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"Using some vile sorcery, your brother fell on Stafford Lannister with an army of wolves. Thousands of good men were butchered. After the slaughter, the Northmen feasted on the flesh of the slain."
―Ser Lancel Lannister's "report"[src]

The Battle of Oxcross is a major engagement in the War of the Five Kings. It occurs largely off-screen in "Garden of Bones."



"These are my terms. If the Queen Regent and her son meet them I'll give them peace. If not, I will litter the south with Lannister dead."
―King Robb Stark[src]

Having won a trio of victories in the Riverlands, the army of House Stark under the command of Robb is expected to march on the host of Tywin Lannister which has regrouped at Harrenhal.[1][2] The Lannister force under Jaime has been decimated, and Jaime himself captured.[3] Meanwhile, a group of Lannister reinforcements under the command of Stafford Lannister, who is both cousin and brother-in-law of Tywin, has assembled at Oxcross on the border between the Riverlands and the Westerlands.[4]


Grey Wind surprises the Lannister horses.

Robb's forces assault Stafford's camp in a night time raid. Robb's direwolf Grey Wind sneaks up to the Lannister camp, kills several sentries and panics their horses. As a massive rain breaks out, Robb, prepares to lead the charge. Robb's bannermen cry out "The King in the North!" and draw their swords. The surprised Lannister army is easily slaughtered as they are roused from sleep by the Stark cavalry.[4]

King Robb Stark preparing to lead his cavalry in a charge.

The battle is a decisive victory for the Stark forces. Roose Bolton reports Lannister casualties outnumbering Stark losses in a 5:1 ratio. Thousands of Lannister soldiers are dead. Ser Stafford is killed in the battle, and a number of Lannister officers are captured.[4]


Robb faces dissent from his bannermen over keeping the numerous prisoners alive, but insists that they are to be treated well. He refuses to allow them to be tortured for information, fearing that the Lannisters would use this as an excuse to torture their own Stark prisoners. Some Northern soldiers loot the dead. Robb meets Talisa, a healer from Volantis, helping the Silent Sisters tending to a wounded Lannister and assists her in an amputation.[4]

Joffrey is furious when news of Robb's victory reaches King's Landing. He reacts by having Sansa publicly beaten in his throne room. Lannister loyalists spread false rumors that Robb used sorcery and an army of wolves to achieve his victory and that the Northmen feasted on the flesh of their foes after the battle.[4]

The victory leaves the Westerlands lightly defended.[4] The next target of Robb's invasion is Ashemark, the seat of House Marbrand, which is sacked by the Northern army.[5]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the battle also occurs off-screen. It is reported to Catelyn by Martyn Rivers (one of Lord Frey's bastards).

Roose Bolton doesn't participate as he's leading the joint Northern-Frey armies east of the Trident. Brynden Tully, Rickard Karstark, Galbart Glover, Greatjon Umber, Maege Mormont and Ser Stevron Frey take part. Karstark is the one to slay Stafford Lannister. Ser Rupert Brax, a Lannister bannerman, is also slain. Lord Roland Crakehall, Lord Antario Jast and Ser Lymond Vikary, also sworn to Casterly Rock, are rumored to have been killed (that rumor turns to be wrong - none of those three were killed); Martyn Lannister, the third son of Kevan Lannister, is taken prisoner.

Ser Stevron Frey, Walder Frey's heir, is injured during the battle, and dies three days afterwards.

As Tyrion points out, the Lannister army was mostly composed of green conscripts scraped together from Lannisport and surrounding areas, to try to make up for the loss of Jaime's army at the Battle of the Whispering Wood. While training the new raw recruits in their camp near the village of Oxcross, Stafford felt so confident that he was safe from Stark attack in the heart of the Westerlands that he didn't even bother to post sentries.

The Stark force is able to achieve a surprise assault because they used a previously unknown path through the border mountains of the Westerlands discovered by Grey Wind. This allows the Stark army to bypass the Golden Tooth castle, a predictable choke point which guards the only major road leading through the mountains between the Riverlands and the interior of the Westerlands.

Oxcross is more of a rout than a pitched battle, with the surprised Lannister army massacred in its own camp. Brynden Tully led the vanguard of Robb's army. Grey Wind played an important role in the battle by sneaking into the Lannister camp and panicking their horses, who had never seen a wolf of such massive size before. Stafford himself was killed while chasing after his terrified horse.

The Lannister survivors regrouped at Lannisport under Ser Daven Lannister, Stafford's son, who is widely considered to be a more intelligent commander than his father.

Similarly to the show, the Lannister survivors spread false rumors about the northmen, among them: that after the slaughter, the northmen feasted on the flesh of the slain; that the old gods of the North march with Robb; that Robb cut out Stafford's heart and fed it to his wolf. Both Tyrion and Catelyn dismiss those rumors as nonsense.


The book version of Robb's campaign is more detailed with several major differences. In particular, Robb's army divided into two major parts before reaching the Whispering Wood, with 6,000 cavalry going west with Robb to Riverrun, and 16,000 infantry going east to fight Tywin at the Green Fork in a feint. In the books, this eastern Stark army is commanded by Roose Bolton, who is able to retreat from the Battle of the Green Fork in good order. In the TV series, the feint only consists of 2,000 men and is completely destroyed. Robb has 20,000 men with him at the Whispering Wood. The Riverlords under House Tully then throw their support behind Robb, drastically increasing the size of his army. Robb then invades the Westerlands with 6,000 cavalry.

The number of Lannister soldiers in the Riverlands has been doubled in the TV series, from 30,000 to 60,000. The books state that 10,000 green Lannister conscripts were killed at Oxcross, and the few survivors scattered. The exact figure isn't given in the TV series though they do state that the army was destroyed and "thousands" of Lannister soldiers are dead. A figure of a five to one kill ratio would result in a higher number of Stark dead than in the books, in which the battle was a massacre and Robb's losses were very light.

See also


  1. "The North Remembers"
  2. "What Is Dead May Never Die"
  3. "Baelor"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Garden of Bones"
  5. Season 2 bluray: "War of the Five Kings" feature