Friday, May 3, 2013
12:15pm to 12:45pm The Battle takes an interesting turn
General Graham arrived behind the 33rd Battalion, he could see it was exhausted and needed reorganising, he had two options move them back and risk disorganising them more, or let them gather breath here but risk being charged by the nearby enemy.
He decided to let them rest on the spot, he rode over to the cavalry commander Colonel Sir Claude Somerset,
“Colonel if those Confederation battalions make a move on the 33rd you are to charge them, I will be sending more Battalions over to support them but for now you are it”.
“The Colonel nodded, “Have no fear General, those damn Parliamentarian rebels so much as twitch a toe I will have it, the 33rd is safe in our hands sir.”
“Good man” the general said as he now rode back towards Beasley farm to gather two battalions.
Meanwhile opposite the 33rd the commander of the Confederation 14th battalion Colonel George Ramsey knew the enemy was in similar shape as his own, exhausted. He wished it weren't so, if his men were just a little fresher he would risk attacking the Royalists, but with that damned Cavalry Regiment behind them it was just to risky a venture, he had already ridden over to the commander of the nearby 15th Foot and suggested they move in leap frog fashion until they were in musket range of the enemy battalion, but Colonel Delaware of the 15th refused. Pointing to the rear he had simply said
“We have artillery and cavalry coming up to support us, no point in risking a reverse right now when in a quarter of an hour we can blow both the Battalion and that Regiment out of our way.”
Colonel Ramsey returned to his battalion and began to reorganise his men, occasionally he would glance over to the enemy and noted they too were reorganising. Then he noted something that alarmed him more than anything he had seen today, several flags of new Royalist banners were approaching in his direction, they were still 15 minutes away but they were heading directly for him. He thought to himself,
Well 5 minutes ago we could have had this flank without to much of a scrap, now its going to become another god damn brawl, he looked at his men and hoped they would be ready for it.
Meanwhile over at Hipsley farm the battle between the Confederation 16th Foot and the Royalist 34th continued. In a final effort the commander of the Confederate 16th Foot Colonel Lionel Smyth-Hawthorne decided to risk all and ordered his men over the walls in one combined effort, he reasoned that the Royalists had been battling for 2 hours, surely they cannot have that much strength left. He was right they were not all that strong (388 men) but they were more determined to hang on to the farm than the confederates were to take it. The Parliamentarians climbed ladders, hammered at doors and gates but the fierce defence eventually proved just to stout and the 16th started to withdraw, the Colonel yelled and screamed urging his men to stay and fight, then died when a musket ball pierced his heart; the battalion took itself back under cover and well away from that accursed farm. For the first time since the battle began, the 34th had no one to fight. To their north up near Rose farm the Confederation 95th battalion was just about reorganised after its retreat, to the east near Claudia stream the Confederate 13th light was recovering after their battles and now the 16th was licking its wounds.
The 34th Battalion's commander Colonel Sir Alexander Clements realising that there were no enemies at the wall ordered a watch maintained but the men were to rest, eat and gather more ammunition. He climbed the windmill which stood at the far end of the farm complex, he nodded to several of the 34th's sharpshooters who were stationed there, taking out his telescope he surveyed the battlefield. Looking over at Sluice farm it seemed as if the 37th Battalion that was defending it was buried in a sea of Parliamentary blue uniformed troops.
Looking to the south, a smile came over his smoke covered face, he saw reinforcements arriving, realising this was just the news his men needed to hear he yelled out to them down below,
“Men, the rest of the army has arrived, I can see them way down south, it wont be long now and we will be relieved.”
His men cheered at that news if nothing else it gave them heart, but of course what neither the Colonel nor his men didn't know was that the last thing General Graham intended was to relieve Hipsley farm just yet. He had bigger issues at hand.
Once more the Colonel raised his telescope and watched the fight around Sluice farm.
The battle for Sluice farm was reaching a crisis, the 35th Foot was pulling back to reorganise for the next round, their roles as attackers of the farm was now the duty of the newly arrived 113th Foot, unbloodied and fresh. The Royalist 37th was now a tired and weakend Battalion (514 men), the 5 minutes rest they were being given by the enemy as one battalion withdrew as another moved in to replace them seemed like an hour, but it gave them a brief pause to drink water, gather more ammunition and gather breath.
Before long the Blue coats of the 113th Foot could be seen struggling over bodies, felled trees, smoldering bushes and all the other debris of a hard contested battle. Not long after the battle resumes and for the next 10 minutes the 37th had to experience another storm of men trying to get into the farm complex. In that 10 minutes they lost 104 men while the 113th lost 99 men, but the 113th were far more disorganised in trying to climb walls, obstacles and gates in that 10 minuets of fighting than the Royalists were.
Further out beyond sluice farm two battalions were wading through Claudia Stream, their objective was Beasley farm, the Brigade general had the temerity to tell his battalion commanders that their part in the battle would be little more than a victory parade, there were no Royalists left to oppose him and once he had taken the farm the Royalists to the north would be trapped, and the rest of the battle would be but a brilliant Confederation victory.
Now as Colonel Errol Gardner looked towards Beasley farm to the south, he knew he had a problem, quickly he drew a note pad from his saddle bag and scribbled a message to his superior,
The Victory Parade may need to be canceled, as for the enemy troops they don’t have I am faced by 3-4 fresh battalions,, several cavalry regiments and numerous artillery batteries. To oppose this force there is only my battalion and 14th Light, we need reinforcements urgently.
He handed the message to an aide with the instructions to deliver it to General Blyth as quick as possible.
Meanwhile instead of organising a victory Parade, Colonel Gardner ordered his men to form line. He was relieved to see the the 14th light doing similarly. He was even more relieved to see a heavy cavalry regiment about to cross the stream and support him.
Except for the fighting around Sluice farm a lull settled over the battlefield, it occurred simply because most of the units that had been in contact were too exhausted and lacked the unit cohesion to continue, thus they separated and reorganised for a renewed effort. It also occurred because both commanders were bringing reinforcements up from their respective rear areas and this required time.
So the fight for Sluice farms continues on its own for now.
A further 10 minutes of fighting around Sluice farm finally resulted in the Royalist 37th battalion being thrown out of the defences, their retreat took them south then east towards Hipsley farm where they joined the 34th.
Their Brigade commander who was also with the 34th set about reorganising the tired and exhausted 37rh which now stood 438 strong and in a bad way with its shaken morale.The men from the 34th shared what food and water they had with their Regimental sister battalion.
Thus after two and half hours of continuous attack Sluice farm was finally taken, and one of the cornerstones of the Royalist defences was now in Confederation hands. The victorious 113th was itself near collapse and had become totally disorganised in the fight for the farm, it would require considerable time before it was ready to continue the offensive. For now its commander would set about resting and reorganising his battalion which was now 538 souls strong but near breaking in morale.