Battle of Worcester

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The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 at Worcester, England and was the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalist, predominantly Scottish, forces of King Charles II. The 16,000 Royalist forces were overwhelmed by the 28,000 strong "New Model Army" of Cromwell.

Contents

Invasion of England

The king was aided by Scottish allies and was attempting to regain the throne that had been lost when his father Charles I was executed. The commander of the Scots, Sir David Leslie, supported the plan of fighting in Scotland, where royal support was strongest. Charles, however, insisted on making war in England. He calculated that Cromwell's campaign north of the River Forth would allow the main Scottish Royalist army which was south of the Forth to steal the march on the Roundhead New Model Army in a race to London. He hoped to rally not merely the old faithful Royalists, but also the overwhelming numerical strength of the English Presbyterians to his standard. He calculated that his alliance with the Scottish Presbyterian Covenanters and his signing of the Solemn League and Covenant would encourage English Presbyterians to support him against the English Independent faction which had grown in power over the last few years. The Royalist army was kept well in hand, no excesses were allowed, and in a week the Royalists covered 150 miles in marked contrast to the Duke of Hamilton's ill-fated expedition of 1648. On 8 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 7 August. Lieutenant-General Charles 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 22 August and he brought back his army to Leith by 5 August. Thence he dispatched Lieutenant-General John Lambert with a cavalry corps to harass the invaders. Major-General Thomas Harrison was already at Newcastle picking the best of the county mounted-troops to add to his own regulars. On 9 August, Charles was at Kendal, Lambert hovering in his rear, and Harrison marching swiftly to bar his way at the Mersey. Thomas 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 Harrison reached on 15 August, 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 (16 August), slowly and without letting themselves be drawn into a fight, along the London road.

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