Based on the modern calendar.
In the 17th century, the year began on March 25th.
Charles Stuart lands at Speymouth in the north-east of Scotland.
Battle of Dunbar.
Cromwell defeats the Royalist army and occupies the Lothian region.
The Royalists retreat to Stirling where they resist any attempts to engage them in another battle.
During the winter, the Parliamentary army engages in a number of skirmishes in an attempt to weaken support for the Royalist’s cause.
Cromwell is taken very ill during the winter of 1650-51 and spends most of his time in bed recovering from his illness.
Charles Stuart is crowned King of Scotland at Scone, near Perth.
Spring to early Summer
During his prolonged illness and subsequent recovery to health, Cromwell has devised a number of strategies that could bring the Royalists to battle. He was keen to leave Scotland as he did not relish another winter there and he feared that his army would desert him and return home to England, if he had to do so.
Cromwell’s strategy was simple. He wanted a decisive battle against the King and his supporters on English soil where the Royalist cause could then be defeated once and for all. He knew that the previous invasions of England by the Scots (the last was in 1648) had left the English with a great deal of resentment towards any invading Scottish army.
By cutting off the support for the Royalists at Stirling, Cromwell would add pressure on the Royalist army to quit Stirling and fight. At the same time, by moving into Fife and taking Perth, Cromwell would cut this vital support route and leave open the opportunity for the King and his army to invade England.
Charles knows that he has to reach London if he has any chance to rally his English supporters to his cause and so re-take the crown.
Battle of Inverkeithing (Fife), General Lambert of the Parliamentary army defeats the Scots and Royalist army.
Cromwell’s forces now control Fife and lay siege to Perth. Parliament now controls the approach roads from the northeast and the highlands where most Royalist support comes from.
The young King takes the opportunity that Cromwell has given him and he perpares to move his forces southward and into England.
Scots & Royalist army begins to march from Scotland to England.
Cromwell and the Parliamentary army begins preparation for the pursuit. A force, under General Monck, is left behind to secure the Parliamentary gains in Scotland.
Major-General Lambert marches to join forces with Major-General Harrison.
Royalist army enters England at Carlisle. The garrison in the city refuses the King and his army entry to the city.
When Charles arrives at Penrith, his supporters proclaim him King of England.
Cromwell now begins his own march from Scotland. He deliberately divides his army into two divisions.
Cromwell’s own division marches along the eastern side of England and keeps track with the King’s army and seeks to prevent the King from attempting to reach London; the other, under Lambert and Harrison, is to pursue the Royalist army down the western side of England and harass the King’s army as it makes its progress southward.
Council of State orders the northern militias to join Harrison.
Royalist army arrives at Kendal.
The two Parliamentarian armies under Lambert and Harrison join up at Preston and are joined by the men of the local county militias.
Royalist army arrives at Wigan.
The Engagement at Warrington Bridge seeks to prevent the Royalist army from crossing the river Mersey.
Parliamentary commanders, Lambert and Harrison, are unsuccessful in their attempt to stop the Royalist march south and conduct a tactical withdrawal fighting a rearguard action against the advancing Royalist army.
The Council of State issues orders to raise a general militia army. Ten militias from the Midlands, including the Worcester militia, are ordered to assemble at Daventry. As a result, the Worcester militia fought on the side of Parliament.
Lambert and Harrison move to Knutsford Heath where the ground would be more favourable for a battle and effectively blocking the roads direct to London. They had released their hunting dogs from their dog pens to scout ahead, knowing that if they brought back fresh meat, that it was safe to proceed.
Charles decides not to go direct for London but to maintain his southward progress towards the area of England where he believes his support is greatest, namely the Marches and the Welsh borders.
Cromwell is at Catterick.
The Earl of Derby, coming from the Isle of Man, joins the Royalist army with his 250 men. He is commanded by the King to stay in Lancashire with General Massey, and raise men for the King’s cause in that area.
The Royalist army arrives at Stoke.
Lt-General Fleetwood is appointed Commander-in-Chief of militia army, by the Council of State.
The gentry and church of Lancashire, thought to be reliable supporters of the King, meet with the Earl of Derby and General Massey at Warrington.
These men of Lancashire are not persuaded by the arguments of Derby and Massey and do not rally to the King.
Massey rides to the King with the disappointing news.
Derby remains in Lancashire in an another attempt to raise men for the King.
The King breaks his camp at Stoke and starts his march southward towards Shrewsbury.
Colonel Mackworth, the Governor of Shrewsbury, refuses the Royalist army any support and sends the King on his way.
Charles knows that his route to London is blocked and his army needs to be re-supplied with food and clothing, so he has to revise his strategy.
The city of Worcester is seen as sympathizing with the Royalist cause and so the King’s army heads for the city.
The King is coming –
His Majesty King Charles is making his way to Worcester with an army of 16,000 men.
The King and his army arrive in the county at Kidderminster
When news of the King’s intentions reaches Worcester, the Parliamentarian commander of the city, Colonel James, sets about bricking up the Foregate to prevent easy entry to the city from the North. He also orders the demolition of any buildings on the northern approach roads of the city to enable clear ground to be created and so provide no cover for the enemy.
Some repairs were carried out to the city walls and other fortifications but these were not completed by the garrison.
[Note: The city walls and other fortifications of Worcester had been “spoilt”, that is they had been demolished and ruined, by order of Parliament after the siege of Worcester in 1646. Little of the original defences remained. Local citizens had used the stone and other materials from the walls for their own building projects. The houses that used to stand to the south of the Sidbury gate had also been demolished during the siege in 1646 but the Commandery, as it was later called, standing just outside the city wall and Sidbury Gate had remained intact.]
Worcester could not hold out against a large army for long and the inevitable loss of life within the city after a short siege was unacceptable
The local officials, the Mayor, the Sherriff and other gentlemen of the city suggest that the Parliamentary garrison and his supporters should leave the city in order to prevent un-necessary loss of life to the civilain population.
The local Parliamentary militias to the north of the city and around the towns of Bewdley and Ombersley harass the approaching Royalist army in an attempt to delay its progress and thereby allow time for the garrison at Worcester to leave the city in safety.
The Parliamentary garrison at Worcester flees south, to the city of Gloucester, taking powder and supplies with them but leaving behind their cannon that were rendered useless.
The King reaches the northern Worcester outskirts of the city.
After a journey of over 300 miles and one that has taken the King’s army over three weeks of continual walking, with just one day of rest and interspersed with some fighting, the tired, thirsty and hungry Royalist army amounting to some 14,000 Scots and 2,000 English men reaches the northern outskirts of the city of Worcester.
Some Scots enter the city but the King is thought to have remained out side the city at Barbourne overnight.
The city dignitaries proclaim that Charles is King of England and the King’s standard is raised, exactly nine years after his father, Charles l, had done so at Nottingham and thereby starting the English Civil Wars.
King Charles and his army enter Worcester with great pomp and ceremony.
After three weeks without proper food, proper rest and with their clothing in tatters, the men of the King’s army set about the city of Worcester to eat and drink their fill. They find the city to their liking.
The King issues an order that summons all men between the age of 16 and 60 years to attend the King on Pitchcroft to defend the throne and the liberties of the country on the 26th of August. He is hoping that his sympathisers in the Welsh borders and the Marches will come to Worcester.
Lord General Cromwell arrives at Warwick, meeting with other Parliamentary Generals, Fleetwood, Harrison and Lambert. Their combined armies total some 28,000 men.
Earl of Derby defeated by Colonel Lilburne at Wigan.
The Earl of Derby along with about thirty men escapes to the south in an attempt to join with the King. Over 400 of the Earl’s men are captured after the battle at Wigan. Many of his officers are killed.
General Massey occupies Upton upon Severn for the King.
Royalist forces, under the command of General Massey, and numbering about 300 Scots troops, established a garrison at Upton-on-Severn to deprive the river crossing to the Parliamentary army. The royalist troops break down a span of the stone bridge and to maintain a crossing, place planks of wood across the gap. Massey’s cavalry are camped to the north of the town at Hanley Castle. A detachment of Scots is left in the town of Upton to guard the bridge.
Men of Worcester fail to rally to the King
Following the King’s summons last Saturday, there is an unsuccessful Royalist musters at Pitchcroft, a meadow beside the river and just to the north of the city’s wall. Although some of the local gentry and some “common” men do come forward to support the King and take up arms in his cause, many more stayed away.
The King begins to realise that his position is becoming hopeless and the expected throng of loyal supporters needed to swell his army’s ranks has failed to materialise.
He knows that he has to rely on his Scots army to fight for his cause. His only hope is to remain at Worcester as long as he can and withstand any siege put up by Parliament hoping that his actions will encourage those wavering to support him to come forward and rally to his cause.
Parliamentary armies arrive at Evesham and establish their camp.
After pursuing the Royalist army down each side of the “spine” of England the entire Parliamentary army arrives at Evesham some 13 miles southeast of Worcester. The Parliamentary army consists of over 30,000 men, including those of the county militias.
This considerable body of men lie on the route to London and effectively block any possibility of the King being able to leave Worcester and make his way to London.
Major-General Lambert makes for Upton-on-Severn with orders to take the bridge there and establish a bridgehead to enable Fleetwood’s army to cross to the western bank of the river.
The Battle of Upton Bridge.
Observing the town from the ridge at Ryall, Lambert orders dragoons to conduct an attack on the bridge as it appears to be guarded by only a few men.
A squad of dragoons, numbering some eighteen men, make their way to the eastern bank of the Severn where they observe that the bridge has been broken. They make their way across the planks and onto the western bank with little opposition.
By mid-morning, the Parliamentarian dragoons had taken the bridge. However, the Scots that were left in Upton had seen the dragoons and a fight ensues that forces the dragoons to seek refuge in the church that lays just to the north, and upstream, of the bridge.
Despite efforts of the Scots to dislodge them, the dragoons hold their ground. Lambert is already sending reinforcements to their aid. Lambert’s troops ford the river just to the south of the broken bridge, so establishing the bridgehead that would enable the rest of Fleetwood’s army to cross to the western banks of the Severn.
Massey hastens from Hanley with his cavalry to try to retrieve the situation at Upton. In the ensuing skirmish, several Scots are killed and General Massey is wounded in the hand and thigh.
The Royalists make a retreat along the road towards Worcester.
By the end of the day, General Fleetwood has over 12,000 men on the western bank of the Severn at Upton. The southern crossing of the river Severn has been secured for Parliament.
The army of Parliament arrives at Worcester
Cromwell’s army arrives at Red Hill, to the east of Worcester and deploys along Perry Wood and Elbury Mount creating a front of several miles that sweeps down to the river Severn at Bunns Hill and one that effectively traps the King and his army in Worcester.
King’s Army Attack Betrayed
Parliamentary Cannon are deployed along Bunns Hill to provide covering fire over the fields around the Teme and Powick Bridge. Some cannon are deployed on the banks of the river Severn. The early indications of these troop movements and the positioning of guns along Red Hill, Perry Wood and Bunns Hill was that the Royalist believed that the city was to be put under siege for the winter, as common military tactic of the period.
Because of these troop movements, the Royalists attempt a night assault on the Parliamentary positions at Red Hill, which was Cromwell’s headquarters and along the Tewkesbury Road where about 200 Parliamentary soldiers were billeted in a large house.
The men of the Royalist attack wear their white shirts over their armour, to aid in the identification of each another at night.
A tailor of the city and a supporter of the Parliament, William Guise, informs the Parliamentary commanders of the impending attack which was repulsed with over twenty men killed.
The Royalists hang Guise from a signpost in Broad Street on the 30th.
After the battle, Cromwell heard of Guise’s actions and recommended that his widow be awarded a pension from a grateful Parliament.
A conference takes place between Cromwell & Fleetwood about the “bridges of boats”.
General Deane is instructed to bring pontoon boats up to Worcester from the city of Gloucester, where siege materials have been accumulated and stored in anticipation of a siege being needed at some time in the campaign.
The pontoon boats are probably brought to Worcester by wagon, ready to be positioned where they can be of the greatest tactical use. Given the trees and shrubs that would have lined the riverbank (as they still do to this day), it is unlikely that they were pulled up the river as some historians have suggested).
Fleetwood has some pontoon boats attached to his munitions train intending to use them to cross the river Teme to the west of the river Severn.
A Parliamentarian detachment secures Bewdley bridge, thereby securing the northern crossing of the river Severn. With Parliament in control of the river crossings to the north and south of the city of Worcester the King and his army are now hemmed in and are unable to retreat northwards or escape to the south and west.
Parliamentary artillery from Red Hill and Perry Wood and the eastern side of Worcester begin a sustained bombardment of the city.
The Royalist army believes that this, the eastern side of the city, is where the main attack will come from and spend most of the night awaiting the start of the attack that never comes. It is a ploy to distract and tire the Royalists.
The Battle of Worcester
The day dawns warm and sultry, there having been rainstorms the day before.
General Fleetwood starts his march from Upton towards Worcester early in the morning and arrives at the river Teme around about 2 o’clock that afternoon. The slow progress was due to the caution required to ensure that the pontoon boats arrive at the river in good condition and the condition of the roads.
Part of his army engages the Royalists at Powick, after a fierce contest dislodges them from the village, and sends them, in retreat, back to the Powick Bridge.
There is so little activity during the morning that the King returns to his lodgings in New Street where he enjoys a quiet meal. His peace is soon disturbed when news of the attack at Powick reaches him.
The battle starts in the late morning to the west of Worcester when Parliamentarian cavalry fire on the Royalists at Powick. Fierce fighting ensues between the two armies.
This is no set piece battle as the fields and hedgerows make the use of the standard “blocks” of men associated with other battles impossible. The land is also unsuitable for large cavalry charges. Fighting is fierce as hedgerow by hedgerow, each yard of ground across the fields north of Powick and the Teme flood plain are contested.
Eventually, under covering fire from Bunns Hill, the bridge of boats across the Severn is completed and Cromwell himself leads the cavalry in a charge against the left flank of the Royalist positions at Powick bridge. Soon the Royalists are fleeing back towards Worcester being killed in large numbers as they retreat.
In order to ensure parliamentary success on the west side of the Severn, Cromwell has brought large numbers of troops over his bridge of boats from the eastern side of the Severn, and consequently weakens his positions there.
Charles attempts to exploit this apparent weakness by attacking Perry Wood and Red Hill. He captures some of the guns in these positions and sends for reinforcements of Scottish cavalry from Worcester.
Cromwell and Lambert are now faced with the formidable task of bringing their troops back from the other side of the Severn. This they succeed in doing while Charles¹ reinforcements fail to arrive.
The Royalists, now heavily outnumbered and running out of ammunition, are forced back to Fort Royal and Sidbury.
There is desperate fighting in this area of the city and the men of the Essex Militia take Fort Royal and all of Royalists, some 400 men, within the fort are put to the sword. The guns are then turned onto the city.
Eventually after much close combat, the Royalist’s retreat to within the city coming from the west and the south. Fleetwood takes the city bridge and enters Broad Street while Cromwell’s men storm the gate at Sidbury.
By six o’clock that evening the city is taken.
Many of the Royalist army simply lay down their arms and surrender, placing themselves on the mercy of the Parliamentarian army.
King Charles flees down Friar Street shedding his weapons and armour as he does so. He fails to rally any of his men who have now seen that they cannot hope to defeat their enemies. Reaching his lodgings in New Street, the King is taken through St Martin’s gate where the gentlemen who have formed his lifeguard wait with fresh horses to ensure that the King escapes.
Legend is now created as Charles flees his enemies and spends some of the time hiding from his pursuers in an oak tree near to Boscobel House.
After six weeks on the run and with a substantial reward on his head, the King finally leaves England and makes his way to the continent.
The slaughter of the Royalist army is great with approximately 4000 men killed and many more wounded and taken prisoner. Parliament lost fewer than 200 men.
Cromwell later that night, at Spetchley Park, wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons about the success of Parliament’s army against the King and commented on the relatively few casualties that he had suffered. He refered to the Battle of Worcester as a “crowning mercy”, due to the low losses his army had suffered.
Hugh Peters, chaplain to the Parliamentary army preaches to the soliders at Worcester.
“Say you have been at Worcester where England’s sorrows began and where they are happily ended”
Cromwell never again took command of an army in the field and neither did King Charles ll.
A grateful Parliament gave their Lord General many gifts and monies, including the use of Hampton Court Palace as his home.
Cromwell eventually became Lord Protector of the Commonweatlh and died on the anniversary of his two famous victories, Dunbar and Worcester in 1658.
After the failure of Parliament to elect a suitable successor Oliver’s son, Richard took over the role of head of state. Unlike his father he was not able to reconcile the country to parliamentary rule and effectively abdicated (to die in relative obscurity) leaving the country in turmoil.
King Charles ll was restored to the throne by the very army that defeated him in 1651 and he returned, as King of England, Scotland and Ireland, on May 29th 1660 (his birthday), and by doing so ended England’s “experiment” as a Republic.
King Charles ll never returned to Scotland neither did he ever visit Worcester during his reign. It was not for nearly 130 years after his death in 1685 that another King of Scotland visited that kingdom.
Monarchy was never to have the same authority over Parliament again and the foundations of the constitutional monarchy that exists today were laid – a system of government that still functions in the United Kingdom.
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