ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Battle of Worcester, 1651

September 3rd 1651
At Powick Hams and Fort Royal

The Battle of Worcester signified, at the end of the day, the final battle between the Parliament armies and the Royalist armies led firstly by Charles I against the Earl of Essex and then his son Charles II with mostly Scottish regiments against Oliver Cromwell during the nine years of a bloody and civil conflict.

August 30th:
Cromwell arrives at Spetchley, home to the Berkeley family, to create line of attack which extends from Elbury Hill (now Elbury park) to Bund,s Hill near the Ketch Inn. A distance of some two and a half miles. Parliamentary troops already established on Red Hill and in Perry Wood. Lieutenant General Fleetwood positions at Powick near the Teme bridge. Meanwhile General Lambert arrives up river to the Teme confluence with the Severn with boats to build a bridge across the Teme.

August 31st.
Cromwell orders guns to be placed on Red Hill and in Perry Wood and to fire on Worcester as a distraction while boat bridge is being constructed. Major Knox leads his Scots regiment up Red Hill to try and quiet the guns and another sortie is led to Bunds Hill. Knox runs into General Fairfaxs regiment and falls into a trap. The sortie to Bunds Hill is similarly indisposed. ` This was due to a Worcester spy named Guise who learnt of the sorties and reported them to Cromwells armies. He was later caught, tried and hung.

September 2nd.
Lambert finishes boat bridge across River Teme. Plans laid to attack the Scots for the next day. Lambert returns to regiment at Upton upon Severn.

September 3rd.
The Duke of Hamilton is in charge of Fort Royal with the main body of Scots, Lord Rothes has a strong detachment on the Castle Mound, the whole of the Scots Brigade of horse is positioned on Pitchcroft under the command of General Leslie. General Montgomery heads the Scots on the Powick Hams with Keiths brigade on Powick Bridge where Prince Rupert defeated Fiennes in 1642 (the first official civil war battle). Piscottys Highlanders are stationed near the bridge of boats at the Temes mouth with Dalziels brigade in reserve at Wickfield on the high ground overlooking the Teme Bridge.

General Lambert, with Dean, marches from Upton in the early morning to Powick. A small skirmish takes place (see Powick church tower for evidence). The Scots are driven back to the bridge which is held by Keith. Lambert manages to cross the Teme via the boat bridge but is repulsed by Piscotty and his Highlanders. Again Lambert attacks and this time he is more successful driving the driving the Scots slowly back towards Worcester. This, in turn, forces Keith to abandon his Bridge stance or risk being cut off on his left flank. Lambert and Dean owe their success to Cromwell receiving news of the Royalist stance and sending three Brigades across the boat bridge to attack from the west side of the Teme. Leslie is still positioned on Pichcroft with his Brigade of Horse refusing to budge and go to the aid of Piscotty and Keith. Piscotty escapes into Worcester through St.Johns but Keith is taken prisoner by Dean.

Meanwhile, back in Worcester, Charles is atop the cathedral tower watching progress. He then quickly moves into evasive action and marches a troop of horse and foot up the London Road towards Red Hill and the Parliamentary positions. The Duke of Hamilton is similarly disposed but, leading a column of his own regiment, goes up to Perry Wood, disposes of some musketeers hiding behind hedge along the lane, charges on the canon and captures them. Charles attack to Red Hill was also successful in driving the Parliamentary line further back up the hill. Again, if Leslie had moved his horse and consolidated the general push by the Royalists then history may well have been changed.

The Parliament troops rally again and force another attack. Cromwell hears of the lack of support and rushes his three brigades back from supporting Lambert and inspires his men to fight on against the Scots. Hamilton is running out of powder and shot. All along the Parliament lines the Scots are falling back. One last attempt by Hamilton results in own his fatal wounding. Cromwell advances quickly taking the advantage. Sir Alexander Forbes is struck down from his command of the Fort Royal and the Kings Standard is torn down.

Meanwhile, the rest of Cromwells men make good between Fort Royal and Sidbury Gate taking not only the Scots flank but now their rear. Cromwell orders the Fort Royal guns to be turned on Worcester while his men fall on the easy prey of the now disordered Scots fugitives who are struggling to get through the narrow Sidbury Gate. Cut off, they are easily cut down in the mass slaughter (to be compared with Charles father at Naseby and his great Uncle at Culloden) which takes place around Sidbury and up Red Hill.

Throughout all of this Charles is still outside the city walls trying vainly to rally his troops from the entrance to the Commandery. An attack from a Parliament horseman almost altered the whole course of history but misses in his attempt to cut Charles down. One, William Bagnall, sees the Kings plight and drives an ox cart between the Commandery entrance and the city walls stopping the horseman and allowing Charles to affect an escape. He makes for his quarters in the Corn Market but not before Fleetwood attacks across the river bridge, up Broad Street into Mealcheapen Street thus cutting off the Scots rear to the west and the Bridge Gate. The Forgate to the north had been built up, Cromwell is in control of Sidbury to the south and the Friars Gate was already in control by the victorious Parliament troop.

The only exit left now is St.Martins Gate which adjoins Charles' quarters. The Lord Wilmott finds a horse and brings it to the rear entrance of what is now the Swan With Two Nicks Inn. Colonel Corbett with his troopers affect entry though the front of the house leaving Charles to only just make his escape through St.Martins Gate, along a lane to Barbourne Bridge, across the river and onto the Kidderminster Road heading north.

But that, my friend, is another story.

William Guise, the man responsible for informing Cromwell of the surprise attack to his RedHill position by 1500 Royalist soldiers, was hanged from the sign of the Golden Cross Inn along Broad Street the next day. However, Cromwell rewarded his widow with the sum of £200, a large sum at the time, with an annuity of the same amount. Seven years later to the day, namely September 3rd 1658, Cromwell died leading to the Royalist story and legend that Cromwell sold his soul to the devil in Pirie Wood for a victory and seven years of his life.

London Road was constructed in the 18th century as a turnpike road. The ancient medieval road lays to the south and can be traced most of the way by a line of two adjacent parallel lanes running from Cromwell Avenue and into Blake Street and follows the natural gradient of the hill. Two large cuttings were made to ease the hilly gradient for the coaches to and from London. The first was at Wheatsheaf Hill, so called after an inn of the same name half way up the hill, and cut through part of the defences of the old Fort Royal. The second is at Red Hill and cut through the southern tip of Perry Wood. Pirie Brook flowed down from the tip of Pirie Wood and because it once crossed the road is now channelled below the road through a pipe.

The references to Pirie Wood suggest that Perry Wood is a derivative name.

The Battle of Worcester : September 3rd 1651
at Powick Hams and Fort Royal

Alan James Magnus, Worcester Militia & Earl of Loudoun’s
For further reading try 'Cromwell's Crowning Mercy', by Malcolm Atkin

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