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

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The First Battle of Newbury was a battle between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians on September 20, 1943 at Glouster. [1] Charles and his troops had just won a swift victory at Bristol and hoped that the same could be accomplished here. [2] However, Charles and his commanders failed to secure Round Hill, the key terrain feature. This allowed for the parliamentarians, Commanded by the Earl of Essex, to advance some infantry and cannons to a compromising position [3] and forced the royalists to launch an attack which resulted in the royalists suffering heavy losses as they tried to move the men from Round hill. [4]

While the battle initially went well for the roundheads, however, the nature of the battle changed when they could not break through the formations of the London trained infantry and only succeeded in driving them back to more defensible terrain. [5] After twelve hours of fighting neither side had been able to achieve a decisive advantage yet by the next morning the king’s army had abandoned the field and marched north. The Cavaliers withdrew mainly because their supply of gunpowder was nearly exhausted. [6] Shortages of equipment and troops was a common issue during the civil war and some have argued if Charles had enough gunpowder at Newbury he might have won the war. [7]

Instead the Battle of Newbury was a strategic victory for the Parliamentarians as it showed that a disciplined infantry could beat royalist cavalry. [8] As well, they were able to march to London which not only allowed the parliamentarians to rebuild their forces rebuild but the victory allowed John Pym to gather the necessary votes to pass the Solemn League and Covenant. [9] A Scottish alliance was critical to the survival of the parliamentarians because, while the Battle of Newbury had resulted in a Roundhead victory it did not solve any of the underlying problems within their political and military organization. [10]

  1. James Scott Wheeler The Irish and British Wars: Triumph Tragedy, and Failure (London: Routledge, 2002),86
  2. Tristram Hunt The English Civil War. At First Hand (London: The Orion Publishing Group LTD, 2002), 106
  3. Wheeler, 86
  4. Ibid.
  5. Wheeler, 87
  6. Wheeler, 87
  7. Blair Worden The English Civil Wars 1640-1660 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009), 69
  8. Wheeler, 87
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.