siege of colchester


  • Following the success of the battle to clear the town’s suburbs, on 16 July Fairfax sent a trumpeter with a message offering surrender terms to the Royalists inside the town.

  • Colchester found itself in the thick of the unrest when a Royalist army on its way through East Anglia to raise support for the King, was attacked by Lord-General Thomas Fairfax
    at the head of a Parliamentary force.

  • He received a letter from Langdale, the Northern Royalist army commander, encouraging the Essex men and promising relief within two weeks.

  • The Parliamentarians’ initial attack forced the Royalist army to retreat behind the town’s walls, but they were unable to bring about victory, so they settled down to a siege.

  • The Suffolk men were taken by surprise and were routed; in their enthusiasm, however, the Royalists found themselves too far from the town and were counter-attacked and suffered
    severe casualties, as well as losing the artillery and provisions they had taken with them.

  • Colchester had been a staunch supporter of Parliament during the First English Civil War and any sympathy with the Royalist army soon vanished as the soldiers seized provisions
    from the town’s people.

  • Fairfax’s decision was despite the loyalty of the town to Parliament during the First Civil War.

  • His thinly spread men were soon reinforced when six companies of horse and dragoons arrived and when the Suffolk Trained Bands, who Norwich had expected to join the Royalists,
    instead joined the Parliamentary side.

  • An attempt by two cavalry troops to break out on the night of 18 July also failed.

  • [1] Even though the Royalists still had 3,000 soldiers, Fairfax’s position was too strong, and with almost daily reinforcements his forces totalled at least 6,000.

  • The siege of Colchester occurred in the summer of 1648 when the Second English Civil War reignited in several areas of Britain.

  • However, on 22 July, Bernard Gascoigne and his remaining cavalry escaped from Colchester via the Maldon road, fighting a fierce engagement with Parliamentary forces, and headed
    into Cambridgeshire, where they dispersed.

  • Fairfax refused to allow the townspeople to leave or even to let supplies in to them, despite repeated petitions from outside the town, pleas from Colchester Town council,
    and even from Lord Norwich.

  • On the night of 14 July, Fairfax ordered an attack on the Royalist fortification that lay outside the town walls.

  • Fairfax continued to attack and it was not until midnight that he finally called a halt and had to resign himself to the failure to take the town by storm.

  • Fairfax could expect detachments of the New Model Army to be sent to him as and when they became available.

  • Lucas continued to Colchester, arriving on 12 June, where he intended to raise more troops before continuing to Suffolk and then Norfolk, hopefully to raise those counties
    in support of the King.

  • Despite the horrors of the siege, the Royalists resisted for eleven weeks and only surrendered following the defeat of the Royalist army in the North of England at the Battle
    of Preston (1648).

  • Norwich was negotiating with the Suffolk men and knew that the Scots and Langdale’s Northern Royalist army were fighting for the Royalist cause, and that Earl of Holland,
    the commander of the Royalist forces in the South of England, was attempting to muster a relief force.

  • The first priority for Fairfax was to secure the town from outside relief as well as excursions by the trapped men.

  • The next day Lucas marched with what was now a total force of around 4,000 troops to Braintree where the county magazine was located.

  • The claims were that Lucas had executed Parliamentary prisoners in cold blood; that he had broken his parole given after the First Civil War; and that the Royalists had continued
    to fight in an indefensible position, thus causing unnecessary death and suffering.

  • In the battle he had lost between 500 and 1,000 men while recorded Royalist losses were 30 men and two officers.

  • The gates were opened and the victorious Parliamentary regiments entered the town with Lord-General Fairfax at their head.

  • The Suffolk men were actually more concerned about preventing either side from spreading destruction into their county and in recognition of this Fairfax gave them the task
    of guarding the bridges across the River Colne to the north and east.

  • Barkstead’s pursuing men followed in through the gates, until a well planned counter-attack by Royalist infantry and cavalry routed them.

  • The battle The Royalists defended their position by placing troops on the outskirts of the town on Maldon Road, from where the Parliamentary army was approaching.


Works Cited

[‘1. The Civil War.
2. ^ Jump up to:a b Williamson 1955, p. 175.
3. ^ Alchin 2013.
4. ^ Putting the “dump” in Humpty Dumpty.
2. Alchin, Linda (2013). The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes. Neilson. ISBN 978-0-9567486-1-4.
3. “The Civil War”.
Boxted Village Website. Boxted Village. Archived from the original on 14 October 2006. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
4. “Putting the “dump” in Humpty Dumpty”. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
5. Williamson,
Hugh Ross (1955). Who Was the Man in the Iron Mask? and Other Mysteries. New York: Penguin.
Photo credit:’]