Nirnaeth Arnoediad

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Nirnaeth Arnoediad
The fourth battle of the Wars of Beleriand and the most disastrous for the Noldor. The name means Battle

of the Unnumbered Tears in Sindarin.
The battle was initiated by the sons of Feanor in an attempt to reclaim the Silmarils from Morgoth and to defeat the evil forces which were steadily creeping into Beleriand from Angband. The forces sent against Morgoth were formidable: the host of the sons of Feanor was joined by Turgon’s forces from Mithrim, humans from Ossiriand, Hithlum and Brethil and small companies from elsewhere, including a company led by Gwindor from Nargothrond. Turgon also sent a host forth from Gondolin after hearing of the situation. However, the elves were weakened by the absence of larger contingents from Doriath and Nargothrond, as a result of preceding events in which Elwe of Doriath had obtained a Silmaril and in which the sons of Feanor had made a bid for power in Nargothrond.
The armies were split into two forces. The eastern force, led by Maedhros, was to draw Morgoth’s forces out, after which the western force, led by Fingon, was to attack Angband. However, treachery by humans of the house of Ulfang waylaid the eastern force, and the western force was drawn into battle early by a force of Orcs under orders to bring them to Angband. They believed they were fighting the whole army and were drawn into a tactically undesirable position, chasing the Orcs across Anfauglith. But they were ambushed outside Angband and mostly slain.
Turgon’s arrival and the eventual appearance of Maedhros’s forces turned the tide, but the elves were defeated when the house of Ulfang turned coat and attacked Maedhros in the rear. In the resulting debacle, Fingon was slain, the sons of Feanor lost their armies and were put to flight, Turgon fled back to Gondolin under a rearguard action and Morgoth’s forces overran northern Beleriand, and total defeat was prevented only by a valiant defensive fight by the humans of Hithlum along the river Sirion. Eventually they were defeated; Hurin, lord of the humans of Hithlum, was captured and tortured; the people of Hithlum were killed or subjugated.
Morgoth’s forces then besieged and ultimately broke the fortresses at Eglarest and Vinyamar, overrunning all of Beleriand save Doriath, Balar, Nargothrond and Gondolin.

The battle is recounted in JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
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