"This isn't a battle! It's slaughter."
Thunder to Clear Sky in The First Battle, page 239

The Great Battle, also called The First Battle, took place in The First Battle, when Tall Shadow's camp,[1] led by Tall Shadow[4] and Thunder,[1] fought against Clear Sky's camp.[3]



The two camps led by Tall Shadow, Gray Wing and Thunder and Clear Sky meet at the Four Trees at the full moon to discuss the recent tensions between the camps[14] and the discussion goes sour, increasing hostilities between both sides.[15]


The battle begins when Clear Sky gives the signal to attack and leaps at the other leaders. Their respective campmates attack each other[4] as well and Thunder is sent to get cats from their camp to aid them, as Clear Sky's cats outnumber them.[16] Clear Sky is seen to have killed Rainswept Flower,[13] and Falling Feather and Jackdaw's Cry, sister and brother, kill each other.[10] Several other cats die, including Fircone,[12] Hawk Swoop,[17] and Frost.[8] The fighting stops when Clear Sky is about to kill Gray Wing, but realizes that he is going to kill his own brother and stops.[2] After that, spirit-cats rise from the dead cats and descend from the sky to speak with the living cats.[18]


Before the battle

The Early Settlers split off from the Tribe of Rushing Water and migrate to the forest territories, Tall Shadow, Clear Sky, and Gray Wing among them. Clear Sky loses his sister, Fluttering Bird and his first mate, Bright Stream. A short time after the cats settle in the moorland, Clear Sky takes a group of cats and settles in the forest.
Clear Sky's group quickly becomes aggressive, creating boundaries and refusing to let the other cats hunt or visit the territory, and take in several rogues. When Gray Wing and Clear Sky's younger brother, Jagged Peak is injured and lamed, Clear Sky banishes him, claiming he cannot support a cat who cannot care for himself. This cold act drives more tension between the two camps and Tall Shadow completely loses all respect she had for Clear Sky. Clear Sky takes a second mate, Storm, who eventually leaves him, unable to bear his obsessions and dies shortly after giving birth to their kit, Thunder. Gray Wing takes Thunder to Clear Sky, but in his grief Clear Sky rejects him. Declaring their brotherhood over, Gray Wing fosters Thunder and the kit grows up with Gray Wing as his adoptive father. Eventually, he chooses to join Clear Sky's group in the forest, though the father and son cannot sort their differences. Because of this, Thunder leaves and rejoins Tall Shadow and Gray Wing, taking a leadership role soon after.
The camps eventually plan to meet to talk to Clear Sky at the Four Trees and the leaders discuss on top of the Great Rock. It seems as if the discussion is going well until Jackdaw's Cry catches a bat because of his hunger. Jackdaw's Cry has been kept at Clear Sky's Camp as a prisoner for two days and has not been fed at all, despite Clear Sky's promise to do so. This sparks anger for both sides, and the battle begins.


The battle begins when Clear Sky gives the signal to his cats to attack before throwing Tall Shadow off the Great Rock so his cats could attack her. Thunder yowls Tall Shadow's name as she is overwhelmed by attackers. Jackdaw's Cry joins the leader, fighting back to back and fending off Clear Sky's cats. Gray Wing insists they need to help them and Thunder suggests getting them onto the Great Rock where they can defend themselves better. Gray Wing asks what to do after that, but Thunder has no idea. Clear Sky taunts the two toms, saying to stay up there and watch their friends die, jumping off the rock. Thunder and Gray Wing jump off the rock, trade glances before leaping into the battle. As they fight and try to get onto the rock, Clear Sky hisses at Thunder if he really thought they could avoid a battle. Thunder replies this isn't battle, but slaughter.
Gray Wing, Thunder, Tall Shadow and Jackdaw's Cry struggle onto the Great Rock and manage to keep other cats off, but are trapped. Clear Sky asks Gray Wing what his plan is, starve or fight. Thunder suggests he climbs a nearby tree and run back to camp to get help and the others can distract the attacking cats. Jackdaw's Cry is unsure if his campmates will come and help and Thunder asks if his family would leave him here. Jackdaw's Cry tells him that they never would, and Thunder promises to try his best. Gray Wing taunts Clear Sky and his cats as Thunder climbs up a tree. They soon realize Thunder's disappearance after he leaps off the tree and some of Clear Sky's cats give chase. Thunder enters the tunnels, managing to lose the chasers and tries to navigate the tunnels and head to Tall Shadow's camp. He encounters a badger but outruns it in the tunnels before finally reaching the hollow. Cloud Spots, Jagged Peak and the kits remain behind, but everyone else decides to go fight. Thunder leads them back, and the two camps clash.

Murders and vengeance

Thunder gives the order to attack, and the two groups swarm to fight. The tom realizes that rogues not even part of Clear Sky's group is fighting for Clear Sky. He fights Snake, who insists he cannot win as they are outnumbered and they have been training. Thunder snaps that at least they know what they are fighting for, seeing the cats that were perched on the Great Rock leap down to join the fight. Lightning Tail rescues Thunder, mentioning Clear Sky's cats are fighting to kill and Thunder declares they will do the same. Gray Wing is attacked by Petal, who demands revenge since Gray Wing accidentally killed her brother, and is helped by Dew. Thunder leaps forward to assist Gray Wing, pushing away Dew and fighting with Petal. Many cats are becoming overwhelmed by the force of both sides, even Thunder struggled fighting with Fircone. Tall Shadow kills Fircone, and defending her actions by by saying that since Clear Sky's cats are not showing mercy, they have to fight or die.
Thunder pulls Falling Feather off Acorn Fur before witnessing Rainswept Flower and Clear Sky fighting and arguing. Rainswept Flower insists that no cat can starve here and wanting more land is just greedy. Enraged, Clear Sky kills her for this, stating he is not greedy, just strong. Gray Wing attacks Clear Sky for killing Rainswept Flower, who was his friend since kithood, but the light gray tom insists if he didn't kill her, someone else would have. They fight, having known each other since kithood and know each others every move. Clear Sky tells Gray Wing he should have let him take what he wanted, but Gray Wing insists that Clear Sky has betrayed his kin and everyone who traveled from the mountains. He asks if they just left the mountains to kill each other, and snarls he is glad Storm isn't here to witness this. This further infuriates Clear Sky, and he fights harder.
Falling Feather continues to fight Thunder, but her brother, Jackdaw's Cry stops her from murdering his adopted son. Thunder is attacked by Leaf and realizes he is killing the tom so insists to Dappled Pelt to treat him. While his back is turned, Falling Feather and Jackdaw's Cry kill each other, giving each other a fatal blow. Back with Clear Sky and Gray Wing, Gray Wing is gasping for breath and Clear Sky has a chance for the deathblow. Gray Wing refuses to surrender, telling his brother to kill him and live with it. Clear Sky tells him to not make him do it, saying all he wants is to make everyone safe. Gray Wing disagrees, telling Clear Sky he is just greedy for power, and will kill his brother for it. Clear Sky falters, knowing that he is unable to kill his own brother. He sees the bodies of the fallen and the weak survivors and stops the battle with no side claiming victory.

Unite or die

Spirits of the deceased, from those who died in the battle to those who died previously, come to the present and future leaders at the scene of the battle. The spirits talk to each cat individually, giving advice before warning them all they have to unite or die. The fallen are buried and the leaders swear to follow the spirit cats' words.
The Early Settler groups face many more challenges after this, but the effect of this battle drives them to unite and survive. Eventually, this unity leads to the birth of the Clans and this battle is remembered for many generations onward.

Deaths as a result of the battle


Clear Sky

Clear Sky became obsessed with boundaries and keeping everyone safe after settling into the forest due to the living conditions in the mountains. Clear Sky believed he was doing the right thing, not realizing the damage he was causing. He was almost convinced to keep the peace and stop his obsession, but Jackdaw's Cry distraction infuriated Clear Sky as well as the others. He orders the attack when it was just Gray Wing, Tall Shadow, Thunder and Jackdaw's Cry. In his rage, Clear Sky kills his kithood friend Rainswept Flower and almost kills his brother, Gray Wing. He finally realizes how far he has gone in his obsession when he refuses to kill Gray Wing and stops the battle. Clear Sky heeds the words of the spirit-cats afterwards and works to unite and prevent a battle like this from happening ever again. It took many moons to forgive himself for his actions.

Gray Wing

Gray Wing was a leader of Tall Shadow's camp at the time of the battle. His faith in his brother didn't waver until the battle where despite the condition of his breathing, he fought for Tall Shadow's camp. Gray Wing fought Clear Sky after he murdered Rainswept Flower until he ran out of breath. He refused to surrender, challenging Clear Sky's actions one last time as not being for the safety of his cats, but for his own greed. Ultimately, Clear Sky couldn't bring himself to kill his own sibling, and stopped the battle. Gray Wing dropped his leadership due to his condition, but worked to keep this battle from ever happening again.

Tall Shadow

Tall Shadow went with Gray Wing and Thunder to talk to Clear Sky peacefully, but it failed and she was forced to fight. She killed Fircone to protect Thunder, believing she has to kill too. Afterwards, Shaded Moss tells her she had a choice and who should die or live is not in her paws. Tall Shadow eventually takes her group to settle in the pines, becoming the first leader of ShadowClan.


Thunder is Clear Sky's son who refused to take him in. Still as a kit, Thunder went back with Clear Sky to the forest after Gray Wing raised him on the moor, but their personalities and views clashed so Thunder left. Barely out of kithood, Thunder went with Tall Shadow and Gray Wing for a meeting with Clear Sky that turned into a battle. He climbed out of the hollow using a tree, and ran to Tall Shadow's camp where he lead the cats to the Great Battle. Thunder felt they had to kill to survive, but refused to. The battle cost the life of his adopted mother, Hawk Swoop, and his adopted sister, Acorn Fur, left Tall Shadow's camp to join Clear Sky. Thunder tried hard to heed the words of the spirit-cats and later started a group of his own, eventually becoming ThunderClan.

Characters that took part in the battle

Tall Shadow, Gray Wing, and Thunder's cats

Clear Sky's cats


It should be noted that multiple rogues fought for Clear Sky group, enough to outnumber Tall Shadow's group.[3]

  • Long-furred rogue[9]
  • Mottled brown-and-white she-cat[9]
  • Tabby rogue[19]
  • Two toms[20]
  • Tabby rogue[12]
  • Tortoiseshell[12]


Clear Sky: "Did you really think this battle could be avoided?"
Thunder: "This isn’t a battle! It’s slaughter."
—Clear Sky and Thunder about the battle The First Battle, page 239

"Look at your leader. Does he make you proud? Watching while you fight his battle for him."
―Gray Wing to Clear Sky's cats The First Battle, page 242

"Don’t try and stop me. I want my kits to grow up somewhere safe, and the moor will never be safe as long as Clear Sky thinks he can tell any cat what to do!"
―Wind Runner about why she will fight The First Battle, page 255

Snake: "This is a battle you can’t win! You’re outnumbered – and we’ve been training for this."
Thunder: "At least we know what we’re fighting for!"
—Snake and Thunder about the battle The First Battle, page 259

Lightning Tail: "They’re fighting to kill!"
Thunder: "So will we."
—Lightning Tail and Thunder about the ruthlessness of the battle The First Battle, page 260

Thunder: "You killed [Fircone]."
Tall Shadow: "So? Clear Sky’s cats are showing no mercy. We must fight or die."
—Thunder and Tall Shadow The First Battle, page 263


See also

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Revealed in The First Battle, page 256
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revealed in The First Battle, page 270
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Revealed in The First Battle, page 258
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 Revealed in The First Battle, page 238
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 Revealed in The First Battle, page 255
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Revealed in The First Battle, page 239
  7. 7.0 7.1 Revealed in The First Battle, page 259
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Revealed in The First Battle, page 264
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Revealed in The First Battle, page 260
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Revealed in The First Battle, page 269
  11. 11.0 11.1 Revealed in The First Battle, page 271
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Revealed in The First Battle, page 263
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Revealed in The First Battle, page 266
  14. Revealed in The First Battle, page 232
  15. Revealed in The First Battle, page 237
  16. Revealed in The First Battle, page 241
  17. Revealed in The First Battle, page 272
  18. Revealed in The First Battle, page 289
  19. Revealed in The First Battle, page 261
  20. Revealed in The First Battle, page 262
  21. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, pages 6-10
  22. Revealed in Code of the Clans, pages 6-7
  23. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 5
Events in the Warriors series
The Prophecies Begin Battle for SunningrocksBrokenstar's tyrannyPlan to divert the dogsBloodClan's invasion
The New Prophecy Finding MidnightA new homeWindClan civil warAmbush of the badgers
Power of Three A Tribe in needAssault on ThunderClanFireTracking a killer
Omen of the Stars Saving the lakeDrought in the lake territoriesFight for the borderWar with the Dark Forest
Dawn of the Clans The first battleFollowing the sun trail
A Vision of Shadows Alderpaw's questYellowcough epidemicThe Kin's campaignShadowClan's downfallWatermint shortageFireBattle for the stolen kitsShadowClan versus SkyClan
The Broken Code Clash of the Clans
Super Editions Talltail and Jake's excellent adventureSkyClan's revivalA storm of epic proportionsBlood, water, and badgersBattle of the gorgeBattle against the SistersBloodClan's revenge
Novellas SkyClan's upheavalA predicted starvationRavenpaw's travels
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