|Battle of Dale|
|Conflict: War of the Ring|
|Date: March 17-20, 3019|
|Place: Began in Dale, ended before the gates of Lonely Mountain (Erebor)|
|Outcome: Costly victory for Dale and Lonely Mountain|
|Dale, Lonely Mountain (Erebor)||Rhûn|
|Brand†, Dáin II Ironfoot†|| Easterling Emperor|
Various Easterling Captains
| 20,000 Men of Dale|| 200,000 Easterlings|
Unknown number of Orcs
| 12,000 Men of Dale
The Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) and the Men of Dale refused to acknowledge the Overlordship and alliance of Sauron. While his southern armies menaced Gondor, he sent an army north to extend his dominion to prevent the armies of his enemies joining together under one banner, which could have proved disastrous for Mordor.
On March 17th of the year 3019 in the Third Age, Sauron sent a large contingent of Easterlings to assault Dale. The campaign in the north began when the Easterlings attacked and overran the settlements on the River Carnen, and isolated the Dwarf kingdoms near there. They then forded the Celduin and proceeded to attack their opposition- the Men of Dale, the Dwarves under the Mountain, and King Thranduil's Mirkwood realm. The combined forces of the Men of Dale under King Brand and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain under King Dáin II Ironfoot marched out to meet the Easterlings in battle. Sauron's forces were probably more numerous, though the army of Dale would have possessed an advantage due to their superior Dwarven-made weaponry. Despite their possible weaponry disadvantage, the Easterlings were nothing to sneer at; their elite shock troops were widely feared by the Rohirrim and Gondorians to the south and had many victories under their belt. After three days of heavy close-quarters fighting, they were forced to retreat to the Lonely Mountain by sheer weight of Easterling numbers, which rolled them back to their starting point.
A few sturdy warriors led by Brand and Dáin II Ironfoot fought bravely before the Gate of Lonely Mountain, which was not taken. In the end, Dáin was killed as he stood defending the body of his ally Brand. Meanwhile, the defenders of the Mountain were able to withstand the siege.
Had the battle continued as it was, the Easterlings undoubtably would have claimed victory. However, to the misfortune of the Easterlings, the forces of Gondor and Rohan defeated the main power of Sauron in the southern theatre on March 25th, causing the northern army to lose heart. Seeing the morale of their foes being sapped by news of victory in the south, the Army of Dale under the new Kings — Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm — managed to lift the siege on March 27th and drove 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 of Sauron's forces would have had devastating consequences in the strategic balance of Middle-earth. Sauron's Easterling armies would have been able to join up with Sauron's forces from Dol Guldur in their attacks on the woodland realm of Mirkwood, tipping the scales in favor of Mordor and fully consolidating Sauron's exposed flank to the north, which were heavily rich in minerals. These would have kept Sauron's war machine going indefinitely as his armies ground away at the foundations of the Free Men. The corruption of Mirkwood would be complete, and Dol Guldur would be an obvious staging point for a future assault on Lothlórien. While the sheer willpower and might of the Elves would've inflicted massive casualties upon the attacking host, the steamroller of the Dark Armies would have destroyed them utterly.
An even greater offensive would be then launched upon the virtually-unguarded lands of Rohan, causing their immediate withdrawal from the Gondor front for the sake of home defense. A swift victory on Rohan would be almost certain, and coupled with the advancing forces from the south; a final, decisive attack on Minas Tirith would accomplish what the Great Siege failed to do. A two-pronged offensive into Eriador would then commence, with forces advancing from the south on one axis and forces scaling the Misty Mountains on the other. Gradually, the vast steamroller of Sauron's armies would overrun Círdan's Lindon realm and force immediate evacuation by sea to Valinor, therefore removing the last threat to Sauron's dominance of Middle-earth. This would have enabled Mordor's armies to invade all of Middle-earth west of the Misty Mountains. Therefore, the Battle of Dale was the last 'twig' that altered the course of the 'flood' of enemy forces at the last possible moment. 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.
The Battle of Dale would have further reduced the already low numbers of Dwarves and paved way for the dominion of Men in the Fourth Age.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
Battle of Dale in Battle for Middle-earth IIEdit
In this PC video game, 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 Dain survives the battle.
In the Evil Campaign, the Lonely Mountain sends out multiple Dwarven battalions to attack the Mordor forces, but they ultimately fail. Gloin 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 Dain, 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.