Lucy Hutchinson (16201681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.
Appendix XXX The Fight in Willoughby Field, July 5, 1648
As this fight was of considerable importance, and has hardly received sufficient attention from later historians of the second civil war, I have thought right to give an extract from a pamphlet on it. It contains interesting details concerning many persons mentioned in these Memoirs.
An impartial and true relation of the great victory obtained, through the blessing of God, after a very sharp dispute, by the conjoined forces of Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, and Rutland, under the command of Colonel Edward Rossiter.
On Friday the 30th of June, about 400 horse from Pomfret Castle, most of them gentlemen of several counties and reformado officers, and 200 foot, ferried over Trent, and made incursion into Lincolnshire, marching forthwith to the city of Lincoln; where, after they had by warrant under the hand of Sir Philip Monckton, their general, released all the prisoners in the Castle for debt, murther, felony, and other crimes, who took up arms presently with them, they went to the Bishops Palace, wherein lay several arms and some monies of the countrys: which place Captain Bee, a woollen draper of that city, with 30 men had taken possession of and defended for three hours, until the Cavaliers had fired one part of the house. In which Captain Bee resolved, and so told them, he would be consumed, unless he might surrender upon conditions propounded by him, amongst which the protection of his person and estate, the which they agreed to; no sooner was the palace delivered, but all conditions broke, the captain seized and carried away prisoner until released in the field at the following fight, all his wares and goods put in carts, with which and the arms and money found in the palace, together with the plunder and persons of other honest men of the town, they marched on Saturday night to Gainsborough, twelve miles off. This alarum coming that Friday night to Belvoir Castle to Col. Rossiter, who was there upon some occasions of the country, he forthwith gave the alarum to Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, and Rutland, and desired them to spare what horse they could, to join with a troop of horse lately raised by him, by authority of Parliament, for the security of that county; and he would therewith endeavour to drive the enemy out of the country again. The which forces being conjoined on Sabbath evening to the number of 550, all of them newly raised men, and then understanding by a letter, received from Sir Henry Cholmley that 600 Yorkshire horse with some dragoons were on the north side Trent about Gainsborough, who would interrupt their retreating over Trent to Pomfret again, or fight with them if they came over, Col. Rossiter marched on Monday morning towards Gainsborough. In the midway thither, there met and joined with him a troop of horse from Lynn, which the General had put under the command of Capt. Taylor, who together refreshed that night in and about Waddington fields, about three miles south of Lincoln. On Tuesday morning by three oclock they marched through Lincoln towards Gainsborough, and understanding by a Lincoln man, who had been taken away prisoner by the Cavaliers and escaped that night, that the enemy were all drawn off from Gainsborough at ten of the clock on Monday evening, and were marched towards Newark, Col. Rossiter forthwith pursued eighteen miles that night, and refreshed his horse four or five hours in the night in a meadow, a mile from Newark, where he received intelligence that the enemy quartered about Bingham six miles before him. To this place came in to Rossiters further assistance about 150 horse, the one half from Derby and Rutland, the other half were gentlemen and freeholders of Lincoln and Leicestershire, who voluntarily would adventure their lives for their countrys freedom. On Wednesday morning Col. Rossiter commanded out a forlorn hope, 150 of the ablest horse under the command of Captain Champion of Nottinghamshire, to pursue at a fast rate, and so by falling on the enemys rear to enforce them to a stand or halt, till he with the body of horse could come up to them. They after seven miles advance overtook the rear of them, whom skirmishing with, they made their body of horse and foot, consisting of 700 or 800 at least, to draw up in a large beanfield belonging to Willoughby, seven miles from Nottingham. Of which Rossiter being informed from the commander of the forlorn, by marching at a full trot, having no dragoons on foot with him, within a short time brought his horse into the field, himself commanding the right wing wherewith he resolved to charge. But observing that the enemys strength were placed in their body, consisting of a party of foot winged with horse, and those horse flanked with musketeers, and that with them the men of best quality, as appeared by their outward garbs seemed to be mounted, he resolved to charge the battle; assigning his right wing to be commanded by Col. White, and the left by Col. Hacker, placing two reserves of horse in the rear.
Being suddenly thus ordered, the enemys word Jesus and Rossiters Fairfax, he advanced to the charge, who was received with much resolution. The bodies and reserves through eagerness closed in together; whereby the encounter proved very sharp, both sides falling presently to swords point, and neither party giving ground for some space, till by the fierceness of each party both were put into disorder, being so intermixed, doing execution each on other; the dispute continued a while doubtful, at last it pleased God to give a full and absolute victory to Rossiters forces, as may appear by the quality and number of prisoners taken, all their colours, arms, and carriages. About 200 that were best horsed, whereof divers Papists, got off in small parties, several of them wounded; but at least one hundred were that night and next morning taken in their flight by Leicester, Belvoir, Burleigh, and other honest countrymen, amongst whom was Sir Philip Monckton, their general, disarmed and brought into Nottingham by Mr Boyer, a high constable of that county, who deservedly now wears his sword.
In the first charge Colonel Rossiter lost his head-piece, received a shot through the right thigh, and some other painful wounds with a musket bullet, notwithstanding which he kept the field fighting till he saw the battle wholly won, not discovering his wounding to any person for fear it might prove a discourage to the soldiers; after which being ready to fall through loss of blood, he rode to Nottingham where he lieth capable of recovery, through the blessing of God upon the means used for that end.
In this service Colonel Hacker, commander of the Leicester horse, who is wounded, and Colonel White, commander of the Nottingham horse, having only his horse cut, merited much honour for their expressed valour.
By several letters taken in their general officers pockets, it appears that men of high and low degree in several counties, before unsuspected, are deeply engaged in promoting and contributing towards a general rising in many parts; some of the prisoners affirm, that their army resolved to have marched southward through Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, in whose march they doubted not but to have increased to many thousands, and to have joined with others rising about London, and to have raised Colchester siege.
Then follows a list of some 50 gentlemen taken prisoners, including Gilbert Biron, the major-general of the royalist army, and the statement that 500 of the common men were taken and about 100 slain. One item in the list of trophies is, ten colours of horse and foot, whereof the greatest part in cloak-bags not delivered out.
For further details see Greys Examination of Neals History of the Puritans, vol. iii, appendix, pp. 24, 26; Report on the MSS. of the Duke of Portland, i. 477; Memoirs of Sir Philip Monckton, edited by Mr. E. Peacock for the Philobiblion Society.