1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Great Rebellion
GREAT REBELLION (1642–52), a generic name for the civil wars in England and Scotland, which began with the raising of King Charles I.’s standard at Nottingham on the 22nd of August 1642, and ended with the surrender of Dunottar Castle to the Parliament’s troops in May 1652. It is usual to classify these wars into the First Civil War of 1642–46, and the Second Civil War of 1648–52. During most of this time another civil war was raging in Ireland. Its incidents had little or no connexion with those of the Great Rebellion, but its results influenced the struggle in England to a considerable extent.
1. First Civil War (1642–46).—It is impossible rightly to understand the events of this most national of all English wars without some knowledge of the motive forces on both sides. On the side of the king were enlisted the deep-seated loyalty which was the result of two centuries of effective royal protection, the pure cavalier spirit foreshadowing the courtier era of Charles II., but still strongly tinged with the old feudal indiscipline, the militarism of an expert soldier nobility, well represented by Prince Rupert, and lastly a widespread distrust of extreme Puritanism, which appeared unreasonable to Lord Falkland and other philosophic statesmen and intolerable to every other class of Royalists. The foot of the Royal armies was animated in the main by the first and last of these motives; in the eyes of the sturdy rustics who followed their squires to the war the enemy were rebels and fanatics. To the cavalry, which was composed largely of the higher social orders, the rebels were, in addition, bourgeois, while the soldiers of fortune from the German wars felt all the regular’s contempt for citizen militia. Thus in the first episodes of the First Civil War moral superiority tended to be on the side of the king. On the other side, the causes of the quarrel were primarily and apparently political, ultimately and really religious, and thus the elements of resistance in the Parliament and the nation were at first confused, and, later, strong and direct. Democracy, moderate republicanism and the simple desire for constitutional guarantees could hardly make head of themselves against the various forces of royalism, for the most moderate men of either party were sufficiently in sympathy to admit compromise. But the backbone of resistance was the Puritan element, and this waging war at first with the rest on the political issue soon (as the Royalists anticipated) brought the religious issue to the front. The Presbyterian system, even more rigid than that of Laud and the bishops—whom no man on either side supported save Charles himself—was destined to be supplanted by the Independents and their ideal of free conscience, but for a generation before the war broke out it had disciplined and trained the middle classes of the nation (who furnished the bulk of the rebel infantry, and later of the cavalry also) to centre their whole will-power on the attainment of their ideals. The ideals changed during the struggle, but not the capacity for striving for them, and the men capable of the effort finally came to the front and imposed their ideals on the rest by the force of their trained wills.
Material force was throughout on the side of the Parliamentary party. They controlled the navy, the nucleus of an army which was in process of being organized for the Irish war, and nearly all the financial resources of the country. They had the sympathies of most of the large towns, where the trained bands, drilled once a month, provided cadres for new regiments. Further, by recognizing the inevitable, they gained a start in war preparations which they never lost. The earls of Warwick, Essex and Manchester and other nobles and gentry of their party possessed great wealth and territorial influence. Charles, on the other hand, although he could, by means of the “press” and the lords-lieutenant, raise men without authority from Parliament, could not raise taxes to support them, and was dependent on the financial support of his chief adherents, such as the earls of Newcastle and Derby. Both parties raised men when and where they could, each claiming that the law was on its side—for England was already a law-abiding nation—and acting in virtue of legal instruments. These were, on the side of the Parliament, its own recent “Militia Ordinance”; on that of the king, the old-fashioned “Commissions of Array.” In Cornwall the Royalist leader, Sir Ralph Hopton, indicted the enemy before the grand jury of the county as disturbers of the peace, and had the posse comitatus called out to expel them. The local forces in fact were everywhere employed by whichever side could, by producing valid written authority, induce them to assemble.
2. The Royalist and Parliamentarian Armies.—This thread of local feeling and respect for the laws runs through the earlier operations of both sides almost irrespective of the main principles at stake. Many a promising scheme failed because of the reluctance of the militiamen to serve beyond the limits of their own county, and, as the offensive lay with the king, his cause naturally suffered far more therefrom than that of the enemy. But the real spirit of the struggle was very different. Anything which tended to prolong the struggle, or seemed like want of energy and avoidance of a decision, was bitterly resented by the men of both sides, who had their hearts in the quarrel and had not as yet learned by the severe lesson of Edgehill that raw armies cannot bring wars to a speedy issue. In France and Germany the prolongation of a war meant continued employment for the soldiers, but in England “we never encamped or entrenched . . . or lay fenced with rivers or defiles. Here were no leaguers in the field, as at the story of Nuremberg, neither had our soldiers any tents or what they call heavy baggage. ’Twas the general maxim of the war—Where is the enemy? Let us go and fight them. Or . . . if the enemy was coming . . . Why, what should be done! Draw out into the fields and fight them.” This passage from the Memoirs of a Cavalier, ascribed to Defoe, though not contemporary evidence, is an admirable summary of the character of the Civil War. Even when in the end a regular professional army is evolved—exactly as in the case of Napoleon’s army—the original decision-compelling spirit permeated the whole organization. From the first the professional soldiers of fortune, be their advice good or bad, are looked upon with suspicion, and nearly all those Englishmen who loved war for its own sake were too closely concerned for the welfare of their country to attempt the methods of the Thirty Years’ War in England. The formal organization of both armies was based on the Swedish model, which had become the pattern of Europe after the victories of Gustavus Adolphus, and gave better scope for the moral of the individual than the old-fashioned Spanish and Dutch formations in which the man in the ranks was a highly finished automaton.
3. Campaign of 1642.—When the king raised his standard at Nottingham on the 22nd of August 1642, war was already in progress on a small scale in many districts, each side endeavouring to secure, or to deny to the enemy, fortified country-houses, territory, and above all arms and money. Peace negotiations went on in the midst of these minor events until there came from the Parliament an ultimatum so aggressive as to fix the warlike purpose of the still vacillating court at Nottingham, and, in the country at large, to convert many thousands of waverers to active Royalism. Ere long Charles—who had hitherto had less than 1500 men—was at the head of an army which, though very deficient in arms and equipment, was not greatly inferior in numbers or enthusiasm to that of the Parliament. The latter (20,000 strong exclusive of detachments) was organized during July, August and September about London, and moved thence to Northampton under the command of Robert, earl of Essex.
At this moment the military situation was as follows. Lord Hertford in south Wales, Sir Ralph Hopton in Cornwall, and the young earl of Derby in Lancashire, and small parties in almost every county of the west and the midlands, were in arms for the king. North of the Tees, the earl of Newcastle, a great territorial magnate, was raising troops and supplies for the king, while Queen Henrietta Maria was busy in Holland arranging for the importation of war material and money. In Yorkshire opinion was divided, the royal cause being strongest in York and the North Riding, that of the Parliamentary party in the clothing towns of the West Riding and also in the important seaport of Hull. The Yorkshire gentry made an attempt to neutralize the county, but a local struggle soon began, and Newcastle thereupon prepared to invade Yorkshire. The whole of the south and east as well as parts of the midlands and the west and the important towns of Bristol and Gloucester were on the side of the Parliament. A small Royalist force was compelled to evacuate Oxford on the 10th of September.
On the 13th of September the main campaign opened. The king—in order to find recruits amongst his sympathizers and arms in the armouries of the Derbyshire and Staffordshire trained bands, and also to be in touch with his disciplined regiments in Ireland by way of Chester—moved westward to Shrewsbury, Essex following suit by marching from Northampton to Worcester. Near the last-named town a sharp cavalry engagement (Powick Bridge) took place on the 23rd between the advanced cavalry of Essex’s army and a force under Prince Rupert which was engaged in protecting the retirement of the Oxford detachment. The result of the fight was the instantaneous overthrow of the rebel cavalry, and this gave the Royalist troopers a confidence in themselves and in their brilliant leader which was not destined to be shaken until they met Cromwell’s Ironsides. Rupert soon withdrew to Shrewsbury, where he found many Royalist officers eager to attack Essex’s new position at Worcester. But the road to London now lay open and it was decided to take it. The intention was not to avoid a battle, for the Royalist generals desired to fight Essex before he grew too strong, and the temper of both sides made it impossible to postpone the decision; in Clarendon’s words, “it was considered more counsellable to march towards London, it being morally sure that the earl of Essex would put himself in their way,” and accordingly the army left Shrewsbury on the 12th of October, gaining two days’ start of the enemy, and moved south-east via Bridgnorth, Birmingham and Kenilworth. This had the desired effect. Parliament, alarmed for its own safety, sent repeated orders to Essex to find the king and bring him to battle. Alarm gave place to determination when it was discovered that Charles was enlisting papists and seeking foreign aid. The militia of the home counties was called out, a second army under the earl of Warwick was formed round the nucleus of the London trained bands, and Essex, straining every nerve to regain touch with the enemy, reached Kineton, where he was only 7 m. from the king’s headquarters at Edgecote, on the 22nd.
4. Battle of Edgehill.—Rupert promptly reported the enemy’s presence, and his confidence dominated the irresolution of the king and the caution of Lord Lindsey, the nominal commander-in-chief. Both sides had marched widely dispersed in order to live, and the rapidity with which, having the clearer purpose, the Royalists drew together helped considerably to neutralize Essex’s superior numbers. During the morning of the 23rd the Royalists formed in battle order on the brow of Edgehill facing towards Kineton. Essex, experienced soldier as he was, had distrusted his own raw army too much to force a decision earlier in the month, when the king was weak; he now found Charles in a strong position with an equal force to his own 14,000, and some of his regiments were still some miles distant. But he advanced beyond Kineton, and the enemy promptly left their strong position and came down to the foot of the hill, for, situated as they were, they had either to fight wherever they could induce the enemy to engage, or to starve in the midst of hostile garrisons. Rupert was on the right of the king’s army with the greater part of the horse, Lord Lindsey and Sir Jacob Astley in the centre with the foot, Lord Wilmot (with whom rode the earl of Forth, the principal military adviser of the king) with a smaller body of cavalry on the left. In rear of the centre were the king and a small reserve. Essex’s order was similar. Rupert charged as soon as his wing was deployed, and before the infantry of either side was ready. Taking ground to his right front and then wheeling inwards at full speed he instantly rode down the Parliamentary horse opposed to him. Some infantry regiments of Essex’s left centre shared the same fate as their cavalry. On the other wing Forth and Wilmot likewise swept away all that they could see of the enemy’s cavalry, and the undisciplined Royalists of both wings pursued the fugitives in wild disorder up to Kineton, where they were severely handled by John Hampden’s infantry brigade (which was escorting the artillery and baggage of Essex’s army). Rupert brought back only a few rallied squadrons to the battlefield, and in the meantime affairs there had gone badly for the king. The right and centre of the Parliamentary foot (the left having been brought to a halt by Rupert’s charge) advanced with great resolution, and being at least as ardent as, and much better armed than, Lindsey’s men, engaged them fiercely and slowly gained ground. Only the best regiments on either side, however, maintained their order, and the decision of the infantry battle was achieved mainly by a few Parliamentary squadrons. One regiment of Essex’s right wing only had been the target of Wilmot’s charge, the other two had been at the moment invisible, and, as every Royalist troop on the ground, even the king’s guards, had joined in the mad ride to Kineton, these, Essex’s life-guard, and some troops that had rallied from the effect of Rupert’s charge—amongst them Captain Oliver Cromwell’s—were the only cavalry still present. All these joined with decisive effect in the attack on the left of the royal infantry. The king’s line was steadily rolled up from left to right, the Parliamentary troopers captured his guns and regiment after the regiment broke up. Charles himself stood calmly in the thick of the fight, but he had not the skill to direct it. The royal standard was taken and retaken, Lindsey and Sir Edmund Verney, the standard-bearer, being killed. By the time that Rupert returned both sides were incapable of further effort and disillusioned as to the prospect of ending the war at a blow.
On the 24th Essex retired, leaving Charles to claim the victory and to reap its results. Banbury and Oxford were reoccupied by the Royalists, and by the 28th Charles was marching down the Thames valley on London. Negotiations were reopened, and a peace party rapidly formed itself in London and Westminster. Yet field fortifications sprang up around London, and when Rupert stormed and sacked Brentford on the 12th of November the trained bands moved out at once and took up a position at Turnham Green, barring the king’s advance. Hampden, with something of the fire and energy of his cousin Cromwell, urged Essex to turn both flanks of the Royal army via Acton and Kingston, but experienced professional soldiers urged him not to trust the London men to hold their ground while the rest manœuvred. Hampden’s advice was undoubtedly premature. A Sedan or Worcester was not within the power of the Parliamentarians of 1642, for, in Napoleon’s words, “one only manœuvres around a fixed point,” and the city levies at that time were certainly not, vis-à-vis Rupert’s cavalry, a fixed point. As a matter of fact, after a slight cannonade at Turnham Green on the 13th, Essex’s two-to-one numerical superiority of itself compelled the king to retire to Reading. Turnham Green has justly been called the Valmy of the English Civil War. Like Valmy, without being a battle, it was a victory, and the tide of invasion came thus far, ebbed, and never returned
5. The Winter of 1642–43.—In the winter, while Essex lay inactive at Windsor, Charles by degrees consolidated his position in the region of Oxford. The city was fortified as a reduit for the whole area, and Reading, Wallingford, Abingdon, Brill, Banbury and Marlborough constituted a complete defensive ring which was developed by the creation of smaller posts from time to time. In the north and west, winter campaigns were actively carried on. “It is summer in Yorkshire, summer in Devon, and cold winter at Windsor,” said one of Essex’s critics. At the beginning of December Newcastle crossed the Tees, defeated Hotham, the Parliamentary commander in the North Riding, then joining hands with the hard-pressed Royalists at York, established himself between that city and Pontefract. Lord Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas, who commanded for the Parliament in Yorkshire, had to retire to the district between Hull and Selby, and Newcastle was free to turn his attention to the Puritan “clothing towns” of the West Riding—Leeds, Halifax and Bradford. The townsmen, however, showed a determined front, the younger Fairfax with a picked body of cavalry rode through Newcastle’s lines into the West Riding to help them, and about the end of January 1643 the earl gave up the attempt to reduce the towns. He continued his march southward, however, and gained ground for the king as far as Newark, so as to be in touch with the Royalists of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire (who, especially about Newark and Ashby-de-la-Zouch, were strong enough to neutralize the local forces of the Parliament), and to prepare the way for the further advance of the army of the north when the queen’s convoy should arrive from over-seas.
In the west Sir Ralph Hopton and his friends, having obtained a true bill from the grand jury against the Parliamentary disturbers of the peace, placed themselves at the head of the county militia and drove the rebels from Cornwall, after which they raised a small force for general service and invaded Devonshire (November 1642). Subsequently a Parliamentary army under the earl of Stamford was withdrawn from south Wales to engage Hopton, who had to retire into Cornwall. There, however, the Royalist general was free to employ the militia again, and thus reinforced he won a victory over a part of Stamford’s forces at Bradock Down near Liskeard (January 19, 1643) and resumed the offensive. About the same time Hertford, no longer opposed by Stamford, brought over the South Wales Royalists to Oxford, and the fortified area around that place was widened by the capture of Cirencester on the 2nd of February. Gloucester and Bristol were now the only important garrisons of the Roundheads in the west. In the midlands, in spite of a Parliamentary victory won by Sir William Brereton at Nantwich on the 28th of January, the Royalists of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire soon extended their influence through Ashby-de-la-Zouch into Nottinghamshire and joined hands with their friends at Newark. Further, around Chester a new Royalist army was being formed under Lord Byron, and all the efforts of Brereton and of Sir John Gell, the leading supporter of the Parliament in Derbyshire, were required to hold their own, even before Newcastle’s army was added to the list of their enemies. Lord Brooke, who commanded for the Parliament in Warwickshire and Staffordshire and was looked on by many as Essex’s eventual successor, was killed in besieging Lichfield cathedral on the 2nd of March, and, though the cathedral soon capitulated, Gell and Brereton were severely handled in the indecisive battle of Hopton Heath near Stafford on the 19th of March, and Prince Rupert, after an abortive raid on Bristol (March 7), marched rapidly northward, storming Birmingham en route, and recaptured Lichfield cathedral. He was, however, soon recalled to Oxford to take part in the main campaign. The position of affairs for the Parliament was perhaps at its worst in January. The Royalist successes of November and December, the ever-present dread of foreign intervention, and the burden of new taxation which the Parliament now found itself compelled to impose, disheartened its supporters. Disorders broke out in London, and, while the more determined of the rebels began thus early to think of calling in the military assistance of the Scots, the majority were for peace on any conditions. But soon the position improved somewhat; Stamford in the west and Brereton and Gell in the midlands, though hard pressed, were at any rate in arms and undefeated, Newcastle had failed to conquer the West Riding, and Sir William Waller, who had cleared Hampshire and Wiltshire of “malignants,” entered Gloucestershire early in March, destroyed a small Royalist force at Highnam (March 24), and secured Bristol and Gloucester for the Parliament. Finally, some of Charles’s own intrigues opportunely coming to light, the waverers, seeing the impossibility of plain dealing with the court, rallied again to the party of resistance, and the series of negotiations called by the name of the Treaty of Oxford closed in April with no more result than those which had preceded Edgehill and Turnham Green. About this time too, following and improving upon the example of Newcastle in the north, Parliament ordered the formation of the celebrated “associations” or groups of counties banded together by mutual consent for defence. The most powerful and best organized of these was that of the eastern counties (headquarters Cambridge), where the danger of attack from the north was near enough to induce great energy in the preparations for meeting it, and at the same time too distant effectively to interfere with these preparations. Above all, the Eastern Association was from the first guided and inspired by Colonel Cromwell.
6. The Plan of Campaign, 1643.—The king’s plan of operations for the next campaign, which was perhaps inspired from abroad, was more elaborate than the simple “point” of 1642. The king’s army, based on the fortified area around Oxford, was counted sufficient to use up Essex’s forces. On either hand, therefore, in Yorkshire and in the west, the Royalist armies were to fight their way inwards towards London, after which all three armies, converging on that place in due season, were to cut off its supplies and its sea-borne revenue and to starve the rebellion into surrender. The condition of this threefold advance was of course that the enemy should not be able to defeat the armies in detail, i.e. that he should be fixed and held in the Thames valley; this secured, there was no purely military objection against operating in separate armies from the circumference towards the centre. It was on the rock of local feeling that the king’s plan came to grief. Even after the arrival of the queen and her convoy, Newcastle had to allow her to proceed with a small force, and to remain behind with the main body, because of Lancashire and the West Riding, and above all because the port of Hull, in the hands of the Fairfaxes, constituted a menace that the Royalists of the East Riding refused to ignore. Hopton’s advance too, undertaken without the Cornish levies, was checked in the action of Sourton Down (Dartmoor) on the 25th of April, and on the same day Waller captured Hereford. Essex had already left Windsor to undertake the siege of Reading, the most important point in the circle of fortresses round Oxford, which after a vain attempt at relief surrendered to him on the 26th of April. Thus the opening operations were unfavourable, not indeed so far as to require the scheme to be abandoned, but at least delaying the development until the campaigning season was far advanced.
7. Victories of Hopton.—But affairs improved in May. The queen’s long-expected convoy arrived at Woodstock on the 13th. The earl of Stamford’s army, which had again entered Cornwall, was attacked in its selected position at Stratton and practically annihilated by Hopton (May 16). This brilliant victory was due above all to Sir Bevil Grenville and the lithe Cornishmen, who, though but 2400 against 5400 and destitute of artillery, stormed “Stamford Hill,” killed 300 of the enemy, and captured 1700 more with all their guns, colours and baggage. Devon was at once overrun by the victors. Essex’s army, for want of material resources, had had to be content with the capture of Reading, and a Royalist force under Hertford and Prince Maurice (Rupert’s brother) moved out as far as Salisbury to hold out a hand to their friends in Devonshire, while Waller, the only Parliamentary commander left in the field in the west, had to abandon his conquests in the Severn valley to oppose the further progress of his intimate friend and present enemy, Hopton. Early in June Hertford and Hopton united at Chard and rapidly moved, with some cavalry skirmishing, towards Bath, where Waller’s army lay. Avoiding the barrier of the Mendips, they moved round via Frome to the Avon. But Waller, thus cut off from London and threatened with investment, acted with great skill, and some days of manœuvres and skirmishing followed, after which Hertford and Hopton found themselves on the north side of Bath facing Waller’s entrenched position on the top of Lansdown Hill. This position the Royalists stormed on the 5th of July. The battle of Lansdown was a second Stratton for the Cornishmen, but this time the enemy was of different quality and far differently led, and they had to mourn the loss of Sir Bevil Grenville and the greater part of their whole force. At dusk both sides stood on the flat summit of the hill, still firing into one another with such energy as was not yet expended, and in the night Waller drew off his men into Bath. “We were glad they were gone,” wrote a Royalist officer, “for if they had not, I know who had within the hour.” Next day Hopton was severely injured by the explosion of a wagon containing the reserve ammunition, and the Royalists, finding their victory profitless, moved eastward to Devizes, closely followed by the enemy. On the 10th of July Sir William Waller took post on Roundway Down, overlooking Devizes, and captured a Royalist ammunition column from Oxford. On the 11th he came down and invested Hopton’s foot in Devizes itself, while the Royalist cavalry, Hertford and Maurice with them, rode away towards Salisbury. But although the siege was pressed with such vigour that an assault was fixed for the evening of the 13th, the Cornishmen, Hopton directing the defence from his bed, held out stubbornly, and on the afternoon of July 13th Prince Maurice’s horsemen appeared on Roundway Down, having ridden to Oxford, picked up reinforcements there, and returned at full speed to save their comrades. Waller’s army tried its best, but some of its elements were of doubtful quality and the ground was all in Maurice’s favour. The battle did not last long. The combined attack of the Oxford force from Roundway and of Hopton’s men from the town practically annihilated Waller’s army. Very soon afterwards Rupert came up with fresh Royalist forces, and the combined armies moved westward. Bristol, the second port of the kingdom, was their objective, and in four days from the opening of the siege it was in their hands (July 26), Waller with the beaten remnant of his army at Bath being powerless to intervene. The effect of this blow was felt even in Dorsetshire. Within three weeks of the surrender Prince Maurice with a body of fast-moving cavalry overran that county almost unopposed.
8. Adwalton Moor.—Newcastle meanwhile had resumed operations against the clothing towns, this time with success. The Fairfaxes had been fighting in the West Riding since January with such troops from the Hull region as they had been able to bring across Newcastle’s lines. They and the townsmen together were too weak for Newcastle’s increasing forces, and an attempt was made to relieve them by bringing up the Parliament’s forces in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and the Eastern Association. But local interests prevailed again, in spite of Cromwell’s presence, and after assembling at Nottingham, the midland rebels quietly dispersed to their several counties (June 2). The Fairfaxes were left to their fate, and about the same time Hull itself narrowly escaped capture by the queen’s forces through the treachery of Sir John Hotham, the governor, and his son, the commander of the Lincolnshire Parliamentarians. The latter had been placed under arrest at the instance of Cromwell and of Colonel Hutchinson, the governor of Nottingham Castle; he escaped to Hull, but both father and son were seized by the citizens and afterwards executed. More serious than an isolated act of treachery was the far-reaching Royalist plot that had been detected in Parliament itself, for complicity in which Lord Conway, Edmund Waller the poet, and several members of both Houses were arrested. The safety of Hull was of no avail for the West Riding towns, and the Fairfaxes underwent a decisive defeat at Adwalton (Atherton) Moor near Bradford on the 30th of June. After this, by way of Lincolnshire, they escaped to Hull and reorganized the defence of that place. The West Riding perforce submitted.
The queen herself with a second convoy and a small army under Henry (Lord) Jermyn soon moved via Newark, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Lichfield and other Royalist garrisons to Oxford, where she joined her husband on the 14th of July. But Newcastle (now a marquis) was not yet ready for his part in the programme. The Yorkshire troops would not march on London while the enemy was master of Hull, and by this time there was a solid barrier between the royal army of the north and the capital. Roundway Down and Adwalton Moor were not after all destined to be fatal, though peace riots in London, dissensions in the Houses, and quarrels amongst the generals were their immediate consequences. A new factor had arisen in the war—the Eastern Association.
9. Cromwell and the Eastern Association.—This had already intervened to help in the siege of Reading and had sent troops to the abortive gathering at Nottingham, besides clearing its own ground of “malignants.” From the first Cromwell was the dominant influence. Fresh from Edgehill, he had told Hampden, “You must get men of a spirit that is likely to go as far as gentlemen will go,” not “old decayed serving-men, tapsters and such kind of fellows to encounter gentlemen that have honour and courage and resolution in them,” and in January 1643 he had gone to his own county to “raise such men as had the fear of God before them and made some conscience of what they did.” These men, once found, were willing, for the cause, to submit to a rigorous training and an iron discipline such as other troops, fighting for honour only or for profit only, could not be brought to endure. The result was soon apparent. As early as the 13th of May, Cromwell’s regiment of horse—recruited from the horse-loving yeomen of the eastern counties—demonstrated its superiority in the field in a skirmish near Grantham, and in the irregular fighting in Lincolnshire during June and July (which was on the whole unfavourable to the Parliament), as previously in pacifying the Eastern Association itself, these Puritan troopers distinguished themselves by long and rapid marches that may bear comparison with almost any in the history of the mounted arm. When Cromwell’s second opportunity came at Gainsborough on the 28th of July, the “Lincolneer” horse who were under his orders were fired by the example of Cromwell’s own regiment, and Cromwell, directing the whole with skill, and above all with energy, utterly routed the Royalist horse and killed their general, Charles Cavendish.
In the meantime the army of Essex had been inactive. After the fall of Reading a serious epidemic of sickness had reduced it to impotence. On the 18th of June the Parliamentary cavalry was routed and John Hampden mortally wounded at Chalgrove Field near Chiselhampton, and when at last Essex, having obtained the desired reinforcements, moved against Oxford from the Aylesbury side, he found his men demoralized by inaction, and before the menace of Rupert’s cavalry, to which he had nothing to oppose, he withdrew to Bedfordshire (July). He made no attempt to intercept the march of the queen’s convoys, he had permitted the Oxford army, which he should have held fast, to intervene effectually in the midlands, the west, and the south-west, and Waller might well complain that Essex, who still held Reading and the Chilterns, had given him neither active nor passive support in the critical days preceding Roundway Down. Still only a few voices were raised to demand his removal, and he was shortly to have an opportunity of proving his skill and devotion in a great campaign and a great battle. The centre and the right of the three Royalist armies had for a moment (Roundway to Bristol) united to crush Waller, but their concentration was short-lived. Plymouth was to Hopton’s men what Hull was to Newcastle’s—they would not march on London until the menace to their homes was removed. Further, there were dissensions among the generals which Charles was too weak to crush, and consequently the original plan reappears—the main Royalist army to operate in the centre, Hopton’s (now Maurice’s) on the right, Newcastle on the left towards London. While waiting for the fall of Hull and Plymouth, Charles naturally decided to make the best use of his time by reducing Gloucester, the one great fortress of the Parliament in the west.
10. Siege and Relief of Gloucester.—This decision quickly brought on a crisis. While the earl of Manchester (with Cromwell as his lieutenant-general) was appointed to head the forces of the Eastern Association against Newcastle, and Waller was given a new army wherewith again to engage Hopton and Maurice, the task of saving Gloucester from the king’s army fell to Essex, who was heavily reinforced and drew his army together for action in the last days of August. Resort was had to the press-gang to fill the ranks, recruiting for Waller’s new army was stopped, and London sent six regiments of trained bands to the front, closing the shops so that every man should be free to take his part in what was thought to be the supreme trial of strength.
On the 26th, all being ready, Essex started. Through Aylesbury and round the north side of Oxford to Stow-on-the-Wold the army moved resolutely, not deterred by want of food and rest, or by the attacks of Rupert’s and Wilmot’s horse on its flank. On the 5th of September, just as Gloucester was at the end of its resources, the siege was suddenly raised and the Royalists drew off to Painswick, for Essex had reached Cheltenham and the danger was over. Then, the field armies being again face to face and free to move, there followed a series of skilful manœuvres in the Severn and Avon valleys, at the end of which the Parliamentary army gained a long start on its homeward road via Cricklade, Hungerford and Reading. But the Royalist cavalry under Rupert, followed rapidly by Charles and the main body from Evesham, strained every nerve to head off Essex at Newbury, and after a sharp skirmish on Aldbourne Chase on the 18th of September succeeded in doing so. On the 19th the whole Royal army was drawn up, facing west, with its right on Newbury and its left on Enborne Heath. Essex’s men knew that evening that they would have to break through by force—there was no suggestion of surrender.
11. First Battle of Newbury, September 20, 1643.—The ground was densely intersected by hedges except in front of the Royalists’ left centre (Newbury Wash) and left (Enborne Heath), and, practically, Essex’s army was never formed in line of battle, for each unit was thrown into the fight as it came up its own road or lane. On the left wing, in spite of the Royalist counter-strokes, the attack had the best of it, capturing field after field, and thus gradually gaining ground to the front. Here Lord Falkland was killed. On the Reading road itself Essex did not succeed in deploying on to the open ground on Newbury Wash, but victoriously repelled the royal horse when it charged up to the lanes and hedges held by his foot. On the extreme right of the Parliamentary army, which stood in the open ground of Enborne Heath, took place a famous incident. Here two of the London regiments, fresh to war as they were, were exposed to a trial as severe as that which broke down the veteran Spanish infantry at Rocroi in this same year. Rupert and the Royalist horse again and again charged up to the squares of pikes, and between each charge his guns tried to disorder the Londoners, but it was not until the advance of the royal infantry that the trained bands retired, slowly and in magnificent order, to the edge of the heath. The result of it all was that Essex’s army had fought its hardest and failed to break the opposing line. But the Royalists had suffered so heavily, and above all the valour displayed by the rebels had so profoundly impressed them, that they were glad to give up the disputed road and withdraw into Newbury. Essex thereupon pursued his march, Reading was reached on the 22nd after a small rearguard skirmish at Aldermaston, and so ended one of the most dramatic episodes of English history.
12. Hull and Winceby.—Meanwhile the siege of Hull had commenced. The Eastern Association forces under Manchester promptly moved up into Lincolnshire, the foot besieging Lynn (which surrendered on the 16th of September) while the horse rode into the northern part of the county to give a hand to the Fairfaxes. Fortunately the sea communications of Hull were open. On the 18th of September part of the cavalry in Hull was ferried over to Barton, and the rest under Sir Thomas Fairfax went by sea to Saltfleet a few days later, the whole joining Cromwell near Spilsby. In return the old Lord Fairfax, who remained in Hull, received infantry reinforcements and a quantity of ammunition and stores from the Eastern Association. On the 11th of October Cromwell and Fairfax together won a brilliant cavalry action at Winceby, driving the Royalist horse in confusion before them to Newark, and on the same day Newcastle’s army around Hull, which had suffered terribly from the hardships of continuous siege work, was attacked by the garrison and so severely handled that next day the siege was given up. Later, Manchester retook Lincoln and Gainsborough, and thus Lincolnshire, which had been almost entirely in Newcastle’s hands before he was compelled to undertake the siege of Hull, was added in fact as well as in name to the Eastern Association.
Elsewhere, in the reaction after the crisis of Newbury, the war languished. The city regiments went home, leaving Essex too weak to hold Reading, which the Royalists reoccupied on the 3rd of October. At this the Londoners offered to serve again, and actually took part in a minor campaign around Newport Pagnell, which town Rupert attempted to fortify as a menace to the Eastern Association and its communications with London. Essex was successful in preventing this, but his London regiments again went home, and Sir William Waller’s new army in Hampshire failed lamentably in an attempt on Basing House (November 7), the London trained bands deserting en bloc. Shortly afterwards Arundel surrendered to a force under Sir Ralph, now Lord Hopton (December 9).
13. The “Irish Cessation” and the Solemn League and Covenant.—Politically, these months were the turning-point of the war. In Ireland, the king’s lieutenant, by order of his master, made a truce with the Irish rebels (Sept. 15). Charles’s chief object was to set free his army to fight in England, but it was believed universally that Irish regiments—in plain words, papists in arms—would shortly follow. Under these circumstances his act united against him nearly every class in Protestant England, above all brought into the English quarrel the armed strength of Presbyterian Scotland. Yet Charles, still trusting to intrigue and diplomacy to keep Scotland in check, deliberately rejected the advice of Montrose, his greatest and most faithful lieutenant, who wished to give the Scots employment for their army at home. Only ten days after the “Irish cessation,” the Parliament at Westminster swore to the Solemn League and Covenant, and the die was cast. It is true that even a semblance of Presbyterian theocracy put the “Independents” on their guard and definitely raised the question of freedom of conscience, and that secret negotiations were opened between the Independents and Charles on that basis, but they soon discovered that the king was merely using them as instruments to bring about the betrayal of Aylesbury and other small rebel posts. All parties found it convenient to interpret the Covenant liberally for the present, and at the beginning of 1644 the Parliamentary party showed so united a front that even Pym’s death (December 8, 1643) hardly affected its resolution to continue the struggle.
The troops from Ireland, thus obtained at the cost of an enormous political blunder, proved to be untrustworthy after all. Those serving in Hopton’s army were “mutinous and shrewdly infected with the rebellious humour of England.” When Waller’s Londoners surprised and routed a Royalist detachment at Alton (December 13, 1643), half the prisoners took the Covenant. Hopton had to retire, and on the 6th of January 1644 Waller recaptured Arundel. Byron’s Cheshire army was in no better case. Newcastle’s retreat from Hull and the loss of Gainsborough had completely changed the situation in the midlands, Brereton was joined by the younger Fairfax from Lincolnshire, and the Royalists were severely defeated for a second time at Nantwich (January 25). As at Alton, the majority of the prisoners (amongst them Colonel George Monk) took the Covenant and entered the Parliamentary army. In Lancashire, as in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, the cause of the Parliament was in the ascendant. Resistance revived in the West Riding towns, Lord Fairfax was again in the field in the East Riding, and even Newark was closely besieged by Sir John Meldrum. More important news came in from the north. The advanced guard of the Scottish army had passed the Tweed on the 19th of January, and the marquis of Newcastle with the remnant of his army would soon be attacked in front and rear at once.
14. Newark and Cheriton (March 1644).—As in 1643, Rupert was soon on his way to the north to retrieve the fortunes of his side. Moving by the Welsh border, and gathering up garrisons and recruits snowball-wise as he marched, he went first to Cheshire to give a hand to Byron, and then, with the utmost speed, he made for Newark. On the 20th of March 1644 he bivouacked at Bingham, and on the 21st he not only relieved Newark but routed the besiegers’ cavalry. On the 22nd Meldrum’s position was so hopeless that he capitulated on terms. But, brilliant soldier as he was, the prince was unable to do more than raid a few Parliamentary posts around Lincoln, after which he had to return his borrowed forces to their various garrisons and go back to Wales—laden indeed with captured pikes and muskets—to raise a permanent field army. But Rupert could not be in all places at once. Newcastle was clamorous for aid. In Lancashire, only the countess of Derby, in Lathom House, held out for the king, and her husband pressed Rupert to go to her relief. Once, too, the prince was ordered back to Oxford to furnish a travelling escort for the queen, who shortly after this gave birth to her youngest child and returned to France. The order was countermanded within a few hours, it is true, but Charles had good reason for avoiding detachments from his own army. On the 29th of March, Hopton had undergone a severe defeat at Cheriton near New Alresford. In the preliminary manœuvres and in the opening stages of the battle the advantage lay with the Royalists, and the earl of Forth, who was present, was satisfied with what had been achieved and tried to break off the action. But Royalist indiscipline ruined everything. A young cavalry colonel charged in defiance of orders, a fresh engagement opened, and at the last moment Waller snatched a victory out of defeat. Worse than this was the news from Yorkshire and Scotland. Charles had at last assented to Montrose’s plan and promised him the title of marquis, but the first attempt to raise the Royalist standard in Scotland gave no omen of its later triumphs. In Yorkshire Sir Thomas Fairfax, advancing from Lancashire through the West Riding, joined his father. Selby was stormed on the 11th of April, and thereupon Newcastle, who had been manœuvring against the Scots in Durham, hastily drew back, sent his cavalry away, and shut himself up with his foot in York. Two days later the Scottish general, Alexander Leslie, Lord Leven, joined the Fairfaxes and prepared to invest that city.
15. Plans of Campaign for 1644.—The original plan of the Parliamentary “Committee of Both Kingdoms,” which directed the military and civil policy of the allies after the fashion of a modern cabinet, was to combine Essex’s and Manchester’s armies in an attack upon the king’s army, Aylesbury being appointed as the place of concentration. Waller’s troops were to continue to drive back Hopton and to reconquer the west, Fairfax and the Scots to invest Newcastle’s army, while in the midlands Brereton and the Lincolnshire rebels could be counted upon to neutralize, the one Byron, the others the Newark Royalists. But Waller, once more deserted by his trained bands, was unable to profit by his victory of Cheriton, and retired to Farnham. Manchester, too, was delayed because the Eastern Association was still suffering from the effects of Rupert’s Newark exploit—Lincoln, abandoned by the rebels on that occasion, was not reoccupied till the 6th of May. Moreover, Essex found himself compelled to defend his conduct and motives to the Committee of Both Kingdoms, and as usual was straitened for men and money. But though there were grave elements of weakness on the other side, the Royalists considered their own position to be hopeless. Prince Maurice was engaged in the fruitless siege of Lyme Regis, Gloucester was again a centre of activity and counterbalanced Newark, and the situation in the north was practically desperate. Rupert himself came to Oxford (April 25) to urge that his new army should be kept free to march to aid Newcastle, who was now threatened—owing to the abandonment of the enemy’s original plan—by Manchester as well as Fairfax and Leven. There was no further talk of the concentric advance of three armies on London. The fiery prince and the methodical earl of Brentford (Forth) were at one at least in recommending that the Oxford area with its own garrison and a mobile force in addition should be the pivot of the field armies’ operations. Rupert, needing above all adequate time for the development of the northern offensive, was not in favour of abandoning any of the barriers to Essex’s advance. Brentford, on the other hand, thought it advisable to contract the lines of defence, and Charles, as usual undecided, agreed to Rupert’s scheme and executed Brentford’s. Reading, therefore, was dismantled early in May, and Abingdon given up shortly afterwards.
16. Cropredy Bridge.—It was now possible for the enemy to approach Oxford, and Abingdon was no sooner evacuated than (May 26) Waller’s and Essex’s armies united there—still, unfortunately for their cause, under separate commanders. From Abingdon Essex moved direct on Oxford, Waller towards Wantage, where he could give a hand to Massey, the energetic governor of Gloucester. Affairs seemed so bad in the west (Maurice with a whole army was still vainly besieging the single line of low breastworks that constituted the fortress of Lyme) that the king despatched Hopton to take charge of Bristol. Nor were things much better at Oxford; the barriers of time and space and the supply area had been deliberately given up to the enemy, and Charles was practically forced to undertake extensive field operations with no hope of success save in consequence of the enemy’s mistakes. The enemy, as it happened, did not disappoint him. The king, probably advised by Brentford, conducted a skilful war of manœuvre in the area defined by Stourbridge, Gloucester, Abingdon and Northampton, at the end of which Essex, leaving Waller to the secondary work, as he conceived it, of keeping the king away from Oxford and reducing that fortress, marched off into the west with most of the general service troops to repeat at Lyme Regis his Gloucester exploit of 1643. At one moment, indeed, Charles (then in Bewdley) rose to the idea of marching north to join Rupert and Newcastle, but he soon made up his mind to return to Oxford. From Bewdley, therefore, he moved to Buckingham—the distant threat on London producing another evanescent citizen army drawn from six counties under Major-General Browne—and Waller followed him closely. When the king turned upon Browne’s motley host, Waller appeared in time to avert disaster, and the two armies worked away to the upper Cherwell. Brentford and Waller were excellent strategists of the 17th century type, and neither would fight a pitched battle without every chance in his favour. Eventually on the 29th of June the Royalists were successful in a series of minor fights about Cropredy Bridge, and the result was, in accordance with continental custom, admitted to be an important victory, though Waller’s main army drew off unharmed. In the meantime, Essex had relieved Lyme (June 15) and occupied Weymouth, and was preparing to go farther. The two rebel armies were now indeed separate. Waller had been left to do as best he could, and a worse fate was soon to overtake the cautious earl.
17. Campaign of Marston Moor.—During these manœuvres the northern campaign had been fought to an issue. Rupert’s courage and energy were more likely to command success in the English Civil War than all the conscientious caution of an Essex or a Brentford. On the 16th of May he left Shrewsbury to fight his way through hostile country to Lancashire, where he hoped to re-establish the Derby influence and raise new forces. Stockport was plundered on the 25th, the besiegers of Lathom House utterly defeated at Bolton on the 28th. Soon afterwards he received a large reinforcement under General Goring, which included 5000 of Newcastle’s cavalry. The capture of the almost defenceless town of Liverpool—undertaken as usual to allay local fears—did not delay Rupert more than three or four days, and he then turned towards the Yorkshire border with greatly augmented forces. On the 14th of June he received a despatch from the king, the gist of which was that there was a time-limit imposed on the northern enterprise. If York were lost or did not need his help, Rupert was to make all haste southward via Worcester. “If York be relieved and you beat the rebels’ armies of both kingdoms, then, but otherways not, I may possibly make a shift upon the defensive to spin out time until you come to assist me.”
Charles did manage to “spin out time.” But it was of capital importance that Rupert had to do his work upon York and the allied army in the shortest possible time, and that, according to the despatch, there were only two ways of saving the royal cause, “having relieved York by beating the Scots,” or marching with all speed to Worcester. Rupert’s duty, interpreted through the medium of his temperament, was clear enough. Newcastle still held out, his men having been encouraged by a small success on the 17th of June, and Rupert reached Knaresborough on the 30th. At once Leven, Fairfax and Manchester broke up the siege of York and moved out to meet him. But the prince, moving still at high speed, rode round their right flank via Boroughbridge and Thornton Bridge and entered York on the north side. Newcastle tried to dissuade Rupert from fighting, but his record as a general was scarcely convincing as to the value of his advice. Rupert curtly replied that he had orders to fight, and the Royalists moved out towards Marston Moor (q.v.) on the morning of July 2, 1644. The Parliamentary commanders, fearing a fresh manœuvre, had already begun to retire towards Tadcaster, but as soon as it became evident that a battle was impending they turned back. The battle of Marston Moor began about four in the afternoon. It was the first real trial of strength between the best elements on either side, and it ended before night with the complete victory of the Parliamentary armies. The Royalist cause in the north collapsed once for all, Newcastle fled to the continent, and only Rupert, resolute as ever, extricated 6000 cavalry from the débâcle and rode away whence he had come, still the dominant figure of the war.
18. Independency.—The victory gave the Parliament entire control of the north, but it did not lead to the definitive solution of the political problem, and in fact, on the question of Charles’s place in a new Constitution, the victorious generals quarrelled even before York had surrendered. Within three weeks of the battle the great army was broken up. The Yorkshire troops proceeded to conquer the isolated Royalist posts in their county, the Scots marched off to besiege Newcastle-on-Tyne and to hold in check a nascent Royalist army in Westmorland. Rupert in Lancashire they neglected entirely. Manchester and Cromwell, already estranged, marched away into the Eastern Association. There, for want of an enemy to fight, their army was forced to be idle, and Cromwell and the ever-growing Independent element quickly came to suspect their commander of lukewarmness in the cause. Waller’s army, too, was spiritless and immobile. On the 2nd of July, despairing of the existing military system, he made to the Committee of Both Kingdoms the first suggestion of the New Model,—“My lords,” he wrote, “till you have an army merely your own, that you may command, it is ... impossible to do anything of importance.” Browne’s trained band army was perhaps the most ill-behaved of all—once the soldiers attempted to murder their own general. Parliament in alarm set about the formation of a new general service force (July 12), but meantime both Waller’s and Browne’s armies (at Abingdon and Reading respectively) ignominiously collapsed by mutiny and desertion. It was evident that the people at large, with their respect for the law and their anxiety for their own homes, were tired of the war. Only those men—such as Cromwell—who has set their hearts on fighting out the quarrel of conscience, kept steadfastly to their purpose. Cromwell himself had already decided that the king himself must be deprived of his authority, and his supporters were equally convinced. But they were relatively few. Even the Eastern Association trained bands had joined in the disaffection in Waller’s army, and that unfortunate general’s suggestion of a professional army, with all its dangers, indicated the only means of enforcing a peace such as Cromwell and his friends desired. There was this important difference, however, between Waller’s idea and Cromwell’s achievement—that the professional soldiers of the New Model were disciplined, led, and in all things inspired by “godly” officers. Godliness, devotion to the cause, and efficiency were indeed the only criteria Cromwell applied in choosing officers. Long before this he had warned the Scottish major-general Lawrence Crawford that the precise colour of a man’s religious opinions mattered nothing compared with his devotion to them, and had told the committee of Suffolk, “I had rather have a plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows than that which you call a ‘gentleman’ and is nothing else. I honour a gentleman that is so indeed ... but seeing it was necessary the work must go on, better plain men than none.” If “men of honour and birth” possessed the essentials of godliness, devotion, and capacity, Cromwell preferred them, and as a fact only seven out of thirty-seven of the superior officers of the original New Model were not of gentle birth.
19. Lostwithiel.—But all this was as yet in the future. Essex’s military promenade in the west of England was the subject of immediate interest. At first successful, this general penetrated to Plymouth, whence, securely based as he thought, he could overrun Devon. Unfortunately for him he was persuaded to overrun Cornwall as well. At once the Cornishmen rose, as they had risen under Hopton, and the king was soon on the march from the Oxford region, disregarding the armed mobs under Waller and Browne. Their state reflected the general languishing of the war spirit on both sides, not on one only, as Charles discovered when he learned that Lord Wilmot, the lieutenant-general of his horse, was in correspondence with Essex. Wilmot was of course placed under arrest, and was replaced by the dissolute General Goring. But it was unpleasantly evident that even gay cavaliers of the type of Wilmot had lost the ideals for which they fought, and had come to believe that the realm would never be at peace while Charles was king. Henceforward it will be found that the Royalist foot, now a thoroughly professional force, is superior in quality to the once superb cavalry, and that not merely because its opportunities for plunder, &c., are more limited. Materially, however, the immediate victory was undeniably with the Royalists. After a brief period of manœuvre, the Parliamentary army, now far from Plymouth found itself surrounded and starving at Lostwithiel, on the Fowey river, without hope of assistance. The horse cut its way out through the investing circle of posts, Essex himself escaped by sea, but Major-General Skippon, his second in command, had to surrender with the whole of the foot on the 2nd of September. The officers and men were allowed to go free to Portsmouth, but their arms, guns and munitions were the spoil of the victors. There was now no trustworthy field force in arms for the Parliament south of the Humber, for even the Eastern Association army was distracted by its religious differences, which had now at last come definitely to the front and absorbed the political dispute in a wider issue. Cromwell already proposed to abolish the peerage, the members of which were inclined to make a hollow peace, and had ceased to pay the least respect to his general, Manchester, whose scheme for the solution of the quarrel was an impossible combination of Charles and Presbyterianism. Manchester for his part sank into a state of mere obstinacy, refusing to move against Rupert, even to besiege Newark, and actually threatened to hang Colonel Lilburne for capturing a Royalist castle without orders.
20. Operations of Essex’s, Waller’s and Manchester’s Armies.—After the success of Lostwithiel there was little to detain Charles’s main army in the extreme west, and meanwhile Banbury, a most important point in the Oxford circle, and Basing House (near Basingstoke) were in danger of capture. Waller, who had organized a small force of reliable troops, had already sent cavalry into Dorsetshire with the idea of assisting Essex, and he now came himself with reinforcements to prevent, so far as lay in his power, the king’s return to the Thames valley. Charles was accompanied of course only by his permanent forces and by parts of Prince Maurice’s and Hopton’s armies—the Cornish levies had as usual scattered as soon as the war receded from their borders. Manchester slowly advanced to Reading, Essex gradually reorganized his broken army at Portsmouth, while Waller, far out to the west at Shaftesbury, endeavored to gain the necessary time and space for a general concentration in Wiltshire, where Charles would be far from Oxford and Basing and, in addition, outnumbered by two to one. But the work of rearming Essex’s troops proceeded slowly for want of money, and Manchester peevishly refused to be hurried either by his more vigorous subordinates or by the Committee of Both Kingdoms, saying that the army of the Eastern Association was for the guard of its own employers and not for general service. He pleaded the renewed activity of the Newark Royalists as his excuse, forgetting that Newark would have been in his hands ere this had he chosen to move thither instead of lying idle for two months. As to the higher command, things had come to such a pass that, when the three armies at last united, a council of war, consisting of three army commanders, several senior officers, and two civilian delegates from the Committee, was constituted. When the vote of the majority had determined what was to be done, Essex, as lord general of the Parliament’s first army, was to issue the necessary orders for the whole. Under such conditions it was not likely that Waller’s hopes of a great battle at Shaftesbury would be realized. On the 8th of October he fell back, the royal army following him step by step and finally reaching Whitchurch on the 20th of October. Manchester arrived at Basingstoke on the 17th, Waller on the 19th, and Essex on the 21st. Charles had found that he could not relieve Basing (a mile or two from Basingstoke) without risking a battle with the enemy between himself and Oxford; he therefore took the Newbury road and relieved Donnington Castle near Newbury on the 22nd. Three days later Banbury too was relieved by a force which could now be spared from the Oxford garrison. But for once the council of war on the other side was for fighting a battle, and the Parliamentary armies, their spirits revived by the prospect of action and by the news of the fall of Newcastle and the defeat of a sally from Newark, marched briskly. On the 26th they appeared north of Newbury on the Oxford road. Like Essex in 1643, Charles found himself headed off from the shelter of friendly fortresses, but beyond this fact there is little similarity between the two battles of Newbury, for the Royalists in the first case merely drew a barrier across Essex’s path. On the present occasion the eager Parliamentarians made no attempt to force the king to attack them; they were well content to attack him in his chosen position themselves, especially as he was better off for supplies and quarters than they.
21. Second Newbury.—The second battle of Newbury is remarkable as being the first great manœuvre-battle (as distinct from “pitched” battle) of the Civil War. A preliminary reconnaissance by the Parliamentary leaders (Essex was not present, owing to illness) established the fact that the king’s infantry held a strong line of defence behind the Lambourn brook from Shaw (inclusive) to Donnington (exclusive), Shaw House and adjacent buildings being held as an advanced post. In rear of the centre, in open ground just north of Newbury, lay the bulk of the royal cavalry. In the left rear of the main line, and separated from it by more than a thousand yards, lay Prince Maurice’s corps at Speen, advanced troops on the high ground west of that village, but Donnington Castle, under its energetic governor Sir John Boys, formed a strong post covering this gap with artillery fire. The Parliamentary leaders had no intention of flinging their men away in a frontal attack on the line of the Lambourn, and a flank attack from the east side could hardly succeed owing to the obstacle presented by the confluence of the Lambourn and the Kennet, hence they decided on a wide turning movement via Chieveley, Winterbourne and Wickham Heath, against Prince Maurice’s position—a decision which, daring and energetic as it was, led only to a modified success, for reasons which will appear. The flank march, out of range of the castle, was conducted with punctuality and precision. The troops composing it were drawn from all three armies and led by the best fighting generals, Waller, Cromwell, and Essex’s subordinates Balfour and Skippon. Manchester at Clay Hill was to stand fast until the turning movement had developed, and to make a vigorous holding attack on Shaw House as soon as Waller’s guns were heard at Speen. But there was no commander-in-chief to co-ordinate the movements of the two widely separated corps, and consequently no co-operation. Waller’s attack was not unexpected, and Prince Maurice had made ready to meet him. Yet the first rush of the rebels carried the entrenchments of Speen Hill, and Speen itself, though stoutly defended, fell into their hands within an hour, Essex’s infantry recapturing here some of the guns they had had to surrender at Lostwithiel. But meantime Manchester, in spite of the entreaties of his staff, had not stirred from Clay Hill. He had made one false attack already early in the morning, and been severely handled, and he was aware of his own deficiencies as a general. A year before this he would have asked for and acted upon the advice of a capable soldier, such as Cromwell or Crawford, but now his mind was warped by a desire for peace on any terms, and he sought only to avoid defeat pending a happy solution of the quarrel. Those who sought to gain peace through victory were meanwhile driving Maurice back from hedge to hedge towards the open ground at Newbury, but every attempt to emerge from the lanes and fields was repulsed by the royal cavalry, and indeed by every available man and horse, for Charles’s officers had gauged Manchester’s intentions, and almost stripped the front of its defenders to stop Waller’s advance. Nightfall put an end to the struggle around Newbury, and then—too late—Manchester ordered the attack on Shaw House. It failed completely in spite of the gallantry of his men, and darkness being then complete it was not renewed. In its general course the battle closely resembled that of Freiburg (q.v.), fought the same year on the Rhine. But, if Waller’s part in the battle corresponded in a measure to Turenne’s, Manchester was unequal to playing the part of Condé, and consequently the results, in the case of the French won by three days’ hard fighting, and even then comparatively small, were in the case of the English practically nil. During the night the royal army quietly marched away through the gap between Waller’s and Manchester’s troops. The heavy artillery and stores were left in Donnington Castle, Charles himself with a small escort rode off to the north-west to meet Rupert, and the main body gained Wallingford unmolested. An attempt at pursuit was made by Waller and Cromwell with all the cavalry they could lay hands on, but it was unsupported, for the council of war had decided to content itself with besieging Donnington Castle. A little later, after a brief and half-hearted attempt to move towards Oxford, it referred to the Committee for further instructions. Within the month Charles, having joined Rupert at Oxford and made him general of the Royalist forces vice Brentford, reappeared in the neighbourhood of Newbury. Donnington Castle was again relieved (November 9) under the eyes of the Parliamentary army, which was in such a miserable condition that even Cromwell was against fighting, and some manœuvres followed, in the course of which Charles relieved Basing House and the Parliamentary armies fell back, not in the best order, to Reading. The season for field warfare was now far spent, and the royal army retired to enjoy good quarters and plentiful supplies around Oxford.
22. The Self-denying Ordinance.—On the other side, the dissensions between the generals had become flagrant and public, and it was no longer possible for the Houses of Parliament to ignore the fact that the army must be radically reformed. Cromwell and Waller from their places in parliament attacked Manchester’s conduct, and their attack ultimately became, so far as Cromwell was concerned, an attack on the Lords, most of whom held the same views as Manchester, and on the Scots, who attempted to bring Cromwell to trial as an “incendiary.” At the crisis of their bitter controversy Cromwell suddenly proposed to stifle all animosities by the resignation of all officers who were members of either House, a proposal which affected himself not less than Essex and Manchester. The first “self-denying ordinance” was moved on the 9th of December, and provided that “no member of either house shall have or execute any office or command . . .,” &c. This was not accepted by the Lords, and in the end a second “self-denying ordinance” was agreed to (April 3, 1645), whereby all the persons concerned were to resign, but without prejudice to their reappointment. Simultaneously with this, the formation of the New Model was at last definitely taken into consideration. The last exploit of Sir William Waller, who was not re-employed after the passing of the ordinance, was the relief of Taunton, then besieged by General Goring’s army. Cromwell served as his lieutenant-general on this occasion, and we have Waller’s own testimony that he was in all things a wise, capable and respectful subordinate. Under a leader of the stamp of Waller, Cromwell was well satisfied to obey, knowing the cause to be in good hands.
23. Decline of the Royalist Cause.—A raid of Goring’s horse from the west into Surrey and an unsuccessful attack on General Browne at Abingdon were the chief enterprises undertaken on the side of the Royalists during the early winter. It was no longer “summer in Devon, summer in Yorkshire” as in January 1643. An ever-growing section of Royalists, amongst whom Rupert himself was soon to be numbered, were for peace; many scores of loyalist gentlemen, impoverished by the loss of three years’ rents of their estates and hopeless of ultimate victory, were making their way to Westminster to give in their submission to the Parliament and to pay their fines. In such circumstances the old decision-seeking strategy was impossible. The new plan, suggested probably by Rupert, had already been tried with strategical success in the summer campaign of 1644. As we have seen, it consisted essentially in using Oxford as the centre of a circle and striking out radially at any favourable target—“manœuvring about a fixed point,” as Napoleon called it. It was significant of the decline of the Royalist cause that the “fixed point” had been in 1643 the king’s field army, based indeed on its great entrenched camp, Banbury-Cirencester-Reading-Oxford, but free to move and to hold the enemy wherever met, while now it was the entrenched camp itself, weakened by the loss or abandonment of its outer posts, and without the power of binding the enemy if they chose to ignore its existence, that conditioned the scope and duration of the single remaining field army’s enterprises.
24. The New Model Ordinance.—For the present, however, Charles’s cause was crumbling more from internal weakness than from the blows of the enemy. Fresh negotiations for peace which opened on the 29th of January at Uxbridge (by the name of which place they are known to history) occupied the attention of the Scots and their Presbyterian friends, the rise of Independency and of Cromwell was a further distraction, and over the new army and the Self-denying Ordinance the Lords and Commons were seriously at variance. But in February a fresh mutiny in Waller’s command struck alarm into the hearts of the disputants. The “treaty” of Uxbridge came to the same end as the treaty of Oxford in 1643, and a settlement as to army reform was achieved on the 15th of February. Though it was only on the 25th of March that the second and modified form of the ordinance was agreed to by both Houses, Sir Thomas Fairfax and Philip Skippon (who were not members of parliament) had been approved as lord general and major-general (of the infantry) respectively of the new army as early as the 21st of January. The post of lieutenant-general and cavalry commander was for the moment left vacant, but there was little doubt as to who would eventually occupy it.
25. Victories of Montrose.—In Scotland, meanwhile, Montrose was winning victories which amazed the people of the two kingdoms. Montrose’s royalism differed from that of Englishmen of the 17th century less than from that of their forefathers under Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. To him the king was the protector of his people against Presbyterian theocracy, scarcely less offensive to him than the Inquisition itself, and the feudal oppression of the great nobles. Little as this ideal corresponded to the Charles of reality, it inspired in Montrose not merely romantic heroism but a force of leadership which was sufficient to carry to victory the nobles and gentry, the wild Highlanders and the experienced professional soldiers who at various times and places constituted his little armies. His first unsuccessful enterprise has been mentioned above. It seemed, in the early stages of his second attempt (August 1644), as if failure were again inevitable, for the gentry of the northern Lowlands were overawed by the prevailing party and resented the leadership of a lesser noble, even though he were the king’s lieutenant over all Scotland. Disappointed of support where he most expected it, Montrose then turned to the Highlands. At Blair Athol he gathered his first army of Royalist clansmen, and good fortune gave him also a nucleus of trained troops. A force of disciplined experienced soldiers (chiefly Irish Macdonalds and commanded by Alastair of that name) had been sent over from Ireland earlier in the year, and, after ravaging the glens of their hereditary enemies the Campbells, had attempted without success, now here, now there, to gather the other clans in the king’s name. Their hand was against every man’s, and when he finally arrived in Badenoch, Alastair Macdonald was glad to protect himself by submitting to the authority of the king’s lieutenant.
There were three hostile armies to be dealt with, besides—ultimately—the main covenanting army far away in England. The duke of Argyll, the head of the Campbells, had an army of his own clan and of Lowland Covenanter levies, Lord Elcho with another Lowland army lay near Perth, and Lord Balfour of Burleigh was collecting a third (also composed of Lowlanders) at Aberdeen. Montrose turned upon Elcho first, and found him at Tippermuir near Perth on the 1st of September 1644. The Royalists were about 3000 strong and entirely foot, only Montrose himself and two others being mounted, while Elcho had about 7000 of all arms. But Elcho’s townsmen found that pike and musket were clumsy weapons in inexperienced hands, and, like Mackay’s regulars at Killiecrankie fifty years later, they wholly failed to stop the rush of the Highland swordsmen. Many hundreds were killed in the pursuit, and Montrose slept in Perth that night, having thus accounted for one of his enemies. Balfour of Burleigh was to be his next victim, and he started for Aberdeen on the 4th. As he marched, his Highlanders slipped away to place their booty in security. But the Macdonald regulars remained with him, and as he passed along the coast some of the gentry came in, though the great western clan of the Gordons was at present too far divided in sentiment to take his part. Lord Lewis Gordon and some Gordon horse were even in Balfour’s army. On the other hand, the earl of Airlie brought in forty-four horsemen, and Montrose was thus able to constitute two wings of cavalry on the day of battle. The Covenanters were about 2500 strong and drawn up on a slope above the How Burn just outside Aberdeen (September 13, 1644). Montrose, after clearing away the enemy’s skirmishers, drew up his army in front of the opposing line, the foot in the centre, the forty-four mounted men, with musketeers to support them, on either flank. The hostile left-wing cavalry charged piecemeal, and some bodies of troops did not engage at all. On the other wing, however, Montrose was for a moment hard pressed by a force of the enemy that attempted to work round to his rear. But he brought over the small band of mounted men that constituted his right wing cavalry, and also some musketeers from the centre, and destroyed the assailants, and when the ill-led left wing of the Covenanters charged again, during the absence of the cavalry, they were mown down by the close-range volleys of Macdonald’s musketeers. Shortly afterwards the centre of Balfour’s army yielded to pressure and fled in disorder. Aberdeen was sacked by order of Montrose, whose drummer had been murdered while delivering a message under a flag of truce to the magistrates.
26. Inverlochy.—Only Argyll now remained to be dealt with. The Campbells were fighting men from birth, like Montrose’s own men, and had few townsmen serving with them. Still there were enough of the latter and of the impedimenta of regular warfare with him to prevent Argyll from overtaking his agile enemy, and ultimately after a “hide-and-seek” in the districts of Rothiemurchus, Blair Athol, Banchory and Strathbogie, Montrose stood to fight at Fyvie Castle, repulsed Argyll’s attack on that place and slipped away again to Rothiemurchus. There he was joined by Camerons and Macdonalds from all quarters for a grand raid on the Campbell country; he himself wished to march into the Lowlands, well knowing that he could not achieve the decision in the Grampians, but he had to bow, not for the first time nor the last, to local importunity. The raid was duly executed, and the Campbells’ boast, “It’s a far cry to Loch Awe,” availed them little. In December and January the Campbell lands were thoroughly and mercilessly devastated, and Montrose then retired slowly to Loch Ness, where the bulk of his army as usual dispersed to store away its plunder. Argyll, with such Highland and Lowland forces as he could collect after the disaster, followed Montrose towards Lochaber, while the Seaforths and other northern clans marched to Loch Ness. Caught between them, Montrose attacked the nearest. The Royalists crossed the hills into Glen Roy, worked thence along the northern face of Ben Nevis, and descended like an avalanche upon Argyll’s forces at Inverlochy (February 2, 1645). As usual, the Lowland regiments gave way at once—Montrose had managed in all this to keep with him a few cavalry—and it was then the turn of the Campbells. Argyll escaped in a boat, but his clan, as a fighting force, was practically annihilated, and Montrose, having won four victories in these six winter months, rested his men and exultingly promised Charles that he would come to his assistance with a brave army before the end of the summer.
27. Organization of the New Model Army.—To return to the New Model. Its first necessity was regular pay; its first duty to serve wherever it might be sent. Of the three armies that had fought at Newbury only one, Essex’s, was in a true sense a general service force, and only one, Manchester’s, was paid with any regularity. Waller’s army was no better paid than Essex’s and no more free from local ties than Manchester’s. It was therefore broken up early in April, and only 600 of its infantry passed into the New Model. Essex’s men, on the other hand, wanted but regular pay and strict officers to make them excellent soldiers, and their own major-general, Skippon, managed by tact and his personal popularity to persuade the bulk of the men to rejoin. Manchester’s army, in which Cromwell had been the guiding influence from first to last, was naturally the backbone of the New Model. Early in April Essex, Manchester, and Waller resigned their commissions, and such of their forces as were not embodied in the new army were sent to do local duties, for minor armies were still maintained, General Poyntz’s in the north midlands, General Massey’s in the Severn valley, a large force in the Eastern Association, General Browne’s in Buckinghamshire, &c., besides the Scots in the north.
The New Model originally consisted of 14,400 foot and 7700 horse and dragoons. Of the infantry only 6000 came from the combined armies, the rest being new recruits furnished by the press.  Thus there was considerable trouble during the first months of Fairfax’s command, and discipline had to be enforced with unusual sternness. As for the enemy, Oxford was openly contemptuous of “the rebels’ new brutish general” and his men, who seemed hardly likely to succeed where Essex and Waller had failed. But the effect of the Parliament’s having “an army all its own” was soon to be apparent.
28. First Operations of 1645.—On the Royalist side the campaign of 1645 opened in the west, whither the young prince of Wales (Charles II.) was sent with Hyde (later earl of Clarendon), Hopton and others as his advisers. General (Lord) Goring, however, now in command of the Royalist field forces in this quarter, was truculent, insubordinate and dissolute, though on the rare occasions when he did his duty he displayed a certain degree of skill and leadership, and the influence of the prince’s counsellors was but small. As usual, operations began with the sieges necessary to conciliate local feeling. Plymouth and Lyme were blocked up, and Taunton again invested. The reinforcement thrown into the last place by Waller and Cromwell was dismissed by Blake (then a colonel in command of the fortress and afterwards the great admiral of the Commonwealth), and after many adventures rejoined Waller and Cromwell. The latter generals, who had not yet laid down their commissions, then engaged Goring for some weeks, but neither side having infantry or artillery, and both finding subsistence difficult in February and March and in country that had been fought over for two years past, no results were to be expected. Taunton still remained unrelieved, and Goring’s horse still rode all over Dorsetshire when the New Model at last took the field.
29. Rupert’s Northern March.—In the midlands and Lancashire the Royalist horse, as ill-behaved even as Goring’s men, were directly responsible for the ignominious failure with which the king’s main army began its year’s work. Prince Maurice was joined at Ludlow by Rupert and part of his Oxford army early in March, and the brothers drove off Brereton from the siege of Beeston Castle and relieved the pressure on Lord Byron in Cheshire. So great was the danger of Rupert’s again invading Lancashire and Yorkshire that all available forces in the north, English and Scots, were ordered to march against him. But at this moment the prince was called back to clear his line of retreat on Oxford. The Herefordshire and Worcestershire peasantry, weary of military exactions, were in arms, and though they would not join the Parliament, and for the most part dispersed after stating their grievances, the main enterprise was wrecked. This was but one of many ill-armed crowds—“Clubmen” as they were called—that assembled to enforce peace on both parties. A few regular soldiers were sufficient to disperse them in all cases, but their attempt to establish a third party in England was morally as significant as it was materially futile. The Royalists were now fighting with the courage of despair, those who still fought against Charles did so with the full determination to ensure the triumph of their cause, and with the conviction that the only possible way was the annihilation of the enemy’s armed forces, but the majority were so weary of the war that the earl of Manchester’s Presbyterian royalism—which had contributed so materially to the prolongation of the struggle—would probably have been accepted by four-fifths of all England as the basis of a peace. It was, in fact, in the face of almost universal opposition that Fairfax and Cromwell and their friends at Westminster guided the cause of their weaker comrades to complete victory.
30. Cromwell’s Raid.—Having without difficulty rid himself of the Clubmen, Rupert was eager to resume his march into the north. It is unlikely that he wished to join Montrose, though Charles himself favoured that plan, but he certainly intended to fight the Scottish army, more especially as after Inverlochy it had been called upon to detach a large force to deal with Montrose. But this time there was no Royalist army in the north to provide infantry and guns for a pitched battle, and Rupert had perforce to wait near Hereford till the main body, and in particular the artillery train, could come from Oxford and join him. It was on the march of the artillery train to Hereford that the first operations of the New Model centred. The infantry was not yet ready to move, in spite of all Fairfax’s and Skippon’s efforts, and it became necessary to send the cavalry by itself to prevent Rupert from gaining a start. Cromwell, then under Waller’s command, had come to Windsor to resign his commission as required by the Self-denying Ordinance. Instead, he was placed at the head of a brigade of his own old soldiers, with orders to stop the march of the artillery train. On the 23rd of April he started from Watlington north-westward. At dawn on the 24th he routed a detachment of Royalist horse at Islip. On the same day, though he had no guns and only a few firearms in the whole force, he terrified the governor of Bletchingdon House into surrender. Riding thence to Witney, Cromwell won another cavalry fight at Bampton-in-the-Bush on the 27th, and attacked Faringdon House, though without success, on the 29th. Thence he marched at leisure to Newbury. He had done his work thoroughly. He had demoralized the Royalist cavalry, and, above all, had carried off every horse on the countryside. To all Rupert’s entreaties Charles could only reply that the guns could not be moved till the 7th of May, and he even summoned Goring’s cavalry from the west to make good his losses.
31. Civilian Strategy.—Cromwell’s success thus forced the king to concentrate his various armies in the neighbourhood of Oxford, and the New Model had, so Fairfax and Cromwell hoped, found its target. But the Committee of Both Kingdoms on the one side, and Charles, Rupert and Goring on the other, held different views. On the 1st of May Fairfax, having been ordered to relieve Taunton, set out from Windsor for the long march to that place; meeting Cromwell at Newbury on the 2nd, he directed the lieutenant-general to watch the movements of the king’s army, and himself marched on to Blandford, which he reached on the 7th of May. Thus Fairfax and the main army of the Parliament were marching away in the west while Cromwell’s detachment was left, as Waller had been left the previous year, to hold the king as best he could. On the very evening that Cromwell’s raid ended, the leading troops of Goring’s command destroyed part of Cromwell’s own regiment near Faringdon, and on the 3rd Rupert and Maurice appeared with a force of all arms at Burford. Yet the Committee of Both Kingdoms, though aware on the 29th of Goring’s move, only made up its mind to stop Fairfax on the 3rd, and did not send off orders till the 5th. These orders were to the effect that a detachment was to be sent to the relief of Taunton, and that the main army was to return. Fairfax gladly obeyed, even though a siege of Oxford and not the enemy’s field army was the objective assigned him. But long before he came up to the Thames valley the situation was again changed. Rupert, now in possession of the guns and their teams, urged upon his uncle the resumption of the northern enterprise, calculating that with Fairfax in Somersetshire, Oxford was safe. Charles accordingly marched out of Oxford on the 7th towards Stow-on-the-Wold, on the very day, as it chanced, that Fairfax began his return march from Blandford. But Goring and most of the other generals were for a march into the west, in the hope of dealing with Fairfax as they had dealt with Essex in 1644. The armies therefore parted as Essex and Waller had parted at the same place in 1644, Rupert and the king to march northward, Goring to return to his independent command in the west. Rupert, not unnaturally wishing to keep his influence with the king and his authority as general of the king’s army unimpaired by Goring’s notorious indiscipline, made no attempt to prevent the separation, which in the event proved wholly unprofitable. The flying column from Blandford relieved Taunton long before Goring’s return to the west, and Colonel Weldon and Colonel Graves, its commanders, set him at defiance even in the open country. As for Fairfax, he was out of Goring’s reach preparing for the siege of Oxford.
32. Charles in the Midlands.—On the other side also the generals were working by data that had ceased to have any value. Fairfax’s siege of Oxford, ordered by the Committee on the 10th of May, and persisted in after it was known that the king was on the move, was the second great blunder of the year and was hardly redeemed, as a military measure, by the visionary scheme of assembling the Scots, the Yorkshiremen, and the midland forces to oppose the king. It is hard to understand how, having created a new model army “all its own” for general service, the Parliament at once tied it down to a local enterprise, and trusted an improvised army of local troops to fight the enemy’s main army. In reality the Committee seems to have been misled by false information to the effect that Goring and the governor of Oxford were about to declare for the Parliament, but had they not despatched Fairfax to the relief of Taunton in the first instance the necessity for such intrigues would not have arisen. However, Fairfax obeyed orders, invested Oxford, and, so far as he was able without a proper siege train, besieged it for two weeks, while Charles and Rupert ranged the midlands unopposed. At the end of that time came news so alarming that the Committee hastily abdicated their control over military operations and gave Fairfax a free hand. “Black Tom” gladly and instantly abandoned the siege and marched northward to give battle to the king.
Meanwhile Charles and Rupert were moving northward. On the 11th of May they reached Droitwich, whence after two days’ rest they marched against Brereton. The latter hurriedly raised the sieges he had on hand, and called upon Yorkshire and the Scottish army there for aid. But only the old Lord Fairfax and the Yorkshiremen responded. Leven had just heard of new victories won by Montrose, and could do no more than draw his army and his guns over the Pennine chain into Westmorland in the hope of being in time to bar the king’s march on Scotland via Carlisle.
33. Dundee.—After the destruction of the Campbells at Inverlochy, Montrose had cleared away the rest of his enemies without difficulty. He now gained a respectable force of cavalry by the adhesion of Lord Gordon and many of his clan, and this reinforcement was the more necessary as detachments from Leven’s army under Baillie and Hurry—disciplined infantry and cavalry—were on the march to meet him. The Royalists marched by Elgin and through the Gordon country to Aberdeen, and thence across the Esk to Coupar-Angus, where Baillie and Hurry were encountered. A war of manœuvre followed, in which they thwarted every effort of the Royalists to break through into the Lowlands, but in the end retired into Fife. Montrose thereupon marched into the hills with the intention of reaching the upper Forth and thence the Lowlands, for he did not disguise from himself the fact that there, and not in the Highlands, would the quarrel be decided, and was sanguine—over-sanguine, as the event proved—as to the support he would obtain from those who hated the kirk and its system. But he had called to his aid the semi-barbarous Highlanders, and however much the Lowlands resented a Presbyterian inquisition, they hated and feared the Highland clans beyond all else. He was equally disappointed in his own army. For a war of positions the Highlanders had neither aptitude nor inclination, and at Dunkeld the greater part of them went home. If the small remnant was to be kept to its duty, plunder must be found, and the best objective was the town of Dundee. With a small force of 750 foot and horse Montrose brilliantly surprised that place on the 4th of April, but Baillie and Hurry were not far distant, and before Montrose’s men had time to plunder the prize they were collected to face the enemy. His retreat from Dundee was considered a model operation by foreign students of the art of war (then almost as numerous as now), and what surprised them most was that Montrose could rally his men after a sack had begun. The retreat itself was remarkable enough. Baillie moved parallel to Montrose on his left flank towards Arbroath, constantly heading him off from the hills and attempting to pin him against the sea. Montrose, however, halted in the dark so as to let Baillie get ahead of him and then turned sharply back, crossed Baillie’s track, and made for the hills. Baillie soon realized what had happened and turned back also, but an hour too late. By the 6th the Royalists were again safe in the broken country of the Esk valley. But Montrose cherished no illusions as to joining the king at once; all he could do, he now wrote, was to neutralize as many of the enemy’s forces as possible.
34. Auldearn.—For a time he wandered in the Highlands seeking recruits. But soon he learned that Baillie and Hurry had divided their forces, the former remaining about Perth and Stirling to observe him, the latter going north to suppress the Gordons. Strategy and policy combined to make Hurry the objective of the next expedition. But the soldier of fortune who commanded the Covenanters at Aberdeen was no mean antagonist. Marching at once with a large army (formed on the nucleus of his own trained troops and for the rest composed of clansmen and volunteers) Hurry advanced to Elgin, took contact with Montrose there, and, gradually and skilfully retiring, drew him into the hostile country round Inverness. Montrose fell into the trap, and Hurry took his measures to surprise him at Auldearn so successfully that (May 9) Montrose, even though the indiscipline of some of Hurry’s young soldiers during the night march gave him the alarm, had barely time to form up before the enemy was upon him. But the best strategy is of no avail when the battle it produces goes against the strategist, and Montrose’s tactical skill was never more conspicuous than at Auldearn. Alastair Macdonald with most of the Royalist infantry and the Royal standard was posted to the right (north) of the village to draw upon himself the weight of Hurry’s attack; only enough men were posted in the village itself to show that it was occupied, and on the south side, out of sight, was Montrose himself with a body of foot and all the Gordon horse. It was the prototype, on a small scale, of Austerlitz. Macdonald resisted sturdily while Montrose edged away from the scene of action, and at the right moment and not before, though Macdonald had been driven back on the village and was fighting for life amongst the gardens and enclosures, Montrose let loose Lord Gordon’s cavalry. These, abandoning for once the pistol tactics of their time, charged home with the sword. The enemy’s right wing cavalry was scattered in an instant, the nearest infantry was promptly ridden down, and soon Hurry’s army had ceased to exist.
35. Campaign of Naseby.—If the news of Auldearn brought Leven to the region of Carlisle, it had little effect on his English allies. Fairfax was not yet released from the siege of Oxford, in spite of the protests of the Scottish representatives in London. Massey, the active and successful governor of Gloucester, was placed in command of a field force on the 25th of May, but he was to lead it against, not the king, but Goring. At that moment the military situation once more changed abruptly. Charles, instead of continuing his march on to Lancashire, turned due eastward towards Derbyshire. The alarm at Westminster when this new development was reported was such that Cromwell, in spite of the Self-Denying Ordinance, was sent to raise an army for the defence of the Eastern Association. Yet the Royalists had no intentions in that direction. Conflicting reports as to the condition of Oxford reached the royal headquarters in the last week of May, and the eastward march was made chiefly to “spin out time” until it could be known whether it would be necessary to return to Oxford, or whether it was still possible to fight Leven in Yorkshire—his move into Westmorland was not yet known—and invade Scotland by the easy east coast route.
Goring’s return to the west had already been countermanded and he had been directed to march to Harborough, while the South Wales Royalists were also called in towards Leicester. Later orders (May 26) directed him to Newbury, whence he was to feel the strength of the enemy’s positions around Oxford. It is hardly necessary to say that Goring found good military reasons for continuing his independent operations, and marched off towards Taunton regardless of the order. He redressed the balance there for the moment by overawing Massey’s weak force, and his purse profited considerably by fresh opportunities for extortion, but he and his men were not at Naseby. Meanwhile the king, at the geographical centre of England, found an important and wealthy town at his mercy. Rupert, always for action, took the opportunity, and Leicester was stormed and thoroughly pillaged on the night of the 30th-31st of May. There was the usual panic at Westminster, but, unfortunately for Charles, it resulted in Fairfax being directed to abandon the siege of Oxford and given carte blanche to bring the Royal army to battle wherever it was met. On his side the king had, after the capture of Leicester, accepted the advice of those who feared for the safety of Oxford—Rupert, though commander-in-chief, was unable to insist on the northern enterprise—and had marched to Daventry, where he halted to throw supplies into Oxford. Thus Fairfax in his turn was free to move, thanks to the insubordination of Goring, who would neither relieve Oxford nor join the king for an attack on the New Model. The Parliamentary general moved from Oxford towards Northampton so as to cover the Eastern Association. On the 12th of June the two armies were only a few miles apart, Fairfax at Kislingbury, Charles at Daventry, and, though the Royalists turned northward again on the 13th to resume the Yorkshire project under the very eyes of the enemy, Fairfax followed close. On the night of the 13th Charles slept at Lubenham, Fairfax at Guilsborough. Cromwell, just appointed lieutenant-general of the New Model, had ridden into camp on the morning of the 13th with fresh cavalry from the eastern counties, Colonel Rossiter came up with more from Lincolnshire on the morning of the battle, and it was with an incontestable superiority of numbers and an overwhelming moral advantage that Fairfax fought at Naseby (q.v.) on the 14th of June. The result of the battle, this time a decisive battle, was the annihilation of the Royal army. Part of the cavalry escaped, a small fraction of it in tolerable order, but the guns and the baggage train were taken, and, above all, the splendid Royal infantry were killed or taken prisoners to a man.
36. Effects of Naseby.—After Naseby, though the war dragged on for another year, the king never succeeded in raising an army as good as, or even more numerous than, that which Fairfax’s army had so heavily outnumbered on the 14th of June. That the fruits of the victory could not be gathered in a few weeks was due to a variety of hindrances rather than to direct opposition—to the absence of rapid means of communication, the paucity of the forces engaged on both sides relatively to the total numbers under arms, and from time to time to the political exigencies of the growing quarrel between Presbyterians and Independents. As to the latter, within a few days of Naseby, the Scots rejoiced that the “back of the malignants was broken,” and demanded reinforcements as a precaution against “the insolence of others,” i.e. Cromwell and the Independents—“to whom alone the Lord has given the victory of that day.” Leven had by now returned to Yorkshire, and a fortnight after Naseby, after a long and honourable defence by Sir Thomas Glemham, Carlisle fell to David Leslie’s besieging corps. Leicester was reoccupied by Fairfax on the 18th, and on the 20th Leven’s army, moving slowly southward, reached Mansfield. This move was undertaken largely for political reasons, i.e. to restore the Presbyterian balance as against the victorious New Model. Fairfax’s army was intended by its founders to be a specifically English army, and Cromwell for one would have employed it against the Scots almost as readily as against malignants. But for the moment the advance of the northern army was of the highest military importance, for Fairfax was thereby set free from the necessity of undertaking sieges. Moreover, the publication of the king’s papers taken at Naseby gave Fairfax’s troops a measure of official and popular support which a month before they could not have been said to possess, for it was now obvious that they represented the armed force of England against the Irish, Danes, French, Lorrainers, &c., whom Charles had for three years been endeavouring to let loose on English soil. Even the Presbyterians abandoned for the time any attempt to negotiate with the king, and advocated a vigorous prosecution of the war.
37. Fairfax’s Western Campaign.—This, in the hands of Fairfax and Cromwell, was likely to be effective. While the king and Rupert, with the remnant of their cavalry, hurried into South Wales to join Sir Charles Gerard’s troops and to raise fresh infantry, Fairfax decided that Goring’s was the most important Royalist army in the field, and turned to the west, reaching Lechlade on the 26th, less than a fortnight after the battle of Naseby. One last attempt was made to dictate the plan of campaign from Westminster, but the Committee refused to pass on the directions of the Houses, and he remained free to deal with Goring as he desired. Time pressed; Charles in Monmouthshire and Rupert at Bristol were well placed for a junction with Goring, which would have given them a united army 15,000 strong. Taunton, in spite of Massey’s efforts to keep the field, was again besieged, and in Wilts and Dorset numerous bands of Clubmen were on foot which the king’s officers were doing their best to turn into troops for their master. But the process of collecting a fresh royal army was slow, and Goring and his subordinate, Sir Richard Grenville, were alienating the king’s most devoted adherents by their rapacity, cruelty and debauchery. Moreover, Goring had no desire to lose the independent command he had extorted at Stow-on-the-Wold in May. Still, it was clear that he must be disposed of as quickly as possible, and Fairfax requested the Houses to take other measures against the king (June 26). This they did by paying up the arrears due to Leven’s army and bringing it to the Severn valley. On the 8th of July Leven reached Alcester, bringing with him a Parliamentarian force from Derbyshire under Sir John Gell. The design was to besiege Hereford.
38. Langport.—By that time Fairfax and Goring were at close quarters. The Royalist general’s line of defence faced west along the Yeo and the Parrett between Yeovil and Bridgwater, and thus barred the direct route to Taunton. Fairfax, however, marched from Lechlade via Marlborough and Blandford—hindered only by Clubmen—to the friendly posts of Dorchester and Lyme, and with these as his centre of operations he was able to turn the headwaters of Goring’s river-line via Beaminster and Crewkerne. The Royalists at once abandoned the south and west side of the rivers—the siege of Taunton had already been given up—and passed over to the north and east bank. Bridgwater was the right of this second line as it had been the left of the first; the new left was at Ilchester. Goring could thus remain in touch with Charles in south Wales through Bristol, and the siege of Taunton having been given up there was no longer any incentive for remaining on the wrong side of the water-line. But his army was thoroughly demoralized by its own licence and indiscipline, and the swift, handy and resolute regiments of the New Model made short work of its strong positions. On the 7th of July, demonstrating against the points of passage between Ilchester and Langport, Fairfax secretly occupied Yeovil. The post at that place, which had been the right of Goring’s first position, had, perhaps rightly, been withdrawn to Ilchester when the second position was taken up, and Fairfax repaired the bridge without interruption. Goring showed himself unequal to the new situation. He might, if sober, make a good plan when the enemy was not present to disturb him, and he certainly led cavalry charges with boldness and skill. But of strategy in front of the enemy he was incapable. On the news from Yeovil he abandoned the line of the Yeo as far as Langport without striking a blow, and Fairfax, having nothing to gain by continuing his détour through Yeovil, came back and quietly crossed at Long Sutton, west of Ilchester (July 9). Goring had by now formed a new plan. A strong rearguard was posted at Langport and on high ground east and north-east of it to hold Fairfax, and he himself with the cavalry rode off early on the 8th to try and surprise Taunton. This place was no longer protected by Massey’s little army, which Fairfax had called up to assist his own. But Fairfax, who was not yet across Long Sutton bridge, heard of Goring’s raid in good time, and sent Massey after him with a body of horse. Massey surprised a large party of the Royalists at Ilminster on the 9th, wounded Goring himself, and pursued the fugitives up to the south-eastern edge of Langport. On the 10th Fairfax’s advanced guard, led by Major Bethel of Cromwell’s own regiment, brilliantly stormed the position of Goring’s rearguard east of Langport, and the cavalry of the New Model, led by Cromwell himself, swept in pursuit right up to the gates of Bridgwater, where Goring’s army, dismayed and on the point of collapse, was more or less rallied. Thence Goring himself retired to Barnstaple. His army, under the regimental officers, defended itself in Bridgwater resolutely till the 23rd of July, when it capitulated. The fall of Bridgwater gave Fairfax complete control of Somerset and Dorset from Lyme to the Bristol channel. Even in the unlikely event of Goring’s raising a fresh army, he would now have to break through towards Bristol by open force, and a battle between Goring and Fairfax could only have one result. Thus Charles had perforce to give up his intention of joining Goring—his recruiting operations in south Wales had not been so successful as he hoped, owing to the apathy of the people and the vigour of the local Parliamentary leaders—and to resume the northern enterprise begun in the spring.
39. Schemes of Lord Digby.—This time Rupert would not be with him. The prince, now despairing of success and hoping only for a peace on the best terms procurable, listlessly returned to his governorship of Bristol and prepared to meet Fairfax’s impending attack. The influence of Rupert was supplanted by that of Lord Digby. As sanguine as Charles and far more energetic, he was for the rest of the campaign the guiding spirit of the Royalists, but being a civilian he proved incapable of judging the military factors in the situation from a military standpoint, and not only did he offend the officers by constituting himself a sort of confidential military secretary to the king, but he was distrusted by all sections of Royalists for his reckless optimism. The resumption of the northern enterprise, opposed by Rupert and directly inspired by Digby, led to nothing. Charles marched by Bridgnorth, Lichfield and Ashbourne to Doncaster, where on the 18th of August he was met by great numbers of Yorkshire gentlemen with promises of fresh recruits. For a moment the outlook was bright, for the Derbyshire men with Gell were far away at Worcester with Leven, the Yorkshire Parliamentarians engaged in besieging Scarborough Castle, Pontefract and other posts. But two days later he heard that David Leslie with the cavalry of Leven’s army was coming up behind him, and that, the Yorkshire sieges being now ended, Major-General Poyntz’s force lay in his front. It was now impossible to wait for the new levies, and reluctantly the king turned back to Oxford, raiding Huntingdonshire and other parts of the hated Eastern Association en route.
40. Montrose’s Last Victories.—David Leslie did not pursue him. Montrose, though the king did not yet know it, had won two more battles, and was practically master of all Scotland. After Auldearn he had turned to meet Baillie’s army in Strathspey, and by superior mobility and skill forced that commander to keep at a respectful distance. He then turned upon a new army which Lindsay, titular earl of Crawford, was forming in Forfarshire, but that commander betook himself to a safe distance, and Montrose withdrew into the Highlands to find recruits (June). The victors of Auldearn had mostly dispersed on the usual errand, and he was now deserted by most of the Gordons, who were recalled by the chief of their clan, the marquess of Huntly, in spite of the indignant remonstrances of Huntly’s heir, Lord Gordon, who was Montrose’s warmest admirer. Baillie now approached again, but he was weakened by having to find trained troops to stiffen Lindsay’s levies, and a strong force of the Gordons had now been persuaded to rejoin Montrose. The two armies met in battle near Alford on the Don; little can be said of the engagement save that Montrose had to fight cautiously and tentatively as at Aberdeen, not in the decision-forcing spirit of Auldearn, and that in the end Baillie’s cavalry gave way and his infantry was cut down as it stood. Lord Gordon was amongst the Royalist dead (July 2). The plunder was put away in the glens before any attempt was made to go forward, and thus the Covenanters had leisure to form a numerous, if not very coherent, army on the nucleus of Lindsay’s troops. Baillie, much against his will, was continued in the command, with a council of war (chiefly of nobles whom Montrose had already defeated, such as Argyll, Elcho and Balfour) to direct his every movement. Montrose, when rejoined by the Highlanders, moved to meet him, and in the last week of July and the early part of August there were manœuvres and minor engagements round Perth. About the 7th of August Montrose suddenly slipped away into the Lowlands, heading for Glasgow. Thereupon another Covenanting army began to assemble in Clydesdale. But it was clear that Montrose could beat mere levies, and Baillie, though without authority and despairing of success, hurried after him. Montrose then, having drawn Baillie’s Fifeshire militia far enough from home to ensure their being discontented, turned upon them on the 14th of August near Kilsyth. Baillie protested against fighting, but his aristocratic masters of the council of war decided to cut off Montrose from the hills by turning his left wing. The Royalist general seized the opportunity, and his advance caught them in the very act of making a flank march (August 15). The head of the Covenanters’ column was met and stopped by the furious attack of the Gordon infantry, and Alastair Macdonald led the men of his own name and the Macleans against its flank. A breach was made in the centre of Baillie’s army at the first rush, and then Montrose sent in the Gordon and Ogilvy horse. The leading half of the column was surrounded, broken up and annihilated. The rear half, seeing the fate of its comrades, took to flight, but in vain, for the Highlanders pursued à outrance. Only about one hundred Covenanting infantry out of six thousand escaped. Montrose was now indeed the king’s lieutenant in all Scotland.
41. Fall of Bristol.—But Charles was in no case to resume his northern march. Fairfax and the New Model, after reducing Bridgwater, had turned back to clear away the Dorsetshire Clubmen and to besiege Sherborne Castle. On the completion of this task, it had been decided to besiege Bristol, and on the 23rd of August—while the king’s army was still in Huntingdon, and Goring was trying to raise a new army to replace the one he had lost at Langport and Bridgwater—the city was invested. In these urgent circumstances Charles left Oxford for the west only a day or two after he had come in from the Eastern Association raid. Calculating that Rupert could hold out longest, he first moved to the relief of Worcester, around which place Leven’s Scots, no longer having Leslie’s cavalry with them to find supplies, were more occupied with plundering their immediate neighbourhood for food than with the siege works. Worcester was relieved on the 1st of September by the king. David Leslie with all his cavalry was already on the march to meet Montrose, and Leven had no alternative but to draw off his infantry without fighting. Charles entered Worcester on the 8th, but he found that he could no longer expect recruits from South Wales. Worse was to come. A few hours later, on the night of the 9th-10th, Fairfax’s army stormed Bristol. Rupert had long realized the hopelessness of further fighting—the very summons to surrender sent in by Fairfax placed the fate of Bristol on the political issue,—the lines of defence around the place were too extensive for his small force, and on the 11th he surrendered on terms. He was escorted to Oxford with his men, conversing as he rode with the officers of the escort about peace and the future of his adopted country. Charles, almost stunned by the suddenness of the catastrophe, dismissed his nephew from all his offices and ordered him to leave England, and for almost the last time called upon Goring to rejoin the main army—if a tiny force of raw infantry and disheartened cavalry can be so called—in the neighbourhood of Raglan. But before Goring could be brought to withdraw his objections Charles had again turned northward towards Montrose. A weary march through the Welsh hills brought the Royal army on the 22nd of September to the neighbourhood of Chester. Charles himself with one body entered the city, which was partially invested by the Parliamentarian colonel Michael Jones, and the rest under Sir Marmaduke Langdale was sent to take Jones’s lines in reverse. But at the opportune moment Poyntz’s forces, which had followed the king’s movements since he left Doncaster in the middle of August, appeared in rear of Langdale, and defeated him in the battle of Rowton Heath (September 24), while at the same time a sortie of the king’s troops from Chester was repulsed by Jones. Thereupon the Royal army withdrew to Denbigh, and Chester, the only important seaport remaining to connect Charles with Ireland, was again besieged.
42. Philiphaugh.—Nor was Montrose’s position, even after Kilsyth, encouraging, in spite of the persistent rumours of fighting in Westmorland that reached Charles and Digby. Glasgow and Edinburgh were indeed occupied, and a parliament summoned in the king’s name. But Montrose had now to choose between Highlanders and Lowlanders. The former, strictly kept away from all that was worth plundering, rapidly vanished, even Alastair Macdonald going with the rest. Without the Macdonalds and the Gordons, Montrose’s military and political resettlement of Scotland could only be shadowy, and when he demanded support from the sturdy middle classes of the Lowlands, it was not forgotten that he had led Highlanders to the sack of Lowland towns. Thus his new supporters could only come from amongst the discontented and undisciplined Border lords and gentry, and long before these moved to join him the romantic conquest of Scotland was over. On the 6th of September David Leslie had recrossed the frontier with his cavalry and some infantry he had picked up on the way through northern England. Early on the morning of the 13th he surprised Montrose at Philiphaugh near Selkirk. The king’s lieutenant had only 650 men against 4000, and the battle did not last long. Montrose escaped with a few of his principal adherents, but his little army was annihilated. Of the veteran Macdonald infantry, 500 strong that morning, 250 were killed in the battle and the remainder put to death after accepting quarter. The Irish, even when they bore a Scottish name, were, by Scotsmen even more than Englishmen, regarded as beasts to be knocked on the head. After Naseby the Irishwomen found in the king’s camp were branded by order of Fairfax; after Philiphaugh more than 300 women, wives or followers of Macdonald’s men, were butchered. Montrose’s Highlanders at their worst were no more cruel than the sober soldiers of the kirk.
43. Digby’s Northern Expedition.—Charles received the news of Philiphaugh on the 28th of September, and gave orders that the west should be abandoned, the prince of Wales should be sent to France, and Goring should bring up what forces he could to the Oxford region. On the 4th of October Charles himself reached Newark (whither he had marched from Denbigh after revictualling Chester and suffering the defeat of Rowton Heath). The intention to go to Montrose was of course given up, at any rate for the present, and he was merely waiting for Goring and the Royalist militia of the west—each in its own way a broken reed to lean upon. A hollow reconciliation was patched up between Charles and Rupert, and the court remained at Newark for over a month. Before it set out to return to Oxford another Royalist force had been destroyed. On the 14th of October, receiving information that Montrose had raised a new army, the king permitted Langdale’s northern troops to make a fresh attempt to reach Scotland. At Langdale’s request Digby was appointed to command in this enterprise, and, civilian though he was, and disastrous though his influence had been to the discipline of the army, he led it boldly and skilfully. His immediate opponent was Poyntz, who had followed the king step by step from Doncaster to Chester and back to Welbeck, and he succeeded on the 15th in surprising Poyntz’s entire force of foot at Sherburn. Poyntz’s cavalry were soon after this reported approaching from the south, and Digby hoped to trap them also. At first all went well and body after body of the rebels was routed. But by a singular mischance the Royalist main body mistook the Parliamentary squadrons in flight through Sherburn for friends, and believing all was lost took to flight also. Thus Digby’s cavalry fled as fast as Poyntz’s and in the same direction, and the latter, coming to their senses first, drove the Royalist horse in wild confusion as far as Skipton. Lord Digby was still sanguine, and from Skipton he actually penetrated as far as Dumfries. But whether Montrose’s new army was or was not in the Lowlands, it was certain that Leven and Leslie were on the Border, and the mad adventure soon came to an end. Digby, with the mere handful of men remaining to him, was driven back into Cumberland, and on the 24th of October, his army having entirely disappeared, he took ship with his officers for the Isle of Man. Poyntz had not followed him beyond Skipton, and was now watching the king from Nottingham, while Rossiter with the Lincoln troops was posted at Grantham. The king’s chances of escaping from Newark were becoming smaller day by day, and they were not improved by a violent dispute between him and Rupert, Maurice, Lord Gerard and Sir Richard Willis, at the end of which these officers and many others rode away to ask the Parliament for leave to go over-seas. The pretext of the quarrel mattered little, the distinction between the views of Charles and Digby on the one hand and Rupert and his friends on the other was fundamental—to the latter peace had become a political as well as a military necessity. Meanwhile south Wales, with the single exception of Raglan Castle, had been overrun by the Parliamentarians. Everywhere the Royalist posts were falling. The New Model, no longer fearing Goring, had divided, Fairfax reducing the garrisons of Dorset and Devon, Cromwell those of Hampshire. Amongst the latter was the famous Basing House, which was stormed at dawn on the 14th of October and burnt to the ground. Cromwell, his work finished, returned to headquarters, and the army wintered in the neighbourhood of Crediton.
44. End of the First War.—The military events of 1646 call for no comment. The only field army remaining to the king was Goring’s, and though Hopton, who sorrowfully accepted the command after Goring’s departure, tried at the last moment to revive the memories and the local patriotism of 1643, it was of no use to fight against the New Model with the armed rabble that Goring turned over to him. Dartmouth surrendered on January 18, Hopton was defeated at Torrington on February 16, and surrendered the remnant of his worthless army on March 14. Exeter fell on April 13. Elsewhere, Hereford was taken on December 17, 1645, and the last battle of the war was fought and lost at Stow-on-the-Wold by Lord Astley on March 21, 1646. Newark and Oxford fell respectively on May 6 and June 24. On August 31 Montrose escaped from the Highlands. On the 19th of the same month Raglan Castle surrendered, and the last Royalist post of all, Harlech Castle, maintained the useless struggle until March 13, 1647. Charles himself, after leaving Newark in November 1645, had spent the winter in and around Oxford, whence, after an adventurous journey, he came to the camp of the Scottish army at Southwell on May 5, 1646.
45. Second Civil War (1648–52).—The close of the First Civil War left England and Scotland in the hands potentially of any one of the four parties or any combination of two or more that should prove strong enough to dominate the rest. Armed political Royalism was indeed at an end, but Charles, though practically a prisoner, considered himself and was, almost to the last, considered by the rest as necessary to ensure the success of whichever amongst the other three parties could come to terms with him. Thus he passed successively into the hands of the Scots, the Parliament and the New Model, trying to reverse the verdict of arms by coquetting with each in turn. The Presbyterians and the Scots, after Cornet Joyce of Fairfax’s horse seized upon the person of the king for the army (June 3, 1647), began at once to prepare for a fresh civil war, this time against Independency, as embodied in the New Model—henceforward called the Army—and after making use of its sword, its opponents attempted to disband it, to send it on foreign service, to cut off its arrears of pay, with the result that it was exasperated beyond control, and, remembering not merely its grievances but also the principle for which it had fought, soon became the most powerful political party in the realm. From 1646 to 1648 the breach between army and parliament widened day by day until finally the Presbyterian party, combined with the Scots and the remaining Royalists, felt itself strong enough to begin a second civil war.
46. The English War.—In February 1648 Colonel Poyer, the Parliamentary governor of Pembroke Castle, refused to hand over his command to one of Fairfax’s officers, and he was soon joined by some hundreds of officers and men, who mutinied, ostensibly for arrears of pay, but really with political objects. At the end of March, encouraged by minor successes, Poyer openly declared for the king. Disbanded soldiers continued to join him in April, all South Wales revolted, and eventually he was joined by Major-General Laugharne, his district commander, and Colonel Powel. In April also news came that the Scots were arming and that Berwick and Carlisle had been seized by the English Royalists. Cromwell was at once sent off at the head of a strong detachment to deal with Laugharne and Poyer. But before he arrived Laugharne had been severely defeated by Colonel Horton at St Fagans (May 8). The English Presbyterians found it difficult to reconcile their principles with their allies when it appeared that the prisoners taken at St Fagans bore “We long to see our King” on their hats; very soon in fact the English war became almost purely a Royalist revolt, and the war in the north an attempt to enforce a mixture of Royalism and Presbyterianism on Englishmen by means of a Scottish army. The former were disturbers of the peace and no more. Nearly all the Royalists who had fought in the First Civil War had given their parole not to bear arms against the Parliament, and many honourable Royalists, foremost amongst them the old Lord Astley, who had fought the last battle for the king in 1646, refused to break their word by taking any part in the second war. Those who did so, and by implication those who abetted them in doing so, were likely to be treated with the utmost rigour if captured, for the army was in a less placable mood in 1648 than in 1645, and had already determined to “call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for the blood he had shed.” On the 21st of May Kent rose in revolt in the king’s name. A few days later a most serious blow to the Independents was struck by the defection of the navy, from command of which they had removed Vice-Admiral Batten, as being a Presbyterian. Though a former lord high admiral, the earl of Warwick, also a Presbyterian, was brought back to the service, it was not long before the navy made a purely Royalist declaration and placed itself under the command of the prince of Wales. But Fairfax had a clearer view and a clearer purpose than the distracted Parliament. He moved quickly into Kent, and on the evening of June 1 stormed Maidstone by open force, after which the local levies dispersed to their homes, and the more determined Royalists, after a futile attempt to induce the City of London to declare for them, fled into Essex. In Cornwall, Northamptonshire, North Wales and Lincolnshire the revolt collapsed as easily. Only in South Wales, Essex and the north of England was there serious fighting. In the first of these districts Cromwell rapidly reduced all the fortresses except Pembroke, where Laugharne, Poyer and Powel held out with the desperate courage of deserters. In the north, Pontefract was surprised by the Royalists, and shortly afterwards Scarborough Castle declared for the king. Fairfax, after his success at Maidstone and the pacification of Kent, turned northward to reduce Essex, where, under their ardent, experienced and popular leader Sir Charles Lucas, the Royalists were in arms in great numbers. He soon drove the enemy into Colchester, but the first attack on the town was repulsed and he had to settle down to a long and wearisome siege en règle. A Surrey rising, remembered only for the death of the young and gallant Lord Francis Villiers in a skirmish at Kingston (July 7), collapsed almost as soon as it had gathered force, and its leaders, the duke of Buckingham and the earl of Holland, escaped, after another attempt to induce London to declare for them, to St Albans and St Neots, where Holland was taken prisoner. Buckingham escaped over-seas.
47. Lambert in the North.—By the 10th of July therefore the military situation was well defined. Cromwell held Pembroke, Fairfax Colchester, Lambert Pontefract under siege; elsewhere all serious local risings had collapsed, and the Scottish army had crossed the Border. It is on the adventures of the latter that the interest of the war centres. It was by no means the veteran army of Leven, which had long been disbanded. For the most part it consisted of raw levies, and as the kirk had refused to sanction the enterprise of the Scottish parliament, David Leslie and thousands of experienced officers and men declined to serve. The duke of Hamilton proved to be a poor substitute for Leslie; his army, too, was so ill provided that as soon as England was invaded it began to plunder the countryside for the bare means of sustenance. Major-General Lambert, a brilliant young general of twenty-nine, was more than equal to the situation. He had already left the sieges of Pontefract and Scarborough to Colonel Rossiter, and hurried into Cumberland to deal with the English Royalists under Sir Marmaduke Langdale. With his cavalry he got into touch with the enemy about Carlisle and slowly fell back, fighting small rearguard actions to annoy the enemy and gain time, to Bowes and Barnard Castle. Langdale did not follow him into the mountains, but occupied himself in gathering recruits and supplies of material and food for the Scots. Lambert, reinforced from the midlands, reappeared early in June and drove him back to Carlisle with his work half finished. About the same time the local horse of Durham and Northumberland were put into the field by Sir A. Hesilrige, governor of Newcastle, and under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburne won a considerable success (June 30) at the river Coquet. This reverse, coupled with the existence of Langdale’s force on the Cumberland side, practically compelled Hamilton to choose the west coast route for his advance, and his army began slowly to move down the long couloir between the mountains and the sea. The campaign which followed is one of the most brilliant in English history.
48. Campaign of Preston.—On the 8th of July the Scots, with Langdale as advanced guard, were about Carlisle, and reinforcements from Ulster were expected daily. Lambert’s horse were at Penrith, Hexham and Newcastle, too weak to fight and having only skilful leading and rapidity of movement to enable them to gain time. Far away to the south Cromwell was still tied down before Pembroke, Fairfax before Colchester. Elsewhere the rebellion, which had been put down by rapidity of action rather than sheer weight of numbers, smouldered, and Prince Charles and the fleet cruised along the Essex coast. Cromwell and Lambert, however, understood each other perfectly, while the Scottish commanders quarrelled with Langdale and each other. Appleby Castle surrendered to the Scots on the 31st of July, whereat Lambert, who was still hanging on to the flank of the Scottish advance, fell back from Barnard Castle to Richmond so as to close Wensleydale against any attempt of the invaders to march on Pontefract. All the restless energy of Langdale’s horse was unable to dislodge him from the passes or to find out what was behind that impenetrable cavalry screen. The crisis was now at hand. Cromwell had received the surrender of Pembroke on the 11th, and had marched off, with his men unpaid, ragged and shoeless, at full speed through the midlands. Rains and storms delayed his march, but he knew that Hamilton in the broken ground of Westmorland was still worse off. Shoes from Northampton and stockings from Coventry met him at Nottingham, and, gathering up the local levies as he went, he made for Doncaster, where he arrived on the 8th of August, having gained six days in advance of the time he had allowed himself for the march. He then called up artillery from Hull, exchanged his local levies for the regulars who were besieging Pontefract, and set off to meet Lambert. On the 12th he was at Wetherby, Lambert with horse and foot at Otley, Langdale at Skipton and Gargrave, Hamilton at Lancaster, and Sir George Monro with the Scots from Ulster and the Carlisle Royalists (organized as a separate command owing to friction between Monro and the generals of the main army) at Hornby. On the 13th, while Cromwell was marching to join Lambert at Otley, the Scottish leaders were still disputing as to whether they should make for Pontefract or continue through Lancashire so as to join Lord Byron and the Cheshire Royalists.
49. Preston Fight.—On the 14th Cromwell and Lambert were at Skipton, on the 15th at Gisburn, and on the 16th they marched down the valley of the Ribble towards Preston with full knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions and full determination to attack him. They had with them horse and foot not only of the army, but also of the militia of Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and Lancashire, and withal were heavily outnumbered, having only 8600 men against perhaps 20,000 of Hamilton’s command. But the latter were scattered for convenience of supply along the road from Lancaster, through Preston, towards Wigan, Langdale’s corps having thus become the left flank guard instead of the advanced guard. Langdale called in his advanced parties, perhaps with a view to resuming the duties of advanced guard, on the night of the 13th, and collected them near Longridge. It is not clear whether he reported Cromwell’s advance, but, if he did, Hamilton ignored the report, for on the 17th Monro was half a day’s march to the north, Langdale east of Preston, and the main army strung out on the Wigan road, Major-General Baillie with a body of foot, the rear of the column, being still in Preston. Hamilton, yielding to the importunity of his lieutenant-general, the earl of Callendar, sent Baillie across the Ribble to follow the main body just as Langdale, with 3000 foot and 500 horse only, met the first shock of Cromwell’s attack on Preston Moor. Hamilton, like Charles at Edgehill, passively shared in, without directing, the battle, and, though Langdale’s men fought magnificently, they were after four hours’ struggle driven to the Ribble. Baillie attempted to cover the Ribble and Darwen bridges on the Wigan road, but Cromwell had forced his way across both before nightfall. Pursuit was at once undertaken, and not relaxed until Hamilton had been driven through Wigan and Winwick to Uttoxeter and Ashbourne. There, pressed furiously in rear by Cromwell’s horse and held up in front by the militia of the midlands, the remnant of the Scottish army laid down its arms on the 25th of August. Various attempts were made to raise the Royalist standard in Wales and elsewhere, but Preston was the death-blow. On the 28th of August, starving and hopeless of relief, the Colchester Royalists surrendered to Lord Fairfax. The victors in the Second Civil War were not merciful to those who had brought war into the land again. On the evening of the surrender of Colchester, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were shot. Laugharne, Poyer and Powel were sentenced to death, but Poyer alone was executed on the 25th of April 1649, being the victim selected by lot. Of five prominent Royalist peers who had fallen into the hands of the Parliament, three, the duke of Hamilton, the earl of Holland, and Lord Capel, one of the Colchester prisoners and a man of high character, were beheaded at Westminster on the 9th of March. Above all, after long hesitations, even after renewal of negotiations, the army and the Independents “purged” the House of their ill-wishers, and created a court for the trial and sentence of the king. The more resolute of the judges nerved the rest to sign the death-warrant, and Charles was beheaded at Whitehall on the 30th of January.
50. Cromwell in Ireland.—The campaign of Preston was undertaken under the direction of the Scottish parliament, not the kirk, and it needed the execution of the king to bring about a union of all Scottish parties against the English Independents. Even so, Charles II. in exile had to submit to long negotiations and hard conditions before he was allowed to put himself at the head of the Scottish armies. The marquis of Huntly was executed for taking up arms for the king on the 22nd of March 1649. Montrose, under Charles’s directions, made a last attempt to rally the Scottish Royalists early in 1650. But Charles merely used Montrose as a threat to obtain better conditions for himself from the Covenanters, and when the noblest of all the Royalists was defeated (Carbisdale, April 27), delivered up to his pursuers (May 4), and executed (May 21, 1650), he was not ashamed to give way to the demands of the Covenanters, and to place himself at the head of Montrose’s executioners. His father, whatever his faults, had at least chosen to die for an ideal, the Church of England. Charles II. now proposed to regain the throne by allowing Scotland to impose Presbyterianism on England, and dismissed all the faithful Cavaliers who had followed him to exile. Meanwhile, Ireland, in which a fresh war, with openly anti-English and anti-Protestant objects, had broken out in 1648, was thoroughly reduced to order by Cromwell, who beat down all resistance by his skill, and even more by his ruthless severity, in a brief campaign of nine months (battle of Rathmines near Dublin, won by Colonel Michael Jones, August 2, 1649; storming of Drogheda, September 11, and of Wexford, October 11, by Cromwell; capture of Kilkenny, March 28, 1650, and of Clonmel, May 10). Cromwell returned to England at the end of May 1650, and on June 26 Fairfax, who had been anxious and uneasy since the execution of the king, resigned the command-in-chief of the army to his lieutenant-general. The pretext, rather than the reason, of Fairfax’s resignation was his unwillingness to lead an English army to reduce Scotland.
51. The Invasion of Scotland.—This important step had been resolved upon as soon as it was clear that Charles II. would come to terms with the Covenanters. From this point the Second Civil War becomes a war of England against Scotland. Here at least the Independents carried the whole of England with them. No Englishman cared to accept a settlement at the hands of a victorious foreign army, and on the 28th of June, five days after Charles II. had sworn to the Covenant, the new lord-general was on his way to the Border to take command of the English army. About the same time a new militia act was passed that was destined to give full and decisive effect to the national spirit of England in the great final campaign of the war. Meanwhile the motto frappez fort, frappez vite was carried out at once by the regular forces. On the 19th of July 1650 Cromwell made the final arrangements at Berwick-on-Tweed. Major-General Harrison, a gallant soldier and an extreme Independent, was to command the regular and auxiliary forces left in England, and to secure the Commonwealth against Royalists and Presbyterians. Cromwell took with him Fleetwood as lieutenant-general and Lambert as major-general, and his forces numbered about 10,000 foot and 5000 horse. His opponent David Leslie (his comrade of Marston Moor) had a much larger force, but its degree of training was inferior, it was more than tainted by the political dissensions of the people at large, and it was, in great part at any rate, raised by forced enlistment. On the 22nd of July Cromwell crossed the Tweed. He marched on Edinburgh by the sea coast, through Dunbar, Haddington and Musselburgh, living almost entirely on supplies landed by the fleet which accompanied him—for the country itself was incapable of supporting even a small army—and on the 29th he found Leslie’s army drawn up and entrenched in a position extending from Leith to Edinburgh.
52. Operations around Edinburgh.—The same day a sharp but indecisive fight took place on the lower slopes of Arthur’s Seat, after which Cromwell, having felt the strength of Leslie’s line, drew back to Musselburgh. Leslie’s horse followed him up sharply, and another action was fought, after which the Scots assaulted Musselburgh without success. Militarily Leslie had the best of it in these affairs, but it was precisely this moment that the kirk party chose to institute a searching three days’ examination of the political and religious sentiments of his army. The result was that the army was “purged” of 80 officers and 3000 soldiers as it lay within musket shot of the enemy. Cromwell was more concerned, however, with the supply question than with the distracted army of the Scots. On the 6th of August he had to fall back as far as Dunbar to enable the fleet to land supplies in safety, the port of Musselburgh being unsafe in the violent and stormy weather which prevailed. He soon returned to Musselburgh and prepared to force Leslie to battle. In preparation for an extended manœuvre three days’ rations were served out. Tents were also issued, perhaps for the first time in the civil wars, for it was a regular professional army, which had to be cared for, made comfortable and economized, that was now carrying on the work of the volunteers of the first war. Even after Cromwell started on his manœuvre, the Scottish army was still in the midst of its political troubles, and, certain though he was that nothing but victory in the field would give an assured peace, he was obliged to intervene in the confused negotiations of the various Scottish parties. At last, however, Charles II. made a show of agreeing to the demands of his strange supporters, and Leslie was free to move. Cromwell had now entered the hill country, with a view to occupying Queensferry and thus blocking up Edinburgh. Leslie had the shorter road and barred the way at Corstorphine Hill (August 21). Cromwell, though now far from his base, manœuvred again to his right, Leslie meeting him once more at Gogar (August 27). The Scottish lines at that point were strong enough to dismay even Cromwell, and the manœuvre on Queensferry was at last given up. It had cost the English army severe losses in sick, and much suffering in the autumn nights on the bleak hillsides.
53. Dunbar.—On the 28th Cromwell fell back on Musselburgh, and on the 31st, after embarking his non-effective men, to Dunbar. Leslie followed him up, and wished to fight a battle at Dunbar on Sunday, the 1st of September. But again the kirk intervened, this time to forbid Leslie to break the Sabbath, and the unfortunate Scottish commander could only establish himself on Doon Hill (see Dunbar) and send a force to Cockburnspath to bar the Berwick road. He had now 23,000 men to Cromwell’s 11,000, and proposed, faute de mieux, to starve Cromwell into surrender. But the English army was composed of “ragged soldiers with bright muskets,” and had a great captain of undisputed authority at their head. Leslie’s, on the other hand, had lost such discipline as it had ever possessed, and was now, under outside influences, thoroughly disintegrated. Cromwell wrote home, indeed, that he was “upon an engagement very difficult,” but, desperate as his position seemed, he felt the pulse of his opponent and steadily refused to take his army away by sea. He had not to wait long. It was now the turn of Leslie’s men on the hillside to endure patiently privation and exposure, and after one night’s bivouac, Leslie, too readily inferring that the enemy was about to escape by sea, came down to fight. The battle of Dunbar (q.v.) opened in the early morning of the 3rd of September. It was the most brilliant of all Oliver’s victories. Before the sun was high in the heavens the Scottish army had ceased to exist.
54. Royalism in Scotland.—After Dunbar it was easy for the victorious army to overrun southern Scotland, more especially as the dissensions of the enemy were embittered by the defeat of which they had been the prime cause. The kirk indeed put Dunbar to the account of its own remissness in not purging their army more thoroughly, but, as Cromwell wrote on the 4th of September, the kirk had “done its do.” “I believe their king will set up on his own score,” he continued, and indeed, now that the army of the kirk was destroyed and they themselves were secure behind the Forth and based on the friendly Highlands, Charles and the Cavaliers were in a position not only to defy Cromwell, but also to force the Scottish national spirit of resistance to the invader into a purely Royalist channel. Cromwell had only received a few drafts and reinforcements from England, and for the present he could but block up Edinburgh Castle (which surrendered on Christmas eve), and try to bring up adequate forces and material for the siege of Stirling—an attempt which was frustrated by the badness of the roads and the violence of the weather. The rest of the early winter of 1650 was thus occupied in semi-military, semi-political operations between detachments of the English army and certain armed forces of the kirk party which still maintained a precarious existence in the western Lowlands, and in police work against the moss-troopers of the Border counties. Early in February 1651, still in the midst of terrible weather, Cromwell made another resolute but futile attempt to reach Stirling. This time he himself fell sick, and his losses had to be made good by drafts of recruits from England, many of whom came most unwillingly to serve in the cold wet bivouacs that the newspapers had graphically reported.
55. The English Militia.—About this time there occurred in England two events which had a most important bearing on the campaign. The first was the detection of a widespread Royalist-Presbyterian conspiracy—how widespread no one knew, for those of its promoters who were captured and executed certainly formed but a small fraction of the whole number. Harrison was ordered to Lancashire in April to watch the north Welsh, Isle of Man and Border Royalists, and military precautions were taken in various parts of England. The second was the revival of the militia. Since 1644 there had been no general employment of local forces, the quarrel having fallen into the hands of the regular armies by force of circumstances. The New Model, though a national army, resembled Wellington’s Peninsular army more than the soldiers of the French Revolution and the American Civil War. It was now engaged in prosecuting a war of aggression against the hereditary foe over the Border—strictly the task of a professional army with a national basis. The militia was indeed raw and untrained. Some of the Essex men “fell flat on their faces on the sound of a cannon.” In the north of England Harrison complained to Cromwell of the “badness” of his men, and the lord general sympathized, having “had much such stuff” sent him to make good the losses in trained men. Even he for a moment lost touch with the spirit of the people. His recruits were unwilling drafts for foreign service, but in England the new levies were trusted to defend their homes, and the militia was soon triumphantly to justify its existence on the day of Worcester.
56. Inverkeithing.—While David Leslie organized and drilled the king’s new army beyond the Forth, Cromwell was, slowly and with frequent relapses, recovering from his illness. The English army marched to Glasgow in April, then returned to Edinburgh. The motives of the march and that of the return are alike obscure, but it may be conjectured that, the forces in England under Harrison having now assembled in Lancashire, the Edinburgh-Newcastle-York road had to be covered by the main army. Be this as it may, Cromwell’s health again broke down and his life was despaired of. Only late in June were operations actively resumed between Stirling and Linlithgow. At first Cromwell sought without success to bring Leslie to battle, but he stormed Callendar House near Falkirk on July 13, and on the 16th of July he began the execution of a brilliant and successful manœuvre. A force from Queensferry, covered by the English fleet, was thrown across the Firth of Forth to Northferry. Lambert followed with reinforcements, and defeated a detachment of Leslie’s army at Inverkeithing on the 20th. Leslie drew back at once, but managed to find a fresh strong position in front of Stirling, whence he defied Cromwell again. At this juncture Cromwell prepared to pass his whole army across the firth. His contemplated manœuvre of course gave up to the enemy all the roads into England, and before undertaking it the lord general held a consultation with Harrison, as the result of which that officer took over the direct defence of the whole Border. But his mind was made up even before this, for on the day he met Harrison at Linlithgow three-quarters of his whole army had already crossed into Fife. Burntisland, surrendered to Lambert on the 29th, gave Cromwell a good harbour upon which to base his subsequent movements. On the 30th of July the English marched upon Perth, and the investment of this place, the key to Leslie’s supply area, forced the crisis at once. Whether Leslie would have preferred to manœuvre Cromwell from his vantage-ground or not is immaterial; the young king and the now predominant Royalist element at headquarters seized the long-awaited opportunity at once, and on the 31st, leaving Cromwell to his own devices, the Royal army marched southward to raise the Royal standard in England.
57. The Third Scottish Invasion of England.—Then began the last and most thrilling campaign of the Great Rebellion. Charles II. expected complete success. In Scotland, vis-à-vis the extreme Covenanters, he was a king on conditions, and he was glad enough to find himself in England with some thirty solidly organized regiments under Royalist officers and with no regular army in front of him. He hoped, too, to rally not merely the old faithful Royalists, but also the overwhelming numerical strength of the English Presbyterians to his standard. His army was kept well in hand, no excesses were allowed, and in a week the Royalists covered 150 m.—in marked contrast to the duke of Hamilton’s ill-fated expedition of 1648. On the 8th of August the troops were given a well-earned rest between Penrith and Kendal.
But the Royalists were mistaken in supposing that the enemy was taken aback by their new move. Everything had been foreseen both by Cromwell and by the Council of State in Westminster. The latter had called out the greater part of the militia on the 7th. Lieutenant-General Fleetwood began to draw together the midland contingents at Banbury, the London trained bands turned out for field service no fewer than 14,000 strong. Every suspected Royalist was closely watched, and the magazines of arms in the country-houses of the gentry were for the most part removed into the strong places. On his part Cromwell had quietly made his preparations. Perth passed into his hands on the 2nd of August, and he brought back his army to Leith by the 5th. Thence he despatched Lambert with a cavalry corps to harass the invaders. Harrison was already at Newcastle picking the best of the county mounted troops to add to his own regulars. On the 9th Charles was at Kendal, Lambert hovering in his rear, and Harrison marching swiftly to bar his way at the Mersey. Fairfax emerged for a moment from his retirement to organize the Yorkshire levies, and the best of these as well as of the Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire militias were directed upon Warrington, which point Harrison reached on the 15th, a few hours in front of Charles’s advanced guard. Lambert too, slipping round the left flank of the enemy, joined Harrison, and the English fell back (16th), slowly and without letting themselves be drawn into a fight, along the London road.
58. Campaign of Worcester.—Cromwell meanwhile, leaving Monk with the least efficient regiments to carry on the war in Scotland, had reached the Tyne in seven days, and thence, marching 20 m. a day in extreme heat—with the country people carrying their arms and equipment—the regulars entered Ferrybridge on the 19th, at which date Lambert, Harrison and the north-western militia were about Congleton. It seemed probable that a great battle would take place between Lichfield and Coventry about the 25th or 26th of August, and that Cromwell, Harrison, Lambert and Fleetwood would all take part in it. But the scene and the date of the denouement were changed by the enemy’s movements. Shortly after leaving Warrington the young king had resolved to abandon the direct march on London and to make for the Severn valley, where his father had found the most constant and the most numerous adherents in the first war, and which had been the centre of gravity of the English Royalist movement of 1648. Sir Edward Massey, formerly the Parliamentary governor of Gloucester, was now with Charles, and it was hoped that he would induce his fellow-Presbyterians to take arms. The military quality of the Welsh border Royalists was well proved, that of the Gloucestershire Presbyterians not less so, and, based on Gloucester and Worcester as his father had been based on Oxford, Charles II. hoped, not unnaturally, to deal with an Independent minority more effectually than Charles I. had done with a Parliamentary majority of the people of England. But even the pure Royalism which now ruled in the invading army could not alter the fact that it was a Scottish army, and it was not an Independent faction but all England that took arms against it. Charles arrived at Worcester on the 22nd of August, and spent five days in resting the troops, preparing for further operations, and gathering and arming the few recruits who came in. It is unnecessary to argue that the delay was fatal; it was a necessity of the case foreseen and accepted when the march to Worcester had been decided upon, and had the other course, that of marching on London via Lichfield, been taken the battle would have been fought three days earlier with the same result. As affairs turned out Cromwell merely shifted the area of his concentration two marches to the south-west, to Evesham. Early on the 28th Lambert surprised the passage of the Severn at Upton, 6 m. below Worcester, and in the action which followed Massey was severely wounded. Fleetwood followed Lambert. The enemy was now only 16,000 strong and disheartened by the apathy with which they had been received in districts formerly all their own. Cromwell, for the first and last time in his military career, had a two-to-one numerical superiority.
59. The “Crowning Mercy.”—He took his measures deliberately. Lilburne from Lancashire and Major Mercer with the Worcestershire horse were to secure Bewdley Bridge on the enemy’s line of retreat. Lambert and Fleetwood were to force their way across the Teme (a little river on which Rupert had won his first victory in 1642) and attack St John’s, the western suburb of Worcester. Cromwell himself and the main army were to attack the town itself. On the 3rd of September, the anniversary of Dunbar, the programme was carried out exactly. Fleetwood forced the passage of the Teme, and the bridging train (which had been carefully organized for the purpose) bridged both the Teme and the Severn. Then Cromwell on the left bank and Fleetwood on the right swept in a semicircle 4 m. long up to Worcester. Every hedgerow was contested by the stubborn Royalists, but Fleetwood’s men would not be denied, and Cromwell’s extreme right on the eastern side of the town repelled, after three hours’ hard fighting, the last desperate attempt of the Royalists to break out. It was indeed, as a German critic has pointed out, the prototype of Sedan. Everywhere the defences were stormed as darkness came on, regulars and militia fighting with equal gallantry, and the few thousands of the Royalists who escaped during the night were easily captured by Lilburne and Mercer, or by the militia which watched every road in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Even the country people brought in scores of prisoners, for officers and men alike, stunned by the suddenness of the disaster, offered no resistance. Charles escaped after many adventures, but he was one of the few men in his army who regained a place of safety. The Parliamentary militia were sent home within a week. Cromwell, who had ridiculed “such stuff” six months ago, knew them better now. “Your new raised forces,” he wrote to the House, “did perform singular good service, for which they deserve a very high estimation and acknowledgment.” Worcester resembled Sedan in much more than outward form. Both were fought by “nations in arms,” by citizen soldiers who had their hearts in the struggle, and could be trusted not only to fight their hardest but to march their best. Only with such troops would a general dare to place a deep river between the two halves of his army or to send away detachments beforehand to reap the fruits of victory, in certain anticipation of winning the victory with the remainder. The sense of duty, which the raw militia possessed in so high a degree, ensured the arrival and the action of every column at the appointed time and place. The result was, in brief, one of those rare victories in which a pursuit is superfluous—a “crowning mercy,” as Cromwell called it. There is little of note in the closing operations. Monk had completed his task by May 1652; and Scotland, which had twice attempted to impose its will on England, found itself reduced to the position of an English province under martial law. The details of its subjection are uninteresting after the tremendous climax of Worcester.
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- ↑ Gustavus Adolphus before the battle of the Alte Veste (see Thirty Years’ War).
- ↑ “Making not money but that which they took to be the public felicity to be their end they were the more engaged to be valiant” (Baxter).
- ↑ For the third time within the year the London trained bands turned out in force. It was characteristic of the early years of the war that imminent danger alone called forth the devotion of the citizen soldier. If he was employed in ordinary times (e.g. at Basing House) he would neither fight nor march with spirit.
- ↑ Charles’s policy was still, as before Marston Moor, to “spin out time” until Rupert came back from the north.
- ↑ The ground has been entirely built over for many years.
- ↑ The Puritans had by now disappeared almost entirely from the ranks of the infantry. Per contra the officers and sergeants and the troopers of the horse were the sternest Puritans of all, the survivors of three years of a disheartening war.
- ↑ The tents were evidently issued for regular marches, not for cross-country manœuvres against the enemy. These manœuvres, as we have seen, often took several days. The bon général ordinaire of the 17th and 18th centuries framed his manœuvres on a smaller scale so as not to expose his expensive and highly trained soldiers to discomfort and the consequent temptation to desert.
- ↑ The lord general had during his march thrown out successively two flying columns under Colonel Lilburne to deal with the Lancashire Royalists under the earl of Derby. Lilburne entirely routed the enemy at Wigan on the 25th of August.
- ↑ Fritz Hoenig, Cromwell.