Armies and hosts of Middle-earth warfare

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In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth much of the history of the three ages of his legendarium are concerned with wars and the battles and armies of those wars.

Armies of Middle-earth, hierarchy and organization[edit]

The charts below show the general hierarchical[1] terms used by Tolkien to describe military formations and organization, and how these relate to specific or estimated strengths in battles throughout the history of Middle-earth. These terms, with host indicating military forces larger than an army and the others indicating forces smaller than an army, are used with a remarkable general consistency over the time of Tolkien's writings from 1917–1972, as well as an in-universe consistency over the three ages of Middle-earth.

There are certainly times when some of these words: host, army, company, band are used outside of this context. For example: host can refer to the whole of a people which includes males, females and children, not just the warriors, or "the war-high",[2] to use Tolkien's own phrase. At times, army can mean a singular fighting force of no set size, as can company, or host. Within the context of most battle, or war, descriptions these terms are generally consistent throughout the canon.[3] More modern military terms such as battalion and regiment see occasional use, but are not widespread.

While estimates of numbers can be often supported textually by simple extension of textually cited numbers, they are only estimates when there is not a specific number stated by Tolkien. However, it can be said with some certainty that a description of strength using the Names, such as: Name-host (e.g. Great-host) as a number of the Name-armies (e.g. Orc-armies), is supported textually across the board in the canon, as the selected, but by no means only, references demonstrate.

It is important to consider the context in which these terms appear in the stories since, as a writer of fiction, Tolkien's primary purpose is to engage and entertain the reader while not being tied to a set terminology the way a military historian must be. Tolkien sometimes adopts just that historian stance going into great detail about tactical movements, weapons and formations as he does in The Battles of the Fords of Isen, or Cirion and Eorl.[4] He can apply the same attention to detail to the drill of a shield-wall formation as to the intricacies of family relationships of the Sackville-Baggins.

Orc-hosts, Orc-armies, Orc-legions, Auxiliaries and Allies[edit]

Name Strength Subordinate Forces Commander
Realm, Region[5] All arms All Hosts, Armies, Legions Dark Lord, or King
Great Host,[6] Great Army,[7] Great Force 60,000 +[8] to 1,000,000[9] 2+ Hosts, or Host + Army[10] or + Auxiliaries High-captain,[11] or Marshal of the Hosts[12]
Host[13] 30,000[14]–50,000+ 2+ Armies, or Army + Auxiliaries[15] Captain, or Lieutenant, Balrog captain,[16] Orc-captain[17]
Army[18] 10,000–25,000+[19] 2+ Legions, or Legion + Auxiliaries Orc-captain
Legion[20][21] 5,000–10,000[22] 2+ Great Companies, or numerous Companies Orc-captain
Great Company[23] 1,000–3,000 2+ Companies, or numerous Bands Orc-captain, Orc-chief,[24] Chief[25][26]
Company 100–1,000[27] 2+ Bands Orc-chieftain, Orc-captain, captain
Band[28] 25–200[29] 2+ Troops Orc-chieftain

Hosts and Armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves[edit]

Name Strength Subordinate Forces Commander
Realm, Region[5] All arms All Hosts, Armies, Companies High-king, King, Lord
Great Host,[30] Great Army, Great Force 60,000–100,000 +[31] 2+ Hosts, or Host + Army, or + Auxiliaries High-king, King, High-captain, Herald,[32] Captain[33]
Host[34][35] 20,000–50,000+ 2+ Armies,[36] or Army + Auxiliaries King, High-captain, Lord, Captain
Army[37] 10,000[38]–25,000[39][40][41] 2+ Great Companies, or numerous Companies King, Captain,[42] or Lord
Great Company[43][44] 1,000–3,000[45][46] 2+ Companies,[47] or numerous Bands Captain, or Chief[48][49]
Company 100–1,000[50] 2+ Bands Captain, or Chieftain[51]
Band 10–200 2+ Troops Chieftain

Armies and Hosts through the three ages of Middle-earth[edit]

In the subsections that follow, the hierarchy and organization described above is shown and applied to an exemplar war from each of the three ages of Tolkien's fictional legendarium of Middle-earth. They demonstrate that there is little variation or change to the structure of Armies and Hosts through the fictional and literary history of Tolkien's Middle-earth canon.

War of Wrath in the First Age[edit]

Morgoth (the 'Dark Enemy'), the rogue Vala.
Mount Doom and Sauron's tower of Barad-dûr in Mordor, as depicted in the Peter Jackson films. It should also be noted that Sauron had been the chief lieutenant of Morgoth.[52]

At the end of the First Age, Morgoth is defeated in a final campaign called the War of Wrath by the host of the Valar made up of the Elves of Valinor and possibly Maiar led by Eönwë, the Herald of Manwë. This host of the Valar, or host of Valinor, is described as a host and contains the armies[53] of Elven warriors of the Vanyar as well as those of the Noldor that remained behind in Aman. In The Silmarillion it was stated that "the host of the Valar were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible, and the mountains rang beneath their feet." possibly implying other Maiar present. Ingwion, the son of the High-king of all Elves, Ingwë, leads the Vanyar and Finarfin, son of Finwë and king of the Noldor in Valinor, leads the Noldor. The size of the host of the Valar is ascertained by relative statements by Elrond, who was present, and a similar statement in The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age,[54] in which it is described as the only host greater than that of the great host of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

As shown in the following section, the great host of the Last Alliance is composed of other hosts which are composed of armies. Since the host of the Valar is greater than the host of the Last Alliance, it too would be composed of hosts and there is evidence that this is so. In March of the Elves of Kôr[55] the encampment in the Land of Willows of the "first host" is noted indicating, at least, a second host. Furthermore, the outline suggests that this host is that of the Noldor, or Noldoli. At minimum, a host of Noldor and a host of Vanyar whose combined strength exceeds the great host of the Last Alliance which is estimated below at 105,000 to 140,000.[56]

It is possible to develop a general proportional picture of the host of the Valar. In Quendi and Eldar[57] the proportions of the three original clans are given and adjusted for the divisions during the migration march from Middle-earth to Aman. The proportional factors given by Tolkien are: 14 for the Minyar (Vanyar) in Aman; 28 for the Tatyar (Noldor) in Aman; and 26 Nelyar (Sindar and Nandor) remaining in Middle-earth. It is told most of the Noldor return in the rebellion but that first a "tithe", or 10%, refuse to follow Fëanor and then later Finarfin with "many of his people" turned back.[58] and that Fingolfin has the greater of the two hosts, including Finarfin and it remains greater than the Fëanorians even after Finarfin leaves and Helcaraxë is crossed. Further, it is stated that the Elves of Beleriand outnumber the returning Noldor so that the factor for the returning Noldor must be considerably less than the factor of 26 for the Sindar and Nandor. Finarfin needs a factor of at least 6 or 7 to allow a noticeable difference[59] between the Noldor and Sindar, or 19 or 20 Noldor to 26 Sindar.[60] This would leave 6 to 7 Noldor in Aman and 14 Vanyar, about 2 to 1. This suggests that the host of the Valar is composed of a host of Noldor and a host of Vanyar that is twice as large, or two hosts of Vanyar.[61]

Having used the hierarchy established in the subsection of the War of the Last Alliance to show the structure of the forces in the War of Wrath, the numbers for these structures demonstrated in subsection The War of the Ring below can be applied and general estimates shown in the list for the Host of the Valar and the Hosts of Morgoth.[62]

Host of the Valar:

  • Maiar – at least 1, Eönwë, in earlier accounts some Valar were present, in others the sons of the Valar.
  • Elves – 100,000–150,000, about two thirds are Vanyar[63]
  • Eagles and "all the great birds of heaven";[64] "a myriad of birds";[65] a myriad can mean, literally, 10,000.[66]

Hosts of Morgoth:

The War of the Last Alliance in the Second Age[edit]

This war that ends the Second Age exemplifies the effect that Tolkien employs to create a grand panoramic distance from the event. However, he continues to use the same hierarchical organization and terms. This can be seen in the various descriptions of the Great Host of the Last Alliance.[72]

Sauron attacked Gondor in S.A. 3429. In response, Elendil, formed an alliance with Gil-galad. Over 2 years they gathered their armies.[73] Their great host[74] then marched to Rivendell.[75] Then they went over the Misty Mountains and were joined by the army of the Dwarves of Moria.[76] The Alliance host crossed over the river Anduin meeting the armies[77] of the Silvan Elves of Lórien and Greenwood the Great in the host of Oropher.[78] The Last Alliance marched south down the east bank of Anduin and join the army of Gondor, finally meeting Sauron's forces before Mordor.

It can be seen that the Host of the Alliance is made up of the great host of Gil-galad and Elendil: containing the armies of Elves of the Noldor of Forlindon and the Sindar of Harlindon[79] and the army of the Men of Arnor and a company from Rivendell; and the host of Silvan Elves: containing the greater army of Greenwood and the army of Lórien; an army of Dwarves from Moria and the army of Men of Gondor. Altogether, this great host contains 7 armies. Using a median strength of 15,000 to 20,000 for each army taken from the chart above of Hosts and Armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves, then an estimated overall strength of the Great Host of the Alliance adds up to 105,000 to 140,000 and is smaller than the host of the Valinor in the War of Wrath as stated by Tolkien.

The War of the Ring in the Third Age[edit]

In the War of the Ring, the Siege of Gondor and the Battle of Pelennor Fields are good examples of a mix of precise military detail and panoramic narrative. The catalogue of companies from the outlying provinces that come to Gondor's aid is numbered at less than 3000, with company sizes ranging from a stated 100 to 700 men in precise detail.[80] The numbers of the original garrison of Minas Tirith and the forward garrison of Osgiliath and Faramir's company of Ithilien are not specified. However, it is described panoramically that, following his defeat at Osgiliath, Faramir is outnumbered by ten times and that he loses one third of his men.[81] The muster of Rohan adds another 6,000 horsemen to the total of the defence of Minas Tirith.[82]

The forces of Mordor contained Orcs, Trolls, the Ringwraiths including other various races of Middle-earth.

The sent allies were from the areas threatened by Corsairs of Umbar, and therefore were much less numerous than initially expected. Lossarnach, for example, only sent one tenth, and less than three thousands arrived in all. Assuming similar reduction in other forces spared by the allies, that would mean that around 20-30 thousands remained, along with those who may not have been expected to be spared anyway. A large number of those people were gathered by Aragorn and came to Pelennor on Umbar ships, turning the tide of battle by arriving where (and when) the allies of Minas Tirith were least expected. Slaves and captives were released as well, but it is unclear whether they were in good enough condition to fight (the rowers probably were, since the Pirates would have needed them in good working condition for the next few days), or whether arms could be found for them in time for departure. More still came later on their own ships, and 4,000 were sent by land. It is said that all the comers (and the remaining Rohirrim) were sufficient to more than replace the losses of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, as well as the 7,000 going to the Morannon.

There are no specific totals given for the forces of Mordor, but there are comparisons to stated numbers that imply totals within the panoramic narrative. When the army of the West comes to the Morannon it is less than 6,000 strong and is outnumbered "ten times and more than ten times"[83] by a "great host" out of the Morannon, Orcs from the hills flanking the Morannon, and an army of Easterlings, or some 60,000 to 75,000. This force is later called "hosts", indicating at least 2 hosts, each 30,000–40,000 strong.

The Morgul-host,[84] led by the Witch-king, is described as the greatest army to "issue from that vale since Isildur, no host so fell and strong in arms...yet it was but one and not the greatest of the hosts that Mordor now sent forth..." and it has a "great cavalry of horsemen" in advance of it.[85] At the Pelennor Fields, the Haradrim, consisting of footmen, horsemen and mûmakil, are said to "thrice" outnumber the 6,000 Riders of Rohan, a possibility that the army consists of more than 18,000.[86] These regiments of Haradrim are said to have joined the Morgul-host at Osgiliath.[87] At the same time, infantry from the city sally against "the legions of Morgul that were still gathered there in strength", or at least 2 legions and there arrives the Morgul-host reserves composed of forces from the Rhûn, Khand, Southrons, and Far Harad.

Legions of the Haradrim from the south in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Additionally, north of the city near Cair Andros, another host of Orcs and Men out of the East[88] advancing from the Morannon[89] cuts the road north to Rohan. This host of Mordor blocking the road to Minas Tirith is "very many, more than Horse-men (of Rohan)", according to Ghân-buri-Ghân. Further north, forces from Dol Guldur attack Thranduil and thrice assault Lórien, and Eastern Rohan is attacked from the north[90] by a force elsewhere described as an Orc-host,[91] a host of Easterlings attacks Dale in the far north.

At least 5 distinct hosts from Mordor can be identified: 2 hosts of the Great Host at the Morannon; the Morgul-host (which later in the battle is called "hosts"[92] and therefore contains at least 2 hosts[93]); the host near Cair Andros. According to Gandalf, Sauron used more than half his strength for the assault on Gondor.[94][95] This leaves something less than that for the 4 forces elsewhere. 2 of these are distinctly identified as hosts: the Host of Easterling allies at Dale; the Orc-host invading East Rohan from the north while another host, at least, is implied by the attacks, 3 on Lórien and 1 on Thranduil, out of Dol Guldur. Taking a median total strength for any host of 40,000, a general minimum estimate for the 8 to 9 hosts (16 to 18 armies) of Sauron in the War of the Ring is therefore about 320,000–360,000. All arms, which includes the fleet and crews out of Umbar, would add somewhat to the total.[96]

Saruman's Hosts during the War of the Ring can be shown to fall within the parameters of the above charts even though they are unusual in that it is where Tolkien uses the more modern terms of battalion and regiment for some smaller formations.

In The Two Towers Merry states "... there must have been ten thousand at the very least.".[97] This number is later qualified by Gandalf: "I have about ten thousand Orcs to manage.",[98] that is to say at Helm's Deep, not including other members of Saruman's hosts: "troops on great wolves", "battalions of Men", "half-orcs". The chart above shows that a host can be composed of two armies or, an army and auxiliaries. The chart also shows that an army may be ten thousand strong.

The above first hand eyewitness accounts from the characters are not the only sources of information on the hosts of Saruman. There is an historical essay style analysis of the two battles of the Fords of Isen in Unfinished Tales in which the compositions and organizations of Saruman's forces are further explained. While Grimbold of Rohan's command struggles with one army, " "He (Saruman's commander) was now in doubt. He awaited, maybe, some signal from the other army that had been sent down the east side of Isen." author's note".[99] Grimbold did not know that "a large army had already some hours passed southward" to Helm's Deep.[100] This army east of Isen is also stated to be "more than half of Saruman's force...".[100] The east army also has auxiliaries of wolf riders, a large body that scatters Elfhelm's force on the east bank of Isen.

An additional source is the book The War of the Ring in which Saruman's army west of Isen is joined by an auxiliary force of Dunlending Men that "came up from the land away west".[101]

All these sources support Christopher Tolkien's descriptions of Saruman's overall strength as a "great host"[102] and the east army as a "great army"[103] and can account for J.R.R. Tolkien's description of Saruman's forces at the Battle of the Hornburg: " The hosts of Isengard roared..."[104] as defined on the charts: host as an army with auxiliaries and a great host as two such hosts, therefore: one host of Saruman's army west of Isen with its allied Dunland Men from the west and another host of more than half his force composed of Saruman's great army east of Isen with wolf riders.

The forces Saruman has at his disposal are unique in that they do not outnumber the forces opposed to them, unlike the usual war situations in Middle-earth in which the forces of darkness nearly always vastly outnumber the forces of light. Saruman's east army, which is more than half his strength, is estimated at ten thousand. With the west army and auxiliaries he originally had perhaps twenty thousand or so at Isengard and is later joined at the fords of Isen by some additional thousands of the Men of Dunland from the west.[105] This twenty thousand is opposed to the overall strength of Rohan which it does not outnumber by much, if at all. Rohan's forces are also given as twenty thousand: ten thousand horsemen with spears, the Éoherë, or Horse army,[106] and another ten thousand foot and mounted infantry.[107] Saruman's main advantages are that he has seized the initiative with his concentrated force in attacks against piecemeal fractions. First, at the Fords of Isen, some thirty-five hundred Rohirrim are defeated and then Helm's Deep is stormed where the garrison is only two thousand strong[108] and includes Théoden, the King of Rohan, while the rest of Rohan's strength is dispersed. After all the losses, Théoden says he would have sent ten thousand spears to aid Minas Tirith, but he cannot spare more than 6,000 from the defence of his own strongholds.

As a clear example of how context should be considered, in the Tale of the Years, the force that Aragorn leads to the Gates of Mordor is called the "Host of the West" and it does not have the strength estimate found above in the charts. But, in this context, the word Host is used as a general description of a disparate group of warriors from different armies, for whom specific numbers have preceded the use of the word elsewhere in the book. Host of the West, as a title, indicates it is an encompassing phrase. In earlier chapters in The Return of the King, Tolkien consistently calls it an army initially, even having the character of Imrahil say ironically that, " ... this is the greatest jest in all the history of Gondor: that we should ride with seven thousands, scarce as many as the vanguard of its army in the days of its power...".[109]

The seven thousands of the Host of the West are one thousand men of Rohan under Éomer, five hundred on horse, five hundred on foot and the five hundred knights of Dol Amroth with some Dúnedain; two thousand foot under Aragorn from Lebennin and the southern fiefs; and finally thirty-five hundred foot under Imrahil composed of the great companies of Minas Tirith.[110] The great companies of Minas Tirith probably include: at least three companies of the Tower of Guard;[111] one or more companies of the Men of the City;[112] some two companies, or more, of archers from Ithilien, one from Henneth Annûn commanded by Mablung.[113]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The hierarchy of a host over armies over legions is not unique to Tolkien's writings but is used elsewhere with the understanding of that hierarchy. For example, the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica entry for Lucuis Lucinius Lucullus shows its use: "In the spring of 69, at the head of only two legions, he (Lucullus) marched through Sophene, the south-western portion of Armenia, crossed the Tigris, and pushed on to the newly built royal city, Tigranocerta, situated on one of the affluents of that river. A motley host, made up out of the tribes bordering on the Black Sea and the Caspian, hovered round his small army, but failed to hinder him from laying siege to the town. Lucullus showed consummate military capacity, contriving to maintain the siege and at the same time to give battle to the enemy's vastly superior forces." Lucullus' small army of two legions is outnumbered by a host. Similarly, in the entry for Karnal: "It was here that Ibrahim Lodi and his vast host were defeated (at the Battle of Panipat (1526) ) in 1526 by the veteran army of Baber... ", the historical estimates for Lodi's vast host are 40,000-100,000 and Baber's army are 15,0000-25,000.
  2. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. II, (1984), p.70. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. X, (1993), p.115, "But the hosts... all these great companies, both of the full-grown and war-high and many others...".
  3. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339, Loback, T.. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, p.12, "At this point it will be helpful to show a plausible, overall order of battle, or Table of Organization to support these conclusions..." there follows a list of terms and estimates that generally coincides with those used here. The article is the second part of a two article study of Middle-earth demographics and the strength estimates as well as the organizational breakdowns shown here are drawn from it.
  4. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980)
  5. ^ a b See: Theatre of war
  6. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339, Loback, T.. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, p.12, gives several armies or 2 hosts 50,000 to 75,000.
  7. ^ The hosts of Morgoth includes Orcs, Men, Balrogs, Dragons and Wolves. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), pp. 15–17; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.96, 106–107. These passages describe a "great army" sent from Angband that divides into an "eastern host" and an "Orc-host in the West"; later, the western host that marched north is described as: "...the armies...that had passed south...". The attack on Fëanor is described as "the host of Melkor, orcs and werewolves"; "the host of Morgoth". From this it is possible to discern that: a great army of Orcs is made up of hosts, that a host is made up of armies. Both Vol. XI, p.57 and Silmarillion, p. 157, later described a lesser formation that attacks Brethil, an Orc-legion. These and many other citations show that a basic Orc military structure consists of: Orc-bands that make up Orc-companies; Orc-companies that make up an Orc-legion; Orc-legions that make up an Orc-army; Orc-armies that make up an Orc-host; Orc-hosts that make up a Great Army or a Great Host or a Great Force. Similarly in, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit, annotated by Douglas A. Anderson, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1988 ISBN 0-395-47690-9, p 292-293, Goblins and the Wild Wolves are two armies that make up the "vast host" assembled at Mount Gundabad that fight at the Battle of Five Armies.
  8. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV, (1986), p. 302, "There came afresh a hundred thousand Orcs..."; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. V, (1987), p. 137, "a hundred thousand Orcs". As the final reserve, and one of three, or possibly four, battle formations sent from Angband of which the one released upon Fingon at Angband is called the "main host" in The Silmarillion and J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor,The Children of Húrin, (2007) and is therefore larger than 100,000; whereas the first host is described as not as large, all together add up 300,000+. This singular hard number, as well as the 10,000 for the army of Gondolin, part of the host of Fingon which is later surrounded by forces "thrice greater", provide a textual basis for estimating strengths.
  9. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339, Loback, T. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, p.14-15 gives various field army strengths as high as 650,000 in F.A.456.
  10. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (1966, 2nd Edition), p. 167, "a great host...the host of Mordor... up marched an army of Easterlings...forces ten times and more than ten times their match...", more than the six thousands that the Captains of the West lead, or some sixty thousand and more.
  11. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Children of Húrin, (2007), p.57, "Gothmog, high-captain of Angband was come...
  12. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. II, (1984), p.184, "Gothmog the marshal of the hosts,".
  13. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339,Loback, T.. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, pp.10–16, Article contains a detailed analysis, both evidentiary and linguistically for the breakdown of military organization of the Orcs, absolute numbers and estimates. Additionally comparisons and ratios, based on the published materials and statements by Tolkien are discussed and detailed conclusions for estimates are reached that correspond to the numbers stated here.
  14. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII, (1996), p. 278,"...before the Gate of Moria ten thousand Orcs were slain."and from J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings Appendix A, (2nd edition 1966), p. 356, "...all his host (Azog's) in the valley was in rout..." 10,000 dead and the balance fleeing.
  15. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), p. 17,"...the host of Melkor, orcs and werewolves..."
  16. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. III, (1985), p. 281.The Lay of Leithian speaks directly of Balrog captains leading Orcs: "the Orcs went forth to rape and war, and Balrog captains marched before".
  17. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV, (1986), p.113,"...Boldog captain of the Orcs", "A captain dire, Boldog...Boldog's host...".
  18. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.116, "...(Morgoth) sent forth an army...the Orcs were not in great number..."
  19. ^ David P. Henige, Numbers from nowhere : the American Indian contact population debate, University of Oklahoma Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8061-3044-X, p.288, "... that armies ... are ... from 20,000 to 30,000 Orcs in size: and that "hosts" represent two armies."
  20. ^ Legion is a military term Tolkien only uses in references to Orc formations. It may indicate only an organizational variation or, more significantly a differentiating order of strength over the forces of Men and Elves. The Silmarillion, p.157, "Beleg took an Orc-legion at unawares...". History of Middle-earth, Vol. V, p.328, "The uncounted legions of the Orcs...". History of Middle-earth, Vol. III, p. 96, "the cruel Glamhoth's countless legions,"; p. 161, "...the legions of his marshalled hate,"
  21. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339, Loback, T. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, p.13 explains how legion is a smaller formation than army.
  22. ^ Mythlore, Number 62, Volume 16, No.4, ISSN: 0146-9339, Loback, T. Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions, A Demographic Study, 1990, p.12 gives legion as 10,000 to15,000.
  23. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (1966, 2nd Edition), p.168, "...a great company of hill trolls...the great troll-chief...".
  24. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p. 263, "the Orc-chiefs", "this small detachment...", p.272: "even to ten times" outnumbered the 200 men (p.271) of Isildur's Guard, or about 2,000 Orcs.
  25. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. III, (1985), p.99 "...a high lordship as Bauglir's champion, chief of Balrogs,"
  26. ^ The Return of the King, (1966, 2nd Edition), p.168, "...a great company of hill trolls...the great troll-chief...".
  27. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. VII, (1989), p.229, "...a strong company of orcs. ...three against a hundred..."
  28. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. III, (1985), p.40, "to an army of war was the Orc-band waxen...by the welded hosts...as the bands...".
  29. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. III, (1985), Lay of Leithian, p.225, "a band of Orcs...full thirty Orcs..."; The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, p.54, "the Isengarders: a grim dark band, four score at least..."
  30. ^ The "great host of Elves and Men" in The Silmarillion, p.293 is made up of two or more 'hosts': Oropher's and that of Gil-galad and Elendil. Also, History of Middle-earth, Vol. V, p. 328, describing Eönwë and the Host of the Valar at the end of the First Age: "march of the host...in his armies..." again indicates that a host is made up of two or more armies.
  31. ^ Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, Loback, T..The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age, 1987; Mythlore ISSN:0146-9339, gives overall total population of Elves at various periods with proportional breakdowns for particular groups.
  32. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary - "Herald -c.1276 (in Anglo-Latin), "messenger, envoy," from Anglo-Fr. heraud, from O.Fr. heraut, hiraut, perhaps from Frank. *hariwald "commander of an army," from P.Gmc. *kharjaz "army" (from PIE root *koro- "war") + *wald- "to command, rule (see wield)." If so, this may be the sense of the use for both Eönwë, as Herald of Manwë and commander of the Host of the Valar, and possibly also Elrond as Herald of Gil-galad. Similarly, the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: "HERALD (0. Fr. heraut, herault; the origin is uncertain, but O.H.G. heren, to call, or hariwald, leader of an army, have been proposed".
  33. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV, (1986), p. 149 "Fionwë...was captain of the host."
  34. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. II, (1984), p.278, "Encampment in Land of Willows of first host." This phrase, from the early sketches of the mythology shows the remarkable consistency with which these terms are used through the course of fifty years of Tolkien's literary development and over the three ages of Middle-earth.
  35. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd Edition 1966), p.355, "the Dwarf-host in pursuit came to Azanulbizar", as a host it contains the various armies of Dwarves from the Seven Kindreds.
  36. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.258, Oropher raises a 'host' consisting of his "great army" and the "lesser army of Malgalad" as a part of the 'great host' of the Alliance, this indicates that a 'host' is made up of two or more armies.
  37. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, (1987), p.308, "...standard of Fingon, and to it were gathered the armies of Hithlum, both Gnomes and Men."
  38. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor,The Silmarillion, (1977),p.190, "Turgon...was come with an army ten thousand strong..."
  39. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol.VIII, (1990), p.249 "...somewhat short of ten thousand but in that count I reckon only men well-horsed, fully armed...As many again there are on foot..." or 20,000 in the Army of Rohan in the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age. The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, p. 158, describing the army setting forth: "that we should ride with seven thousands, scarce as many as the vanguard in the days of its power..."; armies have three parts: a vanguard, a main body and a rear guard, if all are the same size that gives an estimate of over 20,000.
  40. ^ David P. Henige, Numbers from nowhere : the American Indian contact population debate, University of Oklahoma Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8061-3044-X, p.287, "...the entire field army of Gondolin at the time of its fall must have been around 24,000 to 30,000."
  41. ^ Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, Loback, T..The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age, 1987; ISSN:0146-9339, p.36.
  42. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 265, "I am Faramir, Captain of Gondor,"
  43. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), p.166, "...and [struck out at once: a great company] of Nargothrond;". This deletion is an example of the precision of these terms for Tolkien as it shows him still vacillating over a seemingly relatively unimportant total (company, or great company, or vague small amount) of the Elves from Nargothrond at the Fifth Battle.
  44. ^ J.R.R.Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. VIII, (1990), The War of the Ring, p. 415-416, "... and last the great companies of Minas Tirith led by Imrahil.", in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), pp.158-159, Amroth commands 3,500 including the Tower of the Guard of which Beregond is a member and possibly leader of the 3rd Company, indicating this great company is made up of at least 3 companies.
  45. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, p.130, "...Hádor...with his great companies of men." In The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII, p. 307, these same 'great companies of men' are described as each as great as the "two thousand full-grown men" of the Folk of Bëor. The Silmarillion, p.143,"...they were a tall and warlike folk, marching in ordered companies...".
  46. ^ Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, Loback, T..The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age, 1987; Mythlore ISSN:0146-9339, a detailed study of the numbers of Elves.
  47. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, (1987), p.308, "of the Green Elves of Ossiriand many companies..."
  48. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary - "c.1325, from O.Fr. chevetain, from L.L. capitaneus "commander," from L. capitis, gen. of caput "head" (see head). According to "Rob Roy" (1818) a Highland chieftain was the head of a branch of a clan, a chief was the head of the whole clan." J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.II, (1984), p. 38, " Mablung the heavy-handed, chief of the king's thanes". In Lord of the Rings, after the fall of Arthedain and the death of the last king, Arvedui, his son takes the title chieftain of the Dúnedain instead of King.
  49. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.III, (1985), p.311, "Beleg is the chief of his scouts..."
  50. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (1966, 2nd Edition), p.158, "...another company of five hundred horse...".
  51. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, (1987), p. 134, "...made alliance with the Men and with their chieftains Bor and Ulfand."; p. 287, "...the greatest of their chieftains, Bór and Ulfang."
  52. ^ Jackson's literal interpretation of the Eye of Sauron as Sauron's physical form is not found in Tolkien's text. The close proximity of Mount Doom and Barad-dûr is also non-canonical.
  53. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol. V, (1987), p. 328, "march of the host...in his armies..."indicates that the host is made up of two or more armies.
  54. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.293
  55. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. II, p. 278
  56. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Council of Elrond", p.256, ISBN 0-395-08254-4 , "I remember well the splendour of their banners ... It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair, as when Thangorodrim was broken...". Also: J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p. 293, "...none greater has been mustered since the host of the Valar went against Thangorodrim."
  57. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, p.381 and p.412.
  58. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.84, p.88
  59. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, p. 25: "... though the Sindar were not numerous they much outnumbered the hosts of Fëanor and Fingolfin ..."
  60. ^ Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, Loback, T..The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age, 1987; Mythlore ISSN:0146-9339, p.38, gives the Sindar, at least, 20% more than the Noldor.
  61. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV, p.154, "the captain of their host was Fionwë son of Manwë. Beneath his banner his white banner marched also the host of the Quendi, the Light-elves, the folk of Ingwë..." i.e: the Vanyar. Also, Vol. V p.326; The Silmarillion, p.251, "... marched the Vanyar...". Mythlore, Number 51, Volume 14, No.1, The Kindreds, Houses and Population of the Elves During the First Age, 1987; ISSN:0146-9339, p. 37, chart shows a ratio of: 28 to 6, Vanyar to Noldor in Aman, 450 First Age.
  62. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, (1987), Quenta Silmarillion, p.309 and J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, (1994), p. 73, both have similar statements that provide a basis for estimates of size of Morgoth's forces: Fingon's Host in the Fifth Battle annihilates Morgoth's first force in the west and the loss for that force is stated to be a "... greatest slaughter of Orcs was then made ... ". Taking this as accurate at face value and comparing it to Morgoth's losses in the Third Battle where he loses two hosts gives the vanguard force at the 5th greater than two hosts and this force is smaller than the "main force" which is eventually followed by the last strength of Angband put at another 100,000 Orcs.
  63. ^ This estimate represents the descriptions of this host as the greatest host of Elves, or Elves and Men in Middle-earth. There is a description of the host of Númenor led by Ar-Pharazôn against Sauron that states the Host of Númenor was the greatest of host ever to march in Middle-earth which presumably includes those of Sauron and Morgoth. And his invasion of Aman, "greatest armament that the world had seen".
  64. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p.252
  65. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV, p.160
  66. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary,myriad - 1555, from M.Fr. myriade, from L.L. myrias (gen. myriadis) "ten thousand," from Gk. myrias (gen. myriados) "ten thousand," from myrios "innumerable, countless," of unknown origin. Specific use is usually in translations from Gk. or Latin.
  67. ^ prior to the War of Wrath, the largest force fielded by Morgoth is in the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Fifth Battle, that force can be estimated at least 300,000 from the texts and using the system outlined above, it is possible that an estimate for that force could be 500,000, or somewhat more.
  68. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. V, p.137, "...and a thousand Balrogs...".
  69. ^ Morgoth's Ring, Section 2 (AAm*), p.75, "... a host of Balrogs ..."; p. 79, "... Balrogs were still ... when the Lord of the Rings had been completed...in very large numbers..."; p.80, margin note 50: "In the margin my father wrote: 'There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed.'" While the margin note is an interesting aspect of Tolkien's methodology of writing, as a margin note it is not definitive nor it does not change what is said in the canonical works Fall of Gondolin and Lost Road about the War of Wrath. The idea of large numbers of Balrogs lasted into post-LoTR publication writings C.T. dates text to 1958 and the margin note was ultimately never incorporated into any text.
  70. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol.V, p.329
  71. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI, p. 60,"... hosts of Men out of the further East were journeying towards Beleriand..."; p.70, "... summoned yet more ... out of the East." These statements of the initial waves of the Easterling men are indicative of a vast migration.
  72. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p. 293, "Therefore they made that League which is called the Last Alliance...gathering a great host of Elves and Men..."
  73. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth Vol. V, (1987), Fall of Númenor, p.29, "...he (Elendil) made league with Gil-galad...And their armies were joined...the host of Beleriand..."
  74. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The Silmarillion, (1977), p. 293, describes this force as a 'great host' before it reaches Imladris, Rivendell, or crosses the mountains to join with the other forces in the east, indicating it is composed of more than two armies. Also, it is here described superlatively so: "none greater has been mustered..." since the War of Wrath.
  75. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition 1966). Appendix B, p.365.
  76. ^ It is told that few Dwarves fought in the war upon either side, but that Durin's Folk fought on the side of the Alliance. The Silmarillion, in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
  77. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.258, Oropher raises a "host" consisting of his "great army" and the "lesser army of Malgalad" as a part of the 'great host' of the Alliance.
  78. ^ Unfinished Tales, p.258, "...the host of Silvan Elves..."
  79. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.252,"...the Elves of Harlindon...largely of Sindarin origin..." this would account for the additional army making it a great host
  80. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), pp.43-44
  81. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966) p. 94
  82. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966) p.76 & p.106: "You have a score of scores counted ten times and five.". K.W.Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981, ISBN 0-395-28665-4 p.151
  83. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966), p. 167.
  84. ^ K.W.Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981, ISBN 0-395-28665-4 p.151, Fonstad gives an estimate of 45,000 for the Morgul-host, shown to be a very low estimate in Mythlore 'Orc Hosts, Armies and Legions', p. 15.
  85. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966) p.315
  86. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966) p.121
  87. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p.90.
  88. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 159; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth, Vol.VIII, (1990), p. 415, " The host of Orcs and Easterlings had turned back out of Anórien...".
  89. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 374, "An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anórien.".
  90. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), pp.374–376.
  91. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. VIII, (1990), p.355; p. 361, "crossing of host to the Wold of Rohan..." later destroyed by the Ents,The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, p. 374; The History of Middle-earth, Vol. VIII, p. 361.
  92. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King (2nd edition, 1966) p. 123
  93. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The History of Middle-earth, Vol. VIII, (1990), p.277, as a title this is: Hosts of the Morghul; again indicating more than one host.
  94. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.330.
  95. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 154, "...the first great assault. The next will be greater." Gandalf indicates that the Great Host of the Morannon is larger than the Morgul-host and that the Morannon-host is intended for the assault on Gondor and included in the "more than half his strength" mentioned above.
  96. ^ J.R.R.Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, History of Middle-earth Vol. VIII, The War of the Ring, 1990, p. 263, "..Southron fleets come up the Great River and send a host into Lebennin..."; p.420, "...the fleets of Umbar, fifty great ships and many smaller vessels beyond count."
  97. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 171
  98. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, (2nd edition, 1966), p.175; also J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p. 363 states: "... only Gandalf had full knowledge... ".
  99. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p. 366, note 12:
  100. ^ a b J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p. 363
  101. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, The War of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, (1990), p.51.
  102. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.365
  103. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p.366, note 14.
  104. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, (2nd edition, 1966), p.147.
  105. ^ In the east army the Dunland contingent is described by Merry variously as "... whole regiments of men..." (J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor,The War of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, (1990), p.51) and "... battalions of Men ..." (J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 171). Regiments, in military hierarchy, are composed of battalions. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980), p. 357, Tolkien mentions " ...some Dunlending horsemen... ". as well. The horsemen do not seem to be in very great numbers, however there are enough of them with a pack of wolfriders and two battalions of Uruks to defeat well over a thousand riders of Rohan.
  106. ^ Éoherë is explained as Anglo-Saxon with eoh meaning 'horse' and herë meaning 'host, army', p.315, J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor, Unfinished Tales, (1980). It is also explained in this passage that: "... before the attacks of Saruman a Full Muster would probably have produced many more than twelve thousand riders ..."
  107. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor,The War of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, (1990), p.249, Aragorn states there are nearly ten thousand "well horsed, fully armed" men and, "...as many again there are of men on foot or with ponies (etc) ..." or twenty thousand altogether.
  108. ^ K.W.Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981, ISBN 0-395-28665-4 p.132
  109. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 158.
  110. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien editor,War of the Ring, p.415-416.
  111. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 40, Beregond is a member of the 'Third Company of the Citadel', implying at least 2 others and says he is a member of the 'Guard of the Tower of Gondor', later just called the 'Tower of Guard'.
  112. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 159, Beregond leads 'a company' of the Men of the City. The choice of 'a' as opposed to, say, 'the' implies more than one company.
  113. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, (2nd edition, 1966), p. 161, 162. The company of Henneth Annûn is stated to be 200-300 strong, The Two Towers, p. 271. Most of the some 500 archers left to guard the Cross Roads were Rangers of Ithilien, Return of the King, p. 161.

Bibliography[edit]