After Frodo et al. return, there are two fights with Saruman's thugs, a skirmish and a battle. In neither case do the thugs have any effective leadership: the book remarks on the absence of anyone with any war experience (e.g. no scouts.) Couldn't Saruman have tried? He must have known that Frodo et al. had combat experience against orcs; Merry, Pippin and Sam had slain actual monsters (tougher than orcs); Merry & Pippin had participated honourably in set-piece battles; Frodo and Sam had observed an ambush being planned by the Rangers of Ithilien. The thugs who'd settled in the Shire were hopelessly out of their depth. Saruman provided no effective leadership. I've thought of several explanations, not mutually exclusive.
- He didn't care: he wanted to ruin the Shire, and he'd done as effective a job as possible. It wasn't his fault that Galadriel and Sam undid his work.
- He had no military experience. He was "gold command", with no combat experience (we hear about Gandalf's sword, not Saruman's.) He saw his army off on the way to Helm's Deep, and then assumed that bronze command could handle everything. On this interpretation, he didn't understand the problem, and wouldn't have known what to do in any case.
- He was a boss, not a commander; he had no reason to believe that he could lead his thugs.
- He was a coward.
- He'd lost the palantir at Orthanc and there was no Apple store in the Shire so he didn't know what was happening (until it did.)
I'd appreciate any thoughts on this.