3 Sept 1651: On The Field - Worcester

Charles headed back to his headquarters located in the two story half timber house beside the St. Martin Gate on the north side of town. The building sat close to the city wall and was the last house on the street before one came to the old stone arched gate.

The lower floor had been turned into a sort of campaign-central gathering place, the upper floor were quarters for himself and a few others. The exchange of fire between the Parliamentarians on Perry Hill and the Royalists in Fort Hill could still be heard in the streets he rode through as dull echoes.

Even the townspeople were preparing for something to happen, gathering in their children and goods and shuttering up the windows.

On the opposite side of the gate he could see a sea of men that filled the street in the last stages of putting on armor and silver helmets. Colorful battle standards waved on tall poles amidst the forest of upright held pikes. The very faint acrid scent of the cannon fire from the hill already drifted over the city walls. He jumped off his mount and handed the reins to a youth who was holding several other horses. The boy gave a short bow and grinned at him, obviously intent on the soldiers massing across the way.

“I’m old enough to fight sir! I’ll be twelve soon!” he told Charles hopefully.

“I shall keep you in mind lad, although I hope I don’t need you to.” The King said with a grin and the boy’s eyes shone. Charles crossed the street, pulling off his leather gloves and easily jumped up onto a large ammo crate so he could be seen.

He spoke to them briefly, just long enough to get them energized and eager to go, shouting and chanting and banging pike ends on the cobblestones. He leapt down from the crate to their resounding cheers and hurried across the street and into the house.

The few men who were talking in clusters in chairs before the window leapt to their feet as he strode into the room. He nodded at them and headed directly for those gathered around the long table that had been moved towards the hearth and away from any prying eyes that might make use of the windows.

It was cluttered with stubs of candles, empty tankards, maps, and letters, various hastily sketched out plans, and different diagrams of the fortifications they’d added to the city since their arrival 12 days before. The room was stuffy and warm from the press of many bodies. There was only a faint breeze coming in the back door where men were moving crates in and out the door.

3 Sep 1651 - At the River Temes Worcester

Charles rode out of the city of Worcester by the western gate. He spurred the horse and raced towards Montgomery’s regiments. The men cheered and waved their hats as he passed, their officers sending a good number of them in his wake.

He arrived to find a line of musketeers on the north back of the Temes, taking shots at the still distant red coated regiment marching determinedly in their direction, pikes held upright and silver helmets gleaming in the sun.

He called to officers by name, taking off his hat so the men could recognize him and in a short time had them shouting back at him, hefting their pikes up in the air with short energetic stabs and showing muskets.

From the nearing red coats came their chanting of the a psalm of David, to which someone nearby Charles quickly made up a replying taunt. Charles laughed, and soon the entire Royalist regiment was chanting to back at the red coats with great gusto. He rode to the side and kept pace with them on his horse as they started to advance towards the riverfront without being bid, eager for the confrontation to come .

The nearly entirely destroyed Powick bridge over the river had one sole remain plank left in it that would allow a single man to cross, should he dare. It was too late now to set another charge, they would have to leave it as it was. Colonel Keith, the commanding officer of the regiment came riding up beside him, grinning widely.

“I thought perhaps we were going to be left out of things way over here on the western side!’” he said and Charles shook his head.

“No, not in the least I’m afraid. Montgomery thinks Deane is headed towards you, and Fleetwood is bringing pontoons up the Severn. If he gets those boats in position, Cromwell will be coming this way. He’s got three regiments on the bank, and Pitscottie is facing Fleetwood. Can you hold Deane back here?” he asked and Keith nodded.

“We'll by doin' our best sir!” the Scotsman said with a quick salute and Charles nodded.

“That’s all I ask Colonel. I’ll tell Dalzeil’s brigade to be ready to move up closer in support on my way back.” he said as a loud boom thundered from the east. They both looked over to see a faint puff of smoke rising from the hill above the town.

It was followed by a second and third shot as well, the sound floating across the fields as the fresh puffs of smoke drifted upwards. The New Model Army was firing artillery at the eastern side of the town, and from more than one position. That meant something serious was about to happen, Charles was sure of it.