|Situation at 11:45|
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Second Assault. 11:30 – 11:45
The Confederation brigade marched south, its 4 line Infantry Battalions in attack column, screened by the 13th Lt Inf going on before in open order.
As they neared what had once been a hedge, mostly destroyed now in the previous melee the 13th Lt Bn opened fire on 33rd Line with 400 men, they inflicted 75 casualties, 300 men of the 13th fired on the Royalists in the trees on their left flank, inflicting no casualties. The 2nd Lt and the 33rd Bn returned fire on the 13th and jointly caused 90 casualties on the Confederation Lt battalion.
The 13th Light were then ordered forward even closer, they crossed the now wrecked hedgeline and neared Claudia stream, in their advance forward, they were still being fired on by the 33rd and elements of the 2nd Lt bn on their flanks; by the time they halted and returned fire the 13th had lost a further 32 casualties but were by now very shaken having lost 184 men in the last 15 minutes, they did return fire while moving but the results were negligible.
As the 13th Light Battalion moved forward it created room for the 15th Battalion moved up in Line behind them. The 14th formed into column of companies to allow room for them to manouver, the 16th Battalion remained in attack column.
The 95th Foot charged the woods beside the main road, as they advance near the wood the 2nd Light opened a very accurate fire inflicting 60 casualties, for the next 10 minutes the fighting in the wood has been a stalemate, the 95th losing, 61 men and the 2nd Light elements in the wood losing 50.
Over on the Confederation Left flank the 12th Light Battalion closed in on the guns and the woods, the 35th Foot moved in behind as support.
In the following 10 minutes of a firefight the Royalists inflicted 25 casualties on the Confederation Light infantry, while they in return inflicted some 20 in return.
Other elements of the 12 Lt Battalion at the other end of the skirmish line engaged the gunners of the Royalist artillery, the Gunners lost 44 men but held firm the 12th light lost 30 men but along with the other loses over the last 30 minutes or so the Battalion has become shaken.
The 35th Confederation battalion in line immediately behind the the 12th Light Battalion took advantage of the Royalists attention being focused on the 12th light, almost out of nowhere the 35th passed through their skirmishers and charged into the small copse of woods hitting the 300 Royalist light infantry defending the wooded outpost; the over lapping part of the 35th line carried on to hit the gunners in a furious melee. The melee continuous, which means the battery is no longer able to fire as its gunners are somewhat busy defending themselves.
General Preston realising that the battery was in danger and despite having giving orders that it was to have limbered before it was in danger of being attacked, it had remained in place. He then turned to one of his aides sending and order to the 3rd Dragoons they were to move via the road through Beasley farm and attack any enemy around the guns, they are then to ensure they get the guns and gunners away.
The aide returned a short time later having delivered the Generals orders, with him rode a small group of officers, one of whom was General Graham.
As they greeted each other the 700 men of the 3rd Dragoons raced by in road column, General Graham waved them on and then turned to Maj Gen Preston.
“Now then General, what is the situation here?”
General Preston quickly acquainted his superior with the situation,
“The confederates have been pushing hard our left over yonder sir, the 36th saw of an entire Brigade of them, but is now non-effective. In the centre we are holding the woods around Hipsley farm but they are still fighting there, we don’t have a lot of troops in there, possibly 300-400 at the most.
As you can see there is a scrap around the guns, despite my orders to have them withdrawn and to the right around Sluice farm we are barely holding our own.
I have ordered the 3rd dragoons forward to clear the enemy from the guns and then to get them pulled back.”
“Well you have done extremely well here Preston, I am most impressed and the situation wouldn’t be as dire as it seems if it had not been for the damn roads being a mess with people running from the bloody Confederates, its a damned shambles back there, but the first of my troops will be here in 15 minutes or so.”
General Graham rose in his saddle as he surveyed the enemy positions with his telescope,
“General, I want you to keep what light troops you have around Sluice farm in there, I want the 37th moved to the right of the woods to prevent any flanking attacks and the 34th to move into the area where the guns are now placed. It will leave us with a thin line for now, but when my units arrive we will then deal with those damn rebels in good time.
He looked at his young subordinate who looked tired and stressed,
“You have done very well over the last few days, you have slowed them and held them, for now that is all that is required; all we have to do is stop them, they wont be able to stay in this area too long if they cant advance. Back in London I had been talking with some damn strange friar or monk or something, anyway it seems that he runs the Kings spy service, off thing for a monk if you ask me, anyway he told me he is organising irregular bands of fighters right back through Nene and Northampton; and I suspect Royston as well. One thing is for sure, having heard of the reprisals the confederates have been inflicting on the population back there, there will be no lack of disaffected locals wanting a chance to slit a Parliamentarian throat or two.
However my friend, you have held them here by their nose, its now up to us to kick them in the backside and finish the job.”
As they spoke the Confederation attack was building for another main effort and this time there were two generals looking over their shoulders to the rear, fervently praying or wishing for reinforcements to arrive.
Meanwhile the struggle for the woods north of Hipsley farm reached a crisis point as the column of Confederation 95th Foot overwhelmed the 4 companies of 2nd Light Battalion defending woods. Part of their original brief had been when they were ultimately pushed out of the woods they would fall back to Hipsley farm itself. Unfortunately the 4 companies were in no order to stop once they began retreating and before long they were fleeing south over the bridge south of the farm.
The 95th, still badly disorganised from the melee and being in woods continued on pushing hard to get into Hipsley farm before the Royalist could reinforce the farm.
The confederation 16th foot now in column of companies started to move south past the east side of the Hipsley wood , from there they could either attack left into the farm complex or right and outflank the 33rd foot defending Claudia stream.
Over at Sluice Farm another crisis developed as the 3 companies of the 2nd light defending the woods north of that farm, like their compatriots to the east in Hipsley woods also fled in disorder having been thrown out of Sluice woods by the Confederation 35th Foot which lost 84 men attacking the woods, and were now very badly disorganised. Elements of the 35th also captured the guns of the Royalist 3rd battery as the gunners fled back over the Claudia stream.
While these retreating Royalist troops would eventually be reorganised in the rear as they were not routing, merely falling back at speed, their retreat did have dire consequences for the 3rd Dragoons who were about to force their way over the Hipsley bridge against the tide of fleeing soldiers of the 2nd Light and the Gunners of the 3rd battery.
There are many times in historical battles where the decisions of sub-ordinates did have crucial influences in a battle, for the Royalists now was such a time and with a crisis looming it was time for initiative checks.
The Battalion commanders of the Royalist 34th Foot and 37th foot decided to act on their own initiative and the commander of the 3rd dragoons decided to wait on the south end of Hipsley bridge to allow the fleeing troops across.
The battalion Commander of the 34th Colonel Sir Alexander Clements saw the Light infantry fleeing Hipsley woods, he realised the importance of the farm complex that covered the bridge as well as the focal point for the centre of the Royalist line, so he organised his men into a column of companies and moved on Hipsley farm. Similarly the Battalion commander of the 37th saw the importance of hanging onto Sluice farm. He already had two companies of his Battalion in the farm complex, the remainder were in line to the right, so now he pulled the whole Battalion into the farm and woods, hoping his Battalion wood be the bastion to hold the right flank.
Meanwhile on the left flank of the Royalist line the 33rd Line was trying to contend with the Confederate 13th Light Battalion which was now lining the northern bank of Claudia stream in open order, behind them the 15th Foot moved up.
It was obvious to all the 13th light battalion was seriously disorganised with its struggles so far, though its losses were light the men seem to have not had the same moral fibre of the other battalions, so much so that they now refused to cross Claudia stream in the face of the Royalist 33rd battalion.
A brief firefight occurred where very few casualties occurred on either side, however the Confederation Brigade commander Maj General Sir Edward Saunders decided to pull the 13th Light back and allow his line Battalions to deal with the Royalist 33rd. He had already made a mental note to deal with the commander of the 13th light when this battle was over.
General Graham observing the fleeing Light troops and Gunners realised that the orders that he had issued were already redundant, it was with some satisfaction he noted the Battalion commanders reacted on their own initiative, he was less pleased with the commander of the 3rd Dragoons who had halted his Regt to allow the fleeing Infantry to cross the bridge.
He turned to his aide,
“Captain, get yourself over to the 3rd and tell the Colonel his orders were to take the guns not wet nurse the bloody infantry, tell him to push the bloody infantry if they have to, but get that bloody Cavalry moving; and I mean NOW.”