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'On Tuesday at night, August 5th, the Lieutenant-General' Cromwell with his party returned to Sherborne,' where the General and the rest were very busy besieging the inexpugnable Sir Lewis Dives.
'This work,' which the Lieutenant-General had now been upon, continues Sprigge, though unhappy, was very necessary."* No messenger could be sent out but he was picked up by these Clubmen: these once dispersed, 'a man might ride very quietly from Sherborne to Salisbury.' The inexpugnable Sir Lewis Dives (a thrasonical person known to the readers of Evelyn), after due battering, was now soon stormed: whereupon, by Letters found on him, it became apparent how deeply Royalist this scheme of Clubmen had been: Commissions for raising Regiments of Clubmen; the design to be extended over England at large, 'yea into the Associated Counties:' however, it has now come to nothing; and the Army turns up to the Siege of Bristol, where Prince Rupert is doing all he can to entrench himself.
* Sprigge, p 81.
STORM OF BRISTOL.
ON the Lord's Day, September 21, according to Order of Parliament, Lieutenant-General Cromwell's Letter on the taking of Bristol was read in the 'several Congregations about London, and thanks returned to Almighty God for the admirable and wonderful reducing of that city. The Letter of the renowned Commander is well worth observation.** For the Siege itself and what preceded and followed it, see besides this Letter, Rupert's own account, and the ample details of Sprigge copied with abridgment by Rushworth; Sayer's History of Bristol gives Plans, and all manner of local details, though in a rather vague way.
For the Honorable William Lenthall, Speaker of the Commons House of Parliament: These.
Bristol, 14th September, 1645.
It has pleased the General to give me in charge to represent unto you a particular account of the taking of Bristol; the which I gladly undertake.
After the finishing of that service at Sherborne, it was disputed at a council of war, Whether we should march into the West or to Bristol? Amongst other arguments, the leaving so considerable an enemy at our backs, to march into the heart of the Kingdom, the undoing of the country about Bristol, which was 'already' exceedingly harassed by the Prince his being thereabouts but a fortnight; the correspondency he might hold in Wales; the possibility of uniting the Enemy's forces where they pleased, and especially of drawing to an head the disaffected Clubmen of Somerset, Wilts and Dorset, when once our backs were toward them these considerations, together with the hope of' taking so important a place, so advantageous for the opening of trade to London,-did sway the balance, and beget that conclusion.
* Newspapers, Cromwelliana, p. 24.
† Rushworth, vi., 69, &c.
When we came within four miles of the City, we had a new debate, Whether we should endeavor to block it up, or make a regular siege? The latter being overruled, Colonel Welden with his brigade marched to Pile Hill, on the South side of the City, being within musket-shot thereof;-where in a few days they made a good quarter, overlooking the City. Upon our advance, the enemy fired Bedminster, Clifton, and some other villages lying near to the City; and would have fired more, if our unexpected coming had not hindered. The General caused some Horse and Dragoons under Commissary-General Ireton to advance over Avon, to keep in the enemy on the North side of the Town, till the foot could come up and after a day, the General, with Colonel Montague's and Colonel Rainsborough's brigades, marched over at Kensham to Stapleton, where he quartered that night. The next day, Colonel Montague, having this post assigned with his brigade, To secure all between the Rivers Froom and Avon; he came up to Lawford's Gate,* within musket-shot thereof. Colonel Rainsborough's post was near to Durdam Down, whereof the Dragoons and three regiments of Horse made good a post upon the Down, between him and the River Avon, on his right hand. And from Colonel Rainsborough's quarters to Froom River on his left, a part of Colonel Birch's, and 'the whole of' General Skippon's regiment were to maintain that post.
These posts thus settled, our Horse were forced to be upon exceeding great duty; to stand by the Foot, lest the Foot, being so weak in all their posts, might receive an affront. And truly herein we were very happy, that we should receive so little loss by sallies; considering the paucity of our men to make good the posts, and strength of the enemy within. By sallies (which were three or four) I know not that we lost thirty men in all the time of our siege. Of officers of quality, only Colonel Okey was taken by mistake (going' of himself' to the enemy, thinking they had been friends), and Captain Guilliams slain in a charge. We took Sir Bernard Astley; and killed Sir Richard Crane,-one very considerable with the Prince.
We had a council of war concerning the storming of the Town, about eight days before we took it; and in that there appeared great unwillingness to the work, through the unseasonableness of the weather, and other apparent difficulties. Some inducement to bring us thither had been the report of the good affection of the Townsmen to us; but that did not answer expectation. Upon a second consideration, it was overruled for a storm. And all things seemed to favor the design;-and truly there hath been seldom the like cheerfulness to any work like to
*One of the Bristol Gates.
this, after it was once resolved upon. The day and hour of our storm was appointed to be on Wednesday morning, the Tenth of September, about one of the clock. We chose to act it so early because we hoped thereby to surprise the Enemy. With this resolution also, to avoid confusion and falling foul one upon another, That when 'once' we had recovered* the Line and Forts upon it, we should not advance further till day. The General's signal unto a storm was to be, The firing of straw, and discharging four pieces of cannon at Pryor's Hill Fort.
The signal was very well perceived of all; and truly the men went on with great resolution; and very presently recovered the Line, making way for the Horse to enter. Colonel Montague and Colonel Pickering, who stormed at Lawford's Gate, where was a double work, well filled with men and cannon, presently entered; and with great resolution beat the enemy from their works, and possessed their cannon. Their expedition was such that they forced the enemy from their advantages, without any considerable loss to themselves. They laid down the bridges for the Horse to enter ;—Major Desbrow commanding the Horse; who very gallantly seconded the Foot. Then our Foot advanced to the City Walls; where they possessed the Gate against the Castle Street: whereinto were put 100 men; who made it good. Sir Hardress Waller with his own and the General's regiment, with no less resolution, entered on the other side of Lawford's Gate, towards Avon River; and put themselves into immediate conjunction with the rest of the brigade.
During this, Colonel Rainsborough and Colonel Hammond attempted Pryor's Hill Fort, and the Line downwards towards Froom; and the Major-General's regiment being to storm towards Froom River, Colonel Hammond possessed the Line immediately, and beating the enemy from it, made way for the Horse to enter. Colonel Rainsborough, who had the hardest task of all at Pryor's Hill Fort, attempted it; and fought near three hours for it. And indeed there was great despair of carrying the place; it being exceeding high, a ladder of thirty rounds scarcely reaching the top thereof; but his resolution was such that, notwithstanding the inaccessibleness and difficulty, he would not give it over. The enemy had four pieces of cannon upon it, which they plied with round and case shot upon our men: his Lieutenant-Colonel Bowen, and others, were two hours at push of pike, standing upon the palisadoes, but could not enter. 'But now' Colonel Hammond being entered the
* Recovered means 'taken,' 'got possession of:' the Line is a new earthen work outside the walls; very deficient in height according to Rupert's ac
Line (and 'here' Captain Ireton * with a forlorn of Colonel Rich's regiment interposing with his Horse between the Enemy's Horse and Colonel Hammond, received a shot with two pistol-bullets, which broke his arm), by means of this entrance of Colonel Hammond they did storm the Fort on that part which was inward; ' and so' Colonel Rainsborough's and Colonel Hammond's men entered the Fort, and immediately put almost all the men in it to the sword.
And as this was the place of most difficulty, so it was' of most loss to us on that side,—and of very great honor to the undertaker. The Horse 'too' did second them with great resolution: both these Colonels do acknowledge that their interposition between the enemy's Horse and their Foot, was a great means of obtaining of this strong Fort. Without which all the rest of the line to Froom River would have done us little good; and indeed neither Horse nor Foot could have stood in all that way, in any manner of security, had not the Fort been taken.— Major Bethel's were the first Horse that entered the Line; who did behave himself gallantly; and was shot in the thigh, had one or two shot more, and had his horse shot under him. Colonel Birch with his men, and the Major-General's regiment, entered with very good resolution where their post was; possessing the enemy's guns, and turning them upon them.
By this, all the line from Pryor's Hill Fort to Avon (which was a full mile), with all the forts, ordnance and bulwarks, were possessed by us; —save one, wherein were about Two hundred and twenty men of the Enemy; which the General summoned, and all the men submitted.
The success on Colonel Welden's side did not answer with this. And although the Colonels, and other the officers and soldiers both Horse and Foot, testified as much resolution as could be expected,Colonel Welden, Colonel Ingoldsby, Colonel Herbert, and the rest of the Colonels and officers, both of Horse and Foot, doing what could be well looked for from men of honor,—yet what by reason of the height of the works, which proved higher than report made them, and the shortness of the ladders, they were repulsed with the loss of about One hundred men. Colonel Fortescue's Lieutenant-Colonel was killed, and Major Cromwell† dangerously shot; and two of Colonel Ingoldsby's brothers hurt; with some officers.
Being possessed of thus much as hath been related, the Town was fired in three places by the Enemy; which we could not put out.
*This is not the famous Ireton; this is his Brother. CommissaryGeneral Ireton,' as we have seen, is also here; he is not wedded yet. † A cousin.