Pitched battle

A pitched battle or set piece battle is a battle in which both sides choose the fighting location and time. Either side has the option to disengage before the battle starts or shortly thereafter.[1][2]

A pitched battle is not a chance encounter such as a skirmish, or where one side is forced to fight at a time not of their choosing such as happens in a siege. For example, the first pitched battle of the English Civil War, the Battle of Edgehill, was fought when the Royalists chose to move off an escarpment to a less advantageous position so that the Parliamentarians would be willing to fight.

Pitched battles may result from a meeting engagement, where—instead of disengaging—the opposing generals choose to reinforce their positions and turn what was initially a skirmish into a pitched battle, as happened in the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

The last pitched battle on British soil was the Battle of Culloden in 1746.


Recreational battle reenactment tends to focus on pitched battles partially for the sake of ease of demonstration.

See also


  1. ^ p. 649, Blackwood's
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition 1989. battle, n. 1.b "With various qualifying attributes: … pitched battle, a battle which has been planned, and of which the ground has been chosen beforehand, by both sides ..."


  • "Policy of the Protectionists". Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. 71 (440): 645–68. June 1852.
Anglo-Scottish Wars

The Anglo-Scottish Wars comprise the various battles which continued to be fought between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland from the time of the Wars of Independence in the early 14th century through to the latter years of the 16th century.

Although the Wars of Independence, in which Scotland twice resisted attempted conquest by Plantagenet kings of England, formally ended in the treaties of 1328 and 1357 respectively, relations between the two countries remained uneasy. Incursions by English kings into Scotland continued under Richard II and Henry IV and informal cross-border conflict remained endemic. Formal flashpoints on the border included places remaining under English occupation, such as Roxburgh Castle or the port of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Roxburgh was recaptured by the Scots in 1460 under Mary of Guelders after the death of James II in the same campaign. Similarly, possession of Berwick changed hands a number of times, as one country attempted to take advantage of weakness or instability in the other, culminating in final capture for the English of the Scottish port by Richard, Duke of Gloucester in 1482.

England's preoccupation with civil war during the Wars of the Roses may have been a component in the period of relative recovery for her northern neighbour during the course of the 15th century, and by the first decade of the 16th century James IV of Scotland and Henry VII of England were making overtures for lasting peace. This broke down after the accession of the more overtly bellicose Henry VIII to the English throne and James IV's catastrophically misjudged incursion into Northumbria in 1513 ending in the Battle of Flodden. Three decades later, after the death of James V in 1542, the so-called 'rough wooing' at the hands of invading English armies under the Earl of Hertford brought manifest depredations to Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scotland and England as independent states was the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547. Periods of fighting and conflict nevertheless continued.

France also played a key role throughout the period of the Anglo-Scottish Wars. Scots and English soldiers on French soil during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) generally fought on opposing sides, with the Scots standing for the French against the English under the Auld Alliance. France in later periods, in turn, often intervened on Scottish soil for the Scots. This French involvement had increasingly complex political consequences for all sides by the later 16th century.

The Anglo-Scottish Wars can formally be said to have ended with the Union of the Crowns in 1603, wherein England and Scotland entered a personal union under James VI and I, who inherited both crowns. Bloody conflict between the two states nevertheless continued to arise in different and more complex guise throughout the course of the 17th century.

Battle of Abukir (1799)

The Battle of Abukir (or Aboukir or Abu Qir) was a battle in which Napoleon Bonaparte defeated Seid Mustafa Pasha's Ottoman army on July 25, 1799, during the French campaign in Egypt. It is considered the first pitched battle with this name, as there already was a naval battle on August 1, 1798 (a second pitched battle followed on March 8, 1801). No sooner had the French forces returned from a campaign to Syria, than the Ottoman forces were transported to Egypt by Sidney Smith's British fleet to put an end to French rule in Egypt.Seid Mustafa Pasha was an experienced commander who had fought against the Russians. He knew that cavalry charges against the French squares were futile. So, he sought to avoid them by fortifying his beachhead with two defensive lines. From this beachhead Mustafa could carry out the invasion of Egypt. However, Napoleon immediately saw the flaw in the tactic as it meant that the Turks had nowhere to run if routed.The French attacked the Ottoman positions and quickly broke through the first defensive line before it was fully completed. The second line, however, proved tougher to defeat and the French withdrew for a while. At this point, cavalry general Murat saw his opportunity and attacked with his cavalry, quickly routing the exposed Turks.Murat's charge was so rapid that he burst inside Mustafa's tent and captured the Turkish commander, severing two of the Turk's fingers with his sabre. In return, Mustafa shot Murat in the jaw. Immediately, Murat was operated on and resumed his duties the next day.

The Turkish army fled in panic. Some Ottomans drowned trying to swim to the British ships two miles away from shore, while others fled to Abukir castle, but they surrendered shortly thereafter. The Turks suffered about 8,000 casualties and the French only 1,000. News of the victory reached France before Napoleon arrived in October and this made him even more popular, an important asset considering the troubles brewing in the French Directory. This battle temporarily secured France's control over Egypt.

Battle of Abukir (1801)

The Battle of Abukir of 8 March 1801 was the second pitched battle of the French campaign in Egypt and Syria to be fought at Abu Qir on the Mediterranean coast, near the Nile Delta.

The landing of the British expeditionary force under Sir Ralph Abercromby was intended to defeat or drive out an estimated 21,000 remaining troops of Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Egypt. The fleet commanded by Baron Keith included seven ships of the line, five frigates and a dozen armed corvettes. With the troop transports, it was delayed in the bay for several days by strong gales and heavy seas before disembarkation could proceed.Under General Friant, some 2000 French troops and ten field guns in high positions took a heavy toll of a large British force disembarking from a task-force fleet in boats, each carrying 50 men to be landed on the beach. The British then rushed and overwhelmed the defenders with fixed bayonets and secured the position, enabling an orderly landing of the remainder of their 17,500-strong army and its equipment. The skirmish was a prelude to the Battle of Alexandria and resulted in British losses of 130 killed and 600 wounded or missing. The French withdrew, losing at least 300 dead or wounded and eight pieces of cannon.

Battle of Ajnadayn

The Battle of Ajnadayn (Arabic: معركة أجنادين‎) was fought in July or August 634 (Jumada I or II, 13 AH), in an unknown location close to Beit Guvrin in present-day Israel; it was the first major pitched battle between the Byzantine (Roman) Empire and the army of the Arab Rashidun Caliphate. The result of the battle was a decisive Muslim victory. The details of this battle are mostly known through Muslim sources, such as the ninth-century historian al-Waqidi.

Battle of Clitheroe

The Battle of Clitheroe was a battle between a force of Scots and English knights and men at arms which took place on 10 June 1138 during the period of The Anarchy. The battle was fought on the southern edge of the Bowland Fells, at Clitheroe, Lancashire. It took place in the course of an invasion of England by King David I of Scotland. In the summer of 1138, King David split his army into two forces. One of them, commanded by William fitz Duncan, Mormaer of Moray, marched into Lancashire. There he harried Furness and Craven. On 10 June, William fitz Duncan was met by a force of knights and men-at-arms. A pitched battle took place and the result was that the English army was routed. The battle was a prelude to the Battle of the Standard later in the summer, where the result was reversed.

Battle of Kings Norton

The Battle of Kings Norton was fought on 17 October 1642. The skirmish developed out of a chance encounter between Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert and Parliamentarians under the command of Lord Willoughby. Both forces had been on their way to join their respective armies which were later to meet at Edgehill in the first pitched battle of the English Civil War. The Parliamentarians won the encounter and both forces proceeded to join their respective armies.

Battle of Knockavoe

The Battle of Knockavoe (Cnoc-Buidhbh) was fought in 1522 between the O'Donnells, led by Hugh Dubh O'Donnell and Manus O'Donnell, both sons of Sir Hugh Dubh O'Donnell, against the O'Neills, in which the O'Neills and their supporters were surprised and routed. Knockavoe was not a lost pitched battle, rather it was in fact the result of a nighttime surprise attack on the O'Neill camp by the O'Donnells.

Knockavoe is the hill just behind Strabane in County Tyrone.

Battle of Kollum

The Battle of Kollum was a military engagement that took place on 16 July 1581 during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo–Spanish War. The battle was fought between an English and Dutch force under John Norreys and Diederik Sonoy respectively, and a Spanish force under George van Lalaing, the Count of Rennenberg. The Dutch and English were victorious, and as a result of the defeat Rennenberg, already ill, died two days later.In March 1580 George van Lalaing, the Count Rennenberg had turned against William the Silent, and then declared for Spain. This caused outrage amongst the Dutch with many even coming over to the side of the rebels. Rennenberg led an army to lay siege at Steenwijk but was defeated when an Anglo Dutch relief army under John Norreys arrived.Many of Rennenberg's army were sick and in a mutinous mood; they fled east towards Groningen and with Norreys in pursuit not too far behind. Rennenberg hoping to catch his pursuers off guard turned and faced them at Kollum. Norreys attacked almost at once sweeping away the Spanish forces from the field who then fled all the way to Groningen itself. The battle was one sided and a heavy defeat; Spanish casualties were heavy with 700 killed, wounded or captured and in addition the loss of all their military baggage and all four of their field guns. Rennenberg, who had been too ill to take command, died four days later at Groningen.Rennenberg's successor Francisco Verdugo soon attacked again at Noordhorn; this time Norreys was defeated in the pitched battle.

Battle of La Suffel

The Battle of La Suffel was a French victory over Austrian forces of the Seventh Coalition and the last French pitched battle victory in the Napoleonic Wars. It was fought on 28 June 1815 at Souffelweyersheim and Hoenheim, near Strasbourg.

During the Hundred Days, General Jean Rapp rallied to Napoleon Bonaparte and was given command of the V Corps (also known as the Army of the Rhine), consisting of about 20,000 men. He was ordered to observe the border near Strasbourg, and to defend the Vosges. Ten days after Waterloo (in which his corps took no part), he met the III Corps of the Austrian Upper Rhine Army under the command of the Crown Prince of Württemberg near Strasbourg and defeated them at the Battle of La Suffel.

Battle of Lough Raska

The Battle of Lough Raska (Irish: Loch Rasca) or Battle of Corcomroe (Irish: Corca Mrua) took place on 15 August 1317 near Corcomroe Abbey in north County Clare, Ireland. It was part of a fight for control of the Uí Briain chieftaincy and part of the Anglo-Norman wars in Ireland. Forces loyal to Muircheartach Ó Briain were commanded by Diarmait Ó Briain in a pitched battle against Donnchadh Ó Briain, who was an ally of Mathghamhain Ó Briain and Richard de Clare. Both armies were about 9,000 men each. Diarmait Ó Briain's forces were victorious. This would be a precursor to the Battle of Dysert O'Dea.

Battle of Rathangan

The Battle of Rathangan is the name given to a military engagement between the forces of the British Crown and the United Irishmen during the 1798 rebellion.

On 24 May 1798 a group of rebels from the United Irishmen led by a Captain Doorley attacked the town of Rathangan, County Kildare which was being defended by a small corps of yeomanry led by Captain James Spencer; the rebels held the town for four days. However, on 28 May 1798 two squadrons of the 7th Dragoon Guards were sent to re-capture the town. The commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Mahon, took one squadron into the town while the other waited outside. A pitched battle then took place with heavy losses on both sides.


Butapichón or Butapichún or Putapichon was the Mapuche toqui from 1625 to 1631, as successor to Lientur. After the death of Quepuantú in 1632 he became toqui once again from 1632 to 1634.

Butapichón as toqui lead the Mapuche in successful malones and battles against Spanish forces. On January 24, 1630 he managed to ambush the Maestro de Campo Alonso de Córdoba y Figueroa in Pilcohué without achieving the victory but causing them many casualties. After Quepuantú succeeded him as Toqui the two fought the Spanish led by the very competent Governor Francisco Laso de la Vega who finally defeated them in the pitched battle of La Albarrada on January 13, 1631. Thereafter he refused to engage in open battles against Laso de la Vega, reverting to the Malón strategy of Lientur. The toqui Huenucalquin succeeded Butapichón.

Dalmanutha, South Africa

Dalmanutha is a railway station some 16 km east of Belfast, on the route between Pretoria and Maputo. Named after the farm, which in turn takes its name from a biblical town on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 8:10). The name is said to mean 'house of widowhood'. The area is known to the local inhabitants as Monometsi. A clash between the Bakoni and Matabele occurred here. It was also the scene of the last pitched battle of the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) which took place from 25 August 1900.

George (1802 ship)

George was an Australian sloop launched in 1802 and wrecked in 1806. She spent her brief career seal hunting in Bass Strait.

George was a sloop of 28 tons that John Palmer of Sydney had built on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales.

On 15 May 1803 George ran aground on New Year's Island on her way to Bass Strait. She was eventually refloated on 1 February 1804, although a carpenter drowned in the process.In 1806, George, under the command of Thomas Birbeck, was carried onto rocks by a strong current in Twofold Bay in late January or early February. When George was refloated she was found to be so badly damaged that she was immediately beached. Aborigines attacked the crew, throwing spears and burning grass at them. Birbeck and the crew opened fire and killed several aborigines. The crew then set off for Sydney in the ship's boat and arrived there on 13 February 1806.

On 20 March 1806 Venus left Sydney to find the wreck and refloat it. However, on arrival it was discovered to be in such bad condition that the cargo of 5000 sealskins were removed and the ship set on fire to salvage the ironwork. Venus returned to Sydney leaving a party of five behind for no apparent reason. One of the men, Yankey Campbell, went missing on 20 April and was presumed to have been killed by aborigines. The remaining four fought a pitched battle with some aborigines and then took to their small boat. Bad weather forced them to land at Jervis Bay where they asked two aborigines to guide them to Sydney. They arrived in Sydney on 13 May 1806.


Hojir (Persian: هُژیر‎) is an Iranian hero in Shahnameh, the national epic of Greater Iran. Hojir is son of Goudarz and brother of Giv and Rohham. Hojir first appears in the story of Rostam and Sohrab. He is castellan of Dez-e Sepid (White fortress) in the border of Iran and Turan. When Sohrab arrives at Dez-e Sepid, Hojir came out to fight him, but he was defeated by Sohrab, however Sohrab does not kill Hojir and instead takes him as a prisoner. Sohrab, wishing to recognize Rostam, his father, asks Hojir to introduce leaders of Iranian army to him, but when he asks about Rostam, Hojir does not reveal his identity, fearing that Sohrab may kill Rostam.Hojir then participated in a series of battles between Iran and Turan, sometimes as a messenger. His most important role is in the story of Davazdah Rokh (Twelve combats), where he kills Sepahram, a Turanian hero in a pitched battle.Beside Shahnameh, Hojir was also mentioned in other sources such as Momjalal-tawāriḵ, where he is the chief companion of Kay Khosrow.His name is derived from Old Iranian *Hu-čiθra and it means "of good nature" or literally of good appearance. In Middle Persian texts, his name was mentioned as hu-čihr and then it developed into New Persian Hožir/Hojir, meaning "beautiful, fair". َIts cognate in Modern Persian is Hu-čehr (هوچهر) or beh-čehr (بهچهر). It sometimes incorrectly pronounced as "Hajir".

Mithridates of Armenia

Mithridates of Armenia (Armenian: Միհրդատ Իբերացի, fl. 1st century) was an Iberian prince who served as a King of Armenia under the protection of the Roman Empire.

Mithridates was installed by Roman emperor Tiberius, who invaded Armenia in 35. When the Parthian prince Orodes, son of Artabanus III of Parthia, attempted to dispossess Mithridates of his newly acquired kingdom, Mithridates led a large Armenian and Iberian army and defeated the Parthians in a pitched battle (Tacitus, Annals. vi. 32-35). At a later period c. 37, the new emperor Caligula had Mithridates arrested, but Claudius restored him on the Armenian throne c. 42. Subsequently, Mithridates' relations with Pharasmanes I deteriorated and the Iberian king instigated his son, Rhadamistus, to invade Armenia and overthrow Mithridates in 51. Betrayed by his Roman commanders, Mithridates surrendered: the Roman historian Cassius Dio reports a likely apocryphal confrontation of Mithridates and Claudius at Rome, in which Mithridates is said to respond boldly to threatening by saying: "I was not brought to you; I came. If you doubt it, release me and try to find me." Mithridates was put to death by his nephew Rhadamistus, who usurped the crown and married his cousin Zenobia, Mithridates' daughter.

Second Fiji Expedition

The Second Fiji Expedition was an 1859 United States Navy operation against the native warriors of Seru Epenisa Cakobau on the island of Waya in Fiji. Following the death of two American traders on Waya, the Pacific Squadron launched a punitive expedition against the Wayans and defeated them in a pitched battle at the village of Somatti.

Sporting Hill, Pennsylvania

Sporting Hill is an unincorporated community in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is bordered on the north and south by the Conodoguinet Creek and the Capital Beltway (11/581,) respectively. Carlisle Pike (the old Route 11 and the main east-west route through Sporting Hill) and the Beltway interchange a short distance west of the village, which has multiple retail stores and restaurants, including in the Hampden Town Centre. Sporting Hill is served by the Mechanicsburg post office with the zip code of 17050. On June 30, 1863 the northernmost pitched battle of the American Civil War occurred there at the Skirmish of Sporting Hill during the Gettysburg Campaign.

Álvaro IV of Kongo

Álvaro IV of Kongo, also known as Álvaro IV Nzinga a Nkuwu, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1631 to 1636.The king was last of the House of Kwilu monarchs which had ruled the kingdom with only one intermission since 1567. He was a son of Álvaro III and took possession of the throne at age thirteen. He came to power during a time of great strife in the kingdom, and if not for the intervention of future kings Álvaro VI and Garcia II, his reign might have been much shorter. Only five years after being placed on the throne, the duke of Mbamba Daniel da Silva, marched on the capital of São Salvador on the pretense of "protecting his nephew from outsiders". The king fled with his protectors where they fought a pitched battle against da Silva's forces at a swamp. The king's forces under the leadership of Lukeni family brothers Álvaro and Garcia were victorious, and Álvaro IV was placed back on the throne. In 1636, the king died of poison and Álvaro V, a cousin of the Lukeni brothers, took the throne for the House of Kimpanzu.

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