The Infantry Engage

As the cavalry charge went in, the royalist infantry advanced to within musket shot of the parliamentarian foot and a firefight began. The parliamentarians held their position on the higher ground. Essex’s infantry were already at a disadvantage, for in the cavalry action the front battalions on the left flank andone of  the reserve battalions had been swept away. But reserves were quickly brought in to hold the line, Holles' regiment in particular being singled out for praise in saving the parliamentarian battle array from disaster. By this time the front line batallions had come to 'push of pike'.

Though the parliamentarian infantry may have been initially hard pressed, their situation was not as difficult as might otherwise have been the case. As Balfour's cavalry troops remained on the battlefield, Essex had an advantage. This enabled him to mount a flank attack on the royalist infantry while they were fully engaged. Two of the royalist regiments were broken by the combined cavalry and infantry assault. Those not killed or captured fled back towards Edgehill while Balfour’s cavalry charge carried him right through to the royalist artillery, where he disabled several cannon.

For a time the royalist infantry on the left side of the battlefield held the combined infantry and cavalry attack. But they finally broke and ran when Balfour’s cavalry also attacked from the rear. It must have been in this engagement that the Earl of Lindsey was mortally wounded and the King’s standard bearer, Sir Edmund Verney, killed and the Royal Standard taken, in one of the most memorable incidents recorded in the battle.

Only on the right did the royalists regiments hold their own, as the centre and left fell back in disorder. The few royalist horse left on the field, under Lucas, attempted their own charge but were countered by other parliamentarian horse. The royalists were thus pushed back to their artillery. But their cohesion was retained, thanks largely to the presence of a ditch, which they were able to defend, and the support of very effective artillery fire. This enabled their left wing, which had given the most ground, to reform.


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