More often called the 'Crossings of Poros', the Fords marked the point where the Harad Road from Harad and South Gondor entered the lands of Gondor proper. As such, their strategic importance was considerable, as attacking armies from the south had no choice but to cross the Poros at this point.
The Fords first entered history in the year III 1944, when the enemies of Gondor made an alliance, and all attacked simultaneously, from the northeast and from the south. It was left to the great general Eärnil (later King Eärnil II) to deal with the army of Harad approaching from the south. Rather than defend the Fords (as no doubt the Haradrim expected he would), Eärnil positioned his army some forty miles further north, in South Ithilien, and decimated the encroaching enemy1.
Though Gondor survived that assault with great loss, the land was often threatened by the Haradrim. In III 2885, the fierce people of that southern land occupied South Gondor and attacked Ithilien across the Poros. Steward Túrin II was aided in his defence by King Folcwine of Rohan, whose twin sons Folcred and Fastred rode with his army. These two northern armies forced the Haradrim back across the Fords and had the victory, but the sons of Folcwine both fell in that battle.
The Rohirrim buried the twins in a great mound, after their custom, and that mound, the Haudh in Gwanûr, guarded Gondor's southern boundaries for long years after.
Unfortunately, there are few details of Eärnil's victory. All we know for certain is that he '...won a great victory in South Ithilien and destroyed the army of Harad that had crossed the River Poros' (Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, III 2 (i) The Northmen and the Wainriders). His tactic, presumably, was to ambush the Haradrim in Ithilien, and use the river to hamper their escape. Sadly, though, Tolkien never completed the relevant text, so the details of the battle will never be known.
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