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Warhammer 40k - Lexicanum β

The Shattered Legions

Targetdrone.gif This article is about the formations; for the Horus Heresy Anthology, see Shattered Legions (Anthology).

The Shattered Legions is a collective term for the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders Space Marine Legions who suffered heavy losses in the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy and were effectively destroyed as fighting Legions, but continued to fight against the traitor Legions as scattered warbands numbering anywhere between hundreds or just a handful of marines for the duration of the war.[Needs Citation]


The Shattered Legions have their origins in the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre, a large-scale ambush carried out by the traitor Warmaster Horus and those Legions loyal to him on the desert planet Isstvan V. The Death Guard, World Eaters, Emperor's Children and Sons of Horus Legions, their betrayal of the Imperium revealed by the virus-bombing of the Loyalist elements of their own Legions on Isstvan III, bunkered down in a large fortress on Isstvan V to await the arrival of a huge reprisal force organised and sent by the Emperor's Praetorian, Rogal Dorn. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard Legions formed the first wave of this force and touched down on Isstvan V under the leadership of Iron Hands' Primarch Ferrus Manus. Outraged by the betrayal of their brother Legions they launched a severe attack, the Iron Hands in particular driving deep into the Emperor's Children's ranks to avenge an earlier betrayal in the Carolis system. When the second wave of four more Legions arrived on the battlefield the Salamanders and Raven Guard fell back towards the dropsite to recover from the fierce fighting, while the enraged Iron Hands fought on and Ferrus Manus engaged in a ferocious single combat with Emperor's Children Primarch Fulgrim, almost managing to kill him until Fulgrim gave in to the whisperings of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh housed in the pommel of his sword and became possessed, giving him the required strength to recover and strike Manus down. The four Legions comprising the second wave entrenched at the dropsite, and in the most infamous betrayal of the Imperium's history opened fire on the retreating Salamanders and Raven Guard. The Word Bearers, Night Lords, Iron Warriors and Alpha Legion had all secretly already sided with Horus, and slaughtered the vastly outnumbered Loyalist Legions in a huge and well-planned betrayal.[8],[17],[18]

Escaping Isstvan

Despite catastrophic numbers of casualties, a small number of Loyalist survivors managed to fight their way back to landed Stormbirds and Thunderhawks. Of those that did so almost all were wounded, many badly so, and of the ships that managed to take off from the dropsite many were shot down by traitor anti-aircraft guns. Those that escaped the planet then had to run the gauntlet of the traitor fleet, which prowled the Isstvan system for some time after the initial battle hunting for escaping craft, while Sons of Horus and Emperor's Children purge-fleets were dispatched to chase those who made it out of the system. Nevertheless, a comparatively tiny number of Loyalist marines did manage to escape through luck, skill and sheer indomitable will. Furthermore, relatively small task forces of Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard that nevertheless numbered into the hundreds were not present at the massacre, and the Iron Hands in particular were not wholly destroyed as Ferrus Manus had been so eager to take the fight to the traitors that he had not waited for the entire Legion to assemble before spearheading the attack. Of particular note are the Iron Hands forces of Shadrak Meduson, who commanded part of the reserve fleet held in orbit during the Dropsite Massacre and escaped, going on to become a feared Loyalist commander who wreaked significant damage on traitor assets and forces.[25]

The Raven's Flight

Of the three Loyalist Legions caught in the trap on Isstvan V the Raven Guard were the only ones who did not lose their Primarch, Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands being killed by Fulgrim and Vulkan of the Salamanders being captured by the Night Lords. Corvus Corax was able to escape from the battlefield and regroup with three thousand surviving Raven Guard, and for 98 days they fled the pursuing traitor forces before being forced into a final stand against the World Eaters on the planet. At the very moment they were preparing for their deaths the Raven Guard were rescued by Branne Nev, the commander of the Raven Guard garrison on Deliverance, who was persuaded to abandon his post by the prophetic dreams of Therion Cohort Praefector Marcus Valerius and arrived with a rescue fleet in time to save his Primarch and the other survivors. The rescue fleet was then able to evade the traitor fleet and escape the Isstvan system, though unbeknownst to the Raven Guard, this was contrived by the Alpha Legion, whose operatives had infiltrated the survivors' ranks by surgically removing the faces of slain Legionaries and re-grafting them onto Alpha Legionaires.[5],[6],[29]

Actions undertaken by Shattered Legion forces

The military actions undertaken by the Shattered Legion survivors against the traitor forces are too many to number, and most have been forgotten by history, the brave Loyalists who carried them out slain on forgotten worlds during failed missions and last stands. Nevertheless, through sheer daring and strategic skill, some elements of the Shattered Legions managed to strike significant blows against the Traitor Legions, conducting sabotage and hit-and-run attacks, disrupting supply lines and bolstering the defenses of Loyalist worlds. Horus had planned to remove the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands completely as factors in his plans to conquer the Imperium, but, through the heroism of the Shattered Legion survivors, he was forced to rue their escape from Isstvan V.[27]

Some notable actions undertaken by Shattered Legion forces during the war are listed below.

Known Shattered Legion survivors

Iron Hands

Raven Guard