The First Civil War 1645

Parliament capitalized not at all upon the second battle of Newbury; they called upon the governor of Don-nington Castle, Sir John Boys, to surrender, or they threatened not to leave one stone upon another. Boys replied that he was not responsible for the upkeep of the castle, but if they did pull it down he would still defend the ground on which it stood. The Parliamentary attack npon it failed and they retired, choosing not to pursue the King.

Charles I reorganized his army, replacing old Forth with Rupert as his senior general, which Clarendon thought thoroughly unwise, though the Prince possessed better qualities than might have been apparent. Despite a half-hearted attempt to prevent it, the King relieved Donnington Castle in early November, and Basing House later in the month. With desertion rampant. the Parliamentary army retired into winter quarters around Reading and Farnham. and the King to Oxford. Elsewhere, 1644 drew to a close with several Parliamentary gains; on 27 October the Scots captured Newcastle, whilst Fairfax mopped up Royal garrisons in Yorkshire. On 1 November Liverpool surrendered, the morale of its Royalist garrison having collapsed as its Irish members believed they would be murdered if the city were stormed. They siezed their officers anil surrendered on the condition that they were transported home; it was only just in time, for on 24 October an ordinance had been passed to the effect that all Irishmen taken in England or Wales were to be executed, an attempt to end the recruitment of such 'mercenaries' into the Royal army.

Despite Royal reverses in the north, it was now painfully obvious that Parliament could only achieve total victory by a drastic reorganization of their forces and military leadership. The central necessity was for the creation of a 'general sen-ice* army, one unhampered by local loyalties and commanded by those prepared to prosecute the war to its utmost. The more extreme members of Parliament tended to shift all blame onto Essex, Manchester and Waller, whose Presbyterian beliefs saw the King as the supreme authority, without whom the social order would dissolve into anarchy This, it was contended, caused such members of the Presbyterian 'aristocracy' to seek not the defeat of the King, but merely an accomodation which would end the war with the King remaining as the country's figurehead, Thus Waller's failure to exploit Chcriton might be seen as an attempt to avoid defeating the King completely; thus might be explained Manchester's apparent lethargy in his march to Second Newbury. One incident following Second Newbury could be quoted in evidence: John Birch, a Parliamentary colonel, heard a report that the Earl of Perth's personal baggage train might be intercepted, and reported as much to Manchester. Manchester replied that he was resting and could give no instructions until morning; scandalized, Birch gathered 47 "resolved horse* and charged off after Forth, who managed to escape, though losing all his baggage. Birch's reception with his booty was decidedly cool. Was this simply courtesy on the part of a general towards a beaten opponent, or evidence of a lack of desire to prosecute the war to its ultimate? Cromwell thought the latter, that Manchester believed 'that this war would not be ended by the sword ... but it would be better for the Kingdom if it were ended by an accomodation''. Adherence to the King on the pan of some Parliamentary commanders only maintained the original aims of the war, which (waged in the name of the King.) precluded an all-out offensive, as the war was being conducted on behalf of the King, at least in theory; as the Souldiers Catechistne claims, '1 am for the King and Parliament ... But is it not against the King that you fight in this Cause? No surely: yet many do abuse the world with this base and absurd objection ../1. Even the Scottish Articles and Ordinances of W'arre (1644) noted as Article V, 'If any shall speak irreverantly against the Kings Majcstie & his authorise, or shall presume to offer violence to his Majesties Person, he shall be punished as a Tray tor', which even if never enforced at least maintained the facade of fighting on behalf of the King. The charges made against Essex, Manchester and Waller had some foundation; Essex said thai 'rather than they would consent to make the King a prisoner, they would all die' \ and Waller numbered among his principles that 'the person, dignity, and honor of the King preserved, and the peace and safety of the Kingdom settled'4.

The problem was complicated by personal feelings. Cromwell's dislike of his immediate superior, Manchester, originated before the war and perhaps coloured his appraisal of the situation and (as a member of the Committee of Both Kingdoms and an M.P, - and incidentally a far better commander than Manchester), he accused the Earl of hesitating deliberately at Second

Net Model: The First Civil War 1645

Newbury on the grounds that 'if we beat the King ninety-nine times yet he is King still, and we subjects still: but if the King beat us once we should be hanged and our posterity undone'5. Waller supported this criticism, though Manchester may have been no more than an over-cautious general, Coupled with this was a belief in some quarters of Parliament that their successes were so limited due to Clod's displeasure at their lack of radicalism, and thai 'Man's power doth execute what CJod decrees*6 and success would only follow when God's supposed will had been implemented, i.e. the overturning of what might be termed the 'establishment' by the more radical Protestant sectaries. Steps had already been taken in January 1645 with the abolition of the Book of Common Prayer in favour of a Presbyterian directory of worship, and, on 10 January, the execution of Archbishop I -aud for treason he had not committed.

After his initial attack on Manchester, Cromwell's tone moderated, though his beliefs remained unaltered: that the war should be won not only to ensure constitutional reform but to reshape the Church, Manchester, though the King's leading critic in the House of I.ords before the war. still favoured reconciliation. Parliament's solution was framed in the Self-Denying Ordinance, suggested by Cromwell to quash criticism that

Lobster-tail' helmets, with triple-bar face guard and hinged peak {left), and sliding nasal bar and fluted skull (right) (Wallis 6 Wallis)

Lobster-tail' helmets, with triple-bar face guard and hinged peak {left), and sliding nasal bar and fluted skull (right) (Wallis 6 Wallis)

English Civil War Lobster Tail Helmet

'the Members of both Houses have got great places and commands, and the sword into their hands: and, what by interest in Parliament, what by power in the Army, will perpetually continue themselves in grandeur, and not permit the War speedily to end, lest their own power should determine with it' . The Ordinance stated simply that no member of either house should hold military command later amended to the effect that all should resign their commissions, but with nothing to stop their reappointment). Its critics saw ii as a way of removing Essex and Manchester from their commands without dismissing them outright: and though the House of Lords (those supporting Parliament, that is, for the Royalists naturally could not attend) put up a fighi, the Ordinance was passed on 3 April 1645; to save unpleasantness, both Essex and Manchester resigned their commissions just before the Ordinance came into effect. Parliament's revised 'New Model Army' could now settle down under its new commander. Sir Thomas Fairfax, the only senior Parliamentary officer not affected by the Ordinance. The claims of this capable, modest but somewhat inarticulate and unpolitical general had been advanced by Cromwell, whose advice was accepted; the position of commander of the foot went to the veteran Skippon, and the equivalent position for the horse was earmarked for Cromwell, temporarily barred by the Ordinance.

The New Model (or rather. Parliament's army 'new' modelled'1 was neither totally new nor always termed so; 'the Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax' was a common designation in contemporary documents, and officially

The New Model Army Civil WarMusket Wallis And Wallis
English dog lock muskets, c. 1650 (Wallis 6 Wallis)

it ceased to exist in 1647 when Parliament created a standing army with Fairfax as commander-in-chief of all land forces, local forces hitherto remaining independent of the New Model. Even before the passing of the Self-Denying Ordinance, a total reorganization of Parliament's forces was under way in order that the campaigning season of 1645 could commence without giving the Royalists an advantage. Nominally, the New Model Army was to comprise 22,000 men in n regiments of horse, 12 of foot and one of dragoons; precise establishments were set, but there is some doubt whether all were raised. Formation of the new army was based upon those of Essex, Manchester and Waller, with regiments transferred en masse, reorganized or formed of impressed men to make up the numbers, and in some cases members of more than one army combined in the same regiment, for example Aldrich's Foot, later Lloyd's, Some regiments were transferred directly whilst others were reorganized completely, and Cromwell's 'double regiment* of horse split into two new ones, those of Fairfax and Whalley. In the formation of the old Eastern Association army, experienced soldiers had been attracted from afar, some of the horse, for example, having served previously with Fairfax and Waller, in Liverpool, Cheshire or with the city brigade, attracted by prospects of promotion or of joining an army where religious Independency was in favour. The recruiting of experienced men thus improved the quality of the Association forces, especially the horse, and it was from here that most of the New Model's horse was taken. The foot came largely from Essex's army, though Waller's and Association regiments were also represented.

Coming from existing armies, the newly organized army was not as radical as has sometimes been asserted, at least not at this stage. The officers commissioned into the New Model do not seem to have depended upon religious persuasion or patronage, but upon 'antiquity or merit', and at least at the start there appears to have been little connection between the radical religion in the army and radical political activity; certainly some regiments (particularly horse became renowned for extreme views, such as Cromwell's ex-Ironsides, now the regiments of Fairfax and of Cromwell's cousin, Edward Whalley. Fleetwood's Horse had a number of fanatical Independents in its ranks, and included at one period the Fifth-Monarchist Thomas Harrison. Much of this religious radicalism emanated from Manchester's old army, though the criterion for an Eastern Association recruit was an "honest Godly'spirit without specific conformity. The accusation of the 'low birth' of New Model officers (especially after 1647) is probably largely untrue, though in the Association horse, for example, only Manchester's Lifeguard was comjwsed of what Mercurius Aulicus termed 'the gentler sort of rebels' and Cromwell himself reported difficulty in getting 'men of honour and birth'"; Manchester's army was officered by experienced professionals (including one French colonel and a number of New Englanders as well as Scots), and, at least initially, local dignitaries were commissioned as often as officers like Cromwell's 'plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows*l0. The same was probably true of the New Model, though by this time length of service and ability had become primary considerations. There is little evidence of religious discrimination; the House of Lords objected to two colonels and 40-odd captains from Fairfax's original list of proposed commissions.

some because they were I ndependents but others on the grounds of patronage. Essex led the fight against their inclusion, but objections were withdrawn when a vote ended in a dead heat, unti! a proxy from Essex's brother-in-law. the Earl of Clanricarde, was disallowed due to his being a Catholic,

Discipline in the New Model, certainly superior to that of the previous armies1 notably Waller's, renowned for pillaging;, was largely a development over years of war rather than new policy, though the popular belief that the New Model was composed of sombre, psalm-singing Puritans is quite misleading: as Sir Samuel Luke noted, 'I think these newmodellcs kneads all their doe with ale, for I never saw soe many drunke in my life in soe short a tyme* ".The combination of experienced officers and well-trained, disciplined veterans leavening the recruits or impressed men made the New Model into a formidable force; as the Souldiers Catechisme claimed, 'fresh-water souldiers are commonly fainthearted souldiers; whereas they that have been used to the Warres are usually of undaunted spirits11... a few well-trained Souldiers are better then (sic) a multitude of raw. unexperienced men ... Every souldier should seeke God by prayer... for it is the blessing of God that makes men to profit in any profession .,11

I( is possible, indeed, to overestimate the religious bigotry present in the Civil War armies; whilst it is generally true that the more radical Protestants supported Parliament and most Catholics took the King's part, only certain regiments were affected seriously by religious fanaticism, though its effect was sometimes profound. For example, the decision to declare Basing House a Catholic garrison, depriving it of some 500 excellent (but non-Catholic) Royalist troops and their energetic leader. Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, was a major contributory factor in its fall, and the interference of the ministers in the running of the Covenant armies against Montrose had similar dire results. Turner's remark that a chaplain's duty "is to have Curam Animarum, the care of Souls, and it is well if he meddle with no other business ,.,'t4 was probably made with the knowledge of the results of such interference. Over-zealous religious beliefs led to misguided views on both sides: for example the Souldiers Catechisme claimed that the Royalists were 'for the most part Papists and Atheists ... generally the most horrible Cursers and Plasphemers (sic) in the World ... for the most part, inhumane, barbarous and cruel! ...'", 'men so loose, lewd, and wicked, as most of your Cavaliers are ...'"'. whilst explaining why 'there are so many lewd and wicked men in the Parliaments army ... Because Commanders in Chief are not more care full in choosing godly Officers ... honest religious men arc not more forward to pui forth than selves .., Order and Discipline is not more strictly executed by Superiours .,. Officers in Towns and Countries aim to presse the scumme and refuse of men, and so by easing themselves, pesture our Armies with base conditioned people'11. Religious fanaticism could be manifested in an altogether more distasteful manner: for example, in the final storm of Basing 1 louse, the Royalist Major Robinson in civilian life a Drurv Lane comedian) was one of a number murdered in cold blood. He attempted to surrender to Thomas Harrison, the fanatical major of Fleetwood's Horse, who shot him dead, crying 'Cursed be he that doeth the I .ord's work negligently!'1*. Harrison also killed another of the garrison's officers. Major Caffaud. whilst the latter was running away. How different from Essex's instruction, 41 shall desire ... ihat you avoid cruelty, for it is my desire rather to save the life of thousands, than to kill one ...' The belief ihat 'Almighty God declares himselfe a friend to our Party'30 could lead to as unpardonable excesses as could the behaviour of 'lewd and wicked men', or to simple blood lust as exhibited at Colchester in 1648, when the death of Colonel Needham caused his Tower regiment to go berserk, 'killing and slaying in a terrible manner'11 so that 'they will hardly admit of quarter'--.

Before resuming an account of the events of 1645, mention should be made of a growing movement around this time called the 'clubmen'. Supplies for an army were usually garnered from the area in which it was situated as there was comparatively little transportation of food and fodder over large distances. Local acquisition could be accomplished amicably when the army had cash to buy provisions, but as pay on both sides was often weeks or months in arrears, food was often acquired by payment with a ticket redeemable from the army's administrators, or simply by theft. The habit of plundering friend and foe alike afflicted most armies and in some cases was allowed to proceed unchecked, though only the ransacking of opponents' property or that of 'neuters'j would usually be permitted officially. The large numbers of men who enlisted simply for loot, coupled with 'legitimate* plundering for food and weaponry, created widespread destruction. This ruination of the lives of innocent civilians is described in numerous documents:

The Cava leers are extremely outragioia in plundering .., puling no deferanc atali betweene friends and supposed enemis ... taken al that hath been usefullfor them and ript up fetherbeds and throtane the feathers in the wind to be bloiven awav for sport and scanedall the barrels of beerc and wine and spilt it trt their sillers. They have kild of one mans l .000 sheepe and throwne away much of it they could not eate, malty other outrages they commit to large to exspres this way ..,'M

Even officers in positions of responsibility succumbed to the temptation to plunder; during the Scottish siege of Newcastle, for example, the Scottish officer Sir John Lesley wrote to Sir "ITiomas Riddle of Gateshead, offering to prevent the plunder of Riddle's house in exchange

Curtain Wall FortificationRavelin Wall Section

Civil War fortifications two bastions connected by a stretch of enceinte {curtain wall) which is protected by ravelins (V-shaped fortifications) in ditch. A low wall runs around foot of ramparts

Civil War fortifications: aerial view of double bastion with masonry facing. On each bastion is constructed a higher gun-platform 01 'cavalier', and set in ditch is a ravelin or V-shaped fortification to protect exposed length of curtain wall between the two bastions. Earthen ramps lead up to curtain wall, and from rampart to cavaliers, to facilitate the moving of ordnance

Civil War fortifications: cross sections through ditch and rampart of earthwork fortification Top: rampart protected by palisade of vertical stakes. Bottom: rampart protected by a fraise', a line of horizon tat stakes

Civil War fortifications design of earthwork sconce*, a four-bastioned fori

Civil War Fortifications Design Photos

New Model: The First Civil Wak ifijs for a £30 bribe, some barley, a horse and Riddle's chiming clock: '1 maun liae the tagg'd tail trooper that stans in the staw, and the wee trim gaeing thing that stans in the newke of the haw chirping and chiming at the newn tideo'the day

Results of such looting were twofold; firstly, it alienated the local population and drove them to support the opposite faction (as late as 1648 it was noted that a unit of" Essex foot fought especially hard as they were 'much incensed against Goring and his party' " for bringing the war to their county); and secondly it gave rise to self-defence associations of 'clubmen', which themselves sometimes took on political bias, the majority of these swinging towards Parliament. As early as 1642 it was reported that 'the country meet, and not only intend to stand upon their guard, but to disarm all the papists and maiignants within their precincts .,. The men of Blackburn. Padiham, Burnley, Clitheroe, and Colne, with those sturdy churls in the two forests of Pendle and Rosscndale, have raised their spirits, and are resolved to fight it out rather than their beef and fat bacon shall be taken from them ..protecting their homes from the most likely marauders, the Royalists. Some wished to oppose whichever side tried to plunder: John Williams, Archbishop of York ( who changed sides from Royalist to Roundhead) claimed that by fortifying himself at Penrhyn, 'I kept my House neither against the King or Parliament, but to prevent SurprixeUs'17, a policy exemplified by the mottos inscribed on the flags of the clubmen:

If you offer to plunder or take our cutlet.

Be assured we tmil bid you battel,

Despite their poor arms (typical weaponry was described as carried by an anti-Royalist mob in Devon in 1642. 'some with Muskets loaden, some with Halberts and Black Bills, some with Clubs, some with Pikes, some with dung Evells, some with great Poles, one I saw had heat the calke of a sive [scythe] and beat him right out and set him into a long staffe ..,'IB), they were sufficiently numerous to harrass an army, especially after some had decided to support one faction or the other instead of being simply anti-war.

Inthe winter of 1644-5. before the New Model Army was operational. Parliament managed to relieve Lyme, but elsewhere ran into problems. A surprise attack captured Weymouth in early February 1645 and Waller was ordered to recover it: his foot, however, previously of Essex's command, hated him and refused to proceed under his orders. They agreed to march when Cromwell joined them, but their action hastened the Lords' acceptance of the New Model Ordinance. Goring's forces at Weymouth were held up by the Parliamentary garrison of Mclcombc (reinforced by a landing party of sailors and retired before the approaching Waller. Waller and Cromwell, however, made little impression in the area

New Model: The First Civil Wak ifijs

Civil War Petard
Petard used to blow down a gate (engraving from Grose)

and suffered a sharp reverse at Dorchester. A notable Parliamentary success occurred on 22 February when Shrewsbury was captured, severing direct Royalist communications with Chester, itself besieged, and a relief force under Prince Maurice was checked ai Nantwich. Rupert arrived to assist his brother but retired southwards on the approach of Scottish reinforcements for the Parliamentary commander Brereton. In Wales Parliamentary success was shorter lived, as the return of Gerard's Welsh troops after the King's withdrawal to Oxford stabilized the Royal position, leaving only Pembroke and Tenby in Parliamentary hands 111 south Wales. Isolated Royal garrisons like Chester and Scarborough stiil held out in the north, in which direction marched Sir Marmaduke Langdale's northern horse, from Newcastle's old army, having wintered near Shrewsbury. After a passage marked by the most appalling indiscipline and brutal plundering, they relieved Pontefract aided by the mass desertion of Sandy's Morse, the second wholesale defection of this unit; ¡1 had originally been a Royal corps), and then joined Rupert and Maurice in Cheshire.

In the Highlands, Montrose rallied support from those clans with old enmity towards the Marquis of Argyll's Campbell clan, and was supplemented further by i ho defection from Argyll of 150 Gordon horse. Taking the war to Argyll's homeland. Montrose pillaged the Campbell capital, Inverary, and created such consternation that some of Leven's army was drawn northwards out of England, thus achieving Montrose's primary objective. William Haillie. one of Leven's generals i aided by Urry, who had deserted the King before Second Newbury commanded a force at Perth, Argyll headed the mam body of his army, the Earl of Sea forth led another corps at Inverness, and a Covenant garrison held Aberdeen. To prevent the union of Argyll and Seaforth, Montrose decided to attack the former by a hill route, difficult enough in summer but almost impossible in mid winter, surprising and routing Argyll's army at Inverlochy. The Campbell clansmen received no quarter in payment for years of oppression; as the Gaelic poet Ian Lom Macdonakl wrote, j\o htirp in the highlands mill sorrow for you; Rut die birds of Loch arc wheeling on high, And the Badenoeh wolves hear the Canierons' cry -'C.onie feast yt! come feast where the false-hearted lief'30

For Montrose's loss of about a dozen men, it was claimed that around 1.500 Campbells were killed in the pursuit or drowned in Loch I .inne and Loch Eil.

Having recruited his army to about 2,500 foot and 200 horse, Montrose intended to strike at the Lowlands, but as before, with each victory, his Highlanders melted away home w ith their booty, forcing him to retire north to reorganize. Before going. Montrose sacked Dundee, but whilst his troops were looting he learned that HaiDie's Covenant army was but a mile (t .6 kilometres) away. Commanding a rearguard of zoo sober Irish, Montrose managed to get the remainder of his drunken, disorganized troops away before Baillie arrived. Haillie divided his forces in an attempt to trap Montrose always a hazardous manoeuvre against so skilful an adversary), Urry with four good Lowland regiments and some mediocre levies ( totalling about 4,000) being tempted to assault Montrose's 1.000 Irish foot and 650 Gordons at Auldearn, two miles (3.2 kilometres) east of Nairn, on 9 May. When the Gordon horse led a counterattack against Urry's regulars the Covenant army was overthrown, with only Urry and 100 horse escaping altera 14-mile (22.5-kilometre) pursuit.

Part of the New Model Army was organized and ready to march at the opening of the campaigning season of 1645, though not all Parliamentary forces were included in it; the major independent commands were those of the energetic Massey in the west and the army of the Northern Association (five regiments of horse, one of dragoons and seven of foot) under Major-General Sydenham Poyntz, a mercenary lately in service in Holland and Germany, The continuance of the war was inevitable following a conference between the two factions held at Uxbridge in the first half of May, 1645, the King refusing the stringent demands of Parliament; these were that he should accept Preshyterianism as the religion of England, and that permanent control of the army and navy be in Parliament's hands, as well as sole responsibility for waging war against the rebels in Ireland.

Parliament, anxious to relieve Taunton besieged by Goring 1, ordered Sir Thomas Fairfax to accomplish it with part of his New Model, the young genera! (aged only 33) having come from Yorkshire in February though his appointment was not approved until April-Rovalist strategy was con fused, and was upset by Cromwell's impounding of the available draught animals around Oxford, depriving much of the King's artillery of its mobility. With the young Prince of Wales (not yet 15) appointed Captain-General in the West, it was intended that Goring should reinforce the main Oxford army to meet Fairfax before the New Mode! had settled into its new organization: but Rupert, due partly to his hatred of Goring, persuaded the King to march north instead, returning Goring to the west, which plan Goring approved as he enjoyed exercising independent command. Rupert envisaged attacking I.even's army in the north, now depleted by troops sent to oppose Montrose, and was supported by Langdale, whose unruly northern horse disliked fighting anywhere except near their homes in Yorkshire. The King, as ever trusting too much on the advice of others, agreed, and disaster followed.

Fairfax sent a detachment to relieve Taunton .it was reinvested as soon as Goring returned to the west) but kept the remainder of his forces under his own command. making clear from the outset that the New Model had no privileged units; even his own regiment had to take its turn in the rear of the army, a departure from the usual custom that the general's own regiment always occupied the van on the march and the right of the line when drawn up for battle.

As the King marched north, the Committee of Both Kingdoms instructed Fairfax to besiege Oxford, hoping that the Royal cause would collapse with the fall of its capital, whilst Leven could deal with Charles. Lord Fairfax, commanding in Yorkshire, urged Leven to march south as the sieges of Chester and Ha warden Castle were relieved, but Leven determined to advance via Westmorland where he hoped he could both support Brcreton's Parliamentarians in the north and cover the King's route to Scotland, an invasion of which he feared. This decided the King to march north via Yorkshire. hopefully to evade Leven in Westmorland and recruit in Yorkshire, where Leven's forces had made themselves highly unpopular. Charles ordered Sir Charles Gerard from Wales and Goring from the west to join him. but on learning that Oxford was running short of supplies, diverted Goring to attempt the city's relief. On 2fi May Massey stormed Evesham, severing direct communications between Oxford and the King's

Net Model: The Pikst Civil \X'aw 1645

army. Charles' plan was now formulated: if Oxford could hold for six or eight weeks, he would continue north and throw I.even back across the border: if not, he would return and rendezvous W'ith Goring between Oxford and London, and whilst awaiting a reply from Oxford was persuaded by Rupert to assault Leicester, the nearest Parliamentary town. It was stormed on 30 May and sacked, much to the King's distress, but its fall threw Parliament into panic. Fairfax was instructed to abandon the siege of Oxford and march against the King, and Parliament began to consider terms of peace. Morale in the Royal army was high and at this stage the prestige of the New Model was low; furthermore, Leicester was an excellent place to await the arrival of Gerard and Goring, Then everything went wrong, as 'the evil genius of the kingdom in a moment shifted the whole scene'J1.

Not knowing that Oxford was free, the council of war 1 probably influenced by Rupert; began to march the army towards Oxford on 4 June, despite the fact that some were scattered after the looting of Leicester and that Langdale's mutinous northern horse were 'all discontented, and could hardly be kept from disbanding or returning home in disorder*33. Sir Thomas Fairfax and the New Model moved nearer the King, determined to engage; Fairfax also requested Cromwell as his Lieutenant-General of Horse if the House of Commons could spare him. It could, and the architect of the Eastern Association's fine horse was sent to join the army with whose creation he is often linked. Apart from his earlier training of the horse and his political endeavours, however, the New Model was the work of other hands.

Fairfax's scouts found the King's army east of Dnventry, but the Royalists began to retire on Market Marborough before an engagement could be brought. Charles having decided to fall back upon Leicester to await reinforcement, as his army was inferior in numbers (and quality). Against Fairfax's 13,000 or more, estimates of the King's strength vary from 7,500 to over 10,000; probably a figure between the two is more accurate. In the early morning of 13 June Fairfax called a council of war which resolved to engage the King; midway through its session Cromwell arrived with 700 additional horse. Pressing after the Royalists, Colonel Henry Ireton with his own regiment of New Model horse surprised and heat up elements of the northern horse eating their supper at the village of Nasebv, south of Market Harborough. Realizing that Fairfax was nearer than he had believed, the King called a midnight council of war. The consensus of opinion was that the Royal army could not disengage successfully, so would stand and fight.

In the morning the King's army was arrayed on rising ground about a mile (1.6 kilometres south of Market Harborough. a good position to stand off a superior enemy; Lord Astlcy commanded the foot in the centre. Rupert the 2,000 horse on the right wing, and Langdale

Samuel Cooper
Henry Ireton (engraving after Samuel Cooper)

his northern horse plus a small detachment from Newark on the left, totalling around 1.600, Held in reserve were 800 foot from the King's Lifeguard and Rupert's Regiment, plus the Lifeguard of Horse about the King. Fairfax sent out reconnaissance patrols to ascertain whether the King was standing or retreating; the withdrawal of one such patrol may have persuaded Rupert that Fairfax was retiring, but for whatever reason he convinced the King to leave his strong position and advance. When this desperate error was realized, it was too late to do anything but draw up as best they could on high ground north of Nasebv.

Fairfax assembled his army in Swedish fashion, two lines of foot with the second-line regiments covering the gaps between those of the first; Fairfax commanded the centre in person, Ireton's horse on the left was drawn up in two lines, and Cromwell's on the right in three; both wings included units of .independent) Eastern Association horse. On the Royal right flank.Okey's New Model dragoon regimeni was strung out in what might later have been termed "skirmish order*. Adumbrating Wellington's favourite practice, Fairfax drew back most of his army beyond some high ground, out of sight of the Royalists, who taking it for a withdrawal advanced: Fairfax brought his army back onto the crest of the hill.

Sir Thomas Fairfax Images Sydenham Poyntz

and battle was joined at about to a.m. on 14 June 1645.

I .angdalc's northern horse, opposing Cromwell on the Parliamentary' right, were countercharged by the New Model horse, the old Ironsides of Whalley's Regiment making first contact. With the advantage of charging downhill, Cromwell's troops withstood a volley of pistol fire, engaged and scattered the Royalists who were both outnumbered and outflanked, and 'fled farther and faster than became them*". In the centre, though, the Royal fool moved so quickly that the New Model regiments had time to tire only one volley before their first line was sent spilling backwards onto the second line. Astley's foot being no doubt more experienced than some of the impressed New Model men.

On the Royal right, the horse of Rupert and Ireton approached each other somewhat disorganized by the hedges and ditches in their path. Despite suffering the musketry of Okey's dragoons on their flank. Rupert's men had the best of the encounter; Ireton was brought down and captured as he attempted to relieve the pressure on the foot of the Parliamentary left-centre, and only two formed regiments escaped the onrush of Rupert's charge. In a repeat of Edgehill, Rupert pursued the fugitives almost two miles 3.2 kilometres), to the Parliamentary baggage park, instead of reforming and taking the Roundhead foot in Hank and rear. By the time he recovered his command, he was too late to save the day and could only join the King who was attempting to rally Langdale's broken horse at the rear.

Their advance stopped by Fairfax's second line, the Royal foot were now bereft of cavalry support. How different from Rupert's behaviour was that of Cromwell, who instead of careering off after Langdale. detailed sufficient horse to watch the broken Cavaliers and then turned his command inwards to assail the flank of the Rova! foot. Only instilled discipline could control victorious horse in this way, discipline originally imbued in Cromwell's Eastern Association horse, and which now virtually won the war for Parliament; as the different character of the Royal horse would have made the imposition of such strict discipline much harder, Rupert does not, perhaps, deserve all the criticism which has been levelled at him. As remnants of Ireton's horse began to reform. Okey's dragoons mounted and charged the right of the Royal foot, which under pressure on three sides at last gave way, one brigade standing firm until Fairfax personally led his own regiments of horse and foot against it. At the rear of this debacle, the King made as if to lead a final charge at the head of his Lifeguard, for whatever his failings he never lacked courage. The Farl of Carnwath siezed the King's bridle 'and swearing two or three full-mouthed Scots'oaths... said, "Will you go upon your death in an instant?"'JJ and pulled the King's horse round, whereupon the Lifeguard turned and bolted. It might have been better had the King fallen a hero amidst the wreck of his army at Nasebv,

When Rupert's horse returned, an attempt was made to rally into some order, but the field was abandoned when Fairfax marshalled his army. Charles' foot was smashed, his entire artillery lost, Royalist morale severely dented, and his papers captured, revealing a plan to bring over an Irish army and give preference to Roman Catholics, which served only to strengthen the 'war party* in Parliament at the expense of those desiring a settlement. Yet the King remained optimistic and journeyed to Hereford to raise another army. Although it grew in numbers until it almost replaced the Naseby losses, the quality of recruits was indifferent and its leaders no more certain of what course to adopt: torn between joining Montrose or Goring, the King went instead to recruit in Wales, After the recapture of Leicester on 18 June, Fairfax set off to relieve Taunton, Carlisle having fallen to David Leslie on 28 June 1 causing mixed feelings in Parliament, for a Scottish garrison was installed in the old Border fortress). Parliament iniended Leven to cover the King by besieging Hereford whilst Fairfax cleared up in the west. But Leven refused to go further than Nottingham until his army had been paid, and furthermore was concerned over the order to execute all Irish prisoners, fearing the Royalists might in retaliation order the same fate for captured Scots. Even with an English reinforcement, Leven's force at Nottingham numbered only about ?,ooo. having been depleted by casualties, garrisons and detachments sent to chase Montrose.

As I:airfax and Cromwell advanced on Taunton. Goring raised the siege and prepared to meet them in the open. He attempted to deceive Fairfax into dividing his command by sending a strong force of horse towards Ilminster. It JiJ cause a division of Fairfax's command, but backfired when Goring's detachment was destroyed at that place on 9 July. Attempting to evacuate his baggage and artillery. Goring made a stand at Langpon on to July. Fairfax launched a cavalry charge along a lane which bisected the Royalist position (the remainder of Goring's front was marshy and unsuitable for cavalry;; led by a composite regiment of Fairfax's and Whalley's horse - the old Ironsides - the charge split Goring's position and drove off his army in chaos. Two miles (3,2 kilometres) further on Goring made a last effort to save his artillery and baggage, but by now morale had gone and his army ceased to exist. The Parliamentary forces made equally short work of pacifying the local clubmen, w ho simply wished to protect their own homes.

Only in Scotland was the King's party having any success, and that due entirely to the efforts of one remarkable general. After Auldearn, Montrose consistently outmanoeuvred a harrassed Baillic, whose plans were interfered with constantly by advisors attached to his army by the Committee of Estates, the ruling Covenant body. Another army was also formed around Perth, commanded by Lord Lindsay. Having sent away Alasdair Macdonnell to recruit, Montrose had only

New Morel: The First Civil War 1645

O'Cahan's regiment and loyal Highlander; when he eneouniered Baillie at Alford on 2 July, Spurred on by his travelling committee, Baillie attacked unwisely and came to gTief as Lord Gordon, commanding Montrose's horse and incensed at the sight of captured Gordon cattle with Baillie's army, charged prematurely and. followed by the rest of the army, routed the Covenant force, though Gordon himself was killed in the tight. Baillie's resignation was refused for the second time and he was given a new' army, mostly untrained levies, and, to ensure disaster, another travelling committee under Argyll. Engaging Montrose at Kilsyth, midway between Stirling and Glasgow, on 15 August, he met with no more success than before: Montrose broke Baillie's centre whilst containing his right, then turned upon that and destroyed the army. Argyll fled as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed and others fled to Carlisle.

Bad as the Royalist situation was in England, the King was still optimistic; in reply to Rupert's advice to conclude peace, Charles said: 'If I had any other quarrel but the defence of my religion, crown and friends, you had full reason for your advice; for I confess that, speaking as a mere soldier or statesman, I must say there is no probability but my ruin; yet, as a Christian, I must tell you that God will not suffer rebels and traitors to prosper, nor this cause to be overthrown ..,' M. Yet there were few glimmers of hope. After Langport, Goring seems to have taken to drink completely and made little effort to reform his shattered forces; a plan to ship the King's army from Cardiff to join Goring had failed when the Parliamentary navy captured the transports, and on 23 July the Royal stronghold of Bridgwater went down under the New Model, severing communications between the King and his supporters in the west. Ponte-fract fell on 21 July, Scarborough four days later; the Royal strongholds in Pembrokeshire went after the victory of a combined Parliamentary army and naval force at Colby Moor. On 5 August the King left Cardiff with some 2,200 horse and 400 foot to attempt the march to Montrose, hut found his way barred by Poyntz, The Royalists raided Huntingdon 1 Cromwell's birthplace), and Leven raised his siege of Hereford, as more Scots raced home to deal with Montrose, enabling the King to enter the city in triumph on 4 September, thanks to the heroic efforts of his great general in Scotland.

After the fall of Bridgwater. Fairfax captured Sherborne Castle (14 July,' and Bath (30 July), and then moved on Bristol, held by Rupert, who tried to buy time by negotiation. On 10 September the New Model -which now seemed invincible - stormed part of the outer defences despite a fierce resistance. Fairfax then offered terms and Rupert accepted, the city being virtually indefensible w ith the forces he had. Furious at his nephew's supposed negligence, the King relieved him of all appointments and ordered him to go overseas.

The King attempted to assist the beleaguered Chester, his last point of disembarkation of reinforcements from

New Morel: The First Civil War 1645

— —

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment