The Battle of Powick Bridge

The Battle of Powick Bridge

The Battle of Powick Bridge was the first military confrontation between Parliamentarians and Royalist sides during the English Civil War. It took place on 23 September 1642. Powick Bridge is several miles to the south of Worcester and about 40 miles to the west of Edgehill, where the first significant civil war battle took place.

Charles I led a march from Nottingham (where he had raised his royal standard) to Shrewsbury in August 1642, where he hoped to meet up with royalist recruits from the west and Wales. Prince Rupert was 50 miles to the south of Shrewsbury in an attempt to capture Worcester. Parliament ordered the Earl of Essex and his army to defend Worcester from Prince Rupert.

Essex sent 10 men, led by Colonel John Brown, ahead of main force upon nearing Worcester. On 23 September, Rupert and 11 of his troops who had been searching for Essex’s army, confronted Brown and his men on the opposite side of the River Severn. Brown’s men were ordered by him to cross the river to meet the Royalist force. Prince Rupert gave permission for them to do this and the Parliamentarians went across peacefully. Yet, amongst the surrounding area of Powick Bridge lay approximately 1000 Parliamentarian troops and Royalists.

John Stafford, Powick Bridge, Worcester
John Stafford, Powick Bridge, Worcester

The first shots of the English Civil War were fired when the Royalist force attacked. This attack was immediately countered by Parliamentarian cavalry charge. The charge was a success but a communication breakdown meant that other Parliamentary horsemen had no choice but to withdraw. This left Fiennes extremely vulnerable to a counter-attack and consequently, 150 of his men were killed.

The Battle of Powick Bridge was in fact more of a skirmish. Had Fiennes’ attack been better exploited, it might have had a more significant outcome. It did however prompt both sides to re-consider their tactics. Essex demanded improved communication among his men and Rupert worked on ways to defend his troops against a cavalry charge - in Powick Bridge’s case, the men tried to come against Fiennes by making sure they kept still to expose themselves as simple targets.

After the skirmish, Rupert joined the king at Shrewsbury. Worcester was left under the Earl’s control.

See also:

The English Civil War

The Battle of Edgehill

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Battle of Powick Bridge". 2015. Web.