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LETTERS CXXIIL, CXXIV.
BATTLE OF WORCESTER.
The Battle of Worcester was fought on the evening of Wednesday, 3d September, 1641; anniversary of that at Dunbar last year.. It could well have but one issue: defeat for the Scots and their Cause;—either swift and complete; or else incomplete, ending in slow sieges, partial revolts, and much new misery and blood. The swift issue was the one appointed; and complete enough; severing the neck of the Controversy now at last, as with one effectual stroke, no need to strike a' second time.
The Battle was fought on both sides of the Severn: part of Cromwell's forces having crossed to the Western bank, by Upton Bridge, some miles below Worcester, the night before. About a week ago, Massey understood himself to have ruined this Bridge, at Uptoh; but Lambert's men ' straddled across by the parapet,'— a dangerous kind of saddle for such riding, I think !—and hastily repaired it; hastily got hold of Upton Church, and maintained themselves there; driving Massey back, with a bad wound in the hand. This was on Thursday night last, the very night of the Lord General's arrival in those parts; and they have held this post ever since. Fleetwood crosses here with a good part of Cromwell's Army, on the evening of Tuesday, September 2d; shall, on the morrow, attack the Scotch posts on the Southwest, about the Suburb of St. John's, across the River; while Cromwell, in person, on this side, plies them from the Southeast. St. John's Suburb lies at some distance from Worcester; west, or southwest as we say, on the Hertfordshire Road; and connects itself with the City by Severn Bridge. Southeast of the City, again, near the then and present London Road, is 'Fort Royal,' an entrenchment of the Scots: on this side Cromwell is to attempt the Enemy, and second Fleetwood, as occasion may serve. Worcester City itself is on Cromwell's side of the River; stands high, surmounted by its high Cathedral; close on the left or eastern margin of the Severn; surrounded by fruitful fields, and hedges unfit for cavalry-fighting. This is the posture of affairs on the eve of Wednesday, 3d September. 1651.
But now, for Wednesday itself, we are to remark that between Fleetwood at Upton, and the Enemy's outposts at St. John's on the west side of Severn, there runs still a River Teme; a western tributary of the Severn, into which it falls about a mile below the City. This River Teme Fleetwood hopes to cross, if not by the Bridge at Powick which the Enemy possesses, then by a Bridge of Boats which he is himself to prepare lower down, close by the mouth of Teme. At this poin,t also, or 'within pistol-shot of it,' there is to be a Bridge of Boats laid across the Severn itself, that so both ends of the Army may communicate. Boats, boatmen, carpenters, aquatic and terrestrial artificers and implements, in great abundance, contributed by the neighboring Towns, lie ready on the River, about Upton, for this service. Does the reader now understand the ground a little?
Fleetwood, at Upton, was astir with the dawn, September 3d. But it was towards 'three in the afternoon' before the boatmen were got up; must have been towards five before those Bridges were got built, and Fleetwood set fairly across the Teme to begin business. The King of Scots and his Council of War, 'on the top of the Cathedral,' have been anxiously viewing him all afternoon; have seen him build his Bridges of Boats; see him now in great force got across Teme River, attacking the Scotch on the South, fighting them from hedge to hedge towards the Suburb of St. John's. In great force: for new regiments, horse and foot, now stream across the Severn Bridge of Boats to assist Fleetwood: nay, if the Scots knew it, my Lord General himself is come across, 'did lead the van in person, and was the first that set foot on the Enemy's ground.'—The Scots, obstinately struggling, are gradually beaten there; driven from hedge to hedge. But the King of Scots and his War-Council decide that most part of Cromwell's Army must now be over in that quarter, on the West side of the RiverJ engaged among the hedges;—decide that they, for their part, will storm out, and offer him battle on their own East side, now while he is weak there. The Council of Ww comes down from the top of the Cathedral; their trumpets sound: Cromwell also is soon back, across the Severn Bridge of Boats again; and the deadliest tug of war begins.
Fort Royal is still known at Worcester, and Sudbury Gate at the southeast end of the City is known, and those other localities here specified; after much study of which and of the old dead Pamphlets, this Battle will at last become conceivable. Besides Cromwell's Two Letters there are plentiful details, questionable and unquestionable, in Bates and elsewhere, as indicated below.* The fighting of the Scots was fierce and desperate. 'My Lord General did exceedingly hazard himself, riding up and down in the midst of the fire; riding, himself in person, to the Enemy's foot to offer them quarter, whereto they returned no answer but shot.' The small Scotch Army, begirdled with overpowering force, and cut off from help or reasonable hope, storms forth in fiery pulses, horse and foot; charges now on this side of the River,'now on that;—can on no side prevail. Cromwell recoils a little; but only to rally, and return irresistible. The small Scotch Army is, on every side, driven in again. Its fiery pulsings are but the struggles of death: agonies as of a lion coiled in the folds of a boa!
'As stiff a contest, for four or five hours, as ever I have seen.' But it avails not. Through Sudbury Gate, on Cromwell's side, through St. John's Suburb, and over Severn Bridge on Fleetwood's, the Scots are driven-in again to Worcester Streets; desperately struggling and recoiling, are driven through Worcestei Streets, to the North end of the City,—and terminate there. A distracted mass of ruin: the foot all killed or taken; the horse all scattered on flight, and their place of refuge very far! His sacred Majesty escaped, by royal oaks and other miraculous appliances well known to mankind: but Fourteen-thousand other men, sacred too after a sort though not majesties, did not escape. One could weep at such a death for brave men in such a Cause! But let us now read Cromwell's Letters.
* Bates, Part ii., 124-7. King's Pamphlets; small 4to., no. 507, §19 (given mostly in Cromwelliana, pp. 114, 15); large 4to., no. 54, §§15,18. Letter from Stapylton the Chaplain, in Cromwelliana, p. 112
To the Honorable William Lenthall, Speaker of the Parliament cf England: These.
Near Worcester, 3d September, 1651, (10 at night).
Being so weary, and scarce able to write, yet I thought it my duty to let you know thus much. That upon this day, being the 3d of September (remarkable for a mercy vouchsafed to your Forces on this day twelvemonth in Scotland), we built a Bridge of Boats over Severn, between it and Teme, about half a mile from Worcester; and another over Teme, within pistol-shot of the other Bridge. Lieutenant-General Fleetwood and Major-General Dean marched from Upton on the southwest side of Severn up to Powick, a Town which was a Pass the Enemy kept. We, 'from our side of Severn,' passed over some horse and foot, and were in conjunction with the LieutenantGeneral's Forces. We beat the Enemy from hedge to hedge till we beat them into Worcester.
The Enemy then drew all his Forces on the other side the Town, all but what he had lost; and made a very considerable fight with us, for three hours space: but in the end we beat them totally, and pursued him to his Royal Fort, which we took,—and indeed have beaten his whole Army. When we took this Fort, we turned his own guns upon him. The Enemy hath had a great loss; and certainly is scattered, and run several ways. We are in pursuit of him, and have laid forces in several places, that we hope will gather him up.
Indeed this hath been a very glorious mercy;—and as stiff a contest, for four or five hours, as ever I have seen. Both your old Forces ana those new-raised have behaved with very great courage; and He that made them come out, made them willing to fight for you. The Lord God Almighty frame our hearts to real thankfulness for this, which is alone His doing. I hope I shall within a day or two give you a more perfect account.
In the meantime I hope you will pardon,
Your most humble servant,
Industrious dull Bulstrode, coming home from the Council of
• Newspaper! (in Cromwelliana, p. 113).
State towards Chelsea on Thuisday afternoon, is accosted on the streets by a dusty individual, who declares himself bearer of this Letter from my Lord General; and imparts a rapid outline of the probable contents to Bulstrode's mind which naturally kindles with a certain slow solid satisfaction on receipt thereof.*
On Saturday the 6th comes a farther Letter from my Lord General; 'the effect whereof speaketh thus:'
For the Honorable William Lenthall, Speaker of the Parliament of England: These.
Worcesfer, 4th September, 1651.
I am not able yet to give you an exact account of the great things the Lord hath wrought for this Commonwealth and for His People: and yet I am unwilling to be silent; but, according to my duty, shall represent it to you as it comes to hand.
This Battle was fought with various success for some hours, but still hopeful on your part; and in the end became an absolute Victory,—and so full an one as proved a total defeat and ruin of the Enemy's Army; and a possession of the Town, our men entering at the Enemy's heels, and fighting with them in the streets with very great courage. We took all their baggage and artillery. What the slain are, I can give you no account, because we have not taken an exact view; but they are eery many:—and must needs be so; because the dispute was long and very near at hand; and often at push of pike, and from one defence to another. There are about Six or Seven thousand prisoners taken here; and many Officers and Noblemen of quality: Duke Hamilton, the Earl of Rothes, and divers other Noblemen,—I hear, the Earl of Lauderdale: many Officers of great quality; and some that will be fit subjects for your justice.
We have sent very considerable parties after the flying Enemy; I hear they have taken considerable numbers of prisoners, and are very close in the pursuit. Indeed, I hear the country riseth upon them everywhere; and I believe the forces that lay, through Providence, at Bewdley, and in Shropshire and Staffordshire, and those with Colonel Lilburne, were in a condition, as if this had been foreseen, to intercept what should return.
A more particular account than this will be prepared for you as we
* Whitlocke (2d edition), in die. Vol. I. 25