The Parliamentary siege force is under the command of Sir Francis Spencer, (Sir Victor Meldrew is currently engaged in protracted negotiations to retain some element of command in the county). Sir Francis was not the first choice of the committee, but he hadn't ruffled any feathers and he was a good natured, if naive man. The progress of the siege had been steady, if uninspired and Sir Francis was undoubtedly a good administrator, as the regular rations supplied to the troops testified. However, he had yet to be tested in battle.
Having had word of who the opposing commander was encouraged Sir Royston to be bold, (in truth he needed little encouragement). He addressed his staff at a 'conference' at the well appointed White Hart Inn suggesting that the affair to come would be little more than a skirmish and several rounds of toasts were drunk to that belief.
|The battlefield from the south|
Sir Francis was fortunate that one of his more experienced commanders, Colonel William Clegg was already in the area. His force consisted of 2 units of horse and one of dragoons. The dragoons had been deployed in Woodman's Copse whilst the cavalry were approaching along the road leading north east from the cross roads. Sir Francis (with 3 regiments) was approaching the crossroads along the road from Fairhaven (ie from the north), whilst a third brigade, also of three regiments, under Colonel Ralph Bates was to arrive on the road from the north west.
Sir Royston ordered Sir Benjamin Havers to take his brigade (3 regiments) straight along the road to Fairhaven. He expected Havers to run into some opposition, but he, together with Sir Thomas Linley's brigade (3 regiments) were going to advance over the more open country by Woodman's Copse and outflank any defenders. Sir Royston ordered his dragoons to attack the White Horse Inn, expecting that his opponent would have placed any musketeers/dragoons there to command the crossroads.
|The Royalists advance|
|Sir Francis' troops near the battlefield|
|Havers' men pass the White Horse Inn|
The delays to Linley and Havers allowed just enough time for Sir Francis and Colonel Bates to reach the battlefield. Although the enclosures hampered a full deployment, they each managed to get one unit through the bottleneck and ready to charge. Sir Francis sent his unit against Havers, who managed to get his leading unit into line before the Parliamentarian charge hit them. Although all the advantages lay with the Parliamentarians, it was the Royalists who prevailed, pushing back their attackers. When they followed up, it was the Royalists' turn to be repulsed. Eventually, both sides fell back to reform.
|The Parliamentary dragoons keep up a harassing fire from Woodman's Copse|
|The fighting in the centre was intense|
On the opposite flank, Colonel Bates was also struggling. With two of his units in need of time to reform, he deployed his remaining unit to cover the gap in the hedges through which Sir Royston's troopers would have to pass. He assumed that Sir Royston would pause to gather his strength before attacking again. However, the "Damned a Dammes" disdained such an approach. Raising his sword aloft he ordered another charge and once again the Royalists swept forward. To Colonel Ralph's shame his men put up only token resistance before they and their comrades turned, and raced for the safety of their own lines. Sending one unit after the Parliamentarians to "keep them running" and with orders to "save any claret for me"; Sir Royston led his remaining men, plus Linley's depleted, but fairly fresh units, against the remains of Spencer's command.
|Sir Royston orders the attack|