Nírnaeth Arnoediad (472 Y.S.)Nírnaeth Arnoediad (472 Y.S.) - "The Battle of Unnumbered Tears", the fifth and final battle for the dominion of Beleriand.  Morgoth had been assaulting the Noldor relentlessly, and the Elves were on the verge of defeat.  In a desperate attempt to turn the tide, Maedhros, eldest son of Fëanor, tried to build a coalition of Elves, Dwarves and Men to attack Angband and permanently criple the Dark Lord's ability to wage war.  The coalition was called the Union of Maedhros.  The Dwarves and Men joined, and the children of Fëanor and Fingolfin participarted as well.  But Thingol, because of his age-old emnity toward the House of Fëanor (not to mention the fact that he had a Silmaril that they wanted back), refused to send an army.  And Nargothrond, which belonged to the House of Finarfin, sent only a small contingent led by Gwindor.  However, King Turgon of Gondolin brought forth and Elven army of 10,000 to bolster the force.

 

"At length Maedhros, having gathered all the strength that he could of Elves and Men and Dwarves, resolved to assault Angband from east and west; and he purposed to march with banners displayed in open force over Anfauglith.  But when he had drawn forth, as he hoped, the armies of Morgoth in answer, then Fingon should issue forth from the passes of Hithlum; and thus they thought to take the might of Morgoth as between anvil and hammer, and break it to pieces.

 

"On the appointed day, on the morning of Midsummer, the trumpets of the Eldar greeted the rising of the sun; and in the east was raised the standard of the sons of Fëanor, and in the west the standard of Fingon, High King of the Noldor.  Then Fingon looked out from the walls of Ethel Sirion, and his host was arrayed in the valleys and the woods upon the east of Ered Wethrin, well hid from the eyes of the Enemy; but he knew that it was very great.  For there all the Noldor of Hithlum were assembled, together with Elves of the Falas and Gwindor's company from Nargothrond, and he had great strength of Men: upon the right were the host of Dor-lómin and all the valour of Húrin and Huor his brother, and to them had come Haldir of Brethil with many men of the woods.

 

"Then Fingon looked towards Thangorodrim, and there was a dark cloud about it, and a black smoke went up; and he knew that the wrath of Morgoth was aroused, and that challenge was accepted." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

Nírnaeth Arnoediad (472 Y.S.)The Noldor thought everything was going to plan, but what they didn't realize is that Morgoth grew wise to their plan through his spies, and sought to disrupt it.

 

"The Captain of Morgoth in the west had been commanded to draw out Fingon swiftly from the hills by whatever means he could.  He marched on therefore until the front of the battle was drawn up before the stream of Sirion, from the walls of the fortress of Ethel Sirion to the inflowing of Rivil at the Fen of Serech; and the outposts of Fingon could see the eyes of their enemies...Then the Captain of Morgoth sent out riders with tokens of parley, and they rode up before the outworks of the Barad Eithel.  With them they brought Gelmir son of Guilin, that lord of Nargothrond whom they had captured in the Bragollach; and they had blinded him.  Then the heralds of Angband showed him forth, crying: 'We have many more such at home, but you must make haste if you would find them, for we shall deal with them all when we return even so.'  And they hewed off his hands and feet, and his head last, within sight of the Elves, and left him.

 

"By ill chance, at that place in the outworks stood Gwindor of Nargothrond, the brother of Gelmir.  Now his wrath was kindled to madness, and he lept forth on horseback, and many riders with him; and they pursued the heralds and slew them, and drove on deep into the main host.  And seeing this all the host of Noldor was set on fire, and Fingon put on his white helm and sounded his trumpets, and all the host of Hithlum leapt forth from the hills in sudden onslaught." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

In this manner, Morgoth was able to make Fingon's wing attack before the full force of the alliance arrived.  Even so, the ferocity of the charge caught the Enemy off-guard.

 

Nírnaeth Arnoediad (472 Y.S.)"Before the army he sent westward could be strengthened it was swept away, and the banners of Fingon passed over Anfauglith and were raised before the walls of Angband.  Ever in the forefront of that battle went Gwindor and the Elves of Nargothrond, and even now they could not be restrained; and they burst through the Gate and slew the guards upon the very stairs of Angband, and Morgoth trembled upon his deep throne, hearing them beat upon his doors.  But they were trapped there, and all were slain save Gwindor only, whom they took alive; for Fingon could not come to their aid.  By many secret doors in Thangorodrim Morgoth had let issue forth his main host that he held in waiting, and Fingon was beaten back with great loss from the walls." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

For four days the battle raged, but the alliance could advance no further and at last had to withdraw.  The retreat turned into a route for Morgoth.  His army pursued and slew many, including Haldiir, lord of the Haladin, along with most of the Men of Brethil.

 

"But on the fifth day as night fell, and they were still far from Ered Wethrin, the Orcs surrounded the host of Hithlum, and they fought until day, pressed ever closer.  In the morning came hope, when the horns of Turgon were heard as he marched up with the main host of Gondolin, for they had been stationed southward guarding the Pass of Sirion, and Turgon restrained most of his people from the rash onslaught.  Now he hastened to the aid of his brother..." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

They were able to meet up and push back the enemy.  And then suddenly, hope for victory was renewed when the third Elven host arrived.

 

"...the trumpets of Maedhros were heard at last coming up from the east, and the banners of the sons of Fëanor assailed the enemy in the rear.  Some have said that even then the Eldar might have won the day, had all their host proved faithful, for the Orcs wavered, and their onslaught was stayed, and already some were turning to flight." ~The Silmarillionchap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

But unbeknownst to the alliance, Morgoth was holding his greatest force in reserve.

 

Nírnaeth Arnoediad (472 Y.S.)"But even as Maedhros came upon the Orcs, Morgoth loosed his last strength, and Angband was emptied.  There came wolves, and wolfriders, and there came Balrogs and dragons, and Glaurung father of dragons.  The strength and terror of the Great Worm were now great indeed, and the Elves and Men withered before him, and he came between the hosts of Maedhros and Fingon and swept them apart." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

Even with this new enemy on the battlefield, defeat of the alliance was not yet assured.  There was one race which stood firm against the dragons.

 

"Last of all the eastern force to stand firm were the Dwarves of Belegost, and thus they won renown.  For the Naugrim withstood fire more hardily than either Elves or Men, and it was their custom moreover to wear great masks in battle hideous to look upon, and those stood them in good stead against the dragons.  And but for them, Glaurung and his brood would have withered all that was left of the Noldor.  But the Naugrim made a circle about him when he assailed them, and even his mighty armour was not full proof against the blows of their great axes, and when in his rage Glaurung turned and struck down Azaghâl, Lord of Belegost, and crawled over him, with his last stroke Azaghâl drove a knife into his belly, and so wounded him that he fled the field, and the beasts of Angband in dismay followed him.  Then the Dwarves raised up the body of Azaghâl and bore it away; and with slow steps they walked behind singing a dirge in deep voices, as if it were a funeral pomp in their country, and gave no heed more to their foes; and none dared to stay them." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

Meanwhile, back in the Elven camp, another drama was playing out between the High King of the Noldor and the killer of a former High King of the Noldor.

 

"Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs, high-captain of Angband, was come; and he drove a dark wedge between the Elvenhosts, surrounding King Fingon, and thrusting Turgon and Húrin aside toward the Fen of Serech.  Then he turned upon Fingon.  That was a grim meeting.  At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a throng of fire about him.  Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven.  Thus fell the High King of the Noldor..." ~The Silmarillion, chap. 20 (Of the Fifth Battle)

 

And thus the battle was ended in victory for Morgoth.  The final insult came when Húrin was taken alive and dragged back to Angband by Gothmog.  There Morgoth kept him imprisoned for 28 years.