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
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
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