Sauron's attack on Osgiliath

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This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
The name Battle of Osgiliath refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Battle of Osgiliath (disambiguation).
Sauron's attack on Osgiliath
Conflict: War of the Ring
Date: 20 June T.A. 3018[1]
Place: The ruins of Osgiliath and its last bridge
Outcome: Victory for Sauron, fall of the eastern half of Osgiliath, allowing the Nazgûl to hunt for the Ring




Unknown, Gondorians

Unknown, forces of Mordor, Easterlings, Haradrim




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

Sauron's attack on Osgiliath occurred on 20 June, T.A. 3018, and was later recognized as the beginning of the War of the Ring.



For many years (since T.A. 2901) the land of Ithilien had been held by Sauron's forces, but he had not breached the Anduin to attack deeper into Gondor, biding his time as he marshaled his strength.[2] By the end of the Age, Sauron had gathered all he could from the Rings of Power and started searching for the One Ring in Anduin. In T.A. 2951 he declared himself openly, gathered forces and fortified Mordor.[1]

In 3009 Gollum was captured after he had ventured into Mordor and the Dark Lord learned that his Ring was in the Shire, a location unknown to him. Gollum was released from Mordor in 3017 and was soon taken by Aragorn in the Dead Marshes.[1] His capture alarmed Sauron, causing him to send the Nazgûl out to attack the deserted ruins of Osgiliath and hunt for the Ring. Sauron had two purposes in making this assault: First, to test the strength and preparedness of Denethor (which was found to be greater than he hoped); and second (and more importantly) to make the appearance of the Nazgûl seem to be only part of his war policy against Gondor, in order to conceal from the Wise their mission to hunt for the One Ring.[2]

The days before the attack, the sons of Denethor Boromir and Faramir had a prophetic dream.[3]


At the Council of Elrond, Boromir recounted this battle as a sudden attack in which the men of Gondor were outnumbered by the forces of Mordor with their allies, the Easterlings and Haradrim. However, he attributed Gondor's defeat to a power that had not been felt before, issuing from a great black horseman. Only a remnant of Gondor's eastern force survived. The last bridge across the Anduin was defended by a company led by Boromir and Faramir until the structure was destroyed. Only the two brothers and two others survived by swimming.[3]

After the eastern portion of Osgiliath was taken and the bridge broken, Sauron broke off the assault, ordering the Nazgûl to begin their search for the Ring.[2]


Mirkwood was raided on the same day, probably in a scheduled attack, as the captured Gollum found an opportunity to escape during the chaos.[1]

The battle allowed the Black Riders to set forth and search for the One Ring in the west.

News of the defeat and the Black Shadow reached Eriador and the borders of the Shire by the end of June. Gandalf had an uneasy feeling when he got those messages and when he talked with refugees from the South he felt that they had a fear of which they didn't talk.[3]

It was the first conflict of the War of the Ring. Sauron found Denethor's forces stronger than he expected.[2] For months thereafter Sauron continued to amass his forces in Mordor preparing for a full assault against Gondor.[4] However when he discovered the Heir of Isildur, his plans were altered[5] and proceeded hastily with his ready forces; another skirmish occurred in Osgiliath leading up to the Siege of Gondor.

Portrayal in adaptations

Boromir raises a flag of Gondor.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (extended edition):

In the extended edition, Faramir has a flashback of himself and his brother in Osgiliath in the aftermath of a victorious battle; unlike in the book, the Gondorians here successfully fended off Sauron's forces and a multitude of soldiers (whereas in the book there was a handful of survivors) shout while Boromir is on a high wall and raises the standard of Elendil. As the soldiers celebrate their victory with ale, Denethor II brought up the matter of the One Ring and sent Boromir to Rivendell, expressing his trust and preference to him rather than Faramir. This scene seems to explain Faramir's treatment of Frodo in the movie, as he intends to deliver the Ring to Denethor hoping to be seen in a better light.