Théoden diverts his reinforcements toward Helm's Deep
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 3, 3019
An event in the prelude to the Battle of the Hornburg; see that entry for an overview:
[The] last shafts of light kindled... the peaks of Thrihyrne... very near.... [The] vanguard saw a... horseman riding back towards them. They halted awaiting him.
He came, a weary man with dinted helm.... Slowly he climbed from his horse and stood there a while gasping.... 'You come at last, but too late, and with too little strength.... We were driven back yesterday over the Isen with great loss.... All Isengard must be emptied.... We were overmastered.... Erkenbrand of Westfold has drawn off those men he could gather towards his fastness in Helm's Deep. The rest are scattered.
'Where is Éomer?1 Tell him there is no hope ahead. He should return to Edoras before the wolves of Isengard come there.' Théoden had sat silent, hidden from the man's sight... now he urged his horse forward. 'Come, stand before me, Ceorl!' he said. 'I am here. The last host of the Eorlingas has ridden forth. It will not return without battle.'
The man's face lightened with joy and wonder. He drew himself up. Then he knelt, offering his notched sword to the king. 'Command me, lord!' he cried....
'Give this man a fresh horse! Let us ride to the help of Erkenbrand!'
While Théoden was speaking, Gandalf rode a short way ahead,... gazing north to Isengard.... Now he came back.
'Ride, Théoden!' he said. 'Ride to Helm's Deep! Go not to the Fords of Isen, and do not tarry in the plain! I must leave you for a while.'...
He spoke a word to Shadowfax, and... the great horse sprang away....
The host... bent their course southward. Night fell, and still they rode on. The hills drew near, but the tall peaks of Thrihyrne were already dim against the darkening sky. Still some miles away, on the far side of the Westfold Vale, lay a green coomb... out of which a gorge opened in the hills. Men of that land called it Helm's Deep....
The Riders were still in the low valley before the mouth of the Coomb, when cries and hornblasts were heard.... Swiftly a scout rode back and reported that wolf-riders were abroad in the valley, and that a host of Orcs and wild men were hurrying southward from the Fords of Isen and seemed to be making for Helm's Deep.
'We have found many of our folk lying slain as they fled thither,' said the scout.... 'What has become of Erkenbrand none seem to know. It is likely that he will be overtaken ere he can reach Helm's Gate, if he has not already perished.'...
[Said Théoden,] 'Is it known how great is the host that comes from the North?'
'It is very great,' said the scout.... 'I do not doubt that the main strength of the enemy is many times as great as all that we have here.'
'Then let us be swift,' said Éomer. 'Let us drive through such foes as are already between us and the fastness. There are caves in Helm's Deep where hundreds may lie hid; and secret ways lead thence up on to the hills....
On through the dark night they rode, ever slower as the darkness deepened and their way climbed southward, higher and higher into the dim folds about the mountains' feet. They found few of the enemy before them. Here and there they came upon roving bands of Orcs; but they fled ere the Riders could take or slay them.
'It will not be long I fear,' said Éomer, 'ere the coming of the king's host will be known to the leader of our enemies, Saruman or whatever captain he has sent forth.'
The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep
1 Those who did not know of the events at court naturally assumed that the reinforcements sent west were under Éomer's command as the only remaining Marshal of the Mark. [Author's Note]
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix
Elena Tiriel 18Jan05