The English Civil War: July 1643
Parliamentary agents in Newark sent messages to the Parliament assuring it of the town's crumbling determination to resist the siege and it would likely fall if pressed hard. The town leaders in Manchester sent messages to Parliament assuring it of its continued loyalty despite recent setbacks in the area for the cause of liberty from tyranny and justice for the people.
Having amassed a sufficiently large force, the Earl of Essex determined to strike a large blow at the King, marching on Oxford. However, the King evaded the blow and leaving only a small garrison in the city, retreated northwards and based himself upon Banbury. He immediately called for help from Prince Rupert, who left his small contingent of Foot to garrison Gloucester and brought his Horse to Banbury to join the King. Essex began laying siege to Oxford once again.
In the Midlands, Wark moved to Newark to take command of the Parliamentary forces besieging that place. He ordered Groby to join him, but despite this, Newark's small garrison resolutely refused to surrender! Vasey remained static, training his Horse. Wark was later dismissed for his refusal to negotiate with the Scottish government.
In the South, Hopton moved to Newbury to begin recruiting a new force. Bedford continued his slow advance into the Southwest, this time taking control of Barnstaple and depriving the King of the use of its port. Cromwell returned to Chlemsford from Wycombe in order to resume further recruiting in the Parliamentary heartlands. Hampden continued his siege of Basing. A levy is made around St. Albans in the Parliamentary cause and hasty defences are thrown up around that town.
In the North, Ethyin moved south from Newcastle to York in order to begin recruiting a new army. Fairfax was occupied in training his new recruits from the Leeds area. Brereton moved forward to Chester and began to besiege it. Preston finally fell to Cavendish.
In Wales and the West, Waller resumed his advance from South Wales, taking Ross-on-Wye and Hereford then moving on to Worcester.
Right at the end of the month came the news that King Charles had left his army in Banbury under the command of Prince Rupert and had moved back to Shrewsbury! Rumour has it that although the King wanted to lead the next operations in person, Princes Rupert and Maurice have convinced the King that the next fighting is likely to be even more desperate and that it was not the place of the King to be first onto the ramparts....
Newcastle at Carlisle with c.1000 Foot and 3000 Horse
Cavendish at Preston with c.4000 Foot and 3000 Horse
Eythin at York with c.2000 Foot
Fairfax at Leeds with c.3000 Foot and 1000 Horse
Forth (and King Charles) at Shrewsbury with c.6000 Foot
Vasey at Stafford with c.1000 Foot and 5000 Horse
c.1000 Foot in garrison at Gloucester
Prince Rupert at Banbury with c.8000 Foot and 7000 Horse
Groby and Meldrum besieging Newark with c.8000 Foot and 3000 Horse
Waller at Worcester with c.3000 Foot and 2000 Horse
c.2000 Foot in garrison at Oxford
Goring with c.3000 Foot at 1000 Horse
Essex with c.12000 Foot and 5000 Horse besieging Oxford
c.1000 Foot garrisoning St. Albans
c.1000 Foot garrisoning London
Hampden with c.3000 Foot besieging Basing
c.1000 Foot garrisoning Reading
Bedford with c.5000 Foot and 3000 Horse at Barnstaple
Cromwell with c.2000 Foot at Chelmsford
Essex's bold stroke was perhaps deserving of more success, but it was hard not to see it coming and the King duly evaded it. The King's departure from his main field army was much more of a surprise but although it may mean that the King is hoping to switch his main offensive to the Midlands, it is more likely to mean that the Royalist Army is preparing its boldest stroke yet - an attempt to seize London!
Very little happened in the rest of the country, as most of the armies were concentrating on training and recruiting. Goring must surely be brought to battle soon by Bedford in Cornwall, whilst Prince Rupert's departure from Gloucester has given Waller much more freedom of manoeuvre in the West Country.