Battle of the Fords
|Battle of the Fords|
|Conflict||War of the Five Kings|
|Place||Red Fork of the Trident|
The Battle of the Fords 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.
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. Edmure commands the rivermen, as his father, Lord Hoster Tully, is ill. Robb's northmen and Freys bypass the Golden Tooth using a goat track found by Grey Wind, Robb's direwolf. Near Lannisport, Robb surprises the newly-raised host of Stafford Lannister, who neglected to post enough sentries, in the Battle of Oxcross. The northmen capture Ashmark and pay the westerlands back in kind for the devastation inflicted on the riverlands.
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. 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, fierce rivals who usually disagree.
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. While returning to Riverrun, Catelyn Stark spots the tents of Lord Blackwood and Ser Marq Piper, as well as Darrys and Paeges. Edmure allows smallfolk to seek refuge in Riverun.
Ser Edmure Tully organizes his forces so that every river 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. Caltrops and iron spikes are spread in the Red Fork. Edmure keeps his best knights as a reserve, to ride where they were needed most. Ser Perwyn Frey and Martyn Rivers lead Freys during the battle, and Ser Desmond Grell commands the remaining garrison of Riverrun. 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.
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. In the morning, a rider informs Catelyn Stark that Ser Flement Brax was defeated six leagues to the south by Mallister archers and scorpions. House Vance also fends off an attack.
Three days later, Tywin attempts to force a crossing in a dozen places, but all are defeated by the rivermen. Lord Leo Lefford drowns, Ser Robert Brax is slain, Ser Lyle Crakehall is taken captive, and Ser Addam Marbrand is forced to retreat three times. 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.
Riverrun simultaneously celebrates Ser Edmure Tully's victory in the Battle of the Fords and Robb Stark's storming of the Crag. 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, the grieving Robb sleeps with Jeyne, and then marries her to preserve her honor. Since Robb has broken his betrothal to a daughter of Lord Walder Frey, the Freys at the Crag and Riverrun angrily depart. The Freys at Harrenhal are also outraged.
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. 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, 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.
To make amends, Edmure offers to lead Robb's van in the next battle. 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.
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.
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.
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?
- Houses Hamell, Moreland, Turnberry & Yarwyck are not directly mentioned at this battle. However the banners of these houses are present during the escorting of the corpse of Tywin Lannister back to Casterly Rock, which suggests that these houses were loyal to Tywin and were likely to have contributed men to Tywin's host. Therefore the men of these houses were likely present at the Battle of the Fords.
- House Plumm is not directly mentioned at this battle. However in A Storm of Swords the brothers Plumm were sent to find Jaime following his release, which takes before this battle. This suggests that House Plumm is a part of Tywin's host, and therefore took part in battles involving the host, including the Battle of the Fords.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 38, Arya VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 62, Tyrion VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 35, Bran V.
- So Spake Martin: Tyrion and Tywin, July 27, 1999
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35, Catelyn IV.