Report on the Battle of Milford Haven

Posted by Matt Schultheis - December 29th, 2010

Dateline: Milford Haven, Wales

January 27, 1475 A.D.

From the King’s Herald

The Cousin’s war had raged for twenty years. Richard Duke of York, Queen Margaret, Edward Prince of Wales, Henry the Sixth, Edward the Fourth, Edmund the First, and George Plantagenet had all perished leaving the crippled Duke of York Richard the last heir to the throne from the House of York.

The House of Tudor was ascendent, and the late King Henry’s nephew, Henry Tudor was acknowledged as the Lancastrian heir. The young Earl of Richmond was given the Office of Lieutenant of Ireland, and when Henry VI was killed, he became Duke of York. Within a year King Edmund I was slain at Wallingford. Henry Tudor then sailed from Ireland to Milford Haven and was crowned King at St. David’s. The King then established Court at Milford Haven and summoned Parliament.

Instead of uniting the Realm under his standard, the House of York and its supporters remained intractable, and used the occasion of Parliament to defiantly assemble their host. And so it came to pass that on a sunny day in January, the Army of the White Rose marched forth from their encampment outside Milford Haven to press the claim of the pretender Richard Duke of York. Victory on the Field of Honor would decide the Victor of the Wars of the Roses.

The Yorkist host enjoyed a considerable advantage in numbers: some 29,000 to 22,000. Richard deployed a force of 1750 cavalry, 10,500 infantry, two bombards, an organ gun and over 17,000 missile troops. The quality of the Army was good, but there was a smattering of lower quality units. The King’s forces contained 1000 horse, 5000 infantry, two organ guns and the over 16,000 archers. Over a quarter of the force were Welsh territorials and mercenaries. The overall quality of this army was fair due to a higher proportion of poorly trained troops. Offsetting the weaknesses were the fieldworks on their front and the presence of the King’s standard which bolstered their morale. Neither of these could compensate for the 9,000 advantage in the House of Swords.

The Kings Army was arrayed with left, right, center and reserve battles. The center was commanded by the King and numbered some 7000 men, including the Welsh militias. The reserve was commanded by the Earl of Wiltshire and numbered 4000. The right Battle was commanded by the Duke of Somerset accompanied by the Earl Marshal and 5000 men. On the left was stationed the Duke of Bedford with 4500 men. The Reserve Battle was immediately committed to the left center in order to engage the entire front of the enemy.

The Yorkist Army advanced with the Battle of the Earl of Shrewsbury and Northampton pressing the attack on the Lancastrian right. On the other flank, the Battle of Baron Scrope moved against the Duke of Bedford. The Yorkist Center consisted of three Battles on the front line and a reserve Battle of Lord Percy, Earl of Northumberland, the Duces Bellarum of the Yorkist Army. Richard’s center Battle was flanked on his right by the Earl of Warwick, and on his left by Baron Ros. Warwick supported Scopes attack on Bedford and engaged Wilshire’s Reserve. Richard’s Battle engaged the King’s center, supported by Ros who also supported Talbot’s assault on Somerset.

Several hours were spent moving the Host of the White Rose into position to initiate a general engagement, during which time there was a massive exchange of fire. As the Yorkist line lined up for the assault, the Army of Wales in the center broke into a stirring rendition of “Men of Harlech”, and were joined by the entire Army of the Red Rose. At the conclusion of the Welsh military anthem the King’s Army broke into a chant of “Richmond, Richmond, Richmond” . In response to the taunt, Percy ordered the Yorkist Army forward to storm the fieldworks, and appeared to be on the brink of success.

Now that the entire Yorkist line was engaged, Henry “Hotspur” Percy and the Host of Northumbria defected to the Banner of the King. Chants of Richmond could be heard as well coming from the command of Baron Audley on the Yorkist Left. Percy fell upon the Battle of Richard already engaged by the King’s men, and Audley and his Knights Errant sent the assault of Talbot into chaos.

After an hours fighting the Duke of York’s command in the center shattered completely. Not only had Percy’s defection now given the King an advantage in numbers, the breach in the Yorkist line was a calamity from which there could be no recovery.

The King focused on Ros and Talbot. while Percy pursued the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick, aided by Wiltshire’s Reserve. Bedford and Scrope fought on with both Battles collapsing from exhaustion.

The King issued the order to bring him Richard’s head, and after several hours of pursuit Somerset and Audley finally brought him to bay and after challenge combat in which Richard wounded the Duke of Somerset, the Duke of York was brought down and lost his head.

And so the King prevailed at Milford Haven. The House of York was destroyed and its Army dispersed. Peace had finally been restored to the British Isles.

Men of Harlech onto glory

This shall ever be your story

Keep these burning words before ye


Your Humble Servant,

Owen Tudor, now retired, Herald,

To his Grandson, His Majesty Henry VII

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