Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Battle of Preston

The Battle of Preston began August 17, 1648, lasting until the 19th .  Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell won the battle, over Royalist forces, in lopsided fashion. 

Main sources of information on this battle are Oliver Cromwell himself, and a memoir written by Captain Hodgson, who was on the field of battle with Cromwell.  Thomas Carlyle, in a letter written on August 14, 1844, lists Cromwell’s fields of battle, including Preston.  In his description, Carlyle includes a reference to “Original Memoirs: being written during the Civil War".  This book contains the "Memoirs of Capt. Hodgson”, which Sir Walter Scott was involved in publishing.  From Carlyle’s letter:

Moor near Preston, between that Town and Stonyhirst, on the north bank of the Ribble, in Lancashire: 17 August 1648; the chase, over Darwen Bridge, by Wigan to Warrington, lasts two days more, with a hot skirmish by the road, at ‘Redbank’ (a place near Winwick I should suppose). Cromwell's long Letter on the subject is abridged in Rushworth; can be found entire in the King's Pamphlets for the month in question;—it and all other details have been republished last year, in a convenient manner, by the ‘Chatham Society’ at Manchester, and are procurable with little difficulty. In Sir Walter Scott's Memoirs of the Civil War (Edinburgh, 1806) are some hints and notices by one Hodgson a Yorkshire captain, who was in the Fight;—very obscure and rude, but yielding light if well meditated and compared with others. An outline of the ground, the Moor, Ribble Bridge, Darwen Bridge &c would be very useful here.

And, from Captain Hodgson’s eyewitness memoir:

‘…The bullets flew freely; then was the heat of the battle that day.  I came down to the muir, where I met with Major Jackson, that belonged to Ashton's regiment, and about three hundred men were come up; and I ordered him to march, but he said he would not, till his men were come up. A serjeant, belonging to them, asked me, where they should march? I shewed him the party he was to fight; and he, like a true bred Englishman, marched, and I caused the soldiers to follow him; which presently fell upon the enemy, and, losing that wing, the whole army gave ground, and fled. Such valiant acts were done by contemptible instruments! The major had been called to a council of war, but that he cried peccavi. The Lancashire foot were as stout men as were in the world, and as brave firemen. I have often told them, they were as good fighters, and as great plunderers, as ever went to a field. This battle was about the 20th August 1648. It was to admiration to see what a spirit of courage and resolution there was 'amongst us, and how God hid from us the fears and dangers we were exposed to; what posture the enemy were in; their numbers (46,000 men, as reported); their threatenings, what they would do; how they were accoutered, and encouraged through the nation: They had cast lots for the spoil of us…’

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