Who was the commander of the Government Army?
On 17 June the London the mood was sombre after the news of Axminster had reached the King. As a result, he ordered the Earl of Feversham to command the Army to be sent West as Lieutenant General. This would contain the Guards Regiments, more Cavalry, and a larger train of Artillery from the Tower. Feversham was an experienced officer and the senior General Officer in the Lifeguards, his rank placed him above Colonel Lord Churchill, who was promoted to Brigadier General.
The King had also received intelligence that the Whigs would be marching on Bristol. With this knowledge, a flurry of messages went out to all the Militia commanders instructing them not to engage the Whigs but cover Bristol and the London roads. At the same time, Churchill was ordered to take the vanguard, still mustering at Salisbury, and block Monmouth’s route to Bristol. Unfortunately, Churchill had rushed south with a couple of troops of horse, and by the time the instructions from Whitehall found Churchill at Ilminster on 19 June, it was too late. The vanguard had left Salisbury on 19 June under Colonel Kirke, and were following Churchills instructions to march to Dorchester, leaving Bristol exposed and the London road open.
On 19 June, the Feversham marched out of London at the head of 1,800 Foot Guards in three Battalions, three troops of Lifeguards, a Troop of Guards Horse Grenadiers, two troops of Dragoons and two troops of Cavalry. The Tower artillery train, with five companies of infantry and another troop of Cavalry would follow on three days later. Feversham would be marching on the Bristol road, via Chippenham and Bath.