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Timeline Event

Elfhelm defends the eastern flank in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 2, 3019

An initial event in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen; see that entry for an overview:

The command in the field [Erkenbrand] gave to Grimbold ... but he assumed no command over Elfhelm and his Riders, who belonged to the Muster of Edoras. ... Elfhelm held that the Fords were no longer important, but rather a snare to entrap men better placed elsewhere, since Saruman could clearly send forces down either side of the Isen as suited his purpose and his immediate purpose would undoubtedly be to overrun Westfold and invest the Hornburg, before any effective help could come from Edoras. His army, or most of it, would therefore come down the east side of the Isen; for though by that way, over rougher ground without roads, their approach would be slower, they would not have to force the passage of the Fords. Elfhelm therefore advised that the Fords should be abandoned; all the available men on foot should be assembled on the east side, and placed in a position to hold up the advance of the enemy: a long line of rising ground running from west to east some few miles north of the Fords; but the cavalry should be withdrawn eastward to a point from which, when the advancing enemy was engaged with the defence, a charge with the greatest impact could be delivered on their flank and drive them into the river. "Let Isen be their snare and not ours!"

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

Elfhelm ... withdrew his Riders and took up his position on the line where he had wished the main defence to stand; his purpose was to descry as soon as could be any attack coming down on the east of the river and to disperse it before it could reach the Fords.

[But] Saruman's strength was too great. ... before noon of March the 2nd a strong force ... attacked the forts on the west of the Fords. ...

Elfhelm had been unable to take part in this action. In the dusk he withdrew his companies and retired towards Grimbold’s camp, setting his men in groups at some distance from it to act as a screen against attack from north and east. From southwards they expected no evil, and hoped for succour. ... Fearing, indeed knowing, that greater evil would befall them ere long, unless help beyond hope reached them swiftly, the defenders prepared to do what they could to hold up Saruman's advance before they were overwhelmed. The greater part stood to arms, only a few at a time attempting to snatch such brief rest and sleep as they could. Grimbold and Elfhelm were sleepless, awaiting the dawn and dreading what it might bring.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

Elena Tiriel 9Feb05

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