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The question is self explanatory: how many battles took place in the War of the Ring, and what were they called?

We only read about a few battles in the main text of The Lord of the Rings - Helm's Deep, Isengard, Pelennor Fields, Morannon, Bywater, and perhaps a few more. The appendices tell us of others, such as the Battle Under Trees. But has anyone compiled a list of all the engagements?

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    @Gaurav - Wikipedia isn't the best source for LotR info, and doesn't necessarily contain all the relevant information. Even the far superior Tolkien Gateway lists only a few battles, some of which link to the same page that they are on. I'm looking for a comprehensive list. – Wad Cheber May 28 '15 at 3:00
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    I don't understand why this question has so many downvotes; is it trivial? Clearly not as the answer shows. Is it a "list" question? But list questions aren't bad because they are lists, they are bad because they are open, whereas this clearly isn't; the list of battles is finite. – congusbongus Jun 1 '15 at 5:05
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    Why the downvote? – maguirenumber6 Jun 1 '15 at 5:12
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This depends largely on when you consider the War of the Elves and Sauron to be part of the War of the Ring. I personally do; I think of "the War of the Ring" as spanning the Ring's entire history, with a long period from the end of the Second Age to the start of the Third that smoothly transitioned from "peace" to "cold war" to "hot war".

You're going to find that most battles don't have names. I'll note them when I can, but otherwise I'll leave it alone.

Second Age

This conflict is canonically called "The War of the Elves and Sauron".

  • The first major battle is Sauron's assault on Eregion:

    When Sauron learned of the repentance and revolt of Celebrimbor his disguise fell and his wrath was revealed; and gathering a great force he moved over Calenardhon (Rohan) to the invasion of Eriador in the year 1695. When news of this reached Gil-galad he sent out a force under Elrond Half-elven; but Elrond had far to go, and Sauron turned north and made at once for Eregion. The scouts and vanguard of Sauron's host were already approaching when Celeborn made a sortie and drove them back; but though he was able to join his force to that of Elrond they could not return to Eregion, for Sauron's host was far greater than theirs, great enough both to hold them off and closely to invest Eregion. At last the attackers broke into Eregion with ruin and devastation, and captured the chief object of Sauron's assault, the House of the Mírdain, where were their smithies and their treasures.

    Unfinished Tales Book 2 The Second Age Chapter 4: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"

  • There appears to have been a skirmish with the dwarves of Moria:

    Sauron withdrew the pursuit of Elrond and turned upon the Dwarves and the Elves of Lórinand, whom he drove back; but the Gates of Moria were shut, and he could not enter.

    Unfinished Tales Book 2 The Second Age Chapter 4: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"

  • There are occasional references here to a siege on Imladris (Rivendell), but they're brief and scattered so I'm not going to add a quote.

  • There was a battle at the River Lhûn in defence of the Grey Havens; this was really the first Elvish victory in the conflict (thanks in no small part to the Númenóreans):

    Gil-galad and the Númenóreans were holding the Lhûn in desperate defence the Grey Havens, when in the very nick of time the great armament of Tar-Minastir came in; and Sauron's host was heavily defeated and driven back.

    Unfinished Tales Book 2 The Second Age Chapter 4: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"

  • There was another skirmish at Sarn Ford, where Sauron was again repelled. This defeat led him directly into the Battle of the Gwathló (which is the first battle actually named):

    Sauron was driven away south-east after great slaughter at Sarn Ford (the crossing of the Baranduin); and though strengthened by his force at Tharbad he suddenly found a host of the Númenóreans again in his rear, for Ciryatur had put a strong force ashore at the mouth of the Gwathló (Greyflood), "where there was a small Númenórean harbour." [This was Vinyalondë of Tar-Aldarion, afterwards called Lond Daer; see Appendix D. p. 274.] In the Battle of the Gwathló Sauron was routed utterly and he himself only narrowly escaped.

    Unfinished Tales Book 2 The Second Age Chapter 4: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"

After this, Sauron retreats to Mordor and sulks for a few centuries. Later on there's some sabre-rattling against Númenor, but all that happens is that Ar-Pharazôn marches on Mordor and Sauron gives up without a fight.

About a century after the destruction of Númenor, Sauron declares war against the nation of Gondor

  • There's a battle in Minas Ithil, which Sauron wins. He also attacks Osgiliath, though he's repelled:

    When therefore Sauron saw his time he came with great force against the new realm of Gondor, and he took Minas Ithil, and he destroyed the White Tree of Isildur that grew there. But Isildur escaped, and taking with him a seedling of the Tree he went with his wife and his sons by ship down the River, and they sailed from the mouths of Anduin seeking Elendil. Meanwhile Anárion held Osgiliath against the Enemy, and for that time drove him back to the mountains;

    The Silmarillion V Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

  • After this is the Last Alliance, which involves a battle on the Dagorlad (called the Battle of Dagorlad in Appendix B) and a seven-year siege of Barad-dûr before Sauron is eventually defeated:

    From Imladris they crossed the Misty Mountains by many passes and marched down the River Anduin, and so came at last upon the host of Sauron on Dagorlad, the Battle Plain, which lies before the gate of the Black Land. All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    [...]

    Then Gil-galad and Elendil passed into Mordor and encompassed the stronghold of Sauron; and they laid siege to it for seven years, and suffered grievous loss by fire and by the darts and bolts of the Enemy, and Sauron sent many sorties against them. There in the valley of Gorgoroth Anárion son of Elendil was slain, and many others. But at the last the siege was so strait that Sauron himself came forth; and he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil, and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own. Then Sauron was for that time vanquished, and he forsook his body, and his spirit fled far away and hid in waste places; and he took no visible shape again for many long years.

    The Silmarillion V Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

The Third Age

  • Despite Sauron's death, the Third Age kicks off with the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, where Isildur's army faces off against a mildly upset Orcish horde. Isildur is killed and the Ring lost. I'm not going to quote from it, because there's an entire chapter in Unfinished Tales on the subject and it's hard to get really representative quotes. Suffice to say that this isn't a minor battle.

After this, there are a lot of small battles and skirmishes that may or may not be considered part of the War of the Ring. Appendix B tells us that there's lots of trouble with Orcs early in the Third Age, but I'm not considering that part of the War of the Ring; Orcs gonna Orc, after all. The war against the Witch-king I'm also not going to count, although you could make a compelling argument. Finally, the whole mess with Sauron and Dol Guldur, and his attempts at consolidating power, is also a pain to pick out. If you're interested, that's what Appendix B is for.

Instead of tackling that, I'm going to start looking again after T.A. 2951, when Sauron declares himself openly again. Unfortunately, there's not much to report. c. T.A. 3000 we have a vague report that "the shadow of Mordor lengthens", but no idea whether that means any battles or skirmishes.

Finally, in T.A. 3018, things pick up1. As Matt Gutting points out in comments, if you consider the conflict in the Third Age to be separate from the stuff in the Second Age, this is likely the best candidate for the start of the War of the Ring. There are a bunch of conflicts recorded in the Tale of Years. The most significant ones include three assaults on Lórien, the battles of Mirkwood and Dale, two battles of the Fords of Isen, and then all the stuff we got to follow in the books:

  • Osgiliath is attacked again, and so is Mirkwood:

    June 20 Sauron attacks Osigiliath. About the same time Thranduil is attacked, and Gollum escapes.

  • There was a bit of a dust-up between the Rangers and the Nazgûl crossing into the Shire

  • Gandalf gets into a disagreement with some Nazgûl on Weathertop; Frodo actually sees this battle from afar, but obviously doesn't know what it is:

    October 9 [Gandalf] is attacked at night on Weathertop.

  • The Nazgûl ambush Aragorn and the Hobbits on Weathertop:

    October 6 The camp under Weathertop attacked at night. Frodo wounded.

  • Glorfindel helps out the book Hobbits by getting the Nazgûl off their backs for a bit:

    October 11 [Glorfindel] drives the Riders off the Bridge of Mitheithel.

  • There's a minor confrontation with the Nazgûl at Bruinen:

    October 24 Escape across the Ford of Bruinen.

    Gandalf expands on it later, when talking to Frodo:

    'When the Ringwraiths swept by, your friends ran up behind. Close to the Ford there is a small hollow beside the road masked by a few stunted trees. There they hastily kindled fire; for Glorfindel knew that a flood would come down, if the Riders tried to cross, and then he would have to deal with any that were left on his side of the river. The moment the flood appeared, he rushed out, followed by Aragorn and the. others with flaming brands. Caught between fire and water, and seeing an Elf-lord revealed in his wrath, they were dismayed, and their horses were stricken with madness. Three were carried away by the first assault of the flood; the others were now hurled into the water by their horses and overwhelmed.'

    Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 1: "Many Meetings"

Now T.A. 3019 starts.

  • Battle of the Fords of Isen, Part I:

    February 25 First Battle of the Fords of Isen; Théodred son of Théoden slain.

  • A minor scuffle between the Fellowship and some Uruk-Hai:

    February 26 Breaking of the Fellowship.

  • Éomer and the Rohirrim go Orc-hunting:

    February 28 Éomer overtakes the Orcs [carrying Merry and Pippin] just outside Fangorn Forest.

  • Battle of the Fords of Isen, the Sequel, and a little bit of Ents smashing Isengard:

    March 2 Second Battle of the Fords of Isen. Erkenbrand defeated. [...] The Ents march on Isengard and reach it at night.

  • Helm's Deep, and more Ent-smashing:

    March 3 Théoden retreats to Helm's Deep. Battle of the Hornburg begins. Ents complete the destruction of Isengard.

  • Sauron's forces take a small island in Gondor:

    March 10 An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anórien.

  • Probably those Cair Andros folks, attacking Rohan. Some poor sod also tries attacking Lothlórien:

    March 11 Eastern Rohan is invaded from the north. First assault on Lórien.

  • March 12 [another attack on Osigiliath.] Faramir retreats to the Causeway Forts. [...] Aragorn drives the enemy towards Pelargir. The Ents defeat the invaders of Rohan.

  • March 13 The Pelennor is overrun. Faramir is wounded. Aragorn reaches Pelardir and captures the fleet.

  • March 14 Minas Tirith is besieged.

  • March 15 [All the bad stuff that happens in Minas Tirith]. Battle of the Pelennor. [...] Battle under the trees in Mirkwood. Thranduil repels the forces of Dol Guldur. Second assault on Lórien.

  • March 17 Battle of Dale

  • March 22 Third assault on Lórien.

  • There's a brief battle at the Morannon after a fairly disastrous parley with the Mouth of Sauron. Appendix B describes it as:

    March 25 The Host [Aragorn's company; soldiers of Gondor and Rohan] is surrounded on the Slag-hills.

    In the text, it's nearly as brief, comprising the last couple of paragraphs of Book V Chapter 10: "The Black Gate Opens".

The Scouring of the Shire

This one is a bit more controversial, and personally I'm not fully convinced it should be considered part of the War of the Ring. However, Appendix B disagrees with me and who am I to argue with it:

November 1 [The Hobbits] are arrested at Frogmorton.

November 2 They come to Bywater and rouse the Shire-folk.

November 3 Battle of Bywater and Passing of Saruman. End of the War of the Ring.

Return of the King Appendix B: "The Tale of Years* (ii) The Third Age "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"


1 From here on out, all quotes are from Appendix B The Tale of Years Part 2: "The Third Age", unless otherwise marked

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    Note: if, as I do, you consider the war to have begun in the Third Age, with the War of the Elves and Sauron separate, then the War probably began on June 20 3018, with the assault on Osgiliath. – Matt Gutting May 28 '15 at 11:16
  • @MattGutting Fair point; I've added a note – Jason Baker May 28 '15 at 14:20
  • Also, does the Battle of Bywater count? I might have said "no", but Merry and Frodo count Saruman's death as "the very last end of the War". – Matt Gutting May 28 '15 at 14:32
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    @WadCheber I'm not fully convinced it should be considered part of the War, but I stand in opposition to the Appendix, so what do I know. Added a bit on the end – Jason Baker Jun 6 '15 at 15:49
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    @WadCheber As far as I'm concerned the War of 1812 ended when my ancestors burned the President's house down – Jason Baker Jun 6 '15 at 16:07

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