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Battle of Naseby

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Battle of Naseby
Date of battleJune 14, 1645
ConflictEnglish Civil War
Battle before
Battle after
Site of battlenear Naseby,
7.5 miles (12 km) south-west of Market Harborough
Combatant 1Parliament
led byThomas Fairfax
Forces15,000 men
Combatant 2Royalists
led byPrince Rupert
Forces12,000 men
resultdecisive Parliamentary victory

The Battle of Naseby was the key battle of the first English Civil War. Fighting on June 14, 1645 near Naseby in Northamptonshire the 12,000-strong Royalist forces commanded by Prince Rupert were well beaten by the 15,000 Parliamentarian soldiers of Sir Thomas Fairfax.

On June 13, the Royalists, who were making for Newark were at Market Harborough. Thomas Fairfax planned to intercept them as soon as he was reinforced by Cromwell. The King's hand was forced when Henry Ireton attacked a Royalist outpost at Naseby, six miles (10 km) to the south of the royalist army.

The Parliamentary forces were drawn up to the south on slightly higher ground, with Ireton's cavalry on the left, Cromwell's cavalry on the right and the infantry under Philip Skippon in the centre. Facing Ireton was Rupert's cavalry, facing Cromwell Marmaduke Langdale and the Royalist infantry was commanded by the Lord Astley.

Parliamentary forces forced the commencement of the battle. Dragoons covertly advanced behind a column of thick hedges, concealing them from Royalist troops. Undetected despite standing within a few metres of Rupert's cavalry flank, they opened fire and Rupert had to charge forward to escape the sudden attack.

Rupert's charge attacked not only the cavalry under Ireton but the Parliamentary infantry in the centre. Skippon's forces were pushed back up the hill, and Ireton's cavalry was effectively eliminated from the battle. Much of Rupert's cavalry left the field to chase the fleeing remnants of Ireton's command and its baggage train.

The situation had become very grim for Parliament. In desparation, Cromwell attacked and broke Langdale's cavalry. With his forces' counterpart defeated, he was free to turn on the exposed flank of the Royalist infantry who were now surrounded on three sides - the Parliamentary infantry to the south, the dragoons to the west and Cromwell to the east. The Parliamentary forces fought the Royalist infantry to destruction or surrender. Fairfax's forces pursued Royalist fugitives fleeing north to Leicester in an attempt decisively to destroy their army as a fighting force.

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