The Battle of Unnumbered Tears
The Battle of Unnumbered Tears is the second chapter of The Children of Húrin.
Húrin and his brother Huor passed from Dor-lómin with a number of men from the House of Hador to Eithel Sirion upon the west of the barren plain, Anfauglith. Gathered there was the host of Fingon, hidden from the eyes of Morgoth; and all were jubilant when they were joined by a force from hidden Gondolin led by Turgon, Fingon’s brother.
The host of Fingon were to await a beacon signal from Maedhros before they joined the battle so that they might outflank the enemy forces, but Morgoth sent a force to come upon Fingon’s and keep the armies divided. The horde led by a Captain of Morgoth could only goad Fingon’s force into battle by killing the elf Gelmir who they had captured at the Dagor Bragollach. Gelmir’s brother, Gwindor, was present with Fingon and was so enraged that he initiated the charge and Fingon's force entered the battle earlier than planned.
Such was the force of this initial attack that they reached the very doors of Angband; but Gwindor was captured. Fingon was then beaten back across the plain by the main host of Morgoth's forces that issued from many secret tunnels. So did the Nirnaeth Arnoediad begin.
To support his brother, Turgon brought his force into the fray, and Fingon, Húrin, Huor and Turgon met in the midst of the battle after long partings. But with the force of Maedhros routed, more Orcs led by Gothmog came upon the elves and men from the east, and they were outmatched.
Fingon fell to Gothmog, but Turgon, on the advice of Huor, retreated, guarded by the remnants of the House of Hador. There at the Fen of Serech, Huor fell, but Húrin was captured alive at great loss to the enemy; and he was dragged to Angband.
This chapter is very much a summary of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad; it is rich in its use of references to characters from the period and might be seen as being overwhelming to any audience who knows little of the First Age. Christopher Tolkien’s Introduction at the beginning of the book does a valiant effort in supporting such a reader!
The chapter highlights those elements within which Húrin and his brother were present whilst giving a cursory sketch of the full battle itself. The events fulfill Morwen's words of pessimism to Húrin in the earlier chapter, The Childhood of Túrin.
It is seen from the narrative that Morgoth engineered a victory and yet throughout all there were goals he wished to attain, and these had been communicated to his Captains:
- Fingon should be brought to battle earlier than the elves planned.
- That Húrin should be captured alive.
- Turgon should be killed (or perhaps captured), as he seemed to Morgoth that he might be a ruin to his power.
Morgoth achieved the first two goals but failed the third.