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Timeline Event

Grimbold defends the Fords in the 2nd Battle of the Ford of Isen

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 2, 3019

Description:
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, until he could come himself ...

Grimbold ... was not willing to abandon the Fords. This was in part due to the tradition of Westfold in which he and Erkenbrand had been bred; but was not without some reason. "We do not know," he said, "what force Saruman has still at his command. But if it is indeed his purpose to ravage Westfold and drive its defenders into Helm's Deep and there contain them, then it must be very great. He is unlikely to display it all at once. As soon as he guesses or discovers how we have disposed our defence, he will certainly send great strength at all speed down the road from Isengard, and crossing the undefended Fords come in our rear, if we are all gathered northwards.”

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. The eyot he left bare. ...

All went ill, as most likely it would have done in any case: Saruman's strength was too great. He began his attack by day, and before noon of March the 2nd 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 in fact only a small part of those that he had in hand, no more than he deemed sufficient to dispose of the weakened defence. But the garrison of the Fords, though greatly outnumbered, resisted stubbornly. At length, however, when both the forts were heavily engaged, a troop of Uruks forced the passage between them and began to cross the Fords. Grimbold, trusting in Elfhelm to hold off attack on the east side, came across with all the men he had left and flung them back -- for a while. But the enemy commander then threw in a battalion that had not been committed, and broke the defences. Grimbold was obliged to withdraw across the Isen. It was then near sunset. He had suffered much loss, but had inflicted far heavier losses on the enemy (mostly Orcs), and he still held the east bank strongly. The enemy did not attempt to cross the Fords and fight their way up the steep slopes to dislodge him; not yet.

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

After the retreat across the Fords errand-riders had been dispatched at once to Erkenbrand and to Edoras telling of their plight. 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.1

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

Notes

1
This, it is said, was Grimbold's resolve. Elfhelm would not desert him, but had he himself been in command, he would have abandoned the Fords under cover of night and withdrawn southwards to meet Erkenbrand and swell the forces still available for the defence of the Deeping-coomb and the Hornburg. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 9

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 9Feb05

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