Battle of the Hornburg

From Academic Kids

Battle before: First and Second Battles of the Fords of Isen, Battle of Isengard
Battle after: Battle of Osgiliath
Battle of Helm's Deep
ConflictWar of the Ring
DateMarch 4, 3019 T.A.
PlaceHelm's Deep, Rohan
ResultRohan victory
Isengard Rohan
Saruman Théoden, Aragorn, Gandalf
10,000 Uruk-Hai and Orcs
2,000–5,000 Dunlendings
about 2,000 Rohirrim; reinforced by 1,000 more Rohirrim in the morning
and the Huorns
All Uruks and Orcs, most Dunlendings Unknown

The Battle of the Hornburg (or Battle of Helm's Deep) is a fictional battle in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. The battle pitted the forces of Saruman against the warriors of Rohan under King Théoden, who had taken refuge in the mountain fortress of Helm's Deep.

The forces of Saruman, Orcs and Uruk-hai together with human Dunlendings, arrived at the valley of Helm's Deep in the middle of the night. They quickly scaled over the first defense, Helm's Dike, and attempted to break down the fortress's gate with a battering ram. But Aragorn, Éomer, and some other Rohirrim attacked, scattering the forces threatening the doors.

The Orcs and Dunlendings then raised hundreds of ladders to scale the wall. Aragorn and Éomer had to repeatedly move the defenders, who were getting weary, to repel the Orcs coming up the ladders and crossing the wall. However, some Orcs had crept in though a culvert which let a stream out of Helm's Deep, and while the defenders were busy with the assault on the wall, they suddenly attacked, having made it past the wall. The defenders quickly reacted and drove back the Orcs, and the culvert was blocked up under supervision by Gimli.

However, the enemies reentered the culvert and caused an explosion using a device of Saruman's. This made a wide hole in the wall, and Saruman's forces could not be stopped. The defenders retreated to the Glittering Caves and to the Deep. Soon Saruman's forces used their blasting fire to gain entrance to the Deep. At this moment, however, the horn of Helm's Deep was sounded, and after a moment a sortie led by Théoden and Aragorn rode forth, followed by men on foot. Théoden and Aragorn cut through the Orcs and Dunlendings and arrived at Helm's Dike.

Both armies then noticed that many trees, Huorns, had moved to block a possible escape route for the Orcs. Then Gandalf, Erkenbrand, and a thousand riders arrived, and charged. The Dunlendings were so terrified of Gandalf that they could no longer fight. The Orcs lost control and ran into the trees, where the Huorns destroyed them. Thus, Rohan won the battle.

After the battle those Dunlendings who surrendered were given amnesty by King Théoden and allowed to return to home. The Rohirrim required that all hostilities cease, and that the Dunlendings retreat behind the Isen river again. The slain Dunlendings were buried in a mound of their own apart from the Orc carcasses.

"Battle of Helm's Deep"

The Battle of the Hornburg is a key part of a movie based on the book, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The amount of time spent around the battle in the movie was much more than in the original book. In the context of the film, it is referred to as the Battle of Helm's Deep, a title which was never used by Tolkien but which is often used by fans, probably because it occupies a chapter entitled "Helm's Deep".

One major difference in the film is that Elrond, at the prompting of Galadriel, sends a contingent of Elven archers to reinforce the defence of the keep. A similar event takes place in the novel, in which Elrond and Galadriel send a company of Aragorn's fellow Rangers, accompanied by Elrond's sons, Elladan and Elrohir, bringing the gift of a banner and the advice to take the Paths of the Dead. In the book, however, this takes place after the Battle of the Hornburg.

In the movie, the thousands of troops of Saruman laid siege to the fortress which was defended by around 300 men (many of whom were too young or too old to fight) which the Rohirrim could muster and the aforementioned Elven Archers. When Legolas says there are "300" Rohirrim there he may have meant at that time as more were fleeing to the fortress, because visually there are more than 300 Rohirrim appearing on screen in the battle. These forces suffered heavy losses, but held out till dawn when Gandalf arrived with thousands of Rohirrim riders who finally turned the tide of the battle and sent Saruman's forces into retreat.

Properly speaking, the fortress is the Hornburg and Helm's Deep is the ravine behind it. In one of his letters regarding a proposed film adaptation, Tolkien protested the use of Helm's Deep, stating that, "the 'defence of the Hornburg'...would be a better title, since Helm's Deep, the ravine behind, is not shown" (Letters, 210). On the significance of the Battle, he also comments that "If both the Ents and the Hornburg cannot be treated at sufficient length to make sense, then one should go. It should be the Hornburg, which is incidental to the main story".


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