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"Why no "Battle of Wycombe"?" Topic


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Last Hussar12 Aug 2023 3:13 p.m. PST

High Wycombe is at the halfway point between Oxford and London, slightly less than 30 miles from each. The road, which is now the M40, runs between the two, and this is the gap in the Chilterns, either side of the road the ground rises.

Given this, why did Royalist and Parliament forces not continually skirmish, if not down right Battle, near here?

All I can find is a small raid.

Last Hussar12 Aug 2023 3:13 p.m. PST

High Wycombe is at the halfway point between Oxford and London, slightly less than 30 miles from each. The road, which is now the M40, runs between the two, and this is the gap in the Chilterns, either side of the road the ground rises.

Given this, why did Royalist and Parliament forces not continually skirmish, if not down right Battle, near here?

All I can find is a small raid.

KeepYourPowderDry12 Aug 2023 8:11 p.m. PST

A number of factors:
* after the initial attempt to win London (Brentford and Turnham Green) it was apparent that the King's forces weren't strong enough to take London without a long, expensive, bloody campaign.
* After Brentford/Turnham Green London's defences were greatly improved with the building of the defensive earthworks and sconces, plus the raising of the London Auxiliary Regiments. What was going to be a difficult, expensive campaign just got a whole lot harder.
* London was very pro-Parliament, Charles could not rely upon significant support from within the city if his forces were to march on it.
* The counties surrounding London were also very pro-Parliament, and provided the bulk of Parliament's main field army under Essex. Not to mention the Eastern and Southern Association armies.
* Buckinghamshire was under the sway of John Hampden. Any campaign into Bucks would be costly, for little reward. Bucks held no strategic value unless the King was in a position to make a concerted effort on taking London.
* the Royalist cause had no need to take London, or to go in the direction of London, until they were in a position to take it easily. The Royalist cities were Oxford, Newark, York, Chester and Bristol. Chester and Bristol were of vital importance to the Royalist war effort as they were ports. It was more important to keep the lines of communication between these cities open, than heading towards London.

FourDJones13 Aug 2023 1:01 a.m. PST

'Chester and Bristol were of vital importance to the Royalist war effort as they were ports'

Don't forget Newcastle: the Queen sent arms and ammunition for Oxford there, being the place she initially intended to land on her return from Holland.

KeepYourPowderDry13 Aug 2023 1:36 a.m. PST

Newcastle was much too vulnerable from Parliament and the Scots. The city of Newcastle had favourable trading terms (courtesy of Ch 1) compared to the rest of the region. As a result, once War was inevitable the surrounding area came out in favour of Parliament. The city was isolated from the rest of the Royalist sphere of influence. Any weapons sent there would solely be for the defence of the city.

Bridlington was a much more favourable port, located in largely supportive territory. Allowed quicker, safer road routes to the strongholds of York, and Newark on route to Oxford.

Unfortunately the picture in Yorkshire became more confused with the rise of the Fairfax's and the Northern Association. So the west coast ports became more important to the Royalist war effort.

Last Hussar13 Aug 2023 4:45 p.m. PST

OK. But why no parliamentary push?

Also it's literally the closest point of the two. I'd expect something. There is one Royalist raid into West Wycombe, that's all I can find reference to.

I realise my thinking is set by 20th century considerations, it just seems odd they fight everywhere EXCEPT the closest point!

KeepYourPowderDry13 Aug 2023 10:49 p.m. PST

Whilst HW's position would suggest it would be an important route between London and Oxford, this is only when viewed through C21st eyes.

The main C17th Oxford/London route (the Roman Akeman Street) passed through Aylesbury and Amersham, not High Wycombe. As a result Aylesbury was garrisoned, and saw the County's only major fight. If Parliament was to have marched on Oxford from London they would have used Akeman Street, not a route through HW.


If you want to know more about Buckinghamshire's role during the Civil Wars might I suggest "Wanton Troopers"

FourDJones14 Aug 2023 1:33 a.m. PST

KYPD: you disappoint me. The six northern counties of England -Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Westmorland, Lancashire and Yorkshire- came out very stongly for the King in 1642, and remained largely so until the Scots invasion of 1644. The city of Newcastle only then became relatively 'isolated', until the siege of it began in ernest in July 1644.

But, perhaps this is a topic for another post?

KeepYourPowderDry14 Aug 2023 4:28 a.m. PST

FourDJones I fear you are being oversimplistic, allegiance was certainly not clear cut for either side. Sunderland, Hull, Manchester, Bolton, Liverpool, Preston, Lancaster, Bradford all significant Parliamentarian garrisons before 1644.

Ferdinando Fairfax's army recruited from a solid Parliamentarian belt stretching from the Yorkshire coast all the way in land to Bradford.

Lancashire, with the exception of the recusant gentry, were pro-Parliament.

Leeds, Newcastle, Carlisle, Wakefield and York being the significant Royalist garrisons.

Of course lots of smaller garrisons for both sides.

Passage south from Newcastle meant running the gauntlet of the Wearside parliamentarians. Not an ideal route if your cargo is munitions, losing a fight is one thing, losing your cargo and effectively arming your enemy another.

West over the Pennines was a perilous journey regardless of the war. The journey after the Pennines to the safety of Chester was equally perilous. Leaving aside Parliament's almost total dominance in the south of the county, you've got to cross the Mersey at either Warrington or Stockport. Both controlled by Parliament. From Chester passage would not be guaranteed secure as the picture in Cheshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire even more muddied.

Bridlington gave shorter land transfer to York. The route south to Newark mostly well protected for the King.

Throw the Scots into the equation and the north becomes an even more hostile environment for the Royalists.

FourDJones14 Aug 2023 5:00 a.m. PST

Not oversimplistic: apart from the fighting in Yorkshire in 1643, the rest of the counties were pretty quiescent before the Scots arrived. Sunderland became actively pro-Parliament only when the Scots arrived there in 1644, but not before. And, apart from Hull, the rest of the places you mention are not ports.

After the debacle at Selby, and the Marquis of Newcastle took his field army south, Montrose and Clavering roamed Durham and Northumberland in May and June re-capturing almost all outposts and garrisons, except Sunderland.

And in July, even after Marston Moor, Leven felt the need to request Callandar and a second Scots army of 11,000 to te-take Northumberlnd and Durham, and tighten the investment of Newcastle, which only then, became isolated.

Last Hussar15 Aug 2023 10:30 a.m. PST

The Battle of Aylesbury might not even have happened. There is very little evidence.

KeepYourPowderDry21 Aug 2023 2:29 a.m. PST

FourDJones you are correct, a topic for another post.

Last Hussar absolutely correct, I'm off there tomorrow to have a look. Something probably took place there, but we don't really know.

Of course I completely overlooked the fact that Reading played in all this, effectively being the halfway battlefield between London and Oxford.

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