The Battle of Worcester

This was not a particularly good day for the Stuarts. On September 3, 1651 King Charles II got his ass handed to him by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War.

Charles was determined to make one last attempt to regain his throne, and he was backed by the Scots. Charles was counseled to fight in Scotland, where his support was strongest, but he was under the impression that the bulk of Cromwell’s army was up there, and it would really be better for him to march on London. Unfortunately, Cromwell and the Council of State anticipated this exact move and called out the militia as early as August 7. Suspected royalists were closely watched, weapons were confiscated from the gentry, and a cavalry corps was dispatched to bug the hell out of the invaders. Cromwell and his army also started to head south, leaving the Scottish campaign in the hands of the least efficient regiments.

Sensing that London wouldn’t fall as easily as he’d hoped, Charles instead set his sights on the Severn valley, where his father had continually drawn support. He arrived in Worcester on August 22 and rested his troops for five days, during which he attempted to draw more recruits. Unfortunately, the locals didn’t take too kindly to a largely Scottish army marching into their area, and new recruits were thin on the ground. His army had only 16,000 men, to Cromwell’s 28,000.

The Royalists fought valiantly, but the battle was a rout. 3,000 men were killed in the battle, and another 10,000 taken prisoner. English prisoners were forced into Cromwell’s army and sent to Ireland, while the 8,000 Scottish prisoners were deported to New England, Bermuda, and the West Indies to work as indentured servants. Charles was forced to flee, at one point hiding in an oak tree in order to evade capture. He took refuge abroad and was forced to live a fairly nomadic life until he was restored to his throne in 1660.

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