The Battle of the Capitol, also metaphorically known as the 76th Hunger Games by Squad 451, was the final major large-scale engagement of the Second Rebellion. The final battle pitted the Peacekeeper forces loyal to Panem's totalitarian government against the invading rebel force being led by District 13 for control of the Capitol and thus the nation of Panem.
During the battle, rebel forces pushed into the city block by block, facing intense opposition from defending Peacekeeper forces as well as slowed down by the various pods placed throughout the city. The vicious combat saw a multitude of Capitol civilians caught in the crossfire. The climax of the battle saw rebel troops push into City Circle, where an enclosure of children being held as human shields in front of the president's mansion was unexpectedly bombed by a Panem hovercraft on live TV. An unspoken and impromptu ceasefire immediately followed with rebel medics, including Primrose Everdeen, and surviving Peacekeepers attempting to aid the victims only to be killed by a second round of bombing. Following this controversial event, all remaining support for President Snow and his regime collapsed and he was subsequently captured, ending the battle and thus the war.
Pods are weapons engineered by the Gamemakers used in the Battle of the Capitol. They can trigger anything from such as bombs and mutts. The pods are extremely dangerous, and President Snow ordered the Gamemakers to scatter thousands of pods throughout the Capitol in order to prevent the rebel forces from advancing. Holos are designed to detect pods so that the rebels could avoid activating them, but the Capitol added new pods, which the Holo was unable to detect.
Prior to this engagement, the Capitol had lost its last remaining military strongholds in District 2 to the rebels. The citizens of District 2, unwilling to fight for the Capitol any longer, turned on the Peacekeeper forces they had initially fought alongside. This marked the end of most of the war in Panem, as the Capitol had lost all military and civilian control over every district, no districts remained loyal to the Capitol at this point. The loss of the mountain fortress known as the "Nut" was a severe blow to the Capitol's war effort, crippling the Capitol's air force and ruining its logistical capabilities. After the rebels took District 2, they stood posed to launch an offensive into the Capitol itself.
Prior to the invasion of the Capitol rebel leadership was hesitant to launch the attack, believing Capitol forces having the advantage in defensive positions and possibly manpower in the city. The rebels quickly learned through hit-and-run attacks that the Capitols forces in the city could only offer token resistance. Only fearing high levels of pods being deployed in the streets, rebel intelligence came to the conclusion that large-scale defeats throughout Panem and the recent defeats in District 2 had decimated the Capitol's forces enough to commit large rebel resources and troops to the eventual offensive.
Initial rebel invasion
The rebel invasion of the Capitol began when rebel forces captured several tunnels that led through the Rocky Mountains, allowing for rebel forces to circumvent scaling the mountains, which had led to their defeat in the first war. In addition, the fall of the Nut in District 2 resulted in the loss of the majority of the Capitol's hovercraft fleet. This enabled the rebels to achieve air superiority and establish a beachhead at the perimeter of the city. This allowed for constant reinforcement and supplies, while simultaneously blocking any possibility of retreat by Capitol forces.
During the first few days of the invasion, the rebels went largely unnoticed by the Capitol's military, as they faced little resistance. Capitol military commanders urged their forces to begin fighting, believing that sufficient brutality could turn the tide of the invasion. However, there were no illusions to Capitol leaders that the city would fall.
Arrival of Squad 451
Squad 451 was a specially designed rebel squad used for propaganda. The team consisted of fourteen members; Katniss Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne, Jackson, Boggs, Finnick Odair, Cressida, Messalla, Castor (Corporal), Pollux, Homes, Mitchell (best sharpshooter in Panem), Leeg 1, Leeg 2, (first combat division) and later Peeta Mellark. During the early days of the battle, the Squad entered an abandoned Capitol neighborhood (staying behind the front lines in order to film propos for the rebels), and accidentally triggered a pod that sent a metal dart into the side of Leeg 2's head, instantly killing her. Leeg 1 broke down after her sister's death, and later on in the day Peeta Mellark was sent as a replacement. This alarmed the squad, as he had not fully recovered from his hijacking, making him fairly dangerous to Katniss. Boggs informed Katniss that President Coin never liked her and wanted Peeta rescued from the arena instead, proving that Coin saw Katniss as a threat over the new Presidential position as there would be a free election after the war ended. Boggs believed Coin sent Peeta to kill Katniss, as he would not be able to control himself.
In the film adaptation, Peeta arrived to the Squad much earlier, and Leeg 2 was not killed.
The Squad progressed further into the Capitol, using Boggs's Holo to avoid and detect pods.
Rebels gaining momentum
Most of the rebel losses during the battle came not from the Capitol's military forces, but rather from strategically placed traps commonly referred to as "pods". These pods resulted in the deaths of numerous rebels. Nevertheless, the rebel advance continued, causing massive damage to Capitol infrastructure and mounting civilian deaths. As the battle dragged on, it became clear to the rebels that the Capitol's remaining forces were being deployed in strategically important locations, not the whole city. Capitol commanders also began deploying their troops in positions to delay or outright block the rebel advance on the city center. This tactic became increasingly ineffective because of the rebels' constant reinforcements. The Capitol troops were under-supplied and had no replacement for soldiers they were losing. Where the Capitol troops had withdrawn, pods were expected to hold the rebel troops. This did not work, but did cause huge rebel losses. The nature of the pods was widely varied, ranging from conventional weapons such as gunfire and explosives to muttations and an unknown chemical that resembled a large black wave. Nevertheless, the rebels continued their advance. The city became the site of numerous propaganda clips shot by Squad 451 in the opening days of the battle, but as the fighting dragged on, the propaganda stopped being produced.
Rebels pressing in on the city center
In the next weeks of the battle, the Capitol's defense began collapsing as the rebels pushed forward.
During this period, the rebels marked out four distinct paths, simply referred to as the A, B, C, and D Lines, to the center of the Capitol. Capitol civilians began evacuating towards the center of the city.
This resulted in numerous civilian deaths as the rebels attempted to engage the Peacekeepers escorting the evacuees. The close proximity of the civilians resulted in several bloodbaths.
At one point, the rebels attempted to disable pods by sending unmanned cars down roads, in a rudimentary attempt at minesweeping. The Capitol soon caught on and began manually activating pods, killing large numbers of rebel forces.
End of the battle and the fall of the Capitol
After weeks of unsuccessful fighting, the remaining troops of the Capitol were ordered to retreat to the President's Mansion and provide security for the evacuation of civilians. As a last-ditch effort to slow down the rebel advance, President Snow ordered that the children were to be used as a shield for his mansion. However, a Capitol-marked hovercraft appeared and dropped what appeared to be aid parcels on the children. In reality, the aid parcels were twice-detonating explosives, which killed large numbers of children and rebel medics who rushed in to help. Following this, all remaining support for President Snow and his regime collapsed, and the Capitol was quickly overrun by the rebels.
The government of President Snow was dissolved, as were the Capitol's Armed Forces and all its institutions. Mass arrests of Peacekeepers, Capitol officials, and Gamemakers soon followed, including President Coriolanus Snow himself, who was sentenced to be publicly executed by Katniss Everdeen.
In what was supposed to be the liberalization and restructuration of Panem's government, was actually a consolidation of power by self-declared interim President Alma Coin. Showing her authoritarian tendencies, President Coin refused to hold elections, and proposed a continuation of the Hunger Games, which was narrowly approved by the victors.
In a private meeting between Snow and his executioner, he revealed to her that it was, in fact, Coin who had ordered the bombing of Capitol children, which had taken the life of Primrose. As the bombs which were used to kill Capitol children reassembled an invention designed by Gale and Beetee, Katniss began realizing that Snow was telling the truth. During Snow's execution, Katniss made a last-minute decision to assassinate interim President Alma Coin, while Snow was lynched by the crowd of angry citizens desiring vengeance.
With the deaths of Snow and Coin, an emergency presidential election was held, resulting in a decisive victory for Commander Paylor of District 8. Under her administration, the constitutional republic of Panem was formed, and the Hunger Games were abolished permanently. Massive amounts of economic and political liberalization took place, leading to an explosion in economic growth and development.
It was later proven that the hovercraft actually belonged to the rebels, evidenced by the lack of Capitol aircraft at the time and the bombs they dropped, which were developed by rebels Gale Hawthorne and Beetee Latier.
Notable persons involved
- Primrose Everdeen - Blown up by President Coin's parachute bombs.
- Messalla - Melted in an unknown pod that trapped him before burning the flesh off him.
- Castor - Decapitated by lizard mutts.
- Finnick Odair - Exploded by Katniss Everdeen after she uses the hollow to kill the lizard mutts.
- Leeg 1 - Mauled in the meat grinder pod.
- Leeg 2 - Stepped on mislabeled pod and hit in the head by a dart.
- Homes - Decapitated by lizard mutts.
- Boggs - Stepped on a mislabeled pod and both legs were blown off and bled to death.
- Mitchell - Accidentally thrown in barbed wire by Peeta. Body destroyed in the black wave after Boggs lost his legs.
- Jackson - Mutilated by the meat grinder pod.
- Lyme - Died sometime after the invasion of the Nut.
- Avoxes - Resisted muttations and died.
- Alma Coin - Shot by Katniss.
- Dozens of rebels killed in the initial battle.
- Katniss Everdeen
- Peeta Mellark
- Gale Hawthorne
- Mrs. Everdeen
- Effie Trinket
- Commander Paylor
- Lizard muttations - Blown up when Katniss threw an active Holo into the hole they were in.
- Peacekeeper squad - Killed by Squad 451.
- Capitol woman - Shot by Katniss in the heart.
- Dozens of Capitol civilians - Killed in the crossfire between rebels and Peacekeepers.
- President Coriolanus Snow - Choked on his own blood or was crushed to death.
- Capitol children - Blown up by President Coin's parachute bombs.
- The Peacekeepers who arrested Gale.
- Caesar Flickerman