Powick Bridge How Many Roundheads Died

Battle Powick BridgeEcws Kings ArmyEdgehill Royalists Soldiers

(Previous pages, 66-67)

The Royalist army, SK. forms for battle at Edgehill. In the foreground, troopers of Prince Rupert's Lifeguard of Horse; right, the Royal Standard, and beyond it the pikes of Sir Nicholas Slanning's Regiment; in the distance, the King's Lifeguard of Foot march on.

During the Civil War major battles might involve armies of between 10,000 and 15,000 men on each side. The largest was Marston Moor, in July 1644, fought by a total of around 46,000 men. (About 1,500 Parliamentarians and between 3,000 and 4,000 Royalists died there, and we may assume that the wounded totalled slightly more than the dead.)

Soldiers usually came to the field after a punishing march, and several comfortless nights in the open. Long, straggling columns of men, horses, guns and wagons ruined the dirt roads, and there were few reliable maps; a unit might average only eight or ten miles a day for many hours of toil. In May-July 1644, for instance, William Waller's infantry marched on 36 out of 69 days; spent no more than three nights in one place; and slept in the open, during a very wet summer, for 21 of those nights. Although the official scale of rations - bread, meat, cheese, beans or peas, and beer - was fairly generous, its issue when on the march was unpredictable. When an army finally stood for battle the men were often tired, hungry and thirsty as they waited in their ranks for hours on end, thinking about the ordeal to come.

The Civil War did not, in fact, involve many large-scale pitched battles between major field armies; of the total combat casualties it has been calculated that only about 15% were suffered in major actions involving 1,000 or more dead. It was mainly a war of fairly small, dispersed forces manoeuvring and fighting for regional supremacy. Most of the soldiers of the Civil War spent much of their time in garrisons of a few hundred foot and horse controlling an area of the countryside, and living off it -sometimes in a cruelly oppressive way. Numerically, more than half of the 650-odd recorded engagements involved less than 250 dead. Most of these were encounters between small forces -patrols, small units attacking neighbouring garrisons or "beating up" enemy billets, or the merciless plundering expeditions which made life a misery for civilians.

(Above left) A trumpeter of horse leads Royalist musketeers from Owen's and other regiments into their place in the battle line. Edgehill, SK.

(Left) On the Parliamentarian flank a troop of horse stamp and fidget as they await the order to advance, their commander at their head with his cornet standard-bearer and trumpeter. Hungerford's Horse at Powick Bridge, SK/ECWS.

(Above) At last, the tension breaks: Hungeford's troopers advance into battle. Powick Bridge, SK/ECWS.

Parliamentarian Cornet

(Left) The first clash of infantry: a captain of the Earl of Stamford's Regiment leads his pikemen in the defence of a hastily fortified position. Roundway Down, SK.

(Right) Parliamentarian pike struggle to hold their position against a determined attack by Royalist foot and horse. Western Association, SK, Roundway Down.

Royalist Horse CornetsDuke Blackwell

Royalist musketeers of Blackwell's Regiment of Foot, Duke of York's Brigade, advance among the fallen in their authentic six-deep files, with their drummer, sergeant and officer on the flank. Gosport, ECWS.

Hungeford Bridge

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