Pitched battle

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A pitched battle or set piece battle is a battle in which the time and place are determined beforehand.[1][2]

A pitched battle is not such a chance encounter as a skirmish, wherein one side must fight. An example is the first pitched battle of the English Civil War, the Battle of Edgehill, which was fought when the Royalists moved off an escarpment to a less advantageous position so that the Parliamentarians would fight them.

Pitched battles may result from meeting engagement, where instead of disengaging the opposing generals choose to reinforce their positions and turn what was initially a skirmish into a pitched battle as had happened in the Battle of Gettysburg, fought during the American Civil War.


One of the last major pitched battles between infantry was the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Pitched battles between infantry declined dramatically in the 19th century with the rise of refined use of gunpowder in modern ballistics and artillery.


Recreational battle reenactment tends to focus on pitched battles partially for sake of ease of demonstration.

See also[edit]

Citations and notes[edit]

  1. ^ p. 649, Blackwood's
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition 1989. battle, n. 1.b "With various qualifying attributes: ... pitched battle, a battle which has been planned, and of which the ground has been chosen beforehand, by both sides ..."