Of Plans for Invasion

An account of our plans for the invasion of England to restore the liberties and property of the common people under the Duke of Monmouth in 1685

Covent Garden, January 1698

My Duke of Monmouth had many supporters, during ‘84, non-more-so than the grand Elector of Brandenburg. For he had asked our Duke, to be the Captain-General of a new coalition army, to be made from the anti-French states of Europe. This ‘Confederation Army’, was already being recruited in Germany and the Low Province of Flanders. This coalition force was to be funded by the minor German states, Brandenburg and Imperial Spain.  Its ambition was to stop any further aggression by Louis IVX’s France. For they had bullied and taken by open force or trickery several small states along the Rhine since the last war and now threatened Flanders once more. Therefore, in late January ‘85, Monmouth had secretly visited his father to gain agreement as to his command and to ensure that the British troops in foreign service would join this army.

It is therefore no surprise that the hand of Louis and the ‘Catholic Duke’ where seen to be behind the Kings sudden death, only a few weeks later. With this the now powerful British Navy became ‘French’ and the planned ‘Army of Confederation’ fell in tatters. Now, the only hope for the protestant cause was for Monmouth and Argyll to restore the country to the control of parliament and restore liberty to the people. From our base in Cleves, it was agreed that coordinated landings would take place.  Argyll would come ashore in Scotland with three hundred men to raise an Army of Scottish Covenanters. Whilst, my Duke of Monmouth would land in the west country with one hundred men, with arms and equipment for two thousand more. This would divide the Catholic Dukes small Royal Army, whilst those soldiers newly back from Holland would openly mutiny so as not to fight against ‘their Protestant Prince and Captain General’.   Alongside Argyll and Monmouth, the council of war included his close friend Lord Grey of Warke, several professional soldiers including Colonel Samuel Venner, Colonel Fletcher, Colonel Ffoulkes, Major Holmes and the republican leader Nathaniel Wade.

With the Army of Confederation now no longer an option, Brandenburg allowed Monmouth to buy some of arms and recruit loyal British officers into his service, together with some Brandenburg mercenaries. Our strategy was to quickly gather support in the West and form this into a strong army and then capture Bristol. As a result, the Royalist Army would desert to our cause and the Tory leaders would be forced to turncoat. Then the loyal uprisings in Cheshire and London would end the unlawful reign of the Catholic Duke. A new Princely Republic, along the lines of the United Provinces would be created, the protestant cause restored, all without un-needed blood being spilt.

As the West Country was a stronghold for Country Party, it was obvious location to gather our army and the port of Lyme was the ideal location for a safe landing. It was close to Bristol and yet far enough from London to give us the time we needed create a small and motivated force. As for money, Monmouth sold his jewels, and several individuals donated sums of money to raise the capital we needed to furnish our small force.  However, one rich beneficiary in England had refused to donate money for weapons, for he stated that there are enough arms already in stock piled across the West to secure England ten times over.

The final issue to be address by the council of war was how we should get to Lyme and raise our army. We estimated we had just seven days before James could react.  Therefore arms and equipped was purchased at a very good price and including: two small fly-ships to transport the five hundred pikes, one thousand firelock muskets, many barrels of gunpowder, one thousand suites of cuirassier, four small field guns, grenades, foot colours for four regiments, drums, plus flasks and ball.  Argyll supplied us with three hundred Redcoats faced Purple that he had purchase for his own Scottish exposition.   In case the invasion flotilla encountered the Royal Navy, it was decided we should hire a fifth-rate ‘Dutch’ frigate, called the ‘Heldevenberg’ and she shall become our flagship. This cost a considerable sum and Mr Wade stated to me that this left Monmouth with only 100 livre. Which was hardly enough to pay the men, but I replied that the ‘Green Ribbon-men would not need paying, for god would fill their hearts and captured Royalist coin their purses’.

Now our force, although small, had arms, equipment and transportation, our strategy was sound, and we had loyal leaders.  We had gathered almost hundred supporters for the west country landings, these included servicing army officers, military adventurers, gentlemen and common soldiers.   Whilst over three hundred where to head to Scotland with Argyll.  This created the officer corps from which Monmouth planned to raise his four infantry battalions each of ten companies of fifty men and one horse regiment of ten troops of thirty.    Monmouth’s agents had already been busy spreading the word throughout the West, London and Cheshire that the landing would be soon in coming.  I know now, that this had not been missed by the French spies employed by Catholic Dukes.

On May 30th, two weeks later than planned, our three ships finally left Texel, bound for the West of England.  Before us went messages to our supporters across the kingdom.  I have since learnt that as we sailed, a separate and simple message was dispatched by William to his father-in-law. In this he betrayed our cause, and informed James of our departure and strategy. It is my understanding that, on this word, the Catholic Duke’s strategy was to contain us in the West by sealing off the roads with the Militia. These would arrest anyone out and aboard without reason. Then he was to crush the rebellion with the Royalist army. At all times the road to London would be secured, and the Royalist Army was always to be between us and London. Now he just needed to know when and where we landed.

We left the United Provence’s, with some relief for the Prince of Orange was also threatening to impound our small fleet before we sailed for England.  My Duke of Monmouth was accompanied by Nathaniel Wade, Sir Thomas Dare, Lord Grey and seventy-nine other souls including some mercenaries from the Army of Brandenburg.  On-board we carried a cargo of over one thousand muskets, five hundred pikes, cuirassiers and ammunition plus four field artillery pieces would give our new army of liberty its teeth. The weather was becalmed, and the journey took far longer than we had envisaged. It was with some luck our fleet avoid contact with any Royalist ship, although on two occasion sails were spotted on the England side.

William Savage

Now follow the events of June & July 1685:

Texel, May 30. 1685
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Today we sailed in the Heldevenberg for England together with the Duke of Monmouth and 81 other gentlemen of honour

Today we sailed in the Heldevenberg for England together with the Duke of Monmouth and 81 other gentlemen of honour

Today we sailed in the Heldevenberg for England together with the Duke of Monmouth and 81 other gentlemen of honour

The Channel, June 9. 1685
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This evening the Duke of Monmouth issues his commissions and gives instruction on the forming of his Army

This evening the Duke of Monmouth issues his commissions and gives instruction on the forming of his Army

This evening the Duke of Monmouth issues his commissions and gives instruction on the forming of his Army

Seatown, June 10. 1685
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This evening a small party is landed at Seatown to send word of Monmouth's landing at Lyme tomorrow.

This evening a small party is landed at Seatown to send word of Monmouth's landing at Lyme tomorrow.

This evening a small party is landed at Seatown to send word of Monmouth's landing at Lyme tomorrow.

Lyme, June 11. 1685
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Monmouth and his supporters land at Lyme to cheering crowds.

Monmouth and his supporters land at Lyme to cheering crowds.

Monmouth and his supporters land at Lyme to cheering crowds.

Lyme, June 12. 1685
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Monmouth's Army now numbers over 1500 men, yet news arrives that Royal Militia is close at hand.

Monmouth's Army now numbers over 1500 men, yet news arrives that Royal Militia is close at hand.

Monmouth's Army now numbers over 1500 men, yet news arrives that Royal Militia is close at hand.

Lyme, June 13. 1685
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Today we drew first blood after a skirmish with the Militia Horse, leaving two of them dead on the field.

Today we drew first blood after a skirmish with the Militia Horse, leaving two of them dead on the field.

Today we drew first blood after a skirmish with the Militia Horse, leaving two of them dead on the field.

Bridport, June 14. 1685
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Today we fought our first battle with the Militia at Bridport. Our Foot accounted themselves very well.

Today we fought our first battle with the Militia at Bridport. Our Foot accounted themselves very well.

Today we fought our first battle with the Militia at Bridport. Our Foot accounted themselves very well.

Axminster, June 15. 1685
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This day we marched to Axminster and put the Militia to flight.

This day we marched to Axminster and put the Militia to flight.

This day we marched to Axminster and put the Militia to flight.

Chard, June 16. 1685
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Today Monmouth's Army reaches Chard, whilst it continues to grow, now over 3000 men have joined his Grace.

Today Monmouth's Army reaches Chard, whilst it continues to grow, now over 3000 men have joined his Grace.

Today Monmouth's Army reaches Chard, whilst it continues to grow, now over 3000 men have joined his Grace.

Ilminster, June 17. 1685
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The Duke of Monmouth and his Army reaches Ilminster

The Duke of Monmouth and his Army reaches Ilminster

The Duke of Monmouth and his Army reaches Ilminster

Taunton, June 18. 1685
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Monmouth and his Army reach Taunton this evening.

Monmouth and his Army reach Taunton this evening.

Monmouth and his Army reach Taunton this evening.

Taunton, June 19. 1685
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Today we entered Taunton and a new Foot Regiment, the Blue, is raised from Taunton-men.

Today we entered Taunton and a new Foot Regiment, the Blue, is raised from Taunton-men.

Today we entered Taunton and a new Foot Regiment, the Blue, is raised from Taunton-men.

Taunton, June 20. 1685
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The Duke of Monmouth is proclaimed King at the market cross.

The Duke of Monmouth is proclaimed King at the market cross.

The Duke of Monmouth is proclaimed King at the market cross.

Bridgwater, June 21. 1685
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We can now field an Army of 5 Horse Squadrons, 5 Foot Battalions & 4 field cannon.

We can now field an Army of 5 Horse Squadrons, 5 Foot Battalions & 4 field cannon.

We can now field an Army of 5 Horse Squadrons, 5 Foot Battalions & 4 field cannon.

Glastonbury, June 22. 1685
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There is a skirmish between our Horse and those of the enemy at Langport whilst the clubmen look to join with us.

There is a skirmish between our Horse and those of the enemy at Langport whilst the clubmen look to join with us.

There is a skirmish between our Horse and those of the enemy at Langport whilst the clubmen look to join with us.

Shepton Mallet, June 23. 1685
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This day we have progressed to Shepton Mallet but the heavy rain is slowing our advance.

This day we have progressed to Shepton Mallet but the heavy rain is slowing our advance.

This day we have progressed to Shepton Mallet but the heavy rain is slowing our advance.

Pensford, June 24. 1685
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This day we reach Pensford but have word the enemy has damaged the Keynsham Bridge

This day we reach Pensford but have word the enemy has damaged the Keynsham Bridge

This day we reach Pensford but have word the enemy has damaged the Keynsham Bridge

Keynsham, June 25. 1685
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This day we crossed the Avon by the repaired Bridge at Keynsham and fought of the enemy Horse

This day we crossed the Avon by the repaired Bridge at Keynsham and fought of the enemy Horse

This day we crossed the Avon by the repaired Bridge at Keynsham and fought of the enemy Horse

Philips Norton, June 26. 1685
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Monmouth and his Army reach Philips Norton after a long march in heavy rain.

Monmouth and his Army reach Philips Norton after a long march in heavy rain.

Monmouth and his Army reach Philips Norton after a long march in heavy rain.

Philips Norton, June 27. 1685
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Today there is a Battle between Monmouth's Army and the enemy at Philips Norton.

Today there is a Battle between Monmouth's Army and the enemy at Philips Norton.

Today there is a Battle between Monmouth's Army and the enemy at Philips Norton.

Frome, June 28. 1685
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This day Monmouth and his arrive exhausted at Frome after a night march in the rain

This day Monmouth and his arrive exhausted at Frome after a night march in the rain

This day Monmouth and his arrive exhausted at Frome after a night march in the rain

Frome, June 29. 1685
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The council of War debate the General Pardon issued by the enemy and elect to fight on.

The council of War debate the General Pardon issued by the enemy and elect to fight on.

The council of War debate the General Pardon issued by the enemy and elect to fight on.

Shepton Mallet, June 30. 1685
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Monmouth and his Army finding the path to London closed retires West to Shepton Mallet.

Monmouth and his Army finding the path to London closed retires West to Shepton Mallet.

Monmouth and his Army finding the path to London closed retires West to Shepton Mallet.

Wells, July 1. 1685
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This day we captured enemy baggage as Wells and rest here for the night.

This day we captured enemy baggage as Wells and rest here for the night.

This day we captured enemy baggage as Wells and rest here for the night.

Sedgemoor, July 2. 1685
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This day as we marched to Pedwell to meet the grand Clubmen Army of Somerset, yet upon our arrival, they only number some 200 men.

This day as we marched to Pedwell to meet the grand Clubmen Army of Somerset, yet upon our arrival, they only number some 200 men.

This day as we marched to Pedwell to meet the grand Clubmen Army of Somerset, yet upon our arrival, they only number some 200 men.

Bridgwater, July 3. 1683
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Monmouth and his Army return to Bridgwater and start to fortify the town

Monmouth and his Army return to Bridgwater and start to fortify the town

Monmouth and his Army return to Bridgwater and start to fortify the town

Bridgwater, July 4. 1685
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The Army remains at Bridgwater and this evening the local men are allowed to return to their homes as the enemy doesn't press us.

The Army remains at Bridgwater and this evening the local men are allowed to return to their homes as the enemy doesn't press us.

The Army remains at Bridgwater and this evening the local men are allowed to return to their homes as the enemy doesn't press us.

Bridgwater, July 5. 1685
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This afternoon we prepare to march overnight to Axbridge meanwhile the enemy has advanced to Westonzoyland

This afternoon we prepare to march overnight to Axbridge meanwhile the enemy has advanced to Westonzoyland

This afternoon we prepare to march overnight to Axbridge meanwhile the enemy has advanced to Westonzoyland

Castlefield, July 5. 1685
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By late afternoon it is clear our enemy camps at Weston but leaves their right flank in the air.

By late afternoon it is clear our enemy camps at Weston but leaves their right flank in the air.

By late afternoon it is clear our enemy camps at Weston but leaves their right flank in the air.

Longmoor, July 6. 1685
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This night we march to Longmoor to surprise the enemy but a troopers pistol goes off at half-cock.

This night we march to Longmoor to surprise the enemy but a troopers pistol goes off at half-cock.

This night we march to Longmoor to surprise the enemy but a troopers pistol goes off at half-cock.

Sedgemoor, July 6. 1685
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The Armies of the two King's fought a great Battle at Sedgemoor, the victor wrote the History. This is an account from one side.

The Armies of the two King's fought a great Battle at Sedgemoor, the victor wrote the History. This is an account from one side.

The Armies of the two King's fought a great Battle at Sedgemoor, the victor wrote the History. This is an account from one side.

Ilfracombe, July 7. 1685
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With the Rebellion lost, it is every man for himself, Wade, Goodenough, Ferguson and a party make their Escape from Ilfracombe.

With the Rebellion lost, it is every man for himself, Wade, Goodenough, Ferguson and a party make their Escape from Ilfracombe.

With the Rebellion lost, it is every man for himself, Wade, Goodenough, Ferguson and a party make their Escape from Ilfracombe.

Tower Hill, July 15. 1685
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This is an account of the bloody and botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth on Tower Hill.

This is an account of the bloody and botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth on Tower Hill.

This is an account of the bloody and botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth on Tower Hill.

Dorchester, July 18. 1685
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With the Rebellion over the Tyrant paid bloody retribution on those that fought for your Liberty

With the Rebellion over the Tyrant paid bloody retribution on those that fought for your Liberty

With the Rebellion over the Tyrant paid bloody retribution on those that fought for your Liberty

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