Friday, 8 July 2011

The Battle of Edgehill

At Edgehill in 1642, two English armies headed into battle to solve a constitutional dispute between King and Parliament.


King Charles I had assembled his army on a hill overlooking the road to London, but the Earl of Essex placed his Parliamentarian army on the plain below the hill. He had no intention of sending his forces in an uphill attack to do battle against the King's army entrenched on higher ground.  

The Battle
The Royalist army could not remain on the heights, as the risk of being surrounded and running out of supplies was too high. King Charles descended with his army onto the plain, and the battle of Edgehill was fought on flat ground.

The Opening Battle of the English Civil War
The battle of Edgehill was the first major military confrontation in the English Civil War, fought between 1642 to 1651, a war that would also involve Wales, Scotland and Ireland, with the last battles being fought in Scotland in 1652 and in Ireland in 1653.

Strategy at the Battle of Edgehill
King Charles I was marching on London with a great army to prevent Parliament from gaining control over England, while Parliament had sent an even greater army to oppose him. From a strategical point of view, the Battle of Edgehill could have been decided in favour of King Charles, who had placed the cavalry under the command of his nephew, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, an experienced and daring cavalry commander.

Prince Rupert had it within his power at Edgehill to attack the Parliamentary army from both flanks and the rear with thousands of men on horse, for he had expelled almost all the opposing cavalry from the field, while King Charles's infantry would have taken on Parliament's army from the front. But at the decisive moment of victory, Rupert abandoned the field, taking all the King's cavalry with him, and did not return until dusk, only to find two embattled armies in a position of stalemate on the battlefield.

Read on to find out the strategy of the two English armies:

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