|Armies gathering as of 1st April|
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Armies begin to march
Even to those who thought they knew him Lord Bedford the leader of the Parliamentarian forces had taken the news of the battle of Twynford with remarkable equanimity. Most had expected another one of his well known temper outbursts, but as he read the initial dispatches from Colonel Sorenson and the later ones from General Ferguson he had merely nodded to himself whilst reading them.
But then of course they his friends, allies and associates did not know what he knew, the French were coming and above all else that was what mattered.
When England divided into armed camps and both sides began rapidly recruiting and arming, Lord Bedford had daily expected the Royalists to attack his lands, as each day passed he started to feel a little more secure, but then he began to receive intelligence from both agents in London to the north and Lyndhurst further to the West that the Royalists were gathering regular army troops. To Lord Bedford it meant a royalist attack was imminent, and at that stage there was no news of the French, so he gambled and decided on a pre-emptive strike. Its goal was to at least cause the Royalists to hesitate thus gaining time, but more optimistically he hoped the Parliamentarians may win and gain the first and important win of the war, a win that if nothing else worked would he hope gain French support.
So he had gambled on Sir Ferguson being his man in the west, mainly because Ferguson had the lands around Romney which was a neighbouring county of Lyndhurst. He regarded Ferguson as a wild card in his mix of Allies, he was arrogant, ambitious, greedy and utterly ruthless; but he was no general of armies. So if he had to promote Sir Ferguson to general he had to ensure he had a professional soldier to advise him, and Lord Bedford had such a man in Colonel Sorenson. He was an experienced officer, had fought in Europe both with the Dutch and French, he even had fought alongside General Leopold Anders the new Commander of the Royalist forces in Lyndhurst; so there was no doubt he was the man to ensure Ferguson didn’t make a mess of things.
His instructions to Colonel Sorenson had been to ensure Ferguson didn’t lose the war in a day, he was to advise and if Sir Ferguson seemed to be incapable of commanding, he was to be removed and Sorenson assume the command.
As it turned out the initial reports that came back from Sorenson was that General Ferguson was doing quite a good job of organising his small army, but then a few weeks later he received a letter from Sir Ferguson, now General Ferguson that he was departing Romney and would be moving via Eling and taking Lyndhurst by the following evening. He also received a missive from Colonel Sorenson that General Ferguson was now taking his job as commander of the army in a very light manner, he spent most of his time drinking and womanising and left running and organising his army to his deputy, Sorenson also claimed that general Ferguson was disregarding all his advise and continuing to run the army in his own haphazard manner.
Bedford received the news of the Houndsdown fiasco with some concern, Sorenson reported the drunken orgy the General organised the night before the battle, the lack of reconnaissance and the needless intention of battering his inexperienced army against well dug in Royalist forces. That report was followed by another a day or so later in which Sorenson reported that he had finally convinced the General about the futility of trying to attack a enemy in prepared defensive positions, that they should withdraw, mask Eling and swing north via Cadmans bridge and advance on Lyndhurst on more open country, a plan ironically which Sorenson had suggested in the first place.
He read General Ferguson’s report which arrived two days later with a wry smile, in his report the General indicated he had prevented the Royalists from capturing Eling and advancing, that even now he was maneuvering his army north to Cadmans bridge outflank the Royalists.
All this was to some amusement to Lord Bedford because while the armies on the Lyndhurst border were squabbling and counter marching events elsewhere were unfolding. He received news from Cardinal Cartwright his envoy in France.
The French King had been persuaded by his First Minister Cardinal de Fleury to send an initial force of two brigades of troops to England, he had further advised the they should move urgently while the Royal navy was still recovering from its previous state of near mutiny.
Furthermore Lord Bedford heard news of events that were afoot in Northern England. The Royalist enclave counties of The Duchy of Nene and the County of Northampton had been taken unopposed by forces under the Duke of Norfolk. Of course Lord Bedford smiled to himself, typical that damned Norfolk would claim the first Parliamentary victory especially considering that both Nene and Northampton were too small to have raised any troops to oppose him.
Further news was that Norfolk was now marching on the County of Royston, he wondered about the wisdom of that because Royston was bordered by two of the strongest Royalist counties in the country, those of Essex and Gloucester. He had written to Norfolk advising him to wait until the French arrived and if they did he would send some French reinforcements north to assist, but he had not heard word since then.
However while Norfolk was marching in the north, the Battle of Twynford had been fought and lost. Though Bedford was quickly proclaiming the battle was a draw and had been merely an exercise in testing his forces, now both the royalist Forces under general Anders and the Parliamentary Romney Army under Ferguson were eying each other over Cadmans bridge. A situation that pleased Bedford immensely, especially when word had arrived that the first French troops had landed at Folkstone. It meant that Ferguson was keeping the Royalist Lyndhurst army well to the west while the French disembarked, his only worry was what was the Royalist army of Berkshire doing in London, rumours suggested it was either marching north to reinforce Essex in his campaign against Norfolk or that he would march south against Bedford himself, either way he needed those French troops unloaded quickly.