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Parliament’s Generals of the English Civil War 1642-1651

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Parliament’s Generals of the English Civil War 1642-1651
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Author(s): Neville Lloyd Walford
Date Published: 2010/01
Page Count: 248
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-933-6
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-934-3

The great men who brought down the Stuart monarchy

This interesting account chronicles the careers, campaigns and battles of the men who were principally responsible for the overthrow of the British monarchy in the great civil conflict of the seventeenth century. Irrespective of the book's title, events are not covered by personality but rather chronologically from the opening stages of the war, commencing in 1642 through to the Second Civil War of 1648-49, the Campaign in Ireland 1649-50, the Scottish Campaign of 1650 and the Worcester Campaign of 1651. The author gives focus to tactical and strategic practise and their continental origins, types of soldiers and their equipment and arms as well as the engagements of the Civil War and those who directed them. Naturally, within these pages the reader will find generals of renown including Essex, Fairfax, Waller, Cromwell, Lambert, Blake and others who were so vital in bringing about the final triumph of Parliamentarian armies. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors. 

After having driven off the defenders, 1,600 in number, this small force pushed two or three miles beyond Gravesend without meeting with any opposition, and thence returned to the main army. The latter now moved on Maidstone, to which town the lesser body (about 2,000) of the insurgents had retired, the larger (about 7,000) having fallen back on Rochester.<br>
At 7 p.m. on the 2nd of June orders were given to storm the former town, but the resistance offered was so determined that this was not effected until midnight, when the insurgents retreated with the loss of 200 killed and 400 prisoners. While the fight was in progress a large force from Rochester approached within two miles of Maidstone, but Fairfax having sent out against them three regiments of horse and one of foot, they remained idle during the engagement.<br>
After the defeat of their friends at Maidstone the insurgents at Rochester began to disperse, many of them with Goring marching on London under the impression that the citizens, who at heart wished them well, would join them but finding no response to their call, while 500 cavalry sent by Fairfax caught them up on Blackheath, the Kentish men dispersed to their homes without further resistance. Goring and the leaders, with a few hundred followers, passed the Thames about Greenwich, crossing into Essex in lighters and boats.<br>
The gentlemen of Essex, who had intended to join Goring in Kent, flocked to him as soon as he landed, and he very shortly found himself in command of a force of 4,000 men, including many officers of great ability and renown, such as Lord Capel, Sir Charles Lucas, and Sir Bernard Gascoigne. With these troops he seized Colchester, and at once proceeded to throw up fortifications around it.<br>
Whalley, who commanded in Essex, had no force capable of coping with the Royalists: but Kent being now almost pacified, Fairfax crossed the Thames at Gravesend in pursuit of Goring, leaving a few regiments on the southern side to obtain the surrender of Canterbury and of the castles which yet held out.<br>
On landing in Essex he was joined by Whalley with 2,000 men, and about the 15th of June, having shut up the Cavaliers in Colchester, commenced the long and weary siege of that town by the capture of Mersea Island at the mouth of the Colne, thus cutting off the garrison from all hope of escape by, or succour from, the sea. The besieged used every effort to prepare for defence, and knowing the advantage which the possession of Mersea Island would give them, made two gallant attacks on it, which were however both repulsed; while some of the remaining ships of the Parliament came from Harwich to complete the blockade.<br>
On the 24th of June the Suffolk forces, amounting to 2,000 foot and five troops of horse, joined the besiegers, and completed the line of investment to the east of Colchester.<br>
In the beginning of July the artillery of the besiegers commenced to arrive and, in spite of constant and determined sallies, the besieged were gradually beaten back, while the investing force crept closer and closer to the town. Provisions soon began to fail, and the garrison were driven to eat horseflesh; before the end of July the supply of even that food fell low, while the inhabitants were starving. Goring ordered the suburbs to be burned, lest in them the besiegers might find cover and, in spite of the distress of his garrison, scornfully rejected a summons which Fairfax sent in on the 17th; on the 26th the supply of water having been cut off, the besieged could get none that was not muddy or contaminated with the bodies of dead animals.<br>
On the 5th of August the daily allowance of bread to the Royalist soldiers was reduced to ten ounces for each man, and they then began to desert at the rate of twenty to thirty per diem. By the 19th all the dogs and cats and most of the horses in the town had been eaten, and women with starving children prayed on their knees to be allowed to pass through the besiegers’ lines; but they were all pitilessly turned back, in order that so much misery might hasten the surrender of the town.<br>
By the 21st the approaches were so close to the walls that besiegers and besieged laid aside their muskets and threw stones at each other, and at this date the inhabitants petitioned for leave to quit the town; this the general granted, with an exception as regarded the families of such men as remained to fight. Five hundred women having however left the gates, the soldiers of the Parliament refused to allow them to pass, and the defenders equally denying them re-admittance, they remained between the two forces without shelter or food.<br>
Proposals made by Goring on the 25th of August were refused by Fairfax, but after an abortive effort to induce the garrison to fight their way out, the former surrendered on the 28th, on conditions which, while they offered quarter to the inferior officers and soldiers, promised nothing with regard to the lives of the superior officers.<br>
On the completion of the surrender, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George L’Isle were shot as an example, while Lords Goring, Capel, and Loughborough were sent as prisoners to London, where the second was beheaded in March, 1649. Thus ended this most ill-advised rising which, begun without an object, was carried through without hope, and ended as it could only end, in disaster and death.<br>
Another effort, yet more senseless, in favour of the King, was made by the Earl of Holland in the early part of July, when that nobleman, with Lord Peterborough, the Duke of Buckingham and his brother Lord Francis Villiers, having collected about 500 horse, called on the country to rise with them for King Charles, their primary object being the relief of Colchester. The first gathering was at Kingston, as was also the last; for after being repulsed from an attack on Reigate, the Earl returned to the former town, and confidently awaited the junction of the City troops from London.