Story Of London

London’s Trained bands in the Civil War: I

During the English Civil War, Henry Foster was a Sergeant in the Parliamentary Army, serving under Captain George Moss of the city of London’s Trained Bands, or auxiliaries. He has left us an account of the Regiment’s march to relieve the siege of Gloucester and of the three major battles which they fought between August 23rd and September 28 1643. Our first extract covers the first eleven days and ends on at midnight September 3 after their first skirmish with the Cavaliers under Prince Rupert.

Exod. 15.6,7. ‘Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord; hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee; thou didst send forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble’.A painting of the Trained Bands leaving London during the civil War by C. W. cope R.A.The trained Bands leaving London.A TRUE RELATION OF THE Diurnal Marchings of the Red and Blue Regiments of the Trained Bands of the City of London, as also the three Regiments of the Auxiliary Forces. Wherein the most material passages of every day’s Occurrences are briefly delineated.Upon Wednesday the 23 of August, our red Regiment, of the Trained Bands marched into the new Artillery ground, and from thence that night we marched to Brainford, and came thither about one a clock in the morning; from whence the next day many of our Citizens, who seemed very forward and willing at the first to march with us, yet upon some pretences and fair excuses returned home again hiring others to go in their room; others returned home again the same night before they came to Brainford. Upon Friday the 25 of August, we advanced from Brainford to Uxbridge, where our Regiments were Quartered there that night, and marched away the next morning.Saturday the 26 of August we advanced to a Towne 6 miles beyond Uxbridge called Chaffan, where we were quartered that night; at this town a soldier belonging to Lieutenant Colonel Tompson was accidentally slain by shooting off a musket by one of his fellow Soldiers though at a great distance from him, yet shot him in the head whereof he died.Sabbath day 27 August, we advanced from Chaffan near to a village called Chessun; this day the Blue Regiment of the Trained Bands, and the three Regiments of the Auxiliary forces met us upon a great Common about three miles from Chessun, our whole Regiment was quartered at one Mr. Cheney’s house an Esquire, where we were well accommodated for Beer having great plenty, two or three hundred of us this night lay in one Barn.Monday the 28 of August, we advanced from thence to a town called Asson-Clinton a little village 3 miles from Aylesbury, we continued here one day and two nights. Wednesday the 30 of August, we advanced from thence to a village called Clayden; this day the Lord General’s Army and our Regiments of the Trained Band, together with the Auxiliaries forces met at Aylesbury; the great Guns were fired at every Fort about the Town, as the Lord General passed by: This was the Fast day: our Regiment was quartered this night at Sir Ralph Verney’s House a Parliament man; his Father the Kings Standard-bearer was slain at Edge hill.Thursday the 31 of August, we advanced from thence to a village called Stretton-Araley; this night all our Brigade consisting of six Regiments; viz: Colonel Manwarings Red Regiment, two Regiments of Trained Bands, and three of the Auxiliary, were all quartered at this little village, it is conceived we were in all of this Brigade about 5000. Here was little provision either for Officers or soldiers, the night before we came hither, the Cavaliers were at Bister two miles from this village and 6 miles from Oxford but were beaten out of it by our soldiers and the Lord General with his army quartered there this night.Friday the 1 day of September, we advanced from hence to a place called Bayards-greene in Oxford shire, being three miles distant from Brackley, and eight miles from Banbury, where our Brigade met my Lord General with his whole Army; whereat was great shouting and Triumph as he passed by to take a view of our Regiments, the whole Army being drawn up in their several Regiments, continued there about an hour and then we marched away: It was a goodly and glorious sight to see the whole Army of Horse and foot together; it is conceived by those that viewed our Army well, that we did consist of (to speak of the least) 15000 horse and foot, some speak of many more. This day good news was brought to us concerning Gloucester, and Exeter. From hence we marched this day to a village called Souldern, four miles from Banbury, where our six Regiments that came from London were Quartered; and my Lord General and the rest of the Army were Quartered about a little mile from us, at a Market town called Ano on the hill; we were very much scanted of Victuals in this place. Saturday 2 Septem. we advanced from hence to Hooknorton, 25 miles from Gloucester, at which Village our whole Brigade was quartered. This day the Lord General’s Troops had some skirmish with the Cavaliers; it is reported there was eight slain of the enemy’s party and one on ours. From hence we marched away the next morning.A portrait of the 3rd. Earl of Essex, who led the parliamentary forces.
The Earl of Essex.
Sabbath day 3 Septemb. we advanced from hence to a little Village called Addington about a mile from Stow the Old, the hithermost town in Gloucester-shire, and about 20 miles from Gloucester; where in our march this day, we again met the Lord General’s Army, upon a great common about half a mile from Chipping Norton; at which place also our five Regiments departed from his Army, and marched to the Village aforesaid. The blue Regiment of the Trained bands marched in the van and took up the first quarter in the town; the other 3 Regiments of the Auxiliary forces, were quartered at the adjacent villages; whereupon our Red Regiment of the Trained Band was constrained to march half a mile further to get quarter, we were now in the Van of the whole Army, having not so much as one Troop of Horse quartered near us: but we were no sooner in our quarters, and set down our arms, intending a little to refresh our selves; but presently there was an Alarm beat up, and we being the frontier Regiment nearest the enemy, were presently all drawn up into a Body, and stood upon our guard all that night, we were in great distraction, having not any horse to send out as Scouts, to give us any intelligence: my Lord General with his Army lay at Chipping Norton, about three miles behind us; who had an Alarm there given by the enemy the same night also: Our Regiment stood in the open field all night, having neither bread nor water to refresh our selves, having also marched the day before without any sustenance neither durst we kindle any fire though it was a very cold night.Monday 3 Septemb. we got some refreshment for our soldiers, which was no sooner done, but news was brought to us, that the enemy was within half a mile of the Town, which proved to be true, for presently one rode down to us having his horse shot in the neck all bloody, and told us the enemy was at the town’s end; also one Trooper slain a quarter of a mile above the town, one of our soldiers stripped him, and brought his clothes to us: It was a little open Village, the enemy might have come in upon us every way, therefore we conceiving it not safe to abide in the town, drew up our Regiment presently in a body, and marched into a broad open field to the top of the hill, the blue Regiment of the trained Bands were quartered within less than half a mile of us, but came not up to us: Being come into the field we saw about 4 or 5000 of the enemy’s horse surrounding of us, one rode post to my Lord General to inform him of it. One great body of their horse stood facing of us upon the top of the hill at our town’s end, within less than a quarter of a mile from us, another great body of their horse was in the valley, upon our right flank as we stood; and a third great squadron of their horse were going up to the top of a hill, in the rear of us; by all which it appears, they had an intent to have surrounded our City Regiment, and to have cut us off; we stood and faced one another for the space of half an hour; then 6, or 7. of our men who had horses, rode up to them and came within less than musket shot, flourishing their swords, daring them, and one or two of our men fired upon their forlorn hope: we had lined the hedges with musketeers, which they perceiving did not move towards our body, but only stood and faced us.A rare print of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, leader of the Royalist forces.Prince Rupert of the Rhine.Then some of the Auxiliary forces came up to us, at whose coming we gave a great shout: and then by and by after we saw my Lord General’s forces coming down the hill about a mile and half behind us: my Lord drove out the forlorn hope upon the hill as they came down; who fired 3 or 4. Drakes against the enemies horse that were near them on the top of the hill, that were coming upon the rear of us, and made them retreat to the rest of the body their intent was to have compassed us in on every side, but the Lord prevented them, they might have spoiled our whole Regiment, had they in the morning come down upon us when we were taking a little food to refresh ourselves, the enemy being then but a half a mile off; a great many of the Cavaliers lay all night, within less then a mile of us, which we perceived in our march the next day, I hope the mercy of that day, will not be forgotten. When this was done, my L. General’s forces marched up to our Brigade: when they were come we drew forth our Forlorn hope, and marched up to the body of their Horse that stood facing us on the top of the hill: we fired some Drakes at them, they retreated: then the Lord General drew up his great Guns, they faced us again, we fired two great Pieces of Ordnance at them, and then they retreated up to the Town of Stow, and drew up all their horse into a body, and stood upon the side of the hill facing us: then we let fly two or three of our greatest Ordnance at them; they all fled, and we pursued them and followed them three miles: Then they stood and faced the Lord General again about the going down of the Sun, we fired at them a great while, marching up towards them five or six Regiments together; all in a body, about 800 or 1000 abreast, six deep we having room enough, it being a brave champion country: which goodly show did so much the more daunt the enemy, that (as it is reported) Prince Rupert swore, he thought all the Round-heads in England were there. In the first Skirmish we lost but one man, who was slain by our own Cannon through his own negligence, and another sore burnt and hurt by the same Piece. When we came to Stow, the Cavaliers reported that they had killed twenty of our men, and we two of theirs; but we hear there were six of their men slain, some horses killed, and five prisoners taken. Prince Rupert was there, and some say the Lord of Holland also. Our men pursuing them skirmished till nine of the clock at night; we marched after them till twelve of the clock at night: we lay all in the open field upon the ploughed-land, without straw, having neither bread nor water, yet God enabled our Soldiers to undergo it cheerfully, there was not one feeble sick person amongst us, but was able to march with us the day following.