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A prospect of Freezing Hill, on the left, & Lansdown Hill, on the right, viewed form the west
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Waller was known for the way in which he exploited the terrain. At Lansdown he had made good use of the steep slopes, woods, hedgerows and walls to cover his weakness in infantry.

Though detachments of Waller’s army were at a disadvantage at times in the early phases of the fighting, during the second phase they all had the protection of defences and later of a wall. Thus they suffered only a small number of casualties, perhaps as few as 20 killed and 60 wounded. In contrast in this stage of the action the royalists were often in open ground under intense artillery and musket fire and repeated cavalry charges. Not surprisingly they took far heavier casualties, with perhaps several hundred killed, including a number of senior officers, and many more wounded. The next day Hopton himself became a casualty, in an accident with one of the powder wagons which exploded while the royalist commander stood nearby.

Though Waller had been forced to abandon Bath, despite his smaller numbers he had inflicted serious losses on Hopton’s army. He withdrew along the main road, closer to London to regroup and be ready to engage the royalists once more in an attempt to halt the ascendancy of the king’s forces in the south west. This he was to do a few weeks later at Roundway Down near Devizes.

As with various of Waller’s actions, this was not a conventional set piece battle. He and his opponent, good friends in peacetime, were both willing to take the offensive, even against difficult odds, when they saw an opportunity. But at Lansdown it was the terrain as much as the intentions of the commanders which determined the character of the action. The distribution of open and enclosed land, as well as of steep slopes and flat plateau, decided how and where the different types of troops could be most profitably used – the infantry under the cover of the enclosures, the cavalry in the open ground.


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