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BATTLE OF ROUNDWAY DOWN 1643

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  BATTLE OF ROUNDWAY DOWN, BATTLE OF ROUNDWAY DOWN
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The site of a Civil War battle which took place on 13 July 1643. The inconclusive battle at Lansdown Hill had failed to resolve the power strugle in the West. Dispirited and still short of ammunition, the Royalists withdrew into Devizes, pursued by Sir William Waller who had gathered reinforcements from Bristol. Before Waller could storm the town he received news of the approach of a second Royalist force. The King had despatched Lord Wilmot and Sir John Byron to relieve Devizes with 12,000 calvary. As Wilmot approached Devizes, they found the Parliamentarans arrayed on the southern slopes of Roundway Down. After a brief skirmish between the advance parties of each side, Sir Arthur Hesilrige's Parliamentarian cuirassiers moved forward to support their retreating party of infantry. They were met by Wilmot's own brigade. In foregoing the advantage of terrain to meet Wilmot's expert calvary on even ground they had already made their fatal mistake. The reaction of the practised Royalist horsemen was swift and deadly and after a second charge, the Parliamentarian cuirassiers were broken and fled the field. Waller now drew the rest of his army down the hill and advanced with his own brigade of horse, two pieces of canon and two bodies of infantry men. Marching uphill to meet this force, Byron's brigade rode head on into the Parliamentarian volleys. In the hard fought action that followed, Waller's remaining cavalry were put to flight. Many fled west unaware of the dangerous 300 foot drop ahead, where Roundway Down ends abruptly at Oliver's Castle. Galloping for their lives many ploughed straight over into what is now known as Bloody Ditch. The site of the battle is a Registered Battlefield.

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