Battle of Alford, 2 July 1645 (Scotland)

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Battle in Scotland during First Civil War between a Royalist army under James Graham, earl of Montrose and a Covenanting army under William Baillie. The two armies had spend some weeks engaged in marches and counter-marches, Montrose perhaps hoping to descend on Aberdeen, Baillie to prevent any such move. The two armies were probably roughly equal in size at about 2,000 foot, although Baillie had 500 horse compared to Montrose's 250, giving him a very slight advantage. However, this was in part negated by the presence of representatives of the Committee of Estates, the ruling body of the Covenant, who constantly interfered with Baillie's decisions. Montrose was in position first, on a low hill overlooking the ford across the Don at Alford, possibly with some of his troops hidden to an observer on the ford. Baillie, sensibly, did not want to risk a crossing of the ford, seeing that it would leave his troops vulnerable to attack before they could form up for battle, but the Committee, urged on by Baillie's cavalry commander, Balcarres, insisted on battle. Montrose waited until the Covenanting horse was across the river, and the infantry crossing, before ordering a general attack, inflicting a massive defeat on the disordered Covenanters, who lost 1,500 of their 2,000 infantry, although much of their cavalry, along with the Baillie, Balcarres and the Committee escaped. The main lose for the Royalists was the young Lord Gordan, who appears to have charged head of the rest of the army having seen cattle stolen from his lands to feed the Covenanting army. Nevertheless, the battle of Alford was one of the few bright moments for the Royalist cause in the aftermath of Naseby, only two weeks earlier.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (19 April 2001), Alford, battle of, 2 July 1645, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_alford.html


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