Army List Notes: Easterlings

I have used the term 'Easterlings' to cover all those Mannish people living east of the areas covered by the main narratives in Tolkien's works - ie. in 1A, east of Beleriand; in 2A those living within the interior of Middle-earth, and, in 3A, those originating east of Rhovanion.

Peoples therefore included are all those men in 1A other than those serving the Eldar (who are included in the Sindar and Noldor lists), such as the followers of Ulfang (Sil, p189); those unmentioned nations of 2A that were not even distantly related to the Numenoreans and provided them with auxiliary horse-archers (UT, p278), some of which were allied with Sauron at various times; in 3A the Wainriders, the Variags of Khand to the south, the Balchoth, and those un-named Easterlings that attacked Dale further to the north.

Climate is rated Cold since the Easterlings mostly orignated in the east from latitudes similar to Eriador. The climate towards the east seems to have been no warmer than that in the west (TFotR, p495). An exception is made for Khand, a land well to the south, and it is accordingly rated as Warm.

Aggression is rated as 3, since the Easterlings were constantly invading westwards, except for Khand and the 'other nations': these tended to stay at home unless stirred up by the likes of Sauron or Morgoth, in which case they appear as allied contingents to other lists anyway. They are not rated 4, since their invasions progressed slowly (RotK, p403), in decades generally rather than seasons, with occasional counterattacks being launched against them eg, UT p289).

Only 'other nations' are allowed a WW (the sea of Rhun); the likes of the Blachoth and the Wainriders originating further east. As the lands to the east are depicted as flat and steppe-like, H(S) is not an option. Most of these peoples seem to have been quite settled, rather than nomads, hence the allowed Wd, O, V, Rd and BUA terrain options.

Only one sub-general is allowed, as most of these peoples had confederate-like tribal organisations (RotK, p403; Sil, p188) calling councils to discuss great matters (Sil, p173).

First age tribes are allowed no horses, since Men had yet to master the arts of horse riding, and they marched accordingly on foot (Sil, p171). Save for the less-numerous peoples that lived in scattered settlements such as those of Haleth (who are represented in the Sindarin list, there numbers being too few to counts as a separate army), these men seemed to have fought in close order, rather than as light troops, for they marched 'in ordered companies' (Sil, p171), and their spearmen later formed shield-walls (Sil, p182) and are accordingly graded as Bd and Sp rather than Ax. The people of Haleth used defensive palisades against Orcs (Sil, p175), and it is possible other tribes did so; these I used to rate as field defences @ 2 AP, but now that DBM v3.0 allows camp defences to span rivers, they are rated as camp defences @ 1 AP.

Axes are attested being used by men in service with the Elves (UT, p172; Sil, p234). Edain chiefs had house-guards and some horsemen, but they were under the influence of the Noldor (UT, p65). Spearsmen and axemen apart from chieftains and other nobles are graded as (I), since mail and the like are not attested, and would be unlikely for any but the richest (and possibly not for even them) given their lack of technological skills and little contact-time for trade with either Elves or Dwarves. Youths and such acting as skirmishers with bow or javelins are assumed from parallels with historical societies.

Since Lorgan held Dor-Lomin as a fief under Morgoth, Orcs from Angband may be allied with him. Angband allies are described as having great numbers of Orcs, but no Balrogs, trolls and the like (UT, p19).

Post first-age forces had access to horses. As such, wagon-laagers to defend camps are likely for all nations. The Wainriders and Balchoth certainly used wagons for defensive purposes (UT, p290, 296), and they are therefore compulsory for these two nations.

The Wainriders were a 3A-group of peoples that attacked Gondor. Their chieftains fought in chariots (FotR, p520; RotK, p403). These are graded as Kn, since they charged into defenders 'in great weight' rather than skirmished (UT, p292). They are not graded as (F) since long lances are not mentioned, and since these were chieftain's chariots it is quite likely they would have more extra crewmen than just a driver. The number of horses pulling each chariot is unknown, they are therefore graded (O) rather than (S). Other nation's nobles I assume would be Cv if on horseback, rather than Kn, since it is unlikey that charging chariots would still be used by the Wainriders if their neighbours used lancers on horseback, chariots being less efficient.

In addition to their chariots, the Wainriders also used a numerous force of cavalry that could also charge defenders (UT, p292); I have graded these and other nations nobles as Cv (O), rather than Kn, since Cv may charge too (Kn always charge, Cv may charge); while it would be redundant to have two forms of mounted shock warrior; they are also mentioned as having horse archers (FotR, p520) which fit a Cv (O) classification. Some of these are also allowed to be graded as LH (F), since they were 'accustomed to warfare in open lands' (UT, p293), and that may mean steppe-type horse archers; and the Numenoreans must have recruited their auxiliary light horse archers from someone in 2A (UT, p278). The term 'gentry' is not used by Tolkien, but makes the army list organisation easier, and such horsemen are likely to have been provided by men of an equivalent status.

Footmen, like their 1A ancestors, are classified on the whole in close rather than loose order, as befits steppe-peoples. They could still be axemen (FotR, p520; RotK, p143) or swordsmen (FotR, p520); presumably spearmen were still used as well. Archers are included, since not all would have served on horseback, and the quantities of arrows fired might imply their use by footmen as well as horsemen. An arrow was responsible for Minohtar's death at the hands of the Wainriders (UT, p294).

The foot were present in larger numbers than the mounted troops, even in Wainrider armies (UT, p293). The worst of these, the actual riders of the wains (RotK, p403), are classified as Hd (O). They allied with Khand and Hear-Harad at one stage to attack Gondor (UT, p292, RotK, p403), and had access to Rhovanion vassals (UT, p292) some of which eventually rebelled (UT, p290), as had earlier Easterlings (RotK, p398).

The Balchoth were another 3A group, related to the Wainriders (UT, p296). They had few horsemen, which I assume would be represented by just the nobility, and were rudely armed, but present in large numbers, hence the required Hd (O) elements. They were joined by a large number of Orcs (UT, p299, 301) when they crossed the Anduin, for which they built rafts and small boats (RotK, p410).

The Variags of Khand were allied with the Haradrim against the Wainriders (UT, p291), before joining them in alliance (UT, p292). Other nations could be on friendly terms with Dwarves (Sil, p188).

The footmen of the later Easterlings, who fought with axes (RotK, p110) are described as 'war-hardened' (RotK, p146). They are accordingly allowed to be upgraded as (O).

Sauron often directed the movements of these peoples, and lent assistance to them, although not in the west, where his movements would be watched.

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This page last modified 15 January, 2000