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Lesley brings over his guns to the western side of Edinburgh, and awaits, steady within his fastnesses there.
Hopes have arisen that the Godly Party in Scotland, seeing now by these Letters and Papers what our real meaning is, may perhaps quit a Malignant King's Interest, and make bloodless peace with us, which were the best of all.' The King boggles about signing that open Testimony, that Declaration against his Father's sins which was expected of him. A great Commander of the Enemy's, Colonel Gibby Carre' (Colonel Gilbert Ker, of whom we shall hear farther), solicits an interview with some of ours, and has it; and other interviews and free communings take place, upon the Burrow-Moor and open fields that lie between us. Gibby Ker, and also Colonel Strahan who was thought to be slain :* these and some minority of others are clear against Ma. lignancy in every form; and if the Covenanted Stuart King will not sign this Declaration--Whereupon the Covenanted Stuart King does sign it; signs this too,t-what will he not sign?—and these hopes of accommodation vanish.
Neither still will they risk a Battle; though in their interviews upon the Burrow-Moor, they said they longed to do it. Vain that we draw out in battalia; they lie within their fastnesses. We march, with defiant circumstance of war, round all accessible sides of Edinburgh; encamp on the Pentlands, return to Musselburgh for provisions; go to the Pentlands again,-enjoy one of the beautifullest prospects, over deep-blue seas, over yellow cornfields, dusky Highland mountains, from Ben Lomond round to the Bass again; but can get no Battle. And the weather is broken, and the season is advancing,-equinox within ten days, by the modern Almanac. Our men fall sick; the service is harassing; -and it depends on wind and tide whether even biscuit can be landed for us nearer than Dunbar. Here is the Lord General's
(Commons Journals); reprinted in Parliamentary History (xix., 327) as a Narrative by General Cromwell;' though it is clearly enough not General Cromwell's, but John Rushworth's.
* Letter LXXXVII., p. 443.
At our Court at Dunfermline this 16th day of August, 1650 (Sir Edward Walker, pp. 170-6; by whom the melancholy Document is, with due loyal indignation, given at large there).
own Letter 'to a Member of the Council of State,'-we might this or the other, but cannot with the least certainty know
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; à 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:† 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.
† 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,' says vague Hodgson (p. 142); 'within a mile of 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.
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,† 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). † 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 next 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