Battle of Roundway Down 1643: Lord Ralph’s Cavaliers Bloody Charge to Victory during the English Civil War

On this day in 1643 the Battle of Roundway Down was fought near Dervizes, Wiltshire England during the English Civil War, 1642-1651.

Battle of Roundway Down, July 13, 1643

It is generally accepted that the battle at Roundway Down was a complete victory for the Royalists, apart of their campaign in the West of England during the early stages of the First English Civil War 1642-1645. The Royalist defeat of the Parliamentarian armies relived the siege of Devizes castle and signaled the downfall of Parliaments Western Association Armies.

The previous weeks Battle of Lansdowne, July 5, 1643 saw heavy Royalist casualties and a grave injury suffered to the Royalist commander, Lord Ralph Hopton, who had led Royalist armies to a string of victories before being besieged at Devizes Castle by the Parliamentarians. The Battle of Roundway Down began around 3 o’clock in the afternoon when a combined force of Parliamentarian infantry, horse dragoons, and artillery met Lord Hopton’s and Lord Henry Wilmot's Royalist Cavalry near the hill known as Roundway Down, north of Devizes parish.

Parliamentarian forces were bolstered by Sir Arthur Haselrige's ‘London Lobsters’ an elite force of heavily armed and armored cuirassiers. Though these were crack troops in the face of the Royalist charge the Lobster’s were annihilated and their forces scattered over the cliffs. Their defeat signaled the greater downfall of heavily armored cavalry forces, known in this time as cuirassiers, who were suppose to fire their muskets in a square formation, to lightly armored forces who could use gun and melee weapon as shock troops. In many ways the English civil war was conflict of infantry and of sieges (artillery), though cavalry still played a major role in all of the English civil conflicts of the period.

Sir Haselrig (b.1601-1661)
Parliamentarian commander of heavy cavalry
known as the 'London Lobsters'

The end of the battle took place when the Parliamentarian forces who had outnumbered the Royalists 2:1 before the battle, fled the field some in good order some rather chaotically. The last action of the day took place at foot of the actual Roundway Down hill, known thereafter as the Bloody Ditch for those doomed Parliamentarians who were massacred trying to flee the Royalist Cavaliers aggressive charge which broke on their lines of foot.

Royalist Cavaliers


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