Lord Grey and The Second Battle of Bosworth
This day's success, so far beyond expectation, hath hastened these lines, as I promised, to give you a speedy account of our proceedings here.
This morning intelligence was brought to our horse-quarters that the enemy was plundering about Hinkley; whereupon my noble Lord Grey, being ever ready of any opportunity to serve his country, forthwith sent out a well-resolved party, under the command of Captain Babington, consisting of 80 good horse. They marched towards Bosworth Field [five miles north of Hinckley], where they overtook 120 of Hasting's forces, and there fought with them, in the very place where King Richard was slain.
At the first charge the enemy fled; our men made a hot pursuit for three miles, killed six, wounded many, took 40 prisoners, a list whereof I have inclosed, as truly collected as the short time will permit; for I believe, upon further examination, there will be found a greater number of officers than are here named; for the habits and postures of many of the prisoners give just cause to suspect their condition to be far above common Troopers.
'with God's assistance'
We lost not one man; Captain Babington shot in the hand, whose behaviour I cannot pass: At the discovery of the Enemy, he made a stand, and gave strict command to his soldiers to forbear plunder, but go on courageously with him; and promised them, on the word of a Gentleman, that if the day proved theirs (which he feared not, with God's assistance), what prize should be gained from the Enemy should be theirs. This succeeded, and is performed accordingly.
There was also wounded on out party the Quarter-master to Sir Edward Hartopp; he is shot in the thigh, and a common soldier or two slightly wounded. And, to make our success the greater, this was done after we had three days hard march, and at four hours refreshment before this design was undertaken (our forces being called back from their march to sir William Waller, upon intelligence of the enemy's design to plunder our country.) We attribute all to the Giver of Victories.
I pray you let us hear what good news the West affords; which will be as welcome to us, as I am confident this will be to you. If you intend correspondency, be as diligent to take opportunity as is,
Your most affectionate friend and servant,
Leicester, July 1, 1644
My Lord [Grey] is now gone out in person, in pursuit of Colonel Nevill and colonel Pate, who are plundering the other side of the country. We pray for his good success.
Three-score horses taken. One hundred cattle, besides sheep and other goods in a very great proportion, rescued and restored to the owners.
A note on the source. The report was sent to the Mayor of Hull by Lord Ferdinando Fairfax, Parliament's Lord General in the North, who then forwarded it to Westminster. Fairfax's 'This day's success' was a reference to the victory at Marston Moor, won on 2 July. The Yorkshire Parliamentarians were in urgent need of some good news at this date, the Leicestershire skirmish coinciding with the day that Rupert's army relieved of the siege of York. That Fairfax appears to have signed and dated the report at Leicester is an error. Fairfax was with his forces at York on the 1 July 1644, and the proximity of his signature with the place and date of the original report was a mistake on the part of the London publisher.
"A Copy of a Letter sent from the Lo. Fairfax", in Hutton, W. The Battle of Bosworth Field (2nd edn.) (London: Nichols, 1813)