Following the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Hedgeley Moor on 25 April 1464, their leader John Neville, Marquess of Montagu returned to Newcastle.
The Lancastrian leader Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset advanced his army through Northumberland into the Tyne Valley, gathering support from Lancastrian garrisons as he went. He then camped his army near Hexham in early May.
Montagu marched in advance of Edward IV’s army, and met the Lancastrians at the Battle of Hexham on 15 May 1464.
The Lancastrians were camped near Linnels Bridge, over Devil’s Water, a tributary of the River Tyne, just south of Hexham.
The Yorkist army crossed to the south bank of the Tyne on 12/13 May and were in position to attack Hexham by the morning of 14 May.
Somerset deployed his army in three detachments in a meadow near Devil’s Water, hoping to meet the Yorkist army before they passed into Hexham.
The Lancastrian’s had only just taken position when the Yorkist army charged at them from higher ground. When seeing the advance, the right detachment of the Lancastrian army, led by Lord Roos, turned and fled across Devil’s Water, into Hexham; not one blow had been struck.
The Lancastrian army being hemmed in, showed little resistance when charged by Yorkist forces. Many having been pushed into Devil’s Water either drowned or were crushed when trying to climb the steep bank and retreat into Hexham.
Many Lancastrian soldiers were trapped in woods near Devil’s Water and had no choice but to surrender to Yorkist forces.
Montagu and his Yorkist army had gained a quick and decisive victory.
The Lancastrian force lost three of its leaders with Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset; Thomas, Lord Roos; and Sir William Tailboys executed.