When I first began writing, I wrote this in preparation for a book about Morgan D’Arcy when he was a mortal man and not a vampire, the prequel, more or less to the book series that began with Sinners’ Opera. It sounds a bit amateurish but in some ways I think I
wrote better then–at least with more heart–than I try to do today. The Battle of Worcester as seen through Morgan’s big blue eyes:
Worcester, England, 1651
The deafening thunder of artillery fire spoke to us of the capture of enemy guns, but the Scottish infantry failed to support us.
Oliver Cromwell arrived from the north, supported by Lambert, Harrison and Fleetwood. Employing his strategic flair, the Lord Protector cut Worcester off from the South to prevent Charles, King of Scots, from reaching London. Charles ordered the four vital bridges guarding access to the town blown up. It can scarcely be charged to his account that the orders failed to be carried out properly and the Upton bridge survived sufficiently to allow Lambert access.
Commonwealth forces vastly outnumbered the Royalist army. All too many Scots took homesick as their native country receded, while practically no one in England joined the royal standard to replace the deserters. The King’s army dwindled as we marched south into our native land.
Armed with a spy-glass, clad in a buff coat with a red sash and the George around his neck, the King saw below him the College Green, surrounded by medieval houses and packed with carts, horses and men. Determined not to succumb to the certainty of defeat, with the departure of Cromwell’s cavalry across the Severn in support of Fleetwood, the King ordered his men to charge out of Sidbury Gate. He was there with us, his feet sliding in spilt blood as ours did, his lungs burned by gunpowder like ours, cheering us on. Once the meager ammunition ran out, butting with muskets because we were too closely engaged to use pikes, we battled The Lord Protector’s forces.
Worcester is a memory of hand-to-hand fighting in blood-soaked streets. The smell of mass slaughter is a metallic odor of old iron and black dusty gunpowder irritating raw nasal passages until they weep blood. I fought and I cried and I killed a dozen men. I watched my King crawl through the wheels of an over-turned cart where the dead oxen that pulled it obscured his path. I gagged at the sight of men younger than I spitted swine. And I thanked God for the luck that kept me alive.
Toward dusk, when over two-thousand King’s men, compared to two hundred of the enemy had perished, Charles Stuart – rightful King to some, usurper to others – reluctantly agreed to withdraw. The Royalist cause lay in ruins. Cromwell need only scoop up the royal person of the fugitive King.
The King vanished through the northern gate of Worcester, attended by only Buckingham, the Earl of Derby, the Scots Lauderdale and the seventeen-year-old Earl of St. Averil. That tragic night of 3 September 1651, the royal party soon found ourselves lost in the darkness. The Earl of Derby suggested that the party head north and hide out at a house named Boscobel, holding of the Catholic family Giffard. In fact, we passed the night at Whiteladies, some fifteen miles farther, and at sunup, the King decided to rid himself of a potentially dangerous encumbrance in the form of our company.
The King arrived at the court of France at the end of October 1651, so emaciated and dirty that people failed to recognize him. The next two years were an education in dejection for all of us. It is no wonder that by the summer of 1653, Charles fell ill with a fever. Relief, when it came, adopted the face of change rather than a brightening horizon. It suddenly suited the French to be rid of their dependent. The powerful Cardinal Mazarin dangled full payment of his French pension before the destitute King’s eyes on the condition that he leave the country within ten days. The gesture, devoid of grace or diplomacy, was necessary in preparation for an English alliance. The King departed France on horseback, having put his coach horses to a light cart to convey his belongings.
Have a wonderful weekend! Linda