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The King Makes a Stand at Newbury

It is 27 October 1644 and the fate of England hangs in the balance. Having relived Donnington Castle, King Charles I stands his ground at Newbury in face of a formidable Parliamentary host converging on his position from two sides.

We re-fought the battle with 28mm miniatures on a 10 x 6 ft table using Close Fire and European Order XVII rules. The above photo shows the view from the Earl of Manchester’s position to the East, looking westward towards the Royalist defenders of Shaw House — the venue of the Society of Ancients Bosworth and Adrianople Battle Days.

Prince Maurice deployed his Cornish foot to face the threat from Sir William Waller who was advancing on the Royalist position from the West. Meanwhile Jacob, Lord Astley, faced Manchester’s attack from the East.

A huge cavalry combat developed on the southern flank as Lt-Gen Balfour led 13 regiments of Parliamentarian cavalry against the Earl of Cleveland’s gallant cavaliers. The first lines of horse passed through each other to engage the supporting regiments behind. Although outnumbered, the higher quality Royalist cavaliers soon gained the advantage, breaking several regiments of roundheads.

On the northern flank, Oliver Cromwell was in a huff because elements of the Eastern Association had been given over to Sir William Waller’s command. His actions were, therefore, determined by a die throw each turn. The die results kept Cromwell’s cavalry halted. This gave Lord Goring, the Royalist cavalry commander, the opportunity to send several regiments of horse to head off an attack from the east by Edward Montagu’s Parliamentarian horse. He led the remainder forward to attack and defeat Cromwell.

King Charles I’s actions were also determined by die rolls to reflect his indecision in the historical battle. The die results saw him veering from Maurice’s west wing to Astley’s east wing and then moving towards the bridge over Kennett River to the South. Neither he, nor his Life Guards, saw any action in the game but his advisors were kept very busy.

The Trained London Bands advanced bravely against the entrenched Royalist Cornishmen on the western wing.

Attack after attack was thrown back by the Cornish.

On the eastern flank the Royalist defenders of Shaw House held their own against the Earl of Manchester’s superior numbers.

One of Manchester’s regiments succeeded in breaking through the Royalist entrenchments to the south of Shaw House — a significant achievement as they had reserves able to exploit the breakthrough. Elsewhere, however, the Parliamentarians were in trouble. On the western wing, Waller's cavalry had been bested and his foot could make no headway against the stout Cornish defenders. Most of Cromwell’s cavalry had also been driven off by Goring while Montagu’s horse had been fought to a standstill.

The Royalists had seen off an attack by superior numbers but, although they had given the Parliamentarians a bloody nose, their position remained tenuous. The King’s advisors suggested a withdrawal to Oxford to recoup and replenish so as to be ready to finally rid the kingdom of the rebellious scourge on another day.

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