Battle of Unnumbered Tears

Nirnaeth Arnediad

Fourth Battle of Beleriand

First age 472

The battle started in the year of 472, after Beren, Barahir`s son had managed to take a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. Maedhros felt new hope arise, for he saw that Morgoth was not invincible and thus he called a council for the raising of the fortunes of the Eldar. This council were called the Union of Maedhros. For new hope ran through the land, because of the deeds of Beren and Luthien. But the Oath of Fëanor lived and hindered all good, and among the evil were the deeds of Celegorm and Curufin not the least. Small help came from Nargothrond; there the Noldor trusted rather the defence of their hidden stronghold provided by their secrecy and stealth. Orodreth would not go to war by the bidding of any son of Fëanor and only a small company, against the will of Orodreth, and who followed the valiant prince Gwindor, came to the Northern war to march beneath the banner of Fingon.

From Doriath came an even smaller host for Thingol would also lend no aid to any son of Fëanor. This was because the sons of Fëanor were being constrained by their oath, sworn in Valinor, and because Maedhros and his brothers had sent hard and threatening words to Thingol of their claim upon the Silmaril. Thingol was filled with anger of Luthien and the spilled blod of Beren. But Beleg and Mablung asked for leave, for they were unwilling to have any part in the deeds of the Northern War; and Thingol gave leave for them to go as long as they did not serve any son of Fëanor.

But Maedhros had the help of the Dwarves, in armed force they came to the aid and great stores of weapons they also supplied. He gathered all his men and those who would follow. The Swarthy men of the East, commanded by Bór and Ulfang, were marshaled and trained for war and given fair arms, and they summoned yet more of their kinsfolk out of the East to join the host. In the West, Fingon prepared for war by taking counsel with Himring. The people of Brethil whetted their axes and had as their leader Haldir. From the Falas came many of Cirdan`s Elves and even some of Ossiriand`s could be found in the glorious host of the Union of Maedhros. To the hidden realm Gondolin tidings of war also reached the ear of Turgon, and also in secret he prepared for great battle.

At midsummer F.A.472 the battle was fought upon the sands of Anfauglith. In the West stood Fingon, High-King of the Noldor together with Huor and Hurin. With them were their Men and the Elves from Hithlum; and to the joy and wonder of all there was a sounding of great trumpets and there marched up to war a host unlooked for. The army of Turgon issued forth from Gondolin, ten thousand strong, with bright mail and long swords and they stationed Southwards guarding the Passes of Sirion. In the East stood Maedhros and his brothers with the main host of the Noldor, save Gondolin, the Swarthy men and the Dwarves. It was resolved that Maedhros should march with banners from the East openly, and when he had drawn forth the host of Morgoth, a signal was given to Fingon. A great fire was lit upon a hill in Dorthonion. Upon seeing the signal, Fingon should issue in full strength from the hills of Ered Wethrin and take the might of Morgoth as between an anvil and a hammer. But since Morgoth knew much of this from his treacherous servants among the Swarthy men and trusted them to hold back Maedhros, he chose his hour to attack. He sent a seemingly great force towards Hithlum, and hot of heart Fingon wished to assail them. Hurin, however, spoke against this, bidding him await the signal from Maedhros, and rather let the Orcs break themselves in their attack against his fortresses and strength of arms arrayed in the hills. But the captain of Morgoth in the West had been commanded to swiftly draw forth Fingon into open battle by whatsoever means he could, and when he had reached the inflowing of Rivil into Sirion, he halted and sent forth riders. These rode up close to the lines of Fingon, and with the riders was Gelmir son of Guilin and brother to Gwindor and they shoved him forth and hewed off his hands, feet and at last his head. By ill chance across, the water stood Gwindor and his wrath was kindled to flame and he could not longer be restrained. The warriors of Nargothrond sprang over the stream and slew the riders and then drove on against the main host. At seeing this, all the host of the West was set on fire and Fingon sounded his trumpets and his army leaped forth in a sudden onslaught of the army of Morgoth. Many of the host of Gondolin also joined in the battle before Turgon could restrain them.

The light of the drawing of the swords of the Noldor was like fire in a field of reeds, and so fell was the their onset that the designs of Morgoth almost went astray. Before his army, which had been sent West, could be strengthened, it was swept away; it was hewn down as it stood and the greatest slaughter ever of the Orcs took place. Thus the banners of Fingon passed over the dust of the plains of Anfauglith and were raised before the walls of Angband. Gwindor, the brother of Gelmir, was in the forefront of that battle and they came with such strength that the host from Nargothrond burst through the outer gates and slew the Orcs upon the stairs of Angband. In the end, however, the Elves were all slain here, no help had come to their aid. They had moved with such haste and surprise that none could follow. Morgoth had let his main force come forth through secret doors, and Fingon and his Elves were driven back from the walls of Angband and retreated over the desert of sand with great loss. Haldir and most of the Men from Brethil were slain defending the rearguard, and as night fell they were still far from Ered Wethrin. The Orcs surrounded the army of Fingon and though he and his forces were pressed ever harder, they fought until day. But with the rising of the Sun came hope, for the horns of Turgon were heard, heralding the approach of the rescuing host. Turgon and the Noldor of Gondolin were strongly clad in mail and they broke through the ranks of the Orcs, hewing their way to the side of Fingon. And it is said that the meeting of Turgon with Hurin, who stood by his King, was a glad one in the midst of the battle.

And now came Maedhros from the East and the sons of Fëanor assailed the enemy in the rear. The Orcs wavered and already some were turning to flight. Morgoth loosened his last strength and emptied Angband by sending his last troops into battle - Glaurung and his brood and Balrogs and wolves - but even if all had proven faithful, Morgoth could not have won. But in that hour the plots and treachery of Ulfang and his sons were revealed, for many of the Easterlings turned and fled, their hearts having been filled with lies and fear. Ulfang and his sons went over to Morgoth and fell upon the rear flank of Maedhros; and Maedhros was driven Eastward and back from the battle and his army suffered greatly. But the Easterlings reaped not the reward that Morgoth had promised, for in the confusion that Ulfang and his sons had wrought, they came near the Standard of Maedhros. Here, Maglor slew Uldor, and Bór with his sons slew Ulfast and Ulwarth before they themselves were slain. The host of Maedhros was now being assailed from three sides; by the Orcs and beasts and a new strength of evil men that Uldor had summoned and kept hidden in the Eastern hill. As a result his army was dispersed and fled this way and that. Yet fate saved the sons of Fëanor. Though all were wounded, none were slain, for they drew together and gathered round them the remnant of the Noldor and Dwarf armies. They hewed a way out of the battle and escaped towards Mount Dolmed. Last of all the Eastern forces to stand was that of the Longbeards of Belegost. The Dwarves withstood fire more hardly than Men and Elves, and the Dwarves were wearing great masks, which stood them in good stead against the Dragons. If not for the Dwarves, the Noldor would all have been slain. But the Dwarves made a circle around Glaurung, and he could not withstand the blows of their great axes, nor even the armor of Glaurung could fully withstand such an onslaugt. Glaurung in his rage turned and crawled over Azaghâl, but with his last stroke, Azaghâl drove his knife into the belly of Glaurung and so wounded him that he fled the field. His brood in dismay followed him back to Angband. But the hill of Himring was taken, though all of the sons of Fëanor survived.

In the west Fingon was surrounded by a tide of foes thrice greater than all that was left to him. The balrogs drove in between Hurin, Turgon and Fingon, and they were sundered from eachother. There, Gothmog, high-captain of Balrogs, turned against Fingon and what a grim meeting that was. At last, Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him, but he fought with Gothmog until another Balrog came behind him and cast a thong of fire about him. At last fell Fingon, High-King of the Noldor, by the black axe of the Balrog Gothmog, and flame sprang from his helm when it was cloven. He was overborne by the Balrogs and beaten to the earth and his blue and silver banner broken and colored with his blood.

The day was lost, but still Hurin and Huor with the great men from Hithlum stood firm. Yet the Orcs could not win the passes of Sirion. The last stand of Hurin and Huor is the most renowned deed in the war between the Eldar and Morgoth. One that the fathers of Men wrought on their behalf, and so was the treachery of Uldor redressed. For Hurin spoke to Turgon saying "Go now, Lord, while time still is! For last are you of the House of Fingolfin, and in you lives the last hope of the Noldor. While Gondolin stands, strong and guarded, Morgoth shall still know fear in his heart." And Turgon answered "Yet not long now can Gondolin be hidden, and being discovered it must fall." "Yet if it stands but a little while" said Huor " then out of your House shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you Lord with the eyes of death; though we part for ever, and I shall never look on your white walls, from you and me shall a new star arise."

Then Turgon accepted the valiant words and withdrew with all the Noldor of Gondolin and such of Fingon`s hosts could be gathered. As he went back down Sirion, Glorfindel and Ecthelion, his captains, guarded his flanks and he vanished into the hills. But Hurin and Huor held the passes of Sirion and drew the men of Hithlum about them. Slowly they withdrew until they came behind the Fen of Serech and had the young stream before them. Then they gave way no more. The host of Morgoth swarmed against them, and they bridged the stream with the dead and encircled the remnant of Hithlum as a gathering tide about a rock

Huor fell fighting by a venomous arrow in the eye, and all the valiant men of Hithlum were slain about him in a heap. Galdor and Gundor, sons of Hador, died in this renowned fight. The Orcs hewed the heads of the men and piled them as a mound of gold; and the Sun was shining on their yellow locks amid the blood. Last of all stood Hurin, alone, and he cast aside his shield and wielded his two-handed axe. In the last stand, it is sung he slew a hundred of the Orcs. But they took him alive at last, for the Orcs grappled him with their hands, which clung to him though he hewed off their arms. However, ever their numbers were renewed, until at last he fell buried beneath them. Then binding him, they dragged him to Angband in mockery.