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Timeline Event

Battle of the Hornburg: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Dates: March 3, 3019 ~ March 4, 3019


An event in the Invasion of Westfold by Saruman; 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

The Summary
The major assault on the fortress of the Hornburg, in which Sauron's forces are utterly defeated.

The Combatants

Attacking Forces
There the hugest Orcs were mustered, and the wild men of the Dunland fells.... blazoned upon every helm and shield the ghastly hand of Isengard was seen....

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

'[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

[Wolf-riders] were abroad....

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

Defensive Forces
[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.'....

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

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 Timeline
... Éomer hears of the descent of the Orc-band from the Emyn Muil.

[See: Erkenbrand takes command of the West-mark after Théodred's death]

... Éomer against Théoden's orders sets out from Eastfold about midnight to pursue the Orcs....

[See: Erkenbrand provisions Helm's Deep against attack]

... The Rohirrim attack at sunrise and destroy the Orcs....

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

Entmoot begins. Éomer returning to Edoras meets Aragorn.

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

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

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

[See: Gandalf meets the Three Hunters in Fangorn]
[See: Gandalf and the Three Hunters ride to Edoras]

... 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 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: Second Battle of the Fords of Isen: Overview]

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

[See: Destruction of Isengard by Ents: Overview]

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

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

[See: Théoden's reinforcements arrive at Helm's Deep]
[See: Hosts of Isengard overrun Helm's Dike]

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

[See: Orcs break in through the culvert]
[See: Gamling foils the break-in through the culvert]

[See: Hosts of Isengard breach the Deeping Wall]
[See: Hosts of Isengard destroy the gates]
[See: Háma, Captain of the King's Guard, slain]

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

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

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

[See: Huorns return to Isengard]

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

The Prelude
'Not in half a thousand years have [the Dunlendings] forgotten their grievance that the lords of Gondor gave the Mark to Eorl the Young and made alliance with him. That old hatred Saruman has inflamed.'

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

'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

Erkenbrand of Westfold assumed command of the West-mark when news of the fall of Théodred [in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen] reached him in the Hornburg on the next day [26 February].

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

[Erkenbrand] judged rightly that invasion was imminent, but that Saruman would not dare to pass on eastward to attack Edoras while the fortress of the Hornburg was unreduced, if it was manned and well stored. With this business and the gathering of such men of Westfold as he could, he was occupied for three days.

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

[Erkenbrand] sent errand-riders to Edoras... to bear to Théoden his son's last words, adding his own prayer that Éomer should be sent at once with all help that could be spared. "Let the defence of Edoras be made here in the West," he said, "and not wait till it is itself besieged." But Gríma used the curtness of this advice to further his policy of delay. It was not until his defeat by Gandalf that any action was taken. The reinforcements with Éomer and the King himself set out in the afternoon of March the 2nd, but that night the Second Battle of the Fords was fought and lost, and the invasion of Rohan began.

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

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. 'And we have met scattered companies, going this way and that, leaderless. 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.'

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

The Battle
It was now past midnight.... Suddenly the clouds were seared by a blinding flash.... For a staring moment the watchers on the walls saw all the space between them and the Dike lit with white light: it was boiling and crawling with black shapes, some squat and broad, some tall and grim, with high helms and sable shields. Hundreds and hundreds more were pouring over the Dike and through the breach. The dark tide flowed up to the walls from cliff to cliff....

Arrows thick as the rain came whistling over the battlements, and fell clinking and glancing on the stones. Some found a mark. The assault on Helm's Deep had begun....

The assailing hosts halted, foiled by the silent menace of rock and wall. Ever and again the lightning tore aside the darkness. Then the Orcs screamed, waving spear and sword, and shooting a cloud of arrows at any that stood revealed upon the battlements; and the men of the Mark amazed looked out, as it seemed to them, upon a great field of dark corn, tossed by a tempest of war....

Brazen trumpets sounded. The enemy surged forward, some against the Deeping Wall, other towards the causeway and the ramp that led up to the Hornburg-gates.... They reached the summit of the rock; they drove towards the gates.

Then at last an answer came: a storm of arrows met them, and a hail of stones. They wavered, broke, and fled back; and then charged again, broke and charged again; and each time, like the incoming sea, they halted at a higher point.

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

... in the last year of his life [Théoden] arose and led his men to victory at the Hornburg....

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

The Aftermath
The King then chose men that were unhurt and had swift horses, and he sent them forth with tidings of the victory into every vale of the Mark; and they bore his summons also, bidding all men, young and old, to come in haste to Edoras. There the Lord of the Mark would hold an assembly of all that could bear arms, on the second day after the full moon.

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

[All] that were not hurt or wounded, began a great labour; for many had fallen in the battle and lay dead upon the field....

No Orcs remained alive; their bodies were uncounted. But a great many of the hillmen had given themselves up; and they were afraid, and cried for mercy.

The Men of the Mark took their weapons from them, and set them to work.

'Help now to repair the evil in which you have joined,' said Erkenbrand; 'and afterwards you shall take an oath never again to pass the Fords of Isen in arms, nor to march with the enemies of Men; and then you shall go free back to your land. For you have been deluded by Saruman. Many of you have got death as the reward of your trust in him; but had you conquered, little better would your wages have been.'

The men of Dunland were amazed, for 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

[In] the middle night men heard a great noise..., and the ground trembled.... But in the morning... the slain Orcs were gone, and the trees also.... [A] mile below the Dike a huge pit had been delved..., and over it stones were piled into a hill. Men believed that the Orcs whom they had slain were buried there; but whether those who had fled into the wood were with them, none could say, for no man ever set foot upon that hill.

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

[Said Gandalf,] 'I rode fast and far.... I sent [your marshal, Elfhelm] with many Riders to Edoras. Saruman I knew had despatched his full strength against you, and his servants had turned aside from all other errands and gone to Helm's Deep... yet I feared that wolf-riders and plunderers might ride nonetheless to Meduseld, while it was undefended. But now I think you need not fear: you will find your house to welcome your return.'

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

Elena Tiriel 18Dec04, 11Jan05, 24Jan05, 5Feb05, 9Feb05, 2Mar07, 14Mar08

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