The encirclement of the Stark forces had just started. As the Bolton forces marched forward with their shields and pikes, all of a sudden a Bolton force charged down from the top of the pile of dead soldiers and horses.

Who was that? They must have been Bolton forces (maybe House Karstark)? Did they have an exit strategy? They would eventually get run through by the pikes like all the encircled forces.

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    they didn't charge down into a position where they'd be vulnerable to getting crushed themselves. they stayed near the top of the pile and killed stark forces trying to escape. also, it's clear who they were. they were led by that dude who had been standing next to ramsay moments earlier, whispering with him.
    – abcd
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 18:07

4 Answers 4


The other answers have correctly identified the character (It was Small Jon Umber, Lord of Last hearth) in question but none of them have dealt with the Other part of the Question.

Did they have an exit strategy?

No they did not have an exit strategy. They were there to finish the show.

Original Plan of Starks

Original plan of Starks was explained in Jon's War council:

Jon: We're digging trenches all along our flanks. They won't be able to hit us the way that Stannis hit you[Wildlings], in a double envelopment. A pincer move. They won't be able to hit us from the sides.

Tormund: Good.

Davos: It's crucial that we let them charge at us. They've got the numbers, we need the patience. If we let him buckle our center, he'll pursue. Then we'll have him surrounded on three sides.

Jon's vulnerability and Ramsay's plan

Jon however got emotional when Ramsay threw the bait of releasing Rickon. He pissed on the sound plan and rode head on, forcing his soldiers to abandon their fortified positions and follow Jon. You have to give Sansa this, she was not emotional. She knew Rickon was marked for death and had given him up for the dead. Jon however was still the boy Maester Aemon advised him to kill.

Ramsay knew about his weakness and planned to use it. He wanted to draw him out, envelop his army and destroy the Stark threat once and for all.

The Battle

Battle turned sour as Starks were at complete disadvantage in head-on battle and eventually they were surrounded from three sides by Northmen and on their rear was the pile of corpses. Umbers specifically moved from there to start cutting down the broken Stark men with element of surprise.

Starks by then were finished and were just waiting to be cut down.

Hammer and Anvil

That's when Ramsay decided to deploy the Classic strategy of Hammer and Anvil. Ramsay wanted to draw Jon out of his crude fortifications so that he could use his numbers and horses for advantage. He used Rickon to draw Jon out and it worked, Jon moved into the trap like the idiot that he is. As this meme puts it:

enter image description here

Ultimately came the moment when Starks were surrounded by Boltons and pinned down against the corpse wall. Bolton infantry formed shield walls in three directions and started pushing the Starks back to their doom. The Anvil was ready.

Ramsay had counted on this, he had planned this. Then he turns to Lord Umber (Whom I won't be calling Small Jon out of respect for the books' character) and says this:

It's time, go.

That's when Lord Umber becomes the Hammer to crush the Starks between his forces and the Anvil of the surrounding Bolton infantry.

But they will get killed by spears of friendly Forces?

Correct, the risk of friendly casualties is always present in Hammer and Anvil tactics like all the other tactics. If there was no hammer, Starks would be left alone to try and break the shield wall. When Umber came, that's precisely what Starks were trying to do. Umber's attack made the Starks panic and had impact on their morale.

Difference in morals of fighting sides

It's not like Ramsay had any concern for loss of human life, soldiers were expendables.

Ser Davos forbade his soldiers to shoot arrows during the battle because that would have resulted in friendly fire:

Man: Draw!
Davos: We'll just kill our own men. Stand down.

But Ramsay had no such concerns and throughout the battle, Bolton arrows kept coming, falling on friend and foe alike.

But why would Umber risk his life? A Man who does nothing in battle risks his life as well. By attacking, he had a chance to quickly put an end to the battle. It was very likely that they would slaughter the Starks from the back long before Infantry managed to reach the Bridge, seeing as Stark men were broken.

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    +1 and of course, from Ramsey's point of view, the more casualties are suffered by houses with potentially wavering loyalty like Umber, the less able the might be to rebel in future and more secure his long-term position would be. Convincing Umber to take one of the riskiest positions was another very smart tactical move by Ramsay... Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 10:31
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    Jon HAD to ride forward and save Rickon. Rickon was the Lord of Winterfell (from Jon's army's point of view). He couldn't just let his Lord die because it would be tactically disadvantageous. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 12:56
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    @khyle I disagree. A Lord in chains is an obstacle in path of his kins. Remember, Jon's attempt to save Rickon lead to Starks abandoning their fortified positions which would have saved them from envelopment by Boltons. Which is why I consider it a bad tactical move. A prisoner in circumstances such as Rickon is dead man walking. Smarter men give up on them like Blackfish gave up on Edmure and Tywin Lannister gave up on Jaime.
    – Aegon
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:33
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Null
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:46
  • I got the impression that Jon's attempt to save Rickon left him in no-man's land, and the first volley from Bolton forced him/herded him forward. I might be the only person who got that impression, though. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 20:58

It was Smalljon Umber and his Umber/Bolton men during the Second Battle of Winterfell[1].

As per the small extract on his Game of Thrones wikia page[2]:

... Smalljon leads the Bolton spearmen who form a wall around the Stark army, rallying them with a cry of "Who owns the North? We do!" After the Stark army is surrounded by the spearmen, Smalljon climbs the wall of bodies to fight in the circle, beginning by slaying an injured wildling who was attempting to escape. He fights his way to Jon Snow, but is swept away by the crowd before they can fight. ...

-Game of Thrones wikia, Smalljon Umber [emphasis mine]

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    #DailyGoTCorrections Smalljon Umber actually died at the Red Wedding protecting Robb in the books.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 4:10

Smalljon Umber

Whilst the existing answers already answer this perfectly well I feel it is worth mentioning what the official script has to say on it. The official script indeed identifies this character as Smalljon:


Smalljon uses the body pile as a natural divider in the center of the field, directing half his infantry to one side of it and half to the other.

Smalljon himself, along with a bodyguard of ten men, charges straight up the hill of bodies.

Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 9, "Battle of the Bastards" - Official script

To confirm that this is Smalljon Umber the character list at the start of the script identifies him as such:




We can also do a visual comparison to confirm this, this is Smalljon whilst still in the Bolton ranks waiting to charge:

Smalljon waits

Then compare that to him charging with his men and then him stood on top the body pile and it becomes clearer that it his him.

Smalljon charges

Smalljon attacks


Smalljon Umber and his soldiers. They were sent by Ramsay Bolton to cut off Jon Snow's army just before the shield wall was created around them, closing the trap.

enter image description here

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