Battle by the Lakeshore

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Battle by the Lakeshore/
The Fishfeed
Conflict Dance of the Dragons
Date 130 AC
Place Western Gods Eye, the riverlands
Result Victory for the blacks
Combatants
House Targaryen (Rhaenyra).svg Blacks House Targaryen (Aegon II).svg Greens
Commanders
House Dustin.svg Lord Roderick Dustin
House Frey.svg Lord Forrest Frey
Red Robb Rivers
Lord Bigglestone
Lord Chambers
Lord Perryn
Ser Garibald Grey
House Charlton.svg Lord Jon Charlton
House Blackwood.svg Lord Ben Blackwood
House Lefford.svg Lord Humfrey Lefford
House Swyft.svg Lord Swyft
House Reyne.svg Lord Reyne
Strength
Northern force:
  • 2,000 Winter Wolves
  • 200 Frey knights
  • 600 Frey infantrymen
  • 300 Blackwood archers

Southern force:

  • Unknown number from Bigglestone, Chambers, Perryn

Western force:

  • Unknown number from Blackwood, Charlton, and Grey
at least 8,000
  • 1,000 mounted knights
  • 7,000 men-at-arms
  • Possibly three times as many sellswords and levies (see "Numbers")
Casualties
2,000 (including two thirds of the Winter Wolves)
Lord Forrest Frey
Lord Bigglestone
Lord Jon Charlton
total annihilation
Lord Humfrey Lefford
Lord Swyft
Lord Reyne
Ser Clarent Crakehall
Ser Emory Hill

The Battle by the Lakeshore, called the Fishfeed by its participants, was a battle along the shores of the Gods Eye in the riverlands during the Dance of the Dragons. It was the bloodiest land battle of the entire war.[1]

Prelude

During the Dance of the Dragons, House Lannister of the westerlands supported the greens, while House Stark of the north and most of the disorganized lords of the riverlands supported the blacks. Lord Jason Lannister led an army eastward in support of Aegon II Targaryen, but Jason was killed by Pate of Longleaf in the Battle at the Red Fork[2] and Ser Adrian Tarbeck was later slain by Ser Harry Penny.[1] The Lannister army continued slowly because of the age and infirmity of its wounded new commander, Lord Humfrey Lefford.[1]

When the westermen reached the western shore of the Gods Eye, Lord Lefford discovered he was opposed by Lord Roderick Dustin with two thousand Winter Wolves, Lord Forrest Frey with two hundred knights and six hundred infantrymen, and Robb Rivers with three hundred archers from Raventree Hall. The westermen were quickly faced with another threat from the south, when Ser Pate of Longleaf arrived with survivors from previous battles in the war, as well as Lords Bigglestone, Chambers, and Perryn. The cautious Humfrey sent ravens to nearby Harrenhal to seek assistance from Prince Aemond Targaryen, but Red Robb shot down the dozen ravens.[1]

The blacks received further reinforcement with the arrival of more river lords the following day, including Ser Garibald Grey, Lord Jon Charlton, and young Lord Benjicot Blackwood.[1]

Battle

The army of westermen were attacked at dawn the next morning. The Winter Wolves led the attack, charging the Lannister spearmen five times. Attacked by the blacks from three sides, the Lannister soldiers were forced into the Gods Eye. Hundreds died fighting amongst the lake's reeds, and hundreds of others drowned while trying to escape.[1]

Two thousand soldiers were killed in the Battle by the Lakeshore, making it the bloodiest land battle of the war; the high number of casualties led to it being called the Fishfeed by its participants. The blacks lost Lords Frey, Bigglestone, and Charlton, and two-thirds of the northern soldiers were killed or wounded. The greens lost their commander, Lord Lefford, as well as Lords Swyft and Reyne and the knights Clarent Crakehall and Emory Hill. Young Lord Blackwood wept when he saw all of the dead.[1]

Aftermath

The Lannisters' main army was totally destroyed in the battle, the flower of knighthood from all the westerlands cut down in a single day. With only skeleton forces left to defend their home territory, Dalton Greyjoy opportunistically allied with Rhaenyra so the ironborn could plunder the coasts of the Westerlands, sacking Lannisport but failing to take Casterly Rock itself. Despite their disproportionate victory, the black armies in the riverlands were also badly mauled in the bloodbath.

In response to the greens' crushing defeat, Prince Aemond and Ser Criston Cole abandoned Harrenhal, with Aemond waging guerilla war atop Vhagar and Criston heading south to find Lord Ormund Hightower. The victorious rivermen avoided facing Criston's host directly, but wore him down with ambushes and scorched earth tactics, which included arranging the bodies of fallen soldiers from the Fishfeed in gruesome displays to frighten Criston's host (causing many to desert). The rivermen (and few surviving Winter Wolves) eventually cornered Criston's depleted army in the Butcher's Ball.[1]

Numbers

The description of the numbers on both sides during the battle is oddly worded in the text: when the westermen host set out into the riverlands, it says that Lord Jason Lannister brought a formidable host of "a thousand armored knights, and seven times as many archers and men-at-arms" - thus, at least 8,000. Other green armies, however, are consistently described as having core "regular" armies of knights/archers/men-at-arms, but then supplemented by three times as many sellswords, freeriders, camp followers, and feudal levies: the Hightower army is described as having 1,000 knights, 1,000 archers, and 5,000 men-at-arms...but also "thousands" of sellswords and rabble, and later is described as having 20,000 men in total. Aegon II's army in the Battle at Rook's Rest is described with the same ratio: 600 knights and men-at-arms, but also "thrice as many" sellswords and levies. Thus it is possible that at the beginning of their campaign, the host from the westerlands had an additional 24,000 sellswords and freeriders, for about 30-32,000 men in all.

Conversely, this might mean that the number of soldiers on the blacks' side was also four times higher, because the text glosses over sellswords and levies. Then again, the greens absconded with the old royal treasury and controlled wealthy port cities, so it's possible that the greens were able to hire far more sellswords than the blacks.

Even assuming the Lannister host only consisted of 8,000 men, the description of losses at the Fishfeed don't match up well: "By nightfall two thousand men were dead, amongst them many notables, including Lord Frey, Lord Lefford..." (listing lords from both sides). It then goes on to say that two thirds of the Winter Wolves died - a force that itself consisted of 2,000 men. This would mean that about 1,300 Winter Wolves died, then barely 700 men from both sides would have died in the entire battle. While the Lannister host took some losses in the riverlands campaign by that point, it couldn't possibly have been whittled down from 8,000 to less than 700. Thus it seems that this line is in error, and that the blacks lost 2,000 men in total, while the Lannister host of around seven to eight thousand men was completely destroyed.

When asked about this, Elio Garcia agreed that the "2,000" figure apparently refers to losses on the blacks' side, not both the blacks and greens.[3]

Quotes

Best make an end to these lions before the dragons come.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
  2. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
  3. asoiaf.westeros.org: The ASOIAF wiki thread - Comment by Ran (May 2, 2022)