Good and Joyful Nevves ovt of Buckinghamshire, being an exact and true Relation of a Battell, stricken between Prince Robert and Sir William Balfore, Lieutenant Generall to his Excellency the Earl of Essex, near Alisbury in that County, on Tuesday last, the first of November, wherein the said Sir William obtained a happy and glorious Victory.
London, Printed for Francis Wright, 1642.
Human nature is covetous of novelties; never had that Axiome so pregnant proofes as in these days; never were the people so appetitious of newes; never were their desires so answered with diversity of narratives; and to say truth, never were there broacht so many false and improbable relations; every Man speaking according to his fancie and wishes, and divers sons of adversity and impudence, confidently committing many illegitimate conceptions of their owne to the publike view, which have no more affinity with the opinions of Copernicus, of the motion of the earth, or that relation of our Countrymen of the new world in the Moon, or of Domingo Gonzales and his flight thither upon the wings of his Ganzas; but this ab re; veritas non quærit angulos, our present discourse needs no preface to excuse it, being a positive and confirmed truth: on Tuesday last, All Saints' Day, destined for holier uses, Prince Robert with his well beaten troops, after they were routed in the late known battaile by the Parliament's forces, wearied with their flight and bleeding with the wounds they had received there, sought to refresh themselves in the pleasant and plenteous County of Buckingham, in which all things exuberate that might please their appetites, or satisfy their wants (that country being most odious to them, cause most faithful to the Parliament), they left no expressions of their hostility and rapine unperformed; Souldiers (especially wantin ones) wishing no better place of plunder than a rich and fertile Province, till they arrived at Ailesbury, a towne one of the most signall and wealthy of the Shire, where Prince Robert with some ten thousand horse and foote, on Tuesday morning, about six of the Clock, entered to the great amazement and feare of the honest inhabitants, who, little expecting such a sudden greeting from the Enemy, were unprovided for defense. The faithful Militia of that good towne, being unable to make resistance against such a multitude of halfe deperate men, made a vertue of necessity, and gave them a free entertainment; the chiefe Magistrates there knowing it was Prudentia Multua dissimulare, affording them good words; and to give the Divill his due, there they remained in indifferent peaceable disposition, till some of Prince Robert's scouts, or horse centinels, upon the spurre came in, and with a sudden alarme gave a speedy and dreadful notice to their Generall that there were great and formidable forces approaching the body of an Army, as their feares made them conjecture, of at least six thousand men, when, as since it was certainly knowne and credibly affirmed, they were not above 1,500 Men, or thereabouts, under the command of the gallant Sir William Balfore, sometime Lieutenant of the Tower, and now Lieutenant Generall of the present forces for the defence of the kingdome, under his Excellency the Earl of Essex, who, after the late battell, were sent by the Earl's careful directions, to advance through the neighbouring Counties, and to secure their safeties, there being nothing so requisite and full of commendation in generall, as to consider distant dangers of his friends and confederates with the same eye hee loookes upon those which are present, and threatening himselfe: for that end therefore was Sir William Balfore sent forth, who investigating the enemies passages had certaine intelligence that Prince Robert, with some of the profligated troopers, were returned into Buckinghamshire, and had fixt their rendezvous at Alisbury, whither with all convenient speed the said Sir William made, knowing that delaies in affaires military as in all other actions beget dangers, with his fifteen hundred men, being six horse troops, and the foot part of Colonel Hampdens, and part of Colonel Grantham's regiments, which were the army of six thousand foot and Horse, which the centinels gave information to the Prince were then invading him at not halfe an houres march distance, with which alarme not affrighted, but a little troubled, had prepared not for his defence, but to give them the bein, or the mal venu (take it as you please) to Alisbury, leaving, lest the townes-men whom he durst not confide in, should fall upon his rear, a troope of horse and two Companies of Foot there in parada, to secure the inhabitants, where when they heard of their friends approaches were all unmindfull to act their parts on that Theatre of War for their owne safeties; active spirits forces young men, like Lapwings, to run out of their nest, part of the shells yet sticking to their temples; so it has done with this Prince Robert, whose fiery soule had rendered him too great a stickler in his kingdomes quarrels, but he having drawn forth his companies into one entire body, without the towne, he espied within a quarter of a mile the Parliament's Forces, which were as ready to charge him as the Prince was them; but their wise and prudent chiefe, Sir William Balfore, knowing that hasty attempts beget dangerous and uncertain successes, kept them in, facing the Prince with a narrow body of horsemen, his troopes being drawn out like a pyramid, sharpe at the top, and broad by degrees in the grossé. Prince Robert with his owne troope, the flower of the Cavalry, charging through Sir William Balfore his front, and thinking to make us find as easie passage through the rest, was bid to a bloody dinner in the heart of his squadrons. The horsemen being there at least ten broad in Rank, thundering death from those engines of destruction, their Carbines and patronels, into the bosome of the Princes Souldiers; who neither knew well to advance nor to retreat. Another Troope, if I mistake not young Master Pyms' (the hopeful son of an excellent father), charging them hotly in their right flanks, so that Prince Robert's mauger, his native courage was at its non plus ultra, till Sir Lewis Dives, a man of as much acrimony and spleen as any of the malignant against the Parliament, fell in pell mell to the princes rescue; having behind each of his horsemen a musketeer, who, being at competent distance, alighted and diffus'd their dreadfull and death-bearing bullets through our squadrons, which then began to totter from their order, Some ten or fourteene falling in that furious charge; till Captain Herbert Blanchard Captain of the Earl of Peterborrowe's Troope came in with much courage to the aid of Sir William Balfore's Troope, and the foot forces on our side having gained both wind and Sun, sent cheerful volleys of fire and smoak and bullets, on the left flanke of the Prince's Squadrons, the Horses gald with the shot overthrowing their riders. And the Souldiers of our foot taking fire from their resolv'd Captaines, animating each otherto an assured conquest; Commissary Willmott who all this while had stood as a reserve to the Prince's Forces, then falling into this game of blood and slaughter, reduced the conflict to an equal scale, killing some three score of our men, when Sir William Balfore who leaving his owne Troops to the charge of his Lieutenant, had retired into the rear of his horse and brought them up to the face of the Enemie, our foot in the interim wheeling about, came in upon theirs with a full charge, beating them from their stations, and disordering their rankes. They sent at least 200 of their men to salute the earth, never more to rise thence. The Prince all this while made good the fight against Sir William with his horse till Commissary Willmott receiving a shot into the shoulder, They began to shock together and as it were to retreat; when the flight of their foot, who began to use the vertue of their legs: drive them, spight of Prince Robert's fury, to bear them company and outstrip them at their own exercise of running away: that troope and those two foot companies advancing forth of the town to the reliefe of their companions were undertaken by Captaine Ascough's Troope and some foot forces till the Townes men near being rid of their unwelcome guests, to the number of two hundred well arm'd, charg'd them upon the backs, then they fell into an apparent rout, following their flying fellowes; our horsemen having them in chase, they did execution on their foot for the space of a miles riding: killing in the chase and the fight to the number of six hundred, most of which were the infantery, their Cavalry escaping by the benefit of their horses, found the Proverb verified 'one paire of legs is worth two paire of hands.' Prisoners of the common sort there were taken 200; of note not any but one Dudley Smith, a young Gentleman of much courage, who died some houres after of his woundes received in the battel: of our part there fell about fourscore and ten persons: too great a number to be lost, yet gloriously they did being, as it were, their countryes Martyrs. Sir William Balfore after his victory, marching to Alisbury, spent the rest of that day in prayers and thanksgiving for his good successe, to that Great God of battels, in whose dispose is Conquest, and by whose almighty and outstretched arme, this victory arriv'd to his servants; Prince Robert with his flying Troopes as it were, in revenge of that overthrow, burning the poore country villages in his retreat towards Oxford, where it is reported hee is: and whence shortly it is hoped, he and all those perverse malignants will be brought to condigne punishment. Thus it has pleased the Lord of Hosts to give victory to the Parliaments Forces by handfull, if compared with the enemies numbers: In his power it is to save with few, as well as with multitudes. To him therefore we ought to ascribe all praise, trusting that hee will deliver us from our enemies. Amen.