Course:History 344 Nasty Families/The First English Civil War/ Battle of Roundway Down

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The Battle of Roundway Down was on July 13, 1643. The Parliamentarians were led by Sir William Waller while the Royalists were under the joint command of Lord Hopton, and Henry Wilmot.[1]

After regrouping in Bath following the Battle of Lansdowne Waller and his troops marched towards Devizes. Hopton and his infantry were waiting on a supply of gunpowder from Oxford here, as their ammunition wagon had exploded.[2] Waller saw an opportunity to trap the Royalists while they were unable to fight a major battle and starve them into submission. He marched his army to Roundway Down where they were indeed able to isolate Hapton’s force. [3]

Charles learned of the plan and sent two Calvary units, led by Henry Wilmot, to assist Hopton. They arrived in time to attack Wilmot’s Calvary. Unfortunately for Wilmot, his Calvary was no match for these new arrivals and they fled and unintentionally rode over a steep bluff in the process. Hundreds of his Calvary were killed or wounded by falling horses and. [4]

At this point Wilmot’s infantry was isolated, but intact, at the centre of the field and Wilmot did not have enough infantry to assault such a force of pikeman and musketeers. [5] Hopton, who was observing the assault, led his troops to strike against the rear of the parliamentary army. The Royalist army mostly consisted of troops that were requited only a month before battle. They were unable to face two armies and were forced to surrender [6]

The battle resulted in the parliamentary army being absolutely decimated at the hands of the Royalists. This allowed for the Royalists to consolidate their hold on Wales and the west. [7] As well, the defeat took the Royalist army one step closer to the port town of Bristol. If they were able to capture the town the King would have access to financial resources as it was the kingdoms largest port. [8]

William Waller was dubbed ‘William the conqueror’ due to his daring martial exploits. Both he and his London supporters blamed the defeat at Roundway Down on the Duke of Essex’s failure to prevent the king from sending reinforcements into the west country. [9]

  1. James Scott Wheeler, The Irish and British Wars 1637-1654: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure, (London: Routledge, 2002), 79
  2. Idib.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., 80
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. David Scott, Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms, 1637-49, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004),63
  8. Wheeler, 80
  9. Scott, 63