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BATTLE OF WINCEBY 1643

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  BATTLE OF WINCEBY
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The site of the Battle of Winceby is located in the Parish of Winceby, Lincolnshire. It was one of the lesser battles of the Civil War, however it was the first nationally important victory of the Parliamentarian cavalry. No more than 6000 troops fought the battle when the Royalist army on its way to raise the siege of Parliamentarian forces at Bolingbroke Castle was intercepted by an army of Parliamentarian cavalry and dragoons.

The Earl of Manchester, marching north with Parliament's Eastern Association Army, received warning of the close proximity of Sir William Widdrington with almost 3,000 Royalist dragoons. The Parliamentarians moved to intercept Widdrington at Winceby. By early afternoon on 11 October 1643 two forces were drawn up facing each other on either side of a small valley. The officer who was to lead the Parliamentarian vanguard that day was a talented colonel of horse by the name of Oliver Cromwell. As the Parliamentarian advance gathered, Sir William Savill's Royalist dragoons retaliated with pistol shots. In the second volley Cromwell was seen to fall, his mount killed beneath him. As he struggled to his feet he was bowled over in the Royalist countercharge and amid the press of thrashing hooves and flashing blades Sir William Widdrington concluded that Cromwell must certainly have been slain. In fact Cromwell had managed to mount another horse and remained in the thick of the action. Sir Thomas Fairfax now added the weight of the Parliamentarian reserve with a second charge. Within half an hour the Royalist ranks had become a chaotic mob fleeing for their lives. The defeated Royalists fled, so tradition has it, south-westwards, but many became trapped in Slash Hollow where they lost their lives to the pursuing Parliamentarian cavalrymen. This victory cemented Cromwell's reputation as a leader of cavalry. In 1643 the landscape of the battlefield was one of open sheep pasture with few enclosures.

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