The First Assault on the Sewers was the first engagement between the Crusader Army and the Horde during the Grand Crusade. It was the first offensive battle initiated by Queen Madelynne I. The attack was dependent on surprise and speed in assault; however, a break down in communications led to a resolute disaster for the Crusaders.
Lord Caliginous, supported by intelligence from Lord Nikephoros Coldsorrow, advised the queen to lead her army through the sewer passage; the route that King Varian had taken to assault the Undercity. Accompanied by her Royal Guard, Madelynne made the decision to break away from the main force and lead in place of her vanguard commanders, who, in their own training would have made more reliable leaders.
Initially the Crusader Army scored successes against scouting parties as their sheer numbers sent many into retreat. Overcome with a sense of accomplishment because of this, Madelynne abandoned precaution and pressed the advantage. This led to a split in her forces, with half advancing upward while the rest continued downward.
It was here that the Horde's defense force, composed largely of members of the Sunguard and Hand of Vengeance, met the larger of the split forces. The ambush that was launched was flawless and the Queen's Men, the bulk of the Crusader Army, were immediately sent into retreat. Continuing forth, the Horde swept aside the resistance of smaller groups and eventually repelled the attack entirely.
Queen Madelynne, nearly overtaken by the Horde, was protected by Dame Catelynne Mallister who shielded her with her own body while holding the Horde at bay. Countless support soldiers were lost in the skirmish and Badan Odek , the Stout Regiment's commander, fell alongside many of his dwarven brethern.
Unquestionably, the course of the Grand Crusade was set by this unprecedented defeat. Although the Crusader Army was not entirely crushed, it was certainly demoralized. Some deserted immediately, while others were forced to fight through lines thick with Horde veterans. The Crusader Army regrouped at the mouth of the sewers, though by then the element of surprise was lost.
It has been alleged that even if the force had not been split, the Horde would have enjoyed unquestionable success. Although attempts were made to keep Sin'dorei veterans from entering the fight, they appeared in larger number than any other force. In adition, word of the Crusade's advance preceeded them which allowed the Horde to coordinate and prepare an appropriate response. In all, the Crusaders were outnumbered some 4:1 during the battle, ensuring a defeat.
Demoralized by the loss of their leader, the Stout Regiment withdrew from the fight.