Battle of the Fords

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Battle of the Fords
Riders of the Red Fork Lin Bo.png
Riders of the Red Fork by Lin Bo © Fantasy Flight Games
Conflict War of the Five Kings
Date 299 AC
Place Red Fork of the Trident
Result Tully victory
Commanders
Lord Tywin Lannister
Ser Flement Brax
Ser Gregor Clegane
Ser Addam Marbrand
Ser Lyle Crakehall
Lord Leo Lefford
Ser Edmure Tully
Lord Jason Mallister
Lord Karyl Vance
Strength
20,000[1] or near 22,000[2] 11,000
  • 8,000 infantry[2]
  • 3,000 cavalry[2]
Casualties
heavy
Leo Lefford
Robert Brax
Lyle Crakehall (captured)
unknown

The Battle of the Fords[3] is a series of engagements fought between the forces of House Tully and House Lannister during the War of the Five Kings. It takes place on the fords of the Red Fork of the Trident.

Prelude

When Robb Stark, the new King in the North, marches west from Riverrun, he leaves his uncle, Ser Edmure Tully, to hold Riverrun and guard his rear.[2] Edmure commands the rivermen as his father, Lord Hoster Tully, is ill.[4] Robb's northmen and Freys bypass the Golden Tooth using a goat track found by Grey Wind, Robb's direwolf.[5] Near Lannisport Robb surprises the newly-raised host of Stafford Lannister, who neglected to post enough sentries, in the Battle of Oxcross.[6][2] The northmen capture Ashmark and pay the westerlands back in kind for the devastation inflicted on the riverlands.[2][5]

Expecting Stannis Baratheon to be preoccupied for months with the siege of Storm's End, Lord Tywin Lannister risks leaving Harrenhal to stop Robb's raiding of his homeland.[7] In response, Edmure orders Ser Helman Tallhart to leave the Twins and aid Lord Roose Bolton, who is at the crossroads, with recovering Harrenhal. Edmure thinks that once Robb returns from the west, Tywin can be trapped between Riverrun and Harrenhal and then defeated. Edmure's plan is supported by Lords Tytos Blackwood and Jonos Bracken,[8] fierce rivals who usually disagree.[4]

In order to return to the westerlands, Tywin must cross the Red Fork of the Trident. Edmure calls his banners, approximately eight thousand foot and three thousand horse, to prevent Tywin, who has near twice as many, from crossing the river.[2] While returning to Riverrun, Catelyn Stark spots the tents of Lord Blackwood and Ser Marq Piper, as well as Darrys and Paeges.[2] Edmure allows smallfolk to seek refuge in Riverun.[2]

The Battle

Ser Edmure Tully organizes his forces so that every crossing north and south of Riverrun is defended by a strong force. Lord Jason Mallister commands the defense of four fords, including the closest to the castle, while Lord Karyl Vance commands those upstream. The west bank of the Red Fork is higher than the east and wooded, so the defenders use those trees to hide archers and place scorpions as support.[5] Caltrops and iron spikes are spread in the Red Fork.[2] Edmure keeps his best knights as a reserve, to ride where they were needed most.[5] Ser Perwyn Frey and Martyn Rivers lead Freys during the battle,[9] and Ser Desmond Grell commands the remaining garrison of Riverrun.[5] When the castle is informed that Storm's End has fallen to Stannis Baratheon, Maester Vyman sends a raven to Ashemark so that Robb Stark, who is en route to the Crag, can be informed.[5]

Initially Lord Tywin Lannister probes the rivermen's defenses, attempting to find an unguarded ford. House Mallister repels a group from House Brax during daytime and another group of westermen at night.[5] In the morning, a rider informs Catelyn Stark that Ser Flement Brax was defeated six leagues to the south by Mallister archers and scorpions.[5] House Vance also fends off an attack.[5]

Three days later, Tywin attempts to force a crossing in a dozen places, but all are defeated by the rivermen. Lord Leo Lefford drowns,[5] Ser Robert Brax is slain,[3] Ser Lyle Crakehall is taken captive,[10] and Ser Addam Marbrand is forced to retreat three times.[5] The most heated fighting is at Stone Mill, where Edmure faces Ser Gregor Clegane. Although the Mountain's men manage to gain the west bank, they suffer heavy losses. Edmure turns back Gregor's men with his reserve, with the Mountain wounded by a dozen arrows. Unable to cross the Red Fork, Tywin is forced to retreat. The westermen army is last seen marching south-east.[5]

Aftermath

Riverrun simultaneously celebrates Ser Edmure Tully's victory in the Battle of the Fords and Robb Stark's storming of the Crag.[11] The King in the North is wounded at the Crag, however, and treated by Jeyne Westerling. After being told that his brothers, Bran and Rickon, have been killed, Robb sleeps with Jeyne and then weds her to preserve her honor.[12] Since Robb has broken his betrothal to a daughter of Lord Walder Frey, the Freys at the Crag and Riverrun angrily depart.[9][12] The Freys at Harrenhal are also outraged.[13]

After Robb returns to Riverrun, he and Ser Brynden Tully criticize Edmure for having confronted Tywin. They explain that Brynden's scouts had found an advantageous position on the Goldroad. Robb had hoped to draw Tywin into the westerlands and then either defeat Tywin on the Goldroad or lead the westermen on a chase along the Sunset Sea's coast. Robb explains Stannis Baratheon would have been able to conquer King's Landing.[12] Edmure's defense of the fords delayed Tywin long enough for riders from Bitterbridge to inform him of happenings in the east, however. With Lord Petyr Baelish having negotiated an alliance between House Tyrell and House Baratheon of King's Landing,[14][15] Tywin turned back east, rendezvousing with Lords Mace Tyrell, Mathis Rowan, and Randyll Tarly. The combined army then defeated Stannis in the Battle of the Blackwater.[16]

To make amends, Edmure offers to lead Robb's van in the next battle.[12] After the passing of Lord Hoster Tully, Edmure, now Lord of Riverrun, is convinced by Robb, Brynden, and Catelyn that he should wed one of Walder's daughters, so that the Freys will again support Robb.[17]

Quotes

Edmure: Tell Father I have gone to make him proud.

Catelyn: He was always proud of you, Edmure. And he loves you fiercely. Believe that.
Edmure: I mean to give him better reason than mere birth.[5]

- Edmure Tully and Catelyn Stark


That was the brush of Lord Tywin's fingertip, my lady. He is probing, feeling for a weak point, an undefended crossing. If he does not find one, he will curl all his fingers into a fist and try and make one. That's what I'd do. Were I him.[5]

- Brienne of Tarth to Catelyn Stark


They shall not cross, Cat. Lord Tywin is marching to the southeast. A feint perhaps, or full retreat, it matters not. They shall not cross.[5]
- Edmure Tully writing to Catelyn Stark


Brynden: You were commanded to hold Riverrun, Edmure, no more.

Edmure: I held Riverrun, and I bloodied Lord Tywin's nose—
Robb: So you did. But a bloody nose won't win the war, will it?[12]

- Brynden Tully, Edmure Tully, and Robb Stark

References

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