Uglúk ~ Orc Captain of the Uruk-hai
“We are the servants of Saruman the Wise,
the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man’s-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here,
and we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Uglúk. I have spoken.’”
LOTR: TTT B3 C3
Uglúk was one of the Uruk-hai bred in the pits of Orthanc. He was an orc chieftain, who commanded the remaining Uruk-hai sent out of Isengard by Saruman to waylay the company of the Ring along the River Anduin. The company of the Ring was found at Parth Galen along the river’s shore and two halfling were captured in the woods, but many of the orcs were killed by a great warrior out of Gondor. The Uruk-hai had been commanded to take any halflings they found and kill the rest.
It is not certain if Uglúk was in command of the orcs sent out from Isengard, but he was definitely in command once they captured the halflings Merry & Pippin and fled out of the hills down to the grass plains of Rohan. The Uruk-hai came across a band of northern Orcs from Moria and another group of orcs sent out from Mordor and led by Grishnákh, who had been commanded to crossed the river in search of the company.
Uglúk after establishing his command over this new group of orcs, led them northwest across the Eastfold of Rohan toward the eves of Fangorn Forest. There, Uglúk planned to meet up with Mauhúr, another Orc Chieftain sent out by Saruman to look for the company northward under the darkness of Fangorn. However, the orcs were spotted by the Riders of Rohan patrolling the Eastern Wold, who surrounded them before they could make it to the forest.
At dawn the Rohirrim attacked the Orcs who fought and died at the rising of the sun. A phalanx of the Uruk-hai drove toward the forest’s edge in a black wedge led by Uglúk. They nearly made it to the dark border of Fangorn, but Uglúk was overtaken and slain at last by Éomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark, who dismounted and fought him sword to sword.
And so ended the short command of the mighty Uglúk and no news of his end or of the halflings ever came back either to Mordor or Isengard. However, the Riders of Rohan after burying their dead, piled the orcs in a heap making a great burning that was seen by many watchful eyes.
In the Red Book of Westmarch, an account of these events was written….
Aragorn sped on up the hill. Every now and again he bent to the ground. Hobbits go light, and their footprints are not easy even for a Ranger to read, but not far from the top a spring crossed the path, and in the wet earth he saw what he was seeking.
‘I read the signs aright,’ he said to himself. ‘Frodo ran to the hill-top. I wonder what he saw there? But he returned by the same way, and went down the hill again.’
Aragorn hesitated. He desired to go to the high seat himself, hoping to see there something that would guide him in his perplexities; but time was pressing. Suddenly he leaped forward, and ran to the summit, across the great flag-stones, and up the steps. Then sitting in the high seat he looked out. But the sun seemed darkened, and the world dim and remote. He turned from the North back again to North, and saw nothing save the distant hills, unless it were that far away he could see again a great bird like an eagle high in the air, descending slowly in wide circles down towards the earth.
Even as he gazed his quick ears caught sounds in the woodlands below, on the west side of the River. He stiffened. There were cries, and among them, to his horror, he could distinguish the harsh voices of Orcs. Then suddenly with a deep-throated call a great horn blew, and the blasts of it smote the hills and echoed in the hollows, rising in a mighty shout above the roaring of the falls.
‘The horn of Boromir!’ he cried. ‘He is in need!’ He sprang down the steps and away, leaping down the path. ‘Alas! An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss. Where is Sam?’
As he ran the cries came louder, but fainter now and desperately the horn was blowing. Fierce and shrill rose the yells of the Orcs, and suddenly the horn-calls ceased. Aragorn raced down the last slope, but before he could reach the hill’s foot, the sounds died away; and as he turned to the left and ran towards them they retreated, until at last he could hear them no more. Drawing his bright sword and crying Elendil! Elendil! he crashed through the trees.
A mile, maybe, from Parth Galen in a little glade not far from the lake he found Boromir. He was sitting with his back to a great tree, as if he was resting. But Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows; his sword was still in his hand, but it was broken near the hilt; his horn cloven in two was at his side. Many Orcs lay slain, piled all about him and at his feet.
Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. ‘I tried to take the Ring from Frodo ‘ he said. ‘I am sorry. I have paid.’ His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. ‘They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them.’ He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again.
‘Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.’
‘No!’ said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. ‘You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!’
‘Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?’ said Aragorn.
But Boromir did not speak again.
‘Alas!’ said Aragorn. ‘Thus passes the heir of Denethor, Lord of the Tower of Guard! This is a bitter end. Now the Company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf’s trust in me. What shall I do now? Boromir has laid it on me to go to Minas Tirith, and my heart desires it; but where are the Ring and the Bearer? How shall I find them and save the Quest from disaster?’
He knelt for a while, bent with weeping, still clasping Boromir’s hand. So it was that Legolas and Gimli found him. They came from the western slopes of the hill, silently, creeping through the trees as if they were hunting. Gimli had his axe in hand, and Legolas his long knife: all his arrows were spent. When they came into the glade they halted in amazement; and then they stood a moment with heads bowed in grief, for it seemed to them plain what had happened.
‘Alas!’ said Legolas, coming to Aragorn’s side. ‘We have hunted and slain many Orcs in the woods, but we should have been of more use here. We came when we heard the horn-but too late, it seems. I fear you have taken deadly hurt.’
‘Boromir is dead,’ said Aragorn. ‘I am unscathed, for I was not here with him. He fell defending the hobbits, while I was away upon the hill.’
‘The hobbits!’ cried Gimli ‘Where are they then? Where is Frodo?’
‘I do not know,’ answered Aragorn wearily. ‘Before he died Boromir told me that the Orcs had bound them; he did not think that they were dead. I sent him to follow Merry and Pippin; but I did not ask him if Frodo or Sam were with him: not until it was too late. All that I have done today has gone amiss. What is to be done now?’
‘First we must tend the fallen,’ said Legolas. ‘We cannot leave him lying like carrion among these foul Orcs.’
‘But we must be swift,’ said Gimli. ‘He would not wish us to linger. We must follow the Orcs, if there is hope that any of our Company are living prisoners.’
‘But we do not know whether the Ring-bearer is with them or not ‘ said Aragorn. ‘Are we to abandon him? Must we not seek him first? An evil choice is now before us!’
‘Then let us do first what we must do,’ said Legolas. ‘We have not the time or the tools to bury our comrade fitly, or to raise a mound over him. A cairn we might build.’
‘The labour would be hard and long: there are no stones that we could use nearer than the water-side,’ said Gimli.
‘Then let us lay him in a boat with his weapons, and the weapons of his vanquished foes,’ said Aragorn. ‘We will send him to the Falls of Rauros and give him to Anduin. The River of Gondor will take care at least that no evil creature dishonours his bones.’
Quickly they searched the bodies of the Orcs, gathering their swords and cloven helms and shields into a heap. ‘See!’ cried Aragorn. ‘Here we find tokens!’ He picked out from the pile of grim weapons two knives, leaf-bladed, damasked in gold and red; and searching further he found also the sheaths, black, set with small red gems. ‘No orc-tools these!’ he said. ‘They were borne by the hobbits. Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor. Well, now, if they still live, our friends are weaponless. I will take these things, hoping against hope, to give them back.’
‘And I,’ said Legolas, ‘will take all the arrows that I can find, for my quiver is empty.’ He searched in the pile and on the ground about and found not a few that were undamaged and longer in the shaft than such arrows as the Orcs were accustomed to use. He looked at them closely.
And Aragorn looked on the slain, and he said: ‘Here lie many that are not folk of Mordor. Some are from the North, from the Misty Mountains, if I know anything of Orcs and their kinds. And here are others strange to me. Their gear is not after the manner of Orcs at all!’
There were four goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs: and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men. Upon their shields they bore a strange device: a small white hand in the centre of a black field; on the front of their iron helms was set an S-rune, wrought of some white metal.
‘I have not seen these tokens before,’ said Aragorn. ‘What do they mean?’
‘S is for Sauron,’ said Gimli. ‘That is easy to read.’
‘Nay!’ said Legolas. ‘Sauron does not use the Elf-runes.’
‘Neither does he use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,’ said Aragorn. ‘And he does not use white. The Orcs in the service of Barad-dûr use the sign of the Red Eye.’ He stood for a moment in thought. ‘S is for Saruman, I guess,’ he said at length. ‘There is evil afoot in Isengard, and the West is no longer safe. It is as Gandalf feared: by some means the traitor Saruman has had news of our journey. It is likely too that he knows of Gandalf’s fall. Pursuers from Moria may have escaped the vigilance of Lórien, or they may have avoided that land and come to Isengard by other paths. Orcs travel fast. But Saruman has many ways of learning news. Do you remember the birds?’
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘The Departure of Boromir.’
To Pippin’s surprise he found that much of the talk was intelligible, many of the Orcs were using ordinary language. Apparently the members of two or three quite different tribes were present, and they could not understand one another’s orc-speech. There was an angry debate concerning what they were to do now: which way they were to take and what should be done with the prisoners.
‘There’s no time to kill them properly,’ said one. ‘No time for play on this trip.’
‘That can’t be helped,’ said another. ‘But why not kill them quick, kill them now? They’re a cursed nuisance, and we’re in a hurry. Evening’s coming on, and we ought to get a move on.’
‘Orders.’ said a third voice in a deep growl. ‘Kill all but not the Halfings; they are to be brought back alive as quickly as possible. That’s my orders.’
‘What are they wanted for?’ asked several voices. ‘Why alive? Do they give good sport?’
‘No! I heard that one of them has got something, something that’s wanted for the War, some elvish plot or other. Anyway they’ll both be questioned.’
‘Is that all you know? Why don’t we search them and find out? We might find something that we could use ourselves.’
‘That is a very interesting remark,’ sneered a voice, softer than the others but more evil. ‘I may have to report that. The prisoners are not to be searched or plundered: those are my orders.’
‘And mine too,’ said the deep voice. ‘Alive and as captured; no spoiling. That’s my orders.’
‘Not our orders!’ said one of the earlier voices. ‘We have come all the way from the Mines to kill, and avenge our folk. I wish to kill, and then go back north.’
‘Then you can wish again,’ said the growling voice. ‘I am Uglúk. I command. I return to Isengard by the shortest road.’
‘Is Saruman the master or the Great Eye?’ said the evil voice. ‘We should go back at once to Lugbúrz.’
‘If we could cross the Great River, we might,’ said another voice. ‘But there are not enough of us to venture down to the bridges.’
‘I came across,’ said the evil voice. ‘A winged Nazgûl awaits us northward on the east-bank.’
‘Maybe, maybe! Then you’ll fly off with our prisoners, and get all the pay and praise in Lugbúrz, and leave us to foot it as best we can through the Horse-country. No, we must stick together. These lands are dangerous: full of foul rebels and brigands.’
‘Aye, we must stick together,’ growled Uglúk. ‘I don’t trust you little swine. You’ve no guts outside your own sties. But for us you’d all have run away. We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man’s-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here, and we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Uglúk. I have spoken.’
‘You have spoken more than enough, Uglúk,’ sneered the evil voice. ‘I wonder how they would like it in Lugbúrz. They might think that Uglúk’s shoulders needed relieving of a swollen head. They might ask where his strange ideas came from. Did they come from Saruman, perhaps? Who does he think he is, setting up on his own with his filthy white badges? They might agree with me, with Grishnákh their trusted messenger; and I Grishnákh say this: Saruman is a fool. and a dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him.
‘Swine is it? How do you folk like being called swine by the muck-rakers of a dirty little wizard? It’s orc-flesh they eat, I’ll warrant.’
Many loud yells in orc-speech answered him, and the ringing clash of weapons being drawn. Cautiously Pippin rolled over, hoping to see what would happen. His guards had gone to join in the fray. In the twilight he saw a large black Orc, probably Uglúk, standing facing Grishnákh, a short crook-legged creature, very broad and with long arms that hung almost to the ground. Round them were many smaller goblins. Pippin supposed that these were the ones from the North. They had drawn their knives and swords, but hesitated to attack Uglúk.
Uglúk shouted, and a number of other Orcs of nearly his own size ran up. Then suddenly, without warning, Uglúk sprang forwards, and with two swift strokes swept the heads off two of his opponents. Grishnákh stepped aside and vanished into the shadows. The others gave way, and one stepped backwards and fell over Merry’s prostrate form with a curse. Yet that probably saved his life, for Uglúk’s followers leaped over him and cut down another with their broad-bladed swords. It was the yellow-fanged guard. His body fell right on top of Pippin, still clutching its long saw-edged knife.
‘Put up your weapons!’ shouted Uglúk. ‘And let’s have no more nonsense! We go straight west from here, and down the stair. From there straight to the downs, then along the river to the forest. And we march day and night. That clear?’
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the Chapter ‘The Uruk-hai’
The night was cold and still. All round the knoll on which the Orcs were gathered little watch-fires sprang up, golden-red in the darkness, a complete ring of them. They were within a long bowshot. but the riders did not show themselves against the light, and the Orcs wasted many arrows shooting at the fires, until Uglúk stopped them. The riders made no sound. Later in the night when the moon came out of the mist, then occasionally they could be seen, shadowy shapes that glinted now and again in the white light, as they moved in ceaseless patrol.
‘They’ll wait for the Sun, curse them!’ growled one of the guards. ‘Why don’t we get together and charge through? What’s old Uglúk think he’s doing, I should like to know?’
‘I daresay you would,’ snarled Uglúk stepping up from behind. ‘Meaning I don’t think at all, eh? Curse you! You’re as bad as the other rabble: the maggots and the apes of Lugbúrz. No good trying to charge with them. They’d just squeal and bolt, and there are more than enough of these filthy horse-boys to mop up our lot on the flat.
‘There’s only one thing those maggots can do: they can see like gimlets in the dark. But these Whiteskins have better night-eyes than most Men, from all I’ve heard; and don’t forget their horses! They can see the night-breeze, or so it’s said. Still there’s one thing the fine fellows don’t know: Mauhúr and his lads are in the forest, and they should turn up any time now.’
Uglúk’s words were enough, apparently, to satisfy the Isengarders; but the other Orcs were both dispirited and rebellious. They posted a few watchers, but most of them lay on the ground, resting in the pleasant darkness. It did indeed become very dark again; for the moon passed westward into thick cloud, and Pippin could not see anything a few feet away. The fires brought no light to the hillock. The riders were not, however, content merely to wait for the dawn and let their enemies rest. A sudden outcry on the east side of the knoll showed that something was wrong. It seemed that some of the Men had ridden in close, slipped off their horses, crawled to the edge of the camp and killed several Orcs, and then had faded away again. Uglúk dashed off to stop a stampede.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the Chapter ‘The Uruk-hai’
Even as he spoke the dark edge of the forest loomed up straight before them. Night seemed to have taken refuge under its great trees, creeping away from the coming Dawn.
‘Lead on, Master Brandybuck!’ said Pippin. ‘Or lead back! We have been warned against Fangorn. But one so knowing will not have forgotten that.’
‘I have not,’ answered Merry; ‘but the forest seems better to me, all the same, than turning back into the middle of a battle.’
He led the way in under the huge branches of the trees. Old beyond guessing, they seemed. Great trailing beards of lichen hung from them, blowing and swaying in the breeze. Out of the shadows the hobbits peeped, gazing back down the slope: little furtive figures that in the dim light looked like elf-children in the deeps of time peering out of the Wild Wood in wonder at their first Dawn.
Far over the Great River, and the Brown Lands, leagues upon grey leagues away, the Dawn came, red as flame. Loud rang the hunting-horns to greet it. The Riders of Rohan sprang suddenly to life. Horn answered horn again.
Merry and Pippin heard, clear in the cold air, the neighing of war-horses, and the sudden singing of many men. The Sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world. Then with a great cry the Riders charged from the East; the red light gleamed on mail and spear. The Orcs yelled and shot all the arrows that remained to them. The hobbits saw several horsemen fall; but their line held on up the hill and over it, and wheeled round and charged again. Most of the raiders that were left alive then broke and fled, this way and that, pursued one by one to the death. But one band, holding together in a black wedge, drove forward resolutely in the direction of the forest. Straight up the slope they charged towards the watchers. Now they were drawing near, and it seemed certain that they would escape: they had already hewn down three Riders that barred their way.
‘We have watched too long,’ said Merry. ‘There’s Uglúk! I don’t want to meet him again.’ The hobbits turned and fled deep into the shadows of the wood.
So it was that they did not sec the last stand, when Uglúk was overtaken and brought to bay at the very edge of Fangorn. There he was slain at last by Éomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark, who dismounted and fought him sword to sword. And over the wide fields the keen-eyed Riders hunted down the few Orcs that had escaped and still had strength to fly.
Then when they had laid their fallen comrades in a mound and had sung their praises, the Riders made a great fire and scattered the ashes of their enemies. So ended the raid, and no news of it came ever back either to Mordor or to Isengard; but the smoke of the burning rose high to heaven and was seen by many watchful eyes.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the Chapter ‘The Uruk-hai’