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War of the Ring

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The name War of the Ring refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see War of the Ring (disambiguation).
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Previous war: Corsair Wars
Next war: Unknown
War of the Ring
Beginning: T.A. 3018 (earlier fighting in Gondor)End: T.A. 3019
Place: Northwestern Middle-earth
Outcome: Free Peoples' victory; destruction of the One Ring, Sauron and Mordor; start of the Fourth Age; Arnor and Gondor reunited under restoration of the King of Gondor
Major battles: Battles of the Fords of Isen, Battle of Isengard, Battle of the Hornburg, Battle of Osgiliath, Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Battle of the Morannon, Battle Under Trees
Free Peoples of Middle-earth: Gondor, Rohan, Dale, Esgaroth, Erebor, The Shire, Lothlórien, Woodland RealmUnder Sauron: Mordor, Rhûn, Harad, Haven of Umbar, and Khand

Under Saruman: Isengard and Dunland
John Howe - Icon Mordor 1 small.pngSauron
"In the end, this war must be ended by the smallest of things."

The War of the Ring was the great conflict at the end of the Third Age, named for the One Ring and the importance this had in the final outcome. The war was fought between the Free Peoples (a loose alliance of Elves and Men led by the Wise) and Sauron the Dark Lord of Mordor, with Saruman as a third power based in Orthanc. Sauron had been defeated in the War of the Last Alliance, but because of Isildur's refusal to destroy the One Ring, he was not entirely vanquished. He survived in spirit form, and the foundations of Barad-dûr were also not destroyed. While Sauron's spirit wandered the wastelands of Middle-earth for over 1000 years, eventually he rebuilt his power and became a threat once again.




Years before the War, while Sauron was known as the "Necromancer" and abode in Dol Guldur, Gandalf knew that should Sauron return, he would use the power of Smaug, the last dragon, who dwelt in Erebor. Gandalf persuaded Thorin Oakenshield that he should reclaim Erebor for his people. With the assistance of Bilbo Baggins, Erebor was retaken and Smaug was finally killed by Bard. Most importantly, fate brought the One Ring into Bilbo's hands.

The Opening Stages

Saruman had claimed alliance with both the Wise and the Dark Lord, but was ultimately fighting for his own ends. In alliance with the Dunlendings, and having Orcs at his own command, his objective was the defeat of Rohan. Until late in the War, he held the advantage, defeating Rohan twice at the Battles of the Fords of Isen which are considered the beginning of the War.

The Fleet of Harad by Darrell Sweet

Sauron at all times held the military advantage in the War, due to his overwhelming forces; not only Orcs and Trolls, but Men of Harad and the East. His main immediate object was the overthrow of Gondor, his near neighbour and the strongest of his enemies. He had such forces at his command, though, that he was able to fight the war on many fronts, also attacking Dale, Erebor and the Wood-elves in the far north, and Lothlórien from his secondary stronghold at Dol Guldur. There can be no doubt that, had the Wise not achieved possession of the Ring, Sauron would ultimately have been victorious.

The policy of the Wise was based around the Quest of Mount Doom; a company of nine under the leadership of Gandalf travelled from Rivendell with the One Ring, with the hope of reaching Orodruin in Mordor and there destroying it. Because the Ring held much of Sauron's native power, they realised that in unmaking it, they would also defeat its creator.

Aragorn, after enlisting the help of Army of the Dead, attacked the Corsair fleet at Umbar, an assault he had also carried out decades earlier, during the Surprise Attack on Umbar.

The War did not end with the defeat of Sauron, for Saruman fled northward after the capture of Orthanc, and established himself in the Shire, bending the Hobbits to his will by threat of violence and the persuasive power of his voice. The return of Frodo Baggins and his companions led to a rebellion by the Shire-hobbits, in which Saruman was killed by his servant, Gríma Wormtongue.


Battle of Osgiliath

Main article: Battle of Osgiliath

The beginning of the War was Sauron's attack against the ruins of Osgiliath on June 20 of T.A. 3018. Boromir and Faramir defend the Bridge which falls.

About the same time the Elves of Mirkwood were attacked and during the fray, the captive Gollum escaped and would not be found nor by the Elves nor by Sauron's servants.

The following months, the Black Riders would hunt the heir of the Ring, Frodo Baggins, and would enter Hobbiton.

First Battle of the Fords of Isen

Main article: First Battle of the Fords of Isen

Beginning the first official battle of the War on February 25, Third Age 3019, Saruman, who was already ensnared by Sauron, sent his forces to attack Rohan's army at the Isen. Within the ranks of the Rohirrim were the commanders Théodred, Grimbold, and Elfhelm. Seeking to control Théoden, Sauruman ordered his soldiers to slay Théodred at any cost. With Saruman's assistance, Théodred was surrounded and killed. Saruman's forces then retreated as the victors.

Second Battle of the Fords of Isen

Main article: Second Battle of the Fords of Isen

After hearing news about Théodred's death, Erkenbrand, who became the commander of Rohan's western armies, gathered the forces of Grimbold and Elfhelm to assault the River Isen once more on March 2, a week after the first battle. Though they had a force of about two thousand men and had constructed a shield wall to hold off the enemy, Saruman's forces overcame them and scattered the retreating Rohirrim across Rohan.

On the same day, Gandalf had healed Théoden from Wormtongue's influence. In the meantime, the Ents after ending their long Entmoot, decide to go to Isengard and battle Saruman.

Battle of the Hornburg

Main article: Battle of the Hornburg

The next day (March 3) seeking to take the fight away from his people, Théoden brought around a thousand horsemen to the Hornburg, along with any others in Edoras. Among this force were Éomer, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas. They fortified themselves in Helm's Deep, which was commanded by Gamling in his lord Erkenbrand's absence. Against overwhelming odds, they fought for two days, until the Deeping Wall was breeched and all seemed lost. The surviving horsemen rode out to meet the hordes of Isengard.

At that moment, Gandalf returned, bringing with him Erkenbrand and many other soldiers. They attacked the army from the rear, driving the attackers back into a forest of Huorns.

Dawnless Day

Main article: Dawnless Day

On March 10, shadow that erupted from Mordor covers all the sky. The Rohirrim muster in Harrowdale and begin to ride to Minas Tirith.

An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anórien.

First Assault on Lórien

Main article: First Assault on Lórien

On March 11 forces of Sauron attack Lórien but are repelled.

Denethor sends Faramir to Osgiliath and two days later he retreats to the Causeway Forts but the next day he will be wounded seriously while Pelennor was overrun.

Eastern Rohan is invaded from the north.

Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Main article: Battle of the Pelennor Fields

On March 15 Rohirrim reach Rammas Echor. In the early hours the Witch-king breaks the Great Gate of Minas Tirith. The horns of the Rohirrim are heard at cockcrow and Théoden is slain.

Mirkwood is attacked from Dol Guldur but Thranduil repels the forces. For a second time, Lórien is also attacked.

Battle of Dale

Main article: Battle of Dale

On March 17, Dale is attacked. King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot fall. Many Dwarves and Men take refuge in Erebor and are besieged. However news from the defeat at the Pelennor reach the Easterlings who begin to fail. On March 27 Thorin III Stonehelm and Bard II make a sortie and drive them out.

The next day, the Host of the West will march from Minas Tirith to confront Sauron. On March 22, Lórien is attacked for a third time.

Battle of the Morannon

Main article: Battle of the Morannon

On March 25, the Host of the West meets Sauron's forces outside the gates of Mordor, hoping to divert them in favor to the Ring-bearer. Indeed, during the battle and when it seemed to be lost, the Ring falls to the Sammath Naur. Sauron is destroyed and the survivors win the battle.

Two days later, Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm drive the enemy from Dale.

Fall of Dol Guldur

Main article: Fall of Dol Guldur

On March 28 Celeborn crosses Anduin and begins to destroy Dol Guldur.

Battle of Bywater

Main article: Battle of Bywater

Saruman and Wormtongue, who have overtook the Shire, are confronted at Bywater by Hobbit forces led by Meriadoc and Peregrin. At that time, Wormtongue cuts Saruman's throat and himself is shot down by Hobbit arrows.

This battle is considered to mark the end of the War.


Although Sauron and Saruman were both defeated, the Wise did not achieve total victory. With the destruction of the One Ring, the Three Rings that had maintained the realms of the Elves in Middle-earth lost their power, and the Elves began to leave Middle-earth for the Undying Lands.


Sauron and his Allies

Free Peoples



  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game), "Helm's Deep"