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The Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold

By , Contributing Writer  |  Comments

The last battle of the English Civil War took place in the early morning of 21st March 1646, just one mile north of the Cotswold market town of Stow-on-the-Wold.

The Royalist cause was in a desperate situation as King Charles I anxiously waited for the arrival of promised relief forces from Ireland, Scotland and France. If the king’s commander Sir Jacob Astley could fight his way to Oxford, there was a chance that they may be able to hold out until the foreign re-enforcements arrived.

An experienced soldier, Astley had gathered the remnants from the Royalist garrisons left in the West and now marched his 3,000 strong force along the banks of the River Avon towards Oxford.

Finding his way blocked by a slightly smaller Parliamentarian army, Astley had no option other than to position his troops atop a hill to the northwest of Stow.

The battle started with the Roundhead forces charging up the hill to meet the Royalist ranks. Initially the Parliamentary infantry were pushed back, but when the cavalry of Sir William Brereton made a decisive attack, the Royalists cavalry broke and fled the field.

The Royalists fought a running retreat back through the streets of Stow, where Astley finally sat down on the ancient cross monument in the market square and declared, "You have done your work, boys, and may go play …”

With Astley's defeat, Charles realised that the end was in sight and surrendered soon afterwards to the Scottish army at Newark, in May 1646.

Click here for a battlefield map.

Key Facts:

Date: 21st March, 1646

War: English Civil War

Location: Near Stow-on-the-Wold, Cotswolds

Belligerents: Royalists and Parliamentarians

Victors: Parliamentarians

Numbers: Royalists 3,000, Parliamentarians 2,500

Casualties: Royalists around 2,000, Parliamentarians negligible

Commanders: Sir Jacob Astley (Royalists), Sir William Brereton (Parliamentarians)


The Battle of Stow

More Battles in the English Civil War:

Battle of Edgehill 23 October, 1642
Battle of Braddock Down 19 January, 1643
Battle of Hopton Heath 19 March, 1643
Battle of Stratton 16 May, 1643
Battle of Chalgrove Field 18 June, 1643
Battle of Adwalton Moor 30 June, 1643
Battle of Lansdowne 5 July, 1643
Battle of Roundway Down 13 July, 1643
Battle of Winceby 11 October, 1643
Battle of Nantwich 25 January, 1644
Battle of Cheriton 29 March, 1644
Battle of Cropredy Bridge 29 June, 1644
Battle of Marston Moor 2 July, 1644
Battle of Naseby 14 June, 1645
Battle of Langport 10 July 1645
Battle of Rowton Heath 24 September, 1645
Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold 21 March, 1646


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