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Timeline Event

Invasion of Westfold by Saruman: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Dates: February 25, 3019 ~ March 5, 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
— — Sauron and the Nazgûl
— — Saruman
— — — The Hosts of Isengard
— — — — The Dunlendings
— — — — The Half-orcs and Goblin-men
— — — — The Orcs and Wargs
— — — Saruman's Spies and Agents
— — — — Gríma Wormtongue in Rohan
— — — — Bill Ferny and the Squint-eyed Southerner in Bree
— — — — Birds and Beasts
— Defensive Forces
— — The Rohirrim
— — The Fellowship
— — — Gandalf the White and Shadowfax
— — — The Three Hunters: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
— — — Merry and Pippin
— — Treebeard
— — — The Ents
— — — The Huorns
— — Gwaihir and the Eagles
— — The Drúedain

The Timeline

The Prelude
— Sauron and the Nazgûl
— Saruman
— The Rohirrim
— The Dunlendings

The Invasion
— Saruman imprisons Gandalf
— Saruman begins his aggression against Rohan
— Saruman's troops target Théodred at the Fords of Isen
— Saruman's Orcs capture Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen
— The Three Hunters pursue Merry and Pippin and encounter Éomer
— Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn as Éomer destroys their captors
— Gandalf and the Three Hunters reunite and go to aid the Rohirrim
— Saruman's troops launch the invasion with a second attack at the Fords of Isen
— Merry and Pippin inspire Treebeard to attack Saruman in Isengard
— Saruman's forces attack the Rohirrim at the Hornburg
— The Rohirrim and the Huorns defeat Saruman's forces at the Hornburg
— Ents destroy Isengard and imprison Saruman
— Gandalf and the Rohirrim parley with Saruman after his defeat

The Aftermath

Notes



The Summary
Saruman's massive campaign of aggression against Rohan.

The Combatants

The Combatants:  Attacking Forces

Attacking Forces:  Sauron and the Nazgûl
[It] is said that Sauron had at this time, by means of the palantíri, at last begun to daunt Saruman, and could in any case often read his thought even when he withheld information.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note 14

Now Sauron learning of the capture of Gollum... was in great haste and fear. Yet all his ordinary spies and emissaries could bring him no tidings. And this was due largely both to the vigilance of the Dúnedain and to the treachery of Saruman, whose own servants either waylaid or misled the servants of Sauron. Of this Sauron became aware, but his arm was not yet long enough to reach Saruman in Isengard. Therefore he hid his knowledge of Saruman's double-dealing and concealed his wrath, biding his time.... At length he resolved that no others would serve him in this case but his mightiest servants, the Ringwraiths....

Now... none could withstand them when gathered together.... Yet... so great was the terror that went with them (even invisible and unclad) that their coming forth might soon be perceived and their mission be guessed by the Wise.

So it was that... the Lord of Morgul was sent forth openly to battle against Gondor... towards the end of June 3018.... [His] chief purpose was that the coming forth of the Nazgûl should appear only as part of his policy of war against Gondor.

Therefore when Osgiliath was taken... Sauron stayed the assault, and the Nazgûl were ordered to begin the search for the Ring... as secretly as they could....

The Lord of Morgul therefore led his companions over Anduin, unclad and unmounted, and invisible to eyes, and yet a terror to all living things that they passed near.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders


Attacking Forces:  Saruman
Saruman fell under the domination of Sauron and desired his victory, or no longer opposed it.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

'[The valley below]... was now filled with pits and forges. Wolves and orcs were housed in Isengard, for Saruman was mustering a great force on his own account, in rivalry of Sauron and not in his service yet.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'Even reckoned as a lord and captain Saruman has grown very strong. He threatens the Men of Rohan and draws off their help from Minas Tirith, even as the main blow is approaching from the East. Yet a treacherous weapon is ever a danger to the hand. Saruman also had a mind to capture the Ring, for himself, or at least to snare some hobbits for his evil purposes.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

[After Gandalf's escape,] Saruman... perceived the peril of standing between enemies, a known traitor to both. His dread was great, for his hope of deceiving Sauron, or at the least of receiving his favour in victory, was utterly lost. Now either he himself must gain the Ring or come to ruin and torment.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

'But at this time our chief concern is with Saruman. He has claimed lordship over all this land, and there has been war between us for many months. He... has closed the Gap against us, so that we are likely to be beset both east and west.

'It is ill dealing with such a foe: he is a wizard both cunning and dwimmer-crafty, 1 having many guises. He walks here and there, they say, as an old man hooded and cloaked, very like to Gandalf, as many now recall.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

'He has taken Orcs into his service, and Wolf-riders, and evil Men....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan


Attacking Forces:  The Hosts of Isengard
[A] strong force of his best fighters, coming down by the Road from Isengard, attacked the forts on the west of the Fords. This force was... only a small part of those that he had in hand... a troop... began to cross the Fords.... the enemy commander then threw in a battalion that had not been committed....

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

'Well, of all sorts together, there must have been ten thousand at the very least,' said Merry. 'They took an hour to pass out of the gates.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

It was the vanguard of the whole remaining forces of Saruman that he was now committing to battle for the conquest of Westfold. They came on at great speed....

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

The enemy was in fact in positions prepared for the event, behind trenches manned by pikemen....

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

Ropes with grappling hooks were hurled over the parapet.... Hundreds of long ladders were lifted up.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The trees, swung by strong arms, smote the timbers with a rending boom.... Again and again the great rams swung and crashed.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'They have a blasting fire, and with it they took the Wall. If they cannot come in the caves, they may seal up those that are inside.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


Attacking Forces:  The Dunlendings
'Saruman has armed the wild hillmen and herd-folk of Dunland beyond the rivers....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Saruman had told them that the men of Rohan were cruel and burned their captives alive.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

'[The Dunlendings] are fierce folk when roused. They will not give way now... until Théoden is taken, or they themselves are slain.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

And there were battalions of Men, too.... Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

Saruman's eastern force... was much smaller... but more dangerous. In its van were some Dunlending horse­men....

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

[Fierce] companies of the Dunlendish hillmen were thrown [against Grimbold's shieldwall]. But for all their hatred the Dunlendings were still afraid of the Rohirrim if they met face to face, and they were also less skilled in warfare and less well armed.

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

[The Dunlendings] were without body-armour, having only among them a few hauberks gained by theft or in loot.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11


Attacking Forces:  The Half-orcs and Goblin-men
'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,' said Gamling.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'[Saruman] has taken up with foul folk, with the Orcs.... Worse than that: he has been doing something to them; something dangerous. For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

Many of them carried torches, and in the flare I could see their faces.... there were some... that were horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree: only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.'

'I thought of him too,' said Aragorn. 'We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

[There] appeared a company of men or Orc-men..., ferocious, mail-clad, and armed with axes.

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


Attacking Forces:  The Orcs and Wargs
The use, and possibly special breeding, of Orcs [in Isengard] was kept secret, and cannot have begun much before 2990 at earliest.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri: Notes, Note 7

'Great Orcs, who also bore the White Hand of Isengard: that kind is stronger and more fell than all others.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

There were four [dead] goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs: and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men. Upon their shields they bore a strange device: a small white hand in the centre of a black field; on the front of their iron helms was set an S-rune, wrought of some white metal.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

The hobbits were left with the Isengarders: a grim dark band, four score at least....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

'What of the dawn?' they jeered. 'We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Behind them came two battalions of the fierce Uruks, heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles.

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

[The] Orcs screamed, waving spear and sword, and shooting a cloud of arrows at any that stood revealed upon the battlements....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

In Isengard as yet only the heavy and clumsy mail of the Orcs was made, by them for their own uses. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11

'I saw the enemy go: endless lines of marching Orcs; and troops of them mounted on great wolves.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

Saruman's eastern force came down with unexpected speed.... In its van were... a great pack of the dreadful Orcish wolfriders, feared by horses.

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

[Orcish wolfriders] were very swift and skilled in avoiding ordered men in close array, being used mostly to destroy isolated groups or to hunt down fugitives; but at need they would pass with reckless ferocity through any gaps in companies of horsemen, slashing at the bellies of the horses. [Author's note.]

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


Attacking Forces:  Saruman's Spies and Agents

Attacking Forces:  Gríma Wormtongue in Rohan
'[Saruman's] spies slip through every net... his friends do not all dwell in Isengard.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[The] King's health began to fail... when Théoden was sixty-six; his malady may thus have been due to natural causes, though the Rohirrim commonly lived till... their eightieth year. But it may well have been induced or increased by subtle poisons, administered by Gríma.

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

... Théoden's sense of weakness and dependence on Gríma was largely due to the cunning and skill of this evil counsellor's suggestions.

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

'In those years Wormtongue's task was easy, and all that you did was swiftly known in Isengard; for your land was open, and strangers came and went. And ever Wormtongue's whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Attacking Forces:  Bill Ferny and the Squint-eyed Southerner in Bree
'And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted,' [Aragorn] went on. 'Bill Ferny, for instance. He has an evil name in the Bree-land, and queer folk call at his house.... He was very close with one of the Southern strangers.... Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 10, Strider

Presently [Bill Ferny] slipped out of the door, followed by the squint-eyed southerner: the two had been whispering together a good deal during the evening.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

[One] of Saruman's most trusted servants (yet a ruffianly fellow, an outlaw driven from Dunland, where many said that he had Orc-blood) had returned from the borders of the Shire, where he had been negotiating for the purpose of "leaf" and other supplies. Saruman was beginning to store Isengard against war.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

'It seems plain now that that Southerner was a spy of Saruman's; but whether he was working with the Black Riders, or for Saruman alone, I do not know. It is difficult with these evil folk to know when they are in league, and when they are cheating one another.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Attacking Forces:  Birds and Beasts
'But Saruman has many ways of learning news. Do you remember the birds?'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

'[Spies] of many sorts, even beasts and birds....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'Regiments of black crows are flying over all the land...,' [Aragorn] said.... They are not natives here; they are crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland.... I think they are spying out the land. I have also glimpsed many hawks flying high up in the sky.... Hollin... is being watched.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

'... [Saruman's] birds of ill omen are abroad in the sky.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan


The Combatants:  Defensive Forces

Defensive Forces:  The Rohirrim
... Théoden... fell into a decline under the spells of Saruman, but was healedn by Gandalf, and in the last year of his life arose and led his men to victory....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark

Háma knelt and presented to Théoden a long sword in a scabbard clasped with gold and set with green gems. 'Here, lord, is Herugrim, your ancient blade,' he said.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

[The] king came. His horse was white as snow, golden was his shield, and his spear was long....

On they rode.... Captains and champions fell or fled before them. Neither orc nor man withstood them. Their backs were to the swords and spears of the Riders....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Marshal of the Mark... was the highest military rank... commanders of the royal forces of fully equipped and trained Riders.... In the beginning of the year 3019... the Second marshal, the King's son Théodred, had command over the West-mark with his base at Helm's Deep; the Third Marshal, the King's nephew Éomer, had as his ward the East-mark....

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

[When] the war with Saruman began Théodred without orders assumed general command. He summoned a muster of Edoras, and drew away a large part of its Riders, under Elfhelm, to strengthen the Muster of Westfold and help it to resist the invasion.

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

[Théodred] therefore manned the approaches... to the Fords with the sturdy men on foot from the levies of Westfold. Leaving three companies of Riders, together with horse-herds and spare mounts, on the east bank, he himself passed over with the main strength of his cavalry: eight companies and a company of archers...

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

'We do not and we never have [paid tribute to Sauron].' said Éomer with a flash of his eyes; 'though it comes to my ears that that lie has been told. Some years ago the Lord of the Black Land wished to purchase horses of us at great price, but we refused him, for he puts beasts to evil use. Then he sent plundering Orcs, and they carry off what they can, choosing always the black horses: few of these are now left. For that reason our feud with the Orcs is bitter.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Said] Legolas, 'there are one hundred and five [Riders]. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall.'....

After [Éomer] they rode: a long line of mail-clad men, swift, shining, fell and fair to look upon.

Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed.... The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms.... In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished skirts of mail hung down upon their knees.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

The éored with which Éomer pursued the Orcs... had 120 Riders: Legolas counted 105 when they were far away, and Éomer said that fifteen men had been lost in battle with the Orcs.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 36

At the gate they found a great host of men, old and young, all ready in the saddle. More than a thousand were there mustered....

The trumpets sounded.... Spear clashed on shield.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

In the end Grimbold manned the western end of the Fords with the greater part of his foot-soldiers; there they were in a strong position in the earth-forts that guarded the approaches. He remained with the rest of his men, including what remained to him of Théodred's cavalry, on the east bank.

... Grimbold had only a handful of archers.

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

They now learned to their joy that Erkenbrand had left many men to hold Helm's Gate, and more had since escaped thither.

'Maybe, we have a thousand fit to fight on foot,' said Gamling,... 'But most of them have seen too many winters, as I have, or too few, as my son's son here.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'The Rohirrim have good bowmen after their fashion, but there are too few here, too few.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The Rohirrim had the advantage in being supplied [with body-armor] by the metalworkers of Gondor.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11


Defensive Forces: The Fellowship
'I am the Doorward of Théoden,' he said. 'Háma is my name. Here I must bid you lay aside your weapons before you enter.'

Then Legolas gave into his hand his silver-hafted knife, his quiver and his bow. 'Keep these well,' he said, 'for they come from the Golden Wood and the Lady of Lothlórien gave them to me.'....

[Said] Gandalf. 'Here at least is my sword, goodman Háma. Keep it well. Glamdring it is called, for the Elves made it long ago.'....

Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'....

'Well,' said Gimli, 'if it has Andúril to keep it company, my axe may stay here, too, without shame'; and he laid it on the floor.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Defensive Forces: Gandalf the White and Shadowfax
[The] Grey Wanderer had the greater strength [compared with Saruman], and the greater influence upon the dwellers in Middle-earth, even though he hid his power and desired neither fear nor reverence.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Concerning Gandalf, Saruman, and the Shire

Gandalf bore his staff, but girt at his side was the elven-sword Glamdring....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

'The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age,' said Háma. He looked hard at the ash-staff on which Gandalf leaned. 'Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

'The gift seems already to be given,' said Théoden. 'But hearken all! Here now I name my guest, Gandalf Greyhame, wisest of counsellors;... a lord of the Mark,... and I give to him Shadowfax, prince of horses.'

'I thank you, Théoden King,' said Gandalf. Then suddenly he threw back his grey cloak, and cast aside his hat, and leaped to horseback. He wore no helm nor mail. His snowy hair flew free in the wind, his white robes shone dazzling in the sun.

'Behold the White Rider!' cried Aragorn, and all took up the words.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

'[Shadowfax] is running now as fast as the swiftest horse could gallop,' answered Gandalf; 'but that is not fast for him.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 11, The Palantír


Defensive Forces: The Three Hunters: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
'Seldom has any lord of Rohan received three such guests. Weapons they have laid at your doors that are worth many a mortal man, even the mightiest. Grey is their raiment, for the Elves clad them, and thus they have passed through the shadow of great perils to your hall.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

[Said Aragorn,] 'The men of Rohan must ride forth today, and we will ride with them, axe, sword, and bow.... I promised Éomer that my sword and his should be drawn together.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

Now men came bearing raiment of war from the king's hoard and they arrayed Aragorn and Legolas in shining mail. Helms too they chose, and round shields... Gimli needed no coat of rings, even if one had been found to match his stature, for there was no hauberk in the hoards of Edoras of better make than his short corslet forged beneath the Mountain.... But he chose a cap of iron and leather that fitted well upon his round head; and a small shield he also took.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Defensive Forces:  Merry and Pippin
'[Merry and Pippin] were brought to Fangorn, and their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains. Even as we talk here, I hear the first rumblings. Saruman had best not be caught away from home when the dam bursts!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

The hobbits began to tell [Treebeard] the story of their adventures ever since they left Hobbiton....

Treebeard was however especially interested in everything that concerned Gandalf; and most interested of all in Saruman's doings. The hobbits regretted very much that they knew so little.... But they were clear at any rate that Uglúk and his troop came from Isengard, and spoke of Saruman as their master.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard


Defensive Forces:  Treebeard
'And all the time there is another danger, close at hand, which [Saruman] does not see.... He has forgotten Treebeard.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'Some time ago I began to wonder how Orcs dared to pass through my woods so freely,' [Treebeard] went on. 'Only lately did I guess that Saruman was to blame.... He and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees — good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot — orc-mischief that; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc....

'Curse him, root and branch! Many of those trees were my friends.... And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves.... It must stop!'....

'And you shall come with me. You may be able to help me. You will be helping your own friends that way, too; for if Saruman is not checked Rohan and Gondor will have an enemy behind as well as in front. Our roads go together — to Isengard!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard


Defensive Forces:  The Ents
[The] Ents were swinging along with great strides down the slope towards them. Treebeard was at their head, and some fifty followers were behind him....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'An angry Ent is terrifying. Their fingers, and their toes, just freeze on to rock; and they tear it up like bread-crust. It was like watching the work of great tree-roots in a hundred years, all packed into a few moments.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'But arrows are no use against Ents.... They cannot be poisoned, for one thing; and their skin seems to be very thick, and tougher than bark. It takes a very heavy axe-stroke to wound them seriously. They don't like axes. But there would have to be a great many axe-men to one Ent: a man that hacks once at an Ent never gets a chance of a second blow. A punch from an Ent-fist crumples up iron like thin tin.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Defensive Forces:  The Huorns
'... I... had the feeling that the Forest itself was moving behind us.... It was the Huorns... hundreds and hundreds of them....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'There is a great power in [Huorns], and they seem able to wrap themselves in shadow: it is difficult to see them moving. But they do. They can move very quickly, if they are angry. You stand still... and then suddenly you find that you are in the middle of a wood with great groping trees all around you. They still have voices, and can speak with the Ents... but they have become queer and wild. Dangerous. I should be terrified of meeting them, if there were no true Ents about to look after them.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'I think that hundreds more of the Huorns must have been passing by to help in the battle....

'It must have been about midnight.... The Huorn-dark had passed, and the thunder had rolled away.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Defensive Forces:  Gwaihir and the Eagles
'[The] Eagles of the Mountains went far and wide, and they saw many things.... And they sent a messenger to bring these tidings to me.

'So it was that... Gwaihir the Windlord... came unlooked-for to Orthanc; and he found me.... Then... he bore me away, before Saruman was aware....

'He set me down in the land of Rohan... [where] I found evil already at work: the lies of Saruman; and the king of the land would not listen to my warnings.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'... I did not know of [Merry and Pippin's] captivity, until the eagle told me.'

'The eagle!' said Legolas. 'I have seen an eagle high and far off....'

'Yes,' said Gandalf, 'that was Gwaihir..., who rescued me from Orthanc. I sent him before me to watch the River and gather tidings.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


Defensive Forces:  The Drúedain
A marginal jotting states that after the Battle of the Fords of Isen it was found that many Drúedain did indeed survive in the Drúwaith Iaur, for they came forth from the caves where they dwelt to attack remnants of Saruman's forces that had been driven away southwards.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 1, The Drúedain: Notes, Note 13


The Timeline
2758
Rohan attacked from west and east and overrun.... 2758-9: The Long Winter follows. Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan....

[See: Invasion of Rohan from West and East: Overview]

2759
Death of Helm. Fréaláf drives out Wulf.... Saruman takes up his abode in Isengard.

[See: Fréaláf expels the Dunlendings from Isengard]
[See: Saruman invited to Isengard]

2953
Last meeting of the White Council.... Saruman withdraws to Isengard, which he takes as his own, and fortifies it. Being jealous and afraid of Gandalf he sets spies to watch all his movements...

[See: Saruman seizes and fortifies Isengard]
[See: Saruman sends agents to the Shire and Bree]
[See: Saruman allies with the Dunlendings against Rohan]

circa 2990
[See: Saruman begins breeding Orcs in Isengard]

circa 3000
The shadow of Mordor lengthens. Saruman dares to use the palantír of Orthanc, but becomes ensnared by Sauron, who has the Ithil Stone. He becomes a traitor to the Council....

[See: Saruman ensnared by Sauron via the Palantír]
[See: Orcs of Mordor and Isengard begin to raid Rohan and steal horses]

3001
Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf suspects his ring to be the One Ring. The guard on the Shire is doubled. Gandalf seeks for news of Gollum and calls on the help of Aragorn.

[See: Saruman sends more spies to the Shire]
[See: Rangers increase the guard on the Shire]

3014
[See: Théoden's health begins to fail]
[See: Wormtongue, Saruman's agent, becomes Théoden's counsellor]

3017
... Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur.

[See: Saruman opens trade with the Shire]

3018
[See: Saruman provisions Isengard for war]

July 3018
10
Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc.

[See: Gandalf's Imprisonment in Isengard: Overview]
[See: Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc]

September 3018
18
Gandalf escapes from Orthanc in the early hours. The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.

[See: Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from Orthanc]
[See: Saruman closes the Gap of Rohan after Gandalf's escape]

19
Gandalf comes to Edoras as a beggar, and is refused admittance.

[See: Gwaihir bears Gandalf to Edoras]

20
Gandalf gains entrance to Edoras. Théoden commands him to go: 'Take any horse, only be gone ere tomorrow is old!'

[See: Théoden rejects Gandalf's warnings about Saruman]
[See: Théodred takes command of Rohan's defence against Saruman]

21
Gandalf meets Shadowfax, but the horse will not allow him to come near. He follows Shadowfax far over the fields.

22
The Black Riders reach Sarn Ford at evening.... Gandalf overtakes Shadowfax.

[See: Gandalf tames Shadowfax]

23
Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn.... Frodo leaves Bag End. Gandalf having tamed Shadowfax rides from Rohan.

February 3019
25
The Company pass the Argonath and camp at Parth Galen. First Battle of the Fords of Isen; Théodred son of Théoden slain.

[See: Fellowship passes the Argonath and camps at Parth Galen]

[See: 1st Battle of the Fords of Isen: Overview]
[See: Théodred, Théoden's heir, slain]
[See: Saruman's army retreats]

26
Breaking of the Fellowship. Death of Boromir.... Meriadoc and Peregrin captured. Frodo and Samwise enter the eastern Emyn Muil. Aragorn sets out in pursuit of the Orcs at evening. Éomer hears of the descent of the Orc-band from the Emyn Muil.

[See: Breaking of the Fellowship: Overview]
[See: Fellowship scatters to search for Frodo]
[See: Frodo and Sam set off for Mordor]

[See: Orc-raid at Parth Galen: Overview]
[See: Orcs from Isengard raid the Fellowship]
[See: Boromir, Denethor II's heir, slain]

[See: Merry and Pippin captured]
[See: Three Hunters pursue the Orc-raiders from Parth Galen]

[See: Orc-raiders dispute the fate of Merry and Pippin]
[See: Pippin leaves a clue for their pursuers]

[See: Erkenbrand takes command of the West-mark after Théodred dies]
[See: Erkenbrand provisions Helm's Deep for attack]

27
Aragorn reaches the west-cliff at sunrise. Éomer against Théoden's orders sets out from Eastfold about midnight to pursue the Orcs.

[See: Orc reinforcements from Mordor join the Orc-raiders]
[See: Éomer pursues the Orc-raiders]
[See: Gwaihir informs Gandalf of Merry and Pippin's capture]

28
Éomer overtakes the Orcs just outside Fangorn Forest.

[See: Éomer besieges the Orc-raiders at Fangorn]

29
Meriadoc and Pippin escape and meet Treebeard. The Rohirrim attack at sunrise and destroy the Orcs....

[See: Attack on the Orc-raiders at Fangorn: Overview]

[See: Merry and Pippin escape the Orc-raiders and flee into Fangorn]
[See: Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard]
[See: Merry and Pippin rouse Treebeard to action]

30
Entmoot begins. Éomer returning to Edoras meets Aragorn.

[See: Ents gather for an Entmoot]

[See: Éomer meets the Three Hunters in the Eastemnet]

March 3019
1
... Entmoot continues. Aragorn meets Gandalf the White. They set out for Edoras....

[See: Gandalf meets the Three Hunters in Fangorn]

[See: Éomer imprisoned by the counsel of Gríma Wormtongue]

2
... Gandalf comes to Edoras and heals Théoden. The Rohirrim ride west against Saruman. Second Battle of Fords of Isen. Erkenbrand defeated. Entmoot ends in afternoon. The Ents march on Isengard and reach it at night.

[See: Gandalf and the Three Hunters ride to Edoras]
[See: Gandalf heals Théoden in Meduseld]

[See: Gandalf exposes Gríma Wormtongue as Saruman's agent]
[See: Théoden exiles Gríma Wormtongue for treason]

[See: Théoden reinstates Éomer as Marshal of the Mark]
[See: Théoden appoints Éowyn interim leader of the Rohirrim]
[See: Théoden leads reinforcements west against Saruman]

[See: Hosts of Isengard leave for Helm's Deep]

[See: 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen: Overview]
[See: Elfhelm Driven Back in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen]
[See: Grimbold Retreats in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen]

[See: Ents march on Isengard]

3
Théoden retreats to Helm's Deep. Battle of the Hornburg begins. Ents complete the destruction of Isengard.

[See: Théoden diverts the reinforcements to Helm's Deep]
[See: Théoden's reinforcements arrive at Helm's Deep]

[See: Gandalf rides to Isengard]
[See: Huorns leave Isengard for Helm's Deep]

[See: Battle of the Hornburg: Overview]
[See: Hosts of Isengard overrun Helm's Dike]

[See: Destruction of Isengard by Ents: Overview]
[See: Saruman imprisoned in Orthanc]

4
Théoden and Gandalf set out from Helm's Deep for Isengard....

[See: Ents flood Isengard]

[See: Hosts of Isengard assault the gates of the Hornburg]
[See: Éomer and Aragorn defend the gates]
[See: Gimli rescues Éomer before the gates]

[See: Théoden leads a charge from the gates]
[See: Huorns arrive]
[See: Gandalf and Erkenbrand arrive]

[See: Hosts of Isengard defeated in the Battle of the Hornburg]

[See: Erkenbrand shows mercy to the Dunlending prisoners]
[See: Huorns dispose of the Orcs]
[See: Huorns return to Isengard]

5
Théoden reaches Isengard at noon. Parley with Saruman in Orthanc. Winged Nazgûl passes over the camp at Dol Baran. Gandalf sets out with Peregrin for Minas Tirith....

[See: Gríma Wormtongue imprisoned in Orthanc with Saruman]

[See: Parley with Saruman in Isengard: Overview]
[See: Gandalf expels Saruman from the Istari and the White Council]
[See: Saruman remains imprisoned under Treebeard's guard]

[See: Gríma Wormtongue hurls the Palantír from Orthanc]
[See: Pippin looks into the Palantír of Orthanc]
[See: Aragorn receives the Palantír of Orthanc]

[See: Winged Nazgûl flies over Dol Baran]
[See: Gandalf and Pippin ride for Minas Tirith]

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


The Prelude

The Prelude:  Sauron and the Nazgûl
[The] wrath and fear of Sauron was mounting. When [the Nine] came back to the Wold September had come; and there they met messengers from Barad-dûr conveying threats from their Master that filled even the Morgul-lord with dismay. For Sauron had now learned of the words of prophecy heard in Gondor, and the going forth of Boromir, of Saruman's deeds, and the capture of Gandalf. From these things he concluded indeed that neither Saruman nor any other of the Wise had possession yet of the Ring, but that Saruman at least knew where it might be hidden. Speed alone would now serve, and secrecy must be abandoned.

The Ringwraiths therefore were ordered to go straight to Isengard. They rode then through Rohan in haste, and the terror of their passing was so great that many folk fled from the land, and went wildly away north and west, believing that war out of the East was coming on the heels of the black horses.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

'The Enemy, of course, has long known that the Ring is abroad, and that it is borne by a hobbit. He knows now the number of our Company that set out from Rivendell, and the kind of each of us. But he does not yet perceive our purpose clearly. He supposes that we were all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place. And according to his wisdom it would have been a heavy stroke against his power. Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


The Prelude:  Saruman
[After the Watchful Peace] was first made the... White Council, and therein were... lords of the Eldar, and with them were Mithrandir and Curunír. And Curunír (that was Saruman the White) was chosen to be their chief, for he had most studied the devices of Sauron of old. Galadriel indeed had wished that Mithrandir should be the Lead of the Council, and Saruman begrudged them that, for his pride and desire of mastery was grown great.... But Saruman now began to study the lore of the Rings of Power, their making and their history.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

[When] Saruman offered to take command of Isengard and repair it and reorder it as part of the defences of the West he was welcomed both by King Fréaláf and by Beren the Steward....

There can be little doubt that Saruman made his offer in good faith, or at least with good will towards the defence of the West, so long as he himself remained the chief person in that defence, and the head of its council. He... perceived clearly that Isengard with its position and its great strength, natural and by craft, was of utmost importance. The line of the Isen, between the pincers of Isengard and the Hornburg, was a bulwark against invasion from the East (whether incited and guided by Sauron, or otherwise), either aiming at encircling Gondor or at invading Eriador.

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

If Beren the Steward considered the

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