Battle of Bywater

From Tolkien Gateway
Battle of Bywater
Conflict: War of the Ring
Date: 3 November T.A. 3019
Place: Bywater Road, the Shire
Outcome: Freedom for the Shire and Buckland

Shire-hobbits and Bucklanders

Sharkey's Men


Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took, Farmer Cotton



100 Ruffians


19 Hobbits killed, 30 wounded

70 Ruffians killed (including Gríma Wormtongue), 12 captured

War of the Ring
Osgiliath (1) · Moria · Isen (1) · Rauros · Isen (2) · Fangorn · Isengard · Hornburg · Osgiliath (2) · Siege of Gondor · Mirkwood · Dale · Pelennor Fields · Black Gate · Dol Guldur · Bywater

The Battle of Bywater was the last military engagement of the War of the Ring, and the second and last known battle to have been fought within the bounds of the Shire.



When Frodo Baggins and the other Travellers returned from the coronation of Elessar, they found their homeland to be under the dominion of Sharkey's Men. These Ruffians had been pouring into the Shire since late 3018,[1] and were under the command of the Chief, who himself was under the command of Sharkey, who outlawed everything that the Hobbits held dear; food and inns most notably. It did not take long for Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took and Samwise Gamgee to violate several of The Rules:

You're arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearin up of Rules, and Assaulting Gatekeepers, and Tresspassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food.

The Travellers were arrested, but managed to talk themselves out of custody, and subsequently rally the Hobbits to overthrow the Chief. A small group of Men was encountered, and Pippin declared the return of the King to them, and the message that emissaries were on their way. When he was scoffed, he declared himself the emissary, as he was not released from Elessar's service yet. The group was routed, but managed to get a message to a bigger contingent in Waymeet.[2]


As twenty Men from Hobbiton marched towards Bywater, 200 Bucklanders answered the call of Captain Merry's horn. In Bywater, barricades were set up at the command of Merry. Meanwhile, the Cottons also joined the group.

When Sharkey's Men came, they did not expect a trap. They walked up Bywater Road, to the point where Farmer Cotton was standing. They threatened him, but found themselves heavily outnumbered, and as the hobbits closed the barricade behind them, also surrounded. Their leader fell by arrows as he tried to strike at Merry. The rest surrendered.

The larger group of Men from Waymeet arrived the following day. In the meantime, Pippin had set up a rebellion in Tookland, and returned with one hundred Tooks. Merry set up a defensive pocket on a heavily banked part of the Bywater Road. The Men walked straight into the pocket. Some surrendered, some escaped, and about twenty broke out. Six men and two hobbits were killed. The others now became desperate, and didn't care about escaping, only killing. The banks proved too steep to climb, and many fell before Hobbit axes. Merry and Pippin charged from the eastern bank, and Merry killed the leader.[2]


In the end, nearly seventy Men were killed and twelve were taken prisoner, while nineteen Hobbits died and about 30 were wounded. The dead Men were buried in a nearby sand-pit known later as the Battle Pit. The Hobbits were buried separately, and a stone was placed on their grave with a garden around it. A Roll was made of the names of all the Hobbits who fought in the Battle of Bywater, with Captains Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took listed at the top.

Hobbiton Befouled by Matěj Čadil

After the victory at Bywater, the Hobbits marched on to Bag End, where they found Sharkey, who was not simply a bigger ruffian as had been thought, but rather Saruman. Saruman was ordered away by Frodo, and Saruman revealed that his servant Gríma killed Lotho. Gríma cut Saruman's throat in a rage for years of oppression and abuse, but was himself shot by Hobbit archers. As the spirit of Saruman rose from its bodily form, it was blown away by a wind from the West.[2]

The following year, preparations were made to restore the damage done by Saruman. Sam spread the blessed soil from the box of Galadriel, and planted the mallorn-seed where once the Party Tree had stood. 1420, by Shire Reckoning, became one of the best harvest years ever.[3]

Portrayal in adaptations

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

The Scouring of the Shire appeared in abridged form. The arrest by the Shirriffs is omitted, as is the second part of the battle.

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

The Battle of Bywater is not featured from the film. However, the Scouring of the Shire is referenced in the Mirror of Galadriel as a vision of a possible future. Hobbits are shown to be enslaved and the Ruffians are changed to orcs; many areas are on fire and the New Mill is shown.