The Battle of Dale was a battle fought between the Kingdom of Dale allied with the Dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills, against the Easterlings of Rhûn in the valley of Dale during the War of the Ring in the late Third Age, and was the decisive battle in the Northern Theater of the War of the Ring. The Easterlings were initially very successful, driving the Dwarves and Men of Dale back and besieging them for several days, but were later routed.
While his southern armies menaced Gondor, Sauron sent a large contingent of his Easterling allies to assault Dale to prevent his enemies from joining forces, and they crossed the River Carnen while Minas Tirith was being besieged. The combined forces of the Men of Dale under King Brand and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain (and the Dwarves of the Iron Hills) under King Dáin II Ironfoot met the Easterlings in battle on March 17, 3019. Though Sauron's forces were probably more numerous, it is likely that the Dwarves and Men of Dale were better equipped, thanks to the Lonely Mountain's armouries. Nonetheless, after three days of heavy fighting, the Easterlings forced them to retreat to the Lonely Mountain, where they were besieged. King Brand and King Dáin II Ironfoot both fell fighting before the gates.
Despite winning the battle, the Easterlings were unable to capture the gate, instead besieging the Mountain for many days. It was not until news of Sauron's defeat arrived from the South that the tides changed. Seeing the morale of their foes being sapped, the Armies of Dale and Erebor led by their new Kings — Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm — managed to lift the siege on March 27th, driving the Easterlings out of Dale.
The battle was very important for the future of Middle-earth. Though it could not change the outcome of the War of the Ring, which was tied to fate of the One Ring, a victory by Sauron's forces would have had devastating consequences for Middle-earth.
Though it is impossible to tell the future, Sauron's Easterling armies would likely have been able to join up with Sauron's forces from Dol Guldur in their attacks on the woodland realm of Mirkwood, potentially tipping the scales in favor of Mordor. The corruption of Mirkwood might have been completed, and Dol Guldur could become an obvious staging point for a future assault on Lothlórien, though a successful invasion of Lothlórien would have been very difficult due to Galadriel and her Ring. Both Rohan and Gondor would also be further threatened by a victory of Sauron in the North, and Eriador and Rivendell too would have been in danger. Gandalf himself commented on the possible consequences of losing the Battle of Dale:
- Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador, night in Rivendell. There might be no Queen in Gondor. We might now hope to return from the victory here only to ruin and ash.
Even without being completely defeated, the Battle of Dale still further reduced the already low numbers of Dwarves and thus helped pave way for the dominion of Men in the Fourth Age.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Battle for Middle-earth II
In Electronic Arts’ The Battle for Middle-earth II, the Battle of Dale is featured as one of the most important battles in both the Good and the Evil Campaigns, though the actual events of the battle were somewhat different. For the Good Campaign, Brand was not seen and the host assaulting Lonely Mountain was directly from Dol Guldur, with plenty of Orcs, Haradrim, and Trolls alongside the Easterlings. Also, the battle involves several Nazgûl and even the Mouth of Sauron, because in the game the battle happens earlier than in the books, during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields instead of the Battle of the Morannon. However, the basic layout of the siege is the same: The Dwarves defend Lonely Mountain in Dale and eventually Elves drive the attackers away, though they do not necessarily need to retreat to Lonely Mountain. One of the most important differences is that Dáin survives the battle.
In the Evil Campaign, the Lonely Mountain sends out multiple Dwarven battalions to attack the Mordor forces, but they ultimately fail. Glóin also leads a band of Dwarves to attack the Mordor base from behind but meet the same fate thanks to the Dragons coming to Mordor's aid. The Mouth of Sauron and the Nazgûl then lead the force into Lonely Mountain and slay King Dáin, taking over Lonely Mountain. The results of this are very similar to the what was mentioned above, leading to an attack on Rivendell and total defeat for the North. The dragon-fire can even be taken literally because of the Dragons aiding Sauron.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Battle of Dale is not directly featured in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, in the Extended Edition of the Return of the King, Legolas tells Gimli that he fears that war is already marching upon their own lands. This was described by Peter Jackson to refer to the Battle of Dale and the attacks on the Woodland Realm.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Даліна бітва|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Битка при Дейл|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||河谷鎮之役|
|Croatian||Bitka kod Dale|
|Czech||Bitva u Dol|
|Danish||Slaget i Dal|
|Dutch||Slag bij Dal|
|French||Bataille de Dale|
|Greek||Η μάχη του Ντέιλ|
|Irish Gaelic||Cath Dale|
|Italian||Bataglia di Dale|
|Latin||Pugna ad Dale|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Битката кај Дејл|
|Norwegian||Slaget ved Dal|
|Polish||Bitwa pod Dale|
|Russian||Битва при Дэйле|
|Spanish||Batalla de Valle|
|Swedish||Slaget vid Dal|