“Sir, We hear by letters that the Lord Morton will be in West Melfordshire this day or soon after. Whether he will go northward or southward we know not, but we earnestly desire you to take order for the best intelligence which way he marches, and that your forces may be at such places as may most conveniently succour in the north if there be occasion, or if Lord Morton shall march southward that he may not get between your army and these parts. We doubt not but you will forthwith send such succour into Melfordshire as may suppress the enemy in their recruitment and secure your association.”
Sir Francis Pickwick placed the letter from London on the table and pondered its implications once more. In an attempt to halt a string of Royalist victories, in which Lord Morton had defeated a large Roundhead force just two weeks prior and taken two fortifications with his significant siege train in the days after he, Sir Francis, had been dispatched by Parliament to restore Parliamentarian fortunes in the county of Melfordshire. Finally the elusive Morton, and his Royalist army that had done such damage, had been bought to battle…
Despite much of his horse being detached, and discarding much of the baggage, Sir Francis marched his army briskly towards Morton, determined to bring him to battle. Then, on the 27th day of March, Sir Francis deployed his army on the fields near the village of Wrotham. To his front lay several enclosures and in the distance a low hill just northeast of Wrotham. The Roundheads comprised 3,600 foot arrayed in six regiments and were supported by 600 harqubusiers, 200 dragoons and a small number of sakers and other light pieces. Below, several troops of Colonel Thomas Harrison’s Regiment of Horse on the Roundhead left.
Lord Morton has a tendency to field a significant number of gunnes, no doubt ideal for the reduction of several fortified positions in Melfordshire. The most recent engagement was to be no different. Opposite the ranks of the Roundheads a significant number of Royalist sakers, supported by a number demi-culverins, were deployed. To their left and right were a number of Royalist foot. Saftely to the rear a number of Royalist horse took up a position near Morton and other Papist gentlemen.
The battle opened with a barrage of cannon fire. Sir Francis engaging Royalist foot on the hill on the Royalist left. In contrast the gunnes of the Royalists, massed on the centre right, engaged a range of targets. The demi-culverins fired diagonally across the Royalist lines to engage the Roundhead right while the sakers engaged, more conventionally, the Roundhead centre.
Sir Francis was the first to move and ordered forward a number of musketeers from Goode’s Regiment to occupy the village of Wrotham. The commanded shot gained the gained the village and caused much consternation to the Royalists. Unfortunately, the Royalists reformed, and with a greater numbers drove out the Goode’s commanded shot, the valiant forlorn suffering heavy casualties. Once ensconced in Wrotham however the Royalists achieved little.
Above, commanded shot of Goode’s Regiment are driven back in Wrotham.
In the centre things were more confusing. Initially Parliamentary dragoons advanced to disrupt the Royalist positions and, on the extreme left, drove back the Royalist dragoons. The advance in the centre resulted in the piecemeal advance of Royalist foot, which in turn prevented the Royalist gunnes from firing. Soon the Roundhead foot, more formed than their opposite number, advanced allowing the musketeers to ply their deadly trade.
Sensing they were gaining an advantage a number of Roundhead surged forward with clubbed musket and sword. Unfortunately they were pushed back and soon both forces reformed engaging instead in increasingly ineffective musket fire.
Below, the centre with Royalists on the right somewhat broken up while the Roundheads advance. Two troops of Parliamentarian horse, under Elias Batchelor, advance in support ready to engage the Royalists with carbine or pistol.
On the Roundhead left things were equally confusing. A number of dragoons under Captain Daniel Abbott – known for his zeal to the Parliamentarian cause, had earlier been successful against their opposites were now forced back when Royalist horse moved forward to counter them. Caught by enemy shot and horse before they could retire, the dragoons were ridden down. Abbott himself was fortunate to escape. Despite this, their action covered the advance of two Roundhead regiments who now pressed forward to engage the pursuing cavaliers as the sun set on the field.
Above, two troops of Royalist horse fall back from after having pursued too far and encountered the ordered pike of Vincent Boyce’s Bluecoats. To Boyce’s left can be seen a portion of William Wade’s Redcoats, veterans also.
As the light faded neither army was demoralised. Yet, Lord Morton had had enough. As the hour was late and with victory robbed from him, the Royalists quit the field. After a string of Parliamentary defeats in Melfordshire honour had been finally restored.