My new book, John Culpepper the Merchant, takes place in the 17th century, both in the colony of Virginia and in the country of England. England was in the middle of a civil war, and John’s uncle, Sir Alexander Culpepper, was a knight in the king’s army. At the battle of Bridgewater, we witnessed how brave Alexander really was.
John Culpepper the Merchant
July 1645, Battle at Bridgewater
“Advance the second cavalry!” Goring commanded.
The second group galloped down the hill.
That’s when Alexander saw them on the other side of the stream. Fairfax’s cavalry appeared out of nowhere, crossing the ford with nothing to stop their advance. There was no clanging of armor as with a regular group of horse heading into battle. Alexander knew these soldiers weren’t in armor. The weight would slow down the horses. He had to admit, Fairfax was a brilliant commander. There was no thunder of hooves as the horses were not galloping. The approaching men were dressed in leather jerkins and moved to a strange and ominous sound of marching hooves and creaking leather. A menacing sound sure to make even the most courageous opponent question his bravery.
They advanced four abreast, knee to knee, with four more behind, and four more behind that. There had to be hundreds of them. They looked like demons rising from the very depths of hell, bent on killing each and every royalist. What happened to the day of fighting with honor and valor? When did the parliamentarians stop taking prisoners? When did they start killing every man who crossed their path? The Welsh soldiers were gone. The light guns were gone. The only thing standing between success and defeat were the three groups of horse, two of which were not faring so well against Fairfax’s army.
“Ready your swords, gentlemen!” Alexander yelled to his men who were waiting nervously at the top of the ridge. Nearly half his men were not professional soldiers but farmers. They weren’t used to facing anything this terrifying. He wasn’t sure he had ever faced anything this terrifying. “Steady…” He watched the horses below him advance across the ford, and far in the distance, he recognized a figure dressed all in black astride a white horse. Fairfax. Black Tom, the royalists called him. The man sat tall in his saddle at the back of his army, looking like Satan himself. Alexander felt his adrenaline rise. Today would be the day General Thomas Fairfax paid for his decision to abandon the king’s men. Today would be the day Black Tom took a sword through his black heart.
Alexander’s men waited and watched, their horses prancing nervously. Fairfax’s group of horses easily destroyed Goring’s first line, scattering the men about the marsh like scarecrows. Even horses lay dead. Alexander grimaced as he watched more men fall and some of the horses run off. The second group fought more diligently than the first and Alexander thought for a moment they could win the battle. That’s when he saw the next group of Fairfax’s men on horseback, larger than the first, crossing the stream, again four abreast. There had to be more than two hundred of them.
“Ready, men!” He yelled to his group of sixty men.
Their swords glistened in the sunlight. This would be the day of their greatest victory or their worst defeat.
Alexander took a deep breath, braced himself, and from the pit of his stomach he bellowed, “Charge!”
John Culpepper the Merchant is available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.
For pictures, paintings, and documents of the people and places in the series, visit the Culpepper Saga Facebook page.