Dark Men ~ Wainriders of the Far East
“The Wainriders were a people, or a confederacy of many peoples, that came from the East;
but they were stronger and better armed than any that had appeared before. They journeyed in great wains,
and their chieftains fought in chariots.
LOTR: Appendix A
The Wainriders first appeared out of the East in the Third Age of Middle-earth in the 1850s. They journeyed in great wagons and wains, and their chieftains rode chariots into battle. They were known to lodge in fortified camps of wagons, which could be defended against attack. Their young women were also trained in arms, and they, along with old men and youths, stayed behind, able to defend their homes from attackers. These warriors were a dark alliance of Easterlings and Southrons, who stirred by the lies of Sauron made war upon the West.
Over the course of two centuries after the time of the Great Plague, the Wainriders invaded Rhovanion and after securing those lands moved south to Gondor. They proved to be a dire threat to the South Kingdom, which was much weakened at this time. All the lands east of the Great River were taken in the first wave of attacks and Gondor barely held on to the core of it’s kingdom. However, the staunch men of the north revolted under the yoke of their new masters and the King of Gondor seizing his chance rallied his forces and drove into the north once again liberating the lands Rhovanion and pushing the Wainriders back into the far east.
A great battle was fought upon the Dagorlad and many of the Wainriders were slain there, as they were driven back into the lands of the east. Much blood was spilled and the men of the East would never forget.
This victory by Gondor was to be short lived. The Wainriders would not give up so easily, they formed a greater alliance with the Men of Khand and Near Harad. The men of Khand and Harad would attack Gondor from the south, while the Wainriders would renew their attacks from the north, putting Gondor between the hammer and the anvil. This would prove to be the greatest threat Gondor ever faced, and it came close to completely overwhelming and destroying them.
A great force was sent north to meet the threat of the Wainriders. Ondoher King of Gondor led the assault himself, but was slain in battle and their forces scattered and defeated. Simultaneously, another assault upon Gondor came from Khand and Far Harad from the south and Gondor’s fate hung in the balance. However, the great general Eärnil was able to repel the forces from the south and then took his reaming armies into the north to avenge their fallen King. So great was their wrath, that they came upon Rhovanion with great speed catching their enemy at unawares. The Wainriders were attacked as they celebrated their victories, and so were utterly defeated.
So ended the wars of the Wainriders. However, during the time when the lands east of the Anduin were left unguarded, the Nazgûl re-entered Mordor and began preparations for the return of their master. There is little doubt, that this was Sauron’s plan all along, to use the Wainriders to distract and weaken Gondor, so that he could retake his ancient realm.