Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Battle of Fiddler's Bottom 1648: Preliminaries

Harbottle Grimstone, living up to his name

A little known encounter between the invading Scots and a detachment of the New Model Army in Cheshire, a few days after the defeat of Langdale's Royalist army by Cromwell and Lambert at Preston.

The Scots were widely dispersed, as many of the men were foraging and news of the disaster that had befallen their English allies to the north had yet to reach all of their detachments.
One such detachment, fewer than 4000 strong, had made good progress deep into Cheshire, unencumbered as it was by an artillery train or much by way of baggage. The men were cold and wet, it having been a typical English summer. Although they numbered 3000 foot, their cavalry were weak, being only 750 strong and mounted on small nags. Barely 150 were lancers, trained to charge at the gallop, the remainder being pistoleers who had the unhappy reputation of 'burning much powder to no great effect'.

Their Commander was Sir Alexander Ferguson, a veteran of the wars in Germany and the first civil war in England, where he had fought alongside his opponent in this war, the redoubtable Harbottle Grimstone.

Ferguson takes his standard and plants it in Fiddler's Bottom...

Grimstone, one of Cromwell's 'plain russet coated captains' chanced upon Ferguson near the small village that gave this battle its name - that of Fiddler's Bottom.

His men had been 'new modelled' and numbered some 3000, around a third of whom were experienced cavalry or 'Ironsides'. He had a couple of hundred dragoons, armed with firelocks and the remainder were the solid but unremarkable parliamentary infantry.

Ferguson would have preferred to avoid battle, despite his numerical superiority. These men were not the doughty old veterans of Marston Moor, rather they were young lads, much reduced by the hardships of campaigning. Harbottle's force sat astride the Scots' line of retreat however, and rumours of the defeat at Preston led him to conclude that he had little option to fight in the hope that he could open the road north and unite his small force with the main Scottish body.

In other words, a game of DBR is scheduled for tomorrow evening...


  1. Beware the Irish. While Grimstone is battling the Scots Ireland will be aflame. Even Dublin may be free at last...

  2. Ah ha...thought that might flush you out...Cromwell has resolved to deal with the Irish in due course...