Sir Thomas Fairfax, together with his father Lord Fairfax, had been besieged in Hull in the second half of 1643. As Sir Thomas's cavalry were of little use in a siege, they were ferried across the Humber to reinforce Parliamentarian cavalry from the Eastern Association of counties, commanded by Oliver Cromwell. Together, they had won several victories, culminating in the Battle of Winceby, which secured most of Lincolnshire for Parliament.
In response to Brereton's urgent appeal for reinforcements, the Committee of Both Kingdoms (the Parliamentarian body responsible for the conduct of the war) ordered Sir Thomas Fairfax to proceed to Manchester. On 29 December 1643, Sir Thomas set out to cross the Pennines in harsh winter weather, with 1,800 cavalry. On arriving at Manchester, he found the infantry of the Parliamentarian garrison to be so ragged that he was supposed to have burst into tears. Nevertheless, he set out from Manchester on 21 January 1644 to relieve Nantwich. He was accompanied by Brereton, and their force eventually numbered 1,800 cavalry, 500 dragoons, 2,500 infantry and a few hundred poorly-equipped "cudgellers".
Read more about this topic: Battle Of Nantwich
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