It was the fight for York which took place on July 2, 1644, in the English Civil War. The Marston Moor battlefield was a boggy territory, 11 km to the west from York.The parliamentary army headed by the military lords besieged York to crash William Cavendish, the royal commander occupying the York territory. York was strategically important for Charles I. The loss of York would involve losing the royalist troops surrounded there. Moreover, for the roundheads their victory would mean liberation and reunion with their fellow squads. It was the King’s fear that the puritan army would grow into a united body with irresistible power.
The nephew of Charles I, Prince Rupert, was entrusted with a mission to liberate York. In a field battle, he had to defeat the adversary forces around the strategic town. Rupert’s troops approached York on July 1. His skillful maneuver forced the roundheads into retreating to the west after abandoning the siege. After William Cavendish’s soldiers joined the offensive army, Rupert forwarded to Marston Moor where the parliamentary forces headed by Oliver Cromwell were concentrated.
The roundheads counted 27,000 soldiers, the royalists were less numerous – only 17,000 warriors. Although the parliamentary army was dominant, it was the horse cavalry that served as an assault force. The noble soldiers of the royal cavalry were used to riding from early childhood, which gave the King a great advantage. Cromwell had to develop his cavalrymen from scratch.
The battle array was similar in the both armies. Infantry was in the centre, cavalry formed the flanks. In the Marston Moor battle, Oliver Cromwell himself was on the right flank with a squad of Scottish horsemen.
In previous battles, Prince Rupert’s horsemen had smashed the roundhead cavalrymen more than once. But Cromwell armed the cavalry squads with 5-meter spears, which proved to be his victorious tactics. Rupert’s troops had already become poorly disciplined, and Cromwell instructed his soldiers to attack individual royalist targets.
At the same time, the royalist squads were unable to rearrange quickly and resume a fight at the same day after being defeated. Cromwell’s troops had already acquired such skill. They acted as an integral military unit constantly awaiting new orders.
After an artillery duel, the battle was commenced. The rain impaired the cavalrymen’s assaults. Nevertheless, Cromwell’s horsemen attacked Rupert’s forces. Rupert reversed the tide of the battle for a short time, and Cromwell was wounded in the neck. Then the Scottish cavalry squad led by Lesley defeated the flank of Rupert. Meanwhile, Cromwell swiftly rearranged the battle array and after a series of attacks, he obviously defeated the royalists.
4 thousand royalist soldiers were killed and 1500 were captured in that battle. The parliamentary losses counted up to 1500 soldiers. Marston Moor was the first Cromwell’s victory which resulted in conquering the entire Northern part of England.