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against speeches of that kind spoken in our Army; which occasioned some of them to come to parley with our Officers, To let them know that they would fight us, – they lying still in or near their fastnesses, on the west side of Edinburgh, we resolved, the Lord assisting, to draw near to them once more, to try if we could fight them. And indeed one hour's advantage gained might probably, we think, have given us an opportunity.
To which purpose, upon Tuesday the 27th instant we marched westward of Edinburgh towards Stirling ; which the Enemy perceiving, marched with as great expedition as was possible to prevent us; and the vanguards of both the Armies came to skirmish, -upon a place where bogs and passes made the access of each Army to the other difficult. We, being ignorant of the place, drew up, hoping to have engaged; but found no way feasible, by reason of the bogs and other difficulties.
We drew up our cannon, and did that day discharge two or three hundred great shot upon them; a considerable number they likewise returned to us: and this was all that passed from each to other. Wherein we had near twenty killed and wounded, but not one Commission Officer. The Enemy, as we are informed, had about eighty killed, and some considerable Officers. Seeing they would keep their ground, from which we could not remove them, and our bread being spent, we were necessitated to go for a new supply: and so marched off about ten or eleven o'clock on Wednesday morning. The Enemy perceiving it, -and, as we con
Had we come one hour sooner :--but we did not.
ceive, fearing we might interpose between them and Edinburgh, though it was not our intention, albeit it seemed so by our march,-retreated back again, with all haste; having a bog and passes between them and us: and there followed no considerable action, saving the skirmishing of the van of our horse with theirs, near to Edinburgh, without any considerable loss to either party, saving that we got two or three of their horses.
That' Wednesday' night we quartered within a mile of Edinburgh, and of the Enemy. It was a most tempestuous night and wet morning. The Enemy marched in the night between Leith and Edinburgh, to interpose between us and our victual, they knowing that it was spent;—but the Lord in mercy prevented it; and we, perceiving in the morning, got, time enough, through the goodness of the Lord, to the sea-side, to re-victual ; the Enemy being drawn up upon the Hill near Arthur's Seat, looking upon us, but not attempting any thing.
And thus you have an account of the present occurrences.
Your most humble servant,
The scene of this Tuesday's skirmish, and cannonade across bogs, has not been investigated; though an antiquarian Topographer might find worse work for himself. Rough Hodgson, very uncertain in his spellings, calls it Gawger Field, which
nesday; and off to Musselburgh' for a new supply' next morning. Old Camp, or Bivouack, ‘on Pentland Hills,' says vague Hodgson (p. 142);
within a mile of Edinburgh,' says Cromwell in this Letter, who of course knows well.
* Newspapers (in Parliamentary History, xix. 339).
will evidently take us to Gogar on the western road there. The Scotch Editor of Hodgson says farther, The Water of Leith lay between the two Armies ;' which can be believed or not; -- which indeed turns out to be unbelievable. Yorkshire Hodgson's troop received an ugly cannon-shot while they stood at prayers ; just with the word Amen, came the ugly cannonshot singing, but it hurt neither horse nor man. We also 'gave them an English shouť at one time, along the whole line, making their Castle-rocks and Pentlands ring again ; but could get no Battle out of them, for the bogs.
Here, in reference to those matters, is an Excerpt which, in spite of imperfections, may be worth transcribing. The • English Army lay' at first near Musselburgh, about Stony * Hill. But shortly after, they marched up to Braid House,' to Braid Hills, to Pentland Hills, Colinton and various other Hills and Houses in succession ; and the Scots Army, being
put in some readiness, marched up to Corstorphine Hill. * But because the English feared it was too near the Castle of • Edinburgh, they would not hazard battle there. Wherefore • both Armies marched to Gogar, Tuesday August 27th ; and
played each upon other with their great guns: but because of Gogar Burn (Brook) and other ditches betwixt the Armies,
they could not join battle. Next day, about midday,' more precisely Wednesday about ten or eleven o'clock, 'the English
began to retire ; and went first to their Leaguer at Braid • Hills,' within a mile of Edinburgh as their General says. • The English removing, the Scots followed by Corstorphine
the long gate' (roundabout road)—which is hard ground, and out of shot-range. "The English,' some of them, “marched ' near to Musselburgh ; and, in the mid night, planted some 'guns in Niddry: the Scots having marched about the Hill of Arthur's Seat, towards Craigmillar, there planted some
1 Hodgson, p. 141.
guns against those in Niddry;'l — and in fact, as we have seen, were drawn up on Arthur's Seat on the morrow morning, looking on amid the rain, and not attempting anything.
The Lord General writes this Letter at Musselburgh on Friday the 30th, the morrow after his return : and directly on the heel of it there is a Council of War held, and an important resolution taken. With sickness, and the wild weather coming on us, rendering even victual uncertain, and no Battle to be had, we clearly cannot continue here. Dunbar, which has a harbour, we might fortify for a kind of citadel and winterquarter; let us retire at least to Dunbar, to be near our sole friends in this country, our Ships. On the morrow evening, Saturday the 31st, the Lord General fired his huts, and marched towards Dunbar. At sight whereof Lesley rushes out upon him ; has his vanguard in Prestonpans before our rear got away. Saturday night through Haddington, and all Sunday to Dunbar, Lesley hangs, close and heavy, on Cromwell's rear; on Sunday night bends southward to the hills that overlook Dunbar, and hems him in there. As will be more specially related in the next fascicle of Letters.
* Collections by a Private Hand, at Edinburgh, from 1650 to 1661 (Woodrow mss.), printed in Historical Fragments on Scotch Affairs from 1635 to 1664 (Edinburgh, 1832), Part i. pp. 27-8.
BATTLE OF DUNBAR,
The small Town of Dunbar stands, high and windy, looking down over its herring-boats, over its grim old Castle now much honeycombed, -on one of those projecting rock-promontories with which that shore of the Frith of Forth is niched and vandyked, as far as the eye can reach. A beautiful sea; good land too, now that the plougher understands his trade; a grim niched barrier of whinstone sheltering it from the chafings and tumblings of the big blue German Ocean. Seaward St. Abb’s Head, of whinstone, bounds your horizon to the east, not very far off; west, close by, is the deep bay, and fishy little village of Belhaven: the gloomy Bass and other rock-islets, and farther the Hills of Fife, and foreshadows of the Highlands, are visible as you look seaward. From the bottom of Belhaven bay to that of the next seabight St. Abb’s-ward, the Town and its environs form a peninsula. Along the base of which peninsula, 'not much above a mile and a half from sea to sea,' Oliver Cromwell's Army, on Monday, 2d of September, 1650, stands ranked, with its tents and Town behind it, -in very forlorn circumstances. This now is all the ground that Oliver is lord of in Scotland. His Ships lie in the offing, with biscuit and transport for him; but visible elsewhere in the Earth no belp.
Landward as you look from the Town of Dunbar there rises, some short mile off, a dusky continent of barren heath