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Letter by Robert Lilburne

August 1651.

This letter gives an account of the Battle of Wigan Lane, one of the last battles of the Civil War, in 1651. It was penned immediately after the battle, by the commander of Parliament's forces and sent to the Honourable William Lenthall Esq., Speaker of the Parliament.

Mr Speaker,
My Lord Generall being pleased to command me to stay here to assist the well-affected against the Lord Derby, who was then at Warrington in this County, with some considerable force both from the Isle of Man, and which he had from the Scots army, wherewith he did not only much encourage the Enemies, but also discourage all the well-affected in these Counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, and whereof he thought himselfe wholly Master (as indeede he was), and none in those Counties were able, or durst appear against him; and began to beate Drums, and raise men in all places where he came, and would have been very strong in a short time, not only through the accesse of many Malignants, Papists, and disaffected Persons, but that assistance the Ministers and those who are called Presbyterians afforded, and would more abundantly have appeared, for they are the men who are grown here more bitter and envious against you than others of the old Cavaliers stamp; the power of the Almighty was very much seene in the total overthrow (I hope) of that wicked designe which was laid and hatched not only here, but through the whole North of England, which was getting into the like posture, as you may further understand by those papers I have here sent you; but that God who hath all along appeared with us and for us, hath shewed himself very good, and powerful in the discipating of his Enemy, who was about fourteen to fifteen hundred strong; I had only three companies of Foot, about fifty or sixty Dragoons, and about thirty Horse from Liverpoole, with my own wearied and somewhat scattered Regiment through our tedious March from Scotland, and hard duty we had here.
Yesterday morning, about eleven or twelve a clock in the night, the Enemy marched from Preston, we lying within two or three miles of them, where we expected those supplyes of Forces which came not, some of our intelligence informing us the Enemy were running away towards their army with what they had gotton; we pursued them hither with some confidence, that that intelligence was true, and the rather we believed it because of some discouragement we put upon them the day before; but upon our approach hither we found it otherwise, for they were bending their course towards Manchester, where they had not only very great hopes of surprising my Lord Generall's Regiment of Foot, but also assurance of the assistance of five hundred men in and about the Towne, but, upon the sight of our near approach, they unexpectedly put themselves in a posture of fighting with us, which then we endeavoured to decline, in regard to the very great advantage they had by their many Foote and Hedges, and the danger we apprehended my Lord Generall's Regiment of Foot at Manchester to be in, we were drawing off, thinking to have marched in the left flanke of them thither, to have gained a conjunction with our Friends, who too, had order to march that day to me to Preston; we had thought to have met them on the way, having sent severall messengers to let them know both the Enemies and our motion, but the enemy perceiving us to draw off, quickly advanced upon us with their Horse and Foot, which we perceiving, and that we could not goe off safely enough, we fell to dispute with them, which lasted almost one houre; our horse being not able to doe any service but in Lanes, and they overpowering us so much in Foot, made the businesse very difficult that we hardly knew whose the day would be for so long; but therein was the Salvation of God the more seen, and the greater opportunity we had to destroy them. I desire that he may have the praise and glory of that happy successe he was pleased to give unto his poor creatures. Having given you this narrative in general, which I thought it my duty to doe, this inclosed list will inform you further of the particulars. I desire the Lord would teach us to walke in some way answerable to those manifold and gracious Dispensations he daily gives us experience of, and manifests his love to us, in that, His name may be magnified in all we do in our severall places and stations; this great mercie to us here I hope is the earnest of his further tendernesse to the great concernment of all good people in this Nation, which is the hearty desire of Yours faithful and most humble Servant to my power,

ROB. LILBURNE.                    

This Bearer was all the while in Engagement, and is able to give you further Relation.
I have not lost an Officer in this Engagement, but one Corporal, and not above ten soldiers slaine, but very many wounded.

Present these                    

To the Right Honourable William Lenthall, Esq., Speaker of the Parliament of the Common Wealth of England. - Haste.
A List of the Prisoners taken at Wigan, August 25th, 1651.

Col. Throgmorton All their Baggage
and Sumptures,
Armes and
Col. Rich. Leg Ammunition, the L.
Derbies three
Cloakes with
Col. John Robinson Stars, his George,
Garter, and other
Col. Baynes ----------
Col. Ratcliffe Gerret Slaine and dead
since they were
Adjutant General The L. Witherington
Lieut-Col. Creson Rigby Major-Gen. Sir Tho.
Lieut-Col. Francis Baynes Col. Math. Boynton
Lieut-Col. Galliard Major Chester
Lieut-Col. Constable Major Trollop, and
divers others of
Major Gower whose names are
not yet brought in,
Four Captains, 2 Lieutenants 60 private men.
One Quarter-master  
Twenty Gentlemen and Reformadoes  
400 Private Prisoners  

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