Today (23rd October) marks the anniversary of the Battle of Edgehill. This past weekend we re-enacted the battle (photos to come). The Above picture showx the line up of the Parliamentary (red) and Royalist (blue) forces.
Both sides held their positions during the night, which was very cold. This has been suggested as the reason why many of the wounded survived, as the cold allowed many wounds to congeal, saving the wounded from bleeding to death or succumbing to infection.
The following day, both armies formed up again, but neither was willing to resume the battle. Charles sent a herald to Essex with a message of pardon if he would agree to the King’s terms, but the messenger was roughly handled and forced to return without delivering his message. Although Essex had been reinforced by some of his units which had lagged behind on the march, he withdrew on 25 October to Warwick Castle, abandoning seven guns on the battlefield.
This allowed the King to move directly on London. Rupert urged this course, and was prepared to undertake it with his cavalry alone. With Essex’s army still intact, Charles chose to move more deliberately, with the whole army. After capturing Banbury on 27 October, Charles advanced via Oxford, Aylesbury and Reading. Essex meanwhile had moved directly to London. Reinforced by the London Trained Bands and many citizen volunteers, his army proved to be too strong for the King to contemplate another battle when the Royalists advanced to Turnham Green. The King withdrew to Oxford, which he made his capital for the rest of the war. With both sides almost evenly matched, it would drag on ruinously for years.
It is generally acknowledged that the Royalist cavalry’s lack of discipline prevented a clear Royalist victory at Edgehill. Not for the last time in the war, they would gallop after fleeing enemy and then break ranks to plunder, rather than rally to attack the enemy infantry. Byron’s and Digby’s men in particular, were not involved in the first clashes and should have been kept in hand rather than allowed to gallop off the battlefield.