The Forlorn Hope
in the Royalist Army
Coat Colour: blue,blue-purple,
Commanding Officer: Courtney Winter (Major)
2nd in Command:† Paul Hill (Captain)
Adjutant:† Kath Winter
Born in 1619, Richard was the fourth son of Sir Hervey Bagot, First Baronet, and a prominent Staffordshire landowner. The Bagot family lived at Blithfield, a country estate about six miles north of Lichfield, where they kept the famous Bagot herd of goats. These animals, reputedly descended from a number brought back from southern Europe by one of the Bagot family who had fought in the first crusade, became so much a part of the family image that a goatís head forms the crest in the family arms.
In 1642 Richard was commissioned as an Ensign in Lord Kerrey's Regiment of Foote, raised to suppress rebellion in Ireland. By the outbreak of the Civil War during that year, Richard had been promoted to Captain in Colonel Bolles Regiment of the King's Army and it appears that, following the Edgehill campaign in Autumn 1642, Richard returned to Staffordshire to recruit for the Royalist cause.
Richard Bagot was chosen by Prince Rupert to become Governor of Lichfield Close (with promotion to Colonel) on 22nd April 1643 following the removal of its Parliamentary garrison by Prince Rupert. At the same time he was given the task of raising a regiment of horse and another of foot to form the Lichfield Garrison. In this task he had the help of his brother Hervey, the third son, who also was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Richard raised the regiment of horse which he commanded himself, and his brother Hervey raised and commanded a regiment of foot. The command structure was therefore as follows:
Colonel Richard Bagot
Governor of Lichfield Close
Colonel Richard Bagotís
Regiment of Horse
(Three troops, 200 men)
Lieut. Colonel Hervey Bagotís
Regiment of Foot
(Eight Companies, (500 men)
For two years the garrison of Lichfield Close, under the command of Richard Bagot, maintained effectively the Royalist cause in South Staffordshire. During that time the security of the city was assured and it enjoyed a prosperity which did much to alleviate the effects of the war; the hardships and miseries were still to come. So when Prince Rupert re-visited Lichfield in March 1644 on his way to relieve the town of Newark, they rang the bells of St. Maryís Church for him and they rang them again on his return when his mission had been accomplished in the face of considerable odds.
Marston Moor marked the beginning of a decline in the Royalist fortunes of war. It had always been Charlesí strategy to march on London and take the capital, as the war progressed his chances of doing so grew less and less. After Royalist successes in the summer of 1643, the indecisive Battle of Newbury allowed Essex and the Parliament army to slip away and so prevented the Royalists from moving on to London.
Bagot's forces were engaged in much action against the Roundhead forces in the area. One notable foray is recorded in 'Mercurius Rusticus', a contemporary royalist pamphlet. At Burton-on-Trent during the night of 17th August 1644....
"Bagot, drawing most of his forces into Lord Paget's, they were attacked at four in the morning, two of the colonel's scouts being killed, gave the rebels opportunity to approach near the house. But, finding the gates shut, they called out "Horse, horse" hoping the colonel would have taken them as friends.....But his guard of dragoon gave them to understand by a volly of shot, that he knew them for rebels. In the meantime the Colonel got to horse and with his own troop flanked by two files of musketeers, opened the gate and sailed out."
In early May 1645 the Lichfield garrison received orders to join the King, and on the morning of May 15th the citizens of Lichfield lined the streets to see Colonel Bagotís men go to war. They left the city they had defended for the last two years and headed west, following in the footsteps of the Roman legions. They made contact with the Kings army at Newport, Shropshire on May 16th, providing a welcome reinforcement.
They army marched east and on May 30th they took Leicester, and June 11th found them at Daventry where they were met by the advance guard of Parliamentary forces, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax. A skirmish ensued and the Kingís army moved away towards Market Harborough with Fairfax following them.
The two armies met near the village of Naseby and on the morning of June 14th faced each other across a narrow valley. The Royalists had some 8,000 men and the Parliamentarians about 14,000.
The result was a disaster for the Kingís army. Some 900 royalists were killed and half the army taken prisoner.
Bagotís foot were in the Royalist centre where the heaviest fighting took place. Bagotís horse remained together as a unit after the battle accompanying the King to Ashby and later to Lichfield. They lived to fight another day but their valiant young commander, Richard Bagot, was wounded in the engagement. He received a bullet in his right arm which was to prove fatal. The heavy bullets of those days caused a gaping wound and a compound fracture, and casualties rarely recovered.
In his quarters in Lichfield Close, Richard Bagot lay sick from his wound, looked after by his chirurgeons, Richard Thornton and Humphrey Spooner. In spite of all their efforts his health continued to decline and he died on 7 July 1645.
He was 26 years of age.
Two days later he was buried in the south aisle choir of the war-shattered Lichfield Cathedral where a monument was erected to his memory. It reads:
Juxta hic situs est
fil. natu min. Harvei Bagot, Barti.
flagrante nuperima fanaticorum conjuratione
hujus munitione praefectus;
qui in fatale isto Navesbiensi praelio
fortissime dimicans lethaliter vulneratus,
caelebs occabuit die m. Julii 7mo
Ao. Dom. MDCLV
[Near this place lies the body of Richard Bagot, youngest-born son of Hervey Bagot, Bart., a victim of the recent conspiracy of fanatics; Governor of this fortress, who in the fateful struggle in yonder Naseby, while fighting most bravely, was fatally wounded. He died unmarried the 7th July 1645.]
The Lichfield garrison did continue, first under the command of Richard's brother, Hervey Bagot, and later under Sir Thomas Tilesley. The city would eventually surrender to Parliament in 1646, one of the last Royalist strongholds in the country to fall.
(1) Information kindly supplied by Nancy, Lady Bagot
(2) Loyal & Ancient City by Howard Clayton
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