Orcs of Isengard

From Tolkien Gateway
Orcs of Isengard
John Howe - Orcs of the White Hand.jpg
"Orcs of the White Hand" by John Howe
General Information
Other namesIsengarders[1]
OriginsA mix of Orcs bred by Saruman and of Orcs of the Mountains
RivalriesRohirrim, Ents
LanguagesOrcish dialects

The Orcs of Isengard or Isengarders were the Orcs that had settled in the pits within the Ring of Isengard, serving the fallen Wizard Saruman. They made up the bulk of his manpower, as well as a significant part of the forces he sent to assail the neighboring kingdom of Rohan.

History[edit | edit source]

Saruman began to draw Orcs of the Misty Mountains to his service as mercenaries as early as T.A. 2990, and these troops were kept in the muddy pits tunnelled beneath Isengard in preparation for Saruman's attack on Rohan.[2] The fiercest and largest of those in the service of the White Hand were the perilous Uruk-hai. However, the wizard also experimented with cross-breeding of Orcs with Men to improve Orcish stock, and thus Half-orcs and Goblin-men came into being, they were vile and cunning.[3]

After renouncing the White Council and secretly becoming the duplicitous servant of the Enemy in T.A. 3000,[4] Saruman began to harass the kingdom of Rohan by throwing in with its enemies. As the Shadow of Sauron extended, Orcs began to pillage the eastern villages of the Rohirrim and were joined by others from the Misty Mountains, some being in the service of Saruman such as great Uruks.[4]

He continued to gather Orcs, among them Wolf-riders, to Isengard by the time he held Gandalf captive in Orthanc.[3]

During the War of the Ring, Saruman sent a large force of Orcs backed by Dunlendings and two battalions of Uruk-hai in T.A. 3019 in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, with Prince Théodred being slain per his orders. This was done both to allow him and his master, Sauron, full control over Rohan as part of the latter's war on the West, but also to more easily allow Saruman himself to dispatch parties of Orcs on routes the Fellowship of the Ring was likely to take. Such a troop joined by Orcs of Mordor and "northerners" ambushed the company at Amon Hen, mortally-wounding Boromir and capturing the halflings Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. Near the eaves of Fangorn Forest however, the Orcs were attacked by the Riders of Rohan led by Éomer and slain to the last.[5]

Saruman's host overwhelmed Rohirrim defenders in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen, allowing his army of ten thousand Orcs (mostly Uruk-hai) reinforced by Dunlending hordes to push through towards Helm's Deep where King Théoden had chosen to make his stand. Though initially gaining the upper hand due to superior numbers and the machinery they had, the Battle of the Hornburg ended with the crushing defeat of Saruman's forces. Bitter at the destruction the wizard had dealt to their forest, the Ents of Fangorn set out towards Isengard, laying down the walls, crushing the Orcs and flooding the fortress.