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described it with a terseness and force that is in strange
contrast to the turgid and uncouth confusion of his
speeches. Within a mile and a half of the town they
meet a body of a hundred of the enemy's horse. Crom-
well's dragoons labored to beat them back, but before
they could dismount the enemy charged and repulsed
them. "Then our horse charged and broke them. The
enemy being at the top of a very steep hill over our
heads, some of our men attempted to march up that
hill ; the enemy opposed ; our men drove them up and
forced their passage." By the time they came up they
saw the enemy well set in two bodies, the horse facing
Cromwell in front, less than a musket-shot away, and
a reserve of a full regiment of horse behind. "We en-
deavored to put our men into as good order as we


could. The enemy in the meanwhile advanced toward
US, to take us at disadvantage ; but in such order as we
were, we charged their great body, I having the right
wing. We came up horse to horse, where we disputed
it with our swords and pistols a pretty time, all keep-
ing close order, so that one could not break the other.
At last, they a little shrinking, our men perceiving it
pressed in upon them, and immediately routed their
whole body." The reserve meanwhile stood unbroken.
Cromwell rapidly formed up three of his own troops
whom he kept back from the chase, along with four
troops of the Lincoln men. Cavendish, the Royalist
general, charged and routed the Lincolners. "Imme-
diately I fell on his rear with my three troops, which
did so astonish him that he gave over the chase and
would fain have delivered himself from me. But I
pressing on forced them down a hill, having good exe-
cution of them; and below the hill, drove the general
with some of his soldiers into a quagmire, where my
captain slew him with a thrust under his short ribs."

Whether this thrust under the short ribs was well
done or not by chivalrous rules, has been a topic of
controversy. But the battle was not over. After an
interval the Parliamentarians unexpectedly found
themselves within a quarter of a mile of a body of
horse and foot, which was in fact Lord Newcastle's
army. Retreat was inevitable. Lord Willoughby
ordered Cromwell to bring off both horse and foot.
"I went to bring them off; but before I returned,
divers foot were engaged, the enemy advancing with
his whole body. Our foot retreated in some disorder.
Our horse also came off with some trouble, being
wearied with the long fight and their horses tired."
"But such was the goodness of God," says another nar-
rator in completion, "giving courage and valor to our


men and officers, that \\hile Major Wlially and Cap-
tain Ayscongh, sometimes the one with four troops
faced the enemy, sometimes the other, to the exceeding
glory of God be it spoken, and the great honor of those
two gentlemen, they with this handful forced the
enemy so, and dared them to their teeth in at the least
eight or nine several removes, the enemy following at
their heels ; and they, though their horses were exceed-
ingly tired, retreating in order near carbine-shot of the
enemy, who then followed them, firing upon them;
Colonel Cromwell gathering up the main body, and
facing them behind these two lesser bodies — that in
despite of the enemy we brought ofif our horse in this
order without the loss of two men." The military
critic of our own day marks great improvement be-
tween Grantham and Gainsborough ; he notes how in
the second of the two days there is no delay in forming
up; how the development is rapidly carried out over
difficult ground, bespeaking well-drilled and flexible
troops; how the charge is prompt and decisive, wath a
reserve kept well in hand, and then launched trium-
phantly at the right moment; how skilfully the in-
fantry in an unequal fight is protected in the eight or
nine moves of its retreat.

At Winceby or Horncastle fight, things were still
better (October ii, 1643). So soon as the men had
knowledge of the enemy's coming, they were very full
of joy and resolution, thinking it a great mercy that
they should now fight with him, and on they went sing-
ing their psalms, Cromwell in the van. The Royalist
dragoons gave him a first volley, as he fell with brave
resolution upon them, and then at half-pistol shot a
second, and his horse was killed under him. But he
took a soldier's horse and promptly mounting again
rejonied the charge, which "was so home-given, and


performed with so much admirable courage and reso-
lution, that the enemy stood not another, but were
driven back on their own body."

It was clear that a new cavalry leader had arisen in
England, as daring as the dreaded Rupert, but with a
coolness in the red blaze of battle, a piercing eye for
the shifts and changes in the fortunes of the day, above
all with a power of wielding his phalanx wuth a com-
bined steadiness and mobility such as the fiery prince
never had. Whether Rupert or Oliver was first to
change cavalry tactics is, among experts, matter of dis-
pute. The older way had been to fire a volley before
the charge. The front rank discharged its pistols,
then opened right and left, and the second rank took
its place, and so down to the fifth. Then came the
onset with swords and butt-ends of their firearms.
The new plan was to substitute the tactics of the shock ;
for the horse to keep close together, knee to knee, to
face the enemy front to front, and either to receive the
hostile charge in steady, strong cohesion, or else in
the same cohesion to bear down on the foe sword in
hand, and not to fire either pistol or carbine until they
had broken through.

After the war had lasted a year and a half, things
looked critical for the Parliament. Lincoln stood firm,
and the eastern counties stood firm, but the king had
the best of it both in popular favor and military posi-
tion in the north including York, and the west includ-
ing Exeter, and the midlands including Bedford and
Northampton. There seemed also to be a chance of
forces being released in Ireland, and of relief coming
to the king from France. The genius of Pym, who
had discerned the vital importance of the Scots to the
English struggle at its beginning, now turned to the
same quarter at the second decisive hour of peril. He


contrived an alliance with them, raised money for them,
made all ready for their immediate advance across the
border, and so opened what w-as for more reasons than
one a new- and critical chapter in the conflict.

There were many varying combinations between
English and Scotch parties from 1639 down to Crom-
well's crowning victory at Worcester in 165 1. In
none of them did the alliance rest upon broad and real
community of aim. sentiment, or policy, and the result
was that Scotch and English allies ^^ere always on the
verge of open enmity. The tW'O nations were not one
in temperament, nor spiritual experience, nor political
requirements ; and even at the few moments when they
approached a kind of cordiality, their relations were
uneasy. In Cromwell this uneasiness was from the
first very near to active resentment. Whether Pym
was conscious how artificial was the combination, or
foresaw any of the difiiculties that would arise from di-
vergent aims in the parties to it, w-e cannot tell. The
military situation in any case left him no choice, and
he was compelled to pay the price, just as Charles II
w^as when he made his bargain with the Scots seven
years later. That price was the Solemn League and
Covenant (September, 1643). This famous engage-
ment was forced upon the English. They desired a
merely civil alliance. The Scots, on the other hand,
convinced from their own experience that Presbytery
w^as the only sure barrier of defense against the return
of the Pope and his legions, insisted that the alliance
should be a religious compact, by which English.
Scots, and Irish were to bind themselves to bring the
churches in the three kingdoms to uniformity in doc-
trine, church government, and form of worship, so that
the Lord and the name of the Lord should be one
throughout the realm. For three years from Pym's

After the portrait by Van Dyck.


bargain the Scots remained on English ground. The
Scots fought for Protestant uniformity, and the
Enghsh leaders bowed to the demand with doubtful sin-
cerity and with no enthusiasm. Puritanism and Pres-
byterianism were not the same thing, and even Eng-
lishmen who doubted of Episcopacy as it stood, made
no secret of their distaste for Presbytery in France.
Geneva,, the Low Countries, or in Scotland. Many
troubles followed, but statesmanship deals with trou-
bles as they arise, and Pym's action was a master-



IN 1643 notable actors vanished from the scene. In
the closing days of 1642 Richelieu, the dictator of
Europe, had passed away. In a few months he was
followed by his master, Louis XIII, brother of the
English queen. Louis XIV, then a child five years
old, began his famous reign of seventy-two many-col-
ored years, and Mazarin succeeded to the ascendancy
and the policy of which Richelieu had given him the
key. So on our own more dimly lighted stage con-
spicuous characters had gone.

Lord Brooke, author of one of the earliest and
strongest attacks upon Episcopacy, and standing almost
as high as any in the confidence of the party, was shot
from an open window while sitting in his chamber, by
the besieged soldiers in Litchfield Close. On the other
side the virtuous Falkland, harshly awakened from fair
dreams of truth and peace by the rude clamor and sav-
age blows of exasperated combatants, sought death in
the front rank of the royal forces at the first battle of
Newbury (September). His name remains when all
arguments about him have been rehearsed and are at
an end — one of that rare band of the sons of time,
soldiers in lost causes, who find this world too vexed
and rough a scene for them, but to whom history will
never grudge her tenderest memories.


Two figures more important than either of these had
also disappeared. Hampden had been mortally
wounded in a skirmish at Chalgrove Field. Then in De-
cember the long strain of heavy anxieties burdening so
many years had brought to an end the priceless life of
Pym, the greatest leader of them all. With these two
the giants of the first generation fell. The crisis had
undergone once more a change of phase. The clouds
hung heavier, the storm was darker, the ship labored
in the trough. A little group of men next stood in the
front line, honorable in character and patriotic in in-
tention, but mediocre in their capacity for war, and
guided rather by amiable hopes than by a strong-
handed grasp of shifting and dangerous positions.
For them too the hour had struck. Essex, Manches-
ter, Warwick, were slow in motion without being firm
in conclusion; just and candid, but with no faculty of
clenching; unwilling to see that Thorough must be met
by Thorough ; and of that Fabian type whom the quick
call for action instead of inspiring irritates. Benevo-
lent history may mourn that men so good were no
longer able to serve their time. Their misfortune was
that misgivings about future solutions dulled their
sense of instant needs. Cromwell had truer impres-
sions and better nerve. The one essential was that
Charles should not come out master in the military
struggle. Cromwell saw that at this stage nothing
else mattered ; he saw that the Parliamentary liberties
of the country could have no safety, until the king's
weapon had been finally struck from his hand. At
least one other actor in that scene was as keenly alive
to this as Cromwell, and that was Charles himself.

It is a mistake to suppose that the patriots and their
comrades had now at their back a nation at red heat.
The flame kindled by the attempted arrest of the five


members, and by the tyranny of the Star Chamber or
of the bishops, had a little sunk. Divisions had arisen,
and that fatal and familiar stage had come when men
on the same side hate one another more bitterly than
they hate the common foe. New circumstances
evolved new motives. Some who had been most for-
ward against the king at first had early fainted by the
way, and were now thinking of pardon and royal
favor. Others were men of a neutral spirit, willing
to have a peace on any terms. Others had got estates
by serving the Parliament and now wished to secure
them by serving the king ; while those who had got no
estates bore a grudge against the party that had over-
looked them.

Cromwell in his place warned the House of the dis-
couragement that was stealing upon the public mind.
Unless, he said, we have a more vigorous prosecution
of the war, we shall make the kingdom weary of us
and hate the name of a Parliament. Even many that
had at the beginning been their friends, were now say-
ing that Lords and Commoners had got great places
and commands and the power of the sword into their
hands, and would prolong the war in order to per-
petuate their own grandeur, just as soldiers of fortune
across the seas spun out campaigns in order to keep
their own employments. If the army were not put
upon another footing and the war more vigorously fol-
lowed, the people could bear the war no longer, but
would insist upon peace, even rather a dishonorable
peace than none.

Almost the same reproaches were brought on the
other side. This is the moment when CJarendon says
that it seemed as if the whole stock of affection, loyalty.
and courage that had at first animated the friends of
the king were now quite spent, and had been followed


up by negligence, laziness, inadvertency, and base de-
jection of spirit. Mere folly produced as much mis-
chief to the king's cause as deliberate villainy could
have done. Charles's own counsels according to
Clarendon were as irresolute and unsteady as his ad-
visers were ill-humored and factious. They were all
blind to what ought to have been evident, and full of
trepidation about things that were never likely to
happen. One day they wasted time in deliberating
without coming to a decision, another day they decided
without deliberating. Worst of all, decision was never
followed by vigorous execution.

At the end of 1642 the king accounted his business
in Yorkshire as good as done. Here the great man
was the Earl of Newcastle. He was an accomplished
man, the patron of good poets like Dryden, and of bad
poets like Shadwell. He wrote comedies of his own,
which according to his wife were inspired by the pleas-
ant and laudable object of laughing at the follies of
mankind; and there is a story, probably apocryphal,
of his entertaining at dinner in Paris no less immortal
persons than Hobbes and Descartes. A sage Italian,
dead a hundred years before, warned statesmen that
there is no worse thing in all the world than levity.
"Light men are the very instruments for whatever is
bad, dangerous, and hurtful ; flee from them like fire."
Of this evil tribe of Guicciardini's was Lord Newcastle;
and too many of Charles's friends, and in a certain
sense even Charles himself, were no better. All this,
however, did not prevent Newcastle, by his vast terri-
torial influence, popularity, and spirit, from raising in
the great county of York, in Northumberland, Dur-
ham, and Westmoreland, a force of nearly seven thou-
sand men. He had seized the metropolitan city of
northern England, and he had occupied the city on the


Tyne from which he took his title. It was the only
great port all the way from Plymouth to Berwick hy
which the king could bring arms and ammunition from
the continent into England. Lord Newcastle was con-
fronted in Yorkshire by the two Fairfaxes, with many
though hardly a majority of the gentry of the county
on their side, and it was in these operations that the
younger Fairfax, the future Lord General of the Par-
liament, first showed his gallantry, his dash, his invin-
cible persistency, and his skill. The Royalist com-
mander won a stiff fight at Tadcaster before the end of
the year ; and after alternations of capture and re-
capture at Bradford, Wakefield, and Leeds, by the mid-
dle of the summer of 1643 h^ made himself master of
all the towns in the interior of the county. The Fair-
faxes were badly beaten (June 30) at Adwalton, a
ridge above Bradford, and were driven by their thinned
numbers, by some disaffection among the officers, and
by occasional lack of bullet, match, and powder, to
force their way over the waste and hilly moors and to
throw themselves into Hull, the only important place
in the county of York now left in the hands of the

All through the summer of 1643 ^'^^ tide of victory
flowed strong for the king. Newcastle's successes in
Yorkshire accompanied the successes of Hopton in the
west. Lord Stamford, w-ith his army of seven thou-
sand men, had been beaten out of the field at Stratton
(May, 1643), leaving the king master over all the
southwest, with the important exception of Plymouth.
The defeats at Lansdown and Roundway Down (July
13) had broken up Waller's army. Bristol had fallen
(July 26). The movements of Essex against Oxford,
like most of that unlucky general's operations, had
ended in failure, and he protested to the Parliament



that he could not carry on without reinforcements in
men and money. It seemed as if nothing could pre-
vent the triumph of a great combined operation by
which the king should lead his main army down the
valley of the Thames, while Newcastle should bring
his northern force through the eastern counties and
unite with the king in overpowering London. But the
moment was lost, and the tide turned. For good rea-
sons or bad, the king stopped to lay siege to Gloucester,
and so gave time to Essex to recover. This was one
of the critical events of the war, as it was Essex's one
marked success. Charles was compelled to raise the
siege, and his further advance was checked by his re-
pulse at Newbury (September 20). The other branch
of the combined movem.ent by which Newcastle was to
march south was hardly so much as seriously at-

Newcastle's doings in Yorkshire and their sequel
prepared the way for that important encounter a year
later which brought Cromwell into the front rank of
military captains. For most of that year, from the
summer of 1643 to the summer of 1644, the power of
the northern army and the fate of London and the Par-
liamentary cause turned upon Lincolnshire, the bor-
derland between Yorkshire and the stubborn counties
to the southeast. This issue was settled by the cav-
alry action at Winceby (October, 1643), where the
united forces of Fairfax and Manchester met a body
of Royalist contingents from Newcastle, Gains-
borough, and Lincoln. Cromwell, supported by Fair-
fax, led the van. His horse was killed under him, and
as he rose to his feet he was felled by a blow from a
Royalist trooper. Remounting the horse of a passing
soldier, he dashed into the fight with his usual stout-
ness and intrepidity. The same day that saw the Roy-


alist repulse at Winceby, saw Newcastle raise the siege
of Hull. Two months later the Scots began their
march northward, and in January (1644) they crossed
the border. Cromwell during the spring was occu-
pied in the convoy of ammunition, in taking fortified
houses, and other miscellaneous military duties. He was
soon called to a decisive occasion. Newcastle, after a
critical repulse at Selby, fell back upon York, where he
was gradually closed in by Fairfax, Manchester, and
the Scots. From April to June he held out, until the
welcome news reached him that Rupert was advancing
to his relief. Fearing to be caught between two fires,
the Parliamentary generals drew off. By a series of
skilful movements, Rupert joined Newcastle within
the walls of York, and forced him to assent to imme-
diate engagement with the retreating Parliamentarians.
It has been said that the two armies who stood face
to face at Marston (July 2, 1644) were the largest
masses of men that had met as foes on English ground
since the wars of the Roses. The Royalist force
counted seventeen or eighteen thousand men, the Par-
liamentarians and their Scotch allies twenty-six or
twenty-seven thousand. The whole were about twice
as many as were engaged at Edgehill. In our gener-
ation people may make little of battles where armies of
only a few thousand men were engaged. Yet we may
as well remember that Napoleon entered Italy in 1796
with only thirty thousand men under arms. At Areola
and at Rivoli he had not over fifteen thousand in the
field, and even at Marengo he had not twice as many.
In the great campaign of 1631-32 in the Thirty Years'
War, the Imperialists were twenty-four thousand foot
and thirteen thousand horse, while the Swedes were
twenty-eight thousand foot and nine thousand horse.
As the forces engaged at Marston were the most nu-


From the miniature at Windsor Castle, by special permission of
Her Majesty the Queen.


From the obverse and reverse of a medal in the British Museum.


merous, so the battle was the bloodiest in the civil war.
It was also the most singular, for the runaways were
as many on one side as the other, and the three victori-
ous generals were all of them fugitives from the field.
The general course of what happened is fairly intelli-
gible, though in details all is open to a raking fire of
historic doubts.^

The two armies faced one another as usual in two
parallel lines, the foot in the center and the horse on
the wings. A wide ditch with a hedge on its southern
side divided them. The Parliamentary forces were
drawn up on a ridge sloping to the moor. The Scot-
tish foot under Leven and Bail lie stationed in the
center, with the Yorkshire army under the two Fair-
faxes on the right, and Manchester's army of the East-
ern Association on the left. The younger Fairfax, on
the right wing, was in command of a body of horse
counted by some at four thousand, of whom nearly one
third were Scots. On the left wing Cromwell had
between two thousand and twenty-five hundred of the
regular cavalry of the Eastern Association, supported
by a reserve of about eight hundred ill-horsed Scots in
the rear. Of this force of cavalry, on which as it hap-
pened the fortune of the day was to depend. David
Leslie commanded the Scottish contingent under
Cromwell. The whole line extended about a mile and
a half from right to left, and the Royalist line was
rather longer. On the king's side, Rupert faced
Oliver. Newcastle and his main adviser Eythin
faced Leven and Baillie, and Goring faced the two
Fairfaxes. The hostile lines were so near to one an-

1 Mr. Firth has closely described Hoenig's " Oliver Cromwell," li.

the evidence and authorities in the Theil, p. 136, and a more import-

"Transactions of Royal Historical ant excursus, Bd. ii. pp. 441-453.
Society," vol. xii. See Colonel


other that, as Cromwell's scout-master says, "their
foot was close to our noses."

So for some five hours (July 21 ) the two hosts with
colors flying and match burning, looked each other in
the face. It was a showery summer afternoon. The
Parliamentarians in the standing corn, hungry and
wet, beguiled the time in singing hymns. "You can-
not imagine," says an eye-witness, "the courage, spirit,
and resolution that was taken up on both sides ; for we
looked, and no doubt they also, upon this fight as the
losing or gaining the garland. And now, sir, consider
the height of difference of spirits : in their army the
cream of all the Papists in England, and in ours a col-
lection out of all the corners of England and Scotland,
of such as had the greatest antipathy to popery and
tyranny; these equally thinking the extirpation of each
other. And now the sword must determine that which
a hundred years' policy and dispute could not do."
Five o'clock came, and a strange stillness fell upon
them all. Rupert said to Newcastle that there would
be no fight that day, and Newcastle rode to his great
coach standing not far off, called for a pipe of tobacco,
and composed himself for the evening. He was soon
disturbed. At seven o'clock the flame of battle leaped
forth, the low hum of the two armed hosts in an instant

Online LibraryJohn MorleyOliver Cromwell → online text (page 10 of 35)