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12th July, WEDNESDAY. So heavy a rain continued to fall during the morning of this day that hostile proceedings were mutually suspended for a time: but in the afternoon Waller and Dowett simultaneously led on a furious attack upon the works. After four hours fighting the outworks and guards were carried, and the Parliament's horse charged up into some of the streets. The marks of about twenty-six canister shot (still visible) on the east end of St. John's chancel plainly shew that considerable inroad was made, apparently by way of Morris's lane, and seem to indicate, as hinted above, that the church was a principal post of defence. At this crisis, Waller once more sent in a trumpet to summon them to surrender. The Royalists demanded a parley of two hours, which after some hesitation was granted; and when this was expired, as their object was to spare ammunition as well as to gain time for sleep, they induced Waller to extend it during other six hours. This was a most fatal error on his part and arose from the reliance which he placed on Lord Essex's endeavours to prevent any succour being sent out of Oxford. By repeated letters to the General he had made him fully sensible of the importance of such a precaution from the moment of the Royalists quitting Marshfield: but Essex was beginning to be chagrined at Waller's increasing popularity among the Londoners, and he was willing on the present occasion to allow his rival to shift for himself. Accordingly, though he seemed to promise assistance, he took not a single step for that purpose. “I would have you fight with the Marquis” thus he had written a few days before, “if possibly you may, not upon unequal terms; if not, to march up after him, and to hinder and trouble him in the rear as much as in you lies; and so join with this army. Otherwise, if the King send any supply of force to the enemy, then, if I have notice thereof, I shall take all possible care to supply you accordingly.” Sir Arthur Hazlerig also, suspecting Essex's supineness, wrote to him with the same intent on Monday and again
on Wednesday, but the Earl remained quietly stationed at Thame, a place from which it would have been impossible to make the necessary observations on Oxford, had he been so disposed, since it lay quite out of the route and was still farther from Devizes than Oxford was.
A very different feeling prevailed in London. There the news of Waller's movements was daily listened to with the intensest interest. On this self same day, the 12th July, the House of Commons having first read one of his letters of the 7th, Resolved, that the sum of £10,000 should be forthwith provided and sent to him by the hand of Mr. Hodges, Mr. Stephens, and Mr. Ashe; and that letters should be sent to the Committees of Portsmouth, Dorchester, and the counties adjacent, urging them to send all the forces they could spare, to his aid. At the same time Sir Robert Harley carried up to the Lords an “Ordinance concerning the Grand Butlerage to Sir William Waller.” Commons' Journals iii. 163.
13th July, THURSDAY. The only incident recorded of this day's proceedings, as regarded the siege, seems to be preserved in another memorandum of Waller's own journal, following that given above. “Some days after," says he, “whilst I lay before the town, I rode with a small party about the quarters, particularly to see how the dragoons were laid on the further side of the town; and being to return back, it suddenly came into my mind to go by another way than that I came; which some of the party and some of mine own servants who staid a little behind, not observing, but taking the former way, they were almost all taken by the enemy. I came back safely." Recollections.
Sir William began now to be very impatient to bring the affair to a conclusion, and preparations were accordingly made to take the town by storm. E'er this could be put in execution, the scouts came flying in to say that a formidable body of horse was rapidly approaching from Marlborough. This was most disastrous tidings for Waller's men; for having
been now for a fortnight lying in the fields by night and fighting by day, they had hoped by one more desperate coup de main to win the repose they so much needed. Both horses and men were utterly jaded and ready to fall down for want of sleep; but now no other resource was left them but to abandon their vantage ground and advance to meet the new enemy in order to prevent his junction with the infantry in the town. In breaking up the leaguer, Waller drew off without drum or trumpet, the besieged Cornishmen remaining in ignorance of the cause of his movement and suspecting it to be only a feint to draw them out. We must now recur to the measures by which the Marquis of Hartford had thus so suddenly changed the aspect of affairs.
The Battle of Roundway.
AS described above, that active officer had with the cavalry A quitted Devizes on the night of the 10th. He rode so rapidly that very few of these reached Oxford with him, and fewer still returned. Having had an audience with his Majesty on the morning of the 11th, Tuesday, he again started that very day towards Devizes, in company with Lord Wilmot, Prince Maurice, the Earl of Crawfurd and Sir John Byron, at the head of a considerable body of Lifeguards, whom the King cheerfully dismissed, although he was himself just on the eve of marching to meet the Queen. They took two whole days to reach Devizes; and it was not till four o'clock on Thursday afternoon that they reached the summit of Roundway down, where Waller had also drawn up his whole army to oppose their further progress. All accounts agree in showing that the battle was lost and won by the cavalry alone, and that the part which the infantry played was subsequent to the decisive stroke. In numbers, the cavalry were pretty equally matched; Waller's horse, including dragoons, being 2500; the Royalists numbered, according to Clarendon, 1500; according to some of the Parliamentary prints, the same as their enemies. Waller's array exhibited his 3000 foot forming a centre, flanked by wings of horse; and backed by a reserve. He possessed also artillery, of which the Royalists were comparatively destitute. But anxiety lest the Cornishmen from the town should be upon him before the affair was brought to an issue induced him to abandon this line of battle, and to substitute a cavalry charge in order to ride down his enemies. Sir Arthur Hazlerig with the London cuirassiers led the first attack, followed by Sir Edward Hungerford and Captain Baugh at the head of the Western horse. These were all beaten back in great disorder, and the Royalists made themselves masters of four pieces of ordnance. But Sir Arthur having rallied the fugi. tive horse, came again to the assault, re-captured the artillery and appeared to be gaining a permanent advantage, when 500 of Wilmot's men who had hitherto acted only as a reserve, joined in the melée and put the cuirassiers to a perfect rout. But there were some other stout citizens yet to be dealt with; these were the body of trained-bands who had studied the practice of the pike to such good purpose in the London Artillery-ground that on many occasions during this war, they proved the most formidable enemies which the Royal cavalry had to encounter. While Waller himself, Hungerford, Hazlerig, and all the horse were flying down Bagdon hill, these men stood to their arms; and it was not till Lord Wilmot, aided by the Cornish musketeers who by this time had reached the scene of action, turned their own guns upon them, that this resolute corps was broken in pieces. Waller with the major part of the horse escaped to Bristol, (carrying with him a small number of prisoners, so at least says one account): others went towards Malmesbury. Another newspaper reporter writes, that the Parliament lost only 50 horse in the engagement, that the greater part of the foot were by the industry of a little Scotchman, brought off bravely; and that as for Sir Arthur Hazlerig, he deserves a second Homer to set forth his valour. They certainly lost all their baggage and artillery; among which, if we may believe the Mercurius Aulicus, were some carts laden with manacles “for the liberty of the subject” quoth the editor. On the King's side, Lord Grandison was the only person of title who was hurt; but a band of between 40 and 50 volunteers from the neighbourhood, who joined Hartford's standard just before the engagement, fared much worse. By some accident they became separated from their allies, and were nearly all cut off.
A circumstance which had greatly added to the moral strength of the Royalist forces just before the battle was the unexpected arrival of Robert Dormer Earl of Carnarvon, who reaching the scene of action by chance and almost unattended, promptly offered to serve as a volunteer in Sir John Byron's regiment; but instead of his offer being accepted in this form, the chief command of the regiment was cheerfully accorded him; and it is further stated that the share which he had in the ensuing victory was owing to a judicious though somewhat novel arrangement of his force. That the success of the day was in some large measure attributable to his presence is evidenced by the position assigned him in the triumphal odes which shortly after issued from Oxford.
It is affirmed in a manuscript history of the war, described in the Notes and Queries, part xxii. p. 331, that the captain who commanded the royal horse in the charge at Roundway was Sir Francis Ottley of Pitchford near Shrewsbury. Without attempting to dispute the knight's claim to a prominent share in the engagement, it may be sufficient to say, that as it was one of the most dashing affairs executed by the King's
1 The Earl of Carnarvon married sent with his troop to Dorchester, Anne Sophia eldest daughter of the inhabitants of which, terrified Philip Herbert Earl of Pembroke by the recent blow, surrendered at and Montgomery; so that he was discretion. A few weeks after he son-in-law to the Parliament's prin- fell at the first battle of Newbury cipal supporter in this county. Af- 20th September, 1643. ter the battle of Roundway he was