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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

' and Wigmore cryed nothing but 'Dam me more


In

the April following, Sir William Waller, retreating from Monmouth towards Gloucester through the Forest, narrowly escaped capture by Prince Maurice, who was at hand to intercept him with a considerable force. Alluding many years afterwards to this adventure, he writes:--"Upon my march that night through the Forest of Dean, it happened through the sleepiness of an officer, that the main body was separated from the fore troope with which I marched, so that I was fain to make an halt for above half an hour, within little more than a mile of the Prince's head-quarter, in broad daylight; the allarme taken, and not 120 horse with me. Nevertheless, itt pleased God in his infinite mercy to direct the rest of my troopes to me; and, under the conduct of his providence, to grant me a safe and honorable retreat to Gloucester, in despight of the enemy, who charged me in the reare, with more loss to himself than to me."

But the individual who figured most prominently in these parts at this eventful period was the ardent royalist Sir John Winter. His case is thus quaintly stated by Sanderson:--"From the pen, as secretary to the Queen, he was put to the pike, and did his business very handsomely, for which he found the enmity of the Parliament ever after;" so that Corbet, one of their devoted adherents, designates him "a plague," and his house of White Cross, near Lydney, "a den." This place he had been secretly strengthening against attack for some time,

storing it with arms and ammunition, and collecting soldiers; but he did not openly declare himself until the siege of Gloucester was raised, on 5th September, 1643. During the ensuing winter, and on to the 7th of May following, Corbet speaks of him as "referring all his industry to his own house," described as being "in the heart of the Forest," of which, says the same writer, he had "obtained the entire command," and from whence he succeeded in making constant attacks upon the adjoining small Parliamentary garrisons of Huntley and Westbury, who were treacherously sold to him by Captain Thomas Davis, and he was thus enabled to advance almost to Gloucester. Upon the day just named, in the year 1644, the following affray happened at Westbury, occasioned by Colonel Massy's attempt to recover it for the Parliament. Corbet says:--"Here the enemy held the church, and a strong house" (understood to be Mr. Colchester's) "adjoining." "The Governor (Colonel Massy), observing a place not flanked, fell-up that way with the forlorne hope, and secured them from the danger of shot. The men got stooles and ladders to the windowes, where they stood safe, cast in granadoes, and fired them out of the church. Having gained the church, he quickly beat them out of their workes, and possest himself of the house, where he took about four score prisoners, slaying twenty others, without the losse of a man."

Upon the same day a similar but more fatal encounter took place at Littledean, a village situated under the east slopes of the Forest hills, and as yet occupied for the King. "Here," says Corbet, "the governor's troop of horse found the enemy stragling in the towne, and, upon the discovery of their approach, shuffling towards the garrison, which the troopers observing, alighted and ran together with them into the house, where they tooke about 20 men. Neere unto which guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Congrave, Governor of Newnham, and one Captain Wigmore, with a few private souldiers, were surrounded in some houses by the residue of our horse. These had accepted quarter, ready to render themselves, when one of their company from the house kils a trooper, which so enraged the rest, that they broke in upon them, and put them all to the sword: in which accident, this passage was not to be forgotten that expressed in one place an extreame contrariety in the spirits of men under the stroke of death: Congrave died with these words, 'Lord receive my soule!' and Wigmore cryed nothing but 'Dam me more, dam me more!' desperately requiring the last stroke, as enraged at divine revenge." The spot where these officers fell is considered to have been at Dean Hall, in the dining-room, near the fireplace.


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