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I am puzzled by the apparent lack of information online about the troop strength of the victors in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (aka the Battle of Minas Tirith). We are told in The Return of the King about which leaders came to Gondor's aid and how many men they brought with them, though the data is scattered throughout the book. But I have not been able to find a summary of the numbers anywhere.

My memory is hazy, but I remember reading that troops were sent from several different regions of southern Gondor, as well as the Rohirrim from Rohan, a garrison from Osgiliath, a handful of Rangers from the north, and of course the defenders of Minas Tirith itself.

Has anyone compiled an order of battle listing the numbers and origins of all the warriors mentioned in the books as fighting at Pelennor Fields? It would take some time to put together, but it would certainly be possible to make a fairly accurate estimate of the troop strength.


Note: An "order of battle" is simply a list of the units involved in a battle and the strength (i.e., number of soldiers) of each unit.

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    Don't take this the wrong way, and it's certainly not against the rules, but... are you going to ask about every single thing that happens in every chapter of The Lord of the Rings? :P – Andres F. May 25 '15 at 19:07
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    @AndresF. - He's reading through it. – Valorum May 25 '15 at 19:16
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    Extensively discussed here and here – Valorum May 25 '15 at 19:17
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    Regardless, if you are attempting to answer your own question (which is perfectly ok!), please post it as a separate answer. Do not write the answer in the body of the question! – Andres F. May 25 '15 at 19:33
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    @WadCheber - Don't forget to correct the wiki :-) – Valorum May 25 '15 at 20:38
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A brief glance produced the following information, but there is far more info scattered throughout the book. I would rather accept someone else's answer than my own, so please don't hesitate to submit an answer yourself. This is primarily intended to explain what I am looking for in an answer.

From Southern Gondor (arriving before the battle):
200 from Lossarnach under Lord Forlong the Fat.
300 from Ringlo led by Lord Dervorin.
500 bowmen from Morthond following Duinhir and his two sons.
Unknown numbers from Anfalas ("a long line of men ...scantily equipped"), led by Lord Golasgil.
Unknown numbers from Lamedon ("a few grim hillmen without a captain").
100+ "fisher-folk" from Ethir
300 from Pinnath Gelin led by Lord Hirluin the Fair.
700+ from Dol Amroth led by Prince Imrahil ("a company of knights ...and 700 men at arms").
Total: "Less than 3,000 full told".

Miscellaneous:
26+ Rangers of the north under Halbarad ("no fewer than the king's escort, at the least"; King Theoden's escort consists of 21 men, plus Merry, Gimli, and Legolas)

Rohirrim:
6,000, presumably all cavalry; led by Theoden and Eomer.

Osgiliath:
("Probably ...around 1,000", according to Tolkien Gateway), led by Faramir.

Minas Tirith:
("Likely ...no more than 4,000" according to Tolkien Gateway; "Around 2,000" according to the LotR wiki), led by Denethor, then Gandalf, then Imrahil.

Southern Gondor (arriving by ships with Aragorn mid-battle):
Number unknown, "a great valour of the folk of Lebennin and Lamedon and the fiefs of the South", led by Aragorn.

Grand Total (from the above data only; more information can likely be found through a more thorough examination of the text): At least 12,000-14,000 men


Note: The troop strength of Sauron's forces (including his own army, as well as the troops from the east and south) is even harder to ascertain; the LotR wiki says at least 45,000; Tolkien Gateway says possibly more than 75,000.

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    Oh my. Having been immersed in WW1 history recently, my first reaction to this is "How puny! Icky widdle armies!" – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 26 '15 at 6:09
  • @DVK-in-exile --- It's all relative; if you were a Bree-land peasant and you saw the legions of Minas Morgul approaching, then you might think differently! – Ian Thompson Dec 16 '16 at 22:50
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A discussion following another question has piqued my interest in this, so...

Short answer: Tolkien doesn't give us all of the numbers, so we don't know. In fact, he writes that 'the full count of it no tale has told.' Still, we can make some deductions about the matter.

Thanks to Ghan-Buri-Ghan ('You have a score of scores counted ten times and five', (The Ride of the Rohirrim)), we know that Theoden brought 6,000 Rohirrim to the field. The accuracy of Ghan's counting is confirmed by note 36 to Cirion and Eorl in the Unfinished Tales. We also know that Rohan was very much considered the junior partner in the war effort. For example:

  • Gandalf tells Pippin 'Theoden is a kindly old man. Denethor is ... a man of far greater lineage and power' (Minas Tirith)

  • At the Black Gate, the Mouth of Sauron says 'The rabble of Gondor and its deluded allies shall withdraw at once beyond the Anduin', clearly giving precedence to Gondor.

  • Imrahil takes 3,500 men to the Black Gate, whereas Eomer takes 1,000. None of Imrahil's men come from the reinforcements brought by Aragorn (The Last Debate).

Therefore it is overwhelmingly likely that Gondor had the larger army, even before Aragorn arrived. Moving on to the battle itself, Minas Tirith initially is beseiged by the orc legions from Minas Morgul. The orcs are then attacked in the rear by Theoden's army. After the Witch King kills Theoden, Eomer leads the Rohirrim agains the army of the Haradrim, which outnumbers his forces by 3-1, so they have about 18,000. At the same time, the forces of Gondor push out of the City, sending their cavalry to help Eomer, whilst their footsoldiers engage the remaining orcs. At this point, the lieutenant of Morgul (Gothmog) throws in all of his reserves. Here is the key quote from The Battle of the Pelennor Fields:

... the day thus began to turn against Gondor.

(Emphasis mine.) So, 6,000 Rohirrim and whatever forces were inside Minas Tirith were enough to bring about a finely poised battle against 18,000 Haradrim and the Legions of Morgul.

This doesn't give us a clear figure, but it is enough to show that there must have been 10-15,000 men defending Minas Tirith, before Theoden or Aragorn arrived.

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