Agitators In New Model Army

deductions are less certain. Royalist administration was certainly more wasteful of resources than the Parliament's, but there is evidence that it was able to obtain considerable sums, and the king's soldiers were probably no worse paid than the Parliament's. One problem was, of course, that for the common soldier this was not very much, and Royal officers seem to have been more ready to allow plunder and pillage to keep their men contented.


A comparison is often made between the 'riotous' king's armies and the 'godly' Parliament soldiers. There is some truth in this, especially if comparisons are made between the New Model Army and General Goring's army in the West in 1646; but both sides had suffered from indiscipline at the outset. When first raised, Parliament soldiers had plundered the homes of Catholics and other 'Malignants' in the London suburbs; and the letters of Sergeant Nehemiah Wharton show that they continued the practice as they marched through the counties. They were equally likely to seize plunder from one another, as an extract from one of Wharton's letters shows: 'A troop of horse belonging to Colonel Foynes met me, and pillaged me of all, and robbed me of my very sword for which cause 1 told them I would rather have my sword or dye in the field, commaunded my men to charge with bullet (i.e. load their muskets], and by devisions to fire upon them, which made them with shame return my sword'. He had his revenge when on guard at Northampton, when he stopped the same troop on its way out of the town and 'searched every horseman of that troop to the skin, took from them a fat buck, a venison pasty ready baked, but lost my own goods'.

Royalist soldiers were as unruly, as recorded by the cavalryman Captain Richard Atkins who recalled on one occasion: 'Observing a hole in an elder hedge, I put in my hand and pulled out a bag of money; which if our foot had espied (who were also upon the search) they had certainly taken me for an enemy, and deprived me of both life and it'.

Apart from the problems of plundering, indiscipline hindered training in the use of arms and battle tactics. A comment by Wharton in August 1642 shows how serious a problem this was: 'This evening our ungodly Lieutenant Colonel, upon an ungrounded whimsey, commaunded two of our Captains, namely, Captain Francis and Captain Beacon, with their companies, to march out of the towne but they went not'. Six Parliament colonels wrote formally to the Earl of Essex in September, insisting that he take firm measures as 'the truth is unless we were able to execute some exemplary punishment upon the principal malefactors, we have no hope to redress this horrid enormity. We beseech your Excellency to take this into your present and serious consideration, for if this go on awhile the army will grow as odious to the Country as the Cavaliers'.

The solution for both sides was the enforcement of Articles of War, a list of offences and the punishments due based on the codes used before the war. Just to cover all eventualities, the last clause contained a catch-all such as 'All other Faults, Disorders, and Offences not mentioned in these Articles shall be punished according to the general customs and Laws of War'. It had always been customary for army commanders to issue these standing orders, and the king and the Earl of Essex both published essentially similar versions in 1642. Their success as a deterrent depended, of course, on the degree to which they were enforced.

While there are instances of examples being made of soldiers on both sides, these men were clearly unlucky rather than typical. Only with regular pay, or something approaching it, was a commander able to enforce discipline successfully. The king's armies were never able to achieve this, possibly becausc of the poor example set by the king himself: King Charles had a very casual attitude to the enforcement of the articles, and allowed his officers considerable licence, particularly when dealing with those he considered disloyal. This was aggravated by the influence of those of his officers with professional experience, who introduced the harsh attitude to civilians which they had learnt in the vicious wars in Europe or Ireland. The alienation of the civilian population which this attitude fostered was to prove a serious, perhaps a crucial, factor in the king's defeat.

Sir Thomas Fairfax made the most of the fresh opportunity offered by the formation of a better-paid New Model Army 'to lay an early foundation of good success in the punishment of former disorders and the prevention of future misdemeanours', by holding a court martial and marching the Army past the tree on which he hung two offenders. With this attitude, and the cash payment he was able to offer for provisions he made, the New Model Army appear a distinct improvement over the type of soldiers most contemporaries were used to. Fairfax's more strictly disciplined men did not prove better fighting infantrymen than the King's when they met at Naseby; but their more controlled behaviour won them local support. This became crucially important, as Fairfax's first campaign coincided with the outbreak of the Clubman Associations in some 15 counties in England and Wales. While not all the Clubmen groups were prepared to support Fairfax by fighting for him, they were universally distrustful of the king's promises, and denied the Royalist cause urgently needed funds and recruits.


Sir James Turner's comment on the provisions for soldiers is based on his experience in Europe, but does give a good impression of a complete system, while references during the Civil War give individual examples. Turner's description was: 'There are few princes who have not their particular establishment for their proviant, both in field and garrison, as well as for money; the order whereof commonly is this: they allow so much bread, flesh, wine or beer to every trooper and foot soldier, which ordinarily is alike to both, then they allow to the officers, according to their dignities and charges, double, triple and quadruple portions; as to an Ensign four times more than to a common soldier, a Colonel commonly having twelve portions allowed him. The ordinary allowance for a soldier in the field is daily, two pound of bread, one pound of flesh, or in lieu of it, one pound of cheese, one pottle of wine, or in lieu of it, two pottles of beer. It is enough cry the soldiers, we desire no more, it is enough in conscience. But this allowance will not last very long, they must be contented to march sometimes one whole week, and scarce get two pounds of bread all the while, and their officers as well as they'. The English evidently used a similar system, as the rations specified for English soldiers in Ireland in 1642 was set at one pound of bread, one pound of beef or a half-pound of cheese or fish in lieu, and a quarter-pound of butter.

For the most part armies on the march were quartered in the towns and villages along their route. The householder was then obliged to provide food and lodging in return for a certificate, redeemable by the army paymaster. I n this case the supplies would be on the basis described above but would depend 011 the householder's larder. Where supplies were carried with the army itself the victual was usually bread, biscuit, peas, butter, Cheshire cheese, bacon and beer. Sometimes a small herd of cattle or sheep accompanied the army to provide fresh meat.

In garrison or where an army remained static as besiegers, a system of requisitions was used. Warrants were issued to the local county authorities for provisions to be brought in. Examples of this type of provisions include beef, bacon, pork, salt herrings, mutton, wheat, oats, beans, peas and beer. Most garrisons, even if besieged, kept live sheep and cattle, the latter for dairy produce as well as meat. Fresh food was considered important, as in the opinion of the Earl of Cork salt beef, barrelled biscuits and butter, with water to drink made only for 'a rich churchyard and a weak garrison'.


The most famous mutinies of the Civil War were those of the New Model Army in 1647; but these must be seen in their context and mutiny was, in fact, a constant part of military life in the first half of the 17th century.

Organised mutiny was developed to a fine art in the 16th century among the soldiers of the Spanish Army of Flanders, whose pay was constantly in arrears. Some incident, perhaps trivial, ignited smouldering discontent; and the soldiers of a garrison, regiment or a whole army would band together to demand their pay and improvements in their conditions, such as a hospital, and payments to the sick and the legatees of the dead. The mutineers then elected a leader and a council to advise him, and negotiated with their commander. The effect of increasingly frequent mutinies on the Spanish campaigns in the Low Countries can be imagined; but it was the only effective form of seeking redress available to the common soldier, and was soon adopted in other European armies. Even the Swedish Army mutinied over arrears of pay in 1633 and again in 1635; and smaller mutinies occurred among troops in the well-paid Dutch service.

Professional soldiers with experience gained in the Thirty Years War introduced the idea of collective bargaining to English and Scottish armies. A notable example was the mutiny of the Scottish army hired, but irregularly paid, by the English Parliament to suppress the popular revolt in Ireland. By the autumn of 1642 discontent had arisen and the officers, 'finding themselves ill payd, and which was worse, not knowing in the time of the civill warr [i.e. in England] who should be their paymaster, and reflecting on the successful issue of the National Covenant of Scotland, bethought themselves of making one also; but they were wise enough to give it ane other name, and therefore christened it a "Mutual Assurance" '. The Earl of Leven, who had only recently arrived to take command of the Army, failed to crush this 'Mutual Assurance' and returned to Scotland. The officers then formed a permanent council of officers with their commander, Robert Monro, as president. This council had a strong say in the conduct and activities of the army thereafter.

In England mutinies of small garrisons were commonplace, whether over the removal of an unpopular commander such as Colonel John Venn, Governor of Windsor; or more commonly as Captain Dcnys Taylor's report on the mutiny at Henley shows, 'the occasion of the mutiny was that no more money came down'. The circumstances of the Civil War itself also weakened authority as it was not a long step from questioning the authority of the king to disputing that of officers. As Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Gryme commented after one mutiny: 'All that I can do is little enough to appease them seeing their pay is so little, and private incendiaries many'.

The mutinies of the New Model Army must be seen against a background in which soldiers or officers would naturally see mutiny as a means to secure what was due to them. In the New Model Army the chief grievances were their considerable arrears of pay (18 weeks for the Foot and 43 weeks for the Horse and Dragoons) and their need for an indemnity for acts committed during the war. The indemnity was crucially important, for, as a surgeon in the Northern Army warned his fellows, 'If they had not an act of indemnity they should be most of them hanged when they were reduced [i.e. disbanded]: and for an example, told them the judges had hanged fourteen soldiers already which took horses by order from their officers'.

Neither the mutiny itself nor the formation of 'Conventions of Officers' and the election of agents or 'Agitators' by the private soldiers, first in the Horse and then the Foot, are outside contemporary military practice. The politicisation of the Army and its connection with the Levelling movement were certainly radical departures, but this developed after the mutiny had already brought the Army into conflict with the Parliament.


The first stage in the training of any soldier was, as the Drillmaster William Barriffe said, 'the well-managing and handling of their Armes: which may easily be attained by frecjuent Practice, and the Souldiers thereby brought to use them with ease, safety, and delight: where on the contrary (without t-1

exorcise) the easiest Armes become not only troublesome burthens unto the unskilful bearers, but too often prove dangerous and hurtfull, both to themselves and fcllowes, that rank and file with them'. It was the responsibility of the corporals of the company, under the overall supervision of the sergeants, to train their men how to use pike or musket according to a set series of 'postures' or movements. The large number of training postures were only used as an aid to training and were reduced in action, those for musketeers being reduced to three: 'Make Ready; Present; Give Fire'.

Once they were proficient enough to be reasonably safe in a group, soldiers were formed into the files they would fight in. The file was the basic sub-unit of the company and was 'a sequence of men, standing one behind another, back to belly, in a straight line from Front to Reere, consisting sometimes of six, eight or ten men, on some

occasions the Spaniards make them twelve deep'. In 1642 the French and Swedish used files of six men, the English used eight and the Dutch still kept to ten. The files were then drawn into groups either of musketeers or of pikemen for training by the sergeants in the five basic aspects of the drill: Distances, F'acings, Doublings, Countermarches and Wheelings. These groups would form the next sub-unit of the company, which was sometimes called a 'squadron' in the Dutch and English service, or a 'corporallship' in the Swedish.

The next stage was to draw all the squadrons of the company together for tactical training under the supervision of the captain and his lieutenant. The drill manuals of the day showed a formidable

Infantry drill from John Bingham's Tactiks of Aelian (1616). This series of three illustrations shows the sequence used to bring files closer together. The left-hand file remains stationary while the others turn to face it, close the distance and then face front.

Infantry drill from John Bingham's Tactiks of Aelian (1616). This series of three illustrations shows the sequence used to bring files closer together. The left-hand file remains stationary while the others turn to face it, close the distance and then face front.

Mine Creek Battlefield

number of different tactical styles, but as William Barrifie comments, a captain should 'make use of so many of them, as he shall think fit for his present occasion or exercise'. It is this choice of the essential forms of drill which the Earl of Essex referred to in the opening months of the Civil War when he instructed his officers not to attempt too much with the newly raised soldiers, but 'to bring them to use their arms readily and expertly, and not to busy them in practising the ceremonious forms of military discipline'.

The manuals show a series of tactical formations for the company, but these are simply a training aid, as the company itself was not used as a tactical formation in the field. In action the tactical formation was the regiment, which was divided into three or four 'Grand Divisions' each composed of two or three of the regiment's companies. Each Grand Division was formed in the tactical style taught in company training: a centre of pikemen with wings of musketeers on each flank. To achieve this the regiment's sergeant major drew up its companies and divided them among the Grand

An enlarged view of the New Model infantry at Naseby, from Joshua Sprigge's Anglia Rediviva (1647). Note the 'Forlorn Hope' of musketeers, the artillery pieces sited between regiments, and Lt.-Col. Pride's Regiment in second line. (D. Carter collection)

Divisions; he would then draw out the pikemen from the companies which were to form each separate Grand Division to combine them to form its centre, and then divided the musketeers in two bodies, one for each flank.

Although the King's Army at Edgehill was drawn up in the complex Swedish tactical style this was unusual, and the English usually preferred the simpler Dutch style for their newly raised soldiers. To judge from Richard Elton's work, The Compleat Body of the Art Military, printed after the Civil War, the experience of five years of campaigning did finally produce officers and soldiers capable of successfully performing the more complex styles.

Into Battle

The basic training described above was sufficient to allow a commander to form up his regiments of foot in the open. This was usually in two lines, with the units positioned so that those in the second line covered the gaps between those in the first, rather like the pieces on a draughts board. Battles such as Edgehill or Naseby were fought on sites which allowed this classic style to be used.

A commandcr with a weaker force, or simply a better eye for the advantages of the ground, might gfc. K inyj M«UjV

An enlarged view of the New Model infantry at Naseby, from Joshua Sprigge's Anglia Rediviva (1647). Note the 'Forlorn Hope' of musketeers, the artillery pieces sited between regiments, and Lt.-Col. Pride's Regiment in second line. (D. Carter collection)

Earl Essexs Regiment
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New Model Army 1645 PikemanCarondelet Ironclad ModelPikeman 1642

Plunder: The Earl of Essex's Army, 1642 1: Musketeer, John Hampden's Regiment 2: Musketeer, Thomas Ballard's Regiment 3: Pikeman, Lord Robartes' Regiment

Lord Sandon Royal Field ArtilleryCarondelet Ironclad Model

2: Musketeer

3: Pikeman

Tavern: Col. Samuel Jones's Regiment, 1643 1: Fifer

Skirmish: The Westminster Trained Bands, Basing House, 1643 1: Officer 2: Ensign

Naseby Sprigge
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