Raising the armies I 642

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Although there were men in arms in Ireland in 1642, England and Wales had no standing army and almost no troops in place as king and parliament set about raising armies in spring and summer 1642. Both sides might, however, look to recruit men from the existing militia units, the part-time self-defence forces found in all counties of England and Wales; some of the larger towns had their own separate militia units or trained bands. In theory, all able-bodied males between 16 and 60 were liable to serve and to muster several times a year for training. In practice, it was hard to compel attendance and the numbers serving in each county were modest, often under 2,000. Even so, it remained a numerically significant force, for on the eve of the civil wars it should have totalled around 100,000 men, about 95,000 foot and 5,000 horse. Although some units, such as those of Lancashire and the unusually well-trained and committed London trained bands, were formidable and had real military potential, many militia forces were amateurish and poor. One officer alleged that training generally comprised 'a little casual hurrying over their postures' before retiring to a nearby inn, first to salute their captain with 'a brave volley of shot' as he entered, and then rapidly to join him in alcoholic revelry. In any case, while men were happy to spend a few days a year playing at war and drinking, they often had no stomach for the real thing and no inclination in 1642 to volunteer. Moreover, by long tradition each militia was a self-defence force, designed to protect its own county, and many were unwilling to march away in a field army and campaign elsewhere. As war loomed, both sides sought to call out county militias, win them over and recruit from their ranks, but the response was patchy.

Instead, both sides soon launched fresh recruiting drives. Royalist and parliamentary county commissioners were appointed and empowered to raise troops in the counties where they held influence. Richard Gough described how one royalist commissioner operated. Sir Paul Harris sent out warrants notifying the inhabitants of the hundred that he would be holding an open air recruiting meeting on Myddle Hill, in north Shropshire, on a set date and requesting all male inhabitants between 16 and 60, whether heads of households, sons, servants or lodgers, to attend. Gough went along to watch 'this great show'. 'And there 1 saw a multitude of men, and upon the highest bank of the hill' he noted one of Harris' assistants 'standing, with a paper in his hand, and three or four soldiers' pikes, stuck upright in the ground by him; and there he made a proclamation, that if any person would serve the king, as a soldier in the wars, he should have fourteen groats a week for his pay'. The offer clearly struck a chord, for Gough estimated that at least 20 men from Myddle and two adjoining villages volunteered. With less success, Sir William Brereton and some fellow parliamentary commissioners attempted to recruit in Chester in early August, but they met with rowdy opposition, 'a great tumult'. The city authorities intervened and confiscated their drum, but Brereton and his colleagues 'continued the tumult' and were eventually escorted from the city under guard, in part to protect them from the abuse of the citizens.

By summer 1642 both the king and the parliamentary commander-in-chief were also commissioning as colonels of completely new regiments individual members of the elite, who would then go out and raise troops. For example, in August 1642 the king commissioned Lord Paget colonel of a new foot regiment. Paget returned to his native Staffordshire to recruit, contacting neighbouring landowners, seeking their support and in some cases appointing them or their sons captains within his fledgling regiment. These then launched a broader recruitment drive in and around Staffordshire, not only drawing upon pools of kinsmen, tenants, servants and other dependants but also going around beating the drum and seeking volunteers in the villages and countryside. Within a month, Paget and his local captains had raised around 1,(XX) men. The volunteers of summer 1642 probably came forward for a variety of reasons, encompassing the lure of adventure and excitement, the offer of regular pay and employment in which clothing, food and shelter would be provided by the employer, ties of kinship, friendship, tenancy or service, and a clear and principled commitment to fight for their chosen cause, a conscious and informed decision based upon political or religious beliefs. In these ways and from these sources, each side had succeeded in raising the equivalent of over 20 regiments by the

end of the summer, and by October each probably had over 20,000 men in arms, divided between a main field army and detached units.

Surviving sources reveal the identity of some of these early volunteers and give insight into why they volunteered. We should beware, however, for these accounts come from a small number of the more literate middle and upper social strata, and may not be typical of the thousands who joined up in 1642. Many early participants on both sides wrote that they felt compelled to fight in response to the actions of the other party and in defence of themselves, their families, their rights and liberties. For example, the royalist William Chillingworth said that he and his colleagues joined up to 'defend our lives and livelihood, wives, children, houses and lands', while the parliamentarian Richard Hubberthorn claimed to be fighting 'in a defensive way for our rights and liberties'. Many stressed that they had not made a sudden or rash decision, but had sought guidance from the Lord, who curiously might lead men in different directions. Thus the parliamentarian John Hodgson recalled that he spent 'many an hour and night to seek God to know my way', while the royalist Sir William Campion sought guidance 'daily in my prayers for two or three months together to God to direct me in the right way'. The duty owed their divinely appointed monarch loomed large for some. Sir Edmund Verney stressed his loyalty to Charles, writing that 'my conscience is only concerned with honour and gratitude for to follow my master. 1 have eaten his bread and served

In some of his writings the puritan preacher Richard Baxter analysed the causes of the civil war and acknowledged that there could be differences between on the one hand the major issues at the centre, such as the dispute between king and parliament over control of the armed forces, which had led to the breakdown and the outbreak of wan and on the other hand those factors which motivated individuals to take up arms and to fight Baxter claimed that for him and for many of his colleagues, the latter involved questions of religion, faith and liberty, brought into sharp focus by the consequences of the Insh rebellion. (Ann Ronan Picture Library)

him near thirty years, and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him, and choose rather to give my life - which I am sure I shall do.' His prediction came true, for he was cut down during the first major battle of the war. Sir Bevil Grenville explained that he joined Charles because 'I cannot contain myself indoors, when the king of England's standard waves in the field', Sir George Goring because 'I had it all from his Majesty, and he hath it all again'.

There survives a detailed letter from Sir Thomas Salusbury to his sister, written in late June on his way home after presenting his services to the king at York and being commissioned colonel of a yet-to-be-raised regiment. Salusbury explained that he had decided to serve Charles only after a period of soul-searching. He had studied the bible and biblical injunctions to 'fear God and honour the king' and to 'give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God those things which belong to God', and had concluded that it was his Christian duty to serve his king. Conversely, he had been sickened by the stance of the king's opponents, 'the filthie dreamers of these times', men who 'defile the flesh, despise dominion and speake evill of Dignities'. They were already allowing the true religion to be corrupted by schism and heresy and if they were able to continue they would plunge the kingdom into the sort of religious turmoil, prolonged warfare, blood-letting and anarchy which had been seen on the continent over the previous decades and which inevitably resulted when a people withdrew obedience from their sovereign.

However, religious motivation could cut both ways, and historians have suggested that many of the parliamentarian enthusiasts who did not waiver, but who took up arms and were active from the outset, were driven forward by their faith. A radical Protestantism or puritanism, combined with a belief that their church was menaced by Catholic plots, marked out some of the parliamentary firebrands of the opening stages of the war, men like Oliver Cromwell and Sir William Brereton, who took up arms at the outset, even though neither appears to have had any previous military experience. Writing a decade or so after the war had ended, the puritan divine Richard Baxter also claimed that he and many of his colleagues had been moved to fight by religious developments. In particular, Baxter had been sickened by the alleged collusion of the king and his ilk in the Irish rebellion, their friendship with the Irish Catholic party which 'barbarously murdered' and 'suddenly butchered' so many Protestants in Ireland and which was likely to overrun England. Charles was actively encouraging, or would soon have become a pawn in, this process, for 'his impious and popish armies would have ruled him'. On these grounds, Baxter said that he and many of his acquaintances had been impelled to support parliament.

It is clear that during the opening phase of the conflict there were some geographical patterns to allegiance and support. Some areas displayed marked enthusiasm for either king or parliament and provided large numbers of volunteers. These patterns of unforced, popular allegiance are often hard to reconstruct and interpret. In a few areas, community allegiance may have been determined by pre-war disputes and the pursuit of practical gain. For example, some of the miners in the Forest of Dean and parts of Derbyshire probably supported the king in the hope that he, in turn, would help them in their long-running disputes against local grandees. More broadly, in some regions, such as the western counties of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, and the west Midlands in and around Warwickshire, a case has been made for communities splitting along pre-war lines of cleavage, rooted in a concoction of differing religious, economic, social and cultural outlooks. Within these areas, arable and mixed farming regions of downs and vales, of small parishes and nucleated settlements tightly controlled by church and resident squire, tended towards a traditional, conservative outlook and to royalist allegiance in the civil war, while wood-pasture and upland grazing regions, of large parishes, dispersed settlements and much weaker elite control, tended towards more open, fluid populations receptive to new ideas, who supported parliament when civil war broke out. However, these divisions are not so apparent in other parts of England and Wales and this interpretation does not explain emerging allegiances in many other regions. In some areas a case can be made for religion as a major element in determining allegiance. Those communities which favoured further reform of the state church, such as ports, many towns and cloth-working areas, were more likely to support parliament, while those which were ecclesiastically conservative and less reform-minded, including fairly isolated communities remote from transport highways, moorlands and large parts of the highland zone of England and Wales, the northern and western regions remote from the controversies in Whitehall and Westminster, were more likely to support the king. It has also been suggested that popular royalism in Wales and Cornwall in 1642 may have owed something to the historical, cultural and linguistic distinctiveness of those two non-English parts of the Celtic fringe. The royal principality of Wales came out for Charles in summer 1642, providing thousands of recruits who served as the backbone of the infantry in his first army, while in the royal duchy of Cornwall there was a popular royalist rising in October 1642, perhaps 10,000-strong, which secured that county for the king. It may be that the population in these areas felt that their distinctiveness would be threatened by an antagonistic parliament in London, where the press was increasingly condemning them as backward and suspiciously 'Popish' in outlook, and that their ways and rights, their distinctive Welsh and Cornish particularism, would be better protected by the king.

Several traits are apparent in the two armies which gathered in autumn 1642. Firstly, the senior ranks were dominated by men who had previous military experience. It has been estimated that, of those present at Edgehill, at least 60 parliamentarian and 30 royalist officers had fought on the Continent over the previous decades. Although the Stuart kingdoms had largely remained at peace during the opening decades of the 17th century, untold numbers of English and Welsh men, both elite and non-elite, as well as large numbers of Scots - one historian has put the figure at around 25,000 Scots in total, perhaps 10 per cent of that country's adult male population - had seen service abroad during the Thirty Years' War, fighting as volunteers or mercenaries. Secondly, there was a conspicuous number of Scottish officers, particularly on the parliamentary side. Thirdly, the two overall commanders, Charles I and the Earl of Essex, had far less experience than most of those directly under them; Charles I had none, for he had not led troops in person during the French or Spanish wars of the late 1620s or the Scots' Wars of 1639-40, while the parliamentary lord general had some experience as a colonel in the Dutch infantry during the 1620s as well as in the Scots' Wars. Fourthly, most senior commanders were men of fairly mature years, into middle age in a 17th- century context; indeed , several, particularly on the royalist side, were rather long in the tooth by 1642. Assessment of royalist and parliamentary armies later in war confirm this trend, showing that most officers ranked colonel and above were in their 30s or 40s.

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