Army of the West

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Host of the West refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Host of the West (disambiguation).
Army of the West
Organisation
The Army of the West at the Battle of the Morannon by Ted Nasmith
Other namesHost of the West
Date founded16 March T.A. 3019
PurposeMarch on the Black Gate
Notable membersAragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, Pippin, Elladan, Elrohir, Éomer, Knights of Dol Amroth, Rohirrim, Rangers of the North
DisbandedT.A. 3019
Notable forFighting the Battle of the Morannon

The Army of the West, also called the Host of the West, was the great host prepared by the Lords of Gondor and Rohan to march on the Black Gate after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

History

Formation

Creating the Host of the West was first suggested by Gandalf in the Last Debate. The rationale behind this suggestion was that, although Sauron could not be defeated with arms, they could draw out the army of Mordor, making it easier for Frodo and Sam to reach Mount Doom undetected.[1] Whether or not they should attempt to assail Minas Morgul was a subject of debate, but Gandalf argued strongly against this, as the minds of men turned to madness and horror at Minas Morgul and would risk drawing the Eye of Sauron near Frodo and Sam.[2] It was decided that a host of 7,000 men, if that many could be found, would depart in two days.[1]

Journey from Minas Tirith to Morannon

On 18 March of T.A. 3019, a force of 7,000 men gathered on the Pelennor Fields and left Minas Tirith, beginning the six-day journey. Under Aragorn there were 2,000 of those who sailed with him up the Anduin; under Imrahil were 3,500 (probably from among the original defenders of the city); under Éomer were 500 Rohirrim unhorsed, and another 500 horsed; and lastly another 500 horsed Knights of Dol Amroth, Rangers of the North, and the two sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir: in total, 6,000 on foot and 1,000 on horse.[1] Gandalf, Legolas and Aragorn were part of the host, as well as Gimli and Pippin, representing the races of Dwarves and Hobbits. Much to his disappointment, Merry was disallowed from going.[3]

By noon the army had reached Osgiliath, which was in the process of being rebuilt. The vanguard continued for five miles further before stopping for the day, while the horsemen pressed on and reached the Cross-roads. At the Cross-roads, the captains stationed a strong force of archers there to guard against any attack from the East or South. [4]The next day, Aragorn and Gandalf, along with the vanguard, rode ahead and reached Morgul Vale.[5]

On the third day, the host left the Cross-roads, leaving behind the force of archers to defend the Cross-roads. They encountered a force of Orcs and Easterlings attempting to ambush them. Having been warned by their scouts, they were able to easily defeat the force, though Aragorn felt that the purpose of the army had been to give the host a false impression of the enemy's weakness rather than hurt them. From the evening onward, the host was followed by the eight remaining Nazgûl.[6]

On 23 March, the Army exited Ithilien, and along the way some faint-hearted men who would not approach the Black Gate were dismissed and commanded to liberate Cair Andros. Between these men and the men left at the Cross-roads, over 1,000 were lost, leaving the army less than 6,000 strong. The next day, the same day that Sam and Frodo reached the foot of Mount Doom,[7] they finally reached the Desolation of the Morannon, camping there as they waited for an answer to their challenge.[8]

Battle of the Morannon

On 25 March, with no response from Mordor, the host assembled and marched to the Black Gate, demanding that the Lord of the Black Land come forth so that justice could be done upon him. The Black Gate was thrown open and an embassy from the Dark Tower rode out, led by the Mouth of Sauron. The Mouth of Sauron showed them items belonging to Sam and Frodo and relayed to them his lord's terms. After rejecting these terms, a great host came through the Black Gate, thus beginning the Battle of the Morannon.[9]

The host was quickly trapped as the army of Mordor[note 1] swarmed them from all sides of the Slag-hills. They fought Orcs, hill-trolls, Easterlings, Southrons, and the Nazgûl. Despite being vastly outnumbered and surrounded, the host fought well and was able to hold their own long enough.[9] When Frodo put on the One Ring, Sauron's attention was drawn away from the battle and the Nazgûl left the battle. The army of Mordor was left without the direction of the Nazgûl and the host was able to repel their attackers. The battle ended when the One Ring was destroyed by Frodo. The Orcs and other creatures of Sauron were completely directionless with the Dark Lord's demise and fled mindlessly; some falling into pits, others outright killing themselves, and many fleeing. The Host of the West was able to achieve a very decisive victory.[10] It is not told how many casualties the army suffered.

Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The last debate includes King Théoden, Legolas and Gimli with Imrahil, Elladan, and Elrohir absent. Aragorn suggests the creation of the Army of the West and Gandalf is initially doubtful that it will be successful. Before the Army leaves Aragorn looks into the palantír. The journey from Minas Tirith to the black gate is not shown. When the Ring is destroyed the ground beneath the enemy's army crumbles and Sauron's army is no more.

Notes

  1. The forces of Mordor, Rhûn, and Harad together had "ten times and more than ten times" the number of the Western host, which consisted of less than 6,000. Therefore, there were little over 60,000 forces of evil deployed by Sauron.

References