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Old 08-19-2003, 10:13 AM   #41
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Mans:
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Isn't it odd that Kings seldomly die in battle
Tell that to Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth 1485! Though by and large the King/Ruler will not be directly involved in the thick of the action, there are always exceptions Mans. If the said King/Ruler does get involved, that does not necessarily mean he is being reckless either, he could actually be just that damn brave.
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You say that Faramir was there to controll his men, and I ask once again, what time had he to notice or do anything aobut whatever happened around him if he was struggling for his life to survive
Gondors situation was 'do or die' and they desperately needed him (a high profile Gondorian noble) and his skills in the action. Because he was 'stuggling for his life to survive' he was in the best position to appreciate the realities of the campaign and formulate the necessary counter-strikes. Faramir never came across as being reckless to me, brave, realistic and intuitive are what I would describe him as, and after all is said and done, he was massively successful in Ithilien.

[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Numenorean ]
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Old 08-19-2003, 11:35 AM   #42
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Well, I have really been asked to stick to Tolkien in this thread... But, I think I will.

Shortly on Richard the III at Bosworth. His counterpart thought he needed a local noble, Lord Stanley who had sworn allegiance to them both, to win the battle. His army stood right by the others. Since Tudor didn't lead his forces personally, he rode with his entire guard of knights to Stanley. Richard saw that and with his only cavalry reserve, his own personal force of 800 knights he charged down upon Tudor, bearing down upon him before he ahd reached Stanley. He did so because he ahd too, when his guard rode he couldn't leave it as he personally commanded it and needed it to slay Tudor. At this moment, Lord Stanley decided to save Tudor that in fact was his step-son. He charged with his knights in the back of Richard's guard and obliterated it, whereafter he fell. Ricahrd went into battle because he had too, but he saw no risk, attacking 200 knights in their flank with 800 should be a piece of cake, he thougth Stanley was on his side. Stanley's son was a hostage, to be killed if the old man betrayed the King. Stanley's comment is said to have been: "I have plenty of sons!" Yes, bravery is something praiseworthy, especially for the individual soldier. But it comes with a risk, you can gamble with your own life, that is up to you, but he shouldn't have gamled with his men's lives, or Gondor itself, no?

Gondor's situation was, indeed, ot do or die, but what cpuld he possibly do? If he there could appreciate the realities of the campaign, could he not do that with a clearer view 50 yards behind it? There, he would be free to send couriers with commands, be seen by anybody that turned around, and see all of his troops. He was no giant, he could not see above the men next to him. If he even had time to look to the sides, that is, he struggled to save himself, as all men in battle. His skills in action cannot be worth the risk taken if he would be die. No man can alone make that difference only through fighting personally, especially when the numbers of emn are so vast. He was needed to keep his men together, but how much do you think the men 100 or even 30 yards away saw of him? Surely, he boosted morale among the men next to him, but none else would have noticed he fought there, nor would he have noticed the changes on other parts of the line that though it cannot have been long, must have been long enough to prevent immediate surrounding. Being valiant is in itself not admirable, only for a cause, and when we weigh the risks against the possible benefits, I think it is quite clear that fighting at least 30 yards back is preferable!

Best Regards, Måns!

[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Måns ]
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Old 08-19-2003, 08:17 PM   #43
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I don't know about any of you, but I think Faramir and the Eagles have been debated enough, so can we please move on to the next battle?
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Old 08-20-2003, 02:55 AM   #44
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Before we do move on to the next one, I've got a final mention of Beorn Squire! Rumil made an interesting thought here:
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Beorn appears as quite exceptionally powerful in this battle. As he was said to be 'something of a sorceror', I wonder if he 'magically' enhanced the size and strength of his bear-form
He must certainly be 'gifted' or empowered in some way, but maybe it was more instinctive than deliberate, the Hobbit P.271:
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He came alone, and in bear's shape; and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath
It kinda seems like his size was tied to his battle-rage, like the madder he got the bigger he became perhaps? Whatever its source though, his personal power must've been a match for just about anyone in ME. The only image I've found which begins to do Beorns presence justice is here:Battle He is quite far off in the melee, but still big enough to descry as "he tossed wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers." I only wish Beorn and his shapeshifting kin got more of a mention in the LoTR.

[ November 18, 2003: Message edited by: Numenorean ]
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Old 08-20-2003, 03:05 AM   #45
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...maybe it was more instinctive than deliberate... It kinda seems like his size was tied to his battle-rage, like the madder he got the bigger he became perhaps?
Hmmm, I think it was probably deliberate. The expandability of the size of Beorn probably reflects the amount of 'power' he is using; he may draw, in his animality, from anger in some way for this power. Alternatively he might have a scale, and grows to a particular size when the situation requires it (putting in more or less power as needed).

There was certainly something uncanny about him. Some acttion of Radagast is a real possibility, or perhaps some other Ainuric power. The only other options seem to be a freak note or something in the Music, or direct intervention from Illuvatar (the most unlikely).

Ok then, let's move on [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img].
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Old 08-20-2003, 06:35 PM   #46
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Anyone got any ideas on what they want to talk about?
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Old 08-20-2003, 10:12 PM   #47
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Hold on, let's get Rumil back in here. =]
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Old 08-22-2003, 07:59 AM   #48
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Good thread! I have given thought to some of the lesser 'battles' of Middle Earth, such as the invasion of the Corsairs and Southrons along the shores of Middle Earth, and their assistance to the Dunlandings, and the Long Winter of Third Age 2758-59 when Helm Hammerhand froze to death while being seiged at Helms Deep, or the continually running battles the Dúnedain of the North fought with orcs, wargs, and hillmen from the time of the downfall of Arthedain to the time of the War of the Ring. Details are sketchy, but an analysis of the lands and the general tactics used by the small force of Rangers is quite interesting.

Well, don't mean to sidetrack this thread.. back to the discussion. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 08-23-2003, 10:55 AM   #49
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Hi all,

thanks for the kind invitation Gwaihir, I'll be back with the 'next installment' soon, but have essential beer to drink in the meantime. Perhaps that'll help inspire me [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] .

By the way, Snowdog, I'm looking forward already to a 'Battles of the Mid-Third Age' thread.

Cheers,
R

[ August 23, 2003: Message edited by: Rumil ]
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Old 08-23-2003, 12:53 PM   #50
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I wanted to join the previous discussion but I decided not to. When is the next discussion starting and what battle are we doing it on?

Thank you
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Old 08-23-2003, 07:01 PM   #51
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Well, this is Rumil's topic why don't we let him decide.
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Old 08-25-2003, 02:51 AM   #52
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Settle down, there, everyone... let's just leave our beloved runemaker to his boozing for now, eh? I daresay he'll be back before long. All the time in the world. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ August 25, 2003: Message edited by: Gwaihir the Windlord ]
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Old 08-27-2003, 05:40 PM   #53
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Well, I'm back,

what a weekend!

Swiftly moving on [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
to raids on Rohan from the 2950s. As usual, the key dates first, then some speculation.

In 2953 Fengel, the greedy king of Rohan, died and his son, Thengel, was recalled from Gondor. In that year, probably hoping to profit from the interregnum, Saruman fortified Isengard, started encroaching on Rohan and supporting its enemies. Somewhere between 2957 and the 2970s Aragorn fought for Thengel (in disguise as Thorongil). In 2980 Thengel died and was succeeded by Theoden, who was well liked by the people and whose kingdom was 'at peace for many years'. However by the the time of the births of Eomer and Eowyn (Theoden's nephew and neice) in the 2990s, Sauron's power was becoming menacing. In 3000 Saruman used the palantir and was snared. Around this time Sauron sent orcs over the Anduin to raid the eastern regions of Rohan and kill or capture horses (taking the black ones presumably). More orcs raided from the Misty Mountains, including Saruman's Uruks. One raid is recorded where in 3002 Eomund (Eomer's father) pursued a small band of orcs to the Emyn Muil, on the eastern borders of Rohan, but was ambushed by a larger force amongst the hills and rocks and was killed. By 3014 Theoden had become ill and prematurely aged due to the works of Wormtongue. In 3017 Eomer was appointed as marshal of the Eastfold, Theodred the king's son was Marshal of the Westfold and Elfhelm commanded the muster of Edoras.

Well then, a few things remain unclear.

It seems as if the raiding and encroaching in Thengel's time were small scale, as the first years of Theoden's regin were apparently peaceful. Perhaps the raiding was limited to border skirmishes with the Dunlendings during this time and they were suppressed with the help of Thorongil?

By 3000 the raids became more serious with Sauron's orcs (from Dol Guldur or Mordor?) making incursions into the sparsely populated horse raising regions of the Wold and the East Emnet. Eomund seems to have been set up in a classic ambush. With only 'a few men' (perhaps his Marshal's household eored of approx 120) he pursued into the rough terrain of the Emyn Muil, which sems unsuitable for cavalry, being hilly and rocky. Then he was ambushed (perhaps in a narrow valley) and killed.

I wonder when Rohan truly realised that Saruman had turned against them and was sending Uruk raids? Perhaps Wormtongue's politicking covered it up until a few years before the War of the Ring?

As to the forces involved, the Rohirrim are clearly described as chain mail armoured cavalry with swords, shields and lances. They used stirrups so were very effective in a charge, like Norman knights, but were prepared to fight dismounted if required. A small number of riders were armed with bows. Its likely that the less well-off riders were more lightly equipped. Rohan also had infantry. In HoME 8 (for what its worth) the forces of Rohan are described as 10,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, made up of swordsmen, bowmen and light troops from the Dales, some mounted on ponies. The 10,000 cavalry is confirmed in LoTR and we see the infantry at Helm's Deep and the Fords of the Isen, probably they were local militia forces.

The oppositon included the Dunlendings, who had been skirmishing with Rohan for centuries. I see the Dunlendings as similar to the 'barbarians' who fought Rome, ie the Gauls, Germans and British- hard charging, but lightly equipped, ill disciplined, tribal warriors. Sauron and Saruman both employed orcish raiders and Uruk-Hai and probably wolfriders too.

During this time the threats seemed minor but I think Saruman was using these minor skirmishes to spy out the land and to distract Rohan from the massive buidup of forces he intended to use to annihilate their country.
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Old 08-29-2003, 02:16 AM   #54
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No time for a discussion right now, but I would think myself that these Orcs were acting under the power (that came from his continuing presence in the world rather than direct control, obviously) of Sauron rather than Saruman. Saruman would have gathered them and made use of them, though, and this would be the stock from which he built up his large armies.

20,000 men isn't much... a full mobilisation I would suspect to be rather more, but of course the prowess of the fierce Rohirrim was formidable as we know.
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:44 PM   #55
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Earkenbrand, Lord of Westfold was 3rd marshal of the Riddermark, correct? Or did i misread somewhere? Anyway, he was fairly high in the chain of command, but is only very breifly discribed and, as far as I know, doesnt attend the Battle of Pelenor fields. Where was he during the initial raiding in the time of Eomund and Thorongil? We see his part in the battle of the Fords and Helm's Deep but not much else. I always got the feeling that he was a character Tolkien liked and meant to do more with but never did.
Thoughts?
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Old 08-30-2003, 01:27 AM   #56
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As far as Lord of the Rings goes, yes, Erkenbrand is a bit of an incomplete and distant character. UT however has quite a lot to say about him, as well as the military organistion of Rohan wholly.

This is what is says.

Quote:
Marshal of the Mark was the highest military rank abd the title of the king's lieutenants (originally three), commanders of the royal forces of fully equipped and trained Riders. The First Marshal's ward was the capital, Edoras, and the adjacent King's Lands (including Harrowdale). He commanded the Riders of the Muster of Edoras, drawn from this ward, and from some parts of the West-mark and East-mark for which Edoras was the most convenient place of assembly. The Second and Third Marshals were assigned commands according to the needs of the time.

In the beginning of the year 3019 the threat from Saruman was the most urgent, and the Second Marshall, the King's son Theodred, had command over the West-mark with his base at Helm's Deep; abd the Third Marshal, the King's nephew Eomer, had as his his ward the East-mark with his base at his home, Aldburg in the Folde.

In the days of Theoden there was no man appointed to the office of First Marshal. He came to the throne as a young man at the age of thirty-two, vigorous and of martial spirit, and a great horseman. If war came he would himself command the muster of Edoras; but his kingdom was at peace for many years, and he rode with his knights and his Muster only on excercises and in displays; though the shadow of Mordor reawakened grew ever greater from his childhood into his old age. In this peace the Riders and other armed men of the garrison of Edoras were governed by an officer fo the rank of marshal (in the years 3012-19 this was Elfhelm). When Theoden became, as it seemed, prematurely old, this situation continued, and there was no effective central command: a state of affairs encouraged by his consellor Grima. The King, becoming decrepit and seldom leaving his hose, fell into the habit of issuing orders to Hama, Captain of his household, to Elfhelm and even to the Marshals of the Mark by the mouth of Grima Wormtongue. This was resented, but the orders were oveyed within Edoras. As far as fighting was concerned, when the war with Saruman began Theodred without orders assumed general comman. He summoned a muster of Edoras, and drew away a large part of the Riders, under Elfhelm, to strengthem the Muster of Westfold and help it to resist the invasion.

------

After the fall of Theodred command in the West-Mark (again without orders from Edoras) was assumed by Erkenbrand, Lord of Deeping-coomb and of much other land in Westfold. He had in youth been, as most lords, an officer in the King's Riders, but he was no longer. He was however the chief lord in the West-mark, and since its people were in peril it was his right and duty to gather all those among them able to bear arms to resist invasion. He thus took command also of the Riders of the Western Muster; but Elfhelm remained in independent command of the Riders of the Muster of Edoras that Theodred had summoned to his assistance.
Eomer, the Marshal of the West-mark, was of course at this time in Edoras and patrolling the East -- soon to lead, with Theoden, the Muster of Westfold and of the remaining knights of the King's Lands to reinforce the men at the Fords.

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It is recorded that after Theoden's funeral, when eomer reordered his realm, Erkendbrand was made Marshal of the West-mark, and Elfhelm Marshal of the East-mark, and these titles were maintained, instead of Second and Third Marshal, neither having precedance over the other. In time of war a special appointment was made to the office of Underking: its holder either ruled the realm in the King's abscence with the army, or took command in the field if the King for and reason remained at home... The holerder was naturally heir to the throne.
That's what Erkenbrand was, anyway, if it answers your question.

The skirmishes around Rohan seem at this time to be mainly with Dunland, as described in UT also. Attacks were made, in the time of Deor, on the guard of the Fords in order to distract attention from northward; in Isengard, the Dunlendings had unbeknownst to the Rohirrim siezed control and were admitting a stream of Dunlendings in to Northern Rohan. Deor put a stop to the Dunland settlers when he realised what was happening, but Orthanc was unable to be taken -- no help from Gondor came either, as they were pressed at that time by the Corsairs I believe -- and the Dunledings had to be starved out.

Afterwards, I would guess, the skirmished with Dunland continued along the border. Saruman however held Isengard securely. Orcs from Dol Guldor began to maraud soon after Angrenost was reclaimed, and after this there was the war with Saruman. Hmmm... the previous long war with Dunland was interesting as well, detailed in UT (pretty comprehensive of this period really), when Rohan was nearly vanquished.
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Old 08-30-2003, 02:05 PM   #57
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Rumil wrote:
"In HoME 8 (for what its worth) the forces of Rohan are described as 10,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, made up of swordsmen, bowmen and light troops from the Dales, some mounted on ponies."

Could you give a page reference for this please? It will assist with some research I am doing, and I can't seem to find this reference in HoME 8.
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Old 08-30-2003, 02:51 PM   #58
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Gwaihir the Windlord
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20,000 men isn't much...
Actually until the musket became the main weapon of armies 20,000 men was a finr and regular amount for an army of a country with a population of probably about 1 million. Remember 20,000 Romans conquered Britain from Dover to Edinburgh and Julius Agricola believed that 5,000 legionaries and 3-4,000 auxiliaries would have been enough to conquer Ireland at the time. Rohan could be compared to England in the early 11th century and then Harold Godwinson would have raised an army of little over 10,000 then.
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Old 08-30-2003, 11:44 PM   #59
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Actually, you are correct. 20,000 is a pretty reasonable regular army size.

However a population, as you preject, of 1 million people would mean 500,000 males; if a quarter of thesemales were of suitable fighting age, then the figure of possible soldiers is 125,000. (I may be being slighty generous, or tight, here -- I don't know what the actual percentage of fighting-age men would actually be -- but for the purposes of this post I will use a quarter [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img].)

Say half of these men are able to be (in a full mobilisation of the country's war machine) called up for service in the army, probably in its entirety over a period of at least several months, we have 62,500 that are able to raised to fight. (And this doesn't include the women, if we were to take Eowyn as an average example [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img].)

(Ignore that last bit.)

This is just the reasoning I have used, don't know whether it would be viable or not... but although I realise 20,000 is a decent normal army size, I would have thought that in dire circumstances more could be found to fight.

I was probably being rather unrealistic at first, but I stand partially corrected and have edited myself. What do you think?
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Old 08-31-2003, 01:21 PM   #60
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20,000 is the standing army trained,equipped and ready for battle. If Theoden had called for every male of correct age and ability he could certainly have collected more.
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Old 08-31-2003, 09:56 PM   #61
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FDor one thing, while 20,000 would be an averageish size for such an army in the real world, ME is quite different. Armies throughout ME's history are smaller than what we are used to hearing of. Only 6,000 men rode to the Black Gate, and Sauron's force of 60,000 is described as being gigantic. All the muster of Gondolin was only 10,000, the Battle of Helm's Deep 2,000-3,000, Saruman's Uruk army 10,000.

SAo a force of 20,000 on Rohan's part would be an above average force. of course, all those soldiers could hardly be brought together to fight in border skirmishes. It would have been exceptionaly foolish and unconventional for Rohan to take all the soldiers of its rule and send them on to fight pillagers. Later in the Battle of Isen and such, more soldiers could certainly have been used, but were likely sent away or delayed by Wormtounge.
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:30 AM   #62
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20,000 is the standing army trained,equipped and ready for battle. If Theoden had called for every male of correct age and ability he could certainly have collected more.
Yes, in a 'full mobilisation' as I said. =]

The armies of Middle-Earth were indeed quite small, something I've always noticed as well... even countries like Gondor, tough countries who relied heavily on their military strength to survive (any country can only exist as long as it can maintain itself military; in Gondor's case, they had to do this constantly), seem to have had relatively smaller numbers of fighting men.

Clearly, as Gondor was quite a militarised country as we know, its army would not have been small relative to its size. Actual populations in Middle-Earth must have been small as well, then -- as they were indeed in the Middle-Ages. William the Conquerer defeated Harold with an estimated 8,000 men -- Harold had a thousand or so less -- and for that number, he spent a long time recruiting around France, Denmark and even Italy.

We are talking about a Medievalish sort of society, after all, so I would probably guess that the sort of troop numbers and populations would be similar to those of a period perhaps rather later than 1066; 8,000 is a pretty small army, considering the length of the time of its preparation, even by Middle-Earth standards (although obviously not by the standards of 1066).

Then again, though, there were instances where army sizes were said to be very great, greater considerably than has ever been common in our world.

And his host had grown great, so great that the plain of Anfauglith could not contain it...

Morgoth's Orcs must have increased in number exponentially after the Nirnaeth. Anfauglith was a damn large piece of land. His army must have counted in the millions; the Valinorin army that defeated it would have been very sizeable as well.

(Valinor is one place I would expect there to be a lot of people, by the way; the Eldar could have children as much as they desired to do so, in a sheltered land where no-one ever died or failed to prosper, and after thousands of years of this stableness a large population would have been built up. Elves don't reproduce to the same extent as we do, but nonetheless.)

Sorry if this has veered horribly off-topic, but then try to take it all as a mere discussion on the army sizes of the Late Third Age if you like... [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:24 PM   #63
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Instead of argueing with you Gwaihir i'm going to ask where did this 20,000 figure come from. I can't find it in Home 8 but in unfinished tales the army was 12,000 strong before Theoden and the population had risen during his lifetime. I seem to remember the figure 16,000 somewhere but i'm not sure.

As to the size of the army at Pelennor Fields Tolkien gives suggestions such as casulties against Saruman, the haste of the muster and the need to leave a force to defend the country as causing depletions to the army

Btw Fingolfinthebold where was Saurons army numbered at 60,000. The Persian empire could muster an army of at least 140,000 to invade Greece and it seems to me that Sauron would own a teensy bit more land than Darius.
Also the Captains of the West state (and complain) that the army going to the Morannon is small

[ September 01, 2003: Message edited by: Dimaldaeon ]
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:16 PM   #64
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Hi all,

just tracked down that HoME 8 reference, its at the bottom of p249 (in the paperback anyway).

The muster at Edoras is being reported by Aragorn to Theoden, he reports that somewhat short of 10,000 fully equipped and provisioned cavalry have arrived and doesn't expect many more. He also reports that a similar number of infantry and those on ponies have turned up. Also, under Erkenbrand, 300 good troops had been left at Helm's Deep with more 'stout yeomen of the Westfold'. It's worth remembering though,that this was an eary draft where volunteers from the Dunlendings and Woodmen had also come forward to serve under Theoden.

The 10,000 cavalry is confirmed in the LoTR where Theoden claims he could have sent 10,000 spears riding to Minas Tirith were it not for the other threats to his kingdom.

I agree that the population density in Middle Earth often appears to be very low, but I think 20,000 is a respectable enough figure for Rohan. After all, only 4 settlements are known in the entire country, Edoras, Dunharrow, Aldburg and Helm's Deep. Also, concerning the infantry, presumably there would not have been enough time for the majority of them to march in from outlying districts, so potentially there could have been many more that 10,000.

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Old 09-01-2003, 10:26 PM   #65
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Thaks Rumil, it is on page 249 in the cloth edition as well.
While 12000 and more horsed could have been raised (per UT) this was before the battles at Helm's Deep and the Fords of Isen.
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Old 09-02-2003, 02:33 AM   #66
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Quote:
Also, concerning the infantry, presumably there would not have been enough time for the majority of them to march in from outlying districts, so potentially there could have been many more that 10,000.
In a 'national call-up' situation, I perhaps (more on this further down), but this would have taken quite a long time. The wars of the Rohirrim did not normally allow such time to be had.

On a call-up, though. I would guess that cavalry warriors could be found from among the populace quite as well as could foot-men. The country has horses abounding, quite possibily (even probably) enough for one apiece; and they are said to as a people love fighting on horseback considerably more than on foot.

Most if not all men of Rohan would have been familiar with riding. Obviously there is the problem of training, but I would have thought that as many horsemen could be gathered from Rohan as footmen, and therefore it is possible that more than 10,000 infantry gained from a call-up (while only 10,000 cavalry) is improbable.

I should think that a considerable proportion of the eligable men of Rohan would have fought in the army at some point, or would have been willing to at a Muster -- which might well have gathered up about as many men in each Muster-area that it was possible to gather.

That in the reign of Eomer 'Men had peace who wished for it' seems to imply that they were forced to fight before; Rohan's population is quite possibly smaller than the million we have estimated it at.

(This may seem like rather a turn-around, but so be it. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img])
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Old 09-02-2003, 09:27 PM   #67
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My referance as to an army of 60,000 is an estimation of the force that was at the Battle before the gate itself. Sauron certainly had many more soldiers throughout his land.

But in Return of the King, the Lords of the West mustered 7,000, 6,000 foot and 1,000 horsed.(see the last debate). They left men behind at various points, and came to the gate with 6,000 soldiers. Sauron's retribution is described as 10 times and more than 10 times the Lords of the West had.
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Old 09-03-2003, 02:05 AM   #68
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Quote:
Sauron's retribution is described as 10 times and more than 10 times the Lords of the West had.
Do you think you could explain this reference, Fingolfin? I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean there.
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Old 09-04-2003, 06:59 PM   #69
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Sorry about that. I miss-typed a bit... Heres the quote for you, from King, 186.

"The men of the West were trapped, and soon, all about the grey mounds where they stood, forces ten times and more than ten times their match would ring them in a sea of foes."

The Lords of the West had 6,000 at the battle, and Sauron had more than ten times that. About 60,000-70,000, most likely.
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Old 09-13-2003, 07:45 PM   #70
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I love your signature!

BUT my question is. It is said in the last stories in ROTK that Lorien stood the 3 attacs of Dol Guldur thanks to the courage of the elven people that lived there, but mostly to a great power that dwelled there.

Assuming its Galadriel powerboosted by Nenya, it is said in the UT that Lorien would stand against all attacks unless the Dark Lord himself were there and penetrated Lorien.

If the Ring had fallen in Saurons hands, instead that in Mount Doom, how long would have Lorien stood? I know that not long, since the power of Galadriel would be diminished by the lack of Nenyas boost over her (I assume that she would take it off!).

Would it be enough time for Celeborn and Galadriel to flee from Lorien towards the Grey Havens?
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Old 09-23-2003, 05:28 PM   #71
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Hello again,

been a busy couple of weeks, sorry for not continuing this thread before now.

We now move swiftly on to Aragorn's attack on Umbar...

Quote:
and he came to Umbar unlooked for by night, and there burned a great part of the ships of the Corsairs
Sadly not much is recorded of this, doubly so as its the only naval operation of the time we are considering. Allegedly, Tolkien once wrote an account of the journeys of Aragorn but this is now lost - AAAARRRGH!!

In or just before 2980, Aragorn, under Ecthelion II's employ as Thorongil, managed to convince the steward to authorise an attack on the Corsairs of Umbar. The Corsairs had attacked Gondor many times before, and looked likely to do so again. This attack had been opposed by Denethor (Ecthelion's son) due to his jealousy of Thorongil's success.

Aragorn gathered a small fleet, attacked the Corsairs at anchor in the harbour of Umbar and overthrew the Captain of the Havens on the quay, burnt many ships and escaped with small loss.

It seems plain that this was a surprise attack, catching the Corsairs at unawares, presumably most of the ships' crews were not aboard. Aragorn's forces would have had to defeat whatever Corsairs were guarding the ships or were quartered nearby, during which engagement he slew the Captain of the Harbour. Then he would have had to send men to fire the Corsair ships while keeping any Corsair re-inforcements at bay, before making good his escape.

What of the forces? Frankly I have no idea of the numbers involved, though it would have to be between a couple of hundred and a few thousand per side. I wonder if the Gondorian fleet transported soldiers to use as marines, or whether only the ships' crews took part?

The Corsairs were composed of the 'King's Men' of the Second Age, the renagades of the 3rd Age Kinstrife and probably many of the local Haradrim, they used slaves to row their ships, I wonder if any were rescued? We know that the Corsairs had at least 50 great 'dromunds' and many smaller craft during the War of the Ring, though this was at least 38 years later, so they could have rebuilt the fleet by then. I've found two different historical types of dromund, one was a Byzantine war galley, the other a Baltic trading ship. I favour the war-galley as it 'fits' better with my image of the Corsairs. Any opinions from nautical types?

What we know nothing about is the Gondorian fleet, a few thousand years earlier they had used galleons, but the survival of this ship type so long appears unlikely. The main problem is that no Gondorian navy is ever mentioned in the War of the Ring. I wonder if Denethor had subsequently neglected (and cut funds from) the navy due to its association with Thorongil? Maybe Thorongil's fleet was made up of impressed merchant ships, though you'd imagine it would be a rather long voyage for the fishing boats of Ethir.

We also know practically nothing about Umbar. It obviously had a harbour, but was also constructed by the Numenoreans during their years of power in the Second Age. Therefore it was probably a very heavily fortified city (though it had been taken by Gondor a couple of times). I'd expect that the port would not have been well protected due to the lack of threat to the original builders from the sea. (A sort of reverse Singapore!)

Well, there you have it, Aragorn doing a Sir Francis Drake impersonation and 'singeing the Corsairs' beards'. Shame it wasn't done a few years before the War of the Ring, allowing the Corsairs no time for re-building!

PS. Iarhen, I'm sure that Nenya would have been a liability to Galadriel if Sauron had the One Ring (as in the Second Age). If she had a fast horse and didn't stay to protect her realm, I guess she could have escaped to the Havens!

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Rumil ]
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Old 09-24-2003, 02:13 AM   #72
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Certainly an interesting battle, Rumil.

It is indeed the only naval battle encountered anywhere in Tolkien's mythos, I believe, the reason for this of course being that cannon were not yet in existence -- the weapons that would transfer warships from, primarily, troop-carriers into vessels more able to fight each other directly. Thus, as in pre-gunpowder times in our own world, battles in ME were usually fought between men personally and not between ships.

Sea battles did exist before cannon, though rarer and in a very different form. Ships would draw together and the men inside them fight, basically, which is what I'm guessing would have taken place here. It is imaginable that other tactics could also be attempted other than the usual (I believe) that one of attempting boarding; extremely heavy ships against lighter ones could try to ram, or use ballistae in place of artillery, perhaps! I've never heard of it, but it may have been done.

(I too would appreciate any information on this that anyone could add -- my knowledge of the era of cannon-bearing ships is good, but before that, I'm not totally sure about it.)

The battle itself can therefore probably be guessed. They draw in by night, come up beside the Corsair ships in harbour, and attack them. The pre-powder way to destroy ships is presumably to burn them, so with the aid of oil or tar or something they would have been able to set light to many. Large Corsair war-galleons would have withstood the running-over or ramming tactic, but maybe a few of the smaller ones were sunk in this manner.

A quick firing of the local port area, and then a speedy withdrawal back to Pelargir leaving the place in turmoil, would probably have followed.

But Thorongil's fleet -- what ships, indeed? We don't know, although Gondor certainly had a large navy in the past (and the Numenorean kingdom was of course a maritime nation in origin). It may well be that Gondor had a navy in the late Third Age; but remembering the lesser function of navies in pre-cannon times, the apparent inaction of any Gondorian navy in the War of the Ring may be due to the fact that it wasn't really possible. Could these ships have actually done anything? Blockade Anduin, perhaps, which would slow down the Corsairs, but not Umbar. The huge-scale blockade of French ports, staged by the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars, was extremely effective but under a different circumstance, as again, these ships were equipped with guns and would have actually fired on French ships if they ever attempted to leave. A blockade on Umbar would have been an ill-fated venture, as Umbarin ships could mass, break out and mob the Gondorian ships, boarding and battering down the defenders of the restraining fleet, or simply sailing past them. Gondor could not have kept up such a blockade. Umbar had overwhelming ship resources.

They could perhaps have stationed themselves off the coast, and then attacked individual Corsair ships as they sailed to Pelargir, but either way it is not really a matter of much surprise that they were inactive (if a navy existed). Attention was on the main land army of Mordor, the defence of Minas Tirith, and remembering the chaos that was happening at this time -- most efforts were bent on the Mordor frontier -- the matter of the navy, which could have been grounded by Denethor as you say (although I feel this to be unlikely. Denethor was jealous of Aragorn, but until the Palantir turned him insane he was not this kind of fool) or neglected in the face of other concerns.

I should say that some ships did exist in the Steward's service, stationed at Pelargir, in the time of Ecthelion II. Gondor was, at this time, still in good order and was not immediately on the spot it had been burning under, for years, by 3020; the navy would perhaps not have yet been neglected. Of course, we don't know much at all for sure. Not much information on this one, unlike the Fords of Isen.
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Old 09-24-2003, 02:33 PM   #73
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On the sublect of pre-cannon naval warfare, I'm sure i don't know that much more than you, but i do know some. For one thing, blockades were administered and effective before cannon, and were deployed by the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Ships in such naval battles were often equipped with sharp bronze or iron keels with which to ram and crack holes in the opposition. Even smaller ships with such weapons could do great damage, especially if they were fast enough to avoid ramming and still dish it out. And though the bulk of a naval battle was "corraling" with faster ships and then pouring on a raiding party, there certainly was some ballistic weaponry. Catching fire to an enemy ship was the best bet, and ships were often equipped with methods of launching or dumping flaming tar and pitch onto a vessel. Flaming arrows were also popular, as more of an anti-personnel attack rather than to ignite an enemy vessel.

But as for combustibles, we have to look at it from a ME point of veiw. For one thing, ships in ME are nearly always discribed with sails, which early Persian/Greek warships did not employ because of their vulnerability. A ME warship with a vast sail would be much easier to set on fire by raining flaming arrows into the sails, ropework, etc.

As far as the actual numbers in such a battle bettween Aragorn and the Corsairs(Arrrr, matey!) i imagine the Corsairs had a far more ships, as Gondor's navy in this time was likely just enough to gaurd fishing and coastal villages. Aragorn probably took what ships he could in haste, attacked swiftly by night, burning and destroying the enemies and their ships at harbour. I dont think of this as much as a naval battle as a battle involving ships. Aragorn probably never met the Corsairs upon the high seas, at least not in this battle.
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Old 09-24-2003, 05:19 PM   #74
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Hail and well met again F and G,

I'd agree with you that this engagement was not really a ship to ship action. However I'd contend that if there was a Gondorian navy at the time of the War of the Ring it could have at least put up a fight against the Corsairs.

The Corsair dromunds appear to be similar to the Mediterranean galleys of ancient times, can we assume that Gondorian ships would be similar? They could be powered by both sails and oars, but the sail was not of a very effective design so they needed the oarsmen to move up-wind. They would also have furled the sails before combat, to avoid the fire hazard. Ships with rams would attempt to destroy the oars of the opposition, or even pierce their hulls. The damaged ships would then be 'ganged up on' later and taken by foot soldiers. The Romans invented the 'corvus' which was a big gangplank with a spike on it to allow their marines to board enemy ships.

The Byzantines also used 'Greek fire' which was an early version of the flamethrower (though possibly nearly as dangerous to the Byzantine ship as to its enemy!).

Surely Gondor's ships should have tried to defend the mouth (or mouths) of the Anduin? Perhaps there was a naval battle that the hobbits forgot to record (after all they associated the sea with death), or could the Gondorian fleet have performed so poorly that the fiasco was covered up after the war?
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Old 09-25-2003, 03:04 AM   #75
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I don't think the Gondorian fleet would have engaged the Corsairs during the War of the Ring. Think Beregond's words, about a short hand, which can only strike(but strike heavily, yes) when the enemy is in range. Gondor was fighting a defensive war, so they would only engage the ships once they reach land.

And about Thorongil's assault on Umbar, I was thinking more of a Navy Seal-type operation: small vessel to land on enemy harbour, then do as much havoc as they can; burn the ships, kill the sailors, etc. But since Umbar is quite far from the Ethir(and from Pelargir, which I would assume will be their staging area, but I could be wrong) maybe they had help from bigger ships, which would deploy the smaller vessels a considerable distance from the target, and would be the rendezvous point of the returning vessels.

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Old 09-25-2003, 04:23 AM   #76
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Interesting, thanks for that info. All sounds like very, very inneficient forms of fighting, nonetheless. Am I right in assuming that the boarding method was still the tactic most commonly employed in ancient sea-battles?

Still, Aragorn's strike on the Corsairs remains a raid and not a full sea-battle as has been said. It might clarify matters somewhat if someone was to print the information that we have, of Appendix A to LotR, here;

Quote:
Thorongil often counselled Ecthelion that the strength of the rebels in Umbar was a great peril to Gondor, and a threat to the fiefs of the South that would prove deadly, if ever Sauron moved to open war. At last he got leave of the Steward and gathered a small fleet, and he came to Umbar unlooked-for by night, and there burned a great part of the ships of the Corsairs. He himself overthrew the Captain of the Haven in battle upon the quays, and then he withdrew his fleet with small loss. But when they came back to Pelargir...
(Came back to Pelargir... of course, Gondor's old naval base. Some proof that Gondor did have a navy, perhaps, and that this was it?)

In the attack on Umbar, lit pitch/Greek fire-type chemicals would presumably have been how the Corsair boats were fired (fire-hulks, always an effective tactic right up until the end of the era of timber warships, could have been used; but one imagines the great light and burning giving the raiders away if they did come 'unlooked-for'). Gondor was overwhelmingly out-navied by Umbar (at this stage); the business of ramming the ships, which at any rate would highly endager your own ships if fire was involved, would have taken a lot longer and given time for the Corsairs to counterattack a bit more. Again, a highly difficult and not-very-effective method of taking down the Corsair ships, especially the more gargantuious of them, and particularly as they were in harbour.

That there was 'fighting on the quays' suggests that the raiders landed and set light to ships from the landing bays, rather than by flinging burning missiles at them (sounds like quite a stupid idea :/) from their own boats.

If they fought on the quay, Felagund, then they probably did user smaller landing boats to get them and their weapons there. Umbar was a very large natural harbour, though. Perhaps small fire ships could have been used; little boats, filled with pitch and set alight and towards the Corsairs once they were inside. But I certainly imagine the destruction happening by first boarding, then burning boats, from the docking platforms.

[ September 25, 2003: Message edited by: Gwaihir the Windlord ]
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Old 09-25-2003, 04:39 AM   #77
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But that's what I said! I'm sorry if my words are misunderstood, but that's my point: small, sleek, lightning-quick strike at the harbor. Those larger vessel were just for the purpose of...well, much like an aircraft carrier. They carry the planes, the supplies; but the planes do the actual attack. Same here. Those small boats couldn't carry enough supplies for a cross-bay strike. So they use big ships as mobile bases/supply ship.
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Old 09-26-2003, 01:23 AM   #78
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Hmm, not really. It's no big deal that ships have always used landing-boats, dinghies etc, when they wish to send men in to shore. Or to harbour quickly.
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Old 09-27-2003, 10:46 PM   #79
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The raiders would have had to exit their ships and relocate the main battle to the quays because they couldn't fire the Corsairs' ships from their own ships. Granted, they must have been a lot more maneuverable, but with that maneuverability comes a loss. They weren't heavy enough to fire catapults or trebuchets from, and that was pretty much the only way they would have been able to set fire to the Corsairs' ships from sea. Unless, of course, they had hundreds of archers shooting flaming arrows faster than the Corsairs could put the fires out. That could have also worked, but they would have needed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, to effectively take all of the Corsair ships out of action.
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Old 10-05-2003, 11:12 PM   #80
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Hey! What's happened to this thread? Can we jump-start it? I was beginning to like discussing medieval-style battles!(considering that once I only read wars from the US Civil War onwards)
So...anyone?

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