The Most Heavy Stroke

The Battle of Roundway Down 1643

Christopher L. Scott

A new in-depth study of Sir William Waller's shock defeat at Roundway on the Wiltshire downs.
Date Published :
January 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
12 b/w photos, 45 b/w ills, 8 color plates, 10 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781912390991
Pages : 216
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7 inches
Stock Status : Available


Sir William Waller called his defeat at the Battle of Roundway Down, the most heavy stroke that ever befell him. He also said it turned victory into mourning and glory into shame. Indeed his loss in July 1643 was both dramatic and unexpected but what exactly happened has posed questions to historians for many generations. For years the same old solutions as to why Waller's combined-arms army was overcome by a cavalry force of less than half its numbers have been discussed, but with little variation. They all appear to hail the experience of the vaunted Oxford Horse, the idea that the parliamentarian Horse began their fights stationary, the personal skills of Wilmot and Byron over those of Haselrig and Hungerford, and the cowardice of the parliamentarian Western Horse. These factors are probably correct in some measure, but this volume says there are two more, perhaps even greater reasons for the collapse of Waller's mounted troops. The text describes how the tactics of the day put Waller's cavalry at a decided disadvantage and that Wilmot having understood the lessons of Edgehill was able to make full use of what he saw. The book also argues a case that perhaps the ostlers and grooms of Oxfordshire contributed more to the royalist victory than has hitherto been acknowledged. The Most Heavy Stroke is full of new information and new ideas, and offers a new interpretation of what occurred and why.

Not only how it happened, but where the fighting actually took place has also over the years brought several interpretations to the fore. However, many previous writers seem to ignore several witnesses whose testimonies render their own basic deployment premise somewhat flawed. The Most Heavy Stroke combines what accounts say of movements and eyewitness terrain descriptions with knowledge of period practice in a deeper study of both battle and battlefield than has been hitherto undertaken, turning agreed previous positions of both armies on their head.

The Most Heavy Stroke combines new thinking on the battle with recent research on which units took part in the fighting, and what they wore and the flags they carried, even though it acknowledges the paucity of current information.

About The Author

Dr Christopher L Scott has been walking battlefields for over 40 years, analysing ground and tactics. He has taken numerous groups around the battlefields of Britain, the sites of both Marlborough's and Wellington's victories in Europe, and ran tours of Crecy and Agincourt. In 2002 Chris co-founded the Guild of Battlefield Guides and served for ten years as a member of Council and Director of Validation. He was given the Guild’s most prestigious awards being placed on its roll of honour and made a Fellow.

Chris has lectured for the British Councils Organisation, was part of a British delegation to the Zulu War Centennial Ceremony and represented Great Britain at an International Congress of Historical Sciences. He has also lectured for the British Commission for Military History and The Battlefields Trust for whom he was a Trustee. He is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers, a member of the Naval & Military Club, the Royal Historical Society, and President of the Wyvern Military Dining Club.

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