HASA Resources

Timeline Event

Battle of the Morannon: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 25, 3019

Description:

An event in the War of the Ring; see that entry for an overview:

Table of Contents:
The Summary
The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— Defensive Forces
The Timeline
The Prelude
The Battle
The Aftermath
Notes


The Summary
The climactic battle before the Black Gates of Mordor between the forces of Sauron and the massively outnumbered Host of the West.

The Combatants

The Combatants: Attacking Forces
[There] marched up an army of Easterlings that had waited for the signal....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

But the Men of Rhûn and of Harad, Easterling and Southron... were deepest and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and bold....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen

Down from the hills on either side of the Morannon poured Orcs innumerable.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

[There] came striding up, roaring like beasts, a great company of hill-trolls out of Gorgoroth. Taller and broader than Men they were... they bore round bucklers huge and black and wielded heavy hammers in their knotted hands.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

[Soon]... forces ten times and more than ten times their match 1 would ring [the men of the West] in a sea of enemies.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

[The] Nazgûl came with their cold voices crying words of death; and then all hope was quenched.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens


The Combatants: Defensive Forces
[It] was with less than six thousands that the Captains of the West came at last to challenge the Black Gate....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

Upon the one hill [Aragorn] stood with Gandalf.... Upon the other hill hard by stood the banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth.... And about each hill a ring was made facing all ways, bristling with spear and sword. But in the front towards Mordor where the first bitter assault would come there stood the sons of Elrond on the left with the Dúnedain about them, and on the right the Prince Imrahil with the men of Dol Amroth tall and fair, and picked men of the Tower of Guard.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

[Beregond] was to march leading a company of the Men of the City.... In that same company Pippin was also to go, as a soldier of Gondor.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North.... Behind them in long swift lines came all their vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen


The Timeline
March [3019]
15
... Battle of the Pelennor.... Frodo and Samwise escape and begin their journey north along the Morgai....

[See: Shagrat escapes the Tower of Cirith Ungol with tokens of Frodo's capture]

16
Debate of the commanders. Frodo from the Morgai looks out over the camp to Mount Doom.

[See: Last Debate of the Captains of the West]

[16-19]
[See: Sauron musters his Mordor forces inside the Morannon]

17
Battle of Dale.... Shagrat brings Frodo's cloak, mail-shirt, and sword to Barad-dûr.

[See: Shagrat delivers the tokens of Frodo's capture to Barad-dûr]

18
The Host of the West marches from Minas Tirith. Frodo comes in sight of the Isenmouthe; he is overtaken by Orcs on the road from Durthang to Udûn.

[See: Host of the West marches from Minas Tirith]
[See: Host of the West reaches Osgiliath]
[See: Vanguard of the Host of the West reaches the Cross-roads]

19
The Host comes to Morgul Vale. Frodo and Samwise escape and begin their journey along the road to the Barad-dûr.

[See: Captains of the West come to Morgul Vale]

[See: Gorgoroth emptied of Sauron's forces]

[20]
[See: Host of the West marches north through Ithilien]

[21]
[See: Host of the West evades ambush by Sauron’s forces]
[See: Nazgûl spy on the Host of the West]

22
The dreadful nightfall. Frodo and Samwise leave the road and turn south to Mount Doom. Third assault on Lórien.

23
The Host passes out of Ithilien. Aragorn dismisses the faint-hearted. Frodo and Samwise cast away their arms and gear.

[See: Host of the West passes out of Ithilien]
[See: Aragorn dismisses the faint-hearted]

24
Frodo and Samwise make their last journey to the feet of Mount Doom. The Host camps in the Desolation of the Morannon.

[See: Host of the West camps before the Morannon]

25
The Host is surrounded on the Slag-hills. Frodo and Samwise reach the Sammath Naur. Gollum seizes the Ring and falls in the Cracks of Doom. Downfall of Barad-dûr and passing of Sauron.

[See: Gandalf parleys with the Mouth of Sauron at the Morannon]
[See: Mouth of Sauron reveals the tokens of Frodo's capture]

[See: Aragorn arrays the Host of the West on the Slag-hills]

[See: Sauron's forces trap the Host of the West]
[See: Nazgûl join the attack]
[See: Trolls charge the front lines]

[See: Beregond wounded by the Troll-chief]
[See: Pippin slays the Troll-chief]
[See: Pippin falls]

[See: Gwaihir and the Eagles attack the Nazgûl]

[See: Destruction of the One Ring: Overview]

[See: Sauron summons the Nazgûl as Frodo claims the One Ring]
[See: Sauron's forces scatter at the Destruction of the One Ring]
[See: Host of the West counterattacks Sauron's forces]

[See: Easterlings and Haradrim make a last stand]
[See: Host of the West defeats the remnants of Sauron's Forces]

[See: Gimli finds Pippin on the battlefield]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

The Prelude
'[Sauron's] doubt will be growing.... His Eye is now straining towards us, blind almost to all else that is moving.... Therein lies all our hope. This, then, is my counsel. We have not the Ring. In wisdom or great folly it has been sent away to be destroyed.... Without it we cannot by force defeat his force. But we must at all costs keep his Eye from his true peril. We cannot achieve victory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be....

'We must push Sauron to his last throw. We must call out his hidden strength, so that he shall empty his land. We must march out to meet him.... We must make ourselves the bait.... He will take that bait, in hope and in greed, for he will think that in such rashness he sees the pride of the new Ringlord: and he will say: "So! he pushes out his neck too soon and too far. Let him come on, and behold I will have him in a trap from which he cannot escape. There I will crush him, and what he has taken in his insolence shall be mine again for ever."

'We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope.... For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless – as we surely shall, if we sit here – and know as we die that no new age shall be.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 9, The Last Debate

Over the city of Gondor doubt and great dread had hung. Fair weather and clear sun had seemed but a mockery to men whose days held little hope, and who looked each morning for news of doom.... [The] new king that had come to them in the night was gone again to a war with powers too dark and terrible for any might or valour to conquer. And no news came.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, The Steward and the King

But Sauron... had a mind first to play these mice cruelly before he struck to kill.... And thereupon the middle door of the Black Gate was thrown open..., and out of it there came an embassy from the Dark Tower.

At its head there rode a tall and evil shape... 'I am the Mouth of Sauron.'....

'These are the terms,' said the Messenger.... 'The rabble of Gondor and its deluded allies shall withdraw at once beyond the Anduin, first taking oaths never again to assail Sauron the Great in arms.... All lands east of Anduin shall be Sauron's for ever, solely. West of the Anduin as far as the Misty Mountains and the Gap of Rohan shall be tributary to Mordor, and men there shall bear no weapons, but shall have leave to govern their own affairs.'....

But Gandalf said: 'This is much to demand... And... what surety have we that Sauron... will keep his part? Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought forth and yielded to us, and then we will consider these demands.'....

'Surety you crave! Sauron gives none.... These are his terms. Take them or leave them!'

'These we will take!' said Gandalf suddenly. He cast aside his cloak and a white light shone forth.... Before his upraised hand the foul Messenger recoiled, and Gandalf coming seized and took from him the tokens: coat, cloak, and sword.... 'But as for your terms, we reject them utterly.... Begone!'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens


The Battle
The great doors of the Black Gate swung back wide. Out of it streamed a great host... The men of the West were trapped.... Sauron had taken the proffered bait in jaws of steel.

The wind blew, and the trumpets sang, and arrows whined; but the sun... was veiled in the reeks of Mordor.... And out of the gathering mirk the Nazgûl came with their cold voices crying words of death; and then all hope was quenched....

The orcs hindered by the mires that lay before the hills halted and poured their arrows into the defending ranks. But through them there came striding up... a great company of hill-trolls.... Reckless they sprang into the pools and waded across, bellowing as they came. Like a storm they broke upon the line of the men of Gondor, and beat upon helm and head, and arm and shield as smiths hewing the hot bending iron.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

All about the hills the hosts of Mordor raged. The Captains of the West were foundering in a gathering sea.... The onslaught of Mordor broke like a wave on the beleaguered hills, voices roaring like a tide amid the wreck and crash of arms....

Then [Gandalf] lifted up his hands and cried in a loud voice ringing above the din: The Eagles are coming!.... The hosts of Mordor looked up and wondered what this sign might mean.

There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North.... Behind them in long swift lines came all their vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind. Straight down upon the Nazgûl they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale.

But the Nazgûl turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower; and even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering...; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid.

Then all the Captains of the West cried aloud, for their hearts were filled with a new hope in the midst of darkness. Out from the beleaguered hills knights of Gondor, Riders of Rohan, Dúnedain of the North, close-serried companies, drove against their wavering foes, piercing the press with the thrust of bitter spears. But Gandalf lifted up his arms and called once more in a clear voice:

'Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.'....

'The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen

[The] creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes.... But the Men of Rhûn and of Harad... saw the ruin of their war and the great majesty and glory of the Captains of the West. And those that were deepest and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and bold, in their turn now gathered themselves for a last stand of desperate battle. But the most part fled eastward as they could; and some cast their weapons down and sued for mercy.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen


The Aftermath
[They] spent many days in Ithilien. For the Field of Cormallen [was] where the host was now encamped....

In the meanwhile the host made ready for the return to Minas Tirith. The weary rested and the hurt were healed. For some had laboured and fought much with the remnants of the Easterlings and Southrons, until all were subdued. And, latest of all, those returned who had passed into Mordor and destroyed the fortresses in the north of the land.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen


Notes
1This indicates that Sauron had a minimum of sixty thousand soldiers of various races in the initial assault.

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 4Dec04, 31Jul06, 7Aug06

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