Battle of Braddock Down


Battle of Braddock Down

Lostwithiel, Cornwall The 19th of January 1643 AD

Having failed to bring Devon over to the King, Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir Bevil Grenvile withdrew their forces to loyal Cornwall.
This royalist army of perhaps 5,000 men was short of cavalry and artillery, and for a time desperately short of powder and ammunition. Providence intervened on their behalf, however, when Parliamentary ships were forced into Falmouth by foul weather, their capture gifting material to the cavaliers. The Cornish Trained Bands also linked up with Hopton, giving him local knowledge, fresh men, and a morale boost for the rest of his troops.
Two armies were in pursuit of Hopton. The Earl of Stamford had the greater force, the Scottish Colonel Lord Ruthin commanding only 4,000 or so men. The logical course for the Parliamentary side was to hold off until they joined forces; for Hopton it made sense to attack before this occurred. It is also mooted that Ruthin, believing his opponent to be short of supplies, had his eye on personal glory.
Whatever the truth may be, on the morning of January 19 1643 Hopton brought his army out to face Ruthin's men on Braddock Down, seemingly taking the latter by surprise. Ruthin's cavalry drove the royalists back, after which both sides were content to exchange musket fire from a distance of 150 yards apart, this fire-fight lasting around two hours.
Hopton eventually ordered the charge by his Cornishmen, supported by two small cannon he had kept hidden as an ace in the hole. Ruthin's artillery, more numerous, was not yet on the field.
The Cornishmen drove the Parliamentary army back, causing panic and a partial rout. The Roundhead reserves fled too when the charge reached them, the tangled mess of Parliamentary soldiery pursued all the way to Liskeard , where the townsfolk joined in the attack on them.
Royalist losses were minimal, according to some just two men; Ruthin saw 200 of his men cut down, and maybe 1,000 captured, along with several artillery pieces. Braddock Down was a blow for Parliament , albeit temporary, and another example to the Roundhead leaders of the need for greater discipline and more professional leadership in its forces.

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