Battle on the Green Fork
The battle on the Green Fork is an early battle in the War of the Five Kings and is the first to involve forces of House Stark. The battle occurs along the Green Fork of the River Trident in the riverlands.
With the riverlands forces scattered, most of their land under Lannister control, and Riverrun besieged by Ser Jaime Lannister's host, his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, occupies the ruby ford over the Trident. He plans to intercept the Stark host at the only crossing available to them over the Trident, other than the Twins, where Lord Walder Frey remains neutral in the conflict and is thought unlikely to join them.
However, Catelyn Stark persuades the Freys to join her son Robb, opening the way over the Twins. Robb, who does not wish to stake everything on one battle with Tywin, splits his host in two. The foot and one tenth of the horse under Lord Roose Bolton march down the kingsroad east of the Green Fork to engage Tywin, while Robb himself commands the rest of the cavalry and crosses west of the river, in the hope of lifting the siege of Riverrun by taking Jaime unawares.
The Stark army, commanded by Lord Roose Bolton, marches throughout the night in an effort to take the Lannister army by surprise. They arrive in the early morning and launch their attack. Tyrion Lannister observes the banners of Houses Hornwood, Karstark, Cerwyn, Glover, Frey, and Stark.
However, the Lannister army arrays itself in time to meet the northmen. The westermen's order of battle includes:
- The center: Ser Kevan Lannister commands 10,000 men, with Lords Lefford, Lydden and Serrett at his side with 300 heavy horse. The rest of the center is a mixed infantry force including pikemen, archers, axemen, swordsmen, and spearmen.
- The right: Ser Addam Marbrand commands 4,000 knights and other heavy lancers, among them Ser Flement Brax and members of Houses Crakehall and Swyft.
- The left/van: Ser Gregor Clegane commanding. At 1,000 men, the vanguard is entirely mounted, but consists of Tyrion and his clansmen, freeriders, sellswords, and raw fieldhands and smallfolk from Lannisport.
- The reserve: Personally commanded by Lord Tywin Lannister. 5,000 men, half mounted, half afoot.
Tywin places his undisciplined men on the left to tempt the Stark commander, whom Tywin believes is the untested Robb Stark, to overcommit there. Tywin hopes the Lannister van will rout and the Starks will plunge into the gap, eager to flank him. Tywin then intends for Kevan and the center to wheel to the left and take the northerners in the flank.
Perhaps owing to the northerners' exhaustion following their night march, the Lannister van, led by Gregor, defeats the forces arrayed in front of it. Fighting in the van, Tyrion hides beneath his shield when arrows fall on northmen and westermen alike. Kevan then brings up the center in support of the left, and pushes the Stark lines against the hills behind them. Tywin leads his reserve behind the van, along the river, to break the remnants of the Stark line. The Stark forces are routed and flee to the mouth of the causeway where Roose reforms them.
Although Roose Bolton is defeated, his march down the Green Fork, prior to the battle, distracts the Lannister army long enough to give Robb Stark the chance to fall upon Ser Jaime Lannister's force unmolested in the battle in the Whispering Wood.
Roose's host loses several thousand men in the battle. Roose, Robett Glover, Ronnel Stout, Ser Kyle Condon, Ser Aenys Frey, Elmar Frey and the remainder of the army are able to escape because Lord Tywin Lannister, on account of his desire to help Jaime, fails to give chase. During the battle, Lord Halys Hornwood and Ser Pate of the Blue Fork are killed. Lord Medger Cerwyn is captured and dies later at Harrenhal from a wound taken in the fighting. Other captives taken are Harrion Karstark, Ser Wylis Manderly, Ser Donnel Locke, Ser Jared Frey, Ser Hosteen Frey, Ser Danwell Frey, and Ronel Rivers. The deaths of Lord Hornwood at the Green Fork and his son Daryn in the Whispering Wood cause a succession crisis to Hornwood.
Game of Thrones
The Battle of the Green Fork in the "Baelor" episode of the television adaptation Game of Thrones is altered, with Robb Stark sending a diversionary force of two thousand bannermen—instead of the larger host commanded by Roose Bolton (who is absent)—against the much larger Lannister army of 30,000. The battle is not explicitly shown, though it is a complete massacre of the northern army. No Stark leaders or nobles are present in the army either. Later in the same episode, Robb laments his decision to sacrifice two thousand of his men to capture Jaime Lannister at the Whispering Wood.
We fought between a river and a road. When I saw my father's host deploy, I remember thinking how beautiful it was. Like a flower opening its petals to the sun. A crimson rose with iron thorns. And my father, ah, he had never looked so resplendent. He wore crimson armor, with this huge greatcloak made of cloth-of-gold. A pair of golden lions on his shoulders, another on his helm. His stallion was magnificent. His lordship watched the whole battle from atop that horse and never got within a hundred yards of any foe. He never moved, never smiled, never broke a sweat, whilst thousands died below him.
Take the Battle of Green Fork. Had his night march taken Lord Tywin unawares and won the battle, he would have smashed the Lannisters and become the hero of the hour. While if it failed... well, you see what happened. The only way he could lose there would be if were captured or slain himself, and he did his best to minimize the chances of that.
References and Notes
- See the The War of the Five Kings calculations.
- Robb's initial Northern muster consists of 18,000 men (Catelyn VII), with about 1/4 being heavy cavalry (AGOT Bran VI). He is joined by the Freys' 4,000 men, who also have 1/4 of their troops as heavy cavalry (AGOT Catelyn IX). His total force after this therefore consists of 22,000 soldiers (16,500 infantry, 5,500 heavy cavalry). He leaves 400 Frey infantry and 400 Northern infantry at the Twins with a mix of swordsmen/spearmen and archers (AGOT Catelyn IX), and orders a strong garrison of archers to be left at Moat Cailin (Catelyn VII), which Ned earlier stated should be garrisoned with at least 200 archers (Eddard IV). This would leave his army with 21,000 men (15,500 infantry, 5,500 heavy cavalry). Robb then splits his army, leaving all of the infantry and 1/10 of the heavy cavalry under the command of Roose Bolton, and taking the rest of the heavy cavalry under his personal command to the Whispering Wood (AGOT Catelyn IX). This would leave Roose Bolton's host with about 16,000 troops total (15,500 infantry, 500 heavy cavalry).
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 62, Tyrion VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
- The casualties Roose's forces took on the Green Fork can be calculated by going backwards from what he ends with at the Red Wedding. There, he claims to have 3,500 men with him (almost entirely Bolton men) and another 600 guarding a ford, for a total of 4,100 remaining soldiers (ASOS Catelyn VI). In chronological order from after the Green Fork, his host suffered the following major changes to its strength: 400 men Robb originally left at the Twins joined it under Edmure's orders (A Clash of Kings-Chapter 39|ACOK Catelyn V]]). ~1,000 Karstark troops deserted him and took to the countryside following Robb's execution of their lord according to Roose (ASOS Jaime V). The 1,500 Frey soldiers (ACOK Arya X) who were with Roose by the time he took Harrenhal pulled out like the rest of the Frey men due to the Stark-Frey marriage pact being broken. ~3,200 soldiers (1/3 of his remaining infantry at the time) were sent to Duskendale (ASOS Catelyn IV) where they were smashed. Finally, ~2,050 soldiers were left to die at Ruby Ford (ASOS Catelyn VI). This would mean Roose's host underwent a net loss of ~7,300 troops between the aftermath of the Green Fork and the Red Wedding, where he had 4,100 troops left. Therefore, Roose's host had ~11,400 troops soon after the Green Fork, meaning losses in the battle could not have exceeded ~4,600 men; note that this is a high-end figure, as it excludes possible losses Roose's host could have taken in the march back and during various skirmishes and sieges in the Riverlands, much like Tywin's host.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 58, Tyrion VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- The Winds of Winter, Chapter , Tyrion.
- So Spake Martin: Roose Bolton, February 02, 2001