The Battle of Fornham Heath
GH has now finished trawling through the early papers of the Ipswich Gazette of the 1740s, and, for a change, has started looking through a previously overlooked paper, the Bury Free Press. To celebrate the start of a new series, we reproduce here an example of the entertainment to be found in the pages of this paper.
September 20th 1856
Colchester. On Sunday evening a body of Wesleyans held their annual camp on Fornham Heath, Colchester, which was attended by a large concourse of people, and a corporal and a private of the British German Legion quartered at Colchester.
After the service, from some reason unknown without the slightest provocation, the labourers commenced a wanton and furious attack on the soldiers with stones and sticks.
The latter took off their belts and used them about the heads and faces of the foolish assailants, a regular melee ensued with sticks, belts and hillaahs were wielded with obstinancy on both sides assuming the aspect of some Irish factor fight "Town or Gown" row,
At length the soldiers beat a hasty retreat before superior forces. p.c. Maguire made his appearance and advised the Germans to return home to their quarters, the soldiers took the advice but one labourer struck the officer twice in the face and will be brought before the magistrates on Saturday.