Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold
|Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold|
|Part of English Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Sir William Brereton
Colonel Thomas Morgan
|Sir Jacob Astley|
|Casualties and losses|
|Light||Less than 1,000 killed
The Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold took place during the English Civil War. In the Spring of 1646, King Charles I of England was getting ever more desperate to hold the Royalist cause together whilst waiting for the long promised relief forces from Ireland, Scotland and France. Sir Jacob Astley took command of the Royalist forces in the west and began to gather up the remnants from the handful of Royalist garrisons still left in the west. At this point in the war, Royalist morale was low. However, Astley, a stalwart of the Royalist commanders and an experienced soldier, was able to cobble together a force of 3,000.
Astley was trying to reach Oxford with his force when Parliament got wind of it. What ensued was a period of thrusting and parrying along the River Avon as Astley tried to evade certain defeat. Finally, Astley had no choice but to stop and fight the harrying Roundhead forces of Colonel Thomas Morgan and Sir William Brereton. Astley chose a hill to the northwest of Stow-on-the-Wold straddling the present day A424 highway.
The Roundhead forces (the Parliamentarians), who were slightly smaller in number, lined up to the northwest of Astley's position, also along the current route of the A424. The Roundheads, flush with the confidence of an army on the brink of total victory, charged up the hill at the Royalist positions, near the present day Greenfield Farm. Initially, the Royalists held and even pushed the Parliamentary infantry back. However, the Roundhead cavalry under Brereton rolled up the Royalist cavalry on the right flank. The Royalist cavalry fled the field and the infantry fought a running retreat southeasterly back to Stow Square.
Finally, Astley sat down on an ancient cross monument in the square and declared, "You have done your work, boys, and may go play, unless you will fall out among yourselves." This was a fitting end to the last major battle of the First Civil War from the man who was most quoted at the first major battle.
In St. Edward's Church there is a monument to Sir Hastings Keyte, who was a Royalist captain killed in the battle, aged 23.
- Hastings, Max (1986). The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes, Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-520528-6, ISBN 978-0-19-520528-2
- Historic England Register Entry
- Battlefield Trust article