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own Letter 'to a Member of the Council cf State,'—we migh1 guess this or the other, but cannot with the least certainty know which.
'To Council of State in Whitehall: These:
Musselburgh, 30th August, 1650.
Since my last, we seeing the Enemy not willing to engage, —and yet very apt to take exceptions against speeches of that kind spoken in our Army; which occasioned some of them to come to parley with our Officers, To let them know that they would fight us,— they lying still in or near their fastnesses, on the west side of Edinburgh, we resolved, the Lord assisting, to draw near to them once more, to try if we could fight them. And indeed one hour's advantage gained might probably, we think, have given us an opportunity.*
To which purpose, upon Tuesday, the 27th instant, we marched westward of Edinburgh towards Stirling; which the Enemy perceiving, marched with as great expedition as was possible to prevent us; and the vanguards of both the Armies came to skirmish,—upon a place where bogs and passes made the access of each Army to the other difficult. We, being ignorant of the place, drew up, hoping to have engaged; but found no way feasible, by reason of the bogs and other difficulties.
We drew up our cannon, and did that day discharge two or three hundred great shot upon them; a considerable number they likewise returned to us: and this was all that passed from each to other. Wherein we had near twenty killed and wounded, but not one Commission Officer. The Enemy, as we are informed, had about eighty killed, and some considerable Officers. Seeing they would keep their ground, from which we could not remove them, and our bread being spent,—we were necessitated to go for a new supply :f and so marched off about ten or eleven o'clock on Wednesday morning. The Enemy perceiving it,—
* Had we come one hour sooner :—but we did not.
f We went to our Camp, or Bivouack, that night; and off to Musselburgh 'for a new supply' next morning. Camp or Bivouack ' on Pentland Hills,' •ays vague Hodgson (p. 142); 'within a mile cf Edinburgh,' says Cromwell in this Letter, who of course knows well.
and, as we conceive, fearing we might interpose between them and Edinburgh, though it was not our intention, albeit it seemed so by our march,—retreated back again, with all haste; having a bog and passes between them and us: and there followed no considerable action, saving the skirmishing of the van of our horse with their's, near to Edinburgh, without any considerable loss to either party, saving that we got two or three of their horses.
That 'Tuesday' night we quartered within a mile of Edinburgh, and of the Enemy. It was a most tempestuous night and wet morning The Enemy marched in the night between Leith and Edinburgh, to interpose between us and our victual, they knowing that it was spent;— but the Lord in mercy prevented it; and we, perceiving in the morning, got, time enough, through the goodness of the Lord, to the sea-side to re-victual; the Enemy being drawn up upon the Hill near Arthur's Seat, looking upon us, but not attempting anything.
And thus you have an account of the present occurrences.
Your most humble servant,
The scene of this Tuesday's skirmish, and cannonade across bogs, has not been investigated; though an antiquarian Topographer might find worse work for himself. Rough Hodgson, very uncertain in his spellings, calls it Gawger Field, which will evidently take us to Gogar on the western road there. The Scotch Editor of Hodgson says farther, ' The Water of Leith lay between the two Armies;' which can be believed or not. Yorkshire Hodgson's troop received an ugly cannon-shot while they stood at prayers; just with the word Amen, came the ugly cannon-shot singing, but it hurt neither horse nor man. We also 'gave them an English shout' at one time, along the whole line,f making their Castle-rocks and Pentlands ring again; but could get no Battle out of them, for the bogs.
The Lord General writes this Letter at Musselburgh on Satur. day the 30th: and directly on the heel of it there is a Council of War held, and an important resolution taken. With sickness, and the wild weather coming on us, rendering even victual uncertain, and no Battle to be had, we clearly cannot continue here. Dunbar, which has a harbor, we might fortify for a kind of
• Newspapers (in Parliamentary History, xix., 339). t Hodgson, p 141
citadel and winter-quarter; let us retire at least to Dunbar, to be near our sole friends in this country, our Ships. That same Saturday evening the Lord General fired his huts, and marched towards Dunbar. At sight whereof Lesley rushes out upon him; has his vanguard in Prestonpans before our rear got away. Saturday night through Haddington, and all Sunday to Dunbar, Lesley hangs, close and heavy, on Cromwell's rear; on Sunday night bends southward to the hills that overlook Dunbar, and hems him in there. As will be more specially related in the nex fascicle of Letters.
BATTLE OF DUNBAR.
The small Town of Dunbar stands, high and windy, looking down over its herring-boats, over its grim old Castle now much honeycombed,—on one of those projecting rock promontories with which that shore of the Frith of Forth is niched and vandyked, as far as the eye can reach. A beautiful sea; good land, too, now that the plougher understands his trade; a grim niched barrier of whinstone sheltering it from the chafings and tumblings of the big blue German Ocean. Seaward St. Abb's Head, of whinstone, bounds your horizon to the east, not very far off; west, close by, is the deep bay, and fishy little village of Belhaven: the gloomy Bass and other rock-islets, and farther the Hills of Fife, and foreshadows of the Highlands, are visible as you look seaward. From the bottom of Belhaven bay to that of the next sea-bight St. Abb'sward, the Town and its environs form a peninsula. Along the base of which peninsula,'not much above a mile and a half from sea to sea,' Oliver Cromwell's Army, on Monday, 2d of September, 1650, stands ranked, with its tents and Town behind it,—in very forlorn circumstances. This now is all the ground that Oliver is lord of in Scotland. His ships lie in the offing, with biscuit and transport for him; but visible elsewhere in the Earth no help.
Landward as you look from the Town of Dunbar there rises, some short mile off, a dusky continent of barren heath Hills; the Lammermoor, where only mountain-sheep can be at home. The crossing of which, by any of its boggy passes, and brawling streamcourses, no Army, hardly a solitary Scotch Packman could attempt, in such weather. To the edge of these Lammermoor Heights, David Lesley has betaken himself; lies now along the outmost spur of them,—a long Hill of considerable height, which the Dunbar people call the Dun, Doon, or sometimes for fashion's
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sake the Down, adding to it the Teutonic Hill likewise, though Dun itself in old Celtic signifies Hill. On this Doon Hill lies David Lesley with the victorious Scotch Army, upwards of Twenty-thousand strong; with the Committees of Kirk and Estates, the chief Dignitaries of the Country, and in fact the flower of what the pure Covenant in this the Twelfth year of its existence can still bring forth. There lies he since Sunday night, on the top and slope of this Doon Hill, with the impassable heathcontinents behind him; embraces, as within outspread tiger claws, the base-line of Oliver's Dunbar peninsula; waiting what Oliver will do. Cockburnspath with its ravines has been seized on Oliver's left, and made impassable; behind Oliver is the sea; in front of him Lesley, Doon Hill and the heath-continent of Lammermoor. Lesley's force is of Three- and-twenty-thousand,* in spirits as of men chasing; Oliver's about half as many, in spirits as of men chased. What is to become of Oliver?
Oliver on Monday writes this Note; sends it off, I suppose, by sea. Making no complaint for himself, the remarkable Oliver; doing, with grave brevity, in the hour the business of the hour. 'He was a strong man,' so intimates John Maidstone, who knew him: 'in the dark perils of war, in the high places of the field, hope shone in him like a pillar of fire, when it had gone out in all the others.'j- A genuine King among men, Mr. Maidstone! The divinest sight this world sees,—when it is privileged to see such, and not be sickened with the unholy apery of such! He is just now upon an ' engagement,' or complicated concern, ' very difficult.'
* 27,000 say the English Pamphlets; 16,000 foot and 7,000 horse, sayi Sir Edward Walker (p. 182), who has access to know, t Postages in his Highnesses last Sickness, already referred to.