|Third English Civil War|
|Part of English Civil War|
Cromwell at Dunbar, by Andrew Carrick Gow
|Commanders and leaders|
The Preston campaign of the Second Civil War was undertaken under the direction of the Scots Parliament, not the Kirk, and it took the execution of King Charles I 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 Marquess of Huntly was executed for taking up arms for the king on 22 March 1649.
The Marquess of Montrose, under the direction of Charles II, made a last attempt to rally the Scottish Royalists early in 1650. But Charles II merely used Montrose as a threat to obtain better conditions for himself from the Covenanters. When Montrose was defeated at the Battle of Carbisdale on 27 April, delivered up to his pursuers on 4 May, and executed on 21 May 1650, Charles II gave way to the demands of the Covenanters and placed himself at their head. Charles II now tried to regain the throne through an alliance with his father's former enemies in Scotland, who intended to impose Presbyterianism on England. He dismissed all the faithful Cavaliers who had followed him to exile.
As the Royal army was mostly Scottish, and as the invasion was not accompanied by any major rising or support in England, the war can also be viewed as being primarily an Anglo-Scottish War rather than a continuation of the English Civil War.
Ireland had been at war since the rebellion of 1641, with most of the island being controlled by the Irish Confederates. In 1648, in the wake of Charles I's arrest, and the growing threat to them from the armies of the English Parliament, the Confederates signed a treaty of alliance with the English Royalists. The joint Royalist and Confederate forces under Ormonde attempted to eliminate the Parliamentary army holding Dublin, but were routed at the battle of Rathmines by a Parliamentary army commanded by Colonel Michael Jones. As the former Member of Parliament Admiral Robert Blake blockaded Prince Rupert of the Rhine's fleet in Kinsale, Oliver Cromwell was able to land at Dublin on 15 August 1649 with the army to quell Royalist alliance in Ireland. The alliance, which was a compromise that gave command of the Irish Confederate forces to the English Royalists, was very shaky from the start, with many Confederates unhappy with the leadership of Ormonde. Indeed, the Confederates had fought a mini civil war among themselves in 1648 over this alliance, with Owen Roe O'Neill's Ulster army leaving the Confederation and only re-joining it after Cromwell had actually landed in Ireland.
Partly as a result of this disunity, the Irish/Royalist coalition was driven from eastern Ireland by Cromwell, who beat down all resistance by his skill, and even more by his ruthless severity, in a brief campaign of nine months (storming of Drogheda, 11 September, and of Wexford, 11 October, by Cromwell; capture of the Irish Confederate capital Kilkenny, 28 March 1650, and of Clonmel, 10 May).
At the end of May 1650 Cromwell turned over his command in Ireland to Henry Ireton and returned to England. It took two more years of prolonged siege and guerrilla warfare, before the last major Irish resistance was ended, after the fall of Galway in late 1652. The last Confederate Catholic troops surrendered in mid-1653.
Cromwell returned to England from Ireland, on the urgings of the Parliament, at the end of May 1650 in order to lead an army to Scotland, where the Covenanters had proclaimed Charles II as king of Great Britain, France and Ireland. On 26 June Fairfax, who had been anxious and uneasy since the execution of King Charles I, resigned the command-in-chief of the army to Cromwell, his lieutenant-general. The pretext, rather than the reason, of Fairfax's resignation was his unwillingness to lead an English army to reduce 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 Third Civil War became a war of England against Scotland. Here at least the English Independents carried the whole of England with them. Few Englishman cared to accept a settlement at the hands of a victorious foreign army, and on 28 June 1650, five days after Charles II had sworn to the Covenant, the newly appointed Lord-General Oliver Cromwell 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 (French, strike hard, strike fast) was carried out at once by the regular forces. On 19 July, Cromwell made the final arrangements at Berwick-on-Tweed. Major-General Thomas Harrison, a gallant soldier and an extreme English Independent, a Fifth Monarchist, was to command the regular and auxiliary forces left in England, and to secure the Commonwealth against Royalists and Presbyterians. Cromwell took with him Lieutenant-General Charles Fleetwood and Major-General John Lambert, and his forces numbered about 10,000 foot and 5,000 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 22 July, Cromwell crossed the river 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 29 July, he found Leslie's army drawn up and entrenched in a position extending from Leith to 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 6 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 manoeuvre 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.[a] Even after Cromwell started on his manoeuvre, 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 South Queensferry and thus blocking up Edinburgh. Leslie had the shorter road and barred the way at Corstorphine Hill (21 August). Cromwell, though now far from his base, manoeuvred again to his right, Leslie meeting him once more at Gogar (27 August). The Scottish lines at that point were strong enough to dismay even Cromwell, and the manoeuvre 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.
On 28 August, Cromwell fell back on Musselburgh, and on 31 August, after embarking his non-effective men, to Dunbar. Leslie followed him up, and wished to fight a battle at Dunbar on Sunday, 1 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, near 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 opened in the early morning of 3 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.
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 4 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.
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 13 July, and on 16 July, he began the execution of a brilliant and successful manoeuvre. A force from Queensferry, covered by the English fleet, was thrown across the Firth of Forth to North Queensferry. Lambert followed with reinforcements, and defeated a detachment of Leslie's army at the Battle of Inverkeithing on 20 July. 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 manoeuvre 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 29 July, gave Cromwell a good harbour upon which to base his subsequent movements. On 30 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 manoeuvre 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 31 July, leaving Cromwell to his own devices, the Royal army marched southward to raise the Royal standard in England.
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. Major-General Harrison was ordered to Lancashire in April to watch the north Welsh, Earl of Derby on the 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 British Peninsular army more than the soldiers of the levée en masse 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.
Then began the last campaign of the English Civil War. Charles II expected complete success. In Scotland, vis-a-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 miles (240 km) 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 Hall. The latter had called out the greater part of the militia on 7 August. 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 2 August, and he brought back his army to Leith by 5 August. Thence he dispatched 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 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 point 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.
Cromwell meanwhile, leaving George Monck with the least efficient regiments to carry on the war in Scotland, had reached the river Tyne in seven days, and thence, marching 20 miles (32 km) a day in extreme heat with the country people carrying their arms and equipment the regulars entered Ferrybridge on 19 August, 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 on or just after 25 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 22 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.
Lord General Cromwell had during his march south thrown out successively two flying columns under Colonel Robert Lilburne to deal with the Lancashire Royalists under the earl of Derby. Lilburne entirely routed the enemy at the Battle of Wigan Lane on 25 August and as affairs turned out Cromwell merely shifted the area of his concentration two marches to the south-west, to Evesham. Early on 28 August, Lambert's brigade made a surprised crossing of the Severn at Upton, 6 miles (9.7 km) below Worcester.
In the action which followed Massey was severely wounded and he and his men were forced to retreat northwards along the west bank of the Severn towards the river Teme and Worcester. Fleetwood followed Lambert with reinforcements and orders to advance north towards the Teme. This western envelopment severed the Royalists lines of communications to Wales and the western counties of England. The Royalists were now only 16,000 strong with no hope of significant reinforcements and disheartened by the apathy with which they had been received in districts formerly all their own. Cromwell, for the only time in his military career, had a two-to-one numerical superiority.
Meanwhile, back in Scotland, General Monck's forces had successfully taken the fortified town of Dundee on 1 September after a short siege.
Cromwell took his measures deliberately. Colonel Robert 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 Prince 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 3 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 miles (6.4 km) 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 of hard fighting, the last desperate attempt of the Royalists to break out.
The Battle of Worcester was indeed--as a German critic, Fritz Hoenig, has pointed out--the prototype of Sedan. Everywhere the defences were stormed as darkness came on, regulars and militia fighting with equal gallantry, and most of the few thousands of the Royalists who escaped during the night were easily captured by Lilburne and Mercer, or by the military 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 II 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 before, 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 acknowledgement". 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. General Monck had completed his task of mopping up remnants of Royalist resistance in Scotland and on 26 May 1652 the last Royalist stronghold anywhere on the eastern side of Scotland, Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven, surrendered after an eight-month siege. So Scotland, which had twice attempted to impose its will on England, found itself reduced to the position of an English province under martial law. Under the terms of the "Tender of Union", the Scots were given 30 seats in a united Parliament in London, with Monck appointed as the military governor of Scotland. The leader of the Scottish Royalists, the Earl of Glencairn, surrendered to Monck in September 1654 after the Battle of Dalnaspidal.
In the aftermath of the battle, Worcester was heavily looted by the Parliamentarian army, with an estimated £80,000 of damage done, and the subsequent debts still not recovered into the 1670s. Little effort was made to stop the looting.
Around 2,000 Scottish troops that were not captured meanwhile were attacked by locals as they fled northwards and many killed. Graves have been recovered, and occasional bodies that can be dated to the period. Around 10,000 prisoners, nearly all Scots, were held captive, and either sent to work on the Fens drainage projects, or transported to the New World to work as forced labour.
Illiam Dhone led the Manx Militia to mutiny against the Royalist Countess Charlotte in 1651. With reinforcements from the Roundhead Robert Duckenfield, the island quickly came under Parliamentary control in October.
In Guernsey, the population was strongly Parliamentarian. Governor Peter Osbourne and his Royalist troops occupied Castle Cornet in 1643, which had been built to protect Guernsey, and constantly exchanged fire with the town of St. Peter Port for almost nine years. In 1651, Admiral Blake surrounded the garrison and blocked Royalist supply ships from Jersey, so they surrendered on 9 December.
Most of Jersey was also for Parliament, but Bailiff George Carteret, a strong Royalist, had better control of the island. He had Charles II proclaimed King in Saint Helier on 17 February 1649, after the execution of his father. Charles never forgot this gesture whereby Jersey became the first of his realms to recognise his claim to the throne. After the fall of Elizabeth Castle to Blake, Carteret surrendered to Parliament on 12 December 1651.
Across the Atlantic, the colonies of Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Virginia, Maryland, and Newfoundland recognised Charles II after the regicide. Parliament dispatched George Ayscue to force their compliance. His fleet arrived off Barbados in October 1651 but Lord Willoughby refused to recognise Ayscue's authority so the fleet laid siege on the island until Willoughby relented in January. The fall of Barbados shocked the other Cavalier colonies, and Ayscue received no further resistance. All of the colonies were in Commonwealth hands after Maryland's submission on 29 March 1652.
On 25 March 1655, the Battle of the Severn was fought on the Severn River at Horn Point in the Province of Maryland in North America. This battle was an extension of the conflict in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and pitted a Commonwealth force of Puritan settlers against a Royalist force of Catholic settlers aligned with Cecil, Lord Baltimore. Lord Baltimore was the Lord Proprietor of the colony of Maryland at the time of the battle and, unfortunately for him, the force aligned with him was defeated. However, while a primarily Puritan assembly retained powers until 27 April 1658, the proprietorship was then restored to Lord Baltimore.
In what has become known as Gerard's conspiracy a group of Royalist conspired to assassinate the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in May 1654 (the plot was discovered and two of the conspirators, John Gerard and Peter Vowell, were executed).
Plots to kill Cromwell by the Sealed Knot were completely undone by the Lord Protector's spymaster John Thurloe. After Richard Cromwell's resignation, George Booth led another uprising along the Welsh border in August 1659 which was crushed by Lambert and Duckenfield.
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