ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
The Civil War in Cardiff
by Dave Webb

Most of the general history books will give you the impression that Wales was strongly Royalist in the Civil War, yet for more than half the war the town of Cardiff was in Parliamentary hands. The following is a brief history of Cardiff during the Civil War.
The castle at Cardiff belonged to the Parliamentarian Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery but during the early months of the conflict Cardiff, like most places, avoided the war. The arrival of the Royalist Marquis of Hertford was to change all this. Hertford had been campaigning in the West Country but with the defeat of Hopton, was forced to flee to South Wales. Ships were taken at Weston but there was little room for the horse. Hertford arrived in Cardiff with about 450 cavalry but with few horse. The castle was given to himby it's stewards, who had Royalist sympathies. It appears that Hertford was pursued across the channel by the Parliamentarian, the Duke of Bedford. His forces and the townsmen of Cardiff forced Hertford to withdraw. All this period is very shady, and little is known for certain. Hertford then withdrew to the hills and started recruiting for the King. Stradling had already raised 1200 men for the King and had joined the Royalist Army in time for Edgehill, where the Regiment was badly mauled. This full Regiment of 1200 men is not as good an achievement as it at first seems, as the commission was for two Regiments. The other 1200 men were never recruited. Where Hertford recruited, we do not know. I feel that it may have been at Caerphilly as the earthwork there is defensive and faces away from the castle. The Parliamentarian accounts at the time say that Hertford recruited by promising the people shoes in the summer where formerly they had gone barefoot in the depths of winter.What happened to this Army is not really known. The Parliamentarian account says it was defeated at Tewksbury, although this battle is generally thought not to have happened. But, we know from the Paliamentarian Earl of Stamfords letters to the House of Lords that there was skirmishing between Stamford and Hertford in November near Hereford, so who knows, perhaps this Welsh Army was beaten at Tewksbury, as there is no reference to it reaching the King.
Cardiff was in Royalist hands although Parliamentarian troops from Pembroke were raiding the coast from ships. It is said that during the year raiding parties from Pembroke took 1500 head of cattle back to the besieged town of Pembroke.
1644 opened well for the Parliament, with West Wales being firmly in their hands. With the support of the Parliament navy the whole of South Wales was in danger of falling in to the hands of Parliament. Charles Gerrard was sent by the King to salvage the situation. Cardiff could possibly have fallen into Parliament hands as the town is one of the ones that Charles Gerrard took on his advance with the Royalist forces. Gerrard was short of cannon, so he forcably took guns off the ships anchored at Aberthaw, (presumably stopping at the Blue Anchor for a pint!). Gerrards advance put an end to the successes of Laugharne and once again Pembroke was besieged.
After his defeat at Naesby, the King came to South Wales to raise fresh troops. The Glamorgan gentry refuse and mustered the county, standing in battle array with both horse and foot with the gentry at the head of the Army. This army met at St. Fagans and a Cefn - on, and presumably Prichard took part in these discussions. The King was forced to send what troops he had, to deal with this South Wales army. On seeing the battle hardened troops the King had sent, the Glamorgan men agreed to provide the King with some men and money. Because they had had enough of the war and did not fight they were named the "peaceable army". It appears that the men and money were never sent to the King. The King left South Wales in August and on his way North, may have stopped at Llancaiach Fawr to dine with Prichard. By the autumn the gentry have thrown in their lot with the Parliamentarians and in November, Prichard is made Govenor of Cardiff. His commission was dated the 17th of November. The forces in Glamorgan were equiped with weapons taken from the Royalists at tha battle of Colby Moor, near Haverford West.
Royalists from Raglan castle stormed Caerleon and Newport and then marched on Cardiff. They managed to take the town but Prichard still held the castle for Parliament. Rowland Laugharne arrived with the West Wales Parliament forces and beat the Royalists in a battle outside of the town. The battle, between about 2000 Royalists and 1500 Parliamentarians was won by a single Parliamentarian charge. As soon as the castle was relieved, Lt. Col. Thomas Laugharne re enforced by Prichard's men sally out of the town and in the ensuing fight Thomas Laugharne was killed. The Parliamentary men were forced to withdraw. While Laugharne is pursuing the defeated Royalists cavalry, the bulk of the Royalist army surrendered to Prichard, who gave them very generous terms. Two days later, as the Royalists marched away, they broke these terms and another battle ensued. Again Parliament was victorious.
Again Cardiff is besieged, albeit half heartedly, by the Royalist. Prichard plays for time by refusing to acknowledge the summons which was delivered by a woman. And again Cardiff is relieved by Laugharne who scatters the Royalist army at its camp, in a field near Llandaf. Already there are doubts as to Laugharnes loyalty to the Parliament.
Prichard garrisoned Cardiff through the campaign that will include the Battle of St. Fagans. At St. Fagans the Royalist, commanded bt Rowland Laugharne, who has by now changed sides, were beaten by a much smaller armt under Thomas Horton. Early on yhe morning of May 8th. the Royalist tried a surprise attack on the Parliamentarian quarters in and around St. Fagans. This attack almost worked but a charge of 50 horse and Dragoons routed the advance guard of the Royalist army. The Parliament right wing under Col. Okey, pressed the attack and the Royalist gave ground, fighting from hedgerow to hedgerow. Okey was reinforced and the attack continued over one stream and was held at a second. The Horse was forced to stand under fire until the Parliament Foote came up and a general advance was made. The Royalist army was routed. Almost 3000 prisoners were taken and 4000 more were disarmed and allowed to go home.
1649 – 1651
For the rest of the Civil War, Cardiff played no real military role

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