Click HERE to take a look at the new DVD!
Kirkwood needs your help! Click HERE to find out more.


Click HERE to EMAIL the site!
Join The Facebook Mirfield History Archive


Luddites 8

This section contains 17 pages use the Navigation Links at the bottom of the page to navigate.

The luddites managed to capture the two sentries posted at the mill gates, they then surged into the mill yard hurling stones through the windows and began smashing down the doors. However, they had recently been strengthened for this eventuality and little process was being made.
Cartwright had been alerted by his dog barking and realising they were under attack ordered the mill bell to be rung to summon help. Hundreds of men were now crowded into the courtyard. The great enochs were being used on the doors but still they held strong. Cartwright and the soldiers now opened fire on the luddites with muskets from the upper floors of the mill. The luddites were caught in the open with little cover and now found themselves  under heavy fire.

Soldier 1812

Those with muskets and pistols tried to return fire but most of the weapons were old and their users untrained. The soldiers however were trained and maintained  steady volleys of fire into the packed courtyard. In the dark well aimed shots would not have been possible but due to the numbers in the courtyard men were still being hit. After twenty or so minutes the doors were still holding. Realising the battle was lost King Ludd and his men withdrew before more soldiers could arrive. Most of injured being carried away but the seriously injured had been left behind. At first Cartwright refused to give them any aid until they divulged the names of the luddite leaders. He later relented and they were first taken to the Old Yew Tree Inn and from there on to the Star Inn. It  was there that the Rev. Roberson was called upon to administer the last rites and also probably to seek information from the dying men. One of the two, nineteen year old John Booth asked Roberson if he could keep a secret. After the eager cleric said yes, Booth responded, "So can I." by the end of the day both men were dead and the oath they had sworn remained unbroken.

The Luddite Leader

The leader of the Luddites Ned Ludd.

The luddites withdrew to lick their wounds, two had being killed and a number seriously injured.
King Ludd was furious at the loss and probably also at the reality that the luddites were no real match for the authorities especially when they had the back up of the military. In one last show of defiance he planned now to kill the mill owners who defied his threats. He first made an attempt to shoot the much hated William Cartwright as he rode home from Huddersfield, the attempt failed. Next an attempt was made to shoot Colonel Campbell the commander of the military at Leeds outside his home but this also failed. Finally on 28th April mill owner William Horsfall was ambushed at Crossland Moor on his way back to Ottiwells Mill, Marsden where he had, despite repeated threats, continued to operate new finishing machines.

Horsfall was shot in the thigh, severely wounded he was carried by passersby to the Crossland Moor Inn where he died from a loss of blood. The days of the luddites were drawing to an end, the smashing of machinery being one thing cold blooded murder another. Many of the men had no stomach for it. The authorities responded by offering a huge reward  of 2000 for information on the culprits. But the oath still bound the luddites together. It was not until autumn that year that Benjamin Walker broke the oath and betrayed King Ludd and the luddites. The authorities acted quickly rounding up ring leaders. The more lowly participants were given the chance to give thermselves in and surrender their weapons. They were then pardoned and sent on their way, after all they could not imprison the full workforce. This process became known as "being untwisted".

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

<<  >>