Sauron's forces attack Osgiliath
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: June 20, 3018
The earliest event in the War of the Ring and in the prelude to the Siege of Minas Tirith; see those entries for an overview:
The attack began in the summer of 3018. The Ringwraiths issued once more from Minas Morgul in visible form. The sons of Denethor resisted them but were defeated by the Black Captain, and retreated over Anduin; but they still held West Osgiliath.
The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Ruling Stewards of Gondor
'But this very year, in the days of June, sudden war came upon us out of Mordor, and we were swept away. We were outnumbered, for Mordor has allied itself with the Easterlings and the cruel Haradrim; but it was not by numbers that we were defeated. A power was there that we have not felt before.
'Some said that it could be seen, like a great black horseman, a dark shadow under the moon. Wherever he came a madness filled our foes, but fear fell on our boldest, so that horse and man gave way and fled. Only a remnant of our eastern force came back, destroying the last bridge that still stood amid the ruins of Osgiliath.
'I was in the company that held the bridge, until it was cast down behind us. Four only were saved by swimming: my brother and myself and two others.'
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond
Hoping to alarm his enemies and disturb their counsels with the fear of war (which he did not intend to make for some time), [Sauron] attacked Thranduil and Gondor at about the same time. He had these two additional objects: to capture or kill Gollum, or at least to deprive his enemies of him; and to force the passage of the bridge of Osgiliath, so that the Nazgûl could cross, while testing the strength of Gondor.
In the event Gollum escaped. But the passage of the bridge was effected. The forces there used were probably much less than men in Gondor thought. In the panic of the first assault, when the Witch-king was allowed to reveal himself briefly in his full terror, the Nazgûl crossed the bridge at night and dispersed northwards. Without belittling the valour of Gondor, which indeed Sauron found greater far than he had hoped, it is clear that Boromir and Faramir were able to drive back the enemy and destroy the bridge, only because the attack had now served its main purpose.
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story
'So near to Mordor?' said Beregond quietly. 'Yes, there it lies. We seldom name it; but we have dwelt ever in sight of that shadow.... It is growing and darkening now.... And the Fell Riders, less than a year ago they won back the crossings, and many of our best men were slain. Boromir it was that drove the enemy at last back from this western shore, and we hold still the near half of Osgiliath. For a little while.'
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith
Elena Tiriel 15Sep04, 30Sep04, 22Sep05