2nd Battle of Newbury
At a time when the Civil War was very much in the balance, a decisive victory for either side at the second Battle of Newbury could have altered the course of the conflict or even (had Charles who was briefly surrounded been caught or killed) ended it rapidly. But circumstances prevented this outcome, and so the war dragged on.
Parliament, given time to reorganize by Charles making slow progress from the South West, rallied a force of perhaps 20,000 men, roughly twice the number the King had under his banner. But Essex, Parliament’s senior commander, was ill, and disastrously it was decided to general the army by what amounted to a committee.
Waller attempted another of his night-time outflanking manoeuvres, but encounters along the way – a march of some 13 miles that anyway would have exhausted his men – gave the Royalists plenty of warning. Charles was able to evade the thrust, and escaped, only to return later and relieve nearby Donnington Castle on November 9.
Waller attacked from what had been the Royalist rear. Manchester, with Skipton, Cromwell and Balfour, attacked Shaw House on another front. It seems as if neither side was committed to an all out battle, and Charles was able to escape easily in the direction of Bath with the cavalry, while his infantry headed towards Oxford .
The confusion of command in the Parliamentary army may have been to blame for its lacklustre performance at the almost non-battle. Cromwell, normally the most vigorous of cavalry leaders, did little through the day, perhaps feeling slighted; Waller's progress was extremely slow in his flanking move. Manchester’s force made little significant ingress into the enemy positions. With a force double that of Charles’s a major opportunity had been lost.
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