- Tywin Lannister: "The scouts were wrong. There were 2,000 Stark bannermen, not 20,000."
- Tyrion Lannister: "Did we get the Stark boy, at least?"
- Tywin Lannister: "He wasn't here."
- Tyrion Lannister: "Where was he?"
- Tywin Lannister: "With his other 18,000 men."
- — Tywin Lannister and Tyrion Lannister discuss the Stark feint.[src]
- Tyrion: "Tribesmen of the Vale! Gather round! Stone Crows, Black Ears, Burned Men, Moon Brothers... and Painted Dogs! Your dominion over the Vale begins now! Onward to claim what is yours!"
- Tribesmen: "Halfman! Halfman! Halfman!"
- Tyrion: "To battle!"
- — Tyrion rallies the Hill Tribes.[src]
Leading a host of 18,000 troops from the North, Robb Stark means to confront the Lannister armies in the Riverlands and relieve the forces loyal to his grandfather which have been under attack for some time. Tywin Lannister has split his forces into two armies, each numbering approximately 30,000 men. One force, under the command of Jaime Lannister, lays siege to Riverrun, the seat of House Tully. The other, under Tywin's direct command, marches north, along the west bank of the Green Fork of the Trident, to prevent the Starks from lifting the siege, and sends scouts to reconnoiter the Stark position.
Robb and his men debate strategy, since they are outnumbered by either Lannister army. Several lords favor a direct confrontation with Tywin's forces, while Greatjon Umber advocates trying to outflank Tywin, get past him, and then confront Jaime's forces at Riverrun. Robb is still undecided when one of the Lannister scouts is taken prisoner. He tells Robb that he counted roughly 20,000 men in the Stark host. Robb tells him to carry a message to Tywin, telling him that "Twenty thousand Northern warriors march South to find out if he really does shit gold".
Catelyn Stark negotiates with Lord Walder Frey to allow Robb's army safe passage across the Trident at the Green Fork. Walder grants the passage and even contributes his levies to Robb's army, increasing Robb's numbers, in return for Robb agreeing to a number of conditions, including marriage to one of his daughters or granddaughters once the war is concluded. At the Twins, the Stark host splits into two elements: a force of 2,000, mostly infantry, conducts a forced march south down the King's Road to engage and delay Tywin's forces; the main body of the Northern army, including most of the cavalry, crosses the Twins to break the siege at Riverrun and rally the River Lords.
Tywin receives word that the Starks are moving against him. Believing this is the full Stark host, based on the information the captured scout returned to him, he prepares to confront it. He assigns Tyrion, who has won the support of several of the hill tribes of the Vale of Arryn, to command them in the vanguard. In the event, Tyrion is disabled by an accidental blow from one of his own men and spends the battle unconscious. In his absence, the Lannisters win a crushing victory, and his hill tribesmen actually perform quite well. However, it is quickly revealed that the battle was a feint: Robb Stark only sent 2,000 men against the main Lannister host, slipping the rest around the Lannister force to instead attack Jaime Lannister's forces.
Despite winning the battle on the Green Fork, the defeat of Jaime's forces at the Battle of the Whispering Wood and the subsequent joining of forces of the river lords to Robb's forces leaves Tywin's forces exposed and outflanked. He retreats his army to Harrenhal to rest and regroup.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Battle of the Green Fork unfolds in a similar manner but with different details. As in the TV series, Robb meant to send a feinting force against Tywin while engaging Jaime near Riverrun. However, in the books his plan was more complex due to the different positioning. In the books, Tywin's army was located east of the Green Fork, near the Ruby Ford over the river. From this position, Tywin could march north swiftly to meet Robb or west to relieve Jaime should he come under attack. In order to pin Tywin's forces on the Trident, Robb sent one army consisting of most of his infantry south along the Kingsroad while his cavalry crossed at the Twins and marched south to face Jaime.
The battle is fully narrated from Tyrion's POV in the books. He initially leads the hill tribes, but within a few moments they gallop past him, leaving him in the rear. He fights throughout the battle against five enemy soldiers (one at a time), nearly gets killed by the last two, but manages to kill the fourth. The fifth opponent unhorses Tyrion, yet he manages to overcome the man by using his spiked helmet to eviscerate his horse; the horse falls, trapping his rider's leg under it, leaving the soldier no choice but to surrender. The TV series changed this to have Tyrion accidentally knocked unconscious at the very start of the battle, and only wake up after it is over - probably due to budget limitations in Season 1 (the Battle of the Whispering Wood also occurred off-screen in the TV series, but that battle also occurred "off screen" in the books, and Catelyn only hears a report of what happened).
The Stark infantry, commanded by Roose Bolton, marched throughout the night in an effort to take the Lannister army by surprise. The Stark force was much larger in the book, numbering approximately 16,000-18,000 men, while the Lannister force numbering approximately 24,000 (supplemented by an additional 300 mountain clansmen).
Kevan Lannister commanded the center with lords Lefford, Lydden, and Serrett, a mixed force of pike and horse, Ser Addam Marbrand commanded the right with Ser Flement Brax and members of houses Crakehall and Swyft, all cavalry. Tywin commanded the reserve. The Mountain commanded the left and the van, which included Tyrion. Tywin put his undisciplined men in the vanguard, to tempt the Northern commander to over commit should they rout. He then intended for Kevan and the center to wheel to the left and take the northerners in the side. Tywin's plan, however, was foiled by three factors:
- Roose Bolton proved to be cautious and failed to fall for the trap. Once he saw the battle was lost, he retreated in good order with only moderate losses. Roose's army positioned itself to make it difficult for Tywin to leave Harrenhal, and was able to capture the castle months later after Tywin decided to abandon the position.
- The hill tribes, who were supposed to serve as a cannon fodder, fought much better than he expected.
- Lastly, Robb was absent; the captives revealed that he had crossed at the Twins with most of his troops, heading for Riverrun.
It is implied that casualties were "insignificant" to a little under 4,000 for Tywin as he is later described as having 20,000 men at the Battle of the Fords against Edmure Tully, compared to the 24,000 he was said to have at the Battle of the Green Fork (though some sources say he actually only had about 20,000 at the Green Fork).
Roose Bolton, meanwhile, may have lost 4-5,000 men out of his original 16-18,000, as he was later described as having about 10,000 men when he took Harrenhal (though this was months later and he may have sent smaller contingents away on other missions). Among the casualties are Lord Halys Hornwood and Ser Pate of the Blue Fork. Lord Medger Cerwyn, Harrion Karstark, Wylis Manderly, Donnel Locke, Jared Frey, Hosteen Frey, Danwell Frey, and Ronel Rivers are taken captive and imprisoned at Harrenhal; later, all of them are freed (except Medger Cerwyn, who dies of the injuries he sustained during the battle).
While there were only 300 hill tribesmen present at the battle in the book, the TV series increased this number to 3,000. Because the tribesmen were put in a dangerous position in the vanguard, about half of them (150 or so) were killed - though in both the book and TV version, even Tywin compliments that they fought quite well, given the circumstances (they did not break and run, but held and killed a significant number of Northerners). Though of course, Tywin had intended for their lines to break, to lure the Northerners into over-committing, but they could not have known that.
In "Tyrion II" sample chapter of the upcoming sixth novel, during the battle between Daenerys's loyalists and Yunkai, Tyrion suddenly reminisces the Battle of the Green Fork. He remembers most of all the night he spent with Shae before the battle, and how resplendent his father looked like.
|Scourging of the Riverlands:|
|The Young Wolf's campaign:||
Battle of the Green Fork · Battle of the Whispering Wood · Battle of the Camps · Liberation of Raventree Hall · Liberation of Stone Hedge · Battle of Oxcross · Sack of Ashemark · Battle of the Yellow Fork · Surrender of the Crag · Liberation of Harrenhal · Battle of Stone Mill · Red Wedding
Execution of Eddard Stark · Massacre in King's Landing · Riot of King's Landing · Battle of the Blackwater · Purple Wedding · Court trial of Tyrion Lannister · Second trial by combat of Tyrion Lannister · Assassination at the Tower of the Hand
|Ironborn invasion of the North:||
Fall of Moat Cailin · Raid on Torrhen's Square · First Battle of Deepwood Motte · Fall of Winterfell · Sack of Winterfell · Assault on the Dreadfort · Surrender of Moat Cailin · Second Battle of Deepwood Motte
|Rise and fall of the Sparrows:|
|War for the North:|
|Coup in Dorne:|