Plan of Action.
Meeting Room, White Hart Inn, Hull.
28th March 1642. 8pm.
After reading aloud the latest report from his source, Peregrine Pelham sat back in his chair and took delight as he watched the mixed reactions of the other men in the room. He awaited the questions that he knew would follow. He was not disappointed.
'This information,' enquired Sir John Hotham, 'Is it just as reliable as the previous intelligence that allowed the taking of the plate near Pocklington?'
Pelham smiled and tapped the side of his nose with his right forefinger, 'It is from the very same source as the previous detailed information, I have no doubts this is just as accurate.'
Sir John's son, captain of the horse regiment that was involved in the capture of Sir Royston's plate, nodded.
'So the king is not going to lay siege to the town,' he looked at Colonel Septimus Gryndell. The latter was staring at the panelled wall opposite, rubbing his chin, as he always did when in deep thought.
'Apparently not,' once again the practised smile was curling Pelham's lips. 'If he was, he would need his whole force to assault the town and the citadel, not a task to be taken lightly or one that could be achieved quickly.'
'That doesn't mean they won't lay siege,' Sir John fired back. Pelham, the smile now gone, raised an eyebrow.
'They are not going to ignore the fact that this town is for Parliament,' continued Sir John, 'most of the North has or will, side with the king. Those towns that resist, will be taken by Newcastle and his army,' he looked at the other three men before continuing, 'They do not have the protection of our citadel, river or even town walls in many cases.'
The town walls of Hull had been neglected for many years and allowed to crumble in places. Strenuous work was even now being carried out, to ensure they could stand against attack by an enemy. Even with the repairs, it was doubtful that the defences could withstand heavy artillery fire for very long. The citadel, with its huge thick walls was the key to everything, it controlled the town and the river, its powerful guns could reach far out into the River Humber, controlling any shipping that ventured too close with hostile intent. More importantly, it overlooked the town itself, to capture Hull you had to take the citadel first.
'What say you Septimus?' Sir John said, looking at the Colonel of the Hull Trained Band. All eyes turned to Septimus, so far silent at this meeting, still rubbing his chain and staring at the dark wooden panelling of the wall opposite, looking but seeing nothing, but his ears had been listening to every word that had been uttered. He slowly turned to face the others.
'Aye I would lay siege right enough,' he spoke barely above a whisper, 'I would also put a ring of steel around the town, no one could enter or leave without me knowing it. I would occupy the villages of Hessle to the West and Hedon to the East, I would also take Beverley to the North. Of course, it all depends on how many men I had to carry out the task.' Septimus was warming to the problem, 'The king is taking the bulk of his army to Nottingham, but leaving the Earl of Newcastle with a sizeable force to control the North. He has a huge area to manage and will need all the men he can muster, I'll warrant that doesn't leave much for our friend Mister Twiston-Rawlings to command.'
The others nodded their agreement, Septimus continued, 'We have previous dealings with that popinjay, he is a fool and knows little or nothing of military matters.' He smiled, 'That gentlemen, is to our advantage I believe.'
Sir John smiled, 'I believe you are hatching a plan my dear Septimus, I recognise that glint in your eye.'
'Indeed I am sir! Septimus answered, once more a smile on his lips. 'We have one regiment of foot in the town, fully manned and already blooded in action. A second is currently being formed and trained, we have John's regiment of horse too. Granted the town could not sustain more than that, especially if we have to rely on supply by sea. However, I doubt that our wounded hero, will have much more under his command.'
The others nodded in agreement, Sir John invited Septimus to continue.
'I suggest we become such a nuisance, a thorn in the side of the Royalists by constant hit and run raids, that the earl will have to release more of his valuable troops to try and control the area. Of course we cannot afford any major engagements, but we could tie down an enemy force three or four times our size.
Pelham spoke, 'But what of the ring of steel you mentioned, won't that prevent these...' he pulled a face, 'Hit and run raids?'
'No Sir!' growled Septimus, 'A ring of steel is what I would put around the town, that fool will have no more than one his fine silk handkerchiefs hanging on the odd branch.
The other men laughed, and Pelham quickly felt his cuff, making sure his own silk handkerchief was not visible...