The Battle of Marston Moor
But providence doth often so dispose. - Oliver Cromwell

July 2nd, 1644.

Richard reckoned it had been about an hour since the battle started when the Bradford company were called to reinforce the left. The men had almost immediately begun to speculate on what that might mean for the course of the battle, though Richard found it difficult to make out any one voice over the howl of the wind and rain.

They paused their discussions for a moment when their Scottish lieutenant called for quiet and relayed their new orders, his practiced voice carrying relatively well over the cacophany of sounds that followed an army wherever it was: the rattling of weapons and armour, the clinking of bandoliers, the latent chatter. Richard still didn't hear full sentences from his position in the third rank, but he got the point quickly enough when the men around him had began to move. They were finally off to battle. Richard felt his heart start to beat faster.

They resumed chatter with their steps, though Richard could only hear the man on his immediate right.

"Cromwell's on the left. He's the best we have. If he's in trouble, then we are lost." His voice was pained, as if already resigned to defeat.

Richard turned to look at him and thought through what he'd learned about the man standing next to him all day. Samuel Gibbs. Haberdasher. Bradford born. Proud of his grammar school education. A proper Reformed man. Richard took a few quick steps out of rank to clap him on the shoulder.

"It is no mistake that we have met them on this day, Sam. God will not suffer his elect to die in vain, least of all against Papists and idolators. We will win this day, and with it the north for Parliament, and for God."

He was glad for Sam's easy nod to that, since it meant he'd judged the nature of the man's doubt rightly. It was just after sundown, and none of them had eaten a proper meal since breakfast. They'd been standing in ranks for nearly twelve hours, unable to see any of what was happening outside of the defile that hid them from their enemy throughout the day, and then unable to see anything much more than thirty feet in front of them for the last hour thanks to the dark and the rain, save for the occasional flash of lightning. Messages from the battle's progress were sparse and rarely made it to the common soldiery, and Richard had done his best to calm some of the younger men after they'd claimed that they saw men retreating back in flashes of lightning. It was a long day, a hard day. Hard on the body, hard on the mind, hard on the faith. A day that might break a man, but not Sam. Sam Gibbs was a good man to have on his side.

They marched the remainder of the way without much speaking, the men unprepared to strain their lungs further as the marches quickened pace winded them. After what must have been no more than a few minutes but which felt much longer, they arrived at their destination and formed up on a patch of muddy ground, clearly torn up from thousands of hooves. Richard had seen enough such ground to know it was terrible to fight on, but still orders were given, group by group. "Hold the ditch." People in front of him began to disappear in groups of five or so, the lieutenant speaking to each groupin turn and sending them on their way. He met Richard's eye for a moment before speaking, though his words were directed to a man next to him instead of Richard.

"You know the state of things, Andrews. We're expecting the Ironsides may retreat to regroup - your job is to give them space to do so. Take ten, keep your colours flying, and hold the ditch."

He didn't know ensign Andrews, since he'd had little enough cause to associate with the officers. But looking at him now, he cringed. The ensign was a boy, no more than sixteen. The son of someone important in Bradford, most likely. The colours he held were simple, a small cross of St George in the canton over a light blue field, atop an oak flagpole.

They spoke little as they moved forward to the ditch that they were to defend, though thanks were muttered after Richard helped a man stand from where he'd slipped in the mud, caking himself in it from head to toe. The ditch wasn't much to behold. Though a lull in the rain had increased their visibility somewhat, they still couldn't quite make anything on the other side in the dark of the moonless night. They paced up and down some ways, noting that the ditch was lined and filled in some few places with hedges and a handful of corpses, both of men and horses. It was impediment enough to kill a careless man riding at a gallop, and Richard silently prayed that the Cavaliers might do just that. More importantly for their purposes, they noticed a section where the hedges were sparse and the incline less steep, being generally the best terrain to climb out of the ditch for some distance. They set up just behind it, since the slope would help to funnel Cavaliers into their musket's limited effective range.

Richard noticed that the wind had also began to die down when he began to hear the sounds of drums beating and trumpets playing in the distance, a familiar and upbeat tune that he'd heard the men playing for most of the day. It was hard to be sure given his deaf left ear, but he thought that the battle music was coming from either side of them, further along the ditch.

He was so focused on the drums that he felt the hoofbeats before he heard them, a rumble felt in his feet and belly. He made a point of turning to face Andrews as if to receive a command, Andrews nodding and ordering the muskets loaded. Richard quickly leaned his musket on the ground so that the barrel came to his torso and reached for a vial of powder from his left shoulder. The hoofbeats in the distance became audible. He discarded the first such vial he picked out, finding that it hadn't been watertight, the powder too damp to use. Reaching for a second of his Twelve Apostles, he was relieved to find that this was dry, and so he poured the powder into his musket's muzzle, before gathering a spherical lead shot from a pouch on his bandolier and adding that too. Just as he was ramming powder and shot down, he raised his head to see a cavalrymen become visible in the ditch, more as a darker silhouette than an actual visible figure. He navigated the ditch slowly, his mount kept to a trot just faster than a walk.

"Ready your weapons, but hold your fire. These may be Ironsides." Andrews' voice was quiet and measured. Not terrible for a boy.

As the rider began his ascent, Richard called to him with a mind to checking his allegiance.

"For Parliament!"

"For England and Saint George!" the approaching cavalryman called back, his relief palpable to Richard's ear. It wasn't a royalist response, and so Andrews had the men lower their weapons and brandished his colours to meet with the man, but it seemed the rider had no intention of stopping - as soon as he crested the lip of the ditch, he kicked his mount into a trot and proceeded onto the mudplain behind them, quickly disappearing into the night. Richard wiped a kicked-up bit of mud off his face.

Two of the Bradford men then admitted that their matchchord was out and couldn't be lit, so they wouldn't be able to fire their muskets. One had let their matchchord get wet, and the other had let all his matches go out. Both mistakes Richard had made fighting on the Continent; easy to forgive. To fix the problem, he retrieved one man's dry matchchord and cut it in half before lighting both and handing them to each man.

The next encounter with a cavalryman was much the same as the first, a pattern that Richard found was repeated again and again, each man a Roundhead and each man more interested in fleeing than talking. They'd taken turns calling out to the approaching riders, and Richard had just completed his third call when the reply came back "For the king!", almost surprising them. The man kicked his horse into a gallop as he crested the ditch and made straight for them, but there were eight muskets pointed his way and the hedged terrain worthless for gaining speed. Andrews called for fire and the Cavalier died, his corpse falling from his horse which kept trotting until it was gone from view.

"Reload." Again, Richard added powder and then shot to his musket. Stealing a glance up, he noticed another rider in the ditch. He began to ram his shot down, once, twice, three times. The rider crested the ditch, this one for "King Charles!". They levied their muskets - or at least he and Sam and two others did, firing off their shots. The rider came crashing down, his mount shrieking with him as he fell. Richard passed his musket to one of the men he'd helped before and drew his sword from his hip, approaching the downed rider. The man was stunned and crawling but unhurt, his horse shot and flailing in pain. He ended the man for duty, and the beast for mercy.

Richard retrieved his musket and set to reloading again even as the next rider came up. There was no more expectation that any of the riders might be for Parliament, and so they didn't bother to call. Only Richard and Sam had finished reloading this time, but Richard's failed to fire, his powder too wet from the ongoing drizzle. Leaning out of his saddle as he made his pass at them, the Cavalier swung his sword, dealing one of their number a lethal blow. One of the other Bradford boys finished his own reload then and shot the man, but no sooner was he dead than two more riders were upon them.

None of them had loaded muskets this time. He felt a lump of fear rise in his throat. Perhaps God was not with them after all? Drawing his sword once more he stepped forward; Andrews was next to him, levying his flagpole at the approaching riders. It was no pike, but it was closer than Richard's sword. Close enough that one rider approached Andrews carefully at a pace, only to stop, draw a pistol, and shoot Andrews dead before charging ahead over his corpse. Richard heard an agonied cry and the wet thud of a sword contacting bone, but focused on keeping his eye on the other rider as he charged for Richard. The rider's form was good, but his weight shifted in his saddle as his mount slipped its footing on the muddy terrain, making his swing early. Keeping his own centre of mass low to limit slipping, Richard extended the tip of his blade to neck height as the man's mount carried him forward into it.

Withdrawing his sword from his victim's neck, he turned to face the rest of their company. The rider and mount were down, but had collapsed on top of one of the Bradford men who was screaming over his pinned leg, which was no doubt broken. One other man was dead, the source of the wed thud before, and two more were wounded, one from his musket's own misfire. "God almighty," he heard himself mutter, before offering a quick apology for blaspheming.

As Richard and Sam knelt down to free their injured comrade from under the Cavalier horse, the sound of massed hoofbeats grew louder again. A flash of lightning temporarily lit up the battlefield, and Richard could see that though the ditch was temporarily free of enemies, a large organized group of riders was gathering in the distance ahead. Richard understood then that the men that they'd dispatched had been undisciplined; gloryhounds eager to tell the story about how they'd swept Parliament's finest cavalry from the field. They were fools, and they'd died for it. The next men to come wouldn't come in ones or twos, but as an army.

Kneeling to gather the pistol that had killed Andrews, Richard took stock of their situation. Not ten minutes ago they'd numbered eleven, but now three were dead including Andrews, three more were wounded and, as Richard now discovered, three men had parted with their courage and with their company. That left just Sam and Richard left standing, against an unknown number. Against too many. Richard offered a quick prayer for Andrews as he retrieved the company colours from his body and turned to face the men, but found himself at a loss for what to say. He was surrounded by corpses, some belonging to the young men of his home town. Both wounded men and mounts cried out in agony, and shots sounded off in the distance in seemingly every direction as if to remind them that the battle wouldn't wait for them. Trumpets and drums repeated their tune for the someteenth time, and he couldn't see anything beyond the carnage around him and a ditch they would inevitably fail to defend. He couldn't see God in this, could not see how his impending death would serve the cause, could not hear His voice over the sound of hoofbeats - too close, too loud.

Too present. Two riders and two riderless mounts arrived behind their small group, slowing to a stop a few metres away, one quickly dismounting and approaching. Even in the dark, Richard could tell that their horses were small by their silhouettes. If the horses were nags, that meant that these men were dragoons. Mounted infantry. Was the plan to keep manning the ditch? That would be suicide, a waste of the elect. The thought itself stirred Richard to anger.

"You have succeeded here, men," the rider spoke, "You are to withdraw from here to meet for further orders. Follow us. If any of you are too wounded to walk, you can mount up. We have a few spare."

They did as the rider bid, and within a few minutes they came to meet with a group of infantry and dragoons. The infantry were in part other Bradford men - not nearly so many as there had been 20 minutes before, but more than Richard had hoped. Other groups gathered not far from them in rough battle lines, and they milled about for a few minutes, braggards filling the time talking about how they'd shot half a dozen Cavaliers or cut no less than three out of their saddles. All the while, their numbers swelled as mounted dragoons escorted more infantry into one group or another. Eventually the dragoons themselves formed into lines, and one rider set out in front of the gathered mass of perhaps a thousand men.

"You have done well to keep your colours, friends," the rider said, stopping before the Bradford group. Richard felt that perhaps the man was looking at him, though wasn't sure given the gloom.

"You have done England proud."

Richard was thrown off for a moment, unsure what to think. He certainly didn't feel like he'd done well, given that their detachment had been effectively spent as a fighting force, too dead, too wounded or too demoralized to fight on.

"You have all done well to keep your colours, and your trumpets too, and drums. You have done Bradford proud. And so too have all men here done your homes proud."

How did he know about Bradford? Who was this man? The rider paced along the line, calling out once in turn in front of each mass of infantry.

"You have done Selby proud."

He was clearly in charge of the dragoons. Richard lamented that he hadn't paid more attention to the officer staff.

"You have done Halifax proud."

The dragoon was in command. That was enough for Richard, for now. He let go of a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.

"You have done Leeds proud."

The rider stilled his mount, as near to the middle of the grouping as was possible.

"You have done all of England proud. When this battle is over, England shall want to know how it went. I tell you truthfully that I believe the tale will be told of the brave men of Bradford, of Halifax and Leeds and Selby. Of the men who let their will be known first by Root and Branch, and second by force of arms. Of those who would not sit idly by whilst an overreaching king ran roughshod over their freeborn rights and consciences, who stood with the Commons, those true representatives and stewards of England's common weal. They will speak of how their banners never fell and their trumpets and drums never silenced, because they fought for something beyond themselves: they fought for a free England."

Sure enough, the trumpets and drums maintained their beat, even now. His regimental colours were still flying, aloft by his own hands. He'd never thought much of it, but the blue they'd used for the company flag's field was from indigo rather than woad. The expensive dye had been donated by a local gentry merchant, but it had only been on hand because they were a clothworking community. It was unique. He found that he liked holding it. It meant Bradford was still in the fight.

The dragoon continued. "You have done your duty here. Even now the Ironsides rally, given space to do so by the bravery you men have shown this night. But the battle is not yet over, for our right is imperilled. I for one will not put down my arms for so long as England lies in chains. I ask you now, men of Bradford. Of Halifax. Of Leeds. Of Selby. Will you join me?"

Richard raised his colours, shouting "For England and St George!"

The echo around Richard was thunderous. Richard swallowed his fear. God was louder some days than others.


The battle at Marston Moor was the largest yet in the British Civil War, and also the bloodiest. The combined armies of the Northern Association, Eastern Association and Scottish Covenanters numbered some 24,000 men. The Royalist force facing them under Prince Rupert and the Marquise of Newcastle had been somewhat smaller, approximately 17500 men.

The battle had begun just after sunset and alongside rain, ensuring that the bulk of the fighting was by hand rather than shot. Commanders on both sides lacked a clear picture of what was happening in the gloom, and so the fighting was often disorganised, with regiments or companies falling to their own commanders rather than any over-arching strategy.

As with most of the battles of the English Civil War, Marston Moor was decided predominantly by cavalry. In the early stages of the battle, the left of each side gained an upper hand, with Oliver Cromwell breaking Lord Byford's first line in the west and George Goring defeating Thomas Fairfax in the east. Though it seemed as if the Ironsides would punch through Byford's second line, Prince Rupert personally reinforced the Royalist right, and a sustained melee developed in which a stray musketball hit Oliver Cromwell in the neck, killing him. As word of Cromwell's death spread a panic grew among the Ironsides, eventually resulting in a rout.

Their rout was only temporary, however. Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburne, commanding a regiment of dragoons, organised for a forlorn hope to line the ditch on Parliament's left. The presence of the forlorn hope, which prevented a royalist pursuit, along with the mass of Lilburne's own mounted soldiers proved decisive in rallying and regrouping the Ironsides, who eventually charged once more and defeated the cavalry of the Royalist right.

The meantime was bloody, however. George Goring's cavalry had free reign on the east side of the battlefield, and although many of his troopers displayed poor discipline in looting the Parliamentary camps, enough retained their organisation to repeatedly hit the Allied right flank. Perceiving the battle as lost, Manchester and Lord Levan called for a retreat, but in the confusion of the stormy night many of the soldiers on the front lines never received the order. Whilst many of those who remained in the fight would eventually rout in disarray, the Scottish regiments under the Earl of Lindsay and Lord Maitland held firm, their spine stiffened at the last minute by the arrival of Lilburne's dragoons and those who had manned the decisive forlorn hope.

After winning the west of the battlefield, the Ironsides sought to take command of the east, too. Perceiving that his opportunity to achieve a decisive breakthrough was already spent, Goring lead a retreat of the remaining Royalist cavalry that quickly spread to the infantry, too, save for Newcastle's own regiment of infantry, the White Coated Lambs. Leading a staunch rearguard to buy their fellows time to retreat, they successfully held their ground for just over an hour before the fifth that yet survived surrendered. In this they were successful, as the bulk of the Royalist infantry made it make to York safely despite being harried by the Ironsides.

Assessing the losses of the battle, with some 2800 allied dead and 3400 Royalists dead or captured, it would be easy to mistake the battle for a draw. In practice, though, it was a Royalist strategic triumph. Firstly, they had successfully kept the northern theatre of the war open despite the Scottish entry to the war. Second, nearly two-thirds of Allied casualties were Scots. And thirdly, they had killed Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's most capable cavalry commander and among their most ardent supporters of war. Leveraged correctly, the Royalists had sewn the seeds of a split between the Covenanters and Parliament.

Welcome to For Want of a Musketball, a British Civil Wars timeline. The point of divergence here is that the wound Oliver Cromwell took to the neck at Marston Moor kills him. What follows is a deliberately optimistic take on the aftermath that will see men firmly ahead of their time in the driver's seat of a revolutionary Commonwealth of England.

In the short term, I'll be writing the events of the more properly British civil wars as Parliamentary and Scottish unity is threatened, King Charles negotiates in bad faith, the Welsh discover a useful technicality, and Freeborn John Lilburne leads the Levellers and unlikely allies to victory.
In the medium term, the plan is to follow the Leveller Commonwealth through the 1650s. Domestically, we'll take a look at what full male suffrage and a free press in the 1650s looks like, and we'll ride a wave of neo-Elizabethanism to both the high seas and, in women's case, to the pulpit. Diggers will be permitted to dig, and coffee houses will meet public libraries in a wave of literary culture. In the foreign sphere, we'll investigate what the Commonwealth thinks of Dutch "true freedom" and trade policy, The French Fronde, and the Reaper's War down in Catalonia. Eventually, the fires of revolution will burn out and the tide of royalism will come creeping back in as those formerly of wealth and privilege claw their lordships back.
But the light of liberty won't die, for long term, the plan is to follow the Republic of Jamaica as it fights to restore liberty to the motherland.

My intention at the moment is to make at least one post a week that's substantial enough to be worth reading post by post. Generally speaking, I'll look to write some character level content, and some geopolitical/state level content, since I really enjoyed the mixed format in An Age of Miracles.

Looking at the threads for other timelines, I find the speculation and questions that fill the comments are both entertaining as a reader, and I imagine very useful to the author. I've done a decent bit of research into the British civil wars, but about zero percent of the total library of research and writing about the period. It is incredibly easy to miss details and cool facts that would be worth including, so please always feel free to point out cool things you think I should know, or ask questions you'd like answered.

For now I'll sign off asking you a question: who is your favourite historical actor from the British civil wars period?
Can't say I know a ton about the English Civil War, but this is very well written and your outline for the future of the Commonwealth sounds very interesting!
Eventually, the fires of revolution will burn out and the tide of royalism will come creeping back in as those formerly of wealth and privilege claw their lordships back.
But the light of liberty won't die, for long term, the plan is to follow the Republic of Jamaica as it fights to restore liberty to the motherland.
IMO, Restoration would have been a much harder job in a proto-democratic Leveller Commonwealth TL.

And thirdly, they had killed Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's most capable cavalry commander and among their most ardent supporters of war.
There are quite a lot of good and excellent commanders in the Parliamentary forces other than Cromwell. I think the Parliamentarians should be able to find a replacement for him.

But the light of liberty won't die, for long term, the plan is to follow the Republic of Jamaica as it fights to restore liberty to the motherland.
The largest and most secured pro-Parliamentarian colony in the New World IOTL was New England, which was also the largest English colony in North America. Also, since we start in 1644, New England already existed in this TL as a Puritan colony. So, IMO, if there is one in the New World, Republic of New England should be a far better and more logical choice. However, a proto-democratic Leveller Commonwealth would have had a far better chance to last beyond Lilbourne or any TTL prominent founding figure's life.


I am a Royalist and proud of it. For future reference- how about a Puritan England and a Royalist New England due to mass emigration led by Charles and James?
In the short term, I'll be writing the events of the more properly British civil wars as Parliamentary and Scottish unity is threatened, King Charles negotiates in bad faith, the Welsh discover a useful technicality, and Freeborn John Lilburne leads the Levellers and unlikely allies to victory.
In the medium term, the plan is to follow the Leveller Commonwealth through the 1650s. Domestically, we'll take a look at what full male suffrage and a free press in the 1650s looks like, and we'll ride a wave of neo-Elizabethanism to both the high seas and, in women's case, to the pulpit. Diggers will be permitted to dig, and coffee houses will meet public libraries in a wave of literary culture. In the foreign sphere, we'll investigate what the Commonwealth thinks of Dutch "true freedom" and trade policy, The French Fronde, and the Reaper's War down in Catalonia. Eventually, the fires of revolution will burn out and the tide of royalism will come creeping back in as those formerly of wealth and privilege claw their lordships back.

I'm intrigued, but let's be clear that it's not full male suffrage and a free press if it doesn't apply to Catholics, and there's no potential leader of the Commonwealth who would be interested in extending that freedom.
I am a Royalist and proud of it. For future reference- how about a Puritan England and a Royalist New England due to mass emigration led by Charles and James?
They would not go to New England, period. Both New Englanders and their Puritan kins at home would not allow that. IOTL, the Parliamentarians also controlled the navy and the sea.

Most likely, they would go to Europe, to France, to seek another opportunity to reclaim the throne.

I'm intrigued, but let's be clear that it's not full male suffrage and a free press if it doesn't apply to Catholics, and there's no potential leader of the Commonwealth who would be interested in extending that freedom.
The OP explicitly stated that it would be a Leveller Commonweath. Note that Leveller Commonwealth would only extend franchise to around 20% of adult males, but even a 20% male suffrage would be exceedingly radical by 1600s standards.
Last edited:
The OP explicitly stated that it would be a Leveller Commonweath. Note that Leveller Commonwealth would only extend franchise to around 20% of adult males, but even a 20% male suffrage would be exceedingly radical by 1600s standards.

I agree entirely- my point is that that you can't have a Leveller Commonwealth that's also enacting full male suffrage and a free press. That's not what the Levellers wanted.

They were a radical and in many ways admirable group- but we shouldn't talk about them with the language of post 1789 democratic radicals.
@TheReal_McChicken: Thanks for the kind words!

@NedStark: Domestically I agree, however Leveller foreign policy won't exactly endear them to the European crowned heads. Could you name any cavalry officers inparticular you think are neat/worthy. I have thought perhaps Lambert. As you say, New England will be a relatively safe haven for Commonwealthsmen after the restoration. Narratively speaking, I'm just more interested in what Jamaica will be getting up to. We'll see New England a bit though, probably through the eyes of one Freeborn Williams.

@Carolus: Hope you enjoy it! I'll make sure to learn how to use them.

@marktaha: A Royalist New England is fairly unlikely in my estimation, but The Old Dominion might just get a boost up in Stuart estimation.

@SenatorChickpea: As you say, the franchise will not be truly full, nor the press entirely free, but 'full franchise for land-owning puritan males' isn't a good line to take to election. I'm the Leveller publisher, there's some editorial bias.

Thanks for the comments all, it's good to see some traction here. I'm aiming to post prose content weekly on Fridays at noon ET/GMT-4, or thenabouts, but I'll check back throughout the week!
Domestically I agree, however Leveller foreign policy won't exactly endear them to the European crowned heads.
Restoration IOTL succeeded because it was carried out from within. ITTL, with a more popular republican government, it would not happen.

Here are some of my observations based on OTL:

- England was an island without borders with any major European powers, unlike Revolutionary France.

- IOTL, the Commonwealth of England, both under the Protectorate and before that the Rump Parliament, was fully capable of pursuing pragmatic foreign policies, so I don't think the Levellers would try to export revolutions. None of the OTL notable Levellers had ever advocated for exporting revolutions as far as I know. Finally, the Levellers would be heavily influenced by urban commercial/craft classes especially in London (as newly enfranchised electorate would largely fall into this group), who would not advocate for such thing.

- France and Spain IOTL was busy fighting each other until 1659. Spain was also up to their eyeballs in debt as well. In addition, the Commonwealth also gave Spain a bloody nose IOTL. ITTL, a war against would also be to take some Caribbeans islands rather than to kill the Spanish king. Likewise, a war with France would be to conquer New France rather than to depose the Bourbons.

- German kingdoms were just recently mired in a very very horrible conflict, and they were far away as well.

- Relations with the Dutch would proceed as IOTL, but England likely would win the second naval war as well, if any. IOTL, Charles II rather neglected the navy, which was a major reason why the English lost. Btw, this means there would be no English interference in the Fronde, they would be busy fighting the Dutch to control the sea.

- Louis XIV's warmongering policies would eventually turn everyone against him, and this means that the Commonwealth could ally with the Dutch and Austria against him.

- IOTL, the Navigation Acts and naval expansion were supported by every Parliamentarian faction during the 1650s. So, the Commonwealth navy would have become the strongest ITTL as well. This means no foreign-imposed Restoration, just no.

- Catholics versus Protestants means that England could easily establish good relations with certain Protestant nations like Sweden.

Overall: there would not be openings for foreign-imposed Restoration since both France and Spain, the only powers with reasons and naval capability to restore the Stuarts by force, were plagued with their own wars and other internal problems, at least until the 1670s - and they were also enemies at the time. And then, Louis XIV would most likely attack some Continental neighbours, most likely the Dutch, before even turning attention towards Republican Britain. Once the Commonwealth survives beyond 1700, it would and should be able to live on permanently.

Could you name any cavalry officers inparticular you think are neat/worthy. I have thought perhaps Lambert
Actually, the most important general in the early/mid phase of the war IOTL was Thomas Fairfax. And yes, Lambert was very good as well. Ireton, Rainsborowe, even Lilbourne were okay.
Free Oath To Scotland
That we shall... endeavour in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland... and the reformation of Religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland; And shall endeavour to bring the Churches of God in the three Kingdoms, to the neerest conjunction and Uniformity in Religion.

-The Solemn League and Covenant, 1643

A siege could destroy an army. He'd seen it plenty of times in Germany.

Shit food, dysentery and the plague. The constant fear of cannon and musketballs, or shrapnel, or a sally. The cold of thin canvas tents and the screams of the wounded at night, the inescapable wet of regular showers, the mud that clung to everything. And all that was to say nothing about worries over homes being in danger, of Catholics stalking their families with long knives, sacking their cities and slaughtering their folk. Or of having to work with unwelcome allies, be Scot, crypto-Papist or Presbyterian. they. Worst of all was the belief that victory was impossible, not just of the siege but of the war. All things that tested a man and his conviction. All things that made men desert.

The Scottish alliance was meant to turn the tide in the North, and the war more generally. Instead the battle that was supposed to be their decisive entry into the war had been a draw, and now Newcastle's infantry held out in York, resupplied and reinforced by Prince Rupert's. The Prince and his cavalry had long since departed, rushing off south somewhere before their investment of the city had been completed. The last word they'd heard from the south was that Essex had stopped his pursuit of the king, leaving Sir William Waller to stand alone in his pursuit of the king's army.

It stung him how little news had come their way. Richard had always been a voracious reader, seeking out accounts of war, of battles, of exploration and, most dear to his heart, theology. He had to hand pamphlets discussing Reformed theology, including several from William Prynne, who Richard had looked into after Laud saw fit to mutilate him. He'd read John Pym's speeches and had kept abreast of Cromwell's moves besides, but it seemed to him that the Independent cause in England was not well developed, for they had reached for a scapegoat. The general mood among the elect was that they had met with defeat on the Moor because God condemned the Scottish entrance to the war and indeed, that the Scots had lost them the battle. He'd talked at length with Hendrie about that, seeking a Scottish perspective.

As far as Richard reckoned, the Solemn League and Covenant was a liability. So long as Independents might fall under the authority of what they viewed as a foreign Scottish church they had no interest in, they would not make good allies to Scots. But the oath could hardly be negotiated, having been spoken by the entirety of Scotland, and by an increasingly large number of Englishmen. It was foolish. The Scots were good Reformed men, their reformation more complete than the English one in almost every respect. He did not begrudge them their church, but it was not his, nor would he have it imposed on him.

The army had been wildly speculating that the Eastern and possibly also Northern Association armies were to be recalled south, to contend with Prince Rupert's recently departed cavalry, or maybe to intercept a march on London, or on East Anglia. The only reason that their own cavalry had not already been detached was because they were leaderless, and would neither accept Manchester's appointment nor resolve the leadership crisis themselves.

Such was the confusion that every morning since they'd reestablished the siege, Richard would patrol through their camp and rapidly assembling siegeworks, and every day there were fewer bodies. Lookouts wouldn't wake their next shift, sappers would fail to report for duty, and many work assignments went undermanned as a result. But far more disturbing to Richard was the divide that had developed in the camps that remained, as Independent soldiers increasingly came to establish their tents towards the east of the line, making the west increasingly Presbyterian. Lilburne's dragoons, and therefore Richard and the Bradford company, had refused to move from their own camps in the center of the field, a statement of army unity.

He'd taken to carrying the Bradford colours everywhere he went. It meant his hands were mostly always full, but it was worth the regular claps on the shoulder from Bradford men, or from those who knew the role they'd played at Marston Moor. He found that sharing war stories with people was a good way to learn about events going on around camp - about William Packer's latest speech blaming the Scots for their 'defeat', for example, or of Edward Whalley's appeal for the position of Lieutenant General of the Horse. He'd also made somewhat of a friend in Thomas Hammond over morning prayer, finding him a man of obliging conscience and loose lips, having offered that Manchester was planning a response that day.

He was busy chasing a lead when the news came. "Taylor! Ensign Taylor!" Richard turned to see a young man weaving around a nearby team of engineers, his eyes on Richard, lungs working hard. He arrived a moment later, but took a few deep breaths before speaking again.

"It's Packer, sir. They're arresting him for failing to swear the Covenant."

In essence, The Solemn League and Covenant committed the swearer to a Presbyterian Church of England. The problem for Independents like Richard and Packer was that they weren't Presbyterians. They had no interest in being yoked to a national church filled with idolators, papists or sinners. They had no interest in swearing the oath.

"Where abouts, son?" Richard asked. The scout described a point behind lines about mid-way between the Ouse and Foss rivers, on the plain to the north of the camps, where the Independent cavalry had taken to meeting. He set his posture as if to run with Richard, but Richard shook his head.

"Find Lilburne. Have have him rally the others and bring him there."

He set off at a jog, Richard holding his colours near to the base of the flagpole so that they were visible from a great distance, and waving it around. A few Bradford men spotted him, and began to gather around him in rough lines and ranks, though they routinely had to thin out due to the chaotic tent and barricade city that was their camp, siegeworks and unfortunately, latrine.

Richard could tell as soon as he spotted the mass of gathered men that Packer's arrest had not been uncontested. Several hundred cavalrymen, probably the Ironsides Packer commanded, faced off against a larger number of infantry - mostly pike, but some muskets. Some few wounded were being ferried off on flaxen stretchers, but were soon away. There was perhaps sixty yards between the two sides as they squared off, though the Presbyterian infantry rested atop a hill with a shallow incline, much to their advantage. The infantry's formation's right flank was anchored to the camps of the besiegers, but their left was exposed. It appeared as if both sides were receiving some slow trickle of reinforcements, as more and more men across the camps learned what was happening, the partisans among them joining a side, the rest joining Richard in watching from the sidelines. A lone cavalryman rode up and down the line of mounted warriors, shouting out to them, his voice carrying well in the still midafternoon air.

"We did not start this war so that we could have a foreign church imposed upon us, nor to trade trade the tyranny of bishops for the precepts of presbyters.
It is beneath the dignity of England to accept a Scottish church, or a Scottish occupation! We are for an English church of English-make, a war won by English arms..."

Richard found that his jaw was clenched, and set it loose again. It was stupid. Parliament had barely been holding on before the Scottish entered the war, with Newcastle's army poised to march south and join that of King Charles. If the Independents were going to have a chance at victory, Parliament had to win the war against Charles first. And Parliament wouldn't win without the Scots. He set to try and identify the banners carried by the cavalry when he was interrupted by a Scottish accented voice.

"Taylor, report." The speaker was Hendrie Kerr, who since his battle promotion on the Moor had become captain of the Bradford company. As a Scottish officer to English men, he was exactly the sort of Scottish thumbprint on the English civil war that the Independents resented. But few in Bradford doubted his qualifications, his practiced voice having coordinated their counterattacks in the dark.

"My man says they've arrested Packer. The officer speaking right now is Henry Ireton, if I'm not mistaken. I don't know who this other group belongs to, but you can see them well enough. I suspect they don't want to risk dispersing so long as there are cavalry arrayed against them."

"They're with Crawford, Manchester's major general of foot. Word is that Crawford has been chomping at the bit to arrest Independent officers for months now, but Cromwell had been stopping him. With Cromwell gone, and Manchester free to consolidate his control, he's starting with examples. Officers he knows won't swear. Packer's on the shit list."

"Alright." Richard heard himself speak before he'd even finished thinking. "So we need to stop both. We need to stop Ireton from doing something he'll regret, and then we need to free Packer."

Hendrie looked at him expectantly, as if asking to be convinced. Richard and Hendrie had collected perhaps 60 men between them on their respective ways to the arrest site. They didn't have nearly enough troops to pose a threat to either side, making their negotiating position weak.

"I know what you're thinking, Hendrie, but it's not going to come to blows, not really. Ireton isn't stupid enough to actually start a fight, he just wants to intimidate Crawford. We'll prevent tempers from getting too hot. Besides, I sent the soldier who told me about the arrest to find Lilburne. We just need to buy the others time to arrive."

A stony glare. Another problem with interposing between the two armies was that it would place them firmly within effective musket range of both sides. They'd be sitting ducks.

"If there's a battle we can't lose it. If one of them attacks us, whoever doesn't will take us to be their allies and will reinforce us. Hendrie, if we don't do this, the army will destroy itself. We will lose the Scots, or we will lose the Independents. Don't let it come to that. Let Bradford stand for England again. Let us do this."

The stony glare continued, and in the quiet between them Henry Ireton's words cut through:

"We must not allow men of conscience to be mistreated for being true to their faith, and to God. We must free William Packer!" The Ironsides roared their approval in response, men standing up in their saddles in excitement. Richard thought he saw the Ireton's arm raise, as if to call a charge.

"Ok, Taylor. You win. They're not my people to risk." Hendrie said quietly, just to Richard, then much louder to address the troops, "Five by twelve!"

They went for it. Wanting to impose some sort of impediment to a developing fight as quickly as possible, the five-dozen Bradford boys who gathered around Richard or Hendrie formed ranks, and followed him and his colours as he made his way into the sixty yard no-man's land that existed between the two armies. As they marched out of the camps they quickly came to obstruct the right of the Presbyterians where it stood against the Independent left, coming to a halt about a third of the way into the space between the forces, the men all panting, their lone drummer starting to pound out a familiar beat.

No sooner had they stopped than had Henry Ireton rode up to meet them, flanked by a small group of horsemen.

"Ah, Bradford company," he called nonchalantly, as if unsurprised to see them occupy his battlefield. He didn't make any move to dismount or to speak privately, instead simply shouting to the entire Bradford group.

"I understand that you are now Lilburne's men? Since you are men of discerning conscience yourselves, perhaps you would like to better know who you serve? I happen to have with me a copy of Lilburne's recent battle report to Parliament." He made a show of retrieving a piece of paper from his breast pocket, unfolding it before him.

"He writes of your victory on the Moor: 'The Scots under Lord Maitland and the Earl of Lindsay were key in achieving our salvation, for everywhere they were assaulted, their stern wall of pike turned the Cavaliers back.' Even now so many learned men are gathered in Westminister, looking to the future of the Church of England. They gather word from all corners of the kingdom, seeking the good opinion of the faithful - what hope have we for our consciences to be respected if we require the salvation of the Scots? What-

"What hope do we have for our consciences to be respected if King Charles wins the war?" Richard interrupted. "We will have an easier time persuading Presbyterians than prelates."

"But they will not give us the chance! So long as we remain in his army, Manchester will seek to stifle the Independent faith through obliging the Covenant, as he has just now tried with lieutenant Packer, who would not so swear. But they do not only seek to crush us here, for even now Presbyterians talk in secret with Charles, intending to make a peace with him. A peace that will see our souls no safer than they were before we took up arms against Archbishop Laud!"

The tone of Ireton's voice shifted from heavy to cheerful, the man pivoting from stick to carrot.

"But you could help save us now! I know that Bradford is a place abound with proper Reformed men. We intend now to free William Packer, whereupon we will offer our arms to lord Ferdinando Fairfax, who is much more accommodating of the Godly. It would surely please God for his chosen people to work together. Join us if you would, and we will shape the future of England together."

Richard could have said anything. All he really needed to do was keep Ireton distracted, to buy more time for Lilburne's dragoons to arrive. Actual dragoons, he hoped, with horses.

"But what then, Ireton? Surely you must see that there is no victory to be had in this war without the Scots? Or do you suppose that it is an accident that the faithful of Britain have made common cause against bishops? Do you not see God's hand at play?"

"I see God's hand well at play, in striking down Cromwell so that he would not suffer the indignity of fighting further beside cowards."

"Is that where his hand lay, Ireton? Perhaps it did rather fall on John Lilburne," he said, pointing towards the camps, "who did rally the Ironsides and save us from defeat?"

Ireton opened his mouth to respond but broke off in a disgusted noise, taking notice of the camps, where a group of dragoons were now trotting onto the would-be battlefield, lead by Lilburne himself. Ireton seemed to shrink in his saddle as he retreated back to his line, his troops losing unity of purpose and discipline as the Dragoons of the Moor became their would-be enemies.

They had parried Ireton's blow; now to reverse Manchester's.


Lilburne's tent was small by the standards of an officer. A group of empty beer barrels covered by planks of wood made for a table, which was covered now in an assortment of Mercurius Britannicus broadsheets, written manuscripts and printed pamphlets. Lilburne himself sat at what might have been the head of a proper table, fresh parchment and pen arrayed before him, whilst a little over two dozen others were packed between the canvas walls, the officer staff of Lilburne's dragoons and those companies like Bradford that had become attached to it, as well as a few representatives from some of the more reasonable Independent troopers.

"What we need to do is knock the sword out of Manchester's hand entirely. We need to go above him, to the Committee of Both Kingdoms," one man had begun. Richard had heard the man called Sexby, and understood him to be something of Lilburne's second.

"To what end?" a second man interjected. "Manchester is only enforcing the rules set by Parliament, and the rules say the Solemn Oath and Covenant is mandatory. Manchester has every right to require it of his men, and clearly intends to do so. The Committee won't relent."

"No man hath a right to intrude on another's conscience," Lilburne chided softly, "though you speak accurately of his intentions. The difficulty Manchester faces is that without Cromwell to corral them for him, Manchester has lost his cavalry. They will not accept a leader imposed upon them, and so they themselves must first be replaced."

"Unless we present the Committee with an alternative, before Manchester can consolidate his control," Sexby added. "We have allies on the Committee. Henry Vane is as firm an ally as we may hope for, and will help us if we only given him opportunity. We must make it easy for him, for the Scots and Presbyterians surely won't."

"And does any man here have such an idea?" Lilburne asked.

Richard gave a nervous glance to Hendrie. Though he had long since thrown off the anxious shackles of youth in favour of the certainty of God's hand, he could not help but feel his nerves stir in Lilburne's presence. Richard's own copy of Lilburne's pamphlet Come out of her, my people lay on the table, making a case for an Independent church. He'd been a youth serving in the Dutch army when he'd bought it, then a reminder that England was not yet lost to popery, now an example of the godly realm that it may yet become. He took a half step forward and began to speak.

"To Henry Ireton, William Packer and many others, the Scots are the enemy." He paused for a moment to gauge the reaction, noting some glances suggesting that some present may just fall into 'many others.'

"Ireton did not fight in Germany. He did not fight for the Reformed Dutch against Imperial Spain; he did not march with the Lion of the North in the destruction of the Papists, nor make good the defence of the Protestant cause in Europe. He did not do these things. The Lord of Levan, Field marshal to Gustavus Adolphus and a son of Scotland did these things. Scottish sons, brothers and fathers fought and bled for God on the Continent. For my part, I believe contributions to the cause entitle them to their own church."

As planned, Hendrie took his own half-step forward and continued for the both of them, easily talking over some few voices of protest.

"I did not spend ten years fighting bishops on the Continent to come home to them, nor did any of the other sons of Scotland I served with. Yet we came home to bishops just the same. In that moment we came together as a nation and swore that the English church would never again threaten the Kirk. We swore than we might make the Church of England Presbyterian, so that its bishops might never work to repeal our Reformation."

"For all the calls against the Scots these past days, I forgive them for thinking that the Independents seek to destroy their church. I have heard such slurs that would not be fit but for Irish. Yet I am Independent, and I do rather feel that the Presbyterian church is to be yoked upon me. I say it fairly; to the Scots their religion, to we English ours. For each nation a church. This is nothing new, for it was said before these latest German wars, Cuius regio, eius religio. Whose realm, their religion. But I stand with John Pym in saying that the Commons are supreme, that this realm belong not to that man of blood, but to the English; that the Church will be ours, not his. And so long as I get my church, I will so swear to uphold the Scottish kirk, for I see that it is the will of the Scottish people. I will swear to stand with them against bishops, against popery and superstition, and for the Reformation, but I will not swear to make our church as theirs, for in keeping with my conscience I rather prefer a gathered church of the willing."

Much debate followed, the eventual consensus being that the Independents would seek to make an oath that would appeal to the Scottish desire for security in their church, whilst expanding upon the wiggle room that Henry Vane had worked into the Covenant. The result was an oath that borrowed much from the Solemn League and Covenant, but which emphasised the need for Reformation in England, but without necessary uniformity imposed.

The oath was drafted, refined and written in a fine hand before being signed by each of the officers present. This copy was to be circulated amongst the Independents and presented to Manchester, whilst another made their way from Lilburne's desk to Sexby's hands and then away to London.


Four days after the Battle of Marston Moor, on July 6, word of the defeat reached London via a ship from Hull. Not a fortnight before, word had reached the city that Sir William Waller's army had been defeated in a minor battle against the king, his army dissolving thereafter. In desperation, the Committee of Both Kingdoms had repeatedly ordered Captain-General Essex to return to face Charles' army; only when Essex received word of the defeat at Marston Moor did he finally relent on his march towards Cornwall, perceiving that he may be required to save London for a third year in a row.

The mood of London was one of panic and desperation, variably calling on the Scots to make a more valuable contribution to the war, condemning them for their ineffectual entrance to the war, and polite Presbyterian papers calling for patience, that Scotland might yet make itself a valuable ally. It was into this mood that the Free Oath of Scotland made its entrance to London.

In perhaps any other set of circumstances, the Free Oath may have been dismissed outright. Not only did it run contrary to the Presbyterian consensus that was developing both at Westminister and among the Committee, it technically stood in violation of Parliament's alliance with Scotland. The Free Oath did however have three advantages that made it politically popular in the moment.

Firstly, it would resolve the absence of leadership in the Independent cause by cementing John Lilburne's reputation as an Independent champion, though one who would work properly with Scots and Presbyterians. This allowed Manchester to detach his cavalry to help against the joint armies of Charles and Rupert, which were rumoured to be assembling not far from Oxford; Lieutenant General of the Horse John Lilburne would ride south.

Secondly, it kept the army of the Eastern Association together for logistical purposes. The Eastern Association army was the best supplied of the Parliamentary armies by virtue of the untouched nature of its constituent counties, the fighting not yet having reached East Anglia. An exodus of Independent troops to Ferdinando Fairfax's Northern Association would have strained its resources beyond their limit, whilst Manchester's mass of infantry would have been left as sitting ducks. Instead the Eastern Association army remained cohesive, and a capable fighting force.

Thirdly, it established the right of England and Scotland, as seperate nations, to have seperate churches, an argument that was well suited to English vanity, and which would be well exploited by the Welsh in their turn.
Last edited:
Looking forward to see more of the contents, and more of Freeborn John here.

Btw, "The Bloody Man" TL can be a great reference for people who like the English Civil War period. There are lots of interesting historical sources and materials in the footnotes there.
Last edited:
I have been thinking about Restoration again, and I came to the conclusion that Restoration could only be carried out by domestic forces from within. Given the situation faced by Spain and France and German states during the 1650s-1700s, none of them would not be able to invade and impose Restoration from without.
@NedStark: It really depends on what you consider forces within, and forces without. War exhaustion and better funded Royalist exiles will play key roles, though I will need to see how events play out in practice. Excepting Jamaica, my notes are less detailed the further from the 'present' in 1644 we get.
War exhaustion and better funded Royalist exiles will play key roles, though I will need to see how events play out in practice.
Almost everyone in Europe suffered from war exhaustion during the 1640s-1650s, and most a far worse way than England.

Who would fund those Royalist exiles?
- France: Franco-Spanish war, Fronde, Louis XIV's wars
- Spain: France's enemy, also, debt in eyeballs.
- German states: Thirty Years' War just ended not long ago - enough said. Also, too far away.
- Sweden: had neither interest nor capability to project power to Britain.

Now, about the Parliamentarians, one of the biggest change IOTL following the formation of the Republic was the substantial increase in taxation capability. Combined with solid trade and naval expansion policies and without a large army to prop up a military dictatorship, they should have done fine financially.

IOTL, the problem was the nature of Cromwell's military dictorship which depended too much on him as leader and also required maintaining a large land army on top of maintaining Europe's largest navy - which should not be a great issue ITTL.

It really depends on what you consider forces within, and forces without
Forces within: pro-Royalists in Britain. Time is against them - the longer the Commonwealth lasts, the weaker their influence would have become.

Forces without: exiled Royalists, and a hypothetical Continental power that could back them. Unfortunately, neither France and Spain were well-positioned to do so for the reasons I stated above - both had their hands full for most of the 17th century. Most importantly, they had no navy whatsoever (Prince Rupert's privateer group was not a navy). Finally, bringing foreign troops from a foreign Catholic power to England would have been exceedingly unpopular to English commons - this was the time when religion was a huge issue.
Last edited:
The West Country, 1644
In early July of 1644, the Royalists appeared to occupy a commanding position. Parliamentary defeats at Cropredy Bridge and Marston Moor had left their forces disorganised and demoralised, with commanders blaming one another for poor performance in the field rather than planning future actions. Illustrating Parliamentary disunity, both the Western Association army under William Waller and the main army under Captain-General Essex had ignored the commands of the Committee of Both Kingdoms until news of the defeat at Marston Moor had made its way south, after which they only reclutantly accepted mutual recall towards London. Simultaneously, Major-General Browne of the London militia resisted Waller's authority, and John Lilburne's Free Oath to Scotland only narrowly avoided the dissolution of the Eastern Association army.

The Royalists, by comparison, were following up on two strategic triumphs. Firstly, King Charles had successfuly extracted himself from the Midlands surrounding Oxford, evading the superior numbers of Waller and Essex to position himself in the borderlands with Wales. Secondly, the stalemate at Marston Moor ensured that the Northern Association army and Scots would remain outside of the southern theatre of the war, leaving the Royalist army under King Charles as a free agent, able to choose its next target.

Hosting a council of war at Worcester on July 7th, the same day that the Royal forces learned of Marston Moor, several campaigns were considered. A conservative campaign was suggested by a faction of moderates lead by Edward Hyde. At the council, Hyde argued that the war could never be concluded by force of arms. Rather than seeking to defeat the Parliamentarians in a decisive battle, a strategy that had produced the last two years of 'national tragedy' and had brought them no closer to peace, Hyde reasoned that it was best to prepare for a fresh round of peace negotiations in the winter whilst occupying as strong a position as possible. Advocating for the capture of Glocester and other Parliamentary holdouts in the West Country, the goal was to produce a continuous territory of Royalist control stretching from Wales to Cornwall, from which Royalist armies could march out of in confidence that their homes were safe, and through which supply lines could run uninterrupted.

A second much more aggressive plan was devised by George Digby, who advocated for an attack on the Parliamentary heartlands of East Anglia, the Home Counties, and the South-East. Digby reasoned that these counties provided a disproportionate amount of Parliament's manpower and resources, and that attacks against them would both harm soldier's confidence in the safety of their homes, and would see them go unpaid. Such a campaign would promote an atmosphere of fear in London, from which support for a peace would ferment.

King Charles, ever eager to keep his options open, opted for a campaign that mixed elements of both proposals: Prince Rupert would raid East Anglia to stoke fear and therefore support for peace in London, whilst Charles would defeat their Captain-General in battle and secure the West Country, before marching towards London. From that position of strength, they would negotiate Parliament's surrender.

Since this divided campaign would define the progress of the war in the latter half of 1644, it is worth discussing the factors which lead to it. Firstly, the reports of Marston Moor delivered at Worcester painted an inaccurate account of the battle. Delivered by several troopers from George Goring's cavalry, who had routed their opposite number under Thomas Fairfax and subsequently looted Parliamentary camps, they mistakenly believed that the Royalist victory was much more decisive than it was, eliminating the Eastern Association army as a cause for Royalist concern. Secondly, Queen Henrietta Maria was in Cornwall, recovering from the birth of a daughter on June 16th. Charles consistently placed a high value on the safety of his family, and was eager to intercept Essex before he might have an opportunity to capture his wife. Third was the animosity that existed between various Royalist advisors and supporters. Digby sought to keep Prince Rupert away from the main army, as in the German's absence he was able to wield considerably more influence over the king. By keeping Rupert's forces away in East Anglia, he aimed to be a lead negotiator in the hoped-for winter peace settlement.


Major actions in the southern theatre:

July 19th: The Earl of Essex finally receives word of the Battle of Marston Moor, and accepts the Committee of Both Kingdom's order that he recall towards London.

August 1st: The Battle of Glastonbury. Much as they had done just under two years before at Edgehill, the armies of King Charles and Captain-General Essex awoke to discover they had made camp just a few miles from one another; King Charles had expected Essex to be much further south-west down the peninsula, whilst Essex lacked recent reports of King Charles' whereabouts entirely, many of his scouts having been captured or killed by Cornishmen during his brief foray into the peninsula.

The forces at Glastonbury were roughly evenly matched with about 10,000 troops each, though the Royalists held the advantage in cavalry.

The morning began with skirmishes between the troops that were the first to wake up and make ready, before a sustained cavalry engagement began in which the Royalists gradually gained the upper hand. Fearing that a rout from his cavalry would leave his infantry exposed, Essex deployed his foot such that their rear and left were covered by the local wetlands, before ordering his cavalry to retreat from the battle to instead keep the way back to Taunton clear. Though initially hot in pursuit, much of the Royalist cavalry broke off to loot the Parliamentary camps, giving the Parliamentary cavalry time to regroup and begin to defeat smaller detachments of Royalist horse that sought to chase them off.

What followed was an afternoon of infantry fighting in which commander of Parliamentary foot Philip Skippon was seen wherever the fighting was thickest, drawing on the trained band's London roots, declaring "If London is to be saved, we must first save ourselves." The foot resisted successive waves of Royalist assaults, inflicting heavy casualties which worked to eventually end the battle after the Welsh company tasked with the next assault refused the order, one Lieutenant Morgan questioning "Will English lust for Welsh blood never be quenched?"

Taking advantage of the Royalist infighting, Essex managed to punch through the Royalist line and lead an orderly withdrawal from the battlefield. Although harassed for the first 5 miles on the way back to Taunton, the good order of the Parliamentary cavalry convinced their opposite number to retire.

The casualty report of Glastonbury told the tale of a Parliamentary victory, with some 600 royalists dead or captured to Parliament's 200. Yet strategically, Glastonbury was another defeat for Parliament; rather than successfully extracting himself from the Peninsula and blocking the way towards London, Essex was soon to be besieged in Taunton.

August 3rd: The Royalist siege of Taunton begins.

August 6th: Sir William Balfour leads a breakout of 2500 cavalry, running racing east in order to link up with anticipated Parliamentary reinforcements.

August 9th: The besiegers at Taunton are reinforced by Prince Maurice's army from further down the peninsula, bringing the besieging army's total to approximately 16,000 men.

September 13th: Under the cover of night, a majority of Taunton's besiegers follow King Charles east. On the 15th of September they intercept an army under William Waller intended to relieve the defenders of Taunton at Sparkford. Although most of Parliament's cavalry escape in the resultant rout, the majority of the Parliamentary infantry are captured, including William Waller himself. Leaving 6000 men at Taunton under Prince Maurice to keep Essex bottled up, Charles continues east towards Reading and London, although his progress is slowed by Parliamentary cavalry.

October 3: The Royalist siege of Reading by King Charles' army begins.

October 20: Reading falls to the Royalist besiegers. A delegation is sent to London, proposing peace talks.
Last edited:
Map, late 1644
Hi folks,

I've had less time to write this week, so you may notice that the content is shorter than usual and with a different style. I'm still experimenting with things, since I felt that my pacing was a bit slow and I wanted to cover ground more quickly.

I'll aim to catch up with Richard some time this weekend, but I'll leave you for now with a map showing the state of the war in late 1644, possibly subject to change:


  • Late16442.png
    142.5 KB · Views: 158
The Battle at King's Lynn
George Goring stood impatiently, his head swimming from a pain behind his eyes, as his men set about their work casting off from the west bank of the Great Ouse. Some nine-hundred of his men were aboard a collection of commandeered river barges, ferries, small merchantmen and hastily constructed rafts, variably poling or rowing into the 600ft wide river in a bid to finally catch the Parliamentary ships that had delayed his crossing for nearly sixteen hours.

It was infuriating. He had spent the entire march south reminding Rupert that he had won his own flank at Marston Moor, whilst the German and Lord Byford had lost theirs - that he had earned his command twice over. It was only right that he command Newcastle's horse, who he'd already lead to victory once. But just a few written sentences from the king put the foreigner in command, on a charge to "Raid, harry, disrupt or otherwise hinder" the counties which constituted Parliament's Army of the Eastern Association, "in any way whichsoever is advantageous to the King's cause, and which offers detriment to the enemy."

He'd seen Rupert's interpretation of the king's orders as they'd crossed Lincolnshire, and he wasn't impressed. The Parliamentarian gentry of the land they carved through handed over supplies with murderous glares and cold voices, rather than with screams of terror. Militias had gathered in not a small few parishes, sending off looters with wounds and fallen comrades before their own inevitable deaths when the looters returned with reinforcements. Soldiers slept in tents when farmhouses were free but for tenant farmers, and manors had their wealth merely confiscated rather than burned, as if they were subjects in good standing being taxed and not traitors. And the beer ration - it was barely enough to wet a man's lips, let alone quench his thirst. It was no way to treat the soldiers, no way to reward them for their loyalty to the king or to inspire them to acts of bravery.

Only five days prior, with news of a Parliamentary army of unknown size in close pursuit, did Rupert finally relent and grant him his own command. He was to take three thousand horse and ravage East Anglia. He'd relished the moment, soon exhorting his men to "relieve the Puritans of the notion that they are God's chosen." They'd already be about their work across the river, if not for those whoreson sailors.

Three ships had arrived yesterday afternoon, and had almost immediately begun to secure the surrender of his almost empty riverboats and barges as they'd disembarked their men and horses and crawled back across the water to the west bank, the impressed ferrymen aboard looking to the new arrivals as their saviours. He'd lost six vessels that way, before he was able to send boarding parties to prevent the loss of more; the ship captains were cowards though, catching the wind and floating away each time any of Goring's men came close enough to climb aboard. He'd lost perhaps a hundred men over his three such attempts as cannonballs dashed vessels apart or swords and muskets threw boarders back, though he thought that some of his men might have swum to safety upon the other shore, joining those few who had already made it across. His men had managed to capture the smallest of the three Parliamentary vessels on that last attempt, but its store of powder had ignited on its way to Goring's camp on the riverbank, killing all aboard and burning some men nearby. After that failure he'd attempted a night crossing, but his enemy had set vessels filled with pitch on fire upon the river, illuminating his attempt and catching at least half of the men so sent.

None of that would happen this time. This time he'd sought to surround his enemy, launching vessels from upstream, downstream and parallel simultaneously. He'd even waited nearly four hours for the wind to die down, becalming the one enemy vessel that remained, the other having disappeared between the night crossing attempt and dawn. Since his own men were propelled predominantly by pole or oar, they could not help but catch their quarry.

As they crawled across the gap between them and their quarry, rowstroke by rowstroke, he tried to swallow his nausea. The river's current had done nothing to help it, his feet feeling as if they were a foot out of line with his head. He thought of Rupert, and the shame of an English war being lead of a foreigner. He thought of Marston Moor, and how his victory had been squandered. He thought of the riches of East Anglia just waiting to be reaped by he and his men, of next meeting King Charles as a conquering hero. His heart began to beat faster, his thoughts resolving into the clear focus of battle. Of the work to be done. Of killing.

"The first man on deck gets to tap the next keg," he bellowed to a roar of approval as the ferry that bore him came up alongside the Parliamentary vessel at the same time as two others. Immediately he had a makeshift grapple to hand, a bent tentpole tied to a length of rope. It felt right as he twirled and released it, the metal weight landing upon the deck and catching the ship's railing as he pulled it taught. He set about climbing the eight feet onto the deck, confident that his men would be right behind him, but not truly caring. His muscles cried out with the strain and he moved hand-over-hand, his ankles shuffling up the rope, but it was nothing his well-built from couldn't handle.

He unsheathed his sword with his right hand as soon as he grabbed the ship's railing with his left, before bringing his head above deck with a final muscular effort, only to immediately duck to dodge the thrust of a sailor's sword. Rising once more he put his sword ahead of his face, catching the sailor's next attack and turning it aside. Thrusting forward with his own blade to win himself space, he climbed atop the railing and brought his blade down in a wide arc, the sailor's own attempt at a parry caving, his own sword hitting him before Goring's did.

Stepping onto the deck, Goring marched two paces aft to cut down at a man attempting to remove another boarder's grapple, offering his hand to the soldier as he finished his climb. Turning to face the deck, he saw a trio of men levy their muskets - and yanked hard, bringing his man between himself and the enemy's shots, the man screaming in pain as lead met his body. Letting the man collapse, Goring closed the gap with the musketeers. One drew a pistol, but Goring slashed at the man's hand, fingers and firearm clattering to the deck in a spray of blood that he felt carried into his face with too much force. The two other men tried to step forward at the same time, each in the other's way; Goring stepped nimbly to his right before making three quick strikes that ended both of them, neither man's blade readied for fear of hitting the other.

He took a moment to observe the developing battle, noting that perhaps a third of the men on deck were now his own, though he did not see any more grapnels. He quieted a voice in his head that told him something was wrong by dancing once more into a melee, though to his surprise this new opponent's swordwork much better than that of his peers before him.

"General Goring," the man said, each word in time with a thrust of his blade. The lack of 'Lord' irked him, as it was meant to. It irked him even more that he let it. It wouldn't have bothered him if the damned pain between his eyes would go away.

"Nice of you to finally make an appearance. The captives did say that you'd come to tear the captain's head off."

Goring laughed in response, his full belly shaking.

"Did they say what I'd do to the corpse?" He kept his tone jovial, but his grin spoke of death.

He watched his opponent, hoping for a flinch or - there it was, hesitation. Goring lunged, a single step with blade outreached - only to slip, the deck shifting beneath him, his weight unbalanced. He'd lunged too far, too close. The man took a small step of his own, slipped his blade near to the base of Goring's own and, with a twist of his wrist, flung the sword from Goring's hand.

The deck had moved. The grappling lines were gone. The blood spray was off.

The ship was moving, no longer becalmed. Had not been becalmed for a while, in fact. He turned to face the fore of the ship, to see where it was sailing.

It wasn't right. He'd already boasted that he'd put the King back in King's Lynn, a line that had gone well with both the men and the camp followers. It was supposed to be the first jewel he seized. He sat down and then lay on his back, finally giving in to the pain behind his eyes.

On the 12th of August, 1644, approximately 2700 cavalry serving under George Goring were intercepted by 7000 cavalry commanded by John Lilburne near King's Lynn in Norfolk. Lilburne's cavalry were able to catch Goring's forces before they crossed the Great Ouse due to the efforts of one captain Thomas Rainsborough of the third-rate ship Swallow, with the aid of two smaller vessels. The Swallow had made berth at King's Lynn on the 9th of August as a part of Rainsborough's ongoing effort to recruit a regiment of infantry, and therefore the Parliamentary vessels were packed with well-armed albeit largely green marines, in addition to their complement of sailors.

Thanks to the efforts of the Swallow, many of the soldiers serving under Goring had been awake for more than twenty four hours, having worked through the night either constructing rafts or attempting a crossing. Further, they had been beset by a series of disasters, with more than a hundred of their number drowned, stabbed, burned or captured in failed attempts to clear the Parliamentary blockade, including George Goring himself. By the time the Parliamentary cavalry arrived the Royalist soldiers were already demoralized, exhausted, and without leadership. Though the battle itself lasted just ten minutes before the Royalists began to surrender, it took John Lilburne another half hour to slow the slaughter, by which time a little over 300 of Goring's troopers remained alive on the west bank of the river.

Almost immediately, competing narratives of the violence began to emerge. The Parliamentary newsbook Mercurius Britannicus reported on August 15th that "Those who had done much to sow death and despair did reap their just harvest", elaborating on the atrocities committed by Rupert's army on its progress through Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. Having reportedly killed ten thousand on their march and left Boston "empty but for corpses and wailing widows", a number of the dead had also been hung from trees, branded and mutilated in the fashion of the Puritans mutilated by Archbishop William Laud.

Whilst a closer examination of parish death records accounts for a much more conservative 600 killed by Rupert's host, this historiographic oversight obfuscates the real feelings of terror experienced by the parliamentary troops. Tales of the worst atrocities encountered by Lilburne's scouts had circulated throughout the army, with many of the victims being friends, family or neighbours of the Parliamentary troopers. Moreover, the Royalist army represented a continued threat to their properties, loved ones, and the Parliamentary cause to which their consciences and political futures were dependent. Nevertheless, the killing of over 2000 Englishmen in what approached cold blood represented a significant escalation in the violence of the civil war, with such summary executions having been previously reserved for the Irish.

The competing narrative penned by John Birkenhead of the Royalist newsbook Mercurius Aulicus was that Parliament sought to make excuses for the massacre after the fact, stating that Parliament "...Would look to their wardrobes and under their beds for the bloody deeds of King's men, but not even to their own fingernails for the gore that yet sat beneath them." In the weeks after the battle, the Royalists saw an uptick in recruitment, particularly among counties in which Catholics and Arminians were overrepresented, such as Lancashire and Herefordshire.

Despite its controversy, King's Lynn represented one of the most significant Parliamentary victories of 1644 to date, second only to William Waller's victory at Cheriton back in March. It would both shape the nature of Rupert's campaign to come, and would have a significant role to play in the peacetalks of the winter of 1644/5.
Nevertheless, the killing of over 2000 Englishmen in what approached cold blood represented a significant escalation in the violence of the civil war, with such summary executions having been previously reserved for the Irish.
"You dare to treat us, proper Englishmen, as if we were Irish!? You, sir, have crossed a line! War to the knife, to the hilt it is, then!"

Oh dear, this is going to become the English Uncivil War...

Very interesting timeline! Nice mix of PoV accounts and historical records.
"You dare to treat us, proper Englishmen, as if we were Irish!? You, sir, have crossed a line! War to the knife, to the hilt it is, then!"

Oh dear, this is going to become the English Uncivil War...

Very interesting timeline! Nice mix of PoV accounts and historical records.
Also, that would make perfect propaganda for the Parliamentarians for the years to come, and should make Royalist/Restoration cause much more unpopular than IOTL. They had really crossed the line here.