Battle of Seacroft Moor
|Battle of Seacroft Moor|
|Part of the First English Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lord George Goring||Sir Thomas Fairfax|
|Around 20 troops of horse||Some musketeers, around 3 troops of horse, but mainly local Clubmen|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Seacroft Moor, on 30 March 1643, was a decisive loss for the Parliamentary forces during the First English Civil War. It took place near Seacroft, north east of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. The battle reportedly turned the Cock Beck, which ran through the battlefield, red with the casualties' blood for several days.
As Sir Thomas Fairfax was instructed to capture Tadcaster, he fell back into the West Riding after failing to destroy the bridge over the Wharfe at Tadcaster. He was intercepted and pursued by Royalist horse under Lord George Goring, the lieutenant-general of horse to Sir William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, over the moors of Whinmoor and Bramham.
Fairfax's force, made up of mainly clubmen (local personnel, recruited to defend their area) crossed Bramham Moor safely, but began to straggle as they crossed Seacroft Moor. Goring descended on the Parliamentarian troops from the north with his cavalry. With only three troops of horse to defend against the Royalist cavalry, the Parliamentarians lost over 1000 infantry, and only a few of their cavalry reached the main Parliament army in Leeds.
An author of the battle, Cavendish's wife, the Duchess of Newcastle, reported over 800 prisoners were captured by the Royalists. Fairfax escaped with just some of his surviving horse to Leeds, mainly because of bad communication in the ranks. He quoted that it was "the greatest loss we ever received".
Excerpt below taken from Mercurius AuIicus, a contemporary Royalist newsletter of the day dated Tuesday, April 4, 1663:
This day in was advertised by Letters out of Yorkeshire, dated March 30. that the Kings Forces under the conduct of Colonell Goring, had given a great defeat unto the Rebels there. The particulars these. That upon Tuesday, March 28. Colonell Goring had brought about 1200 Foot, and 400 Horse to Wetherby, the body of the Earle of Newcastles Army lying at Molton, in the East-Riding; upon the noise whereof, the Rebels forthwith quitted Tadcaster, and drew their Forces both from Selby and Cawood also, which before they held, and put themselves into a body, under the leading of Sir Thomas Fairefax: that thereupon Colonell Goring sent to Yorke for more Horse and Dragoons, which were immediately sent unto him, doubling almost his former numbers, and so expected what they did intend to do against him: That upon Thursday March 30. he found they were gone backe with nine Colours, and two Troopes of Horse, besides their Club-men (whereof wee have such notable Romances in the London News-books) to Tadcaster, and followed after them, the River being betwixt them, and the Bridge broken downe. That the Rebels perceiving their stay there to be neither safe at the present, or like to last any long time (the Colonell having sent both for Foot and Ordinance to beat them out) marched away againe, some Muskets onely being discharged by either side: that Goring finding their intent, staid not in expectation of his Foot and Ordinance, which Lieutenant Generall King was bringing to him, but passed over the River with his Horse and Dragoons, followed them, and within five miles of Leedes gave a charge upon them, which fell so prosperously on his side, that he slew 200 of them in the place, tooke 800 Prisoners, seven Colours, and a Waggon loaden with Ammunition; all the rest utterly defeated, and Sir Thomas Fairefax faine to save his Horse by loosing his Foot, fled away to Leedes, where it is said they have him sure enough from escaping their hands, and that they meane not to leave Leeds till they get his person. And it was also certified, that when the Rebels came out of Cawood, (a Castle anciently belonging to the Archbishop of Yorke) upon no other reason, but because it was a Bishops house they set fire unto it, but that upon their going thence it was soone put out, one corner onely being burnt.
- "Battle of Seacroft Moor: 30th March 1643". UK Battlefields Resource Centre. Retrieved 19 May 2008.