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Battle of Edgehill - October 23, 1642

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  • Battle of Edgehill - October 23, 1642

    Originally posted by ACG History Today
    Battle of Edgehill
    October 23, 1642 A.D.

    1st battle of the English Civil War.

    ACG History Today
    Does anybody have anything to add?

    Source credit goes to any providing brief & sound historical commentary.

    Last edited by Admiral; 23 Oct 07, 06:57.
    On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

    ACG History Today


  • #2
    Discipline wins all!

    What I know about the Battle of Edgehill is that the Roundheads won mainly because they maintained their cohesion and order within the ranks due to superior discipline and more efficient teamwork.

    The Cavaliers, or the Royalists, were less-well-trained and often fought as individuals, this fateful error that had severe consequences and which seemed to vividly foreshadow how the rest of the War would go for them, and for the most part it wouldn't unfold in their favor.

    Also, as has been written, "Rupert's failure to control his horsemen had lost the battle for the king," because of which the Royalists could not stop and repel the Parliamentarian counterattack that drove them off the battlefield through this determined and ferocious "push of pike!" Though the road to London was still controlled by the Cavaliers, or Royalists.

    So therefore the superiority of Roundhead/Parliamentarian training, cohesion and discipline was on open display that day and would remain so during all the future battles in which they, and especially their immortal cavalry, achieved much fame and glory!

    Although at the Battle of Edgehill the Royalist cavalry, under Prince Rupert, also fought rather well and nearly succeeded in delivering the King his victory as they assailed and "rolled up the Roundheads' left" during the early stages of the battle, and which "had a devastating effect on the entire left wing of the Parliamentary army."

    Though as history would have it such heroics came to very little avail because the initial success of the Royalist cavalry was offset by their terrible and obvious lack of discipline as they failed to support the infantry advance, which was eventually impeded then savagely defeated.

    So it's very safe to state that Parliamentarian discipline, and the superb cohesion that they maintained in their ranks, along with their collective coolness under fire and great skill when fighting with pikes, won the day, and the War!!!


    • #3
      I always thought that Edgehill was more of a draw tactically though the fact that the Parlimentary forces showed that they could stand up to the Royalists was a strategic victory for Parliment.

      The Parlimentary forces were not that well trained at Edgehill, mostly inexperienced volunteers with, like the Royalists, a handful of 30 year war veterans. It would not be until latter battles that Parliment developed a disiplined regular army.
      "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."


      • #4
        Of the time and not at the battle of Edgehill, the Scots had the most numerical experience from those returning from the European 30 Years War. This was most evident in the 'Bishop Wars' prior to the ECW.

        It could be argued that both the Cavaliers and the Roundheads had inexperienced regiments on the day of Edgehill. Other factors which should be considered were the political conflicts within Charles I's senior advisors, providing an absence to the much needed uniformity of command. As Charles displayed a lack of military awareness during the Bishop Wars, this evidently hadn't improved much by Edgehill. In addition it is also possible that Charles never really expected the Roundhead forces to actually fight him, perhaps believing it to be a show of force to negotiate from (as the Scots in the Bishop Wars). It is suggested that the senior advice to Charles was partly inconsistent due to the available experience of his advisors being from both the Swedish and Dutch campaigns, the methodology of each differ greatly.

        J.S.Wheeler and P.Young both give good secondary narratives to the lack of discipline in the Roundhead cavalry at Edgehill, evident by an initial volley being fired into the ground by one regiment before fleeing at the nearing Prince Rupert's charge.

        On the day of Edgehill, perhaps praise should be directed to the Roundhead Infantry Officers who seem to have been able to control, lead and motivate the Musketeers and Pike to a stalemate, instead of allowing them to run (and get slaughtered) at the sight of their cavalry being destroyed on the one side and badly battered on the other.

        A stalemate/draw is probably a good estimate, despite the Cavaliers mustering to do battle the next day, and although not fully realising it (as evident by the slow speed of their march) having control of the road to London.

        The overall experience levels can be argued to have been quite poor at Edgehill, as evident for the popularity of military training manuals from printers. Yet within a year after, when most had seen the horrors of battle, the gentry tended to drift off into politics/admin or liaison roles leaving the soldiering to those who needed the money which a commission could provide. Afterall, to be a cornet involved standing in front of your 'unwashed' men to face the enemy, and in so doing also presenting yourself as an immediate target to the 'great unwashed' on the opposing side...


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