War in Wales and the Borders

After raising the royal standard at Nottingham, the King marched to Derby where he received word that Shrewsbury was ready to receive him. He reached the town on 20 September, began recruiting there, and established a royal Mint, North Wales was fairly solidly royalist, and contributed largely to the royal army which fought at Edgehill in October, whilst in South Wales the marquess of Worcester and his clients proved diligent in their efforts on the King's behalf, efforts which were enhanced by a visit of Prince Charles to Raglan Castle. On 12 October the King left Shrewsbury and marched to Bridgnorth en route to the confrontation with the earl of Essex at Edgehill. In South Wales, the royalists recruited heavily, money being provided by the marquess of Worcester without restraint and on 4 November an army under the marquess of Hertford advanced on Hereford, held by the Parliament. Turning aside, the royalists moved on Tewkesbury, where they were broken by the earl of Stamford on 16 November. The fugitives escaped back into Wales. On 27 November, however, Hertford moved against Hereford once more and, although again beaten, Hereford was abandoned and the county fell into royalist hands. In North Wales, the royalists held firm control, and Chester was a garrison city, so that Wales was protected by a chain of fortified points along its border. Only Pembroke and Tenby remained in Parliamentarian hands, although Chester was threatened by a strong parliamentary party within its county. On 28 January the royalists were routed at Nantwich, which place was then garrisoned and fortified by Sir William Brereton, but Welsh troops poured into Chester itself to strengthen it. On 21 February at Tarporley there was a drawn action, and on 13 March forces from Chester were defeated in an attempt on Middlewich.

From the south of Wales, meanwhile, an attempted advance on Gloucester by royalist forces had been halted with heavy losses in the Forest of Dean, but the advance was pressed and they came to Highnam where Sir William Waller and the Gloucester garrison made short work of them on 24 March. Waller advanced into Wales, taking Chepstow and Monmouth, then turned back for Gloucester, defeating an attempt to stop him at Little Dean. Waller turned on Hereford, summoning it on 25 April and, after a brief storm, the city surrendered. Lord Capel, royalist commander in the north, reported Cheshire quite overrun, and the border country was under severe parliamentarian pressure. On 11 June Sir Thomas Myddleton became Parliament's Major General for North Wales, and a positive parliamentarian campaign was likely. Nevertheless, for most of the summer of 1643 no heavy fighting occurred in Wales or on its borders, the real seat of war being elsewhere in England. Myddleton arrived finally at Nantwich on 10 August, and after an excursion into Staffordshire with Brereton to besiege Eccleshall Castle, the parliamentary army moved into Shropshire and took Wem on 11 September, which became their headquarters and only garrison in the county. In South Wales, however, the royalist earl of Carbery reduced Tenby to obedience and began to muster local forces at Haverfordwest, encountering little or no resistance. With Myddleton and Brereton occupied around Wem, Lord Capel, royalist commander in the north, proposed an attack on Nantwich, failing which, on 17 October, he moved towards Wem but was driven off by a token garrison under Colonel

Mytton. On the 18th the retreating royalist army was caught at Lee Bridge on its way to Shrewsbury by Brereton and severely beaten. On 7 November the parliamentary forces left Nantwich and marched on Holt, being reinforced by detachments from Lancashire on their way. Holt town fell, but the castle held, and the parliamentarians went on to take Wrexham, Hawarden, Flint, Mold and Holywell, summoning Denbigh. On 18 November, however, royalist reinforcements from the army in Ireland landed at Mostyn, the parliamentarians retreated and Hawarden came under siege. Myddleton and Brereton abandoned their gains and fell back precipitately on Nantwich, whilst their Cheshire garrisons fell one by one into royalist hands.

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