Updated: Jul 21, 2020
The Battles of Lostwithiel or Lostwithiel Campaign, took place near Lostwithiel and Fowey in Cornwall during the First English Civil War in 1644. They resulted in victory for the Royalists commanded by King Charles over the Parliamentarians.
After defeating the army of Sir William Waller at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, King Charles marched west in pursuit of the Parliamentarian army of the Earl of Essex, who was invading the Royalist stronghold of Cornwall.
On 13 August, the Royalists began to attack in earnest, occupying several outposts on the east bank of the River Fowey, making it even more difficult for help to reach Essex. A Parliamentarian attempt to send a relieving force under Lieutenant General Middleton was defeated at Bridgwater in Somerset.
On 21 August, the Royalists attacked Essex's positions north of Lostwithiel, capturing the ruins of Restormel Castle. Royalist cavalry threatened to cut the Parliamentarians off from Fowey. Essex realised that there was no hope of relief and ordered his cavalry to break out of the encirclement. Under Sir William Balfour, they broke through the Royalist lines on the night of 31 August, eventually reaching Plymouth thirty miles to the east.
The increasingly demoralised Parliamentarian infantry fell back towards Fowey in pouring rain. They were forced to abandon several guns which became bogged down in the muddy roads. On 1 September, the pursuing Royalists captured Castle Dore, another ruined fortification which the Parliamentarians were using to anchor their lines. Essex left Sir Philip Skippon, his Sergeant Major General of Foot, in command while he himself escaped to Plymouth in a fishing boat.
On 2 September, Skippon, having been told that his infantry were unable to break out as the cavalry had done, and having been offered generous terms by the King, surrendered 6,000 infantry and all his army's guns and train.
The disarmed soldiers marched eastward to Portsmouth in continuing bad weather, being continually robbed and threatened by local people. About 1,000 died of exposure and hunger, and 1,000 more deserted or fell sick.
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