this decisive battle, the only stronghold that the Kingdom of Stormwind had left was the capital itself, Stormwind City.
The death of Medivh
Khadgar and Garona were the first to discover that Medivh aided in the bringing of the Orcish Horde into Azeroth. To attempt to try and find out how the orcs entered Azeroth and from where the Dark Portal came from, Garona requested that Khadgar summon a vision of the past concerning Gul'dan and the Dark Portal; in the vision the two observed Gul'dan being given instructions by someone who referred to himself as the Guardian, whom Khadgar and Garona knew to be Medivh.
After the horrifying discovery, Khadgar and Garona escaped from Karazhan to bring the disturbing news to the King of Stormwind, King Llane, and to his Knight Champion, Anduin Lothar. While Lothar was quick to accept the news, the King had to take the matter into consideration. In the wee hours of the morning, without alerting the King, Lothar awoke Garona and Khadgar and led them to the top of one of Stormwind Keep's towers. There, waiting for the trio were a pack of gryphons (sent by the dwarves) and a couple of other footmen under Lothar's commmand. As soon as the group readied themselves, they took off to the tower of Karazhan. Lothar charged Gavinrad with commanding Stormwind City's defenses in his absence. After arriving in the tower, the group couldn't fine any trace of the Magus and declared that he had escaped. However, before leaving the tower, Garona managed to locate a hidden secret door leading into what seemed like an inverse version of Karazhan. As the company started their descent into the inverse of Karazhan, a magic trap, set by Medivh, was triggered and unleashed a group of demonic beasts onto the company. While Lothar and his men held the beasts off, Khadgar and Garona continued their descent to find Medivh. Finally reaching the inverse observatory, the duo found Medivh.
While the brace were confronting the Magus, Medivh confirmed to them that he truly was Sargeras and that he had been planning this war for hundreds of years; to free his physical form from his tomb so that he could destroy Azeroth and all of its inhabitants. While Medivh was still talking, Garona attempted to stab him in the back but Medivh noticed her and cast a spell on her, causing her to stagger backwards. With this move, the brace started their attempts in disposing the Magus, but he proved to them that he was far too powerful for them to handle. Not long after their brawl, the duo were on their knees, dazed and wounded, and the Magus was preparing to kill Khadgar, but by a stroke of luck, the King's Champion, Lothar, appeared at the scene at this exact moment and forced his old friend to do battle with him in order to buy the others some time. While Lothar was keeping the Magus preoccupied, Khadgar managed to sneak around the room without being noticed. Lothar, in the end, too proved to be no match for the Master Mage and before long he too was wounded and dazed. With that being done the Magus returned to where Khadgar had been kneeling to finish him off, but to Medivh's surprise he was not there; Khadgar was standing behind Medivh with his sword pressed against Medivh's breast. At the first flinch from Medivh, Khadgar lunged forward and drove his rune sword into Medivh's heart, mortally wounding him in the process; with Medivh about to die, the Demon Lord Sargeras attempted to emerge from within the Magus to avoid being 'destroyed' along with Medivh, but before he could release himself, Sir Lothar decapitated Medivh's head, causing the titan to dissipate away and Medivh to die. Medivh was the first Guardian to be killed in combat in centuries.
With Medivh's death, Gul'dan was comatosed due to entering Medivh's mind to search for information at his time of death. Orgrim saw this as an opportunity to take down Blackhand, and so he marched to him and challenged him for supremacy of the Horde, a challenge which he won.
The second siege of Stormwind Keep and the fall of the kingdom
The Orcish Horde was gathered like buzzards to carrion, as the moment of destiny was close at hand. A low growl filled the air as the wolfriders whipped their savage mounts into a frenzy. The earth shook as catapults were loaded and moved into position. Under the mantle of Orgrim Doomhammer, the various orcish clans began their siege on Stormwind Keep. The catapults let loose their fiery rocks as the bulk of the main Horde marched towards the main gate, with the Blackrock clan charging from the Eastern Wall. Within moments, Stormwind Keep was ablaze with shadows dancing on the walls. While the militia were busy trying to put out the fires, Garona, under the command of the Shadow Council, assassinated King Llane while delivering her report, which stated that as long as a strong heart was on the throne, the mens' morale would not falter. With the assassination of the king, the men lost their confidence and Stormwind Keep fell under the might of the Orcish Horde.
The aftermath of the war for the Orcish Horde
Orgrim, wanting to turn the Horde into an honorable force, tortured Garona into revealing whatever secrets lay beneath the Horde. Her non-orc blood made her too weak to withstand much pain, and she quickly revealed the Shadow Council and its location. Orgrim burst into their meeting and slaughtered them on the spot, leaving only two of the warlocks, Cho'gall, and Gul'dan alive. Soon after, Orgrim formed an alliance with Gul'dan and preparations for the Second War began.
The aftermath of the war for the Kingdom of Stormwind
Anduin Lothar had no other choice than to declare the war lost and save what remained by gathering the tattered remnants of the army and as many civilians as he could to lead them in a desperate retreat across the Great Sea, toward the northern kingdom of Lordaeron to beseech aid from King Terenas Menethil II. Not all survivors could flee on time and the orcish hunter Zigris became infamous for tracking down Stormwind refugees and slaughtering them for sport.
Following Lothar's impassioned speech in Lordaeron, Terenas called for an emergency council of war to discuss the Orcish threat. Terenas, through skilled political maneuvering, petitioned the support of the human kingdoms of Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Alterac, and Gilneas and also the city of Dalaran. While most of the human nations banded together and pledged their support for this new alliance, King Perenolde of Alterac and King Genn Greymane of Gilneas withheld their allegiance; Perenolde because he feared the humans would be defeated by the orcs, and Greymane because he felt that Gilneas was strong enough to stand on its own. With this, preparations for the Second War began.
Some time after the end of the war, the Stone of Remembrance, a monument located in Heroes' Vigil in the center of Stone Cairn Lake, was erected to commemorate the humans who lost their lives during the war.