Tyger's Head Books

The Battle of Lansdowne

In Somerset on July 8 at 6:46 pm

8 Jul 1643 (Sat) || The cheife intelligence of the day was the Westerne newes, which therefore was the more look’d after, because somebody out either out of feare or knavery had spread a false rumour that His Majesties Forces in the West had been worsted by Sir William Waller, which was most impudently false, as you shall heare by an impartiall collection out of 3 severall Expresses from such hands (should I name them) you would say are not capable of a lye.

On Wednesday July 5. Sir William Waller advanc’d with his whole Bodie upon the hither end of Lands downe, a place of very great advantage, whence he sent out a good Partee of Horse and Foot towards us, lyning the Hedges towards our champane, and there advanced a strong Partee of Horse under the protection of their Muskettiers, & some of our Horse being drawne out within musket shot, retired in some disorder towards the Reere of our Foot, whereupon Sir Bevill Greenvill and Sir Nicholas Slannings Regiments of Cornish Foot advance’d and bravely beat them out of the Hedges, but our Horse speedily rallyed again and recovered their ground: then a strong Partee of their Horse drew into a large Field upon our left Wing, which our Horse charged and entirely rowted, and our Cornish Foot drove theirs from Hedge to Hedge, through Woods and steepe Hills back to their maine Bodie, and at last forc’d them from the brow of the Hill which they had barrocadoed, and whereupon they had planted their Canon. For the ground they had was of mighty advantage, being a high Hill walled about behind and upon both sides, with works in the Front, the passage up very narrow and dangerous, one side being a Wood, the other full of hedges, both of them strongly lined with Muskettiers; and having gotten this ground wee found the Enemie in an entire Body, his Foot placed within certaine stony walls of great strength, through which he had prepared divers places for his Horse to sallye, being drawne up in Battalio in the reere of his foot. Before our Horse and Foot could draw up in Battalia they charged us with their Horse, and played so thick upon us with their Cannon and Muskettiers, that they (by advantage of the place) forc’d us from the hill, which notwithstanding wee assaulted againe and againe three severall times, and the fourth time with unimaginable difficulty wee possessed the top of it, which Sir Bevill Greenvill maintayned with his stand of Cornish Pikes against all their power of Horse, Foot, and Cannon, to the wonder and amazement of both friends and enemies, where this brave gentleman was most honourably, though unfortunately slayne in the front of his men, with his Serjeant Major and Captaine Lieutenant dead at his feet, ending his life with as much honour, as mortall flesh is capable of. Then wee rallyed our Horse and drew up our Cannon, and by that time it grew darke, notwithstanding shot of all sorts played on each side till midnight, when the Rebels stuck their Matches on the Hedges, upon which wee gave a volley from every part of our Bodie, which instead of answering they ran quite away, leaving us the Field, where wee found above 500. Muskets, 14. Barrells of Powder, a whole stand of Pikes, together with good store of all sorts of Armes, they having stollen away their Cannon when they left their light Matches. All which in the morning wee having carefully searched and viewed, our men being much tyred with extreame labour, and pin’d with hunger, retired into our Quarter. The Fight lasted from two in the afternoon till one the next morning, wherein (besides Sir Bevill Greenvill before mentioned) were slaine of His Majesties Forces 8. Officers and Gentlemen of note, viz. master Leak sonne to the Lord Daincourt, who with one Troop charged three of the Rebels Troops (being their Forlorne hope) where the brave Gentleman was slayn and found dead on the ground with a Colour taken of the Rebels found in his Armes; Master Barker a gallant Gentleman, which had each had a brother in the same Troop (Master Charles Leak and young Master Barker) who bravely revenged their brothers death; lieutenant Colonell Wall, Serjeant Major Lower, Captaine James, Captaine Cholwell, & Master Bostard, who all behaved themselves as well as possibly men could do, but of Common Soldiers so few as tis not credible in so long and disadvantageous Battaile as this was. The Rebels Foot were absolutely routed, and all dispersed or cut off, his losse of Officers and Horse very great, though wee know not the particulars as yet, wee are confident wee kill’d many hundred of his men, having the Field, the Armes, Pillage, and all other signes of an absolute Victory.  || John Berkenhead/Peter Heylyn – Mercurius Aulicus (R)