1461: 17 February - Second Battle of St. Albans

The Earl of Warwick left London on the 12th of February and reached St. Albans that evening. He had, under his command, an army variously estimated as between 9,000 and 30,000 men - the former figure being nearer the mark. Margaret had started her march from Yorkshire with some 30,000 men, but many had gone home with their loot; she probably brought 11-12,000 soldiers onto the field at St. Albans. Warwick covered a long front from St. Albans to Nomansland Common with four unconnected defensive positions, and laid out a number of complicated defensive devices. The Lancastrians opened their attack on Warwick’s left position in St. Albans itself, and met stiff resistance from his archers positioned round the watch tower and Eleanor Cross. It took them much of the morning before the street fighting was done with and a swing to their left in order to engage Warwick’s position on Bernard’s Heath was possible. The main engagement was fought either here or near the high ground above Sandridge a mile to the north. The wind was blowing a light snowfall into the Yorkist's faces, which greatly hindered their bowmanship; added to this, their centre, under Warwick’s brother Lord Montagu, was hopelessly outnumbered and left to fight unaided for many hours. When Warwick eventually brought the right wing to their assistance, a pre-arranged desertion by a large contingent of troops from Kent had the most demoralising effect on the entire Yorkist army, which began to retreat. Although the line was temporarily stabilized by Warwick above Nomansland Common, defeat was now inevitable. Warwick, whose generalship on the day had been sadly wanting, at least managed to leave the field at the head of 4,000 disciplined troops.