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Worcester, battle of

Worcester, battle of, 1651. In July 1650 Charles II landed in Scotland and was crowned at Scone on 1 January 1651. But finding his army outflanked by Cromwell, he moved south in August, making for the old royalist strongholds of Wales and the west midlands. Cromwell pursued him with an army almost twice the size of his own, and caught up with him at Worcester. The royalists dug in, cutting all the bridges except that between the city and the suburb of St John to the west. Cromwell's response was to bring up barges from Upton to the south and construct pontoon bridges over the Severn and the Teme. He attacked on 3 September, the anniversary of his great victory over the Scots at Dunbar. Charles II conducted operations with considerable skill from the tower of the cathedral and a counter-attack to the east of the city made some progress. But in the end, superior numbers prevailed and his army was wiped out as a fighting force. Charles was swept out of Worcester to the north and began his extraordinary escape. In his report of the battle, Cromwell wrote, ‘it is, for aught I know, a crowning mercy’. Thus the civil wars ended near Powick bridge, where they had started nine years before.

J. A. Cannon

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