Given that it’s Halloween tomorrow, I thought it might be fun to post some scary stories from history over the next few days both here, and on our facebook page. Today, given that it was recently the anniversary of the Battle of Edgehill, today I thought I would share a rather scary story from the English Civil War, and the immediate aftermath of the battle of Edgehill.
The battle of Edgehill, 23rd October 1642, was the first major fighting in the English Civil War and famously it was seen as a draw. However, as was mentioned in my previous post, despite the fact that no one really won the battle, it offered an important strategic victory for the Royalist forces who ended up holding the road for London.
Losses during this battle were relatively significant. All together, according to various sources, deaths numbers around 1000 between both sides with 2-3000 men wounded. The battle itself lasted only 3 hours and by nightfall all fighting had ceased. The parliamentarian army, lead by Robert Deveraux Earl of Essex, was in bad shape and so withdrew to Warwick, leaving the road to London open for the Royalists. But alas, Charles did not retake London and it was left open once more for the Parliamentarian forces.
The ghostly legend began just before Christmas in 1642 when a group of Shepherds were crossing the battlefield on their way home. As they were crossing the site, they began to hear the sound of drums, the clanking of armour and weaponry followed by the groans of the dying. The men were apparently frozen with fear and just as they had recovered enough to move on, apparitions of fighting began to appear around them with men killing each other, pike pushes, musket fire, men on horseback and the entire 3 hour battle replayed itself before their eyes. When the fighting had stopped, the men hastened to the nearest town to inform the authorities of what had happened and the next day a senior authoritarian accompanied them back to the site where sure enough, it all happened again. Along with them were a crowd of towns people who had heard the story as it filtered throughout the town during the day. As they watched the whole battle replay itself, the townspeople became afraid that they had somehow offended God. When news reached King Charles, he sent two of his men to the site who also witnessed the show. These two men had fought in the battle of 1642, and were shocked to see the ghostly apparitions of deceased friends and colleagues as they fought their way through the three hour battle. Charles then recognised the event and the people that had been seen fighting it, including the Kings Standard bearer Sir Edward Verney.
Today, the sights and sounds of the battle can sometimes still be seen and heard although over the years they have gotten less and less. People who visit the battlefield have reported feeling uneasy, hearing the sounds of the fighting, particularly around the anniversary of the battle. But why do these ghosts haunt the battlefield? Could it be because it was such a pointless loss of so many lives, and neither side won or lost the battle? I guess we’ll never know.