Sir Ralph Hopton
Sir Ralph Hopton became the prime mover of Royalist activities in the west succeeding where other commanders failed in uniting the men of Cornwall with other Royalist forces in the West Counties into an effective fighting force. His first challenges was to control Cornwall which he did after victories at Braddock Down and Stratton.
His strength and weakness was his Cornish troops who, while ferocious fighters, were unwilling to fight outside the county of Cornwall. This unwillingness may have been the cause of his failure to take Plymouth and his reversal at South Down.
However the victory at Stratton over the Earl of Stamford caught the attention of the Court at Oxford who sent reinforcements under the joint command of the Marquis of Hertford and Prince Maurice of the Palatinate, Rupert’s younger brother. United under Hopton’s command in early 1643 this Royal Western Army invaded Devonshire and Somerset where they came up against the Western Association Army under Hopton’s friend and now rival, Sir William Waller. At Landsdown Hopton achieved a Pyrrhic victory but was only saved from defeat in the next encounter by the arrival of a relief force from Oxford under Prince Maurice which resulted in the smashing of Waller’s army at Roundway Down. Following this victory the Western Army split into two. An injured Hopton led some of his Cornish foot north to join with the King’s Oxford Army in taking Bristol and becoming that city’s Governor. The rest, under Prince Maurice, returned to Cornwall where it continued to try to subdue Exeter and Plymouth, capturing the former but fatefully not the later. Plymouth would defy the Royalists for the rest of the war.
In early 1644 Hopton led a now reinforced Western Army (Oxford troops under the Earl of Forth) ambitiously into Sussex where it met defeat at the hands of Sir William Waller’s re-built Western Association Army. For the rest of 1644 Hopton’s army was incorporated into the King’s Oxford Army.
In 1645 Lord Goring assumed command of the Western Royal Army for the campaign of 1645, a poor choice as by this time Goring had become a depressed drunk with a dislike of Prince Rupert. He failed to support the King’s Army at Naseby and led the army to unremitting failure into 1646. Even the return of Hopton in that year could not save the army against Fairfax’s New Model Army and the last Royalist force surrendered in March 1646.
Braddock Down (Minor Victory)
Stratton (Major Victory)
Lansdown (Minor Victory)
Roundway Down (Major Victory)
Cheriton (Major Defeat)
Listed below is a selection of the regiments who served at various times:
Regiments of Foot
Sir Nicholas Slanning
Regiments of Horse
Earl of Caernavon
Sir George Vaughan
Lord Hopton’s Dragoons
Text taken with courtesy from the Warhammer Historical ECW Yahoo Group.