Worcester 3 Sep 1651.

King Charles was crowned at Scone, Perthshire on 1 January 1651 and once again Scotland was supporting its king against the New Model Army of Cromwell. In the June of 1651 the Act of Classes, which had excluded so many from recruitment to the army, was repealed. A new army was levied from new sources but again they were poorly trained and soon paid the price. Cromwell saw the danger that the Scots might unite with royalist supporters in England and sought to make an early attack on them. The Scots army was located at Torwood, north of  Falkirk, and able to cover the defence of Stirling. On 15 July Cromwell sent a scouting party of some 5000 men under Lt Gen. Lambert into Fifeshire with the intention of cutting the supply lines of the Scots. The Scots detached a party of some 4000 to head off the English but it was the English forces that attacked first and routed them. On 20 July at Inverkeithing, the Lowland troops, mostly poorly trained levies, turned tail and fled leaving the Clansmen of Buchanan (700) and MacLean (800) to be slaughtered.  About 2000 were killed and over 1500 were taken prisoner including their commander Sir John Brown. This served to show Cromwell the poor quality of the Scottish forces that faced him; encouraged by this, Cromwell advanced towards Perth which fell on 2 August.

There is debate whether Cromwell deliberately left the way open for the Scots army to escape from Stirling or whether there was a double bluff by David Leslie that drew Cromwell into Fife to leave open a route south. One hypothesis is that it would be better to defeat a Scots army in England - where they would be seen as foreign invaders more than royalist supporters. This would help to counteract the pockets of royalist support that existed in Lancashire, Cumbria, Wales and the South West of England.  On the evening of 31 July David Leslie and the Scots army of 20,000  and the King,  headed for England.  By  6 August they had reached Carlisle where the gates to the city remained shut to them and the army itself was reduced by sickness and desertions to no more than 13,000.

Fortune turned against Charles at this juncture as  probably less than 2000 supporters came to his flag when many more had been expected. But it appears that possibly 3,000 Englishmen joined him between Lancashire and arrival at Worcester. It did not help recruitment along the way that the Scots were unpopular, and there was jealousy between the Presbyterians and the royalist `cavaliers`. In Lancashire Charles was very tactless when he sought assistance from Catholic supporters and stayed at Catholic homes. The main supporter to emerge was the Earl of Derby who joined the ranks with some 300 men. Militarily the Scots swift march south was mirrored by the English armies who had been warned of the possibility this might happen. General Harrison  marched from Leith to Newcastle by 5 August  and made up two days on the Scots. Lt. General Lambert meanwhile had made up five days in five and was at Penrith, just a day behind, on 9 August. Not to be outdone Cromwell and his forces left Leith on 6 August, and rested in Ryton, Newcastle on Tyne on 13 August, covering over a hundred miles in six days. Harrison and his army moved across to join Lambert in Lancashire and they were joined by Colonel Lilburne`s regiment. Now a substantial force, the English nevertheless continued to shadow the Scots as they headed south. Meanwhile the English Council of State had called up forces from all over the country to assorted rendezvous. Under the command of General Fleetwood the English southern army congregated at Banbury where they were soon joined by others. On 24 August they were at Warwick ready for battle, and joined by Cromwell. The combined forces were twice those of the Scots

At Worcester on 3 September 1651, Cromwell caught up with the Scots army and annihilated it, taking some 10,000 prisoners and killing another 3,000.  Leslie had drawn up his army  on the western bank of the River Severn, in a corner where the River Teme joined. He had meanwhile destroyed the bridge over the Teme to hinder Cromwell who was drawn up to the east. Cromwell again displayed his generalship and attention to detail by dividing his force into three; one division lay across the road to London, another moved south and lay ready to cross the River Severn , and the third went south crossed, and marched up the River Teme. The crossings were made by making bridges from boats on the rivers - a forerunner to the modern pontoon  or Bailey bridges. Resistance from the Scots was strong as they were forced back through the hedgerows into Worcester City where King Charles watched the battle from the cathedral tower. He, himself, went and led a charge against the English who at first gave way. However, Cromwell  led reinforcements over the boat bridges and repelled the Scots and made them break. The `Ironsides` ( as Cromwell`s troops were called) cut the Scots to pieces; then the guns were turned on the royalist troops fleeing through the streets. The fleeing Scots were caught in traps  that had been prepared with few escaping death or capture, and the local peasantry helped to wipe out what was left while  taking all the baggage and munitions.

Among the prisoners taken  were General David Leslie, the Earl of Rothes, the Earl (later Duke) of Lauderdale, the Earl of Kellie, John Middleton (later Earl), Viscount Montgomery, Thomas Dalziel of the Binns, many officers and nine ministers. The Duke of Hamilton died of his wounds after four days, but the Earl of Derby recovered enough to be executed on the block at Bolton.  The other lordly prisoners were incarcerated in the Tower of London.  Middleton was very popular among the royalist officers and showed considerable bravery. This was said ( sarcastically ?) to have been because he stayed off the drink while on the campaign. At Worcester he was a prominent leader with the Scottish forces and was wounded in the process. After the battle he joined Leslie`s troops and tried to make his way back to Scotland. However, he and Lelsie were captured by the English near Halifax. Middleton was first imprisoned in Liverpool and then transferred to the Tower. By the end of 1651 he managed to escape from the Tower and joined the King in exile.

David Leslie had fallen out of favour because of his continuing commitment to the Presbyterians and, while in winter quarters, several enemies of his gained promotion to positions of influence. At Worcester he was in command of the  1st Cavalry Brigade but spent much time falling out with his officers and complaining that the cavalry he had looked the part but would not fight. Before the battle he seemed to be in a quandry because  the King had attended an Anglican church service, much to the annoyance of the Scottish ministers present. Leslie may also have been thinking of another defeat at the hands of Cromwell. In the event he issued, retracted and reissued confused orders and failed to send support to Middleton and Hamilton when it was needed. Possibly  through a nervous breakdown, Leslie did not commit his 4000 cavalry to the battle and then fled north with his demoralised horsemen. Along with Middleton he ended up in the Tower, where he remained until the Restoration of 1660. The following year he was made Lord Newark by Charles II and given a pension of 500 a year.

King Charles escaped at Worcester and began his romanticised adventure dressed as a common labourer, sleeping in hedgerows and famously in an oak tree. Charles and his companion Wilmot, reached France on 16 October, not to return until his Restoration in 1660.

By 16 September the Council decided that all prisoners below the rank of Captain were to be sent to the plantations, with the intention of getting rid of as many as possible in the shortest time.  Those at Chester, Worcester, Liverpool and Shrewsbury were sent to Bristol for onward consignment to Virginia and Bermuda.  Three hundred were sent to New England and the Saugus Iron Works where they were sold on as slaves to farmers and mill owners. A thousand others were put to work digging drains in the Fenlands. The great majority of Scots prisoners simply did not return home, the rest dying of wounds, illness, neglect, or overwork.

In Scotland General Monck`s army sacked Dundee on 1 September and butchered 800 Scots in the process, having earlier captured the Committee of Estates ( the Scottish Parliamentary leaders) at Alyth and isolated the nobles. The Marquis of Argyll was forced to submit and became a prisoner in his own lands. The English army marched to Orkney with little resistance and Scotland surrendered to its fate. With victory came the end of the Anglo Scottish War and the exile of Charles. It also brought to Scotland a firm, disciplined, impartial and religiously tolerant government that had not been enjoyed for years. Viceroy of Scotland was Gen. Monck who would later recognise the need for a unifying monarchy and be instrumental in the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The singular consequence of the crushing defeats at  Dunbar  and Worcester was  the loss of some 20,000 men roughly 10 per cent of the total adult male population. This loss of the predominantly younger men was a catastrophe for Scotland and took a further generation to recover. This undoubtedly contributed to the peace that fell on Scotland during the Cromwellian rule. There had already been fourteen years of confrontations during the Second Reformation, the Bishops Wars and the First English Civil War sheer exhaustion had sapped the will of the country to resist further.

 

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