Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Engagement at Elstone Field

....the Cavaliers charge out of the mist!


Chippenham, November 17th 1643,

My Dearest Ginny,
By the grace of God I have survived the encounter of late to relate to you my most faithful etc... The forces of that cur Waller have ravaged this county and it is only through the noble efforts of King Charles and his finest Prince Rupert has the true light of England has shined. We were able, though outnumbered, to surprise and discomfit that devilish emmisary of that low cuckold Essex, and despite the predations of his dragoons upon the innocents of this county, we have prevailed in an encounter upon the field of Elstone. I am truly blessed to have lived to see the end of this day most trying and to be able to send you these tidings of our victory. I was honored to carry the standard of his lordship the Prince in the face of the terrible fighting I have witnessed. Not one of us escaped without our coats been holed or worse and many of us has suffered the most infernal cuts. By the grace of the Lord I remain unscathed.

By the extreme exertions of the Prince, and a hard march we visited a surprise upon Waller and just at the break of dawn swept upon his horse. By His grace we emerged from a mist with the Prince leading his Horse regiment and Sir Horatio Cary's squadron in support. Sir Cary's regiment drifted to the left in the fog and received a terrible volley from the Roundhead foot posted in support of their horse. That was all we knew of them until nightfall brought the survivors back into our camp. Our regiment charged on then alone and routed the traitor Haselrigg's lobsters and carried us on through Waller's horse who resisted stoutly until Waller was felled by a ball at the height of the combat. The Prince was able to collect us at the crest of Elstone hill and we paused in some disorder. The mist and smoke was close around us, and fearsome glimpses of a steady stand of red-coated foote a few hundred paces off caused some indecision among our officers. Though the Prince urged the charge, the men were shaken by their recent combats and began to make their way back toward our foote coming up behind. The Prince was sore pressed to rally them. I could see the final volleys of Rupert's and Hopton's foote flashing in the smoke as we passed to the rear and it was only later that we learned of the desperate struggle there that decided the day in our favor and Sir Hopton's exertions that so rallyed his men in a body behind a hedge that they could not be overturned. To relate with clarity what happened that day so recently done, is utmost difficult and the events tumbled upon each and to say what I hath seen would not be believed if not I hath with mine owne eyes hope to never to see again....

Gloucester, November 20th 1642

Dearest Mary,
I hope this finds you well and the children safe. My thoughts are with you in London...that I could be there now. Though we have with regret been turned back from our march on Bath, it was through a terrible mischance that we were not granted victory. Truly it was the workings of the devil who visited surprise upon our men and discomfited our foote's stoutest hearts. Outnumbered as we were, we could not turn back the onslaught of the villain Rupert who arising as if a spectre out of the mist, overthrew our Horse and left our Foote without succor. Sadly for our army Sir Waller was severely wounded and, if it were not for the stout fellowes of the Tower Hamlets band and Col. Oakey's dragoons we should all have been taken. There is much desertion and discomfit in the men, and I beg that you keep me in your thoughts till I return...

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