The Battle of Naseby, 1645
English Civil War, Battle of Naseby 1645
The English Civil War had been raging for three years when parliment's New Model Army faced King Charles I's main royalist army at Naseby, a small village in Northamptonshire. This was to be a decisive battle with just infantry and cavalry on both sides. King Charles's royalist army was commanded by Prince Rupert and opposed the Parliamentarian army under Sir Thomas Fairfax. At the end of the battle of Naseby, the royalists had lost over one thousand men and the Parlimentarians lost under two hundred. It was a resounding Parliamentarian success that was the beginning of the end for King Charles I.
Before the battle, the Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax had surrounded and besieged the royalist capital of Oxford. In an effort to relieve Oxford and lift the siege King Charles I marched his Royalist army south. However, just before Charles arrived at Oxford the Parlimentarian army under Sir Thomas Fairfax turned and marched towards the Royalists on 3rd June 1645. The intention was to meet them in battle head on. Charles'a army quickly turned round and retreated north because of the superior force of the Parlimentarians but were unable to outpace Fairfax's forces. They finally met near the small village of Naseby where the Royalists had managed to secure a strong defensive position.
The Parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fairfax commanded the New Model Army. This was the first attempt at uniting an army bound by national loyalty and not with alleigance to any particular regional commander. This New Model Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax consisted of approximately 18,000 fighting men of which 12,000 were infantry and the remaining 6,000 men mounted cavalry.
It wasn't long before King Charles I and Prince Rupert discovered that the Parlimentarian forces were resting and camped near Naseby. It was then that the Royalists decided to leave their defensive position and march towards Fairfax's army. This was a most unfortunate decision. Sir Thomas Faifax had prepared his position well on a ridge overlooking Naseby and knew exactly how to deploy his men. The battle started imediately with both sides placing their infantry in the middle and the cavalry on the flanks.
The battle at Naseby started in the morning when Prince Rupert's Royalist forces attacked the main Parlimentarian force. After some initial success, Prince Rupert then led his forces towards towards the village instead of pressing home his attack. This allowed some breathing space for Fairfax as it considerably weakened King Charles's remaining army which started to break up after a few hours heavy fighting. The Royalist army was unable to withstand the following Parliamentarian onslaught and realising the weakness of his position Charles fled the battlefield and many of his foot soldiers and infantry surrendered. The battle of Naseby was clearly a Parliamentarian victory.