380 years ago today …

The Battle of Edgehill was the first major battle of the English Civil Wars. It was fought at Edge Hill, Kineton, in southern Warwickshire on Sunday, October 23rd 1642.

All attempts at constitutional compromise between King Charles and the Parliament failed early in 1642. Both sides raised large armies and prepared to fight. In October, at his temporary base near Shrewsbury, the King decided to march on London in order to force a decisive confrontation with the army of the Parliament commanded by the Earl of Essex.

Late in the day of October 22nd, both armies found themselves unexpectedly close. They were of roughly equal size with a total of some 26,000 men taking to the field. Next day, the Royalist army descended from Edge Hill to force battle. After the Parliament’s artillery opened fire, the Royalists attacked. Both armies were made up of mostly raw and ill-equipped troops. Many from both sides fled and neither army was able to gain a decisive advantage. Of those who fought that day, approximately 1000 died and 2000 were wounded.

After the battle, the King continued his march on London but wasn’t strong enough to take it. The inconclusive result at Edgehill prevented either side from gaining a quick victory … and the war was to drag on for four years.

Author: Stella Riley


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