A Mock Battle in the Copley Valley [1877]

The Halifax Courier [Saturday 2nd June 1877] reported

Sham Fight at Halifax.

The sham fight in the Copley valley was, as a spectacular, a brilliant success. Many thousands of people crowded the heights of Skircoat and Norland.

The programme showed that the object of the manoeuvres was an attack on Halifax from the South West by an army under Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Edwards, Bart., and the defence force commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bayley, consisting of the Bradford Artillery and the Halifax Militia. The attacking force, with the exception of the Huddersfield Rifles was in position on Greetland Moor at 3:30 pm. The Yeomanry Cavalry (three troops), Halifax Artillery and Halifax Rifles were there promptly but the Huddersfield Rifles, who were expected at North Dean station at the same hour, did not arrive until four o'clock.

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Edwards, Bart., with his 890 men began the attack. Two or three companies of the Halifax Rifles were sent as skirmishers in the woods towards Sterne Mill and came upon an outpost of militia stationed in the woods resulting in a sharp encounter.

The Artillery under Captain Holroyde with their 4-pounder field piece began a bombardment of the defenders, who, under Major Crossley had two 40-pounder field pieces in position on Albert Promenade. The battle continued at Sterne Mill, Birdcage and Skircoat and North Dean Wood.

The defenders were compelled to cease firing from the Rocks on account of the crowd, which was so dense that, to have continued, would have been dangerous.

The defenders now fell back by degrees towards Albert Promenade, and fighting in the woods below became vigorous.

Other companies reached the open space on Savile Park by Birdcage Lane without molestation. The cavalry descended from Norland and crossed Copley bridge, passing round the defenders so getting to its rear by way of Skircoat Green and Green Royde.

On Savile Park a large general engagement was to have occurred, but so enormous was the crowd, on foot, on horseback and in carriages, that the details could not be followed.

The 40-pounder guns, each drawn by six horses lent by Major Crossley, were objects of great interest. The general idea seemed to be to use up the unspent cartridges and powder – a feat which was speedily accomplished.

The Umpire, Colonel Robertson Ross, said no disaster had occurred during the the battle and no one had been killed (laughter)


© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 13:12 / 19th January 2022 / 4511

Page Ref: X488

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