New Yorkshire Gazetteer (1828) page 268
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the Duke of Somerset began his opera-
tions by sending Lord Clifford to dis-
lodge the Yorkists, which he accom-
plished with great slaughter. The Earl
of Warwick, the life and soul of his
party, alarmed lest this disaster might
discourage his troops, and willing to
inspire confidence, ordered his horse to
be brought, which he stabbed before
the whole army, and kissing the hilt of
his sword, swore to share the fate of the
meanest soldier; he then despatched
Lord Fauconberg to pass the Aire at
Castleford, four miles above Ferry-
bridge, with orders to attack those who
guarded the post lately lost: Faucon-
berg executed his orders with the great-
est promptitude, and suddenly attack-
ing Lord Clifford, completely dislodged
and routed him ; this latter nobleman
seeking safety in flight, when near Tad-
caster, having taken off his gorget to
relieve his thirst with a cup of wine,
was struck in his throat, by a headless
arrow shot from a bush, and imme-
diately expired. Edward and Warwick
now passed over the Aire at Ferry-
bridge, with an army consisting of
48,660 men ; to oppose him, the Duke
of Somerset left York with an army of

60,000, and passing through Tadcaster
prepared to receive the Yorkists at
Towton : the field of battle is scarcely
more than a mile long, and is a ridge
of high land which declined in the rear
of both armies ; the battle commenced
at nine in the morning : whilst the
Yorkists were advancing to the charge,
a fall of snow drove furiously in the
faces of their enemies and blinded
them; this advantage was improved by
a stratagem; orders were given to a
body of archers to send a volley of
arrows and then to retire; the Lancas-
trians supposing that they were within
reach of their opponents, discharged all
their arrows; which thus fell short of
the foe and did no execution: but the
how was soon laid aside, and the sword
decided the contest: towards evening
the Lancastrians began to give ground;
the flying troops soon shaped their
course towards Tadcaster bridge, but
despairing to reach it, because they
were so hotly pursued by their ene-
mies, they turned aside, in order to pass
the small river Cock, which runs into
the Wharfe; this was done in such con-
fusion, that the river was immediately
filled with those who were drowned,
and who served equally as a bridge to
their flying companions and their pur-
suers : the slaughter in this place was
so great, that it is said the waters of
the river Wharfe, two miles distant,
were tinged with the blood : the amount
of the dead on both sides was no less
than 36,776 men. To account for the
sanguinary nature of the contest, we
must recollect that it was fought hand
to hand with the fierceness proceeding
from personal hatred : the appearance
of the field of battle presented an ap-
palling spectacle of human carnage
mingled with the snow. The victory
was decisive, hut every one who views
the ground, must be astonished that
the Duke of Somerset did not take
his position on the north side of the
Wharfe, where he might have dis-
puted the passage of Tadcaster bridge
with great advantage. Camden calls
this battle the English Pharsalia, but
surely with little reason; in the Ro-
man strife, a mighty principle strug-
gled for the mastery, which was to
decide the liberty or slavery of the
larger part of the civilized world; but
at Towton, the victory was of no sort
of importance, except to the parties
immediately concerned, and left to the
nation the only alternative of being
governed by an ideot or a tyrant; most
of the bodies of the slain were thrown
into five large pits : one of these was
opened in 1734. At a small distance
from the field of battle, is the diminu-
tive chapel of Leod, or Lede, which
seems to have been an appurtenance to
the adjoining manor house: it was a


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