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Siege Warfare

Siege warfare had a huge impact on civilian life during the British Civil Wars. Hundreds of towns, cities and large houses all over the country were besieged, a brutal process that involved being surrounded by an enemy army, cut off from supplies and assistance and bombarded by artillery fire.

The prolonged discomfort, disruption and danger caused by food shortages, overcrowding, disease and day and night bombardment deeply affected civilians.

One Chester woman summed up the inevitable dangers to civilian bystanders when she wrote to her husband that:

‘here is more killed in looking than those that are on service.’

The process of besieging a garrison was expensive, dangerous and time consuming and so only high-value locations were targeted. Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, for instance, with its strategic position commanding a key route to the north, was besieged three times.