Battle of Brentford
Though the clash at Brentford was only a minor affair, in effect more of a skirmish than a set piece battle, it was significant for what preceded the fight and what followed.
After Edgehill little over two weeks previously King Charles had advanced down the Thames Valley, taking Oxford , Abingdon and Aylesbury among other towns of less note. His progress was halted at Windsor , and rather than push on to take London as Prince Rupert wished, Charles decided to enter peace talks.
It is typical of Charles's inconstancy that shortly after halting his drive to begin negotiations he then felt they were going nowhere and launched another attack. This was on the small town of Brentford, eight miles or so from the capital.
Prince Rupert was detailed on November 11 to move on the town, and on the following day his cavalry entered it. Outnumbering the Parliamentarians under Denzil Holles and Lord Brooke by three or four to one, and catching them off guard, this force swept through the town and drove many back to the Thames . Scores of Roundheads died trying to swim the river to safety.
Brentford fell to Rupert by nightfall, well before 5pm at that time of year, Syon House being taken by his troops, and the commander of the Parliamentary garrison in Brentford, Lilburne, being captured.
The aftermath of the skirmish was more important in the grand scheme of things than the fight itself, though it is of significance that Hampden's infantry showed resolution and organisation in covering the retreat from the town. Once Brentford was in Royalist hands, it was sacked, a huge propaganda gift to the Parliamentary side. Any possibility that the authorities in London would waver from supporting Parliament were swept away by this act of indiscipline and stupidity.
Parliament lost more than 150 dead in the skirmish, and at least 400 more taken prisoner, but these numbers were minor compared to the movement against the King in London following Rupert's impetuosity in Brentford.
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