The English Civil War 1840222220, 9781840222227

Between August 1642, when the Royal Standard of King Charles I was raised above Castle Hill at Nottingham, and September

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Table of contents :
List of Maps
Part One: The Road to War, February 1625 - August 1642
1 The Causes of War
2 The Nation Divided
3 Organisation and Tactics
Part Two: The First Civil War, August 1642 - August 1646
4 The Edgehill Campaign
5 The War in the West - 1
6 The War in the North - 1
7 The War in the Centre
8 The War in the West - 2
9 The War in the Centre, 1643
10 The War in the North, 1643 -2
11 Hopton and Waller
12 The Scots and the ‘Irish’
13 The Oxford Campaign
14 The Marston Moor Campaign
15 The Lostwithiel Campaign
16 The Second Newbury Campaign
17 ‘New Modelling’: Rupert and Fairfax
18 The Naseby Campaign
19 Taunton and Langport
20 Torrington and Stow-on-the-Wold
Part Three: The Second Civil War, March - August 1648
21 1648: Fairfax's Campaign
22 1648: Cromwell’s Campaign
Part Four: The Third Civil War, June 1650 - September 1651
23 Dunbar
24 Worcester
Part Five: Protectorate and Restoration, September 1651 - May 1660
25 Keeping the Peace: The Protectorate Conclusion
Note on Sources
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The English Civil War
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Brigadier Peter Young D.S*0-, M .C , M*A*, RS*A, AND

Richard Holmes VLA.



First published in Great Britain in 1974 by Eyre Methuen Limited Copyright © 1974 Peter Young and Richard Holmes This edition published 2000 by Wordsworth Editions Limited Cumberland House, Crib Street, Ware, Hertfordshire SGI2 9ET ISBN 1 84022 222 0 © Wordsworth Editions Limited 2000

Wordsworth is a registered trade mark of Wordsworth Editions Limited All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Printed and bound in Great Britain by Mackays of Chatham pic, Chatham, Kent.

C ontents



M aps

P reface





The Road to War,

February 1625 - August 1642





The Causes of War



The Nation Divided



Organisation and Tactics



tw o:

The First Civil War,

August 1642 - August 1646





The Edgehill Campaign



The War in the West - 1



The War in the North - 1



The War in the Centre



The War in the West - 2



The War in the Centre, 1643



The War in the North, 1643 - 2



Hopton and Waller



The Scots and the ‘Irish’



The Oxford Campaign



The Marston Moor Campaign



The Lostwithiel Campaign



The Second Newbury Campaign



‘New Modelling’: Rupert and Fairfax




The Naseby Campaign


Taunton and Langport


Torrington and Stow-on-the-Wold Part

three :

The Second Civil War,

March - August 1648 Chronology 21

1648: Fairfax's Campaign


1648: Cromwell’s Campaign Part

four :

The Third Civil War,

June 1650 - September 1651 Chronology 23



Worcester Part

five :

Protectorate and Restoration,

September 1651 - May 1660 Chronology 25

Keeping the Peace: The Protectorate Conclusion G lossary N ote

on sources

Bibliography Index



of maps



The Campaign of Edgehill




England and Wales, May 1643






Roundway Down



The Storm of Bristol



First Battle of Newbury






Cropredy Bridge



Marston Moor: the armies deployed






Second Battle of Newbury



England and Wales, November 1644






England and Wales, November 1645



The Preston Campaign








e 68



P reface

that one might as well try to write the history of a ball as that of a battle. Writing the history of the Civil War is, to borrow the duke’s metaphor, not unlike describing several different balls, occurring simultaneously in widely separated locations, with a fair proportion of the participants moving back and forth between the ballrooms. The Civil War seems, at first sight, to be a confused and disjointed series of battles, sieges and skirmishes taking place over most of England, it is no easy task to combine these events into a form which makes some sort of sense, without employing a rigid framework relying on lavish use of hindsight, which gives the war an unrealistically well-ordered appearance. In an effort to obtain coherence without oversimplification, the authors have treated the war regionally, and have in some instances departed from the chronological sequence to do so. The other alternative, to adhere strictly to the chronological sequence, would produce an unduly fragmented picture of widely dispersed events of varying importance. The regional divisions are quite deliberately broad. There are numerous histories, of varying value, which examine the war in particular counties. While recognising the intense local feeling of the period, this is, from the military point of view, an unsatisfactory approach. The war was much more than a disconnected series of local conflicts, and campaigns were not confined within the borders of a single county. No war, least of all a civil war, is fought in a vacuum. The English Civil War has far-reaching political, economic, social and religious significance. It originated in a complex series of interlocking crises, many of which were only temporarily submerged beneath armed conflict. This history concentrates, however, upon the military aspects of the Civil War. The struggle is placed in its context with regard to political events and social developments, but the reader who seeks a detailed examination of monopolies under Charles I, or a dissertation upon the iron industry of the Weald of Kent, would be well advised to look elsewhere. A further deliberate limitation of scope is the exclusion of events in Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Scotland, unless they impinge directly upon the situation in England. There was intermittent fighting in Ireland throughout the period in question, and a weighty volume could easily be devoted to this alone. When examining the armies and commanders of the Civil War one Ellington

once remarked



must avoid applying modern standards. Firstly, the art of waf in the seventeenth century embodied doctrine and practice which succeeding centuries have transformed almost beyond recognition. Secondly, most of the participants in the Civil War were, in the early stages at least, amateurs, who often had few means at hand for aquiring professional skill. The modern officer, however small his aptitude, and however lacking in originality he may be, has but to turn to manuals and drill books, learned journals and official histories dealing with every aspect of war. In the Civil War it was different. Regimental officers could consult one of the numerous drill books to master the rudiments of infantry or cavalry drill, but there was little to guide more senior officers in the perilous realms of strategy or logistics. Brigades, and even armies, were sometimes commanded by men with no military experience, and without even the doubtful solace of a staff manual. Such men were fortunate indeed if they had a professional officer at their elbow, and more fortunate still if they allowed themselves to heed his advice. Although the conflicts of the 1640s and 1650s are usually merged under the enveloping title of Civil War, an apter description would be Civil Wars, for there were three separate and clearly divided contests. The First Civil War, which is undoubtedly the most significant, and to which the major part of this work is devoted, stretched from the summer of 1642 to the surrender of the last Royalist fortress in March 1647. It ended with Charles I a prisoner in the hands of the Scots, and the New Model Army the dominant power in the land. The Second Civil War, combining Royalist revolts in England with a Scottish invasion, began in March 1648 and ended with the battle of Preston and the fall of Colchester in late August the same year. The beheading of the King followed in January 1649, but in June 1650 Charles II raised an army in Scotland, only to be defeated at Dunbar and Worcester, fleeing the country in October 1651. Major military operations ceased with Worcester, but a constitutional crisis and continual Royalist plotting produced an atmosphere of unrest which was dispelled only by the Restoration of Charles II in May 1.660. The authors have adopted a system of sub-headings for events of major importance. These are not designed as summaries of the material that follows them, but rather as a series of signposts for the reader. For their material on the First Civil War the authors have drawn heavily upon the work of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred H. Burne, D.S.O., F.R. Hist. Soc., a military historian of note whose knowledge of the period was tempered with sound military judgement, in 1959, Peter Young was co-author with Lieutenant-Colonel Burne of The Great Civil War: A Military History of the First Civil War 1642-1646. This new book uses the earlier as a starting point for an entirely fresh, considerably enlarged, assessment of the whole conflict. X


The author’s thanks are due to Zoë Longridge, Marilyn Patrick and Andy Peal, who were faced with the unenviable task of typing from a* manuscript which stretched legibility beyond all reasonable limits. Finally, the authors owe a debt of gratitude to Arthur Banks, who designed and produced the maps. N ovember

1973 P.Y. E.R.H.




1627 1628

Death o f James I: Accession o f Charles I. C ount Mansfeld’s expedition, île de Rhé expedition. Darnell’s case. Petition o f Right. Assassination o f Buckingham.

M arch 1629April 1640 1631 1632

Eleven years* personal rule. Battle o f BRBITBNFELD. Thomas, Viscount W entw orth, appointed Lord-Deputy o f Ireland. Battle o f l ü t z b n . W illiam Laud becomes Archbishop o f Canterbury. 1633 The Laudian visitation. 1 6 3 4 -7 First writs for Ship M oney issued. 1634 John Hampden tried for refusing to pay Ship Money. 1637 1638 N ational Covenant signed in Scotland. First Bishops’ W ar against the Scots, ended by the Treaty 1639 o f Berwick. W entw orth created Earl o f Strafford. 1640 January April The Short Parliament. Second Bishops’ W ar; English defeated at Newbum . June O ctober Treaty o f Ripon ends Bishops’ W ar. Novem ber The Long Parliament meets. Impeachment o f Strafford. December Impeachment o f Laud. Strafford beheaded on Tow er Hill. 1641 May O liver Crom well and Sir H enry Vane bring in a bill for the abolition o f the Episcopacy. June Ship M oney declared illegal. July C ourt o f the Star Chamber, Councils o f Wales and the N orth abolished. 15




O ctober Novem ber 4 January 10 31 23 February 2 March

5 19 23 April 14 May 2 June 9 12 2 July 15

Rebellion in Ireland. The Grand Remonstrance carried by 159 votes to 148. The King fails in his attem pt to arrest the five members. The King leaves W hitehall. Sir John H otham secures Hull, by direction o f Parliament. The Queen departs for Holland, taking the C row n Jewels. The King sets out for the N orth, despite the remonstrances o f Parliament. Both Houses resolve that the ‘kingdom should be put in a posture o f defence’, and appoint the Lords Lieutenant as commanders o f the militia. The M ilitia Ordinance passed. The King enters York. Sir John Hotham refuses to adm it the King to Hull. The King issues a w arrant summoning the Horse o f the county o f Y ork to attend him in arms. The Nineteen Propositions sent to the King. Parliament passes an ordinance appealing for plate, money and horses. The King resolves to put into execution the Commissions o f Array. The fleet declares for Parliament, and accepts the Earl o f W arwick as its admiral. Parliament appoints the Earl o f Essex as captain-general. Skirmish at Manchester between Lord Strange and the townsmen. The Queen, at the Hague, gives Prince Rupert his commis­ sion as general o f the Horse.




O n M onday 22 August 1642, the Royal Standard o f King Charles I was hoisted into the gusty air above Castle Hill at N ottingham . Although this action was n o t in any w ay decisive, it did m ark a significant tinning in the long downward path that led to the English Civil W ar. The roots o f conflict between M onarch and Parliam ent were firm ly earthed in the history o f the preceding century. In examining them , the historian must inch his way along a knife edge. A m ulti­ plicity o f factors contributed to the conflict which drifted into w ar in the autum n o f 1642. T o give overwhelm ing weight to any single factor is tp impose a coherence which was certainly lacking at the tim e, while, on the other hand, simply to catalogue the events which led up to the w ar is to shirk the evaluation which must, after all, be one o f the prim e duties o f the historian. The explosive situation o f 1642 was brought about by a com bination o f constitutional, religious and economic pressures. Each o f these would, on its ow n, have been serious but not necessarily fatal. A subtly interlocking combina­ tion o f all three, superimposed on a background o f general European crisis, was to produce t;he final breakdown. Each o f these three broad crises impinges on the others to a remarkable degree. Certainly, to contemporaries, the fines between politics, economics and religion were thinly draw n; witness, for example, the frequency w ith which m onopo­ lies, an economic irritant to the K ing’s opponents, were branded w ith the term ‘Popish’. The kernels o f conflict were deep-seated. King James I, who had succeeded to the throne on the death o f Queen Elizabeth in 1603, had been faced w ith a num ber o f problems, which Puritan intrigue and Stuart mis­ management combined to worsen. James, brought up by Scots Presbyterians, was welcomed by the English Puritans, w ho hoped that the new m onarch w ould accede to their initially m oderate requests for Church reform . James, realising the extent to which the m onarchy depended upon the episcopacy, typically summed up the situation in the aphorism ‘N o Bishop, N o K ing’, and unhelpfully warned the Puritans that he w ould ‘harry them out o f the land’ if they failed to conform w ith his religious policy. His first m eeting w ith B



Parliament proved inauspicious, w ith the Commons maintaining that they held their privileges as o f right rather than by the King’s grace. James had inherited a deficit o f £400,000 from Elizabeth, and, as the royal finances worsened, so the King’s efforts to recoup him self brought him into renewed conflict w ith Parliament. It was, indeed, only natural that Parliament should look upon James’s money-raising efforts w ith alarm. As Christopher Hill has pointed out, ‘Parliament in the seventeenth century represented exclusively the propertied classes’.1 In an age o f galloping inflation, it became increasingly impossible for the King to ‘live o f his ow n’ even under norm al circum­ stances. The cost o f governm ent was rising alarmingly, and James added to it by the personal extravagance which his predecessor had shunned. The monarch, it is true, had several means at hand by which to raise money, yet m ost o f these served either to alienate a proportion o f the propertied classes, to diminish the King’s assets, or both. O ne reliable means o f producing ready cash was to sell Crow n land. But, as the shrewd Lionel Cranfield, Earl o f Middlesex, observed, ‘in selling land he [the King] did not only sell his rent, as other men did, but sold his sovereignty, for it was a greater tie o f obedience to be a tenant to the King than to be his subject’.2 Land was not the only com m odity at the m onarch’s disposal. James also sold patents o f nobility; this increased the pow er o f die financial aristocracy, and by increasing its numbers tended to diminish the prestige o f the House o f Lords. The other various sources o f royal finance were the ‘ordinary’ revenues originat­ ing, in the main, from residual feudal dues, ranging from Tunnage and Pound­ age to the bitterly unpopular Rights o f W ardship and Purveyance. There were also ‘extraordinary’ revenues originally demanded in the tim e o f war, usually taking the form o f a subsidy granted by Parliament. It was a sign o f the times that James’s efforts to increase customs duties - largely justifiable in an age o f expanding trade and m ounting inflation - were sharply contested. Parliament also endeavoured to destroy the m ore obnoxious o f the lingering feudal dues; the Great Contract o f 1610 proposed the abolition o f W ardship and Purveyance, in return for a regular income o f £200,000 a year. The Great Contract, however, was never implemented, largely because its provisions satisfied neither King nor Parliament. James’s ow n extravagance increased the problems faced by his financial advisers. Robert Cecil, later Earl o f Salisbury, and the capable Cran­ field, both strove to put the King’s finances on a sounder footing by increasing revenue and cutting dow n the pensions and sinecures o f courtiers. This, predict­ ably, failed to appeal to the latter, w ho combined w ith the Commons - an unlikely alliance - to thw art these attem pts at financial reform. If relationships between King and Parliament were hardly im proved by the m onarch’s efforts to increase his ordinary revenue, they were positively im­ perilled by royal appeals for extraordinary revenue. The King’s grow ing 1 Christopher Hill, The Century of Revolution (London 1961), p. 43. 2 Quoted ibid., p. 47. 18


dependence on subsidies necessitated the frequent summoning o f Parliament, and at the same tim e provided that body w ith a means o f applying pressur#on the Crow n. The King could only avoid this by impositions levied by means o f the royal prerogative, itself the focal point o f the constitutional conflict. King James’s exercise o f the prerogative was, however, supported by law. In 1606 a city m erchant, Bates, was tried for refusing to pay an imposition levied on currants; the judges found for the Crow n, and one w ent on to declare that ‘the King’s pow er is double, ordinary and absolute’.1 The existence o f absolute pow er could not, logically, be denied. An absolute right, to take action in instances not covered by law, and particularly in the case o f national emergency, had to exist. O n this supporters both o f King and o f Parliam ent were agreed. The question was where this power lay. D id it lie w ith the King alone, as James or his successor w ould have claimed? If not, where indeed did it lie? Certainly, no Parliam ent o f James’s reign, or even o f the early years o f Charles’s, would have claimed this ultim ate power for itself. Parliamentary inability to provide a valid constitutional theory was self-evident. Sir Edward Coke’s reliance on legal antiquarianism was one response to this question, and the theory o f ‘jo in t sovereignty’ o f King, Lords and Commons, was another. N either approach was totally convincing, but both combined to bridge the gap between Parliam entary opposition to the royal prerogative for practical reasons and the final form ulation o f the doctrine o f parliamentary sovereignty. James I is often condemned for extreme use o f the prerogative. In fact, his error lay m ore in w anton use o f pow er: in tactlessness on a grand scale. He complained to Parliament about the disastrous state o f his finances, but at the same tim e lavished m oney on a succession o f detested favourites. M ore serious was his failure - or, rather, the failure o f his ministers - to manage the House o f Commons. Between 1604 and 1629 the ‘opposition’ seized control, the Speaker ceased to be compliant w ith royal commands and the King’s ministers lost their grip on the House.2 W hen, in February 1625, James died, his son Charles inherited not only his father’s problems, but also the cause o f many o f them - George ViUiers, Duke o f Buckingham, James’s last favourite. W ith cynical disregard for national senti­ m ent, Buckingham arranged a marriage between Charles and the French Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria. He also promised to help Richelieu in the reduction o f the Huguenot stronghold o f La Rochelle. It is scarcely surprising that Charles’s first Parliament, which m et in 1625, began a fierce attack on Buckingham, and was dissolved w ithout granting supply. Even Tunnage and Poundage, traditionally voted to each m onarch for life, were withheld. The Parliament o f 1626 proved equally intractable. T o meet the cost o f the war 1J. R. Tanner, Constitutional Documents of the reign ofJames I (Cambridge i960), p. 340. 2 See W . Notestein, The Winning of the Initiative by the House of Commons (Ralegh Lecture 1924).



w ith Spain, begun in the last year o f James’s reign, as well as the projected campaign against La Rochelle, Charles was compelled to resort to desperate measures. A hopeful appeal for a ‘free gift’ in July 1626 m et w ith a poor response. Charles then levied Tunnage and Poundage by prerogative, and w ent on, in September, to demand a forced loan, which was about as unpopular then as a capital levy would be today. Several o f those w ho refused to pay were impris­ oned. Five o f these unfortunates applied for a w rit o f habeas corpus, but in Darnell’s1 case (sometimes know n as the Case o f the Five Knights) in Novem ber 1627, the judges maintained that they were imprisoned ‘per spéciale mandatant domini regis’, a valid exercise o f the royal prerogative. The proceeds from the forced loan were all the m ore necessary because Buckingham, by a remarkable reversal o f policy, had m ounted an expedition to relieve La Rochelle. This proved totally fruitless. It was ruinously expensive, and the soldiers, before and after the brief campaign, were billeted on house­ holders in the Southern Counties, giving rise to protests which were soon to be echoed in Parliament. Charles’s third Parliament m et in 1628, and, in the Peti­ tion o f Right, declared that both the collecting o f taxes w ithout Parliamentary consent, and arbitrary imprisonment, were illegal. The billeting o f soldiers in private houses, and the application o f martial law to civilians, were likewise prohibited. Significantly, no m ention was made o f impositions, nor was any action taken against Buckingham. Parliament endeavoured to consolidate its position by granting the King Tunnage and Poundage for a single year only. Charles had been levying this w ithout Parliam entary sanction for three years, and naturally resented any suggestion that it m ight be subject to control. In the ensuing dispute Parliament was prorogued on 26 June. Buckingham was assassinated the following m onth, stabbed by John Felton, a discharged naval officer o f Puritan leanings. His death removed the Commons’ principal bête noire, but the underlying causes o f conflict remained. W hen Parliament reassembled in 1629 the Commons became embroiled in an attack on the ceremonialism o f the court clergy, as well as a renewed dispute over existing questions; it was speedily dissolved. Charles now embarked upon a period o f eleven years o f personal governm ent, during which the religious problem combined w ith the constitutional crisis to alienate the King from many o f his subjects. W illiam Laud, Bishop o f London and, from 1633, Archbishop o f Canterbury, rose rapidly into royal favour. Laud’s m any opponents main­ tained erroneously that he was tainted w ith Popery. He was, in doctrinal terms, very moderate, but was steadfastly opposed to Calvinism. He therefore endeav­ oured to enforce religious uniform ity and to rem ove the Puritan threat to the established Church. Laud and his adherents were dependent for their authority upon royal goodw ill; thus they naturally supported the King on constitutional questions. The Puritans saw the Arminians, the high-Church followers o f Laud, 1 Sir Thomas Darnell, Bart, was released in 1628. He died in about 1640. 20


backed by the royal prerogative, as a threat to their very existence, and, con­ versely, sought safety in the pow er o f Parliament. # Am ong both the King’s supporters and his antagonists, religious and political considerations were closely linked. Laud’s rigid insistence on obedience to the letter o f the law w on him m uch unpopularity, not only am ong Puritans but also am ong the great mass o f English Protestants. Laud’s opponents were dealt w ith severely. In 1637, W illiam Prynne,1 a lawyer, the Reverend H enry B urton and D r John Bastwick were publically m utilated, heavily fined, and imprisoned by order o f the Star Chamber, one o f the prerogative courts. The uproar which accompanied this affair stemmed not from the severity o f the sentences, for such grisly occurrences were sufficiently commonplace in the seventeenth century, but from the fact that those punished were gentlemen, members o f a class traditionally free from the savagery o f corporal punishment. Queen Henrietta Maria was a Rom an Catholic, and in 1637 a papal agent was received at W hitehall. Catholicism was bitterly unpopular among the vast m ajority o f the population, w ho still remembered the Spanish Armada o f 1588 and the Gunpowder Plot o f King James’s tim e (1605). Any o f Laud’s measures which made, or seemed to make, life easier for the Catholics, was the object o f public condemnation. Laud was also attacked for his sinister influence on foreign policy. The Elector Palatine, Protestant husband o f the Princess Elizabeth, Charles’s ow n sister, had been exiled from his principality by Spanish troops. Shortly before his death, James had sent out a dismally unsuccessful expedition, under C ount Mansfeld, to restore him. Charles soon made peace and thereafter maintained excellent relations w ith Spain. Spanish bullion was landed in England and m inted before being used for die paym ent o f the very troops who were harrying Protestants in the Low Countries. Finally, Spanish soldiers - seen, since the days o f Elizabeth, as the traditional enemy o f Englishmen - were allowed to use English ports in transit from Spain to the fighting in Holland. Charles’s disastrous foreign policy was, in many respects, symptomatic o f the tw o great flaws which were ultim ately to bring down his régime. Firstly, lack o f m oney prevented the pursuit o f a vigorous foreign policy. The cost o f w ar was rising alarmingly and the necessary finance could be obtained only by recourse to Parliament, which, as had been shown by bitter experience, was likely to make its grant o f subsidies subject to unacceptable conditions. It was difficult enough to make ends meet in times o f peace. The C ourt o f W ards continued its depredations, and the King’s antiquarian lawyers dredged up archaic statutes which perm itted the fining o f alleged offenders. In 1634, the King added to his existing exactions by levying Ship Money. This was an extension o f the established practice o f demanding ships, or m oney to provide ships, from coastal towns. It could well be argued that, w ith the 1 Prynne (1600-69) had lost his ears in the pillory in 1634. He was now branded on both cheeks as well as being deprived o f what remained of his ears. 21


grow ing strength o f the French and D utch navies, English naval pow er should be increased. Ship M oney was also a technical im provem ent on other form s o f taxation; its collection was centrally controlled, and it was based on a new assessment o f income. Charles’s attem pts to raise Ship M oney were, however, hotly contested. The m onarch’s opponents saw the continued levying o f the tax as contrary to the Petition o f Right. M oreover, it was apparent that if the King was successful in levying Ship M oney year after year, he w ould n o t be compelled to summon Parliament at all, and so would be subject to no con­ straint in his ecclesiastical policy. These constitutional and religious considerations allied w ith m ore m undane economic motives in prom oting resistance to Ship M oney. In 1637 (he question came to a head w ith the refusal o f John Hampden, a wealthy Buckinghamshire landowner, to pay. The resultant case w ent against Ham pden by a narrow margin, seven judges finding for the King and five for Ham pden. It was, nevertheless, a m oral victory for Charles’s opponents. Even the Royalist Claren­ don adm itted that the case ‘left no m an anything which he m ight call his ow n’, and consequently m en ‘thought themselves bound in conscience to the public justice not to su b m it.. . .’* The second royal failing, so amply illustrated in foreign policy, was one o f administration and, to a degree, o f public relations. Charles’s foreign policy was clearly out o f concert w ith the wishes o f the m ajority o f his subjects, yet the King, unwilling to put his finger on the national pulse, paid no attention to this. He also seemed unaware o f the consequences, both for the conduct o f his governm ent and for the stature o f the m onarch in the eyes o f his people, o f the composition, behaviour and attitude o f his court. James I had surrounded him­ self w ith a selection o f worthless spendthrifts, and failed to support his m ore capable advisers w ho endeavoured to contest governm ental inefficiency and court extravagance. Charles, while not sharing his father’s liking for ‘gaudy young men’, was surrounded by individuals bent on power, privilege and finan­ cial gain. Against this unedifying backcloth, Charles appeared before his nation. Like his father he lacked the fine m ixture o f easy fam iliarity and regal aloofness which had so characterised the Tudors. Instead, he created Divine Right into a way o f life, living in pallid elegance in a court whose extravagances offended those w ho resented paying taxes for its upkeep, as well as those w ho had tried and failed to gain entrance to its privileged circle. The King’s support o f A rm inianism, together w ith his adm iration for the Catholic monarchies o f France and Spain, and his failure to aid the Continental Protestants during the T hirty Years W ar, superimposed new strains on the existing tension between court and country, and between Arminian and Puritan. Charles’s victory in the Ship M oney case seemed to indicate that, for the tim e at least, personal rule remained secure. It was not destined to rem ain so 1 Edward Hyde, Earl o f Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion . . . (Oxford 1826, 8 vols), Vol. i, p. 123. 22


for long. Events in Scotland were to bring about the upheaval that led to its downfall. James, w ith rash disregard for the heavy opposition which greeted him , had reintroduced bishops into Scotland. Charles compounded this mis­ calculation w ith an attem pt to recover Church lands from the nobles into whose hands they had fallen. The final blunder was the attem pt, in 1637, to introduce a new liturgy into Scotland. This provoked a fierce outburst o f organised resistance, w hich the weak royal governm ental machinery in Scotland could do little to contain. Early in 1638 the National Covenant, a strongly worded statement o f belief, was signed throughout the country. An assembly, meeting at Glasgow, declared episcopacy abolished. Charles made efforts to coerce the Scots into submission. They responded to royal threats o f force by raising an arm y under Alexander Leslie, a veteran o f the T hirty Years W ar. Charles’s attem pt at invasion failed to get under way, and he was forced to conclude the Treaty o f Berwick. The King, however, regarded this as little better than a truce and summoned Thomas W entw orth, Earl o f Strafford, from Ireland. Strafford had been involved in the Parliamentary opposition to Charles in the 1620s; the volte-face by w hich he accepted a peerage and later the Lord Lieu­ tenancy o f Ireland, earned him the undying hatred o f his erstwhile Parliamen­ tary colleagues. Strafford’s ability made him all the m ore unpopular; Charles’s opponents were plagued by the nightm are o f Strafford’s return to England w ith an Irish arm y at his back. W hen, however, he arrived in England in the autum n o f 1639, Strafford brought no assistance but his energetic personality. He advised Charles to call a Parliament and procure from it sufficient m oney to raise an arm y for the invasion o f Scotland. The King complied, and on 13 April 1640 Charles’s personal rule ended when the Short Parliament m et at W estminster. It refused to grant supply unless its grievances were redressed, and it was speedily dis­ solved. In these unpropitious circumstances Charles embarked upon the disas­ trous Second Bishops’ W ar. The sullen, unwilling and hastily levied forces which shambled north in the early summer o f 1640 deserted in droves, m utinied, and showed their religious sympathies by setting fire to the new comm union rails in churches. A Devonshire contingent m urdered one o f its officers w ho was suspected o f Catholicism .1 The Scots m et this rabble at N ew bum on Tyne, and routed it w ith little difficulty. W ith N orthum berland and Durham occu­ pied, and the Scots before Newcastle, Charles had litde option but to sue for peace. The Scots demanded compensation at the rate o f ^850 a day until the signing o f a treaty, and Charles was forced to turn to Parliament for support. The Long Parliam ent m et in early Novem ber. This tim e the King’s opponents held the w hip hand, for his urgent need for m oney prevented Charles from dissolving Parliament. Pym , the leader o f the ‘Opposition’, was in contact w ith the Scots, and exploited the royal weakness to the full. Strafford was sent to the 1 See C. H. Firth, Cromwell's A m y (London 1962), pp. 13-14. 23


Tower, where he was later joined by Laud. The Commons’ first stroke against Strafford, impeachment before the Lords, failed, but was rapidly followed by an Act o f Attainder which brought Charles’s ablest servant to the block. Charles consented to Strafford’s death w ith the greatest reluctance, hoping that it would act as a safety valve for the turbulent emotions raging in Parliament and the City. He was w rong. Even before Strafford died, Parliament had opened a determined attack upon royal authority. The Triennial Act laid down that Parliam ent should meet at least once every three years, and provided a mechanism w hereby Parliament could be sum­ moned should the C row n neglect to do so. The prerogative courts, including the hated Star Chamber, were abolished and all non-Parliam entary taxes were declared illegal. A further Act decreed that this Parliament should not be dissolved w ithout its ow n consent; it has become know n to history as the Long Parliament. Ironically enough Charles approved this measure on the same day that he gave the royal assent to Strafford’s attainder. Had the constitutional question been the only issue at stake between King and Parliament, it is possible that the conflict m ight have ended there - at least for a time. The religious problem , however, remained. W hile there had been a great degree o f unanim ity w ithin Parliament over the constitutional issue, such agreement was lacking in matters o f religion. There was, it is true, a general wish to subordinate Church as well as State to Parliamentary, rather than Royal, authority. But beneath this broad agreement lurked tw o divergent views. The Root and Branch Petition o f 1640 and the so-called R oot and Branch Bill epitomised the views o f religious extremists, seeking a total abolition o f Episcopacy and the Book o f Com m on Prayer. A m ore moderate view found expression in the Bill on Church Reform , read twice in the Lords in early July 1641. This Bill sought not to abolish the bishops, but to compel them to preach regularly and to deprive them o f tem poral authority. Events in Scodand, then, had necessitated the calling o f the Long Parliament, thus ending Charles’s personal rule. The Treaty o f Ripon concluded the Second Bishops’ W ar. The Scots w ithdrew in September 1641, while efforts were made to pay off the English forces as quickly as possible. If Scodand had kindled the fires o f conflict between King and Parliament, Ulster fanned the flames to an unprecedented ferocity. W ith the removal o f the ‘Thorough’ Strafford, pow er in Ireland had passed into the hands o f the Puritan Lords Justices. In October, latent discontent broke into rebellion. There was a general rising in Ulster; the native Irish, w ho had lost their estates to English and Scots colonists, and whose religion made them subject to restrictive legislation, fell upon the interlopers. Although an attem pt on D ublin Casde failed, English possessions were in danger o f being overrun. Hundreds o f Protestants were butchered, or died o f ill-treatm ent, and in England rum our magnified and distorted these atrocities. There was widespread suspicion o f royal complicity in the rebellion - suspicion which was fostered by forged royal commissions in the hands o f the rebels. 24


Parliam ent at once determined to raise an arm y for the suppression o f the rebellion, but, not unnaturally, was disinclined to entrust its command to a royal nominee. The crisis in Ireland thus impinged directly upon the constitutional conflict. W hile the m ajority o f the Lords and a substantial m inority o f the Commons were satisfied w ith the measures o f constitutional reform already enacted, the extremists considered that m ore radical legislation was necessary. The issue was one o f trust. Pym and his colleagues lacked confidence in Charles’s desire to conform w ith the Parliamentary restrictions recently imposed upon him . O n 8 N ovem ber Pym pushed through the Commons a request for the King ‘to employ such counsellors and ministers as shall be approved by his Parliam ent. . . that so his people may w ith courage and confidence undergo the charge and hazard o f this war. . . .’x B ut the extremists’ control over the Commons was diminishing, reduced both by the religious split and by the increasing unwilling­ ness o f m any members to embark upon w hat seemed a revolutionary course o f action, unbuttressed by ‘fundamental law ’. The Grand Remonstrance, an out­ spoken criticism o f Charles’s eleven years o f personal rule, was carried by the narrow m argin o f eleven votes after a long and tum ultuous debate. Charles returned to London from Scotland on 25 Novem ber, and six days later was presented w ith the Remonstrance. Armed conflict m ight yet have been averted despite the roarings o f the London mob. Parliament still had firm control over royal finances, and by withholding Tunnage and Poundage could threaten the King w ith bankruptcy. Charles, however, counting on the conservatism which he was convinced prevailed in both Houses, overplayed his hand. Alarmed by a rum our, probably spread by Pym ’s agents, that the Commons intended to impeach the Queen, Charles ordered his Attorney-General to impeach six o f his main opponents: Lord Mandeville and the ‘five members’ - John Pym , John Ham pden, Sir A rthur Hesilrige, Denzil Holies and W illiam Strode. Charles hoped that, w ith the troublemakers removed, the conservative element in Parliament w ould assume control. O n the following day, 4 January, Charles made his greatest tactical blunder. He appeared at the House o f Commons, escorted by some 300 well-armed followers, and demanded the five members.2 But, warned by Lady Carlisle, to w hom the Queen had foolishly disclosed the plan, his ‘birds had flown’ and found shelter in the City, which was still at fever pitch. O n 6 January a royalist descent on London was believed im m inent; the gates o f the City were shut, and a host o f the citizens turned out in arms. The sight o f the C ity’s armed readiness was too much for Charles, and on 1 Gardiner, Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution (Oxford 1962), p. 200. 2 Opinions vary on the amount of force used or implied on this celebrated occasion. Although Clarendon m a in tains that the King was attended ‘only by his usual guard’ (op. cit., Vol. II, p. 126), the Commons debate on the subject tells of ‘a great multitude of men, armed in warlike manner w ith halberds, swords and pistols.. . . ’ These worthies allegedly brandished their weapons in a threatening manner, and gave vent to such cries as ‘A pox take the House o f Commons, let them come and be hanged’. (Gardiner, op. cit., pp. 238-9.)



io January lie left his capital to the m ercy o f the mob and the extremists in Parliament. He was never to return as a free man. Once away from London, the King was beset by conflicting advice. One m ilitan t- clique, supported by the Queen, backed any measures, however violent, which w ould end the incipient rebellion. M ore reasonable advice came from the group which had included Edward Hyde and Lord Falkland, men who had supported the early reforms o f 1640-1, and had only joined the King’s party when the Grand Remonstrance seemed to them to carry matters too far. Charles chose, characteristically, the w orst o f compromises. He paid lip service to the aims o f the latter group, thereby retaining its support, w ithout which his cause w ould have been hopeless. A t the same tim e, he cherished the am bition o f crushing the ‘rebellion’ by force. Negotiations w ith Parliament were soon resumed, but were impeded by Charles’s insincerity and Pym ’s intransigence. Charles endeavoured to secure Portsm outh and Hull, sent the Queen abroad w ith instructions to raise m oney, arms and troops on the Conti­ nent, and then made his w ay to York, in an attem pt to concentrate his northern adherents. The question o f the Irish arm y remained a focal point o f conflict. Neither side dared let the other have control o f this force. Parliam ent failed to gain royal approval o f its M ilitia Bill, giving command to the Lords Lieutenant o f the counties, but nevertheless passed the measure as an ordinance, and al­ though, w ithout the royal assent, it lacked the force o f law, Parliam ent treated this and its other ordinances as legally valid, and w on defacto recognition for its authority, at least in London and the adjoining comities. The passing o f the M ilitia Ordinance brought w ar one step nearer. M any members o f both Houses, alarmed both by the increasingly radical nature o f Parliamentary measures, which sought to seize rather than m odify sovereignty, and by the violence o f the London m ob,1 journeyed north to jo in the King. W ith the departure o f m any o f the moderates, the Puritan extremists gained a firm er control at W estminster. O n 1 Jüne both Houses approved the Nineteen Propositions, which were sent to the King at York. These laid dow n revolu­ tionary changes. They would, in practical terms, have taken sovereignty from the King and placed it in the hands o f Parliament. To the King, the propositions were anathema, and other sections o f the political nation, too, found diem unaccep­ table. They threatened to replace royal tyranny by Parliamentary despotism. Growing extremism w ithin Parliam ent in the first half o f 1642, together w ith the continuing social disorder, considerably strengthened the King’s party. O n 12 June, Charles issued Commissions o f Array, summoning the county militias. Exactly a m onth later, both Houses o f Parliament voted to raise an army, and placed it under command o f the Earl o f Essex. B oth sides set about raising troops, faced w ith the difficult task o f subjecting a pacific populace to the stresses o f civil war. 1 It should be noted that unrest was not confined only to volatile London. There were serious outbreaks o f violence in many other parts o f the country. 26

Tw o


Just as the w ar itself originated in a m ultiplicity o f causes, so the nation was divided along a series o f irregular, jagged lines which defy simple interpretation in clear-cut social, religious, geographical or economic terms. It was in no sense a class war, a conflict between the nobility and commoners or even between C ourt and Parliament. Both Houses o f Parliament - and indeed, the ‘ruling class’ at all levels, from great nobles to country gentlemen - were split. They were, it is true, not split evenly. A m ajority o f peers supported the King; yet divisions here, as in other legal or social groups, often seem strangely illogical. It would appear natural for the most recently created peers to adhere to the m onarchy - but this was far from being universally true. Charles found to his cost that gratitude was at the best an uncertain motive. O f the holders o f m ore ancient titles, some opposed the King because o f his recent actions in cheapening the nobility, or because they had been denied lucrative office at court. M any endeavoured to hedge the decision altogether, attem pting an uneasy neutrality, while others changed sides during the course o f the w ar.1 In the early stages o f the conflict, peers played an im portant part on the Parlia­ mentarian side; Essex, Manchester, Saye and Sele, Stamford, and W arw ick being among the most notable. As the w ar w ent on, however, it became apparent that even the most steadfastly Parliamentarian among the peers had retained a high degree o f social conservatism, and tended to oppose both parliam entary radicalism and m ilitary decisiveness. A great deal o f research has been conducted on the alignment o f members o f the House o f Com mons.2 It w ould seem that the eventual division o f mem­ bers between King and Parliament cannot be directly associated w ith social position or economic background. Tw o factors which may be significant are that Parliamentarian members were, on the whole, ten years older than their 1 The Earls o f Holland, Bedford and Clare were but three of the prominent men who changed sides. 2 See particularly D. Brunton and D. H. Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London 1954). 27


Royalist colleagues and tended to have been m ore active in the committees o f the pre-w ar House. As hostilities gained m om entum , it became increasingly difficult for prom i­ nent men in the provinces to avoid direct involvem ent. In m any areas, the existing pattern o f local alliances and animosities decided alliance to King or Parliament. Local magnates w ith a tradition o f m utual hostility or rivalry would be unlikely to jo in the same side; the adherence o f one to Parliament could be the signal for the other to jo in the King. Self-interest in its m ore basic forms also played its part. If a locality was occupied by troops, there was a strong and not unreasonable incentive for local gentlemen to declare themselves in favour o f whichever cause those forces chanced to represent. In general, in most areas there were tw o parties - one supporting the King and the other Parliament. The relative strength o f the groups was dependent upon a m ixture o f local and national factors. The m ore economically advanced areas, including rural clothing areas, tended to be strongly anti-Royalist though even these men were never universally pro-Parliam ent. It can be argued d u t die economic policy o f the Stuarts had w orked in opposition to the manu­ facturing and trading interests o f the nadon; but some merchants had undoub­ tedly profited by royal economic policy. London, and the other principal ports, w ith the possible exception o f Bristol and Newcastle, were strongly Parliamen­ tarian. This was o f considerable significance. The main arsenals o f the country were speedily seized by the King’s enemies, and Parliamentarian possession o f die m ajor ports made the task o f im porting munitions both costly and hazardous for the Royalists. If economics did not provide the political nation w ith a clear line o f cleavage, neither did religion. Oliver Crom well him self adm itted that religion ‘was not the thing at first contested for’. There was, it is true, an inclination among moderate Anglicans to support the King, while those whose beliefs fell w ithin the broadening bracket o f Puritanism tended to support Parliament. Yet a man’s religion in no sense guaranteed his political allegiance to one side or the other. M any Catholics, for example, preferred to He low rather than support Charles, whose toleration deserved their loyalty. B ut at least none o f them fought for the ParHament. ReHgion, perhaps m ore than any other issue, became clouded by propaganda; the ParHamentarians branded their enemies as looseUving Papists to a man, while the King’s adherents reviled their opponents as crop-headed, psalm-singing Puritans. There was Httle m ore than a grain o f truth in either o f these vituperative generaUsations. The life-style and m ode o f dress, certainly amongst the officers, on either side was not notably different. Both tended to wear long hair, and flamboyance was a com m on feature in the miUtary dress o f the day. U ntil the form ation o f the N ew M odel A rm y both armies raped and plundered, especially when lack o f pay compelled them to Hve by marauding. Yet there were commanders on either side w ho strove to impose good discipline. N or did England witness horrors to equal the w orst 28


excesses o f the T hirty Years W ar; Leicester and Bolton cannot justly be com­ pared w ith the sack o f M agdeburg. There was litde enthusiasm for the war, save among a small m inority on either side. Sir Edmund Vemey, a Puritan, was faced w ith a dilemma that must have confronted m any men in die hectic months o f 1642; he hated the prospect o f civil w ar, and hoped that the King would yield to the demands made by Parliament. Yet, after m uch heart-searching, he w rote: Thave eaten his bread and served him near thirty years, and w ill not do so base a thing as to forsake him ; and choose rather to lose m y life (which I am sure to do) to preserve and defend these things which are against m y conscience to preserve and defend.*1 Vem ey spoke prophetically; he was killed tw o m onths later at Edgehill. The motives o f others were less clear. Sir John Gell o f Derbyshire joined Parliament, although, as the Puritan Mrs Hutchinson w rote, ‘no m an knew for w hat reason. . . for he had not understanding enough to judge the equity o f the cause, or piety or holiness, being a foul adulterer all the tim e he served the Parliament, and so unjust that w ithout remorse he suffered his men indifferently to plunder both honest m en and cavaliers . . .’.2 W hatever the political complexion o f the England o f 1642, m ilitarily the country was pale indeed. Sir Charles Firth described the history o f the Civil W ar as ‘die evolution o f an arm y out o f chaos’,3 going on to point out that the m ilitary system o f the Stuarts was lam entably inefficient, and illustrating the m ilitary impotence o f the nation under James I. However, though peace had prevailed in England for well over a century, Europe had for some tim e echoed to the sounds o f gunfire, and m any Englishmen had had a chance to learn their trade abroad. The States o f Holland employed four English and four Scots regiments o f Foot, and there were also English regiments in the service o f Spain and France. Num erous Englishmen and m ore Scots had served in the Swedish arm y o f Gustav Adolf, and profited by their close acquaintance w ith the m ilitary innovations made by that remarkable commander. Mansfeld’s abortive expedition, and Buckingham’s equally fruitless descent upon La Rochelle, also served to provide officers and men w ith m ilitary experience o f a sort. So did the disastrous Bishops’ W ars. After the rout at N ew bum in August 1640, a degree o f discipline was instilled into at least some o f the English levies. O n 10 September the King reviewed 2,000 Horse and 1,000 Foot at York, and ‘they looked very well to the eyes o f civilian observers. Secretary Vane ventured the opinion that Gustav A dolf had never had bçtter.W ith these, and Strafford’s boasted arm y from Ireland, the Scots were as good as dead m en.’4 1 Vemey Memoirs (London 1892, 4 vols). Vol. I, p. 277. Sir Edmund was a monopolist» and was in receipt o f a court pension, which no doubt influenced his decision. His eldest son espoused the cause of Parliament, while the other two fought for the King. 2 Lucy Hutchinson, Memoirs of the life of Colonel Hutchinson (London 1885, 2 vols), Vol. I, p. 180. 3 Firth, op. cit., p. 1. 4 C. V. W edgwood, The King's Peace (London 1958), p. 352,. 29


There was, naturally, a scramble for the services o f such professional officers as were available. Parliament even w ent so far as to give half pay to unemployed officers on the pretext that they w ould be given commands in Ireland. In July 1642, a broadsheet was published in London, entitled A List o f the Names of Such Persons who are Thought to be Fitfor Their Accommodation and the Furtherance o f the Service in Ireland, to be Entertained as Reformadoes.. . . This list included 30 officers o f Horse and 138 o f Foot. Sixty-three o f these officers served in the Earl o f Essex’s army, while more than 30 were to hold Royalist commissions. B ut what o f trained rank and file? There was no standing arm y, but local defence was in the hands o f the Trained Bands. These were m ilitia units raised by each county, and not bound to serve beyond their boundaries. They were, in the main, o f indifferent quality. They drilled for only a few days each year; Colonel W ard, in his Animadversions o f Wane, described these sessions as ‘matters o f disport and things o f no m om ent’.1 W ard goes on to describe how ‘after a little careless hurrying over their postures, w ith which the companies are nothing bettered, they make them charge their muskets, and so prepare to give their captain a brave volley o f shot at his entrance into his inn: where after having solaced themselves for a while-after this brave service every m an repairs home, and that which is not so w ell-taught then is easily forgotten before the next training’. Yet the London Trained Bands presented a different picture. In the autum n o f 1642 they num bered 6,000 men organised in six regiments.2 All the colonels were aldermen, and the force as a whole was commanded by M ajor-General Phillip Skippon, an experienced soldier and a veteran o f the D utch service. Clarendon describes him as ‘a m an o f good order and sobriety, and untainted w ith any o f those vices which the officers o f that arm y were exercised in’. He was, though, ‘altogether illiterate’.3 M any o f these citizen soldiers took their m ilitary art seriously. Small groups o f them m et at the A rtillery Garden in Bishopsgate, and the M ilitary Garden in St M artin’s Field, where they received training from professional officers. The lameness o f Charles I’s m ilitary system had been demonstrated w ith embarrassing clarity in the Bishops’ W ars. The problem posed to both sides at the outbreak o f the Civil W ar was, then, immense; they were faced w ith the task o f raising, training and equipping armies, at a tim e when weapons were becoming increasingly sophisticated and costly, and m ilitary innovations made up-to-date training the sine qua non o f success. All this had to be accomplished in a nation which lacked any sizeable cadre o f trained men. 1 Robert W ard, Animadversions of Wane . . . (London 1639), p. 30. Bad though the Trained Bands were. W ard’s scathing comments are not true o f all of them. It was the Cornish posse comitatus that drove the Roundheads from the comity at the battle o f Braddock Down; some northern units, too, proved pugnacious and effective. 2 Originally the Red, W hite, Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange Regiments. These were reinforced by several regiments o f auxiliaries, and by a small number o f dragoons. 3 Clarendon, op. cit.. Vol. II, p. 165.



B oth sides were confronted by the problem o f providing equipment for th fir newly raised armies. Here the Roundheads had the advantage, for they held London, and w ith it the Tow er, England’s principal arm oury. Soon the arm our­ ies at Hull and Portsm outh were also in Parliamentarian hands. The possession o f London was an asset to the Roundheads in other respects. The 6,000 men o f die Trained Bands gave the Earl o f Essex a nucleus o f trained infantry, a sort o f strategic reserve; m oreover, the London Bands, unlike those o f other counties, would, on occasion, consent to serve away from hom e.1 The Cornish posse comitatus, though form idable at hom e, w ould not go abroad into Devon. ‘M oneys,’ as Charles him self observed, ‘are the nerves o f w ar.’ The C ity o f London provided Parliament w ith w eighty financial backing which was, in the long run, bound to outweigh the voluntary contributions o f the King’s suppor­ ters. M any o f the magnates w ho rallied to the King were, it is true, very rich men, but their assets were often tied up in land, tim ber and mines, and they could not be realised speedily or at a fair valuation. Nevertheless, particularly during the early stages o f the war, personal fortunes were lavished on paying and equipping troops. Parliament’s possession o f the main governm ent arsenals gave the Roundheads an early advantage in matters o f equipment. The Royalists relied upon six main sources for the provision o f arms and equipm ent; foreign purchase, capture, improvisation, the magazines o f the Trained Bands, the resources o f cities, towns and universities, and, finally, private armouries and stables. Foreign purchase was vital. Large quantities o f arms came in from Holland, avoiding the blockade imposed by the fleet which, in July 1642, had declared for Parliament. The Stadtholder Frederick H enry o f Orange backed Charles beyond the lim its o f diplom acy; on several occasions D utch m en-of-war inter­ vened to protect Royalist m erchantm en from the attentions o f Parliamentarian warships.2 Capture was another fruitful source o f equipment. Early victories gave the Cavaliers a rich haul o f horses, arms, am m unition and ordnance. The western arm y profited most from this and, indeed, perhaps could not have kept the field at all w ithout such windfalls. The magazines o f the county Trained Bands were useful to both sides. They were, though, m uch m ore im portant to die Royalists, as the Parliamentarians already had control o f the m uch better stocked arsenals o f the Tow er and o f Hull. Charles mustered the Trained Bands on his advance south from Y ork, enlisted those w ho were prepared to fight for him , and used the arms o f the remainder to equip his levies. Private arsenals were an equally useful source o f supply. Such armouries were by no means rare. Noblemen, like Lord Paulet or Lord M ohun, could 1 They could not be relied upon to do so for any length of time; witness Sir W illiam W al­ ler’s repeated trouble with his Trained Band contingent. 2 Prince Rupert narrowly escaped capture off Flamborough Head in early August 1642, thanks to a Dutch vessel which ran out its guns to deter a Parliamentarian man-of-war.



even provide small pieces o f artillery. N o r were private arsenals confined to magnates. Captain Richard Atkyns o f Tuffley, Gloucestershire, w ho raised a troop o f Horse early in 1643, mustered sixty m en in one m onth, ‘almost all o f them well arm ed; Master [John] D utton giving me thirty steel backs, breasts and head pieces, and tw o m en and horses completely arm ed----- ’l Captain Robert M illington, who commanded a company o f Foot at Edgehill, brought w ith him eighty muskets which were his ow n property.2 Cities, towns, and the universities also provided the Royalists w ith an assort­ m ent o f arms. Although the m ain centres o f arms production - London, Birmingham and the W eald o f Kent - were in the hands o f the Roundheads, the Cavaliers made serious attem pts to rem edy the deficiencies. O xford, the Royalist capital, became the scene o f frenzied activity. A powder-m ill was set up in the ruins o f Osney Abbey, and a sword factory at W olvercote. Uniform s for the Foot were manufactured in the schools from cloth seized in Gloucester­ shire. York, N ewark and Exeter also witnessed similar, though less diverse, activity. Despite these various sources o f supply, the Royalist arm y never was fully equipped, though it took only a short tim e for Parliamentarian forces to attain a satisfactory level o f equipment. Clarendon gives a depressing picture o f the Royalist arm ament for the Edgehill campaign. Some arms had been received from Holland and still m ore borrow ed from the Trained Bands. Thanks to these expedients ‘the Foot (all but 300 or 400 w ho marched w ithout any weapon but a cudgel) were arm ed w ith muskets, and bags for their pow der, and pikes; but in the whole body there was not one pikeman had a corselet, and very few musketeers who had swords’.3 Things were little better w ith the m ounted arm. ‘Amongst the Horse, the officers had their full desire if they were able to procure old backs and breasts and pots, w ith pistols for their tw o or three first ranks, and.swords for the rest; themselves (and some soldiers by their examples) having gotten, besides their pistols and swords, a short pole-axe.’4 It was, then, a country short o f bpth m ilitary equipm ent and m artial skill that, in the summer o f 1642, witnessed the raising o f tw o armies. Both, o f necessity, consisted o f amateurs o f varying degrees o f aptitude and enthusiasm, w ith a leaven o f professionals. The w ar cut unevenly across social, economic and religious groupings. Men followed the dictates o f conscience, the habit o f obedience, or often the simple instinct o f self-preservation. The Parliamentarians had the advantage in terms o f material resources, w ith the fleet, the C ity, and the country’s main arsenals under their control, while the Royalists, underequipped, strove to make up their deficiencies in armaments from numerous 1Military Memoirs; Richard Atkyns and John Gwyn, edited by Brigadier Peter Young and Norman Tucker (London 1967), p. 7. 2 Petition, Bod. Lib. Rawl. MS. D. 18, f. 27. 3 Clarendon, op. cit., Vol. Ill, pp. 265-6. *Loc. d t. 32


sources. The detailed organisation o f each arm y differed slightly, but both forces were organised along similar lines. Tactics, too, w ould vary only to a very lim ited extent. This similarity is scarcely surprising, for both armies based their organisation on the standard form prevailing in pre-Civil W ar England, and their tactics on the numerous drill books available, tempered w ith innova­ tions tried in the crucible o f Continental warfare.



The English Civil W ar occurred when the m ilitary art was undergoing rapid change. This ‘m ilitary revolution was to have far-reaching im pact, not only on the conduct o f w ar itself but also upon the attitude, orientation and political priority o f European nations. The heavy, arm oured horsemen had been the dom inant force in medieval warfare; the mass o f untrained feudal infantry all too often had no other function than to fall in despairing huddles before the swords o f the victorious cavalry. The supremacy o f the feudal chivalry was challenged by three very different forces. The English longbowm en o f Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt gave an early demonstration o f the effectiveness o f missile weapons. The gradual replacement o f the longbow by the hand gun, however, led to a decrease in the effectiveness o f these arms. In the words o f Michael Roberts, ‘the period o f m ilitary history which extends from Charles the Bold to Tilly is marked above all by a catastrophic dim inution in the fire­ pow er o f the infantry arm ’.1 Nevertheless, infantry firepower continued to lim it the value o f cavalry. The second, m ore potent, check to the dominance o f the horseman came from the rise o f disciplined infantry employing shock tactics in tightly massed formations. The steady hedgehogs o f Swiss pikes disposed effectively o f the Burgundian cavalry at Grandson and M orat (1476). The Swiss, though, suffered from manifold weaknesses; they failed to pay attention to tactical innovations, lacked any means o f planning a strategy to m atch their tactics, and were extre­ mely vulnerable to gunfire. Notw ithstanding these defects, until their great defeat at M arignano in 1515, the Swiss infantry struck terror into the hearts o f all who heard their heavy tread and saw their mobile forests o f pikes and hal­ berds. The third influence on the decline o f cavalry was the Hussite Wagenburg, using war-wagons m ounting light guns, but this was a tactic o f very lim ited application. By the close o f the sixteenth century one o f the crucial questions facing m ilitary theorists was the correct composition o f infantry formations, that is, the proportion o f missile to pole arms, pikes, halberds and the like. Conversely, 1 Michael Roberts, Essays in Swedish History (London 1967), p. 57. 34


the rôle o f cavalry provided these theorists w ith another problem. The develop­ m ent o f trained infantry, equipped w ith bows, muskets and pikes, made life unpleasant for the horseman. H itherto his rôle had lain prim arily in shock action, but it was becoming increasingly inadvisable to charge hedgehogs o f pikes interlaced w ith musketeers. The cavalry’s response was a complex man­ oeuvre know n as the caracole. Horsemen, in deep form ation, approached the opposing infantry at a trot. The front rank discharged its pistols at the Foot and trotted to the rear, allowing the second and successive ranks to repeat the process. The difficulty was that the wheel-lock pistol was outranged by the musket and, on occasion, even by the pike. Furtherm ore, as generations o f horsemen have found to their discomfort, a horse does not make the steadiest o f weapon platforms. The Spanish tercio was one solution to the infantry dilemma. In its basic form , the tercio was a 3,000-strong mass o f pikemen surrounded by musketeers, w ith extra sleeves o f shot at the comers. It thus combined firepower w ith shock action, but did so in a m anner which tended to be wasteful and inflexible. This factor, coupled w ith the prevalence o f mercenaries w ith a vested dislike o f bloody or conclusive engagements, and the grow ing difficulty o f bringing a battle to a decisive end, by shock action, led to stagnation, from which the art o f war was rescued only by the reforms o f the D utch Prince Maurice o f Orange. Maurice devised a novel infantry unit, the battalion, which was drawn up in shallow form ation, thus making better use o f the available manpower. Maurice’s small battalions were certainly not the whole answer to the m ilitary problem , and new, smaller tercios, wooden though they were, proved their w orth on countless battlefields until Rocroi (1643). It was left to Gustav A dolf to complete the process which M aurice had begun. The Swedish King drew up his infantry in units even shallower than the D utch battalions, w ith only six ranks to M aurice’s ten. Firing was originally conducted by the process o f the counterm arch, in which each rank fired, then marched to the rear o f the form ation to reload. Gustav soon replaced this w ith the salvo, in which the musketeers form ed up only three deep, and all fired at once. The pikemen then clinched the decision by pressing forward into the disordered enemy ranks. A logical development from the flexible, aggressive Swedish battalion was the celebrated Swedish brigade. Here, three or four battalions were combined, often into a wedge-shaped form ation, w ith one battalion in reserve. Added firepower was provided by the light ‘regimental piece’, anything up to a threepounder, firing roundshot or grape, which had a devastating anti-personnel effect at close range. Gustav’s reform o f cavalry tactics was no less startling than his innovations in infantry and artillery. His most significant contribution to the m ounted arm was the réintroduction o f shock action. The wheeling trot o f the caracole was abandoned, and the depth o f formations consequently reduced to six ranks - on 35


some occasions, to three.1Horsemen were trained to reserve their fire as long as possible, and then fire only once before going in w ith the sword. Colonel Robert M unro describes how at Breitenfeld, ‘the resolution o f our horsem en. . . was praiseworthy, seeing that they never loosed a pistol at the enemy till they first discharged theirs’.2 Gustav appreciated, though, that cavalry had little chance o f breaking steady Foot unless the infantry were first shaken by fire. The Swedish K ing accomplished this by the use o f ‘commanded’ musketeers attached to the cavalry. This was far from an ideal solution, for the musketeers, encumbered w ith musket, bandolier and musket rest, had little chance o f keep­ ing pace even w ith trotting cavalry. Nevertheless, the technique o f employing musketeers in this fashion provided the Horse w ith a degree o f firepower, w ithout sacrificing their potential for the cavalryman’s prim ary rôle o f shock action. O n W ednesday 17 September 1631, Gustav m et the Imperialist generals Pappenheim and Tilly at Breitenfeld, near Leipzig. Gustav had already demons­ trated his ow n brilliance and the determ ination o f his Swedes on several battle­ fields, but it was Breitenfeld which proved the w orth o f his m ilitary reforms. The Imperialist generals drew up in the traditional form ation, w ith infantry in the centre, and cavalry hovering on the wings. The Swedes form ed up checkerwise, w ith cavalry on each flank, interlaced w ith bodies o f musketeers. If this came as a surprise to Tilly, so too did the staccato rapidity o f Swedish m usketry, the result o f careful training and long practice. A determined thrust by Pappen­ heim against the Swedish right was briskly repulsed. Tilly seized this oppor­ tunity to attack the already shaken troops on the Swedish left; Gustav’s unlucky Saxon allies broke in disorder, leaving the Swedes exposed to the onslaught o f Tilly’s Horse. An arm y draw n up on conventional form ation could not have withstood this shock, but the flexibility o f the Swedish brigade enabled Gustav’s harassed troops to face the assault. Gustav then com m itted his fresh reserve o f cavalry, cut off the enemy’s Horse from his Foot, and pushed the exhausted Imperialists in rout down the Leipzig road. The tactics which had w on Breitenfeld were adopted in due course by most o f the contending armies in the T hirty Years W ar. Changes occurred only gradually and often in a very diluted form . In England, the impact o f the m ilitary developments o f the T hirty Years W ar was lessened both by geo­ graphical isolation and by the lack o f any m ilitary machine upon which reforms could take effect. TERRAIN

Tactics are determined largely by the characteristics o f the weapons in use at the tim e, and the ground over which conflict takes place. Towns in the England o f 1 This appears to have been dohe first at Breitenfeld. See The Swedish Intelligencer (London 1632-5), I, p. 124. 2 Monro his Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment (1637), Pt H, p. 69.



the 1640s were pitifully small, and industry prim itive, by today’s standards. The nature o f the countryside was rural/agricultural rather than urban/industrial. Communications were poor. Before the days o f Macadam, even main roads were badly surfaced, rutted and potholed by the effects o f weather and transport. Small loads were carried on pack-horses, while heavier burdens made the jolting journey in heavy wagons, bucketing from ru t to rut along the uneven surface. M ost travellers rode, and the going could be rough even for a single m ounted man. Rain turned the road-surface into a quagmire; wagons sank into the m ud, and horses splashed dangerously among the potholes. Such roads imposed enormous lim itations upon m ilitary movement, in particular that o f artillery and supplies. John O gilby’s m onumental Britannia o f 1675 illustrates the road system o f the late seventeenth century. Roads followed, in most cases, their present routes. There were, however, some significant deviations,1 often where m odem engi­ neering has enabled a road to overcome a gradient or land surface. W here possible, heavy equipm ent, in particular siege artillery, was sent along rivers, or even by sea, though the latter m ethod was o f m ore use to the Parliamen­ tarians, w ho held comm and o f the sea, though not everywhere in great strength. Seventeenth-century England was predom inantly rural, yet its country dis­ tricts looked very different from today’s. O f course, a few areas were much m ore enclosed in the seventeenth century than they are now - the ground over w hich the first Battle o f N ew bury was fought is a good example - and such enclosed areas were often a netw ork o f small hedges criss-crossing the surface o f the land. B ut the enclosing o f the countryside took place, generally speaking, during the eighteenth century. W oods were m ore common, and o f greater extent, in the seventeenth century than in the England o f the tw entieth century. The great forests o f medieval times, such as W indsor and Epping, were still substantial. W ith the exception o f the woods and enclosed land the face o f England was rem arkably open. Arable land was often cultivated in strips, divided only by large furrows. A large am ount o f com m on land remained; this too was open. Ownership boundaries were m arked by fences, hedges and sometimes ditches. Obvious though it is, it should be remembered that barbed-wire - scourge o f the tw entieth-century battlefield - had not been invented, and many hedges were thus perfectly jum pable for cavalry.2 A final factor influencing terrain was the large num ber o f fortresses, o f various types, that studded the country. M ost o f these were medieval, obsolete in terms o f seventeenth-century siegecraft, but nevertheless very valuable to their holders. 1 The Marlborough-Devizes road is a case in point. See Ogilby, Britannia, p. 11. 2 And not for cavalry only; at First Newbury, Captain John Gwyn ‘jumped over hedge and ditch’ while carrying the colours of Sir Thomas Salisbury's regiment of Foot. He seems to have used the colour-staff to pole-vault the obstacle! See Atkyns and Gwyn, op. cit., pp. 40, S337


For although the grow ing pow er o f artillery and the increasing use o f high­ angled fire made stone walls an increasingly less viable form o f defence, the marshalling o f siege equipment required great effort and the reduction o f even the most archaic fortresses was likely to take a considerable tim e.1 M oreover, in the early stages o f the war, neither side possessed a really adequate battering train. The best equipped o f the Parliamentarian armies, under the Earl o f Essex, took a fortnight to reduce Reading, and the Royalists failed completely in their attem pt on Gloucester, which was neither strongly held nor well fortified. Besides these older fortresses, defences were improvised at the outset o f the Civil W ar; these consisted, in the main, o f earthworks, often sited so as to keep the besieger out o f battering range o f an older stone fortification.2


If the terrain over which the English Civil W ar was fought w ould have seemed unfamiliar to m odem eyes, the weapons used in the conflict w ould have appeared extremely prim itive. Infantry were equipped w ith the musket and the pike. The musket was a muzzle-loading weapon, employing matchlock ignition. Its use entailed a degree o f skill and a good deal o f cumbersome equip­ ment. The musketeer carried, in addition, a forked rest to steady the barrel when firing,3 a bandolier, from which hung small cylindrical pow der con­ tainers, a prim ing flask and a bullet pouch. The match - a length o f cord soaked in saltpetre - completed the musketeer’s equipment. The m atch was norm ally hung from the belt; when the musket was to be fired, a length roughly tw o feet long was cut off, lit at both ends, and held in the left hand. To load, the pow der from one o f the containers on the bandolier was poured dow n the barrel, and a bullet dropped down on top o f the pow der. In battlefield conditions the experienced musketeer w ould hold one or m ore bullets in his m outh, as this speeded up the process. A piece o f wadding, which m ight be tow , rag or paper, completed the act o f loading, and the weapon was now ready for prim ing. Here the musketeer pushed back the cover o f the flash pan, filled the pan w ith fine pow der from his flask, closed the cover and blew away the excess powder. The short length o f m atch then had one o f its ends inserted in the cock, and adjusted so as to descend into the flash pan when the trigger was pulled. The disadvantages o f the matchlock were numerous. The weapon and its impedimenta were heavy. It was inaccurate and slow-firing ; a skilled musketeer 1 Witness the sieges of Basing House and Donnington Castle. 2 The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) has produced a particularly interesting study o f Civil W ar fortification, Newark On Trent; The Civil War Siegeworks (London 1964). 3 The rest was falling into disuse by the time o f the Civil W ar, but was never entirely abandoned during that conflict.



m ight get off tw o or even three rounds a m inute, but he would be lucky, taking deliberate aim, to hit a man sixty yards away. W orse, the musket was unreliable. The m atch m ight go out, or splutter and ignite the firing pow der prem aturely; it m ight even ignite one o f the charges in the bandolier. W indy or rainy con­ ditions turned the act o f loading into a nightm are and made ignition m ore doubtful even than usual. To be effective, a musketeer had to have his match alight; yet it was obviously impossible to keep it alight continuously. Further­ m ore, at night lighted matches betrayed m ovem ent and provided the enemy w ith an aim ing-m ark. It is scarcely remarkable that musketeers were the least prestigious element o f the infantry; gentlemen in the ranks still preferred, as in Shakespeare’s day, to ‘trail the puissant pike’.1 W hat the pike lacked in finesse it made up for in simplicity. At the tim e o f the Civil W ar, pikes varied in length between twelve and eighteen feet. This difference is partially explained by the habit o f the pikemen, when on service, o f cutting a foot or tw o off their pikes to make them m ore manageable.2 The shaft o f the weapon was usually made o f ash, and the head o f steel, w ith languets stretching some w ay dow n the shaft to prevent a sword cut lopping off the head. It was customary to select the tallest, strongest recruits as pikemen, not only because the use o f the pike required considerable strength and agility, but also owing to the w eight o f the pikeman’s defensive arm our. This comprised the ‘pot’, a steel helm et, often w ith a ridge along the top, a back and breast­ plate, know n as the corselet, a gorget covering the throat, and long tassets protecting the thighs. In addition, the fully equipped pikeman carried, as did the musketeer, a short sw ord.3 Infantry officers w ore swords, but also carried a partisan, a short spear. Sergeants carried the halberd, a staff weapon w ith an axe blade. The m ounted arm had undergone a considerable change in the years immedi­ ately prior to the Civil W ar. In the sixteenth century a variety o f cavalry cuirassiers, lancers, pistoleers ‘shot on horseback’, and fight Horse - had served in English forces. By the outbreak o f the Civil W ar, however, the cuirassier, clad in full arm our, was obsolescent. This was partly because o f the difficulty o f finding horses strong enough to bear his weight. M onk, a professional soldier who, as com m ander-in-chief in 1660 was instrumental in bringing about the 1 The advantages o f pike over musket were much debated amongst seventeenth-century military theorists. See Firth, op. cit., pp. 76-8, 385-90. The invention o f the bayonet eventually rendered the pike obsolete, though Marshal Saxe, in Mes Rêveries, somewhat eccentrically recommended its re-adoption - it had vanished from French service in 1703, and disappeared from the British army two years later. 2 See Firth, op. cit., p. 73. 3 General George Monck, in Observations upon military and political Affairs (London 1796, but written over a century earlier), emphasised that a pikeman should carry ‘a good stiff tuck’. (Tuck is a corruption o f estoc, a short thrusting sword.) Speaking, no doubt, from bitter experience, he points out (p. 42) that ‘if you arm your men with [long] swords, half the swords will, upon the first march you make, be broken with cutting of boughs’. 39


Restoration, pointed out that ‘there are not m any countries that do afford horses fit for the service o f cuirassiers*.1 Secondly, the w eight o f arm our was an encumbrance to the wearer as well as to his horse. Sir Edmund Vemey, sum­ moned to serve in full arm our against the Scots in 1638, rem arked: ‘It will kill a man to serve in a whole cuirass.’2 A few cuirassiers appeared in the Civil W ar. Sir A rthur Hesilrige raised a regim ent w hich did good service in the west and south in 1643 and 1644. Hesilrige’s ‘Lobsters’ were, according to Clarendon, ‘the first seen so armed on either side, and die first that had any impression on the King’s Horse, who, being unarmed [unarmoured] were not able to bear a shock w ith them. . . .’3 The ‘Lobsters’ were badly cut up at Roundway D ow n (13 July 1643) but fought well at Cheriton (29 M arch 1644). It seems probable that some o f the senior Royalist officers fought in cuirassier arm our; the Earl o f N ortham pton was certainly equipped in this fashion when he was killed at H opton Heath (19 M arch 1643). The lancer, too, had almost disappeared from the armies o f the Civil W ar. The Scots cavalry certainly used the lance; Lord Balgony’s regim ent made good use o f it at M arston M oor, as did the Scottish lancers in the retreat from Preston. There were, though, no lancers in either the Royalist or the Parliamentarian armies. The m ajority o f cavalry on either side were know n as harquebusiers, a term which fell into disuse during the war. They were armed, ideally, w ith a carbine, a pair o f pistols, and a sword. Obviously, the matchlock was most inconvenient for the m ounted m an; the difficulty o f managing gun, m atch and pow der on horseback may easily be imagined. Consequently, cavalry firearms usually employed either wheel-locks or flintlocks. The form er ignition system consisted o f a steel wheel w ith a serrated edge, against which a piece o f pyrites was held in a pair o f jaws. The wheel was wound up - ‘spanned’ against a powerful spring. Pressure on the trigger released the spring, rotating the wheel and causing a stream o f sparks to pour onto the touch-hole. U nfortunately, pyrites tended to fragm ent; furtherm ore, if a wheel-lock weapon was left spanned for some tim e it m ight fail to operate.4 The wheel-lock’s expense also tended to lim it its use as a m ilitary weapon. The snaphaunce, and its subsequent development, the flintlock, were less expensive, and m ore reliable, than the wheel-lock. Both snaphaunce and flint­ lock employed a piece o f flint, held in the jaw s o f the cock, striking against a steel plate, to produce a spark. Yet, despite the comparative efficiency o f flint ignition, the matchlock 1 Ibid., p. 40. 2 Firth, op. cit., pp. 112-13. 3 Clarendon, op. cit.. Vol. IV, p. 120. 4 At the siege o f W ardour Castle in March 1644, Ludlow’s room was breached by a mine, and *my pistols being wheel-locks, and wound up all night, I could not get to fire, so that I was forced to my sword for the keeping down o f the enem y.. . . ’ The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow. . . , edited by C. H. Firth (Oxford 1894,2 vols). Vol. I, p. 72. 40


remained the main infantry firearm throughout the Civil W ar and, indeed, for some years afterwards. Some infantrymen were fortunate enough to be armed with flintlock weapons. To use matchlocks in close proximity to large quantities o f gunpowder was obviously dangerous, so the ‘firelock guard’ for the artillery and ammunition carried weapons with flint ignition .1 M ilitary unpreparedness meant heavy reliance upon weapons obtained from private sources, conform ing little w ith any regulation pattem .2 M any o f the best firearms used in the Civil W ar were o f a sporting rather than a m ilitary design. Some o f these were undoubtedly rifled;3 at the siege o f Sherborne Casde in 1642 a marksman equipped w ith a ‘birding piece’ picked off several Parliamentarian officers. M onck suggested that six fowling pieces should be issued to each company, especially for the purpose o f sniping at the enemy’s officers. The general scarcity o f weapons had its effect upon the m ounted arm . There seems to have been a shortage o f firearms among Parliamentarian cavalry, while the Royalist Horse were worse equipped. A variety o f swords was used. Since a sword was an ordinary part o f the everyday dress o f a gentleman, many horsemen simply carried their ‘civilian’ sword. This m ight well be a rapier, w ith either a swept- or cup-hilt. The m ilitary version o f the rapier, the ‘Pappen­ heim er’, a slightly stouter, swept-hilt weapon, was also popular. These were essentially thrusting weapons, useful for the first impact o f a charge, but less easy to manage in a hand-to-hand mêlée. M ore effective cut-and-thrust weapons were the W alloon sword, a businesslike sidearm w ith a stiff blade and wide guard, and the ‘m ortuary’ sword. The latter had a cut-and-thrust blade and a basket hilt. The term ‘m ortuary’ postdates the Civil W ar, and was based on the erroneous belief that the heads embossed on the hilt o f these weapons repre­ sented the head o f the executed Charles I. The defensive equipm ent o f a cavalryman comprised breast- and backplates, and helmet. The latter was o f tw o main types: the three-barred helm et o f English origin, or the so-called ‘D utch pot’ w ith a single sliding noseguard. Royalist Horse were usually less well equipped in this respect than their Parlia­ m entarian opponents. As the w ar progressed, though, arm our fell out o f favour w ith even the Roundhead Horse. M any troopers preferred to trust to a buffcoat, which perm itted easier m ovem ent but none the less gave a good degree o f 1 It is interesting to note that, after the war, these troops were equipped with a light flint­ lock called a fusil, and thus became known as fusiliers. 2 It may be argued that ‘regulation pattern* is a misnomer. The Kings Instrudionsfor Musters laid down explicit specifications o f arms and equipment, but these seem to have been more honoured in the breach than the observance. See Lord Orrery, Art of War, p. 29, quoted in Firth, op. cit., p. 80. 3 Rifled weapons, though uncommon, were by no means new. They existed in Europe in the sixteenth century, and on 24 June 1635 A. Rotispen was granted an English patent ‘to rifle, cut out and screw barrels’. See W . Y. Carman, A History of Firearms (London 1955), pp. 105-6.



protection. It was an im portant item o f equipm ent; made o f thick, buff-leather, full-skirted and often sleeved, it w ould turn a sword cut and often deflect a thrust.1Gorgets and steel gauntlets for the bridle arm were also w orn on occasion. Also m ounted, but always counted separately from cavalry proper, were the dragoons. They were essentially m ounted infantry, and originally owed their namff to their weapon, the ‘dragon’, a m usket-bored carbine. Dragoons were used for a variety o f tasks; providing outposts and vedettes, holding defiles or bridges in the front or rear o f an army, and, on the battlefield, lining hedges or holding enclosures. They m ight also be used to provide musketeers to cooperate w ith the cavalry. They usually fought dism ounted; their horses, cobs and the like, were not the most fiery o f steeds, costing only half the price o f a cavalry trooper’s horse.2 Their arms, too, were cheap, consisting only o f a m usket and sword, though the officers m ight also carry pistols.3 The dragoons w ore no defensive arm our, and usually neither buff-coat nor helmet. Like cavalry proper, their muskets hung on a wide belt, hooked on to a swivel on the side o f the weapon.


O ne o f the hoarier myths about the Civil W ar is that its soldiers did not wear uniform . Another is that the traditional British red coat came in w ith the N ew M odel Army. At Edgehill, the first battle o f the war, the King’s lifeguard w ore red coats, as did the Roundhead regiments o f Lord Robartes and Denzil Holies. There was certainly a degree o f uniform ity, always w ithin companies and usually w ithin regiments. Records o f the issue o f uniform to the armies o f both sides abound. Thomas Bushell, ‘W arden o f our M int and Mr. W orker o f our Mines Royal’, was responsible for ‘clothing our life Guard and three regiments m ore, w ith suits, stockings, shoes and m onteros when we were ready to march in [to] the field. . . .’4 The arm y o f the Eastern. Association and the N ew M odel w ent as far as to issue coats w ith finings o f a different colour, the origin o f regim ental facings.5 Officers and sergeants were, by reason o f their rank, not provided w ith uniforms o f a general issue, but were perm itted to wear m ore or less w hat 1A good buffcoat was an essential, but extremely expensive, item o f equipment. In 1640, a good one would cost £10 or more, while ^ 5 or £ 6 would buy only a poor one. See Firth, op. d t., p. 118. 2 Ibid., p. 124. 3 W here possible, dragoons were provided w ith snaphaunce weapons to give them the chance o f firing from horseback - a perilous task w ith a matchlock! Monck (Observations, p. 43) recommends that dragoons should be equipped w ith a musket barrel and snaphaunce lock; this would enable them to use the same ammunition as musketeers. He makes no mention o f pistols for dragoons, and the accounts o f the New Model Army have no reference to the supply o f pistols to dragoons. 4 Sir Henry Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd series, Vol. in, p. 309. 5 See Brigadier Peter Young, Edgehill (Kineton 1967), pp. 23-5. 42


they liked. Their ranks could be identified, in the case o f the infantry, by their partisans and halberds. The form ation, in 1645, o f the New M odel Arm y completed the tendency towards grow ing uniform ity, as far, at least, as the Parliamentarians were concerned. Perfect Passages o f 7 M ay 1645 states that ‘the men are Redcoats all, the whole arm y only are distinguished by the several facings o f their coats’. In the Royalist armies the trend was reversed as regiments became smaller and were sometimes amalgamated. A t Naseby, for example, several Royalist regiments, the residue o f small red-, blue- and green-clad units, presented a rather m ulticoloured appearance. There was considerable uniform ity in headgear as well as in doublets. Pikemen usually w ore a steel helm et and musketeers a broad-brim m ed felt hat, often decorated w ith plumes. The cavalry on both sides favoured helmets while in action; it is a com m on error to regard the lobster-tailed helm et as a purely Parliamentarian issue. O n the line o f march, however, the felt hat was popular w ith horsem en; it was lighter than the helm et, and offered better protection from sun and rain. The infantry had caps as well as hats. These were, in the main, M onm outh Caps, produced at Bewdley. Symonds describes their manu­ facture: 'First they are knit, then they mill them , then block them , then w ork them w ith tassels, then sheer them .’1He fails to point out, alas, w hat the finished product looked like. Somewhat m ore luxurious was the m ontero cap: at Naseby a cavalier ‘who we have since heard was Rupert’ led a party o f horse to attack Fairfax’s baggage train. A Roundhead described him as ‘being a person some­ w hat in habit like our general, in a red m ontero as the General had. — ’2 Corporal Trim in Tristram Shandy describes his m ontero as ‘. . . scarlet, o f a superfine Spanish cloth, dyed in grain, and m ounted all round w ith fur, except for about four inches in the front, which was faced w ith a light blue, slightly embroidered. . . . ’ As w ith all armies, footwear was an im portant part o f the equipment o f the contending forces. Infantry w ore low shoes, which cost, in 1649, half a crow n.3 Cavalry boots were longer, reaching up to the thighs, while dragoons seem to have had a shorter, lighter variety. Boots were usually waterproofed by waxing w ith a tallow-beehive m ixture. As a further protection against inclement con­ ditions, cavalrymen were provided w ith cloaks. There are indications that infantry also had some form o f outer garm ent for cold or w et weather.4 Although there was uniform ity w ithin regiments, and later, to an extent, w ithin armies, the danger o f mistaken identity on the battlefield remained great. Identification was achieved in three ways. Firstly, by scarves or sashes, 1 The Diary of Richard Symonds (London 1889), p. 14. 2 Quoted in Firth, op. d t., p. 240. 3 Ibid., p. 235. 4 Ibid., p. 234. In 1642 Parliament ordered 7,500 suits for the army in Ulster. Each was to consist o f a cap, doublet, cassock, breeches, two pairs of shoes, and two shirts for each man. The cassock was a long, doaklike garment, forerunner of the modem greatcoat. 43


those o f the P arliam entarians being orange-tawny, and those o f the Royalists red. Secondly, by field-signs: at M arston M oor, for example. Parliamentarians all wore a white handkerchief or piece o f paper in their hats. Sir Thomas Fairfax, by rem oving his field-sign, succeeded in making his w ay from one wing o f the hostile arm y to the other. The third means o f identification was the field-w ord, a slogan shouted by the combatants. A t M arston M oor the Parliamentarians shouted ‘God w ith us’, while the Royalist w ord was ‘God and King’. A t Naseby, the corresponding field-words were ‘God our strength’ and ‘Queen M ary’. These devices all made recognition m ore positive, but misunderstandings occurred and ruses were frequent. For example, when at Edgehill Sir Faithfull Fortescue’s troops deserted as a body to the King, several were killed in error, as they failed to discard their orange scarves.1 O n at least tw o occasions Royalist senior officers were captured through mistaking an enemy regim ent for one o f their own.


The regim ent was the standard unit of.both Horse and Foot in Roundhead and Royalist forces. The size and composition o f the regim ent varied, however, in each army. Royalist regiments o f Horse usually had three field officers - colonel, lieutenant-colonel and m ajor - and six troops, three o f them commanded by captains and the other three by the field officers, though in practice the colonel’s troop was led by his captain-lieutenant. Each troop had, besides its commander, three m ore commissioned officers, a lieutenant, a com et and a quartermaster. There were also at least tw o corporals and a trum peter. The theoretical strength o f a royalist cavalry regim ent was 500, though usually the regim ent w ould rarely exceed six troops o f about 70 officers and men, a total o f 420. O n active service, particularly towards the end o f the war, this num ber fell alarmingly. W hen Lord W ilm ot’s brigade, consisting o f some o f the best regiments, mus­ tered at Aldboum e Chase on 10 April 1^44, its com ponent units varied greatly in strength. The four strongest each num bered 300, while the tw o weakest were only 100 strong. Most Roundhead regiments o f Horse had only tw o field officers - a colonel and a m ajor - who, like their Royalist counterparts, were also troop comman­ ders. Parliamentarian troops num bered, in theory, 71 officers and men, and this total was very often exceeded. The cavalry o f the Earl o f Essex’s arm y, mustered at Tiverton in the summer o f 1644, num bered 3,205 officers and men organised in thirty-nine troops, including one o f dragoons - an average o f over 84 per troop. M any o f the country gentry followed the King. They and their adherents were often accomplished horsemen, brought up in the hunting field. This gave the royalist Horse a valuable advantage in the early days o f the w ar: at Edgehill, 1 See also Orrery’s cautionary tale, op. d t., p. 186. 44


for example, they charged uphill, taking hedges and ditches in their stftde, routing the Horse on the Parliamentarian left. Crom well pointed out to his cousin John Ham pden the reasons for the initial inferiority o f Roundhead Horse. ‘Y our tro o p ers. . . ’ he rem arked, ‘are most o f them old decayed serving-men and tapsters, and such kind o f fellows. Their troopers are gentlemen’s sons, younger sons and persons o f quality. . . . You must get men o f a spirit that is likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go, or else I am sure you will be beaten still.*1 Cavalry in the Civil W ar norm ally fought three deep, though on occasion they took the field double-ranked, that is to say six deep. A t Roundway Dow n, for example, Captain Richard Atkyns describes how ‘we advanced at a full trot, three deep, and kept in order: the enemy kept their station, and their right w ing o f Horse, being cuirassiers,2 were I am sure five if not six deep, in so close order that Punchinello himself, had he been there, could not have got in to them ’.3 Nevertheless, the cuirassiers, though presenting an unbreakable front, were out­ flanked and badly cut up. In the early stages o f the war the Roundhead Horse followed the D utch practice and fired before charging, while the Royalist Horse, coached by the capable Prince Rupert, generally reserved their fire until after the initial im pact o f the charge. By the closing stages o f the conflict, however, the Horse on both sides as a rule charged at speed, and used their pistols in the mêlée. W hile m any o f the troopers on both sides were experienced horsemen, only a small proportion were trained and disciplined soldiers. This latter point, naturaUy, applies less to the cavalry o f the N ew M odel Army. Nevertheless, the m ounted troops on both sides exhibited, in the words o f Leonard Cooper, the virtues and faults which were evident in so many later battles, notably in the Peninsula and at W aterloo, at Balaclava and in the Sikh W ars. In the charge they were admirable. They could ride and use their weapons; and their courage and dash were unshakeable. But they lacked discipline in battle, and were led by officers who had learned m ore from the hunting field than from war. After a successful charge they were headstrong in the pursuit and quite incapable o f rallying until they were exhausted and, usually, until they were too far from the battle to influence its further course. As W ellington said, they always galloped too fast and too far.4 Yet there were Royalist regiments that learned to rally, and could charge tw o or three times in the same day, as at H opton Heath and Chalgrove Field. Crom w ell’s troopers o f the N ew M odel A rm y were altogether better 1 Quoted in C. V. W edgwood, The King’s War (London 1958), p. 139. 2 Hesilrige’s ‘Lobsters’ in this case. 3 Atkyns and Gwyn, op. cit., p. 23. Atkyns and his comet, Robert Hohnes, the future admiral, became engaged in a fruitless combat w ith the iron-clad Sir Arthur. 4 Leonard Cooper, British Regular Cavalry 1644-1914 (London 1965), p. 13. 45


partly because they charged at a ‘pretty round tro t’ instead o f the gallop o f R upert’s Horse. A t the only other tim e in English m ilitary history when cavalry have been tightly controlled —under M arlborough —they also charged at the trot. In the Civil W ar, however, cavalry charges were disorganised affairs. It was difficult for officers to keep control unless they personally headed the charge - in which case they were likely to become casualties at an early stage. The better-m ounted troopers, or those w ith easier ground to cross, tended to get ahead. The natural excitement and fear o f the horses completed the picture; once the charge started it was extremely difficult to halt.


Infantry, like their m ounted colleagues, were organised in regiments. These consisted, in theory at least, o f ten companies, three commanded by the field officers and the remainder by captains. The colonel’s company contained 200 men, the lieutenant-colonel’s 160, the m ajor’s 140, while those o f the captains consisted o f only 100 men. Com pany commanders were assisted by a lieutenant and an ensign, tw o sergeants, three corporals and tw o drummers. In the Royalist arm y there was an extra appointm ent, that o f gentleman o f the arms, whose task it was to look after the company’s weapons. The Foot regiments o f both armies also possessed a surgeon and a surgeon’s mate. Medical arrangements were rudim entary in the extreme, and few soldiers could expect to survive major surgery. The wounded from a large action soon swamped the available doctors, and often all that could be done was to billet these unfortunates on nearby villages. M ost senior officers had their ow n personal surgeons, but even so were lucky if they could be extracted from the stricken field in tim e to receive attention. In almost all cases a serious w ound meant death. The infantry company contained, again in theory, tw o-thirds musketeers and one-third pikemen. This balance was far from universal: at Edgehill, for example, the Royalist arm y seems to have contained m ore or less equal numbers o f pikemen and musketeers. The company w ould norm ally fall in in six ranks, w ith the pikemen in the centre o f the form ation. Each file o f six was headed by its leader, whose second-in-command brought up the rear o f the file - doubtless to encourage the faint-hearted. Thus assembled, the company could be put through the labyrinth o f the seventeenth-century drill book. Space does not perm it detailed discussion o f infantry drill. It should, though, be noted that most o f the officers on both sides were amateurs, and must therefore have taken some tim e to master the drill themselves. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that all the manoeuvres described by the m ilitary theorists o f the tim e could be carried out by w hat were, after all, hastily levied troops. Infantry regiments on both sides w ould have been schooled in the technique o f ‘fire by introduction’, in which the front rank fired, the rear rank marched forw ard between the files and fired, followed by the next rear rank, and so on. In ‘fire by extraduction’ 46


the process was reversed, the front rank m oving to the rear after firing. *t)n occasion only three ranks were form ed, and a single salvo replaced the rolling fire o f the other tw o m ethods.1 A regim ent draw n up for action would resemble a company, in having all its pikem en in the centre, and its musketeers on the flanks. These bodies o f pikemen and musketeers were know n as ‘divisions’. Another possibility was for the regim ent to form ‘grand divisions’, w ith tw o wings, each consisting o f pikemen w ith musketeers on each flank. An arm y would norm ally deploy w ith its infantry regiments thus form ed up, in tw o or three lines, w ith their front screened by a ‘forlorn hope’ o f musketeers. Following an exchange o f fire between these parties, the first line o f infantry m oved forw ard and opened fire. After a num ber o f volleys, the pikem en brought their pikes up into the ‘charge’ and moved forw ard to ‘push o f pike’. They were often assisted by the musket­ eers, who pressed in wielding their muskets by the barrel, ‘clubbing them down’ as M ajor-General Sir Thomas M organ put it.2 This m ight decide the battle; on the other hand, both sides sometimes recoiled a short distance and fell to firing once m ore.3 If attacked by cavalry, infantry form ed a circle, w ith the pikemen inside and the musketeers outside. The latter crouched under the pikes, and were thus able to fire, while the pikes, stretching over their heads, kept off the cavalry. Musket­ eers were sometimes equipped w ith ‘swine-feathers’ (or ‘Swedish Feathers’), stakes sharpened at either end, which they planted in the ground, facing out­ wards, so as to provide extra protection. These useful accessories were, though, a further encumbrance for the already heavily laden musketeer, and were not often carried. W ith the invention o f the bayonet, some years after the Civil W ar, the celebrated square replaced the cumbersome circle o f pikemen and musketeers, every musketeer being, in fact, his ow n pikeman.


The similarity o f the m ilitary heritage o f both sides is illustrated by the fact that each used the same system for their colours o f Horse and Foot. Throughout the Civil W ars, and at least as late as the reign o f James II, every company and troop had its ow n colour, guidon or standard. The system in vogue in 1642 is described by Captain Thomas Venn, whose m ilitary experience, though his book was published in 1672, went back to 1641 and 1Ö42.4 Venn tells us that, in the Foot, 1 The salvo, or salvee as it was sometimes known, was used with shattering effect by the Swedes at Leipzig in 1631. It was certainly employed by the Parliamentarian Foot; see Major Richard Elton, The Compleat Body of the Art Military (London 1650), ch. lix. 2 Quoted in Firth, op. cit., p. 104. 3 As happened, for example, at Edgehill. 4 Captain Thomas Venn, Military Observations or the Tacticksput into practice (London 1672), p. 186. 47


The Colonel’s colour is in the first place o f a pure and clean colour, w ithout any m ixture. The Lieutenant-Colonel s only w ith Saint George s Arms in the upper com er next the staff, the M ajor’s the same, but in the low er and outmost com er a little stream blazant, and every Captain w ith Saint George’s Arms alone, but w ith so many spots or several Devices as pertain to the dignity o f their respective places. These devices displayed on the captains’ colours were often taken from the colonel’s armorial bearings. Sir Edward Stradling’s colours bore the cinquefoil o f his house, and a Colonel Talbot had dogs for his devices. The first captain o f the regiment in question would display one o f these devices, the second captain two, and so on. It was thus possible for soldiers to locate their company by the position o f its colours, and the difficult task o f rallying was made easier. The colours o f a company were carried by its ensign. The guidons o f the dragoons followed the same pattern as infantry colours, but were considerably smaller. The infantry size o f 6k feet by 6k feet was obviously unmanageable on horseback, so dragoon guidons were the same size as the standards o f cavalry proper, 2 feet by 2 feet. Cavalry standards followed m uch less o f a set pattern than those o f the Foot. The field was generally the same colour for each troop in a regim ent, but the devices or mottoes borne on the standards were usually o f a religious or political nature, and often differed from troop to troop.1


Artillery displayed, then as now , no colours. At the tim e o f the Civil W ar, artillery was still regarded by some as a branch o f science bordering on the occult, though the excellent use made o f it during the Thirty Years W ar2 had illustrated the growing importance o f the arm. Indeed, as early as Marignano it had proved very effective. The guns used in the Civil W ar were divided into ten classes,3 but standardisation was far from complete and even contemporary authorities often confuse the type and calibre o f the ordnance they describe. 1 See Young, op. cit., p. 36, plate 4. 2 At Leipzig the Imperialist infantry were severely galled by the fire o f the Swedish light guns. Monro attributed the successfiil passage o f the Lech in April 1632 to the ‘great force o f artillery, for this victory was obtained by our cannon alone’. Monro, op. cit., Pt II, pp. 68, 118. See also C. V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (London 1962), p. 315. Calibre o f W eight o f Length o f W eight o f Piece (ins) Piece (lbs) Piece (ft) Shot (lbs) Cannon royal 8 8000 8 63 Cannon 7000 10 7 47 Demi-cannon 6 6000 12 27 Culverin 4000 11 5 15



The guns m ost widely used in the Civil W ar were the lighter field-pieces; larger pieces o f artillery were cumbersome to transport and difficult to site. The sort o f proposition that m ight be achieved can be seen from the court paper, Mercurius Aulicus, describing how at Cropredy Bridge the Royalists ‘took all their [Parliamentarian] 14 pieces o f ordnance, w hereof 11 brass v iz . . . , 5 sakers, 1 twelve-pound piece, 1 demi-culverin, 2 minions, 2 three-pound pieces. . . .’x A t M arston M oor Prince Rupert lost all his artillery: Firth main­ tains that the largest were demi-culverins and the smallest drakes.2 O n the field o f battle, cannon were norm ally positioned in the intervals between the regiments o f Foot in the first, and sometimes the second, line. Larger pieces m ight be placed upon high ground to fire over the heads o f the infantry, but this was a difficult and potentially dangerous manoeuvre. If a position was held for any length o f tim e, emplacements m ight be constructed to provide the guns w ith a better firing platform .3 The Swedish practice o f attaching tw o light field-pieces to each regim ent o f Foot seems to have been followed in both Royalist and Parliamentarian armies.4 The artillery o f the seventeenth century was, by m odem standards, crude and inaccurate.5 Roundshot was the norm al type o f am m unition used, though case shot - a canister o f musket balls w hich spread in a wide arc leaving the muzzle - was deadly against massed formations at close range. Each piece was norm ally served by a gunner, his mate, and one or m ore labourers or matrosses. The pow der charge was sometimes pre-packed into cartridges, but m ore often simply carried in a barrel and transferred to the gun by means o f a metal scoop. 1 The Royalists also captured ‘two barricadoes o f wood, which were drawn upon wheels, and in each seven small brass and leather guns, charged w ith case shot . . (Clarendon, op. d t., VoL IV, p. 503). This type o f weapon was best suited to die defence o f streets, bridges, breaches and the like; it was obsolete by the time o f the Civil W ar. However, multi-barrelled guns continue to attract interest, and several early machine guns - for example the Gatling and the Mitrailleuse - were multi-barrelled. 2 Firth, op. d t., p. 154. 3 The picture-map o f Naseby in Joshua Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva (London 1647) ; there is a good facsimile reprint available (Gainesville, Horida, i960), showing typical artillery deploy­ ment. At Lansdown, W aller’s guns were emplaced ; traces of the gun positions can still be seen. 4 See Elton, op. d t., p. 145. 5 Prussian gunners o f a later century were to have a saying, ‘The first shot is for die Devil, the second for God, and only the third for the King*. Prince Kraft von HöhenloheIngelfingen, Letters on Artillery (translated, London 1888), p. 56. Length o f W eight o f Piece (lbs) Piece (fi) 3600 10 Demi-culverin Saker 2500 9i M inion 1500 8 Falcon 700 6 Falconet 2 210 4 120 Robinet 3 I* From W illiam Eldred, The Gunner's Glosse (London 1646). Calibre o f Piece (ins) 4* 3i 3



W eight o f Shot (lbs) 9

5i 4 I* i


N ot unnaturally, artillery drill books emphasised the importance, o f covering the powder barrel to prevent accidents!1 SUPPLY AND TRANSPORT

Transport and commissariat were, like the artillery, prim itive by m odem standards. Sir James Turner, w ho served w ith the Swedish, Scots and Royalist armies, affirmed that ‘the ordinary allowance for a soldier in the field is daily tw o pounds o f bread, one pound o f flesh, or in lieu o f it, one pound o f cheese, one botde o f wine, or in lieu o f it, tw o bottles o f b e e r.. . .’2 W hen, as was often the case, it proved impossible to supply the troops w ith any food at all, they were allowed to five ‘at free quarter’. Turner pointed out the obvious defects o f this system, which proves oft the destruction o f a country: for though no exorbitancy be com­ m itted, and that every man both officer and soldier demand no other enter­ tainm ent than w hat is allowed by the Prince or State where they serve; yet when an arm y cannot be quartered but close and near together, to prevent infalls, onslaughts and the surprise o f an enemy, it is an easy m atter to imagine w hat a heavy burden these places bear . . . and withal it is very hard to get soldiers and horsemen kept w ithin the limits o f their duty in these quarters after they have hunger, thirst and other hardships in the field. It is true, all Princes w ho for preservation o f their armies from extrem e ruin, and for w ant o f treasure, are necessitated too often to make use o f this free quarter, do not only make strict laws and ordinances, how many times a day officers and soldiers are to eat, and how m any dishes every one according to his quality is to call for, but likewise set dow n the precise rates, and values o f these dishes, that the host be not obliged to do beyond those limitations, yet the grievance continues heavy and great.3 The Horse, often operating some distance from the main body o f their arm y, frequently took advantage o f free quarter. Lord H opton relates how , during the Royalist advance into Somerset in the summer o f 1643, there began the disorder o f the horse visibly to break in upon all the prosper­ ity o f the public proceedings. The T ow n agreeing willingly to raise and pay 8,000 li composition (which w ould have sufficed for some weeks necessary pay for the whole Army). The country being then full, and not relucting at free quarter soberly taken, and the Generals being very full advertised o f the opportunity to begin a discipline in the arm y, and being themselves very 1 Mishaps were, nevertheless, not infrequent. At the siege of Reading in 1643 an officer, firing a cannon, ‘by chance fired the [powder] barrels . . . ’ killing and wounding several men. See Firth, op. cit., p. 151. 2 Sir James Turner, Pallas Armata (London 1683), p. 201.

9 Loc. dt. 50


desirous o f it were yet never able to repress the extravagant disorder of*the horse to the ruin and discomposure o f all.1 Both sides recognised that free quarter eroded discipline and alienated the civilian population, and tried, where possible, to supply themselves. The Royal­ ists, using O xford as their base, set up magazines and stores there. Bread and biscuit were baked under the supervision o f the wagon-master-general, and sent forw ard to the arm y in commandeered country carts. Parliamentarian forces under the Earl o f Essex were little better off. Essex’s commissariat was supervised by a ‘commisary for the provisions’, and the train o f some forty wagons by the ‘carriage-master-general’.2 However, even when sufficient food was stored centrally, the means for its distribution were so slender as to make free quarter all too common. Those providing the troops w ith quarters were reimbursed by tickets, redeemable at a later date. It cannot have been easy, in a fluid civil-war situation, for house­ holders to turn these tickets into cash, and there are but few instances o f this happening, though Prince Rupert seems to have managed it at Shrewsbury.


The question o f soldiers’ pay in the Civil W ar is complicated by the fact that scales o f pay changed several times during the course o f the conflict; further­ more, the soldier w ho actually received the sum to which he was entitled could count him self lucky. In December 1642 the Royalists were offering six shillings a week to musketeers, twelve shillings and tenpence to dragoons, and seventeen and sixpence to cavalry troopers. It was expected, however, that these indivi­ duals w ould provide their ow n arms and equipm ent.3 W hen, in 1649, the New M odel A rm y was form ed, infantrym en were paid eightpence a day, dragoons one shilling and sixpence and troopers tw o shillings. As food prices rose, so the pay o f the N ew M odel A rm y was increased. By 1659 soldiers were being paid ninepence, dragoons one shilling and eightpence and cavalrymen tw o shillings and threepence. W hile m ounted m en were quite well paid, the unfortunate infantrym an earned about the same as an agricultural labourer - scarcely an inducement to voluntary enlistment. The officers o f both armies received m uch higher rates o f pay than the men they commanded. In 1644 a Royalist captain o f Foot received .£2 12s 6d a week, his lieutenant j£ i 8s od and his ensign .£1 is od. Their counterparts in the Earl o f Essex’s arm y earned, in a m onth, £ 7 os od, £ 5 12s od and ^ 4 4s od 1 Ralph, Lord Hopton, Bellum Civile (Somerset Record Society, 1902), p. 47. This useful edition also contains accounts by Colonel W alter Slingsby. 2 Firth, op. d t., p. 213. 3 Proclamation o f 3 December 1642. R. Steele, Tudor and Stuart Proclamations 1485-1714 (Oxford 1910, 2 vols), Vol. I, p. 2316.



respectively.1 Senior officers did even better, w ith some Royalist generals receiving about ^ i o a day, and Parliamentarian colonels ^63 m onthly.2 Impressive though these scales were, it appears that, in the Royalist arm y at least, they were m ore honoured in the breach than in die observance. Captain Richard Atkyns tells us how ‘m y troop I paid twice out o f mine ow n purse’3 in early 1643. After the action at Chew ton Mendip on 10 June 1643, Atkyns received 20s a man ‘for the wounded o f m y troop, and also o f m y division — o f Sir Robert Long, then Treasurer o f the A rm y; which was all the m oney I ever received for myself, or troops, during the w ar’.4 In January 1644 Sir John Mennes, who had been general o f the ordnance under Lord Capel, w rote to Prince Rupert that ‘I must crave your Highness’s pardon if I quit the place, for I have not wherewithal to subsist any longer, having received but ^ 2 2 now in eleven months, and lived upon m y own, w ithout free quarters for horse or man. The fortune I have is all in the rebels’ hands, or in such tenants as have forgot to pay.’5 N or were the Parliamentarian forces m uch better off. ‘Constant pay’ was one o f the inducements to enlist in the N ew M odel Army. In 1644 Parliam ent attem pted the expedient o f placing all officers above the rank o f captain on half pay, promising to pay them the remaining half after the conclusion o f hostilities. This policy was in fact implemented in the N ew M odel Arm y from its forma­ tion, offers o f ‘constant pay’ notwithstanding. W hen, in 1647, the disbandment o f the N ew M odel Arm y was begun, soldiers were given ‘debentures’, which commuted the pay owed them into land. This proved an unsatisfactory solution, as m any soldiers, for w hom ready cash was m ore attractive than the distant prospect o f land ownership, sold their debentures at well below their face value. Pay was not the only source o f financial gain to the Civil W ar soldier. The arms, equipment, and horse o f a prisoner were regarded as ‘lawful plunder’.6 W hen a tow n was taken by storm , it was customary for it to be given up to pillage for a specified period. Sometimes, a besieged tow n w ould offer a cash payment, as part o f its surrender terms, to avoid the attentions o f the soldiery. Also com m on was the practice o f giving ‘storm m oney’ in lieu o f plunder to troops engaged in an assault. This helped preserve discipline and prevented the unnecessary destruction that inevitably ensued when a tow n or fortress was throw n open to plunder.7 The inhabitants o f a tow n o f strategic importance, such as Bristol, Gloucester 1 Uncalendared State Papers, SP 28. 2 Ibid. 3 Atkyns and Gwyn, op. d t., p. 8. 4 Ibid., p. 15. 5 Eliot W arburton, Memoirs of Prince Rupert and the Cavaliers (London 1849), Vol. II, p. 372. 6 Firth, op. d t., p. 191. 7 W hen Reading surrendered in April 1643, Essex’s men were promised twelve shillings per man in lieu o f plunder. The cash was not, alas, forthcoming, and they promptly mutinied. 52


or York, had little chance o f escaping involvem ent in the war. For the rem ainder o f the population, direct contact w ith the w ar depended upon such facto% as geographical location, occupation, political involvem ent and, o f course, luck. It was quite possible for inhabitants o f rem ote areas to be practically unaware o f the w ar’s existence. There is a story that on the m orning o f M arston M oor, a ploughm an w orking there was advised to m ove off to avoid the battle. He inquired w ho the fighting was between, and, upon being told that the King and Parliam ent were the contenders, remarked in astonishment, ‘what, has them tw o fallen out then?’ Such total ignorance was by no means typical, though. Indeed, the gentry on both sides showed increasing alarm at the danger­ ous unrest which the w ar encouraged am ong the lower orders. Recruitm ent was, initially at least, by voluntary enlistment, and much depended upon the prestige o f the officer w ho sought to raise troops. Local magnates recruited from retainers and tenantry, and were often able to raise homogeneous and well-equipped units fairly rapidly.1 Certain areas provided fruitful recruiting-grounds. M any o f the best Royalist Foot were raised in W ales and Cornwall, and the scholars o f O xford showed little reluctance to exchange gow n for buff-coat. The Parliamentarians recruited particularly well in East Anglia and the Hom e Counties. A lthough both armies ostensibly m aintained the policy o f enlisting only volunteers, impressment was widely used. Prisoners o f war were, on occasion, drafted en masse into their captor’s forces. For the comm on soldier w ithout clearly defined loyalties such service was infinitely preferable to the discomfort and tedium o f prison life. As the w ar w ent on, it became increasingly comm on for able-bodied civilians to be conscripted; even the N ew M odel Arm y was compelled to rely upon a proportion o f pressed men, m any o f w hom could only be brought to the colours by force. Such methods o f recruitm ent, combined w ith irregular pay and hard service, resulted in widespread desertion. Even in the first months o f the war, before enthusiasm had had much chance to wane, soldiers deserted in considerable numbers. W hen tw o o f Essex’s regiments marched from O xford for W orcester on 2 and 3 O ctober 1642, m any o f the men were missing, ‘the captains and constables going up and dow n die tow n to seek them : m any o f them having flung away their arms, and run away’.2 Royalist and Roundhead provostmarshal-generals, aided by the regim ental provost-marshals, struggled hard against the problem o f desertion, and, as the w ar progressed, treatm ent o f 1 Newcastle’s celebrated Whitecoats are a prime case in point. At the other end o f the social scale is Richard Shuckburgh o f Shuckburgh, who was out hunting near Edgecote on 22 October 1642, when he was summoned before the King, passing on his way to EdgehilL Shuckburgh was graciously received, and immediately went home, armed his tenantry, and appeared on the field o f battle next day. After the capture o f Banbury, he is said to have gone home and fortified himself on top o f Shuckburgh Hill, where he was attacked and defended himself till he fell wounded, w ith most o f his tenants about him. 2 Quoted in Young, op. cit., p. 10. 53


deserters became increasingly harsh. Even so, those deserters w ho were appre­ hended and hanged were comparatively few. The great m ajority returned to their homes, and stayed there. Those w ho were fortunate enough to avoid the attentions o f the recruitingsergeant could still suffer from the war. Pillage was not uncom m on, and free quarter all too frequent. Even areas which were not scenes o f m ajor conflict had to sustain the depredations o f those local gentlemen w ho held out for ICing or Parliament in their fortified houses, and, unconfined by regular discip­ line, raided almost as they chose. Although a large proportion o f the nation was, from tim e to tim e, indirectly involved in the war, the percentage o f adult males who actually fought was not high. A t M arston M oor, the largest battle o f the Civil W ars, about 46,000 men were engaged on both sides, while less than half this num ber fought at Naseby. The population o f England andWales was probably in excess o f 5 million. Even reducing this to exclude wom en and men above or below m ilitary age, or unfit for service, to a figure o f i f million, the proportion o f men under arms remains fairly small. The command and staff system used by both sides must also be considered. Again, as both armies shared a com m on background, and were based largely on the m ilitary establishment o f pre-Civil W ar England, there was a great degree o f similarity between Royalist and Parliamentarian headquarters.


The theoretical command structure o f an arm y in the 1640s consisted o f a captain-general in supreme comm and assisted by a staff which m ight include his second-in-command, the lieutenant-general, and a field marshal, whose duties were precisely those indicated by his title. Each o f the three m ain arms Horse, Foot and Artillery - had its ow n general, w ith a lieutenant-general as his second-in-command. In addition the Foot had a sergeant-major-general - a rank from which the first w ord was soon om itted - who was usually a pro­ fessional soldier, giving specialist advice to his general and lieutenant-general, w ho m ight well lack m ilitary experience, owing their rank to their social posi­ tion rather than to their m artial qualities. In the cavalry, the commissary-general perform ed the same function as the sergeant-major-general o f Foot. The artillery was commanded by the general o f the ordnance, though it was customary for his lieutenant-general to do most o f the w ork. This, in outline, was the structure employed by both armies. B ut in practice the system failed to exhibit the logic and relative clarity which it did in theory. Certain posts, for example, m ight be unfilled, while, on the other hand, one individual m ight hold m ore than one appointm ent. A further complication was the use o f the Council o f W ar. This was composed o f senior officers, and m et to consider the course o f action to be adopted by a co m m ander. In the 54


Civil W ar die composition o f the Council on each side varied from tim e to tim e; the Royalist Council certainly included several relatively junior officers and colonels, as well as the King’s ministers.1 Furtherm ore, the degree o f obedience shown by different commanders to the decisions o f their Council o f W ar differed sharply. The Royalist arm y was under the personal command o f the King, as captaingeneral. He was assisted by a Council o f W ar, comprising m ilitary and civil officers. Lord General (or, in m odem parlance. C hief o f Staff), was the Earl o f Lindsey. He was m ortally w ounded at Edgehill, and was replaced by Patrick Ruthven, Lord Forth, a somewhat bibulous veteran, who had learned his trade in the Swedish arm y. The Royalist Horse was led by Charles’s nephew, Prince Rupert, general o f the Horse. Rupert was undoubtedly one o f the most vivid personalities to emerge from the war. He is all too often w ritten off as a beau sabreur, a good cavalry leader and little else. In fact, though only tw enty-tw o at the outbreak o f w ar, he had considerable m ilitary experience, and had employed three years’ imprisonm ent, following his capture at Lemgo in W estphalia, to im prove his knowledge o f m ilitary theory. A superb horseman, skilled swords­ man, and excellent shot, Rupert provided the Royalist Horse w ith the positive leadership they required. Yet his knowledge o f engineering and gunnery was also useful, as were his talents for siege warfare. Rupert’s second-in-command, initially commissary-general, and later lieutenant-general o f Horse, was H enry W ilm ot, a fair disciplinarian, a m an o f considerable personal bravery and some m ilitary experience but too m uch o f the politician.2 The infantry were in the capable hands o f their sergeant-major-general, Sir Jacob Astley, a small, taciturn man, whose wide experience was backed w ith sound theoretical knowledge. A less attractive character was the sergeant-major-general o f dragoons, the testy and imperious Sir A rthur Aston. His unlikely m ilitary record included service in Russia, Poland and Germany. Sir John Heydon, a competent and zealous officer, served as lieutenant-general o f ordnance. Several offices - that o f general o f the Foot, for example - were initially untenanted. If the Royalist chain o f command seems complex on paper and confused in action, the Parliamentarian comm and structure was even worse, lacking a generally accepted source o f authority which the Royalists, at least, had in the King. Robert Devereux, third Earl o f Essex, was captain-general o f the Forces o f Parliament. He had commanded a Foot regim ent in the D utch service, and was well liked by both officers and men. Clarendon called him , at the tim e o f the Second Bishops’ W ar, ‘the most popular m an o f the kingdom , the darling 1 For example, on 14 December 1642 the Royalist Council o f W ar which met at Reading included Lieutenant-Colonel W illiam Legge o f Prince Rupert’s regiment of Horse. Legge was junior to several officers not present at the Council. 2 He had been captain o f Horse in the Dutch service, and had served as commissary-general o f the Horse in the Second Bishops' W ar. He was captured at Newbum after charging the Scots w ith a handful of followers. 55


o f the sword-m en’.1 He was, however, sadly lim ited as a strategist, and could on occasion be both dilatory and obstructive. The Horse had the misfortune to be commanded by the Earl o f Bedford, a congenial nobleman w ith a total absence o f m ilitary experience. His lieutenant-general, Sir W illiam Balfour, was, how ­ ever, an experienced and thoroughly able officer. There is some doubt as to the command o f the Foot. The office o f sergeant-major-general was initially held, it seems, by Colonel Thomas Ballard, and later by Philip Skippon and Sir John M errick. The Earl o f Peterborough, general o f the ordnance, lacked, like Bed­ ford, m ilitary experience. U nfortunately, Peterborough’s second-in-command was not o f the high calibre o f Bedford’s, for the lieutenant-general o f the ordnance, Philibert Emanuel D u Bois, was distinguished only by his general lack o f competence. He did not survive the first campaign. Both armies included a host o f other staff officers. Some o f these were in a strange position, holding ‘general’ appointments but lacking exalted rank. Tw o examples will suffice: Captain W illiam Smith was the Royalist provost-m arshalgeneral, while Captain Thomas Richardson served as carriage-master-general to Essex’s army. Similar appointments were those o f scoutmaster-general, whose duties were the collection and processing o f intelligence, and m uster-m astergeneral, w ho was responsible for the listing and enumerating o f the army. O ther officers served as adjutants, aides-de-camp, and gallopers, providing headquarters w ith a rudim entary administrative and communications system. Command in the field lacked precision. There were no perm anent form ations larger than a regim ent. Brigades or ‘tertios’ were form ed, but usually on a flexible, almost ad hoc basis.2 A brigade was commanded, as a rule, by the senior colonel o f the regiments comprising it. The rank o f colonel-general existed in the Royalist arm y but it was attached to a particular arm (e.g. colonelgeneral o f dragoons) or a geographical area (e.g. colonel-general o f Shropshire and Cheshire). A general w ould command from his carriage or, m ore probably, from his horse’s back. The maps at the comm ander’s disposal were scarce and inaccurate. Telescopes, or ‘perspective glasses’ as they were called, w ould have been available to very few officers. W atches existed, but were so uncom m on as to make the synchronisation o f manoeuvres impossible; hence the frequent use o f signals by gunfire. M ore detailed comm unication was achieved by giving a verbal or w ritten message to a staff officer, w ho w ould then deliver it in person a time-consuming, dangerous and insecure procedure. The armies which m oved into battle in the autum n o f 1642 presented a strange paradox. They were infinitely better organised and equipped than the Royal arm y which had fought the Scots, yet they were, by Continental stand­ ards, poorly arm ed and alarmingly inexperienced. Some o f their commanders were, it is true, professional soldiers, but the overwhelm ing m ajority o f officers, 1 Clarendon, op. d t., Vol. I, p. 202. 2 Though the Royalist garrison drawn out o f Reading in early 1644 seems to have remained a tertio, and was even called the Reading brigade later that year. 56


as well as rank and file, were innocent o f the m ilitary art. A t thç head o f the Royalist arm y stood the shy, aloof, obstinate, almost chilly figure o f King Charles I, whose ow n mismanagement had contributed materially towardstthe worsening o f the pre-w ar crisis, and w ho was, it m ight be argued, largely responsible for the escalation o f that crisis into armed conflict. Personally brave, though isolated by his C ourt from real personal contact w ith the men who made up his arm y, Charles epitomised the paradoxes o f 1642. His only qualifica­ tion for comm and was his ow n royal position, itself one o f the m ajor issues at stake in the conflict. The best o f his adherents, men like Hyde, Culpepper and Falkland, advocated reform and shuddered at the prospect o f war, but became embroiled in the struggle by the same process o f inescapable logic which was to drive so m any reluctant Englishmen into the vortex o f Civil W ar.




2 August

Colonel George Goring, Governor o f Portsm outh, declares for the King. Action at Marshall’s Elm, Somerset. 4 10 Oliver Cromwell defeats an attem pt to rem ove the plate o f the Cambridge colleges. Cromwell seizes the magazine at Cambridge. 15 The Cornish Cavaliers muster on Bodm in race-course. 17 21 D over Castle surprised by the Parliamentarians. Prince Rupert joins the King. 22 The King raises his standard at N ottingham . 2 September The Earl o f Bedford besieges Sherborne Castle. 7 Goring surrenders Portsm outh to Sir W illiam W aller. Action at Babylon Hill, near Yeovil. 10 Essex at N ortham pton w ith 20,000 men. The King marches from N ottingham to Derby. 13 18 The King reaches Stafford. The King marches to W ellington. 19 Essex leaves N ortham pton. H ertford retreats from Sherborne Castle. 20 The King reaches Shrewsbury. 23 Action at Powick Bridge. H ertford sails from Minehead for South W ales. H opton marches into Cornwall. 24 Essex occupies W orcester. H opton joins Sir Bevil Grenvile in Cornwall. 25 12 O ctober The King marches from Shrewsbury and advances on London. Essex leaves W orcester. 19 The King arrives at Kenilw orth Castle. 23 Battle o f BDGEHILL. Essex retires to W arw ick. 25 61


The King takes Banbury. The King occupies Oxford. The King marches from O xford to advance on London. Prince Rupert storms Brentford. Essex, reinforced by the London Trained Bands, faces the King at Tum ham Green. The King retires from Reading to Oxford. 29 i December Newcastle forces the crossing o f the Tees at Piercebridge. Waller takes Famham Castle. Newcastle enters York. 3 W ilm ot takes M arlborough. 5 Newcastle takes Tadcaster. 7 The Royalists settle upon their w inter quarters around 9 Oxford. Waller takes W inchester. 13 Waller takes Chichester. 27 19 January Battle o f BRADDOCK DOWN. Sir Thomas Fairfax takes Leeds and W akefield. 23 Newcastle retires to York. 2 February Rupert takes Cirencester. 22 The Queen lands at Bridlington Bay. 15 M arch Waller secures Bristol. 18 The Earl o f D erby storms Lancaster. Battle o f h o pto n hea th . 19 D erby takes Preston. Massey defeats Lord H erbert’s W elsh at Highnam. 24 Battle o f SEACROFT MOOR. 30 13 April Battle o f RIPPLE FIELD. 21 Rupert takes Lichfield. Waller takes Hereford. 25 Royalists fail to relieve Reading - action at Caversham Bridge. Battle o f so u r t o n d o w n . Essex takes Reading. 27 13 M ay Action at Grantham. 16 Battle o f STRATTON. 21 Sir Thomas Fairfax storms W akefield. 18 June Action at Chalgrove Field. 30 Battle o f AD WALTON MOOR. Battle o f LANSDOWN. 5 July Battle o f ROUNDWAY DOWN. 13 26 Rupert storms Bristol. 28 Action at Gainsborough. 27 29 3 Novem ber 12 13





10 August-5 September Siege o f Gloucester. 4 September Prince Maurice takes Exeter. 18 Action at Aldboum e Chase. 20 First Battle o f n b w b U R y . * 25 Solemn League and Covenant signed. 6 O ctober M aurice takes Dartm outh. 11 Action at W inceby. Newcastle raises the siege o f Hull. 9 December H opton takes Arundel Castle. Waller storms Alton. 13 6 January Waller recaptures Arundel Castle. The Scots arm y begins to cross the Tweed. 19 Battle o f NANTWICH. 25 5 February Action at Corbridge. 21 March Prince Rupert relieves Newark. 29 Battle o f CHERIT ON. 6 May M anchester storms Lincoln. Rupert storms Stockport. 25 Rupert storms Bolton. 27 11 June Rupert takes Liverpool. Battle o f CROPREDY BRIDGE. 29 2 July Battle o f MARSTON MOOR. Alasdair M acDonald arrives in Scotland. 16 Surrender o f York. 21 August Battle o f b e a c o n h i l l . Battle o f c a s t l e d o r e . 31 I September Battle o f t i p p e r m u i r ; M ontrose defeats Lord Elgin’s Covenanters. Battle o f A b e r d e e n ; M ontrose defeats Lord Balfour o f 13 Burleigh. 20 October The tow n o f Newcastle falls to the Scots. Second Battle o f n e w b u r y . 27 6 N ovem ber Rupert appointed lieutenant-general o f all the King’s armies. 9 Relief o f D onnington Castle. 19 December Self-Denying Ordinance passed by Commons - revised version passed by Lords 3 April 1645. 2 February M ontrose defeats Argyll at Inverlochy. 19 M aurice relieves Chester. 22 Mytton takes Shrewsbury. 4 April Form ation o f the N ew M odel Army. M ontrose takes Dundee. 22 Rupert surprises Massey at Ledbury.



spun out for forty days, during which both sides prepared for the further struggle which they recognised as inevitable. THE BATTLE OF SOURTON D O W N , 2 $ APRIL

Stamford reorganised his arm y so that by 15 April he had 3,500 well-armed Foot and 8 troops o f Horse.1 The truce expired at m idnight on 22 April. Stam­ ford, suffering from gout, was lying at Exeter, and James Chudleigh, son o f Sir George, a professional soldier w ho had fought in Ireland, and already a m ajorgeneral at the age o f twenty-five, led the army. He marched out o f Lifton w ith 1,500 musketeers, 200 pikem en and 5 troops o f Horse, advancing over Polston bridge to attack Launceston. H opton occupied Beacon Hill,2 w ith half o f Grenvile’s regim ent, and lined the hedges at its foot w ith musketeers. He had a magnificent observation post and a splendid position but not enough troops to man it. Fortunately for him , Godolphin’s regim ent now arrived. Chudleigh reached the outskirts o f Laun­ ceston about 9 a.m ., but it was not until an hour later that he began to assault Beacon Hill, driving Grenvile’s musketeers from the hedges. A t about 11 a.m. M ajor Slingsby appeared w ith Lord M ohun’s regim ent, and Berkeley arrived w ith some troops o f Horse and dragoons. Thus reinforced, H opton held his ground throughout the day, inflicting considerable losses on the Parliamen­ tarians. A t about seven in the evening, Slanning and Trevanion joined him , but at the same tim e Chudleigh was reinforced by 700 o f Sir John M errick’s London Greycoats, and by 100 o f Sir John N orthcote’s regim ent led jointly by their m ajor and, oddly enough, the Earl o f Stam ford’s chaplain. The Roundhead reinforcements defended Polston Bridge against the Royalist cavalry. H opton, whose whole arm y had now arrived, decided that the tim e had come for a counter-attack. Regrouping his Foot into three bodies under himself, Berkeley and M ajor-General Thomas Bassett, he advanced in three separate columns, which simultaneously charged Chudleigh’s main body. Shaken by their previous losses and exhausted by the day-long struggle, the Roundheads were quickly disordered. A num ber o f factors saved them from complete rout: the gathering darkness, the steadiness o f the Greycoats who covered their retreat, and the gallantry o f their young commander. Chudleigh him self brought up the rear, and when some o f his followers, eager to be gone, told him it was impossible to save the guns, he harnessed the oxen to them w ith his ow n hands. The explosion o f a pow der magazine which scorched a num ber o f the Cornish discouraged them from further pursuit. O n 25 April die Cavaliers heard from a friend in Okeham pton that the Roundheads were in great disquiet, and determined to make a night march 1 Mary Coate, Cornwall in the Great Civil War (Oxford 1935), p. 57. 2 Known locally as die W indmill. 94



and fall upon them at dawn the next m orning. The Cornish arm y now con­ sisted o f 3,000 Foot, and five ‘voluntary’ regiments, 300 Horse and 300 dragoons. They had four guns, including the tw o 12-pounders taken at Braddock Down. H opton thought this arm y ‘appear’d upon the view the handsoms’t body that had been gotten together in those parts in all that w ar’,1 but pride came before a fell. Chudleigh, w ith 100 good cavalry, was on the alert, determined to waylay H opton in the dark. Never, as H opton admits, had the Cavaliers felt less fear o f their enemy. Lord M ohun and he, w ith Berkeley and Bassett were ‘carelessly entertaining themselves in the head o f the dragoons’2 when they suddenly saw the Roundheads w ithin carbine shot. Chudleigh’s party fired a volley and charged. Captain Drake w ho led them shouting ‘Fall on, Fall on, they run!’ The dragoons pan­ icked and fell back upon the Horse, and the Roundheads riding amongst them routed half the army. M ohun and Grenvile made a stand by the guns, and H opton sent w ord to Slanning to bring the rearguard o f the arm y up to the cannon. Here the Roundhead cavalry were beaten off, but they killed some sixty men. W ishing to follow up his success, Chudleigh sent to Okeham pton for the rest o f his men, 1,000 Foot. The Cavaliers manned an ancient trench and awaited the second charge, planting ‘Swedes’ feathers’ in front o f their guns. The advancing Parliamentarians were given away by the lighted matches o f their musketeers. As soon as they came w ithin range the Cornish fired tw o cannon at them , and this tim e the hearts o f the Roundhead infantry failed them . It seems they liked a night march as little as the Cavaliers. B ut their cavalry made yet another charge, this tim e as far as the ‘Swedes’ feathers’. Surprised perhaps by this unexpected obstacle, Chudleigh decided to go hom e, and retired to his quarters. A fierce tempest broke over the m oor, drenching the combatants, and adding to their miseries. It had been an unpleasant night for both sides, but the Cavaliers had had the w orst o f it, though they were not long in rounding up their runaways and restoring order. H enry Carey, the new H igh Sheriff o f Devonshire, was reduced to making his way hom e in w om an’s apparel. Another survivor o f the fiasco was Captain Christopher W ray, o f M ohun’s regim ent, who ‘being then but fifteen years o f age and little o f stature, but a sprightly gallant youth . . . ’ was taken prisoner to Okeham pton. His captors, taking him for a trooper’s boy, guarded him carelessly and in the night he slipped away, rejoining three days later at the head o f a dozen stragglers. W ray was knighted at Bristol later in the year and at the end o f the w ar was a colonel. Sourton D ow n was a disaster to the Cavaliers both m orally and materially. They fell back to Bridestowe in disorder, leaving behind m any weapons and horses, five barrels o f pow der and H opton’s portm anteau w ith all his papers. In it were letters from the King, from which, though they were in cipher, ‘ Hopton, op. cit., p. 38.

2 Loc. cit. 95


Stamford learned that the Cavaliers had orders to m arch into Somerset and jo in hands w ith Prince Maurice. This com bination the Earl determined to prévoit. Stamford spared no pains to prepare for the next bout, ordering his own forces to rendezvous at Torrington, there to jo in w ith such contingents as could be spared from the garrisons o f Barnstable and Bideford. Ample stores o f food and ammunition were collected. Sending Lieutenant-General Sir George Chudleigh and 1,200 Horse to surprise the Cornish posse comitatus at Bodmin, the Earl crossed into Cornwall on 15 M ay and advanced to Stratton, where he took up a strong position on the hill that now bears his name. He had 5,400 Foot, 200 Horse and 13 guns. T o m eet this invasion H opton could muster only 2,400 Foot and 500 Horse, for he felt compelled to leave garrisons at Saltash, M illbrook and elsewhere. Nevertheless, he was eager for battle once more. His administrative difficulties compelled him to seek a swift decision. O n the evening o f 15 May, H opton, w ho had advanced via N orth Petherw in and W eek St M ary, was in touch w ith the Roundheads at Efford M ill near Stratton. That night the Cornish commanders held a Council o f W ar ‘where it was quickly resolv’d, notwithstanding the great visible disadvantage, that they must either force the Enemies’ Camp, while the most part o f their Horse and dragoons were from them , or unavoidably perish’.1


The Roundhead position was indeed a strong one. Stamford Hill runs north and south and is about 200 feet above sea level. O n the east it is steep and thickly wooded, an obstacle inaccessible to cavalry and difficult for infantry. Elsewhere the slope is gentler. O n the summit an ancient earthw ork served as a battery. D uring the night most o f the Cornish arm y crossed the stream at Efford Hill and occupied enclosures on the east side. They stood to their arms all night, but there was no fighting until daybreak, when a fire fight began w ith the Roundhead infantry lining hedges not m ore than 200 yards away. H opton brought up the rest o f his arm y, and divided the whole into four columns o f Foot each about