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Largest Battle in Britain and Ireland - Marston Moor

Discussion in 'Military History' started by scipio, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. scipio

    scipio Member

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    On 2nd July 1644 thelargest battle in Britain was fought at Marston Moor, close to Yorkbetween the Royalist supporters of King Charles I and the Allies,Parliament and Scottish Covenanters.

    As I mentioned onHistorian's Anniversary thread, I live on the Battlefield. Due mainlyto neglect the main features of the battlefield are largely the sameas they were 400 years ago.

    The Historian has encouraged meto post up a few photos - but I thought I might try a bit harder asthis battle is quite well understood in that the original positionsof all the regiments can be pointed with accuracy - luckily theRoyalist plan of Battle (including a sketch of the opposition,although the regiment names were not known) and also theParliamentarians plan has survived - quite remarkable at this earlydate.

    This battle was also very important in that it was thefirst decisive defeat for the King and was the beginning of the endwhich came the next year at Nasby. Up till then the Royalists hadbeen been winning (mostly) with the help of Irish Catholic troops. Inresponse, Parliament had appealed to the Protestant Scots who sent alarge Army south (the Sottish Covenanters) - this was their firstmajor engagement and Scots outnumbered English on the Parliamentaryside. The English Civil War resulted in the primacy of Parliament,leaving the King increasingly as the figurehead representative of theState - as such it was important in giving the impetus to theAmerican Revolution (sorry War of Independence) and French Revolution.


    Thebattle took place on a 2 kilometre front between the villages ofTockwith and Long Marston aabout 8 miles from York. Here is a map and some views:
     
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  2. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]

    Here is the Obelisk- the only object which indicates that a battle took place here
     
  3. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Here is the promised map - sorry this could take a long time as I keep getting bombed out.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. scipio

    scipio Member

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    From Obelisk and down Moor Lane (also called Bloody Lane!) was the most extreme left Royalist Infantry Regiment who were situated at the start of the brown patch of earth - in 1644 this was a ditch with a mound infront aand line of hedges.



    I will now post the view from the Royalist side and then the Parliamentarian.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]

    Here is the same view from the Parliamentary side - the extreme right of the Infantry Line held by the Scottish Regiment of Hamilton, Lord Baillie.

    The hedge is still in existence but the ditch was filled in (only 1950 - sacrilege!) and mound of earth from the ditch separated the arable land on the Parliament side with growing corn (then chest high not like modern corn) - the ditch kept the cattle from destroying the crops. The Royalist side was moorland (rough grass and gorge) , perfect cavalry territory.
     
  6. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    Thanks for the pics. Great to see a relatively unchanged battlefield, especially from the Civil War.:cool:
    Do the Sealed Knot stage re-enactments?
     
  7. scipio

    scipio Member

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    A bit of background - the Parliamentary forces had besieged York. However Prince Rupert (the best general on the Royalist side), a German (of course!) cousin of the King and Protestant who had fought in the 40years War in Germany on the Ptestnat side had been tasked with winning Lancashire - which he did and then outwitting the Parliamentarians to enter from the North and relieve the Siege.

    York had been held by the Duke of Newcastle and more importantly his general , Lord Eythin. Unfortunately in the German Wars Eythin had failed to support Rupert at a major battle in Germany and as a result Rupert had been captured and held prison for 6 years - he was not pleased!


    The parliamentary forces realising that it was no longer possible to take York had spit up with the Scots going west to Wetherby and the English South to Tadcaster (about 10 miles) - leaving a screen of cavalry a the position of the previous photo.

    Rupert saw an opportunity to inflict a defeat on each section. Rupert's force took up position on the Moor and ordered Eythin and the York force to join him at 4am on 2nd July. Yet again Eythin was late with his troops starting to appear (only 7 miles to travel!) at 4 pm - 12 hours late. The row can be imagined. Rupert was furious the opportunitiy for a smashing the divided enemy had been lost.

    Meanwhile, realising the peril, the Allies started to bring their forces back to Marston Moor and stood on the ridge line.

    At 7 pm with more Royalists slowly arriving from York and those on the battlefield starting to make camp, cook food and prepare for a battle the next day, the Parliamentary forces, relinquished their advantage and their infantry charged the enemy - about 500 meters away.
     
  8. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Sealed Knot do a reenactment not on the Battlefield but sometimes at Wetherby.

    Here is the Obelisk with their flowers left on 2nd July

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]Apparently the Sealed Knot Society had a march from the Spotted Ox Pub at midday on Sunday to the oblelisk, complete with drums, muskets, pikes and a couple of artillery pieces

    I dont know if this is going to be an annual event but here is a musketeer who I photoed earlier in the day.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]
    The above shows the Regiments involved. On the Right, the Goring's Cavalry smashed into the Parliament Cavalry under Sir Thomas Fairfax, and continued up the hill to attack the Baggage Train, following the line of the electricity pilons - see previous post 3. and here is the view from the Obelisk.
     
  11. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG].



    The Royalist charge took them to the baggage train.

    Cromwell's Pump has nothing to do with Cromwell but it is believed that it was the place where the Allied Generals, Lord Leven (Scottish), Manchester and Lord Fairfax initially stationed themselves.

    A small detachment of Royalists attacked the advancing Scottish Infantry who had been pushing back the Royalist Infantry (and the poor musketeers situated in the ditch). In fact the Whitecoats in the Centre of the Royalist line had also met the initial charge and had repulsed it so severely that the Allied commanders thought the day was lost and departed the battlefield - Manchester and Leven later returned but not Lord Fairfax.

    Meanwhile his son Sir Thomas Fairfax with a small detatchment of Parliamentary cavalry had fought their way through the Royalist Horse and hid for an hour in a Widstrop Wood behind the Royalist Lines.
     
  12. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    Thanks for the excellent report. Always enjoy seeing battlefields as they are now.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My understanding was at the time and for some time considerably later the term "corn" meant simply "grain" in Europe. After the discovery of the New World at least until recent times (perhaps still) Europeans refered to the grain us Americans call "Corn" as "Maize". If this was the case above Rye would be a not unreasonable guess for the crop growing at the time although someone who knows the area or is more familiar with the battle may know the answer or give us a more educated guess.
     
  14. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Sorry was using the English term for corn. I believe that this rye in the USA. In my earlier photo there is rye growing today by its only knee high. Even as kids I remember ti was much higher -we used to tie it together and create tunnels!


    At the opposite end of the battlefield, near Tockwith, the ditch ended and Trees become sparser and the ridge on which the Parliamentarians stood flattens out quickly. The Royalist infantry line ended at this point. Here stood a relatively unknown cavalry man Cromwell - opposed by a seasoned campaigner, Lord Byron. Here is a Photo:[​IMG]
     
  15. scipio

    scipio Member

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    upert is critised for not placing more forces at this point. However, it should be remembered that Parliament fielded 23,000 versus only 17,000 Royalists. On this wing, the Parliamentary cavalry outnumberd the Royalist 3 to 2.

    To compensate, Rupert had stationed dismounted dragoons (muskeeters) amongst the cavalry plus some artillery and ordered Byron to remained on the defensive.

    Immediately in front of Cromwell were rabbit warrens (apparently, rabbits were farmed in the past) - today is it huge pig farm - sorry no photo.

    The Parliamentary cavalry (less Cromwell who was receiving first-aid for a minor gunshot wound in the back of the neck) start to move but because of the rabbits burrows could only "walk" through this field.

    Lord Byron had forbidden his men to camp for the night and had kept his cavalry ready. He counter charged the Parliamentarians and seemed to be achieving success since his charge was delivered at full speed.

    Cromwell had now rejoined but more importantly the Scottish Cavalry under Leslie was committed to the battle and turned the tide - Rupert sent his own regiment of Cavalry (held as reserve) but to no avail. The Royalist Horse was defeated and scattered. There are still arguments as heated as those about WW2 - some blaming Byron for disobeying orders (which prevented use of the dragoons) and others who blame Rupert for not placing a strong forces at this weak point.

    Cromwell's thorough training and iron discipline now came into play - Sir Thomas Fairfax, who you may remember was hiding in Widstop Wood, now rode over and made Cromwell aware of the disaster on the opposite wing.

    Controlling his troops, Cromwell and with a touch of brilliance he led his Cavalry around the back of the Royalist line to smash into the disorganized Royalist Horse which was busing ransacking the Parliament Baggage train.

    Having cleared both wings of Royalist Cavalry, Cromwell returned to encircle the Royalist Infantry - and now we have "Kessel" and destruction of the Royalist forces.
     
  16. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]

    This is the view looking from Parliament side of end of the Left Wing - with the Royalist Infantry behind the hedge in the foreground.

    Moving to the other side of the Battlefield here is the screen that the Allied Commanders on the hill would see.

    Shortly after Cromwell doubles back and attacks the Royalist from the rear.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. scipio

    scipio Member

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    The Yellow Star is the Five Lane End where the Duke of Newcastle had his HQ and where he led a charge to break-out of the encirclement.

    Here is a photo this position which is very easy to identify (although only three lanes today).

    [​IMG]



    Close by is White Syke which was a cattle pen and where (some people but not me) consider the Duke's Whitecoat Regiment made a last stand.

    Despite many calsl to surrender the fought to the last man (20 survived)


    Here is White Syke



    [​IMG]
     
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  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No need to apologize. I just wanted to minimize any confusion. Maize/corn espeically "feed corn" meant for cattle can grow to well over head height. I'm not very familiar with rye but since I didn't think wheat did well in England was guessing that was the crop (could be a couple of other grains as well I suppose) thanks for the confirmation.

    Thanks for the pictures and postings.
     
  19. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Ghosts of Marston Moor

    The Battle was essentially over by 9.00pm, although the pursuit continued in moonlight and in those 2 hours, over 4000 Royalist had been Killed and 300 Parliamentarians.

    The loss for the Royalists was very large by Civil War standards. An equal number of wounded would increase the casualty total to around 9,000 out of a force of 17,000.

    The dead were buried in mass grave\s on the battlefield - those graves have never been found and to this day, the fields in the photos I showed hold the remains of 4,500 soldiers.


    Some of the wounded would have been treated at this small church 2 miles away at Bilston which was used as a field hospital.

    The 12st July, is the correct calendar date (2nd July is old Julian Calendar) - so if there are Ghosts then tonight is the night

    Here is a story about some of the sightings

    Ghosts of the english civil war (1/2) - YouTube


    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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