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Military Strategy in The Hobbit, always over looked, because it was vaguely portrayed, compared to Tolkiens other works.

Smaug made an epic mistake, he took land and became a lord. Yet he did not gather Goblins and other fell beasts to do his bidding. When Glaurung the father of Dragons took Nargathrond, it was because he massed a great host of orcs when he held the Teiglin. So in not gathering the Goblins from the North that clashed in The Batlle of Five Armies, he was asking to be attacked.

When Gandalf sent Thorin & Co. to take back The Lonely Mountain from Smaug he went to southern Mirkwood, to Dol-Guldur, and drove out Sauron. This effectively drove back The Dark Lord and took out a Lieutenant/Lord of his armies, in one blow, both without brute force. The quests required handpicked Dwarves an exceptional Hobbit , the Istari (lacking the Blue Wizards) and allies along the way (Eagles, Beorn..). Equivalent to current day special forces.

Smaug made an epic mistake, he took land and became a lord. Yet he did not gather Goblins and other fell beasts to do his bidding. When Glaurung the father of Dragons took Nargathrond, it was because he massed a great host of orcs when he held the Teiglin. So in not gathering the Goblins from the North that clashed in The Batlle of Five Armies, he was asking to be attacked.

An army needs feeding too and I am not sure where they would be able to obtain that unless they were constantly supplied. The distance between Gundabad and the other strongholds in the Misty Mountains and the Lonely Mountain would probably be difficult to carry out due to the vigilance of the Eagles, Beorn and the Men of the lake whom I would guess still maintain a force sufficient to defend themselves. 

Food would be harder to come by from Goblin and Orc allies, yes. Nain in the Iron Hills had to have trade or farms to supply his kingdom. This (if I was Smaug or Sauron) I would hit and take first, helping cut off resistance weapon and armor hoard. The supply lines from the Wood Elves and Dale could be plundered, from the river. Yet that would spark both Kingdoms (Dale being almost a shadow of its former self, almost does not count as a "Kingdom" in the days of The Hobbit) and as seen in The Hobbit both Kingdoms are a force to be reckoned with. Mirkwood could supply wood for fires, that could melt the ore from Ered Mithrin (Grey Mountains) and The Iron Hills. Nain made the Journey by foot within three/four days (The Hobbit 2 two pages before chapter sixteen and the first page of chaper sixteen). The Elf/Dwarf animosity before Bilbo used the Arkenstone in a sly way for peace between the three parties (Dale, Mirkwood, Lonely Mountain) could have sealed the fate of Nain with no hope of help from any near by kingdoms. The strongest of course, Elven. The spiders in Mirkwood point more to Shelob maybe being in the woods with or near Sauron... leaving Mirkwood open to an "inside job".

it is a good thing it is not me people would have to depend on for proper and precise and successful strategy to win over all the evils in Middle-Earth. I feel weak kneed when I think  of all the orcs and urikai , all the wild men and etc. that use such cunning and rage and violence to attack all the innocent. shiver. I would always be afraid of thinking I knew how to anticipate them and then after winning a battle, look over and see to my despair another army ten times bigger heading our way. Best leave it to those who know what to do.

Excellent thread topic.

I don't think orcs would have much trouble gathering supplies for a decent sized garrison force. However it wouldn't really even be necessary. I'm sure HAD Smaug gathered such forces, the minority of it would be orcs. In that region it would probably mostly be spider's and wargs, who I'm sure know how to fend for themselves.

There is some epic strategy going on in the Battle of Five Armies. The humans/elves/dwarves united and used a time-tested and classic "choke point" approach, hoping to gain the advantage with vastly inferior numbers. Unfortunately, Bolg was a bit of a commander himself, and set up his forces in waves (never send in all your forces at once!), a very smart battle tactic. The second wave also had the advantage of a downhill battle. Not to mention the impact this would have on troop morale.

Fortunately, the deus ex machina is alive and well in Middle Earth and the Eagles came in from the sky for an air assault, sealing the deal for the good guys. Really if you look into a lot of Tolkien battles, pretty much every major battle in LOTR, you'll see the orcs often times come in with a superior strategy; not only organization wise, but they came prepared with numbers. It's only those last minute saves that would win the day for the good guys.

Also Shelob definitely wasn't in Mirkwood with Sauron. If that were the case then not even the eagles would have been able to save the day. Though it's not at all unlikely many of the spiders in Mirkwood were offspring of Shelob.

I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that smaug had an army of wargs and other such beasts.

Sun Tzu's art of war teaches us that it is not wise to gather ones forces until they are needed.

I think that smaug didn't think for one second about the possibility of getting shot down at laketown. and had he felt the need I'm sure he could have summoned his forces to defend the mountain.

ergo it was pride that caused his fall :P

I'm still skeptical. For one I don't think Smaug had the "communication" resources to create such a force. Maybe back in the day, when evil forces were much more spread out, a dragon might be given a small army to watch over (though I doubt they'd "live" together, the army would probably be in another nearby cave or forest etc), but I can't think of any examples where the dragon was the one to form an army. It's said dragons could put weak willed beings into a "trance," but dragons are many thousands and thousands of years old. I feel like if they did have interest in forming an army and/or going into battle, it would have been done by now. An individual dragon had no desire to go to war. It was his master that commanded him to it. But arguably not even then, as is evidenced by the lack of dragons during the Battle of the Last Alliance. Otherwise they preferred to hoard their treasure and keep it safe.

In fact, as you mentioned, it would be pride that would KEEP a dragon from attempting such a task. Their pride isn't like our usual, arrogant, prideful jock character that thinks he can control everybody. No, it's much deeper. If they believed there was an inkling of talk saying they wouldn't be able to handle something by themselves....they would do their best to prove them wrong.

Also I don't believe dragons would be interested enough in military tactics to form any sort of in-depth strategy. They are all about brute force and run and gun, both of which are fairly solid tactics when you're a dragon with an army of orcs, wargs, and balrogs behind you. Admittedly it's not entirely impossible he could, I'm mostly just looking at the history of dragons and I really feel like at least one other dragon would have at least attempted something like it.

Smaug and all other dragons only ever held allegiance with Melkor, he who created them. They tolerated Orcs and stood side by side with them however Im sure would not willingly have sort them out as comrades after the destruction of Melkor. They being filled with pride and self adoration would think themselves as indestructible and therefore in no need of an army. It's Smaugs own conceit which bought him undone in the end.

Whether or not be would have aided Sauron is debatable as Im sure there would have had to be huge reward for his assistance. Bigger than the mound of gold under Erebor.

I couldn't tell you where, but if I'm not mistaken I believe I read somewhere that Sauron actually did seek out the help of the remaining dragons but was either turned down or unable to find them or something??

I couldn't tell you where, but if I'm not mistaken I believe I read somewhere that Sauron actually did seek out the help of the remaining dragons but was either turned down or unable to find them or something??


Actually the reason Gandalf supported Thorin's quest to begin with was because he was afraid that Smaug and Sauron would join forces.

I can't tell you exactly where I read this. It's somewhere in the LOTR appendixes where Gandalf speaks about the quest.

Also, I don't think that the lonely mountain is hard to find and I'm sure that Smaug would've not turned down gold :P

Yes all Dragons cared about was gold, wealth and power. Sauron could probably have bribed or paid Smaug, however it would have had to be a lot more than his Erebor hoard. Again Tolkien uses useless greed as an example of evil. Smaug has no use for gold. It has no value to him/her its simply pretty and perhaps a bragging right to no one. Totally useless to a Dragon, so why the lust for it. I believe that Melkor bred into the dragons a lust for gold knowing that the only people's who held value for it were the Children of Eru, so perhaps this was wise on Melkor's behalf because it would mean that the Dragons would willingly destroy all to get their clutches on the treasuries of his enemies and do his dirty work for little in return.

Re Ungolient and or Shelob... No contest versus the Eagles of Manwe. The Eagles could easily dispatch the awful Arachnids.

Yes, it is after Gandalf realizes Sauron has returned to Dol Guldur that he feared that alliance. I was thinking back to the Second Age though, with the War of the Last Alliance, I don't recall there being any dragons fighting for Sauron. I'm sure I've read somewhere that somebody sought help from the dragons at some point but were denied. Specific, I know.

And there were other dragons that survived the FA, as well as their offspring later on. So we knew Smaug was in the Lonely Mountain and Scatha in the Grey Mountains, but I'm sure there were other cold drakes elsewhere in ME. But they probably guard their own little treasure and stay hidden unless disturbed.

I agree with Brego, they'd be too stubborn to fight for anyone but Morgoth himself. Even Sauron would have to bribe them somehow (or even not that). He had to have known there were still dragons in Middle Earth...but they'd think it was a trick to steal their treasure!

Edit: And Brego, eagles defeating Ungoliant? No way!! Shelob I can see, but Ungoliant ravaged all of Arda and basically destroyed life as was known at the time. Imagine a creature that can swallow the sun. That's power right there. Maybe in her weakest stages, but after marching across a forest or two she would be near unstoppable by most.

Strategically, Smaug choose a good location. As far as most knew, there was only one enterance. It is a single peak with open space down below. An army couldn't hide if they attack the mountain.
I dunno Balrogs. The old girl Unglolient, by The Third Age, would have probably shrunk after her hideous feast on the light of the trees and the Noldorian gems. She went into hiding to skulk in the dark and hide. She probably sort out her kind, bred and diminished somewhat from her gigantic putrid form. I reckon a team of Manwe's Eagles would make short work of her or at least I hope so.

Ah I was assuming this would be closer to early 1st age, between when Ungoliant was coming back from Valinor and before she disappeared forever. However, assuming she had survived, I don't think Ungoliant would be anywhere near ME. I think she would've headed to what's basically Antarctica, a very dark and foreboding place. So if anything by the 3rd age she'd still be incredibly powerful, and if the eagles came to HER domain, well....

But if she had just hung around in ME, then unless she nestled into the deepest underground ruins of Utumno, she would probably be pretty weak. Though I can see her being maybe an old "widow" dressed in black living in the darkest forests with her children. We just assume she consumed herself.

I think it would be a pretty epic fight either way though. Remember Ungoliant isn't a maia, so we have no idea what tricks she might have up her sleeve...