Cromwell, who commanded the parliament’s right wing, charged Sir Marmaduke Langdale with extraordinary fury; but he, an old tried soldier, stood firm, and received the charge with equal gallantry, exchanging all their shot, carabines, and pistols, and then fell on sword in hand, Roseter and Whaley had the better on the point of the wing, and routed two divisions of horse, pushed them behind the reserves, where they rallied, and charged again, but were at last defeated; the rest of the horse, now charged in the flank, retreated fighting, and were pushed behind the reserves of foot.
While this was doing, the foot engaged with equal fierceness, and for two hours there was a terrible fire. The king’s foot, backed with gallant officers, and full of rage at the rout of their horse, bore down the enemy’s brigade led by Skippon. The old man wounded, bleeding, retreats to their reserves. All the foot, except the general’s brigade, were thus driven into the reserves, where their officers rallied them, and brought them on to a fresh charge; and here the horse having driven our horse above a quarter of a mile from the foot, face about, and fall in on the rear of the foot.
Had our right wing done thus, the day had been secured; but Prince Rupert, according to his custom, following the flying enemy, never concerned himself with the safety of those behind; and yet he returned sooner than he had done in like cases too. At our return we found all in confusion, our foot broken, all but one brigade, which, though charged in the front, flank, and rear, could not be broken, till Sir Thomas Fairfax himself came up to the charge with fresh men, and then they were rather cut in pieces than beaten; for they stood with their pikes charged every way to the last extremity.
In this condition, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, we saw the king rallying his horse, and preparing to renew the fight; and our wing of horse coming up to him, gave him opportunity to draw up a large body of horse; so large, that all the enemy’s horse facing us, stood still and looked on, but did not think fit to charge us, till their foot, who had entirely broken our main battle, were put into order again, and brought up to us.
The officers about the king advised his majesty rather to draw off; for, since our foot were lost, it would be too much odds to expose the horse to the fury of their whole army, and would be but sacrificing his best troops, without any hopes of success.
The king, though with great regret at the loss of his foot, yet seeing there was no other hope, took this advice, and retreated in good order to Harborough, and from thence to Leicester.
This was the occasion of the enemy having so great a number of prisoners; for the horse being thus gone off, the foot had no means to make their retreat, and were obliged to yield themselves. Commissary-General Ireton being taken by a captain of foot, makes the captain his prisoner, to save his life, and gives him his liberty for his courtesy before.