Principal Battles & Engagements, 1643

Principal Battles and Engagements of the
First Civil War
in Chronological Order
1643

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Bradock Down : 19th January, 1643

Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir Bevil Grenvile fell back with the Royalist army across the Tamar into Cornwall before Parliamentarian troops commanded by the Earl of Stamford. Once in Cornwall the Royalists were heavily reinforced by the Cornish trained bands and at Bradock Down, near Liskeard, Hopton and Grenvile utterly defeated Stamford and took more than 1,000 prisoners together with a number of guns and some ammunition.

Lichfield : 2nd-3rd March, 1643

The battle here, in which the Royalists lost the city, was a comparatively minor one, but in it Lord Brooke was killed while in command of the Parliamentarian forces. His death was a considerable blow to Parliament - there had been talk of his succeeding Essex as commander-in-chief.

Hopton Heath : 19th March, 1643

This successful Royalist skirmish, some two miles from Stafford, was part of the King’s plan to regain Lichfield. It is chiefly noteable because in the hour of victory the Royalist commander, the Earl of Northampton, was killed. As a sequel to this fight the King sent Prince Rupert to the Midlands where he took and sacked Birmingham on 3rd April, and after a stiff resistance he gained Lichfield Close and Cathedral on 21st April.

Stratton : 16th May, 1643

Following James Chudleigh’s minor success against Sir Ralph Hopton at Sourton Down in Devon on 25th April, Lord Stamford decided to carry the war into Cornwall for he had more than double the number of men under Hopton’s command. He took up a nearly impregnable position near Stratton in the extreame north-west of Cornwall. Hopton advanced from Launceston to meet him, and the assault was entrusted to Sir Bevil Grenvile, who was familiar with every inch of the countryside. The battle was fiercely contested before the Cornishmen, sweeping up the hill in a four-pronged attack, put the enemy to flight, killing 300 men and capturing a further 1,500 including Chudleigh.

Chalgrove Field : 18th June, 1643

Rupert, acting upon information from the turncoat Colonel Hurry, marched from Oxford on 17th June in an attempt to intercept a valuable treasure convoy and to deter Essex from his intended blockade of Oxford. He narrowly missed the convoy, but surprised some sleeping enemy troops in the village of Chinnor. While falling back on Oxford he was overtaken by the Roundheads commanded by Sir Philip Stapleton and John Hampden. Rupert, with considerable superiority of numbers, and having cleverly forced his enemy to fight at a disadvantage, routed them with his cavalry. John Hampden received a wound in the shoulder from which he died six days later.

Adwalton Moor : 30th June, 1643

Lord Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas, realizing that they could not withstand a long seige in Bradford, marched out to give battle to Lord Newcastle’s army, which although numerous comprised for the most part untrained peasants armed only with scythes. However, Newcastle did have 4,000 properly armed soldiers and this was sufficient to defeat the Roundheads decisively. The Fairfaxes retreated to Hull, and with Bradford captured other towns quickly fell, and soon the whole of the West Riding was in Royalist hands.

Lansdown : 5th July, 1643

Lord Stamford’s defeat at Stratton enabled Hopton to leave Cornwall and join forces with Prince Maurice and Lord Hertford. After an inconclusive affair against General Waller’s army at Chewton Mendip on 12th June, both armies manoeuvred for position around Bath. Eventually Waller gained the commanding Lansdown Hill, and on 5th July Hopton’s Cornishmen, again led by Sir Bevil Grenvile, forced their way against stiff opposition, which included well sited artillery, to close in hand-to-hand battle. The position was gained at heavy cost. The cavalry losses were extremely heavy, and worse still Sir Bevil Grenvile fell in the hour of victory.

Roundway Down : 13th July, 1643

Waller had been defeated at Lansdown but not destroyed. The Royalists were tired and short of supplies, particularly powder. They were further disheartened when, on the day after the battle, their general was seriously injured by the explosion of almost their last ammunition wagon. The army conveyed the wounded Hopton first to Chippenham then to Devizes, where Waller laid siege to the town. The Royalist position was hopeless and surrender would have been inevitable had not Prince Maurice brought cavalry relief from Oxford under Lord Wilmot. Waller withdrew his cavalry from the outskirts of Devizes to meet this threat on the chalk hill a mile above the town called Roundway Down. Here his cavalry, including Hesilrige’s formidable “Lobsters”, was utterly defeated and scattered. The abandoned infantry soon surrendered. It was a total disaster for the Roundheads, who lost more than 1,500 men and all their cannon, ammunition and baggage.

Siege of Bristol : 23rd-26th July, 1643

After the defeat at Roundway Down Waller withdrew towards London leaving the way clear for Rupert to join forces with the western army, and together, on 23rd July. they laid siege to the important city of Bristol. On 26th July an assault from the Somerset side by Cornish troops was repulsed with heavy losses, but Rupert managed to slip in a posse of troops on the Gloucestershire side. Before the situation became completely desperate the governor, Nathaniel Fiennes, surrendered. He was later sentenced to death for incompetence (but not cowardice), which sentence was remitted. The capture of this city was an important prize for the Royalists.

Surrender of West Country towns : 28th August to 4th September, 1643

Sir John Digby’s minor victory at Torrington against local levies won the towns of Barnstaple and Bideford for the Royalists at the end of August and on Warwick’s failure to relieve Exeter from the sea the city surrendered to Prince Maurice on 4th September.

Aldbourne Chase : 18th September, 1643

On 26th August Lord Essex at the head of some 15,000 men marched from Hounslow to relieve Gloucester. Having attained his objective he so confused the King, who commanded the Royalist army, by skilful manoeuvering that he had reached Cricklade before the Royalists started pursuit. Prince Rupert at the head of a flying coloumn came up with Essex’s army dangerously extended at Aldbourne Chase, which lies between Chiseldon and Aldbourne. The action that followed was inconclusive, but it had the effect of slowing down the Roundhead army and allowed the Royalists to get to Newbury ahead of them.

First Battle of Newbury : 20th September, 1643

Advancing from Wantage on 19th September Essex found Newbury already in the hands of the Royalist army. The way back to London was effectively barred, and to get there Essex would have to give battle. The First Battle of Newbury was fought to the west of the town round the area of Wash Common, Enborne Heath and Skinner’s Green, the fighting being heaviest at Round Hill, Wash Farm and Enbourne Heath, although the opposing lines extended almost to the river Kennet. It was a confused battle in which artillery played its most important part in all the Civil War Battles. The cavalry fight on the southern flank was a fierce affair in which the Royalists came off best, but their infantry fought poorly. As at Edgehill there was no clear-cut victory, but the Royalists, finding themselves short of powder, left the field during the night.

Winceby : 11th October, 1643

This was a small cavalry engagement between a Royalist force commanded by Sir John Henderson, Governor of Newark, and Oliver Cromwell, in which Cromwell (whose horse was shot under him during the scuffle), helped by Sir Thomas Fairfax, put the Royalists to flight. Many were killed in the flight, and others drowned in the waters of the fens.

Siege of Hull : 11th-12th October, 1643

On the same day as Cromwell’s victory at Winceby the garrison of Hull, which was under the command of Lord Fairfax, made a sortie against Lord Newcastle’s besieging force and drove them from many of their strong-points, capturing some cannon. On the next day Newcastle raised the siege, and on 20th October Lincoln surrendered to Lord Manchester.

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