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Befohe the old Officers laid down their commissions, Waller with Cromwell and Massy were sent on an Expedition into the West against Goring and Company; concerning which there is some echo in the old Books and* Commons Journals, but no definite vestige of it, except the following Letter, read in the House of Commons, 9th April, 1644; which D'Ewes happily had given his Clerk to copy. The Expedition itself, which proved successful, is now coming towards an end. Fairfax the new General is at Windsor all April; full of business, regimenting, discharging, enlisting, new-modelling.
For the Right Honorable Sir Thomas Fairfax, General of the Army. Haste, Haste: These: At Windsor.
'Salisbury,' 9th April (ten o'clock at night), 1645.
Upon Sunday last we marched towards Bruton in Somersetshire, which was General Goring's head-quarter: but he would not 6tand us; but marched away, upon our appearance, to Wells and Glastonbury. Whither we held it unsafe to follow him; lest we should engage our Body of Horse too far into that enclosed country, not having foot enough to stand by them; and partly because we doubted the advance of Prince Rupert with his force to join with Goring; having some notice from Colonel Massey of the Prince his coming this way.
General Goring hath 'Sir John' Greenvil in a near posture to join with him. He hath all their Garrisons in Devon, Dorset and Somerset shire, to make an addition to him. Whereupon Sir William Waller having a very poor infantry of about 1600 men,—lest they, being so inconsiderable, should engage* our Horse,—we came from Shaftesbury to Salisbury to secure our foot; to prevent our being necessitated to u
* Entangle or incumber.
too unequal engagement, and to bo nearer a communication with our friends. «
Since our coming hither, we hear Prince Rupert has come to MarshCeld, a market-town not far from Trowbridge. If the enemy advance altogether, how far we may be endangered,—that I humbly offer to you; entreating you to take care of us, and to send us with all speed such an assistance, to Salisbury, as may enable us to keep the field and repel the enemy, if God assist us: at least to secure and countenance us so, as that we may not be put to the shame and hazard of a retreat; which will lose the Parliament many friends in these parts, who will think themselves abandoned on our departure from them. Sir, I beseech you send what Horse and Foot you can spare towards Salisbury, by way of Kingscleere, with what convenient expedition may be. Truly we look to be attempted upon every day.
These things being humbly represented to your knowledge and care, I subscribe myself,
Your most humble servant,
In Carte's Ormond Papers (i., 79) is a Letter of the same date on the same subject, somewhat illustrative of this. See also Commons Journals in die.
Prince Rupert had withdrawn without fighting; was now at Worcester with a considerable force, and had sent 2000 men across to Oxford, to convoy his Majesty with the artillery thither to him. The Committee of Both Kingdoms order the said convoy to be attacked. 'The charge of this service they recommended particularly to General Cromwell, who looking on himself now as discharged of military employment by the New Ordinance, which was to take effect within few days, and to have no longer opportunity to serve his country in that way,—was, the night before, come to Windsor, from his service in the West, to kiss the General's hand and take leave of him: when, in the morning ere he was come forth of his chamber, those commands, than which he thought of
• D'Ewes's Mss , vol. v., p. 189; p. 445 of Transcript.
nothing less in all the world, came to him from the Committee of Both Kingdoms.*
'The night before ' must mean, to all appearance, the 22d of April. How Cromwell instantly took horse; plunged into Oxfordshire, and on the 24th, at Islip Bridge, attacked and routed this said convoy; and the same day,' merely by dragoons' and fierce countenance, took Bletchington House, for which poor Colonel Windebank was shot, so angry were they; how Cromwell, sending off the guns and stores to Abingdon, shot across westward to ' Radcot Bridge' or ' Bampton-in-the-Bush ;' and on the 26th gained a new victory there; and on the whole made a rather brilliant sally of it:—all this is known from Clarendon, or more authentically from Rushworth :f but only the concluding unsuccessful part of it has left any trace in autograph.
To the Governor of the Garrison in Farringdon.
29th April, 1645
I summon you to deliver into my hands the House wherein you are, and your Ammunition, with all things else there ; together with your persons, to be disposed of as the Parliament shall appoint. Which if you refuse to do, you are to expect the utmost extremity of war. I rest,
This Governor, 'Roger Burgess,' is not to be terrified with
* Sprigge's Anglia Rediviva (London, 1647), p. 10. Sprigge was one of Fairfax's Chaplains; his Book, a rather ornate work, gives florid but authen tic and sufficient account of this New-Model Army in all its features ana operations, by which * England' had ' come alive again.' A little sparing in dates; but correct where they are given. None of the old Books is bet ter worth reprinting.—For some glimmer of notice concerning Joshua Sprigge himself, see Wood in voce,—and disbelieve altogether that' Nat Fiennos' had anything to do with this Book.
t vi., 23, 4.
t Rushworth, vi., 26.
fierce countenance and mere dragoons; he refuses. Cromwell withdrew into Farringdon Town, and again summons.
To the same; same date.
1 understand by forty or fifty poor men whom you forced into your House, that you have many there whom you cannot arm, and who are not serviceable to you. If these men should perish by your means, it were great inhumanity surely. Honor and honesty require this, That though you be prodigal of your own lives, yet not to be so of theirs. If God give you into my hands, I will not spare a man of you, if you put me to a storm.
Roger Burgess, still unawed, refuses; Cromwell waits for infantry from Abingdon ' till 3 next morning,' then storms; loses fourteen men, with a captain taken prisoner;—and draws away, leaving Burgess to crow over him. The Army, which rose from Windsor yesterday, gets to Reading this day, and he must hasten thither.
Yesterday, Wednesday, Monthly-fast day, all Preachers, by Ordinance of Parliament, were praying for 'God's merciful assistance to this New Army now on march, and his blessing upon their endeavors.'f Consider it; actually ' praying!' It was a capability old London and its Preachers and Populations had; to us the incrediblest.
By Letter Twelfth it will be seen that Lieutenant-General Crom. well has never yet resumed his Parliamentary duty. In fact, he
* Rushworth, ibid,
is in the Associated Counties, raising force; 'for protection of the Isle of Ely,' and other purposes. To Fairfax and his Officers, to the Parliament, to the Committee of Both Kingdoms, to all persons, it is clear that Cromwell cannot be dispensed with. Fairfax and the Officers petition Parliament* that he may be appointed their Lieutenant General, Commander-in-Chief of the Horse. There is a clear necessity in it. Parliament, the Commons somewhat more readily than the Lords, continue by instalments of 'forty days,' of' three months,' his services in the Army, and at length grow to regard him as a constant element there. A few others got similar leave of absence, similar dispensation from the Self-denying Ordinance. Sprigge's words, cited above, are no doubt veracious; yet there is trace of evidencef that Cromwell's continuance in the Army had, even by the framers of the Selfdenying Ordinance, been considered a thing possible, a thing desirable. As it well might! To Cromwell himself there was no overpowering felicity in getting out to be shot at, except where wanted; he very probably, as Sprigge intimates, did let the matter in silence take its own course.
'To the Right Honorable Sir Thomas Fairfax, General of the Parliaments Army: These?
Huntingdon, 4 June, 1645.
I most humbly beseech you to pardon my long silence. I am conscious of the fault, considering the great obligations lying upon me. But since my coming into these parts, I have been busied to secure that part of the Isle of Ely where I conceived most danger to be. .
Truly I found it in a very ill posture: and it is yet but weak; without works, ammunition or men considerable,—and of money least: and then, I hope, you will easily conceive of the defence: and God has preserved us all this while to a miracle. The party under Vermuyden waits the King's Army, and is about Deeping; has a command to join with Sir John Gell, if he commands him. So 'too' the Nottingham Horse. I shall be bold to present you with intelligence as it comes to me.
* Their Letter (Newspapers, 9-16 June) in Cromwelliana, p. 18.