Note: An excerpt from a book published in 1947 about the actions of the Parliamentary army under Fairfax, published in 1647. Taken from the facsimile edition (available in the West Country Studies Library, Exeter). The book gives a good idea of the conditions in the army. See also Fairfax’s own account.
England’s Recovery (Anglia Rediviva), being the history…. of the army under the immediate conduct of H.E. Sr. Thomas Fairfax, Kt, Captain-General, by Joshua Sprigge, 1647. Excerpt fromPart 3, Ch. 7, p. 163-5.
The events of the Battle of Bovey, Jan 9-10, 1645/6.
Upon this certain, & renewed intelligence, on the morrow, (viz Monday Jan. 5) a private consultation was had, & divers Officers of the Army sought councel of Heaven that day (keeping it as a private day of humiliation) in answer whereto, God inclined their hearts to resolve of an Advance. The next day a publique Councel of War was called, and (that the former resolution might appear to be the answer of God) it was in this publique Councel resolved, Nemine contradicente, to advance into the South Hams, where the greatest part of the Enemy lay. The Dragoons from Canonteen were before-hand with this Resolution, who this day fell into the Enemies quarters, took a Captain, 9 men and 20 horse. And that this purpose to advance might finde the less interruption; the same day, the Stockings and Shooes (which the poor Foot had so great need of, and had so long expected) came to Tiverton most seasonably, to fit them for a March; wherewith they were so well satisfied, as that they shewed much forwardnes to march, without staying for Cloaths, which they had great need of also, being many of them all to tatters, and the weather was extream cold to boot. While the Army was preparing to march, some of our Drgoons from petty garrisons, on Wednesday, snatcht at the Enemy at Huick, took a Lieutenant, 10 prisoners, 21 horses and one of their Colours, with this Motto, Patientia victrix.
Thursday Jan. 8. All things being prepared in readiness for a March, the Horse and Foot (with their Ammunition on horse-back) set forward to Crediton; and at the same time, Sir Hardresse Waller with two Regiments marched from Crediton to Bow, as if the Army had bent towards Okehampton, (where the Enemy had both horse and foot) when as indeed, it was only to amuse them; For at the same instant, a Bridgade of horse and foot marched that night to Crediton, and the next day (though very cold, and much snow upon the ground) the same Brigade marched to Bovey-Tracy (then the Enemies quarters) Liet.general Cromwel going in person with them, who about six at night fell into their quarters at Bovey, (where part of the Lord Wentworths Brigade then lay), took about 400 Horse, seven colours, one of them the Kings colours, with a crown and C.R. upon it. The enemy in Bovey were put to their shifts; yet through the darkness of the night most of the Men escaped, excdept a Major and some few officers more, and about 50 prisoners. It was almost supper time with them when our men entred the Town, most of them at that instant were playing at Cards, but our Souldiers took up the stakes for many of their principal Officers, who being together in one room, threw their stakes of mony out at the window, which whilst our Souldiers were scrambling for, they escaped out at a back-door over the river, and saved their best stakes. In the mean time his Excellency with another part of the Army was advanced from Tiverton to Moreton, within three miles of Bovey; but part of the Carriage-horses with the Ammunition, by reason of the Frost, could get no neerer then Fulford.
The next day (the weather still extream bitter cold) the forces at Morton, & at Bovey-tracy, had a rendezvous near Bovey, whereat intelligence was brought by the country, that about 120, of those that escaped in the night, were got into Ellington church: whereupon a party of horse and foot were comanded after them, which the Enemy in the church understanding, fled away. The Army marched that night towards Ashburton, the Enemies head-quarter the night before. A party of horse was sent to see if the Enemy had quit the town (as his Excellency had intelligence they had done) who finding the enemy at the towns end, were engaged with them, beat the enemies Rearguard through the town, took nine men, and twenty horse, and inforced the rest of their horse to flie severall wayes, being two Regiments of the Lord Wentworths Brigade, (that were left of five) three of them being taken at Bovey-tracy.
Source: West Country Studies Library