An English Civil War Re-Enactment Regiment in The Sealed Knot

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The History of the Civil War

Year by Year

1642   1643   1644  1645   1646   1647   1648   1649   1650   1651


The hopes which both sides had of quick victory were dashed by the indecisive battle of Edgehill, (23rd October), and the King's failure to occupy London. He made his headquarters at Oxford, and the war spread across England and Wales, with the North of England, Wales and Cornwall being generally in Royalist hands, the South East of England held by Parliament, and the remainder of the country in dispute.



The campaigns of this year saw the Royalist cause at the height of success. In the North of England, the Royalist forces of the Earl of Newcastle occupied most of the region apart from Hull and Manchester. In the South-West of England the Cornish Royalist Army of Sir Ralph Hopton won a series of brilliant victories, though they failed to take Plymouth, and linked up with the King. Prince Rupert captured England's second port, Bristol, but failed to take Gloucester in August. In what is often regarded as the decisive move of the First Civil War, the Earl of Essex relieved the town in September, and fought the King to a standstill at the first Battle of Newbury (20th September). Though the Royalists ended the year with considerable territorial gains, they failed to win a decisive victory, and Parliament, with greater material resources, and now allied with Scotland, would have an increasingly overwhelming advantage.



The decisive actions of the year took place in the North. In an attempt to counteract the Scottish army sent to assist Parliament in the North-East of England, the King had brought in English troops from Ireland, but the main contingent of these were defeated at Nantwich (25th January). A hard fought struggle for the control of the North-East of England and Yorkshire ended with Prince Rupert's crushing defeat at Marston Moor (2nd July), the largest battle of the war. The Royalists however found some grounds for optimism in the increasing success of the Royalists rebellion in Scotland led by the Marquis of Montrose, and by the King's Oxford Army in the South and South-West of England.



In a bid for outright victory, Parliament formed the New Model Army, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell. This smashed the Oxford Army at Naseby (14th June) and the Royalist Western Army at Langport (10th July), and then began to mop up the Royalist garrisons. Montrose was briefly master of Scotland during August, but was defeated at Philliphaugh in the following month, and his cause was never recovered.



The First Civil War came to an effective end with the surrender of the remaining Royalist field armies, and the flight of the King to the Scots, followed by the fall during the summer of his last major garrisons. The surrender of Oxford (24th June) effectively ended the war in the area.



Growing friction between the Army and Parliament, and between both and the Scots, was exploited by the King, who still hoped to avoid any compromise.



The outbreak of the second Civil War was signaled by a series of Royalist uprisings in England and Wales, and a mutiny in part of the Navy. A Scottish army under the Duke of Hamilton invaded England in support of the King. The uncoordinated Royalist risings were suppressed, the Scote defeated by Cromwell in the Preston campaign, and the remaining English Royalists crushed by Fairfax at Colchester.



King Charles I executed, and the Monarchy abolished in England and Wales, though not in Scotland. The Commonwealth was established, and its troops under Cromwell began the systematic suppression of the Irish Rebellion.



Charles II took the Covenant in return for Scottish support. As he was prepared to invade England, Cromwell launched a counter-invasion of Scotland. He defeated the Scots under David Lesley at Dunbar (3rd September), but failed to complete the conquest before winter.



Out manoeuvred by Cromwell, Charles II invaded England (6th August). He gained little English support, and abandoning his march to London, established himself at Worcester to rest and recruit. A Royalist rising in Lancashire was defeated. On 3rd September Cromwell defeated Charles II at Worcester. The King escaped to the Continent. Apart from minor risings, the Civil Wars were over; Cromwell was Lord Protector until his death in 1658, when rising pro-Royalist sentiment led to Charles II's restoration in 1660.