Category: Maps (page 3 of 4)

Battle of Chalgrove 18 June 1643

In the English Civil War, the Battle of Chalgrove is famous mainly because one of Parliament’s main political figures, Colonel John Hampden, was wounded in the action and died days later. Hampden was one of the “Five Members” that the King had tried to arrest in Parliament, setting off the war.

The action itself was little more than a skirmish, but brings out the differences between the two armies at this stage of the war. Royalist cavalry commander Prince Rupert was establishing his reputation as a leader of great daring. Rupert was also using newer cavalry tactics that relied on the shock of rapid and decisive action with horse, whereas the Parliamentarians were still relying on firepower and tighter formations with their horse.

The Battle of Chalgrove

Prince Rupert had surprised several Parliamentary encampments in the area around Chalgrove overnight and in the early morning. As part of this action, the main body of Parliamentarians had been alerted to Rupert’s presence in the area due to his flaming of the village of Chinnor. The Parliamentarians set to finding Rupert and cutting him off from the safety of Oxford. Rupert, realizing that he was being trailed, sent his infantry to secure the bridge at Chislehampton and place his dragoons along the escape route, then turned to face the music with his cavalry. As the Roundheads aligned for battle, Rupert feigned a retreat which enticed the Parliamentarians into a chase. However, Rupert spun his forces around and leapt a hedge to take to the attack. The Parliamentary cavalry got off quite a few shots and Rupert’s forces took a significant number of casualties. However, in the melee, Hampden was mortally wounded and the shock of the action drove the the Roundheads from the field.

Prince Rupert

Rupert’s actions at the Battle of Chalgrove were characteristic of him and this time of the war for the Royalists. The Royalists had fought in skirmishes and at least one set piece battle at this point in the war and were coming off as the better force in several of the engagements. Rupert’s cavalry were showing themselves to be of continental calibre in cavalry actions and this confidence was leading Rupert to push for an early and final assault on London to end the war. The young man did not get his wish, but maybe he should have for the sake of the Royalists’ cause. Marston Moor, far away from London, Oxford, and their Royalist support, was to come the following summer.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

This map runs to the actual battlefield and then takes a run at some of the better roads in the area. H-Cafe (former location of Fox’s Diner), near the Berinsfield Roundabout on the A4074, is the local biker hang out. Ordnance Survey Landranger 164 is a good map of the area.

The Battle of Cropredy Bridge 29 June 1644

Just three days before the disaster of Marston Moor for the Royalists, King Charles I himself directed a rebuff to a prowling Parliamentary army under William Waller at the Battle Cropredy Bridge, near Banbury.

Waller had been observing the King’s movements for some time when he spotted an opportunity to strike over the River Cherwell near the present day Oxford Canal as it passes through the village of Cropredy. The King had allowed a gaping hole to develop between his lead / centre elements which were near Hays Bridge and his rear which was more than a mile behind. Seeing his chance to bite off a whole chunk of the King’s rear end, Waller pounced.

The Battle of Cropredy Bridge

Waller sent Lieutenant General Middleton’s cavalry (including Battlefield Biker favorite, Haselrige’s “lobsters”) to make contact with the King’s rear. This was a raging success, but as so often happened with successful cavalry charges of the time, the pursuit went too far. The Royalist rear guard commander, the Earl of Cleveland, took the opportunity to wade into the Parliamentary foot and guns which had been left behind by Middleton at Cropredy Bridge. Middleton’s cavalry realized what had happened and returned to scatter Cleveland’s cavalry, but not until after they captured the Roundhead guns and their commander Colonel Wemyss (unfortunate name for an artillery commander). Cleveland did not get all of his own way in Middleton’s absence as the Roundhead infantry stood their ground, crucially keeping Cropredy Bridge.

In the meantime, Waller with cavalry crossed the Slat Mill ford and attacked uphill near Williamscott and was promptly sent packing by the Earl of Northampton’s cavalry. Waller decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retired to Bourton Hill to over-watch continuing skirmishes around the bridge. Finally, the result was Parliamentary forces staring down the King’s forces from Cropredy Bridge for the better part of two days. The King stole away when he learned of re-enforcements coming to Waller.

The Battle of Cropredy Bridge was a Lost Parliamentary Opportunity

Although a tactical stalemate, at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge the King kept most of his Oxford army to fight another day and Waller’s opportunity to hurt Charles significantly was lost as Waller’s army disintegrated with mutiny and desertion soon thereafter.

Ride Recommendation

This ride rides takes in battlefield area around the eponymous town and bridge and then opens up into some great A roads to Daventry, Southam and Banbury. Finally, I’ve included a short finish on the farm lanes around the older battlefield of Edgcote, where a major battle of the War of the Roses was fought.

Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 151. The battlefield is centred on SP 477460. If using a road map, the battlefield is located east and northeast of Cropredy Bridge.

Hopton Takes Waller at the Battle of Lansdown Hill 5 July 1643

In the English Civil War, the Royalists had been gathering strength throughout the west in early 1643, but there were still several Parliamentary strong points that needed to be neutralized, before the Royalist rear would be secure enough to mount an all out assault on London. With this aim, Sir Ralph Hopton set out to draw his old friend William Waller out to battle, so that the Royalists could take the Parliamentary town of Bath. The two met north of Bath on Lansdown Hill.

Battle of Lansdown Hill

Waller had had time to prepare, so had used the existing Saxon-times quarry pits and embellished them into a formidable network of trenches and gun emplacements. Seeing Waller on top of a nearly impregnable position, Hopton thought better of the situation and retreated in good order. However, Waller wasn’t having it and sent a substantial amount of cavalry down the hill to maul the Royalists as they retreated. The Parliamentary cavalry did a good job and almost broke the retreat, but Hopton held on and rallied his forces to reverse the attack and flank the attacking cavalry some ways back up the hill.

With their blood up, Hopton’s infantry made their way up the hill and eventually took over the crest from Waller’s infantry. Unusually, Hopton had sent the infantry up the hill to protect the cavalry flanks, but his cavalry had been pushed back and the infantry had to carry the attack. Hopton lost one of his troops’ most beloved leaders in the melee, in Sir Bevill Grenvile. The Royalists now held the breastworks on top of the hill but could not really secure their flanks and were running low on ammunition. Waller’s troops had reformed behind a stone wall about 400 yards south on the plateau. With darkness falling, neither side had the strength to close the battle.

Neither side had won a decisive victory. The Royalists had taken a tactical stronghold from the Parliamentarians by force, but they had lost their ability to threaten Bath, so strategically it had hurt them.

Battle of Lansdown Hill Ride Recommendation

This ride really comes into its own when all of the steep, curvy farm tracks are taken around the battlefield itself. Note, try to avoid Bath during heavy traffic and watch the debris on the farm tracks around the battlefield. It finishes off with a scoot over to the next (chronologically) battlefield of Roundway Down.

Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 172. The battlefield is centered on ST 723703. If using a road map, the battlefield is located north of Bath, near the racecourse.

Battle of Emuckfau Creek and Enitachopco 22-24 January 1814

The War of 1812 coincided with an uprising amongst part of the Creek Indian nation that was rebelling against the U.S. governments attempts to “civilize” them. For the “volunteers” of Tennessee, including future President Andrew Jackson, the majority of the War of 1812 was spent fighting Indians and not the British.

In 1811, Tecumseh of the Shawnee, visited the distant cousin Creek and encouraged rebellion against the white man’s ways. The tribe split over whether to follow their ancient ways or throw in their lots with the white man. Those for integration with the USA were called “White Sticks” and those who favored fighting were called “Red Sticks.” This Creek civil war was destined to go beyond the nation and did soon enough with a slaughter of over 250 whites / mixed raced Creeks near Mobile, Alabama in August 1813. This caused the predictable call for retribution and U.S. military action. Enter “Old Hickory” Jackson and his Tennessee Volunteers.

In late 1813, Jackson entered Alabama and set up a supply post (Fort Deposit)and a forward post on the Coosa river(Fort Strother) in northern Alabama and began operations against the Creek. Almost from the start, Jackson was beset with mutinous Tennesseans who felt that time spent back in Tennessee counted as part of their enlistment, whilst Jackson felt it did not. Many Tennesseans left, but Jackson pushed on with what was left of his force and a couple of green Regiments that had just arrived from west Tennessee.

Battle of Emuckfau Creek

Being Old Hickory meant doing hard things anyway, so Jackson set off for the known Creek encampment at Emuckfau / Emuckfaw Creek. He camped within hearshot of the encampment on 21 January 1814 and sent out patrols to find them. The patrols reported that not only did they find them, the Creeks knew of them too. At daybreak the next day, the Creek attacked front and rear, but were thrown back. Jackson counter-attacked and killed a good many. He then wanted to take the initiative and destroy their base. Jackson sent his old friend, General John Coffey, to root out the Creek base on Embuckfau Creek. Coffey went forth, but found the place too well defended and retired. Once Coffey returned, the Creeks attacked Jackson again with a feign on one side and a main attack on the other. Once again, the Creeks were thrown back, but Jackson was in trouble with bloodied, green troops in “Indian Country” with little back up. Jackson felt he need to retire and re-enforce at Fort Strother.

On his way out of the area, Jackson camped on Enitachopco Creek on the 23rd and fixed fortifications, knowing that another attack was likely. Luckily, they got a quiet night and they headed out in the morning. The quiet was not to last. Not long on the trail, they began crossing Enitachopco Creek and the rear guard was put to the run by the Creek attack. The panic spread and a meltdown was looking likely, but Jackson managed to pull together enough to fend off the attack with even his Nashville artillerymen fighting hand-to-hand. Eventually the tide turned with more of the lead elements re-crossing the creek to take part. The Creek warriors began to slip and finally decided getting away from Old Hickory was better than dying in place.

Jackson had the upper hand in both engagements, eventually, but had found out how hard it was going to be to fight in this nearly unsupportable backwater of eastern Alabama.

Motorcycle Ride

Try this ride which encompasses both battle sites at the two creeks.

Photo Credit: By US National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern 6-8 March 1862

By the end of 1861, the Union forces had secured Missouri by routing the Missouri militia that favored secession. In early 1862, the Union commander, General Samuel Curtis moved his Army of the Southwest into northwest Arkansas to take the fight to the Confedrates and secure Missouri from Rebel cross border incursions.

Newly appointed Confederate Army of the West commander, General Earl Van Dorn decided to take his numerically superior, but logistically inferior forces to the northwest of Arkansas and push the Union back onto the back foot in both Arkansas and Missouri.

After several skirmishes in February and early March, 1862, Curtis settled on favorable ground to the east of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Van Dorn knew it was a good position, so decided to split his forces in an attempt to draw Curtis into a weaker position.

Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern

On day one of the battle, Curtis took the north and west of the position by heading off a flanking movement. The day was carried by the quick movement of the Union forces, the loss of two Confedrate Generals and the capture of a Colonel. Van Dorn led the other Confederate column to take the south and east near Elkhorn Tavern. On day two, Curtis regrouped and attacked Elkhorn tavern with heavy artillery support. Van Dorn held the position but at a tremendous cost in casualties and ammunition and eventually had to retreat and leave the position to Curtis.

The Union continued to hold the area and the strategically important state of Missouri for most of the rest of the war.

Stand Watie

Side note: One of the Confederate leaders at Pea ridge was Stand Watie who commanded the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Watie was a pro-treaty Cherokee who had survived the Trail of Tears move from the Carolinas/Tennessee/Georgia homelands to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Watie would later be promoted to Brigadier General and become the only Native American General on either side of the Civil War. After Pea Ridge, Watie commanded a brigade of Native Americans for the Confederacy. He and his troops participated in many battles and campaigns for the South.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Begin or end your ride with the online tour of the battlefield. Outside of the Pea Ridge Battlefield National Military Parkpark take a through the loop ride through the Hobbs State Park and around Beaver Lake.

Photo Credit: By Kurz and Allison [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Battle of Neuve Chapelle 10-13 March 1915

By early 1915, the lines in northern France had become static and the trench warfare that WWI is known for had commenced. Many soldiers and officers found themselves not only green, but found their senior leadership green in the tactics of the trench as well. New ideas had to be considered and new tactics developed to break the enemy lines for any offensive to succeed. The British First Army, under the command of the often maligned General Douglas Haig, was given the task of taking the immediate German positions, Neuve Chapelle and finally Aubers ridge. The First Army was made up of British, Canadian, and Indian troops.

Although the battle is not often associated with the major battles of the First World War, it is highly significant in the analysis of the planning, technology, and tactical advances of the time. The battle exhibited major breakthroughs in four key areas.

  • The German lines were mapped extensively by aerial reconnaissance by a British air arm that was in its infancy. This allowed;
  • Detailed maps to be distributed to the ground forces which contained phase lines and timed intervals for movements which were co-ordinated with;
  • Air support in the attack and;
  • Heavy artillery preparation of targets in advance with the lifting and shifting of fires in time with infantry movements. More rounds were sent skyward in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle than in all of the Boer War.
Battle of Neuve Chapelle

These innovations paid off at first with Haig taking the immediate objective of the German line salient and then the village of Neuve Chapelle. However, the attack bogged down soon thereafter, well before reaching the final objective of the Aubers ridge. A competent German counter-attack was partly the cause, but unforced errors also came into play. There were several tactical explanations for the halt that are common to many battlefields;

  • Poor weather on the second day limited aerial observation and support which contributed to;
  • Poor communications that kept the leadership from knowing where things were progressing properly and where they weren’t which led to;
  • Bad tactical intelligence that led some areas to be allotted more troops than needed and others less than needed which led to;
  • The fog of war where things tend to freeze on the senior decision level, but local fighting goes on, but is uncoordinated with the larger picture.

The battle was a limited tactical win for the British, but at a heavy cost of approximately 12,000 casualties. In the longer term Neuve Chapelle became the professional template for a new set of tactics that would become prevalent for the rest of the war.

Map credit – New York Times “Current History”. The European War, Vol. 2 No. 2, May 1915.
Downloaded from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15479

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

This is a great ride when you are going somewhere else in France. It is only 60 miles from Calais and can be seen on the way to the south of France, Paris or Belgium with only a minor detour. From Calais, head to Neuve Chapelle, then take the following circular ride of the area. This is not a spectacularly scenic ride, but you get to ride along the British front line from Neuve Chapelle to Fleurbaix (with a British Cemetary in Fauquissart), then see the Aubers ridge objective, then down to the pivot point in the line at La Bassee.

Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina 15 March 1781

The early part of the American Revolutionary War was fought mostly in the North of the colonies, but after a series of defeats, the British decided to focus on the southern colonies in their persistent belief that Loyalist sympathies ran deeper there than the North. The British had built up a string of victories in the south by early 1781 by chasing down southern militias and defeating them one by one. General Washington sent one of his best Generals, Nathaniel Greene south to revive the Patriot effort. Greene had tried to separate his forces and hoped to catch the British off guard by making them attack him piecemeal. This had had some success, namely at Cowpens two months earlier, but it was getting harder and harder to avoid a major showdown with the British main force. After strategically retreating across South and North Carolina and preserving his force, Greene decided to turn and face his pursuer, Redcoat General Lord Cornwallis. Cornwallis was sure that if he could corner Greene’s force and inflict a decisive defeat on the Rebels, he could soon claim the American south for the British cause. The field for this critical battle was in the small hamlet of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina.

Battle of Guildford Courthouse

On the cold morning of 15 March 1781, Greene deployed his mixed militia and Continental Army force of approximately 4,500 in three lines in depth. The first line was North Carolina militia, the second Virginia militia and the final line was mainly Continentals. Cornwallis took his 1,900 British and German professional soldiers and attacked head on, breaking through the first line quickly, but with serious losses that he could ill afford. The second line held longer and bled the British further. However, the British broke through and finally reached the Continentals where a fierce give and take erupted with attacks and counter-attacks. The resulting mass of fighting men confused the situation to the point that Cornwallis felt that he needed to break up the two armies with grape shot fired into the middle of it. The artillery killed indiscriminately, but had the intended effect of separating the armies. At this point, Greene decided to pull away and save his force. Cornwallis stood victorious on the field, but strategically hamstrung.

From this victory, Cornwallis headed for the coast for re-supply for his depleted force. The condition of his army led him to begin his doomed Virginia campaign which would end later in the year with his surrender at Yorktown.

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Check out this ride that leads to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park through the Colonial Heritage Byway.

Andrew Jackson Horseshoe Bend Battle, Creek War, 27 March 1814

Creek War

The Creek War was part of the War of 1812, because the Americans believed, with good reason, that the British and Spanish were coaxing the Red Stick (anti-US) Creeks along with supplies and guidance. The fact that the Tohopeka (Horseshoe Bend) stronghold on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama was fortified with European style battlements re-enforced this belief.

After the tactically brutal and ugly fights at Emuckfaw and Enitachopco in January 1814, Andrew Jackson gathered his new forces and had another go at the Red Stick Creeks led by the Prophet Monahell and Chief Menawa with the possible inclusion of the famed William Weatherford (Red Eagle), a half Scottish, half Creek warrior. Jackson was determined to make this campaign the last major one in the area by destroying the Red Stick Creek force at its very stronghold and defended by its best warriors and leaders.

Jackson took off from Fort Strother in mid March with new Tennessee volunteers from the eastern part of that state, the 39th U.S. Infantry, Cherokees and White Stick (pro-US) Creeks. Jackson’s target was to be the stronghold at the horseshoe shaped bend on the Tallapoosa River that the Creeks called Tohopeka. The new forces were important, because Jackson’s previous foray into this wilderness was with Tennnessee volunteers who had many complaints about their pay and enlistment periods. This new force was more motivated and professional. The plan was to form an envelopement and was designed to trap the Red Sticks in the confines of the river bow (see a map of the arrayed forces).

Jackson sent his trusty number two, John Coffee, the White Stick Creeks, some Cherokees and the dragoons to the far side (southern) of the river to feint a river crossing. Jackson took the main force to attack the breastworks head on from the north. Jackson opened up with his limited artillery, but his small guns just bounced shot off the timbered works. However, the sound of the guns excited some of Coffee’s force and they managed to swim the Tallapoosa and steal some canoes. This allowed a landing and cut off the Red Sticks’ main retreat option. Whilst Coffee was harrying the Red Sticks near the river, Jackson ordered a charge on the works. Jackson’s force was then able to use the timber for protection themselves as they fired through the portals from the outside. Finally, a courageous push over the top that included Sam Houston (who was seriously wounded) succeeded in breaching the Creek perimeter with substantial forces. The Red Stick forces fought a determined, but doomed defense inside the stronghold with Jackson even leveling his artillery at point blank range into the huts used as a last stand.

The battle resulted in the largest death toll of Native Americans (557 +) in a single battle throughout all of the Indian wars. Monahell was killed (possibly by Menawa who was fed up with Prophetic devices rather than fighting), Menawa was severely wounded, but escaped and William Weatherford escaped only to walk into Fort Jackson (formerly Fort Toulouse) a few months later to surrender. Weatherford was to play a key role in encouraging many other Red Sticks to give up to the Americans.

Andrew Jackson Horseshoe Bend

Horsehoe Bend is seen as the last of the Creek nation living independently in their ancestral grounds, but this particular Indian War will forever be associated with the War of 1812, because of the winning General. Clearing out the Creeks would allow Jackson to focus on New Orleans nearly a year later with glorious results for Old Hickory.

Image Information: Mcewen, Robert Houston. [Sketch map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend of Tallapoosa River, 27th March 1814]. 1814. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012588005/. (Accessed January 14, 2018.)

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Try this “figure 8” ride starting and ending at Fort Toulouse / Jackson State Historic Site. This takes in the scenic Alabama State Routes 9 and 22 as well as the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

Battle of To-Hoto-Nim-Me / Steptoe Fight 17 May 1858

After being hectored by the fast and loose talking Isaac Stevens, the Washington Territory Governor, into signing a treaty that would see them removed from their ancestral lands to reservations in 1855, the native tribes of present day eastern Washington state became restless with the intruding white settlers and miners. Repeated raids and revenge killings spiraled the area into open confrontation between the U.S. Regular Army of the Northwest and combined tribes of eastern Washington.

Stevens’ disputed 1855 agreements were falling apart as several tribes (a Yakima faction, Coeur d’Alenes, Palouses, Cayuses and Spokanes) raided the eastern end of the territory. From 1855 through 1857 the pace of the unrest grew, until the exasperated Stevens called up volunteers to seek out the Indians that they felt were not complying with the treaty. Stevens had looked to volunteers, because, the military commander of the area, General John E. Wool, had held Stevens’ demands for federal troop intervention in contempt. Eventually, Wool sent a force under Colonel Newman S. Clarke to clear out the area, but very little action was found by Clarke and the area slipped into a relative calm. Wool started making concessions to the treaty in return for continued peace. Stevens was livid, but Wool felt it was better to try to live in peace with the Northwest Indians, rather than rankle them all of the time. Unfortunately, the tribes of eastern Washington began to view the concessions as weakness and the pace of the attacks picked up again, especially against miners digging for gold in the Colville area.

Eventually, Stevens had used his political connections to get Wool re-assigned and Clarke, now a Brigadier General, took over from his boss. Clarke was an old Indian fighter from the Second Seminole Indian War in Florida, but held many of Wool’s sympathies for the Indians and was just as disgusted by the actions of many of the whites. Both officers had either seen or had direct knowledge of the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears and were abhorred by it. However, Clarke was an old Army hand and knew that he would follow Wool out if he didn’t do something to stop the killings around Colville. In May 1858, Clarke sent Major (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Edward J. Steptoe, a respected and decorated Mexican War veteran, on an armed reconnaissance of the Colville area to see if there was a way to cool hot-heads on either side. Steptoe headed out of Fort Walla Walla in southeast Washington near the Oregon border on 6 May 1858 with approximately 160 soldiers (1st Dragoons, Companies C, E and H and E Company of the 9th Infantry).

Steptoe took off in early May 1858, but turn back immediately with a wagon train that was just too heavy to maneuver to his animal’s liking. After unloading ammunition (leaving an average of 40 rounds per man), he set off again. After crossing the Snake River at Red Wolf’s crossing, Steptoe had Indian company from thereon. The Allied Indians had already received advance notice of his movements and were waiting. They followed his movement up past what is known as Steptoe Butte today and through the town of Rosalia, Washington.

As Steptoe passed Rosalia going North on 16 May 1858, he was confronted by approximately 1,000 Indians of the combined tribes. Steptoe, realizing he was outnumbered, deciding to parley with them. The talk merely confirmed to Steptoe that the Indians were spoiling for a fight and could take his whole command if he wasn’t careful. The Indians thought Steptoe had come to fight and were unmoved by his explanation that he came to try to settle the Indian / miner disputes in the Colville area. Thinking discretion was the better part of valor, Steptoe decided to withdraw back to the Snake and await re-enforcements who he had requested through a courier, now on his way.

The Battle of To-Hoto-Nim-Me

The night passed with an uneasy truce, but the morning of the 17th found Steptoe on the move and aggressive Indians following and waiting for a moment of weakness. By 8 AM, the soldiers were taking regular assaults from the Indians. They just accepted them at first, but had to start retaliating when the Indians started taking high ground in advance of Steptoe’s column. Eventually, the fire from the soldiers took down several Cour d’Alene chiefs which raised the blood of the Indians, namely Chief Vincent whose Brother-in-law was one of the dead. Vincent had been one of the restraining voices in the Indian camp. With Vincent’s rage ignited, the combined tribes began to attack in earnest. On the Army side, all ideas of a quiet withdrawal were now gone. A series of running skirmishes on the flanks by Company E and C of Dragoons, led by Lieutenants William Gaston and Oliver Hazard Perry Taylor, respectively, were getting increasingly hot. Steptoe sent H Company, led by Lieutenant David McMurtrie Gregg, ahead to secure high ground, but even this was not enough to secure his force. Once the force had consolidated on the Gregg secured hill, Steptoe decided to keep moving to the vicinity of his 15 May camp Southeast of present day Rosalia, near To-Hoto-Nim-Me Creek (now known as Pine Creek). Along the way, Gaston and Taylor went down mortally wounded. The Tribes were calling in re-enforcements as they realized an opportunity to cut off Steptoe’s command.

The Steptoe Fight

Finally, the soldiers reached the hill which today is the Steptoe Battlefield State Park, on the Southeast outskirts of Rosalia. Steptoe set up a perimeter with the howitzers guarding the main approaches. The Indians surrounded the hill and tried attacking from multiple angles, but were beaten back each time. However, the soldier’s ammunition and water was running disastrously low. One example of the fierceness of the fighting on the flanks as the hill was being occupied was Trooper Victor De Moy, a former French Captain, swinging his rifle as a club and firing off all of the rounds of his Colt revolver except one…which he saved for himself. As night closed in, Steptoe gathered his remaining officers and suggested they fight to the bitter end. His lieutenants thought otherwise and convinced Steptoe to evacuate the hill under cover of darkness and make an end run for the Snake River. Burying the dead they could find and the disassembled howitzers, the soldiers left their fires burning, blacked out their gear and horses, tied down jangly items and exfiltrated through a gap in the Indian lines. Rumor has it that the great Yakima chief Kamiakin made it to the site by evening and encouraged a full scale night attack, but was not taken up. Instead, a series of uncoordinated attacks from different angles would harry the soldiers. The first of such was around midnight, but the Coeur d’Alenes who attacked found no soldiers, but most of their gear left behind. The temptation of scavenging the remaining goods overtook reporting the lack of soldiers, so Steptoe got a good head start.

Steptoe’s troops then made an extra-ordinary march of approximately 90 miles to Wolf’s Crossing on the Snake in 24 hours. There they were met by friendly Nez Perce Indians who secured their camp for them as they took well needed sleep. This ended a potentially disastrous engagement for the U.S. regulars, but the sting of having to retreat in the face of Indians was new to the U.S. Army.

Although in military history hindsight, Steptoe’s retreat was one of the most innovative, lucky and resourceful imaginable, his decision to take too little ammunition and his decision to withdrawal in the face of the combined tribes was questioned heavily at the time. The tribes of eastern Washington were resurgent and felt their strength when they fought together and in great numbers. The Army could not allow this “humiliation” to stand and immediately began preparing a column to address the issue. This column, which included future Indian fighting legend Lieutenant George Crook, met the combined tribes on 1 and 5 September 1858 at the battles of Four Lakes and Spokane Plain, respectively, and won decisive victories that ended the problems in the Northwest for the time being.

Ride Recommendation

This is a long ride if you want to follow the Steptoe line of march. (A glitch in Google Maps is causing the route to go through Moscow, Idaho on US-95. The map I designed is correct when I view it, but the insertion code moves the route east. The route should follow Highway 195 through Pullman, Washington. Sorry, but I can’t really complain, Google Maps are pretty good normally) Once in the area, consider the Palouse Scenic Byway for some great scenery. Finally, check out the Rosalia Visitor and Interpretive Center at an old Texaco station for a map of the whole engagement.

At Clarkston, WA, you are near the Nez Perce reservation and it is well worth a stop if you have the time. I’ve spent some time on the Nez Perce Trail.  Of course, this area is also Lewis and Clark country. Further south is the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway which is beautiful. Below is possibly the best picture I’ve ever taken. It is Hells Canyon on the Snake River from the scenic byway.

Hells Canyon on the Snake River on the Idaho / Oregon border

Waller Defeats Hopton at Battle of Cheriton on 29 March 1644

Introduction

In the summer of 1644, the Royalist forces were threatening London in the English Civil War with the Parliamentarians. The Royalists confidently blocked a Parliamentarian force near Winchester and forced a battle. They would regret it. The battle was a turning point in the southern campaign and suddenly stopped the Royalist pincer strategy on London by destroying the lower jaw of it.

This is one of my favourite local rides. The battlefield is highly accessible by bike and foot with multiple farm tracks and lanes. Additionally, this part of Hampshire is beautiful and the lanes and good “A” roads around here make it a great Sunday morning ride.

The Battle of Cheriton

Around 27 March 1644, the Royalist forces of Lord Hopton, joined by the Earl of Forth had succeeded in halting Hopton’s old friend William Waller’s Parliamentary forces from securing Winchester by blocking the main road between London and Winchester near Alresford. Two days of skirmishing in the area left Waller’s army near the village of Hinton Ampner and Hopton’s army northeast of Cheriton with pickets on a ridge overlooking Hinton Ampner to the south.

Hopton’s pickets and Waller’s patrols skirmished in the night of 28/29 March. Waller had flanked Hopton’s pickets on the south ridge to the point of making it untenable. Thus the day of the battle began with Waller on the south ridge and Hopton on the north ridge. Upon seeing the ground between the two forces, Waller saw that Cheriton Wood would be the key to Hopton’s left flank and dispatched 1,000 musketeers there. Understanding this threat, Hopton countered with 1,000 musketeers of his own under Colonel Matthew Appleyard. The two forces met in the dense Cheriton Wood and by all accounts fought a fierce hand-to-hand melee with Appleyard’s forces securing the ground. Hopton had been frustrated by previous attempts to bring his old friend, Waller, to battle, due to Waller’s pessimistic nature and previous defeats, most notably Roundway Down and Lansdown Hill. Alas, Hopton would be frustrated, but not by Waller this time.

Although intending to hold their position on the north ridge, one of Hopton’s lieutenants, Royalist Sir Henry Bard, on his own initiative, led his regiment on a ill-starred attack from the right on Sir Arthur Haselrige’s regiment of horse, known as the “lobsters” for their 3/4 armour suits. Haselrige made Bard pay for his folly and destroyed the entire regiment in plain sight of the Royalists. The Royalists were so horrified by what they saw in front of them that they felt compelled to send re-enforcements to Bard. However, they were sent piecemeal without supporting fires or flank protection. The Roundheads met the challenge and soon the entire front became engaged between the two ridges.

Parrying between the two forces ended up in close quartered fighting along the hedges. Meanwhile, several cavalry actions played out over a period of hours with the Parliamentary cavalry gaining the upper hand. Finally, Waller’s infantry enveloped the flanks and forced Hopton to salvage his troops and guns with an orderly retreat up today’s Scrubbs Lane towards Basing House, passing the point where the commemorative stone sits today.

Ride Recommendation

This is a good ride with the tour of the battlefield in the middle of the ride along the farm lanes northeast of the village of Cheriton. Use Ordnance Survey Landranger 185. The battlefield is centred on SU 598294. If using a road map, the battlefield is located northeast of Cheriton village. It is 42.8 miles beginning and ending near Winchester, Hampshire. There is a National Trust property at Hinton Ampner, a good pub called the Flower Pots in Cheriton, a Husqvarna dealership (Husky Sport) in Cheriton and a BMW Motorrad dealer (Bahnstormer) at Lower Faringdon.

Google Map Link

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