The Fifth Battle.

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MasterofPuppets 01/Jan/2007 at 02:30 AM
Labourer of Minas Tirith Points: 297 Posts: 37 Joined: 28/Dec/2006
I have a question that is probably very dumb and ignorant but nevertheless, here goes. The battle of Tears, when Maedhros hoped to unite the Eldar and Edain to overthrow Morgoth, was said to have lasted five days from first assault until Hurin was captured. Here comes the question. Didn’t anyone get a little drowsy from all the fighting. I know that the adrenaline of a battle would keep you awake but FIVE days. And if they did take a little break, where would they rest? I know that in history many battles have been fought over many days but either I fell asleep in history class when they addressed this problem or it was never addressed.
Morgil 01/Jan/2007 at 04:12 AM
Minstrel of Lothlorien Points: 2612 Posts: 3541 Joined: 10/Dec/2008
MasterofPuppets...If I haven’t said so before, welcome to the Plaza. Never consider an honest question dumb, and EVERYONE is ignorant of a great many things, so don’t worry about that either.   As to your question, it is a bit curious. I don’t know if UT, Letters, or HoME have anything that applies. We do know from the novels that Men and Elves were much hardier and able to endure much greater hardship or toil than we puny relatives. I suppose it is conceivable that the battle could have continued non-stop for the entire time, but I doubt it. If it was similar to battles in our own world, there would have been at least brief spells of inactivity where major units had to regroup or reorganize due to various reasons. Of course, this is offset by the implied numbers of Morgoth’s forces. They could have been so great that the Men and Elves simply did not have any "quiet" time. It will be interesting to see what light others may be able to shed.
ekleers 01/Jan/2007 at 01:58 PM
Youth of Imladris Points: 60 Posts: 3 Joined: 23/Dec/2006

MasterofPuppets i belive how they did rest in these five days. Ofcourse I belive how there was much to do so they didn’t stop fighting but blindly fight for five days??? I think they had to regroup and rest a lil bit. But maybe they were full of hate how they didn’ t stoped till they were victorious.

There are figths in history who are taking more than one day and allways they retreat and rest for bit and take care about wounded.

WyteWolf 01/Jan/2007 at 02:10 PM
Gardener of Lothlorien Points: 265 Posts: 37 Joined: 01/Jan/2007
I agree that there is no such thing as a stupid question first off and to address the question directly they probably fought much like the ancient romans did they fought as sets of troops in ranks. figure it like this you might have 10 ranks the first rank would fight for maybe 15-20 minutes its ranks refilling as the go then the fall back to the rear and the second rank would take its place this way the ranks only fight for 20 minutes every 3 hrs or least this is the way I would picture the battle
MasterofPuppets 01/Jan/2007 at 09:27 PM
Labourer of Minas Tirith Points: 297 Posts: 37 Joined: 28/Dec/2006
But in the battle a i distinctly remember a mention of a phalanx (of king thingol i think). The idea of a phalanx is to push the enemy line until it breaks and if it breaks you can get among your foes and slay them from within. If troops were going back and forth in a phalanx wouldnt that be kind of risky for the front line because it gives the enemy the chance to employ the same tactics and break the phalanx line?
Morgil 02/Jan/2007 at 12:23 AM
Minstrel of Lothlorien Points: 2612 Posts: 3541 Joined: 10/Dec/2008

MasterofPuppets...The phalanx you’re thinking of was that of the guards of Turgon, King of Gondolin. And other than that one line, the phalanx formation isn’t mentioned again in the chapter of the Silmarillion pertaining to Nirnaeth Armoediad. I just read that chapter again and noticed something I had forgotten. In the first 4 days of combat, Tolkien describes what could have been a running battle over the plain of Anfauglith. Regarding Morgoth’s first western host:

"Before the army that he sent westward could be strengthened it was swept away, and th ebanners of Fingon passed over Anfauglith and were raised before the walls of Angband."

Fingon’s host had apparently dealt an heavy initial defeat upon Morgoth’s forces and scattered them, forcing a retreat towards Thangorodrim. The dynamics of a running battle are very different from a set piece affair. In open terrain such as Anfauglith, it would primarily be a very fluid action involving relatively few forces at the point(s) of contact. But whatever the specifics, they covered a great deal of ground in just 4 days. According to the Atlas of Middle-earth, it’s approximately 180 miles from Barad Eithel to Thangorodrim. Covering 45 miles a day is a good rate of advance for a modern mechanized ground force. For a medieval style force to do the same, even if not in combat, would be incredible. But again, considering the greater physical capabilities of the Elves and Edain, this pace doesn’t seem impossible if the engagement was a fluid one.  

Fingon’s forces were then driven back. It was not until this point on the 4th day that Nirnaeth Arnoediad actually started. Fingon’s host was surrounded and fought alone until the morning of the 6th day. Turgon had held most of his forces back from the initial charge of the Elves’ western host, so they didn’t actually enter combat until the morning of the 6th day. Maedhros’ eastern host arrived approximately 3 hours later. The fighting was finished by sunset of the 6th day. So Fingon’s host from Hithlum was the only Union force to have been in combat of any sort for all 6 days. While Turgon’s and Maedhros’ forces were actually only in full combat for 1 day.