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Thread: Gunpowder

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At what point do you think gunpowder and guns become introduced to the whole of middle-earth? How do you think it would effect war? How do you think the cultures would adapt? For example how would Rohan be effected by guns? Guns would change mounted combat. Thanks!

Now that you say it I'll own up that I used to day dream a lot about introducing modern warfare techniques in ME-3rd age and it used to be my favorite pass time thinking how not only guns but aircraft and submarines could reduce the casualties in the wars.

But if we are trying to reduce the casualties,Theoden and Denethor would be first in the high security line up.And if by guns and aircraft and submarines we can reduce a lot of deaths we can easily prevent the death of Boromir as well as Theoden and Denethor making it a problematic situation for Aragorn as a possible future successor to both these thrones.

Also we wouldn't need the dead traitor army or feel any need for a fellowship.But what we would need is proper protection for Frodo and Sam,who no matter what would  have to travel to Mordor.And besides now that we know the story it's easy to say things but right on the road knowing nothing,even with modern ammo,it would be tough

And besides their is magic everywhere,good and bad.What if Saruman puts a spell on our helicopters and they crash?Ok now this is getting funny,so I'll stop.

One more thing how to tackle the Balrog?

i doubt if the craft of gun powder was started with Saruman, but I think that it is possible that the two blue wizards who travelled the furthest east, a Sauron stronghold, perhaps had the time and the interest to develop such a thing. It was probably innocent enough but as usual taken and perverted by someone or someones. So, ever after the great war and crowning of King Elassar I think this new evil was something they had to contend with here and there, though with the demise of the witch king and dethroning of Sauron, maybe not so much.

I remember somewhere a mention of Hobbits inventing matches....  As the technology is not that far off from gun powder and explosives the fell art of explosive materials would not have been far off.  Perhaps the Numanoreans under Sauron.......

But if that were so, surely the craft would have continued and this 'evil' as JRR saw it would have been used very effectively to blow up Minas Morgal and just about every orc and urikai and such that came along. Perhaps boldness would have swept over them and they would have gone right up to the black gate and flung a few grenades against it and then at all who came to fight. Wow, I should have liked that, but then again it would not be fair fighting right?

I believe that goblins actually invented some crude form of gunpowder. There was some mention of that in the hobbit... Or so I remember it.

Arath, it is wonderful to see you. I always miss you when you are gone.

Again, if that is true, my question would be, did the orcs actually have that sort of intelligence to dream up and bring forth such a thing as gunpowder? I would suspect if they made it up it would have been under the watchful eye and at the command of great intelligence, I wish someone could tell us.

I meant more crude gunpowder like muskets or petards but this whole modern-Tolkien is kind of fun!

As far as we can tell, explosives and pyrotechnics  (we have to assume gunpowder from our own Fifth Age history) were known only to a select few, Saruman  and Gandalf certainly, possibly other wizards, although this has to be left open to surmise.  As might be expected, Saruman used his powder in demolition charges, while Gandalf, as far as we can tell,  was content to make fireworks for the amusement of others.  The fact that Saruman did not develop further military applications, such as artillery or rockets, suggests that this was a technology still in its infancy at the end of the Third Age.

The fall of Saruman and Sauron brought an end to warfare on a continental scale, possibly for a very long time, well into the Fourth Age, although it is clear that what we would call police operations, or mopping-up,  continued to be necessary on the wilder frontiers of the Kings of Gondor.  This may well have brought an end to the development of explosives and propellants in war, again, probably well into the Fourth Age, as the Free Peoples had no need to develop their technology of war any further, and the remaining holders of knowledge of explosives would presumably be very opposed to further development in that direction.

Turning to the question of what might have happened if explosives and firearms had been further developed in the early Fourth Age, we have to remember that as far as we can tell, there was no civil war for a long age after the War of the Rings, and Aragorn, as king, was not an imperialist.  Therefore, unless the Southrons had invaded again, this time with firearms and rockets, there would have been little if any impetus to develop further.

However - if, for the sake of argument, Aragorn  had needed to lead his forces against an invader with firearms, we need to remember two important points from our own history - smoothbore muskets were not very effective unless in the hands of closely-formed masses of troops, and those squares, columns or lines were very, very  vulnerable to field artillery, even if firing only roundshot and canister.  This meant that archers actually had a considerable advantage over musketeers both in accurate range and in rate of fire,  and well led, well trained cavalry could play hell with field artillery, unless very well protected  by musketeers or archers.

For this reason, I have an idea that Rohirric and Gondor cavalry  tactics and weapons might not have changed all that much until muzzle loading rifles made their debut, although a good commander might have perceived the need to differentiate between light cavalry,  skilled in archery (the original dragoon role, brought to perfection at the very end of the era of horsed cavalry by the Australian Light Horse) and heavy cavalry to deliver the definitive blow to an enemy formation that was starting to crumble (and a good commander would not give the order for a cavalry charge until that happened - remember the fate of the French at Agincourt!)

Artillery is a different matter altogether - more men have always been killed by artillery fire than infantry weapons, even after the appearance of machine guns (surprising but true - the first day of the Somme was an anomaly).  With Gondor's reliance on strongholds,  we can expect that they would have wanted to develop long range cannon to outrange the siege guns of any potential enemy (compare 'Queen Elizabeth's Pocket Pistol' at Dover - range about 3 miles - with the near contemporary Mons Meg in Edinburgh - probable effective range about 4-500 yards.)  If the Rohirrim developed field artillery to supplement their cavalry, we can imagine that they would have quickly realised the importance of covering the flanks of artillery columns on the move,  and the flanks and rear of batteries in action.  Once again, this would have been a job for mounted archers,  who would certainly have had the advantage over, say, Napoleonic infantry in rate of fire and effective range, but might have suffered badly if pitted against, say, the 95th Rifles, especially if those riflemen were covered by cavalry who could protect their flanks.

On quite a different note - how do you think cavalry armed with swords like Herugrim and Anduril, wearing mail and open face helmets,  might have fared against, say, a first wave of lancers, with a second wave armed with British 1908 pattern swords, close behind them?

(PS - source - onetime Army officer and military history buff with a particular interest in the late 18th to early 20th Centuries).


Westu Hal!

Eohelm that was brilliant and all of you  gave me TOO much to dwell on  and I must get down to work!