February 16th, 1646 – THE BATTLE OF TORRINGTON – As the Parliamentarian army under Sir Thomas Fairfax approached Torrington in a steady rain sporadic fighting broke out between them and the Royalist forces under Ralph Hopton, the First Baron Hopton. Fairfax was on the point of deciding to wait until morning of the 17th to launch his assault, but when the Parliamentarian dragoons under Oliver Cromwell came under fire from the fortified city of Torrington and recon units indicated the Royalists might use the delay to escape in the rain Fairfax decided to begin his attack at once.

After two hours of intense fighting at the barricades to the city the Parliamentarians forced the Royalists back into the city itself and street-to- street fighting commenced. Seeing how the battle was going against the Royalists, one of their soldiers paniced and fired a shot into the Royalist magazine in Torrington Church, where eighty barrels of gunpowder and two hundred Parliamentarian prisoners were held. The massive explosion destroyed the church, killed all the prisoners (shades of Hoghton Tower) and the flying debris caused many casualties in addition to nearly killing General Fairfax himself. The rain prevented any fire from spreading but in the confusion following the explosion many Royalist troops made their escape into Conwall.

The battle of Torrington effectively ended Royalist resistance in the Western Theater. Baron Hopton had even failed in his attempt to force Fairfax to lift the siege of Exeter. Sir Thomas had merely detached some of his troops for the assault on Torrington and had left Hardress Waller to continue the siege of Exeter. General Fairfax followed up the Battle of Torrington with a relentless pursuit of the remnants of the Royalist army under Hopton.


Filed under English Civil War


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