To, James King of England, Ireland, France and Scotland,
From Sir Richard Hamilton, Commander of the Army of England
I have the unhappy duty to inform Your Majesty of the recent reverses to your forces in England. The army, despite its most strenuous exertions, has been rebuffed from the advance on the citie of York with some loss.
In complying with Your Royal Orders the army marched early in the season to confront those forces still loyal to the Dutch usurper and move into a position to take York by siege. My Lord Galmoy did command a flying column of horse and dragoons and moved ahead of the army, discomforting the enemy's outposts and raising contributions from those areas not demonstrating sufficient loyalty to Your Majesty.
Unwelcome news was awaiting us at Nottingham where it was learned that the mercenary captain Von Tettau had returned to these shores in defiance of the usual convention with defeated generals, and surely tarnishing his reputation as the most chivalrous soldier in Europe. The influx of Danish mercenaries to our enemy's camp has not however been reciprocated additional English soldiers flocking to the colours. Those regiments that were captured or supposedly changed their allegiances have failed to muster in sufficient strength to be used other than in garrisons.
It was Lord Galmoy's detached force that first encountered the enemy army near the town of Gainsborough. The flying column was ambushed by a sizeable corps of Scottish horse and foot during an approach on the town. The resulting battle was notable for the unexpected commitment and ferocity of the enemy horsemen. Our renowned chevaliers were ultimately victorious but at the cost of hundreds of empty saddles and several squadrons scattered. Gainsborough was not to be wrested from the enemy foote and the lack of the town as a forward supply depot was to be sorely missed.
With the location of the enemy army discovered a decisive action was sought to clear the route to our objective. The town of Drax sits athwart the road to York and I ordered its capture to force the enemy to quit the area. Our depleted horse regiments found themselves quickly engulfed by the main bodie of the opposing cavalry and were rapidly forced to concede the field, all their spirited charges in vain when faced with such numbers. At the same time a large body of enemy foot were able to reinforce Drax, with only our dragoons in a position to dispute the town.
The departure of our horse was both a blow to the offensive possibilities of the army and denied me intelligence as to the true strength of the enemy force. As our regiments marched onto the field of battle they were thrust immediately into the fight but always more of the enemy came on. The dragoons in Drax were eventually driven back by the enemy, despite effective charges by our remaining squadrons of horse to alleviate the pressure, but only once they were entirely destitute of powder for their musketoons. Lord Galmoy was most energetic in assembling a defensive line of your regiments and guns to confront the massed advance of Danish and Dutch foote. With the coming of night neither army was prepared to admit defeat and quit the field.
The new day started with an assault on the town of Drax by the regiments of Your Majesty's Guards and others of the brigade. The eastern part of the town was taken after a short struggle and Your English Guards - Polruwan's Regiment took up the defence of what had been won. They were to garrison the town for all of the rest of the day, repelling multiple hard fought assaults at the cost of their Colonel, killed in the fighting at the barricades.
Also of note, amongst many brave displays by Your Majesty's regiments, Tylers Dragoons, who had fought so hard in defence of the town, were thrust into the path of the enemy attack to slow their advance. As the Brandenburg Regiment of Foot attacked them, the senior surviving Captain of the dragoons declared,
"Here we stand!" The horses were sent to the rear and the doughty dragoons fought to the last man, killing many of the German mercenaries during a protracted hand to hand struggle.
Ultimately however no amount of bravery could overcome the enemy numbers and their masterful employment by their commander General Mackay. When additional Dutch regiments of horse appeared in the rear of Your army it was clear that the day was lost. A last gasp assault on the enemy occupied western side of Drax was narrowly repulsed despite all possible exertions. Your Majesty will be relieved to hear that the wound I received leading this attack was bloody but not deep.
I ordered the army to retire to the south and I am pleased to report that every regiment behaved well and kept good order during the march. It must be remarked that over the two actions not one of Your Majesties regiments of foot was bested by the enemy in open combat. Whatever failings there were in the scouting abilities of the cavalry, their performance was never less than spirited. It is of more concern that I must report the multiple and most inopportune occasions that our regiments found themselves short on vital necessities such as powder and shot. A thorough overhaul of the commissary provisions may be much overdue.
The army is now back south of the River Trent and vulnerable garrisons have been recalled. Some recruitment, especially of horseflesh will be required before offensive operations may be again considered.
Finally I must make it most clear that I am fully satisfied with the conduct of all of my officers, several of whom have fallen doing their duty. I will not share any condemnation for the defeat, the order to give battle at Drax was mine alone.