Thursday, May 2, 2013
Battle Continues 11:45 - Midday.
11:45 – Noon.
As the 14th passed through the 13th Light which was being hastily withdrawn it received its initial volley from the Royalist 33rd Foot stationed on the other side of Claudia stream, the 14th Line lost 45 men and in return they inflicted 35 casualties on the 33rd. The 33rd having been in the battle for the last hour and being sniped at the whole while by the pesky light infantry of the 13th battalion were by now showing signs of becoming shaky. They began to move back from the enemy line, but reformed albeit rather shakily once the Brigade commander rode up to join them.
Over in Hipsley farm the 95th and the Royalist 34th arrived at the farm complex at the same time, in this instance there was no chance for firing for they were in amongst the buildings , walls and trees thus it was to be bayonet and butt work, the two sides literally tore at each other. The 95th entered the fray with a distinct disadvantage, they had already been in a heavy brawl with the Royalist 2nd Light, which they had seen off; they then still in column charged through the woods until they reached the farm complex. It was understandable that the 95th was in quite some disarray, whilst the Royalist 34th arrived quite fresh. The melee last 10 minutes and the 95th was thrown out of the farm complex, they withdrew quite a distance out of the farm and the woods, but will be able to recover.
The Royalist 34th now set about manning the walls of the farm., those on the left walls of the farm could see the enemy 16th Foot which was moving down the flank of the farm suddenly turned and prepared to charge.
Meanwhile just to the right of Hipsley farm the Cavalry commander finally decided he had wasted enough time allowing the fleeing 2nd Light Bn to cross the bridge now started pushing his men over it, as he did so General Graham's aide arrived to deliver the Generals rebuke of his halting his Regiment against specific orders. Now fired up and realising he was disgracing himself in from of his General and the army he became wild with rage and ordered his men to run down any infantry in their path, those few 2nd Light Infantry still crossing the bridge soon evaded and carried on running.
Meanwhile the 3rd dragoons though disorganised charged the Confederate 12th Light infantry who had finally reached the guns, they were exhausted and quite dispirited when someone yelled “Cavalry” their commanding officer yelled for his bugler, but instead of forming square the Bugler and the rest of the Battalion fled (They failed a reaction test), the commanding officer and over 175 men died trying to escape the cavalry, the 3rd dragoons suffered no losses. The pursuit of the routing 12th Light Battalion was brought to an abrupt halt, the Regiment returned to the guns and set about getting them moved, some of the gunners who had been hiding in southern Hipsley woods returned to help them.
To the right of the battery, yet another melee was taking place. This was between the Royalist 37th foot who had ensconced themselves in the Sluice farm complex and the 35th Battalion which poured through the woods north of the farm and attacked the Royalists defending the wall. The fighting continues but in 10 minutes of the melee starting the 35th have already lost 129 men, the Royalist 37th losing 103.
The 39th Confederate battalion which had been marching on the left of the 35th now proceeded straight for Claudia stream, its Colonel realising that there were no one to oppose him decided this was the optimal time to take advantage of the Royalist weakness.
Mean while its sister Battalions the 40th and the 14th Light would push quickly along behind them, for some inexplicable reason the brigade commander had left them quite a way back from the fight, so now they had to march extremely quickly so they could join up with the 35th once across the stream, the 113th would move in to join in on the attack on Sluice farm.
Meanwhile in Sluice farm the melee continued.
After a further 10 minutes of fighting over walls, around trees and buildings the confederate battalion commander decided he needed to withdraw while he could and reorganise, looking behind him he saw the 113th closing in, so now was the time to pull back.
With the Confederate 12th light pulling back, the Royalist cavalry and the few gunners that joined them, managed to extract the guns, they then slowly pulled the guns back over the Hipsley road bridge.
Meanwhile in Hipsley farm the Confederation 16th Foot had moved around to the left flank of the farm, so they did not have to fight through the trees, their assault on the farm complex was directed against the fortified buildings, the Royalist 34th, already disorganised from the melee with the 95th Battalion which they had repulsed, now had another attack to defend against.
The fighting for the farm has gone on for 15 minutes so far and continues, the 34th has lost 244 men defending the farm against the 16th, which has lost 146 men, once again both sides are locked in a deadly melee.
Further to the Royalist left the Royalist 33rd Foot was joined by the Brigade commander and General Preston who did all they could to steady the men
The Confederation 14th line seeing the 33rd had fallen back decided to risk crossing the stream, by the time they reached the other side they were quite disorganised, the stream being over waist deep and many of the men slipped and staggered their way through, on reaching the far bank they were surprised to see the 33rd had closed their ranks and fired on the 14th , the casualties were quite light and though disorganised the 1th charged the 33rd Light, this movement forward gave the following 15th battalion a chance to start crossing the stream as well.
The melee between the 33rd and the 14th line, was a fight between two exhausted and disorganised units, the 33rd royalist battalion was pushed back and retreated in considerable disorder. The 14th Line now in quite a mess itself and for the moment unopposed started to gather breath, then from their midst came the call to form square, the Royalist Dragoon regiment that had been in position behind the 33rd was forming as if to charge, the 14th despite their disorganisation formed square and waited.
Lord Ashley had been quite concerned that no matter how valiantly his men pressed the attack, the Royalists seemed to just hang on doggedly. However finally after two hours of hard fighting the Royalist line started to crack. On the Confederation right the last battalion defending the stream had been pushed back and now he had two battalions across, one of them the 15th untouched so far, of considerable worry however was the dragoon regiment which seemed set to charge, the general was pleased to see the 14th forming square.
He turned in his saddle to face major General Saunders,
“I want the 3 medium batteries rushed up to the stream behind the 14th, from there they can dominate the right flank and if necessary blow that regiment away, also send a cavalry regiment forward to support the Guns and the 14th.”
He surveyed other aspects of the line, his telescope stopped when he saw the smoke and troops around Hipsley farm.
“Those damned Royalists know how to defend buildings, I will give them that.”
Just as he cast his eyes further to the left he realised his view was blocked by the terrain from seeing what was happening out there, however he had been watching a dispatch rider in his red cap racing towards him, speaking to no one in particular he murmured,
“Ahh at last news from the left I hope”.
The rider rode up beside Lord Ashley and delivered a message, quickly reading it a smile spread across his face,
“Most excellent news, we have another Battalion across the stream and others on their way to join them way out on our left past sluice farm, its seems the Royalists still hold the farm but the fighting continues.”
He waved the dispatch to his staff and handed it to General Saunders,
“By god we have them Saunders we damn well have them, both flanks turned damned me if we don’t have them.”
He paused for a moment then started writing out some new orders, as he was doing so, another dispatch rider arrived, a trooper of the Light cavalry, he handed the new missive to Lord Ashley, the smile drifted from his face.
“Damn, our patrols have seen the Royalist reinforcements just south of Beasley farm, god in hell why couldnt they be just another 15 minutes later”.
He scribbled up the message he had started to write, and threw it on the ground, turning to his staff he said,
“This news changes nothing, we have turned both flanks and now we need to push a lot harder, he looked a little way to his rear where the 2nd Brigade was reforming,
“The 2nd Brigade looks almost ready to move once more, they are to move and support the 14th Battalion, I want them to make for Beasley farm, we will entertain the new reinforcements with some 6 battalions closing in on them from two flanks, all the while we squeeze the life out of their centre.”
Once more Lord Ashley started writing new orders.
For General Graham the situation was past desperate and was now becoming dangerous, he in the process of contemplating a withdrawal, but the problem was the two foremost battalions in Sluice and Hipsley farms were simply too involved to disengage.
He was so involved he didn’t notice the dispatch rider beside him until the man spoke,
“Sir, a Message from Major General Roberts.”
General Graham roused out of his deep thoughts took the message, quickly reading it he smiled at his sub ordinate Major General Preston,
“Ahh good news, Roberts is at Sweetwater Stream just south of Beasley farm with his infantry.”
As they both looked to the south indeed they could see two Regiments of cavalry advancing up the road, Major General Preston murmured,
“My god they are a sight for sore eyes.”
General Graham added, “You are right there”.
He then pulled his horse closer to General Preston,
We still have to play for time, and things are still going against us, I want you to take those two Cavalry Regiments and stall for time over on the right, either dummy charges or if the opportunity presents itself take the bloody bastards. I will send some infantry as soon as I can. I will need the first two Battalions over on the left, the next two you will get along with the two batteries.
I will hold them on the left and I want you to push them back on the right once the infantry arrive.”
He smiled at General Preston “We can still turn this battle around, now lets get to it.”
Major General Preston rode off to gather the two cavalry Regiments, General Graham looked at the two farms in his centre, sighed deeply and then rode off over to the left, leading an aide to ride back and advise Major General Roberts of his wishes.”