Colonel Walter Slingsby's (Royalist Foot) relation of the battles
of Lansdown and Roundway Down in 1643
From Clarendon MSS., Vol. 23, No. 1738 (2).
Battle of Lansdown
The night before the battaile att Lansdowne the Kings Army quarter'd att Marshfield ; in the morning betimes Waller sent a strong party of horse towardes our head quarter, who
beate in all our horse guards, and alarum'd all our quarters: wee instantly drew into the field and marchd two miles towardes Lansdowne where we could see the Rebells Army drawne up upon the top of the hill, he stood upon a piece of ground almost inaccessible. In the brow of the hill, he had raised brestworkes in which his cannon and greate store of small shott was placed ; on either flanke he was strengthned with a thicke wood which stood upon the declining of the hill, in which he had putt store of muskeiteires; on his reare he had a faire plaine where stood rang'd his reserues of horse and Foote; some bodyes of horse with muskeiteires he bestow'd upon some other places of the hill, where he thought there was any accesse; thus fortyfied stood the foxe gazing at us when our whole Army was raung'd in order of battle upon the large corne field neare Tughill. In this posture wee continued about two houres; nothing passing but loose skirmishes upon Tughill, betwixt a party of our vanguard and a party of horse and dragoones of the enemys sent downe the hill for that purpose. The King's Army found that the Rebells would not be drawne to fight but upon extreame advantages ; and therefore faced about and marched towardes our quarter in order as wee had stood which the ground would admit of, being a continuing plaine large field all
the way to Marshfield ; when we had marched neare a mile the whole strength of Wallers horse and dragoones descends the hill, and falls upon our reare ; wee faced about againe and advanced upon them endeavouring to regain our ground where wee were before rang'd : which wee gott with muche dificultye and hazard, our horse receiving some dangerous foiles ; so that had not our Foot bin excellent wee had certainly suffer'd their the Rebells Horse not enduring our charges of horse and volleys of small shott that fell upon them from our approaching bodys of Foot, they retir'd themselves out of that field; but left all theire dragoones upon the walls and hedges upon the farre end of the field neare Tughill from whence our Foot beat them suddenly. The enemys horse being now pressed into the lane
that leads over Tughill to Lansdowne, were observed to be in some disorder by reason of the narrow and ill passage. Prince Maurice therefore takes all our horse and wings them on both
sides the lane within the hedges with small shott, and soe smartly fell upon them, that some run in greate disorder ; but it seemes they had (like provident soldiers) placed their best horse in the Reare who being compeld, turnes about and fights desperately, and theire gives our horse another foile with the death of Major Lower, Major James and many others: but our
horse being still assisted by the Foot, att last beate them down Tughill, where in the bottom they were cruelly gall'd by our Foot that then drew up thicke upon Tughill. Now did our Foot believe no men their equals, and were so apt to undertake anything, that the hill upon which the Rebells stood well fortified little without musket shott (from whence they racked us with their cannon) could not deter them ; for they desir'd to fall on and cry'd lett us fetch those
cannon. Order was presently given to attempt the hill with horse and Foot : greate partys of Musketeers was sent out of either of our wings to fall into those woodes which flanked the
Enemye, and in wcl1 they had lodg'd stoare of small shott for their defence, the horse were to pass upp the highway, but were att first repulsed ; Sr Bevil Grenville then stood on the head of his Regiment upon Tughill, who advanced presently putting all his shott upon his left hand within a wall, and carry'd with him horse on his right hand, the ground being best theire for horse, and he himselfe lead up his pikes in the middle : he gain'd with muche gallantry the brow of the hill receiving all their small shott and cannon from theire brest worke, and three charges of Horse two of which he stood ; but in the third fell with him many of his men : yet had his appearing upon the ground so disorder'd the Enemy, his owne musketeers fyring fast upon theire horse, that they could not stay upon the ground longer. The Rebells Foot tooke example by theire horse and quitt theire brest works retyring behind a long stone wall that runs acrosse the downe; our Foot leaps into their brestworks; our horse draws up upon theire ground : our two wings that were sent to fall into the two woodes had done their business and were upon the hill as soone as the rest.The Enemy (observing our front to enlarge it selfe upon the hill, and our cannon appearing theire likewise) began to
suspect himself, and drew his whole strength behind that wall which he lined well with musketeers, and in several places broke down breaches very broade that his horse might charge if theire were occasion, which breaches were guarded by his cannon and bodyes of pikes.
Thus stood the two Armys taking breath looking upon each other, our cannon on both sides playing without ceasing till it was darke, legs and armes flying apace, the two Armys being
within musket shott : After it was darke theire was greate silence on both sides, at which time our right wing of shott got muche nearer theire army lodging themselves amongst the
many little pits betwixt the wall and the wood from whence we gald them cruelly. About 11 of the clock we received a very greate volley of small shott but not mixed with cannon by which some of us judg'd that he was retreating, and gave this at his expiring; but the general apprehension through our Army was that the Enemy had intention to trye a push in the night for theire ground, which they had so dishonourably lost ; for wee were then seated like a heavy stone vpon the very brow of the hill, which with one lustye charge might well haue bin rowl'd to the bottome.
It was not long before wee knew certainly that they were gone, at theire departure they left all theire light matches upon the wall and whole bodys of pikes standing upright in order
within the wall as if men had held them ; wee were glad they were gone for if they had not I know who had within an hour; but indeede had our horse been as good as the Enemy’s the
rebels had never gone of the field unruin'd. We kept the field till it was day light and then plundered it, and sent several parties of horse several ways, at whose return we were inform'd that the Enemy was in Bath. At eight of the clock we marched off towards Marshfield. Upon Tughill one of our ammunition waggons took fire, blew up many men and hurt many ; especially my Lord Hopton. Major Sheldane died the next day and was much lamented : this
disaster encourag'd the Rebells and discourag'd us. Our horse were bad before but now worse, our Foot drooped for their Lord whom they loved, and that they had not powder left to
defend him, for as I remember we had then but nine barrels left.
Retreat of Hopton's army to Devizes via Marshfield and Chippenham (AC)
That night we quarter'd at Marshfield, being Thursday, the same night the enemy drawe out of Bath up to Lansdowne again. The next morning being Friday we marched to Chippenham, the same night the enemy steps into our quarters at Marshfield, and now the Country seeing him following us begins to desert us; so that we could get neither meal nor intelligence, two necessary things for an Army.
We lay at Chippenham two nights, but were on Sunday early, frighted from thence by the Enemy’s near approach. We marched to the Devizes, but Waller falls upon our Rear, when it was two miles from the Towne; our Horse offered to make the retreat, but after a charge or two, made too much haste to the town. Prince Maurice then order'd my Lord Mohun’s Regiment (then Commanded by your servant) to stay at a ford about a mile from the Towne, and to keep that pass till he had drawne up the Army upon the hill by the Towne, which was done in half an hour, and then upon the word that Regiment was drawne off, having endur'd much shott, nothing sheltering them they were expos'd too openly, a brook only running betwixt the Enemy and them: that Regiment left odd of forty dead in that place, and carry'd off 17 wounded, of which Captain Bluett and Lieutenant May were recovered only, though the one shott into the very bosome, the other through the shoulder.
Siege of Devizes (AC)
The next morning the Enemy faced us with their whole Army upon Roundway down, and we drew into the Towne: that afternoon the Enemy draws down his whole Army off the hill, and lies in the Valley betwixt the town and the hill. The same being Monday Prince Maurice, the Marquis Hertford and all the Horsegets safe to Oxford. The next morning Waller draws his whole force close to the Towne and beleaguers us round, lying in many places within
Carabine shot; rais'd a batterye upon a hill neare the Towne, and then incessantly day and night pours greate and small shott into us. There was no better works then hedges, yet had wee so barricaded the Avenues that their Horse could not charge in upon us, neither durst their Foot attempt us, we being almost twice their number, and better Foot.
Our match failed us and we were forced to use all the bed-cord in the town, which being prepar'd with rossell served well. The Lord Crawford was comming with ammunition to us, but was beaten by the way; upon which Waller gives notice of that mischance and offers us Conditions, but not granting them so honorable as we demaunded the Treaty was quickly dissolu'd.
Battle of Roundway Down
Within three days after Prince Maurice and the Lord Wilmot comes to our relief with a good strength of Horse; of which the Enemy gave us notice by his drawing entirely off from the Town and ordering his Army upon Roundway-down.
About two of the clock the kings horse appear; about three they charge the Enemy' s vanguard, which was suddenly disorder'd, by whose help and foul retreat the rest was the
like; so that on a sudden, we could see the Enemy's whole body of horse face about and run with speed, and our horse in close body firing in their rear, till they had chased them down the hill in a steep place, where never horse went down nor up before. : Waller went in so much haste that he left all his body off Foot and cannon standing upon the very crown
of the hill, who for a while made gallant resistance against our horse, defending themselves in hopes their General would be so mindful of them, as to return into the field and fetch off
his Foot and cannon, but perceiving he stay'd too long, and that our Cornish Regiments was comming apace upon them, they thought it not so safe to stay for their encounter, and
therefore began to move towards the next enclosures hoping to make their retreat; but drawing over the downs, seeing several bodies of our Horse pressing hard upon them on all
sides,they began to fall in pieces, and melt into such disorder that they suffer'd miserably; they were about 1800 in number of which about 600 was then slain, the rest all wounded and taken with their colours and arms, and nine brass piece of cannon.
From hence the King’s Army marched to Bath, which place with some castles and petty garrisons near adjoining was quickly surrendered into our hands. From thence after some days the Army removed to Keynsham, and from thence to the Leaguer of Bristoll, lying down on the West side of the City.