Friday, 6 May 2016
Thursday, 4 July 2013
Late May 1644 The strategic position The Kingdom is now divided like never before. It would appear the north is lost to the King. Byron’s army lies in Newcastle besieged by the Scots. Montrose seems powerless to defeat the Covenanters and is merely an irritant –but an effective one. Fairfax and Manchester’s armies control the Yorkshire area and it is likely that York will surrender within a few days. Their victory owed more to luck than design and their disagreements in strategy indirectly led to battlefield success. Hull may also surrender shortly if help is unlikely. The Marquess of Newcastle looks like a spent force and a time on the continent in exile may well beckon. In the south the major city of Bristol remains in Waller’s hands for Parliament. Brereton’s small force is probably on its way back to Bristol now. Essex and what remains of his army will be regrouping in London. But the King sits strongly in Oxford. Maurice’s south western army remains undefeated and is also in Oxford. Rupert, despite his thrilling march south, missed the battle by hours but commands a strong force of horse. The only question remains whether his marching to support the King is seen as being responsible for losing half the country. His presence with Newcastle in Yorkshire would surely have seen the Roundhead’s defeated Hopton is also in the south east with a significant army intact. Pausing for breath As the Kingdom heaves a heavy sign and grows weary with war, so too must this campaign take a pause. Apologies but I am now about to embark on a short holiday. I am travelling the Silk Route from Xian to Istanbul this summer. I leave the UK on 18 July, returning in time for my small wargames weekend (Bayfog- an ancient wargames competition) in late October. My Silk Road blog is www.silkroad2013.tumblr.com
Mid April onwards 1644 The War in the north. The battle at Thormanby on 11 April had changed the fortunes of both sides in an instant. The Scots crushed between Rupert and Byron’s bold flanking movement and Newcastle’s frontal resistance were almost out of the war. 5000Scots prisoners were taken to York but were released to go home by Newcastle a couple of weeks later under parole not to take up arms in England. The remained of the Scots army was either scattered or in rout. Leven attempted to rally the remnants on the Great North Road but once done he retired to his estates in the north a broken man. The remains began the long march back to Scotland. Newcastle was emptied of Scots and the march back to the borders begun. By 25 April the small army of just 7000 men was just below Berwick. Throughout April, Montrose with just a few thousand men had taken Glasgow and had threatened to over run the frightened and panicked Edinburgh. But the expected Irish landing in the west highlands was nowhere to be seen and few men were welcoming Montrose as liberator. Somewhere just south of Stirling Montrose decided on retreat- especially as his Cumberland trained band refused to go further into Scotland. By the time the Scots neared Berwick, Montrose has retraced his small army’s steps and was resting in Carlisle. But what of the Royalists? On the 13 April Byron set to scavenging from the Scots on the battlefield but there was very little in the way of useable equipment that would enhance his forces. The prisoners estimated that their army was 8000 strong and that they had left garrisons in Newcastle and Berwick. No further additional intelligence was received on the Scots so Byron set off north on the 14 April to Thirsk arriving later that day. Scouts were sent out and found that the Scots had retreated north up the Great North Road. Rupert lay in fever and unable to communicate so it was left to Byron alone to decide his course of action. Byron’s army moved slowly up the GNR for three days seeking out news of the Scots. It appeared their trail lay towards Newcastle and on the morning of the 21st Byron became uncertain what to do next. It was likely the Scots were in Newcastle but it was not confirmed. After deliberating with his senior officers he decided that he would continue advancing until he was sure of the situation. By the evening of the 23rd Byron was approaching Newcastle and had news confirmed that the Scots were all gathered there. Halting for the night some 10 miles south further deliberations took place. At first light scouts were sent forward who slowly discovered that the Scots had evacuated two days previously. By the evening of the 24 Byron marched his army into Newcastle and the next morning 800 horse from Sunderland arrived too. The Scots were not inactive though. The Kirk appointed Leslie as commander of the remaining army and he arrived at Berwick 26 April, with him taking control on receiving his orders on 27 April. He awaited for reinforcements from Edinburgh which arrived on 30 April. After two further days rest and reorganisation he determined the time was right to set off again. The army set out as instructed on 3 May and marched the 30 miles down the Great north road to Alnwick. They arrived on the morning of the 5 May and split as directed. The main army took the A1068 coast road and the flank force took the Great north road. By the end of the day both forces were 10 miles south of Alnwick on each road. On 6 May just before noon the flank guard encountered Royalist cavalry pushing up the great North road some 6 miles north of Morpeth. Out numbered 2 to 1 the Scots fled back to Alnwick and took shelter in the town. The main army soon received the news as they marched south at 2pm at widdrinton south of Amble on the A1068. On receiving the news the army turned round and began the march back to Alnwick- ending the 6th some 5 miles short of the town on the A1068. At 11.30 am on 7th Scots cavalry reported back that as they crossed the river Alne to the east of the town they were attacked by a Royalist cavalry regiment marching across the river from the West. The Royalists were outnumbered and retreated and it appeared their main army was but a mile to the south of Alnwick even though the town was still held by Scots cavalry . The Scots army was just a mile and a half from the town, poised to cross the river and march into the town or take a defensive position as ordered. Leslie marched the army keeping to the north east bank of the Alne a mile outside Alnwick. By 12.30 he began drawing up in a defensive position outside the town prepared to fight. Byron’s army of the 2500 sat 1 mile south of Alnwick. As Leslie completed his deployment the Royalists sent cavalry forward to screen the river.But as the afternoon drew on they began to retreat. By 4pm Scots scouts saw that The Royalists were withdrawing back down the Great North Road. Just after sunset, a force made by Frazer's dragoons and Dalhousie horse rgt. forced march along the A1068 towards Morpeth hoping to outflank the Royalists. They made very slow progress as it was dark and the road was difficult...They stumbled to Alnmouth and spent the night there. Next morning, the 8th , they set off at and managed 16 miles arriving just north of Morpeth by evening. They discovered the Royalists had passed by so awaited the main army. In the morning of the 8th the Scots army set off from Alnwick down the A1. Byron’s withdrawal was faster than leslie’s follow up and the Scots ended some way behind the English who had ended the day a couple of miles south of Morpeth. By the end of the 9th Byron was safely back in Newcastle but by the end of the 10 May he could hear the sound of drums and see the flutter of Scots flags as Leslie’s army approached the northern boundary of Newcastle. Montrose, meanwhile, remained in Carlisle sending out scouts to locate Byron and Leslie. Eventually he set off east for Newcastle. On 11th may Scots regiments was sent west from Newcastle to Hexham. Were soon falling back to Newcastle as they had encountered Montrose’s force of 2500 men including 1000 mounted marching east along the A69 at Corbridge. On 14th Leslie sent cavalry and dragoons towards Corbridge. But Montrose has already moved just 7 miles from Newcastle at Horsley and repulsed all comers Leslie and 3 foot regiments marched west on the 15th to try catch the Royalist troops around Horsley. As the day wore on marching became harder as heavy rain poured down. The cavalry made contact with Montrose who withdrew westwards in the face of the Scots. It was clear that weather conditions and the Montrose’s lack of desire to fight meant The Scots foot were not going to contact them today. So on the 16th the Scots troops turned round and the foot marched back to the main army and the horse reoccupied Horsley. Scots cavalry was sent south of the Tyne to Durham and from this city they will send patrol east toward Middlesbrough/Hartlepool and south toward Darlington to scout and identify any armed force in the area. Royalist horse were encountered at Stockton. Throughout this time the main Scots army drew up in siege positions north of the river facing the city. Lacking artillery, as most was lost in England, the siege lines were tardy at best. Following the brush with the Royalists near Horsley Leslie retired on Northern Newcastle and began investing the siege to the north of the city. Patrols out west on the A69 revealed the Royalists to be around Corbridge but not pushing further east. A week passed as both sides skirmished with little effect and Byron in Newcastle was content to have small forays out of the city northwards. Byron’s men remained content in Newcastle and their southern flank south of the river remained open and unrestricted by the Scots. The 24 May was eventful though. At dawn two units emerged from Newcastle’s eastern gate .Tuke’s horse and Astley’s regiment sallied forth on the morning of the 24th and enjoyed some limited success. The Scots were unprepared but soon gathered their arms and managed to push the Royalists back into the city but did not follow up. At the same time Molyeneaux’s regiment sallied from newcastle’s western gate and caught the Scots completely unawares. He cut through one foot regiment completely before weight of numbers sent him retreating but covered in glory back to the walls – he was not followed up. However whilst this was happening Scots cavalry crossed the river by ferry and quickly encountered a royalist horse regiment who were pushed back into Newcastle. The Scots cavalry began to roam far and wide south of the city At dawn the same day, it appeared Montrose and his men at Corbridge had determined to attack Horsley. It took some time for them to march the 7 miles and they arrived outside the village around 11am. Scots cavalry launched a swift counter attack against the Royalist cavalry regiment and neither side gained much initial advantage. The 2 Royalist infantry regiments eventually joined the fight and soon helped push the Scots cavalry off who retreated leaving Montrose in possession of horsley. By late afternoon three scots infantry regiments 1500 strong from Throckley appeared supported by Balcarres cavalry regiment. This time Balcarres was swiftly routed with some casualties leaving numbers equal between the two forces. The infantry engaged in a musket duel which slowly but surely the Royalist came off best. The Scots foot held off by the Royalist cavalry but eventually Ballies’ regiment routed losing some 50 casualties which left Douglas’s regiment isolated and also fleeing back. The Scots then fled back to the main army leaving Montrose in possession of Horsley at the end of the day. Whilst The Royalists were defeating the Scots what had happened to the armies of Manchester and Fairfax? Following the action at Bramham, Manchester has retreated south down the Great North Road to besiege Newark. Fairfax meanwhile was holed up in Hull awaiting developments. During the first week in April, Manchester’s siege preparations began in earnest. On 6 April at dawn a commotion was heard and a regiment of Royalist horse sought to burst out from Newark. The Roundheads were alert and a fierce fight took place. The Royalists suffered 40 killed and 80 captured. Some men escaped whilst others returned to Newark. A substantial amount of money was found amongst the captured Royalist soldiers. However it appeared that the garrison was well supplied and in high morale. Throughout the following week Manchester pressed the siege. However communication with Fairfax brought a new strategy. His army marched north once again, resting at Gainsborough, and then marching confidently to arrive at Selby late on 25 April. Fairfax’s army had marched from Hull and was also in the vicinity. Royalist scouts abound to the north and east. However it appeared there were supplies in the town to support the Roundheads for just one more week. Because of this Manchester moved his men south to Knottingley and Fairfax also moved south to Snaith. But what of Newcastle and Rupert? After the battle of Thormanby Rupert took serious injury and was taken to Thirsk for several week’s recuperation. Newcastle took command of the bulk of Rupert’s horse. Newcastle returned to York and spent the next week recuperating. He spent the week up to 25 April sending out strong scouting parties and detachments south of York to seek the Roundhead foes. By late April it was clear that Selby was becoming a focal point yet again However the Roundheads pushed on towards York via Tadcaster. By the 27 April the two armies were under the city walls. Just as Newcastle decided to fight them the next day, the armies turned around and retraced their steps to Selby. Over the next few days Newcastle pushed strong cavalry forces down to Selby. There was much skirmishing in villages all around York with cavalry forces being engaged. The main Roundhead forces stayed close to the south of Selby though, with Manchester at Howden and Fairfax close by at Snaith. By 10 May Rupert was on the mend. And so was Newcastle’s army. He occupied Selby again but marched to North Duffield somewhat north east of Selby and looked to make menaces on the Roundheads to his south (the main army?) but close by. Bad weather curtailed much movement. By 16 May both Roundheads and Royalists were ready to move again. Both forces were just a few miles apart but the Roundheads had withdrawn south of Selby and were on the opposite side of the river to Newcastle’s army. Newcastle’s men pushed south to Howden but not encountering the enemy turned east and marched to Hull arriving outside the walls on the 18 May. At the same time Rupert had rejoined his men south of York and decided to march to the King’s aid in Oxford. Much to Newcastle’s displeasure. Rupert pushed through Selby and headed for the midlands with several thousand cavalry. Manchester and Fairfax were aware of Rupert’s manoeuvre but were unsure of Newcastle’s location. Much cavalry skirmishing had meant things were not totally clear. As Newcastle’s army marched on Parliamentary held Hull, so Manchester and Fairfax marched once again on Royalist York. Both armies approached each city unaware that each other’s city was under siege. More importantly various cavalry forces had missed each other by hours in the countryside separating the town cities. Newcastle prepared to storm Hull on 22 May but as dawn broke Royalist cavalry attacked his camp forcing him to abandon plans to do so. He also then received news that York was almost under attack from Manchester and Fairfax. His army turned round and began to move north to York. That very morning Manchester outside York decided to march to relieve Hull. Fairfax was left outside York undecided what to do. The 22 and 23 May saw Newcastle march north towards York on the A1079. Manchester marched south towards Hull but turned east towards Market Weighton. Scouts and advanced guard from both armies clashed west of Market Weighton. Newcastle continued north whilst Manchester watched and tried to assess if he had fought Newcastle’s main force. Fairfax meanwhile sat and waited at York but eventually received messages from Manchester saying Newcastle was heading north. On the 23 having sent forces to guard river crossings north of York he established his main force at Kexby guarding the bridge over the river Derwent just east of York. Amazingly Newcastle’s force reached Wilberfoss just a mile or so east of Kexby that evening. The next morning, the 24th, he expected to cross the river and get back to York but was surprised to see the bridge guarded in force. He resolved therefore to turn south and confront Manchester. However unbeknown to him, Fairfax’s force included several thousand horse led by Cromwell who had been sent north by Manchester. Cromwell led his men south on a flank march to cross the river at Elvington. He emerged at 11am onto the rear of Newcastle’s retreating column. Cromwell’s men charged into the rearguard with some success- chasing off some cavalry and routing an infantry unit. However Newcastle’s horse covering the bridge at Kexby retired to the sound of battle and managed to defeat several of Cromwell’s regiments. Unfortunately for Newcastle at 11.30 just as his rear guard was under a flank attack, the head of his marching column received news that Manchester’s army was just 15 minutes away and marching towards them. By noon Manchester’s army was upon the scene and pushing at the redeploying Royalists. Newcastle frantically redeployed his forces and managed to see off Cromwell’s attack- even seriously injuring Cromwell himself. But Manchester pressed his attack and eventually weight of numbers told. The outnumbered Royalists broke several of Manchester’s regiments but eventually crumbled and fled. However all was not lost as a mile away Newcastle’s rear guard had routed Cromwell. Unfortunately, Fairfax at Kexby had heard the battle sound and at 12.30 had begun to march down the road to Wilberfoss. Within the hour Fairfax’s six foot regiments had reached Newcastle’s rear. Two foot regiments and two horse regiments remained and threw themselves at Fairfax, hoping to defeat him quickly in order to turn and stem Manchester’s advance. Unfortunately the initial impact was terrible for the Royalists. Despite fragmenting one Roundhead regiment, all four Royalist units suffered losses and within 30 minutes both foot units were routed. The two cavalry units turned and ran north to escape. So Fairfax to the west, Cromwell’s flank march on the south and Manchester’s arrival from the east had served to crush Newcastle in a vice. The battle was a close run thing- closer than maybe was expected but in the end numbers mattered. Newcastle’s army was shattered with several units surrendering and many running from the scene towards Scarborough. The day and the north belonged to Parliament. The war in the South Following the inconclusive battle of Arborfield south of Oxford on 9 Aprill, the King and Hopton retreated to Reading. The King then left the area marching with 1000 cavalry to Bath where he rested until 18 April Hopton however marched back to Oxford, arriving on the 11 April. He remained in Oxford for the remainder of the week sending scouts out. On 14 April he got wind that a 800 strong Roundhead force had passed south through Witney a couple of days earlier. It also came in that Reading had surrendered to Parliamentary forces on the 14 April. Hopton remained in oxford until the 25 April. The Roundheads Earl of Essex and Waller remained at the battlefield on the morning of the 10 April. Your troops . Essex organised his plans with Waller and then on 11 April set of to entrap Reading. On 12 April Essex summoned the town to surrender. The garrison commander asked for 24 hours to consider the proposal. At dawn on the 14 April the commander marched out and agreed to surrender rather than see much bloodshed. Essex and Waller marched into Reading to discover the town was deserted of Royalist troops except for some trained band and Lisle’s regiment of foot with 2 powder barrels. That evening 1500 foot and 500 horse marched into the town stating they were the Gloucester garrison and had marched to Essex’s aid as ordered. Both Essex and Waller rested in Reading until the 18 April, with scouts discovering the King had headed west and that Hopton had gone towards Oxford. Heavy rain was experienced all week. The King arrived in Bristol on the evening of the 19th May to discover that Rupert had left £9 sat in the coffers and the town undefended. No enemy was encountered. 400 men came forward and were prepared to act as a trained band force to defend Bristol. Otherwise the place had no other garrison. On 21 April the King set off to march east but the rain made movement extremely difficult. He waited in Bristol until the roads were clear and by late afternoon on the 25 April were just to the west of Chippenham. There Roundhead scouts were encountered. They were forced them back through the town and a further 600 Roundhead horse and 3500 foot discovered to the east of Chippenham on the A4. As evening fell The Royalist forces were quartered in the town but just a couple of miles from the Roundheads. Essex remained at Reading until the 25 April but Waller set out on 19 April to march along the A4 to Bristol in search of the King. His march took him along the A4 through heavy rain which eventually halted movement. It appeared the King had gone west so once the rains eased Waller continued marched west again arriving 2 miles to the east of Chippenham late on the 25th. His scouts then encountered a strong force of around 800 cavalry- the Kings- which had pushed them back. The Royalists remained in Chippenham whilst Waller’s forces camped to the east. The Roundhead Brereton was fast appearing on the scene as his march from the west midlands saw him approach Gloucester by the 18 April. He then marched his men to Bristol and arrived late on 27 April. It appears the town had a garrison as guards and troops were seen on the city walls. Brereton also got word that the King and Waller were at Chippenham in the last few days. Brereton planned to storm the walls but his Warwickshire trained band refused to undertake such a risky venture. The others were willing to carry on At dawn on 28 April, his attack took the garrison completely by surprise and Brereton’s troops made it into the city with some resistance. Casualties mounted up in the last final minutes leaving him with 700 casualties. But the city was precariously held in his hands. Back at Chippenham the King’s horse marched east away from Waller and the King’s march was successful and concluded with great joy as it was clear he had given Waller the slip completely. The troops arrived back in Oxford at noon on 29 April. They then rested for 3 days. Waller’s scouts reported the King had marched north at first light on the 26 April so he waited until Haselrig’s troops arrived late on 27 April. On 28 Waller then set off north west and arrived in Chipping Sodbury later that evening. He rested on the 29 April whilst awaiting news of Brereton and received it the next day that he was outside Bristol. On 30 April news came in of a fight at Bristol which it appears that Brereton has taken the city. Reviewing his situation Waller marched north and as evening fell on 2 May he arrived in an undefended Gloucester and took possession again for Parliament. Oxford again As April drew to a close, Essex marched north from Reading and by early May had lain a cordon around Oxford. He began pushing into the outskirts of Oxford itself but met resistance. Few casualties were caused as he were merely probing. It appeared Hopton was resolved to stand. Essex prepared to stand and fight but also to blockade the southern part of the city. But what of Maurice? Early April was spent gathering his force around Plymouth and by the middle of the month it was reported that morale is low inside the town and resistance waning. Ships were seen sailing into the harbour on the 18 April. As the rained poured down it was clear that the defenders of Plymouth were demoralised, hungry and on the verge of defeat on the 22 April Maurice sent a message offering immediate surrender without reprisals. Boats were seen taking men and materials out to the parliamentary navy in the harbour all day but at 5pm he received a note agreeing to surrender the town forthwith. Around 1000 prisoners were taken who were released on parole to return to their homes in the west country. £2 in monies was recovered from the town. Maurice’s troops moved into the town seeking shelter. After resting and sending some men to Bristol, Maurice began a march north and by the early May was near Exeter. He then marched to Dorchester reaching it on 7 May. he found the town deserted but heard that a small parliament force was at Weymouth. he marched onto there to find around 4000 Roundheads in the town with the navy standing off shore. By 9 May Maurice had drawn up in position outside the town ready to make his next move. Maurice began preparing siege works and the town was under siege by the 11th. Then he received a message from the Kings message urging Maurice to bring his full force up to Blandford Forum and then on to Salisbury to meet the King himself. On 14 may Maurice lifted the siege of Weymouth arriving on the16th at Shepton mallet. Back to Oxford At first light on 3 May the King, with Hopton pushed their combined army south out of Oxford. By mid morning they had encountered enemy scouts and outposts around Denton but continued to push on in line of march. He could hear the sound of beating of drums in the distance and to the south west. But as soon as the King located the enemy gathering at Shillingford he decided at first light on the 4 May to retire back to Oxford. his cavalry guarded the retreat. Essex soon learnt of the retreat and began a cautious follow up. His caution, however, allowed the King to slip his forces back into Oxford- but it was a close run thing. If Essex’s follow up had been pressed more ambitiously and his troops marched quicker then the King’s rear guard could have been overwhelmed. As it is the King spent the night in oxford and then began a breakout on the morning of the 5 may. With just a few hundred cavalry the King cut his way out of Oxford, passing through Marlborough and arriving on the 8th May near Salisbury and on 9th he arrived at Blandford Forum and sent a message south and west to find Maurice. Hopton also cut his way out north of Oxford with several hundred cavalry. Leaving all the army’s foot behind in oxford Hopton headed for Aylesbury. On the 6th he note that 700 trained band were defending Aylesbury so skirted the town and ended the day 3 miles from Thame on A418. On the 7th Hopton arrived at Wattlington scattering some parliamentary stragglers and then arrived the next day at an undefended Henley on thames late afternoon and set up camp in the town. Following the breakout on the 5 may, Essex decided to press the siege vigorously. His infantry spent the day spreading east and west of Oxford’s boundaries. The cavalry rode north and round the city to assess the extent of their ability to press the siege. It took three days to sort the siege lines out. But by the end of the week Essex had a thin screen completely around the city. Pressing the outskirts it was clear that the town was well defended with maybe 3500 troops inside. Further west. Waller marched south from Gloucester on 5 May and by evening was 10 miles south of Gloucester on the A38 at Lower Cam. There he met Brereton marching north with just 350 foot and 150 horse. Despite Brereton’s success at Bristol and all his entreaties, the trained bands under his control refused to take further action saying they had achieved their objective. The Warwickshire and mixed trained bands set off home on the 3 May leaving him with no option but to retire. Finding himself short of enough men to set Bristol aflame he began to march north towards Gloucester in search of Waller – meeting him as outlined After reorganising both their forces Waller set off south on 6 may. By the 8th Waller arrived at Bristol by noon to discover that in the absence of any parliamentary troops in the town that the gates were now shut and defenders have been seen manning the city walls. It appeared the town was lightly defended - probably by just a few hundred trained band- so Waller determined on a brisk assault on 9 May. At first light his troops stormed the defences. In many parts he simply overwhelmed the defenders but in two places the trained band defenders fought well, causing significant casualties before they were overwhelmed. By noon Bristol was back under Parliamen’ts control. Waller lost approximately 700 men as wounded and killed. Waller then rested his men in Bristol for the rest of the week. Back to oxford Meanwhile, with heavy rains slowing movement, Brereton marched up the A40 and on 10 May began meeting scouts from Essex’s force circling the city. Brereton sent a message to Essex and received reports that there are several thousand (3-4000) men inside Oxford so an assault is not really practical. By the end of the 10 May Brereton was at Kidlington to the north of Oxford debating what to do next, with Essex having the city in a cordoned siege situation. Back west The King and his men arrived in Salisbury on the 11 may and rested on 12 and 13 May. On the evening of the 13th two scouts arrived in Salisbury sent from Weymouth by Maurice to check out the truth of the King’s message. He received them that evening. The King set off again arriving on the 16 at mid day at Dorchester. He then discovered that Maurice had passed through the day before and was on his way to Bristol. The King headed north again after Maurice. Passing through Yeovil and Shepton mallet.On the morning of the 19th some Roundhead dragoons and cavalry totalling some 400 men sent south by Waller were encountered. They had pushed some of Maurice’s newly trained men from the town but you restored order and the roundheads retreated north to report back to waller. The King continued his march and finally met up with Maurice and his 7000 men at Deptford just west of Salisbury in the afternoon of the 20th may. From there the combined force marched via Amesbury and arrived Newbury at the end of 23 May. Some hundreds of Maurice’s trained band decided to return to the west country at this point.. Back at Oxford During mid May, Hopton’s cavalry and some infantry from Winchester captured the town of Farnham but failed to worry the Roundheads in anyway. The siege around Oxford persisted but all sides received a shock on 25 May when Brereton’s scouts sent reports back that at 10 am some 4 miles south of Chipping Sodbury they encountered Royalist cavalry. As the reports came in a Royalist cavalry regiment swept through Brereton’s lines on the A44 and into oxford. Brereton gathered his force together at Kidlington. Even as his orders went out more reports of Royalist cavalry sweeping down the A4260 from Banbury emerged. Another cavalry regiment brushed Brereton’s cordon aside and swept into Oxford. It would appear these men were the advanced guard of Prince Rupert’s cavalry army. By pure chance on the same day, essex began receiving reports in the morning of Royalist troops movements to his south west from the Goring direction on the Shillingford road. (A4074) As a precaution he issued orders to draw his troops together at Chislehampton at the junction of the b4015 and the A329. Then as dusk fell reports came into essex that a Royalist army was marching from the south and was just south of Shillingford 2-3 miles from his position. Both Essex and The King/Maurice prepared for battle the next day. The King organised his army but based his plan on holding ground or not fighting- resolving to await to see if oxford sent troops into Essex’s rear (hoping that the King’s message had got through the Roundhead lines!) He deployed in traditional fashion with his left flank covered by the Thames and with cavalry on either flank. Essex however weighted his cavalry on his own left and in the centre, with a plan to attack in echlon from his left flank- with the infantry leading, supported by the cavalry. Meanwhile the morning of the 26th saw Rupert bring his entire cavalry force into Oxford by 1pm. The Roundhead Brereton was also marching south round oxford hoping to reach Essex before battle commenced. By 10am on the 26 May battle was joined. Essex’s plan worked a treat. His left flank pushed forward and Royalist cavalry was forced to advance to attack it. The Royalist better numbers should have swept the opposition cavalry from the field but somehow the Roundheads won every fight going, with their dragoons being particularly effective in shooting the Royalist horse. In the centre Essex swung cavalry towards his left flank with one regiment moving swiftly to reinforce his attack. The only downside was that Royalist artillery in the centre seemed to hit their target with every cannon ball – demoralising one cavalry regiment which broke and fled and reducing the numbers of other horse and foot regiments in the centre. By 11.30 the King’s hold on England was loosening faster than a wenches corset in a tavern full of Royalists. Just one Cavalier regiment held his right flank. The Groves regiment. Behind it stood several poor regiments of foot. With three Roundhead horse units intact and Essex’s foot regiments now within musket range of the King’s foot, the entire right flank of the King’s army was within minutes of being swept away. Essex’s plan had worked and with the right flank gone the King would be trapped between the Roundhead’s and the Thames... his Kingdom evaporating faster than Irish rebel potato gin in a still. And then. One after another the Roundhead cavalry charged Groves regiment. Miraculously the Royalists held, forcing all three to flee one by one. Suddenly Essex’s left flank was empty of cavalry. Even the poor foot regiments were holding their own in a musket duel with Essex’s infantry. With the Royalist artillery picking off central Roundhead units and a solid line of Royalist foot winning a musket combat Essex’s left and centre tried one desperate charge into melee. Unsupported by cavalry, the Roundhead infantry faltered and eventually fled. Even Essex joined the fray to try punch through and win back the victory that 30 minutes early was within his grasp. By 12.30 it was all over. Essex’s left and centre was in disarray. His right flank fell back but overwhelming Royalist cavalry and infantry support were able to corner some foot against the Thames and other Roundhead regiments were caught and slaughtered before surrendering. It was a resounding victory for the King and Maurice. By evening the Cavalier army was making merry in Oxford with the city saved from defeat. The siege was broken. Rupert sent his horse out to find the King during the afternoon and , encountered Brereton on the march. A swift engagement followed south east of Oxford with Brereton’s horse being driven away and his foot making a slow retreat north away from the city.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Friday, 7 June 2013
The above woodcut from one of Fairfax's informers shows that the feckless Newcastle has been forced to levy contingents of aged and decaying retainers from his lands in an attempt to replace his grievious losses - such acts of desperation are a clear indication of approaching victory for our godly cause.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
My dear friends, how sad it is that this great nation remains at war with itself but I am sure that in time this time of trouble will be the founding of an even greater nation. I am asked 'how goes the war?' and as I sit and write by my open window of this apartment overlooking such a beautiful quadrangle, hung as it is with the blossoming wisteria and sky lark playing up high, chasing the first big hatch of the Mayfly, it is hard to think for a moment that this is a nation at war. The sheep and lambs still graze, the bees still visit their clover and heather, rabbits and hares are a plenty and the trout stir from their winter spend in languid glides lying low and deep in the rivers and brooks, to rise once more and to taste such morsels as the stream brings unto their bellies. And so as the wildlife continues to make a joyous life so my armies continue to march. Of course the pamphleteers of London, in the pay of the warmongers of Parliament, would be happy to write that the King and his army are nearly defeated and clinging on as the citadel of Oxford is besieged, and whilst it is true that I am currently entertaining the Earl of Essex in my back garden there is no notion of defeat within this beautiful city, Oxford. In fact the truth is rather different, I have no need of propaganda, we are not defeated, we have barely begun to castrate the forces that Parliament would send against their King, country and be it known, god himself. For let there be no mistaking that god rides and protects his servant, the King. Of course the whole nation knows that my forces most ably lead, with great courage and devotion to duty to the god fearing peoples of this island, by Prince Rupert, Lord Byron and the Marquis of Newcastle, have defeated that troublesome Scottish manticore not once but twice. The sullen beast now defeated and with it's mangey tail between it's battle weary legs tries to find forage and comfort as it struggles limping for home. But it shall not rest until we be assured it will not return to England bearing arms. Just as god grants his mercy so we have done. My forces released 3,000 prisoners on parole of life never to bear arms against King again. And the woes of the Covenanter remains doubly so. My forces lead by the Marquis of Newcastle hold the city of Glasgow and Scotland rallies to our cause. Edinburgh may not be a safe haven for those that oppose the will of god. There should be no surprise that the entire north of England rallies to their King. Parliament may lay on its belly fattened by the profit of war but in the further reaches of this land their word is that of the liar, footpad and beggar and of one that wishes to be assassin to. My Nephew Maurice remains in total control of the South West of England where not a Roundhead has dare show for fear of loosing their, round head. Bristol remains firmly in our grasp even though Parliament came visiting and so you see there is little need for propaganda, the truth is before us. Parliament scrabbles hopelessly for a foot hold on a slippery slope that they can't hope to climb and they are much bruised by their futile efforts at wagging a war. I'm told they are dangerously over extended having put all they have in the field and if that is the best they can muster, then I suggest the traitors that have stood against their king and country, and moved soldiers and arms to do their wretched bidding, may wish to think where their sense of duty lies before it is too late for their remiss to go totally unnoticed. So, 'how goes the war?' Wait a while whilst I put the same to the sky lark, and my reply cometh within an instant, a happy tune it is to hear, and therein lies your answer. Charles Pro Aris et Focis
Forget all this talk of politics,armies and battles it appears that the readers of the "Argus Panoptes" have one major issue on their minds. They want to know ,indeed are demanding to know, what has happened to Prince Rupert's pet poodle "Boy"? By now all the nation will have heard the news that the Prince himself suffered a serious wound at the Thirsk fight against the Scots, (rumours are reaching our northern reporter that the Prince himself is now recovered and keen to rejoin the fight), BUT as yet no word has been heard about the fate of the much loved "Boy". Many readers have voiced the opinion that the Pictish hordes may well have eaten him! We all know that these Celtic wildmen have some strange habits. The "Argus" on behalf of our readers demand a statement from the King's spokesman or the Prince himself concerning the fate of this much loved pooch!