Cromwell's orders to his commanders were urgent once news of the King's march south was confirmed. Leaving forces to take Stirling, Cromwell sent Lambert with 4,000 cavalry to move rapidly into England with the object of attacking the royalist army in column of march. In England itself, the New Model was being reinforced by local levies, as the need to prevent the King from reaching London grew more apparent. Charles skirted the government garrison in Carlisle and entered Penrith on 8 August, whilst Edward Massey rode on in advance to try to whip up recruits for the army. The bitterness within the royalist army, between Scots and old cavaliers, was chronic, and Massey, politically and religiously a Presbyterian, was unable to draw in recruits to a King so obviously under the thumb of the Scottish Covenanters. Lancashire was entered, and the earl of Derby forsook his fortified Isle of Man to join the King and begin recruiting, aided by Sir Thomas Tyldesley and Lord Widdrington, prominent former cavaliers. On 15 August Charles entered Wigan and moved on to Warrington, where the lack of recruits and the morale of the Scots decided him to set aside the march on London for the time being. Instead, he began to move down the Welsh borderland, potentially full of recruits, but Shrewsbury held out against him and he entered Worcester with few additions to his army on 22 August. The government garrison had fled.
Back in Lancashire, Derby and his newly formed forces were caught in a brisk action at Wigan Lane on 25 August, which saw the destruction of the royalist force and the deaths of Tyldesley and Widdrington. Derby himself escaped, wounded, to join the King in Worcester with news of his failure. He found things in a bad state. Edward Massey, whose fame in the Gloucester area was real enough, still found it impossible to add more than a mere handful of recruits to the army, the local royalists either cowed by the government or lacking means to arm themselves. Suspicion of the Scots was significant. The government's forces, meanwhile, had come together at Warwick on 24 August, Cromwell and Lambert moving on Evesham which was entered on the 27th. On the 28th, Lambert advanced to take the bridge across the River Severn at Upton, so that the government troops would have command of both sides of the river in their move on Worcester. Although Massey had prudently ordered the demolition of the bridge, the river was still negotiable, and the Scots stationed there were surprised and then repulsed. Now reinforced by troops sent from Shipston by Charles Fleetwood, the government forces drove off Massey and his men, and secured the crossing. Artillery was now moved into position to bombard the city, which held a strong defensive position (as the royalist garrison during the first civil war had demonstrated). Although Cromwell's army must have been at least 30,000 strong by now, as opposed to the King's 12,000 or so, the problem for the government troops lay in breaking through the natural advantages that the royalists enjoyed in the terrain. Charles Fleetwood and Cromwell were to lead two attacks, the latter from the east, the former from the west if he could manage to cross the River Teme. Lambert was ordered to forage for boats up and down the Severn with which to make a bridge across the Severn near Teme's mouth to link Fleetwood and Cromwell in the ensuing attack, and a second bridge was thrown across the Teme itself. The royalist garrison did little to
hinder this work, although on 31 August a sortie from the city aimed at the government artillery on the Red Hill and perhaps also at the bridge of boats, failed after it was betrayed to the government commanders by a tradesman within the city, who was hanged. Nothing further was attempted on the bridges.
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