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The Battle of Marston Moor

  • The English Civil War
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

A decisive battle of The First English Civil War, the this engagement happened on July 2, 1644. The 22,500-man Parliamentarian Army of Earls Manchester and Fairfax, were aligned with The Scots. The Royalist Army of Prince Rupert numbered 17,000. Advancing to North Yorkshire, near Marston Moor, the Royalists arrayed themselves in line of battle. Noting the Moors drainage system was close to their right positions, this would serve as a natural obstacle to the approaching enemy cavalry. On their left, The Royalists had some 2,100 cavalry and musketeers would hold the line. The remainder of The Royalists forces (center), were combined infantry forces. In addition they deployed 14 cannon. Heavy rains and muddy grounds would no doubt hinder the Royalists. A crack of thunder erupted - and so did the advance of The Parliamentarian forces!

 


Rushing the Royalist line, the Rebels pushed back the enemy cavalry quite effectively. The infantry had been ordered to make use of the previously mentioned drainage ditch and to "choose and mark their targets". This order was NOT carried out. The infantry commander rashly decided to counter via a charge into the Rebels. The charge effectively stopped the Royalists from being able to use their musketeers and artillery (afraid of hitting their own men). A young Rebel cavalry officer named Oliver Cromwell - took advantage of this confusion and set his forces to attacking the Royalist cavalry positions. Pushing them back, the Rebels allies - The Scots, captured 4 artillery pieces (no doubt the guns were turned on their previous owners).

 


The Royals desperately tried to hold their center - pushing The Scots back as best they could. The Scots (perhaps too full of sport), ended in getting cut off from their Rebel support. The Royal cavalry rushed into them (backed up by infantry support). The hand to hand combat was bloody. The Scots withdrew after several hours. Cromwell launched again into what appeared to be a Royalist rally. A final massive charge against the Royalist left was the trick. The Royal lines fell. All that was left of Royalist resistance was Lord Newcastle's "White Company". The Company of infantry stood firm against the Rebel 700 man assault. They too, finally fell. The Battle was lost.

 


Some 4,000 Royalists fell in battle and 1,500 captured. The Rebels claimed only 300 dead. Historian agree that this figure was suspiciously low (and may have been Parliamentarian propaganda). The effects of Marston Moor would be widely felt. The Royalist now lost access to Northern England and the needed  sea ports for Winter.