30 August 2006

Spencer Compton- Earl Northampton corpse paraded naked street

In the meantime, Lord Hastings had refortified Ashby-de-la-Zouch, requiring another assault on the town on Jan 17th, 1643. However, when Col. Gell and his council heard that Prince Rupert was arriving to retake the town, they decided to withdraw. On February 24th, 1643, in answer to another request for aid form the earl of Essex, Major Molanus with 500 foot went off to Burton upon Trent and then to Newark. In spite of having entered the town and "mastered the workes," Major Molanus felt betrayed by the commander in chief, Major General Ballard, who ordered a retreat, resulting in the loss of some 50 men, one drake and most of their ordinance (i.e., artillery). He gave his report to Col. Gell at Litchfield where the remainder of his troops had just secured Litchfield Close.

Immediately thereafter, the troops marched to Hopton Heath against the Earl of Northampton. In spite of being abandoned by the horse guard under Sir William Brereton, Col. Gell's 1500 foot soldiers, strategically protected by a rabbit warren, withstood an assault of 1200 mounted soldiers in which the Earl was killed. Demoralized, the Royalists fled in panic. Victorious, but suffering heavy losses, Col. Gell's forces retreated to Uttoxeter where they rested for three days. In spite of their victory, over 200 had either been killed or taken prisoner, most of their artillery had been captured, and their baggage and ammunition abandoned. Back at his headquarters at Derby, Col. Gell paraded the naked corpse of the Earl of Northampton through the streets before allowing for burial in the family vault. Needless to say, this was considered by all to be a shameful episode of the war.

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