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BATTLE OF LANGPORT 1645

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  BATTLE OF LANGPORT
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Having won the north of England at Marston Moor and the Midlands at Naseby, Sir Thomas Fairfax began a campaign to crush the Royalist cause in the West Country. The Royalist General George Goring established a defensive position between Langport and Sherborne but decided to withdraw to Bridgwater. On 9 July 1645 he sent most of his guns and baggage ahead. The following day Fairfax fell upon him. Although outnumbered 10,000 to 7,000, the Royalists were deployed with a marsh between them and the enemy. The only sure passage was the narrow ford of the Langport-Somerton road. For as long as they could retain this, Fairfax's larger numbers were irrelevant. Despite the strength of Goring's position, Fairfax did not hesitate. Having battered the Royalist gun crews into silence with his more numerous artillery, he thinned their foot back from the hedgerows on the other side of the ford with the volleying of 1,500 musketeers. Then, seizing his moment, he launched the Parliamentarian horse across the ford in one of the most courageous cavalry charges of the war. With Major Bethel at their head they galloped forward in a tight file four abreast, straight into the water. Though still heavily outnumbered by the Royalist musketeers at the ford they went on with the greatest gallantry imaginable. With Bethel seconded by more calvary and a party on foot, it was soon all over for Goring, who was obliged to retreat. Langport soon fell, allowing Parliament to isolate and bottle up the Royalist supporters in the south west. The landscape of the battle was one of irregular hedged enclosures with pasture in the wet valley bottom and open arable fields on the slopes above. Not until 1799 was the land divided into the regular, straight-sided fields of today. The site is a Registered Battlefiled.

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