Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Skirmish in Wincanton 1688

From the wiki

On the morning of 20 November, Sarsfield rode out from the royal camp with 120 Horse Guards and Horse Grenadier Guards including his second-in-command and fellow Irishman Henry Luttrell. After riding to Bruton, they discovered that the enemy force had marched to Wincanton the previous day.[3]
The Dutch troops were in fact a small advance guard of around thirty infantry who had been set ahead of their main army to secure horses for military use. They were Scottish troops of Hugh Mackay's regiment who were serving in the Scots Brigade of the Dutch Army, and were led by a Lieutenant Campbell. Their instructions were to remain at Wincanton until joined by William's main force.[4]
Campbell received warning of the enemy's approach from local inhabitants sympathetic to William, and decided to set an ambush for Sarsfield's men between Flingers Lane and Ireson Lane just outside Wincanton.[5] Unsure if the approaching cavalry were hostile, given they might be deserters, Campbell shouted out a challenge demanding to know who the men supported. Sarsfield replied King James, and after Campbell responded that he was for Prince of Orange, Sarsfield reportedly cried "God damn you! I'll Prince You!" and both sides opened fire.[6]
In the ensuing melee Campbell was shot dead. Although Sarsfield's men comfortably outnumbered their opponents, the Scottish troops were in well-concealed positions and their fire took out several of the cavalryman. Many of Sarsfield's men dismounted and fought on foot, returning the enemy fire and hurling grenades at them. Henry Lutrell led some of his men to outflank the enemy who were increasingly vulnerable.[7]
The fighting was stopped by one of the locals who rushed out of Wincanton warning Sarsfield's men that they were about to be attacked by large Dutch reinforcements in the village. This was in fact a completely false report, brought out by a miller who supported William's cause. A cautious Sarsfield disengaged and pulled his men back out of musket range, allowing the remaining Scots time to flee.[8]
Sarsfield subsequently occupied Wincanton, having taken six prisoners and some of the horses that the Scottish troops had been gathering. Several of Sarsfield's men had been killed or wounded. Cornet John Webb, a future general, was badly wounded and had to be left in the village to recover. A total of twelve Scots, including Campbell, had been killed in the fighting.[9]

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