War of the Ring

Attack on the Woodland RealmSauron's assault on OsgiliathWeathertopBalin's TombDurin's TowerAmon HenFords of IsenAttack of the RohirrimBattle of the HornburgIsengardIthilienBattle of OsgiliathSiege of GondorBattle of the Pelennor FieldsDaleBattles of LórienMirkwoodCirith UngolBlack GateDol GuldurBattle of Bywater

The First Battle of the Fords of Isen was the first battle between Saruman's armies and the Rohirrim. There were two battles at the Fords of Isen. The first battle took place on February 25, 3019. The second was on March 2, 3019.


Théodred, son of King Théoden of Rohan, was alerted by his scouts to the mustering taking place in Isengard. He manned both sides of the ford and went forward leaving three companies of riders to guard the eastern side. Early in the morning, he crossed over to the western side with a force mainly consisting of archers and cavalry. He planned to take the forces of Uruk-hai by surprise.

However, Saruman had tricked the scouts; his army was already marching out to attack the ford. Twenty miles to the north of the ford, Théodred encountered the vanguard of the Uruk-hai and quickly cut through their lines.
Dead Urukhai

A dead Uruk at the Fords

He then charged at the main force, which were prepared for the attack and were stationed behind trenches planted with pikes. Reinforcements came out of Isengard and outflanked the cavalry, nearly surrounding them. Hastily Théodred ordered a retreat, but the Uruk-hai could not be shaken off that easily. Grimbold, who was in command of the Rohirrim rearguard, had to cut down their pursuers many times.

Saruman's eastern force was much smaller but more dangerous. It contained Dunlendings, Warg riders and Uruk-hai. The Rohirrim guard on the eastern side of the ford had been driven into retreat, and their attackers recrossed the ford to attack Théodred on both sides. Théodred and his men had dismounted on a small islet to cover Grimbold's retreat. At the same time Grimbold's force was being attacked from the western side, and as Grimbold looked east, he saw Théodred's force being driven from the islet to a hill. Grimbold and a few men raced toward Théodred's position. Théodred was cutting his way through the Uruk-hai lines. But by the time Grimbold reached him, Théodred had fallen, cut down by a giant Orc. Grimbold slew the Orc and then found himself defending Théodred's body from enemies. He himself would have been cut down had it not been for Elfhelm.

Elfhelm had been leading four companies towards Helm's Deep, when it was reported to him that two Warg riders had been spotted. He rode at full speed to the ford and, seeing the situation, ordered his men to charge. Before long his men held the western side of the ford. They then charged on the islet. From this surprise attack most of the Uruk-hai retreated toward Isengard. When they reached the islet they found Grimbold defending Théodred's body against two huge Orcs. Elfhelm rushed to his aid and felled one enemy while Grimbold slew the other.

When they lifted Théodred's body, they found he was still alive. He lived long enough to say, "Let me lie here -to keep the ford until Éomer comes." The enemy attack ended by nightfall. The Rohirrim had held the ford but suffered heavy losses.[1]

Portrayal in adaptations


The battle as depicted in The Lord of the Rings Online.

In the film only aftermath of the battle is shown in Extended Edition. Éomer arrives at the field of battle and finds Théodred gravely wounded, but still alive. Théodred later dies in Edoras, in a film documentary Peter Jackson said that Gríma Wormtongue secretly was responsible for it.

The battle is depicted fairly accurately in the The Lord of the Rings Online, though visible size of both armies is much smaller due to game engine limitations. Also, it is notable for being one of only two times in the game where a player's character could directly participate in events described by Tolkien.


Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 第一次艾辛河渡口之戰役
Finnish Taistelut Rautkymin kahlaamolla
French Première Bataille des Gués de l'Isen
Georgian პირველი ბრძოლა იზენის ფონთან
German Erste Schlacht an den Furten des Isen
Italian Prima Battaglia dei Guadi dell'Isen
Polish Pierwsza bitwa u brodów na Isenie
Portuguese (Brazil) Primeira Batalha dos Vaus do Isen
Russian Первая битва при Изенских Бродах
Spanish Primera batalla de los vados de Isen


  1. Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, V: "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"
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