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Battle of Worcester, 1651

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Oliver Cromwell versus Charles II of Scotland: A Loyalist army under Charles operates on interior lines against the onslaught of a Parliamentarian army under Cromwell. Can Charles hold off one of Cromwell’s separated wings long enough to defeat the other in detail? Click on images below to view PowerPoint presentation. | Legend |
 
 
It was important that Cromwell won this battle in such a decisive manner to simplify the complex military and political situation in the future British isles during the Civil War. Had Cromwell simply won a marginal victory and forced a retreat, the war could have been longer and bloodier conflict than it had already been. This battle signifies the bond between politics and war that can never be ignored.
 
This battle was much closer than the numbers and casualties involved would reveal. Charles very nearly overran the Parliamentarian right wing in one bold assault while Cromwell was preoccupied with actions on his left. Charles’ command was admirable and was certainly sabotaged by Leslie’s refusal to commit his cavalry for the decisive stroke. However, Charles probably should not have given his right wing a reserve force; even if this reserve contributed to preventing any crossing of the river – which it did not – it left insufficient forces on the left wing to defeat its opposition.
 
 
I realize that the choice of this battle as a representative of the British Isles region is a peculiar one. Hastings, Bosworth, Culloden and Naseby are likely more decisive and interesting in the context of the isles’ history. Worcester was chosen for two reasons: it illustrated the concept of interior lines and the strength of numbers overall. Too often, battles in which a commander defeats a numerically superior force are spotlighted. Hopefully, this is only a matter of battles such as this getting coverage not an overwhelming glorification of battles through primary sources by the winning side. I sense that at some point, I will investigate the factor of numbers in battles/campaigns and shed some light on this curiosity.
 
- Jonathan Webb
 
Works Consulted
 
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
 
Plant, David. “1651: the Worcester Campaign.” British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website. http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/military/1651-worcester.htm (accessed June 13, 2009).
 
Seymour, William. Battles in Britain 1642-1746, Vol. II. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975.
 
Young, Peter and Richard Holmes. The English Civil War. London: Eyre Methuen, 1974.

Images

Charles II: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_II_of_England
 
Loyalist soldiers: http://www.collingwoodhistoricart.com/single_figures.htm
 
Oliver Cromwell: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cromwell
 
Parliamentarian soldiers: http://www.thomas-wentworth.co.uk/troops.htm
 

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  1. One Comment to “Battle of Worcester, 1651”

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