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This article is about 17th century Parliamentarian military. For the band, seeNew Model Army (band).
: rules, regulations and drill procedures of the New Model Army
Council of State(16491653; 16591660)
TheNew Model Armyof England was formed in 1645 by theParliamentariansin theEnglish Civil War, and was disbanded in 1660 afterthe Restoration. It differed from other armies in the series of civil wars referred to as theWars of the Three Kingdomsin that it was intended as an army liable for service anywhere in the country (including inScotlandandIreland), rather than being tied to a single area orgarrison. Itssoldiersbecamefull-time professionals, rather than. To establish a professional officer corps, the armys leaders were prohibited from having seats in either theHouse of LordsorHouse of Commons. This was to encourage their separation from the political or religious factions among the Parliamentarians.
The New Model Army was raised partly from among veteran soldiers who already had deeply heldPuritanreligious beliefs, and partly fromconscriptswho brought with them many commonly held beliefs about religion or society. Many of its common soldiers therefore helddissentingor radical views unique among English armies. Although the Armys senior officers did not share many of their soldiers political opinions, their independence from Parliament led to the Armys willingness to contribute to the overthrow of both the Crown and Parliaments authority, and to establish aCommonwealth of Englandfrom 1649 to 1660, which included a period of direct military rule. Ultimately, the Armys Generals (particularlyOliver Cromwell) could rely both on the Armys internal discipline and its religious zeal and innate support for theGood Old Causeto maintain an essentially dictatorial rule.
The New Model Army was formed as a result of dissatisfaction among Parliamentarians with the conduct of the Civil War in 1644. Although the Parliamentarians had a clear advantage in financial resources and manpower over theRoyalists, most of their forces were raised by local associations of counties, and could rarely be used far from their homes. As early as 2 July of that year, SirWilliam Wallerdiscovered that his London-based units were refusing to campaign further afield, and wrote, An army compounded of these men will never go through with your service, and till you have an army merely your own that you may command, it is in a manner impossible to do anything of importance.
There was also increasing dissension among Parliaments generals in the field. Parliament suspected that many of its senior officers, who were mainlyPresbyterians, were inclined to favour peace withKing Charles, and were conducting operations half-heartedly as a result. TheEarl of Manchesterwas one of the prominent members favouring peace, but his Lieutenant General,Oliver Cromwell, strongly advocated fighting the war to the finish. Manchester and Cromwell clashed publicly over this issue several times. Parliaments senior commander, theEarl of Essex, was also suspected of lack of determination and was on poor terms with his subordinates. The tensions among the Parliamentarian generals became a bitter public argument after theSecond Battle of Newbury. Some of them believed that King Charless army had escaped encirclement after the battle through inaction on the part of some commanders.
On 19 November 1644, the ParliamentarianEastern Associationof counties announced that they could no longer meet the cost of maintaining their forces, which at the time provided about half the field force available to Parliament. In response, Parliament directed theCommittee of Both Kingdoms, the cabinet-like body that oversaw the conduct of the War (and which included several experienced officers), to review the state of all Parliaments forces. On 19 December, the House of Commons passed theSelf-denying Ordinance, which prevented members of the Houses of Lords and Commons from holding any military office. Originally a separate matter from the establishment of the New Model Army, it soon became intimately linked with it. Once the Self-denying Ordinance became Law, the Earls of Manchester and Essex, and other Presbyterianmembers of Parliamentand peers, were removed from command in the field.
On 6 January 1645, the Committee of Both Kingdoms established the New Model Army, appointing SirThomas Fairfaxas its Captain-General and SirPhilip Skipponas Sergeant-Major General of the Foot. The Self-denying Ordinance took time to pass the House of Lords, but came into force on 3 April 1645, about the same time as the New Model Army first took the field. Although Oliver Cromwell (who was theMember of ParliamentforCambridge) handed over his command of the Armys cavalry when the Ordinance was enacted, Fairfax requested his services when another officer (Colonel Bartholomew Vermuyden) wished to emigrate. Cromwell was commissioned Colonel of Vermuydens former regiment of horse, and was appointed Lieutenant General of the Horse in June. Cromwell and his son-in-lawHenry Ireton(the New Model Armys Commissary General, or second in command of the cavalry) were two of the only four exceptions to the Self-denying Ordinance, the other two being local commanders in Cheshire and North Wales. They were allowed to serve under a series of three-month temporary commissions that were continually extended.
Parliament decreed the consolidation of most of their forces outside the New Model Army into two other locally recruited armies, those of theNorthern AssociationunderSydenham Poyntzand theWestern AssociationunderEdward Massey. They were intended to reduce the remaining Royalist garrisons in their areas and prevent Royalist incursions. Some of their regiments were reorganised and incorporated into the New Model Army during and after theSecond English Civil War.
The New Model Army consisted on paper of 22,000 soldiers, comprising elevenregimentsof cavalry each of 600 men for a total of 6,600, twelve regiments ofinfantryeach of 1,200 men for a total of 14,400, and one regiment of 1,000dragoons. Units from the existing Parliamentarian armies of the Earl of Essex, the Southern Association under SirWilliam Wallerand the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester were reassigned to provide regiments for the new army. Although the cavalry regiments were already well up to strength and there was no shortage of volunteers, the regiments of foot soldiers needed 7,000 reinforcements to be brought up to full strength. Men wereimpressedfrom Parliamentarian-held areas in the South and East to provide the necessary drafts, but many of these soon deserted and the Army was still 4,000 men short of its paper infantry establishment in May 1645.1
A Soldiers catechism set out new regulations anddrillprocedures. The standard daily pay was 8 pence for infantry and 2shillingsfor cavalry. The administration of the Army was more centralised, with improved provision of adequate food, clothing and other supplies. Cavalrymen (often recruited from amongyeomenor the more well-to-do farmers) had to supply their own horses.
The founders intended that proficiency rather thansocial standingor wealth should determine the Armys leadership and promotions. Many officers (often the gentlemen amateurs) of existing units merged into regiments of the New Model Army became surplus to the organization and were discharged. Suchreformadoesdemonstrated several times in London as they sought compensation or relief. Many corporals and sergeants, particularly in the Earl of Essexs army, were unable to find posts in the merged regiments, but they were persuaded to serve as ordinary soldiers. Contemporary accounts reported that this was due to the popular Sir Philip Skippons success in exhorting them to stay on, but historians have suggested that the reasons were economic: the former non-commissioned officers (NCOs) did not think they could find work outside the Army.
An observer, SirSamuel Luke, who was one of the officers discharged from the Earl of Essexs Army, wrote on 9 June 1645 that the Army was the bravest for bodies of men, horse and arms so far as the common soldiers as ever I saw in my life. However, he later complained that many soldiers were drunk, and that many officers were hard to tell from ordinary soldiers.2
Cromwell accepted only soldiers and, especially, officers who were dedicated to Protestant ideals, as he was. Earlier during the Civil War (in September 1643) he had written toSir William Springsaying that he would rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than what you call a Gentleman and is nothing else.3During the Armys formation, some Presbyterians considered it a hotbed ofIndependents, a potentially dangerous situation given that Parliaments agreement with the ScottishCovenantersstipulated that Presbyterianism would be the established Church in England. Several prominent Presbyterian officers, mainly expatriate Scottish professional soldiers, refused to serve in the New Model Army on religious grounds. Two of the first Colonels appointed in the Army (Edward Montagu andJohn Pickering) were known extreme Independents. Pickering even preached sermons to his troops, for which Fairfax reprimanded him. The Earl of Essex brought a motion in the House of Lords to prevent Montagu and Pickering, and 40 Captains who were reportedly of the same persuasion, from holding commissions, but after a tied vote, the motion was not passed to the House of Commons and they were allowed to serve.4
Prince Rupert of the Rhine, an archetypalcavalierand prominent general in the army of King Charles I, nicknamed the New Model troopsIronsides. This referred to their ability to cut through opposing forces.
TheOxford English Dictionarydated the earliest use of the phrase New Model Army to the works of the Scottish historianThomas Carlylein 1845, and the exact term does not appear in 17th or 18th century documents. Records from February 1646 refer to the New Modelled Armythe idiom of the time being to refer to an army that was new-modelled rather than appending the word army to new model.5
Formerly part ofOliver Cromwells double regiment ofIronsides. Sir Thomas Fairfaxs Lifeguard (formerly the Earl of Essexs Lifeguard troop) formed extra senior troop.
Formerly part of Oliver Cromwells double regiment of Ironsides.Richard Baxterserved as chaplain July 1645July 1646.
Said to have many Independents in its ranks
Formerly theEarl of Manchesters Regiment. Originally intended forAlgernon Sydney, who declined the appointment due to health concerns. Rich had earlier been rejected by the Commons for a colonelcy.
Taken over by Oliver Cromwell after Naseby. Vermuyden, one of the last non-English regimental commanders, resigned in July 1645.
Formerly the Earl of Essexs Regiment. After June 1647, it was commanded byAdrian Scrope. It was disbanded after 1649 Leveller Mutiny at Burford.
Originally intended for Nathaniel Rich, whose nomination was the only colonelcy rejected by the Commons, though he later received a commission whenAlgernon Sydneydeclined his nomination. Pye replaced by Matthew Tomlinson in 1647.
Sheffield replaced byThomas Harrisonin 1647
Originally intended forJohn Middleton, who declined so he could serve in Scotland against theEarl of Montrose. Butler replaced byThomas Hortonin 1647
Originally intended to serve inLincolnshire. Rossiter was replaced byPhilip Twisletonin 1647
Later converted to a regiment of Horse
Originally the Earl of Essexs Regiment but contained some companies from the Eastern Association
Originally intended forLawrence Crawford, who refused to serve in the New Model Army
Montague withdrew from the Army when he was elected MP for Huntingdonshire October 1645. Replaced byJohn Lambert.
Pickering died of an illness at Antre and was replaced byJohn Hewsonin December 1646.
Originally intended for Colonel Ayloff, who refused to serve in New Model Army.
Fortescue replaced byJohn Barksteadin 1647. This regiment suffered the deaths of three successive lieutenant colonels in battle. It was unusual for such high-ranking officers to die.
Originally intended for Colonel Harry Barclay, a Scottish colonel. Harley did not serve in 1645, as he was still recovering from wounds. Lieutenant ColonelThomas Pridecommanded in his absence, and succeeded to command in 1647.
Originally intended for Colonel Edward Aldrich, who refused to command this particular regiment because it was composed of soldiers from many different precursor regiments. Lloyd died in battle in June 1645 and was replaced by William Herbert, who was in turn replaced byRobert Overtonin 1647.
Originally intended for Scottish colonelJames Holborne
Originally the Kentish Regiment. Weldon was replaced byRobert Lilburnein spring 1646 when Weldon was appointed governor ofPlymouth. Weldons Lieutenant Colonel, Nicholas Kempson, was passed over for promotion and undermined Lilburnes command.
* = a significant effort by the House of Lords to block appointment. ** = a significant effort by the House of Commons to block appointment.
The New Model Armys elite troops were its Regiments ofHorse. They were armed and equipped in the style known at the time asharquebusiers, rather than as heavily armouredcuirassiers. They wore a back-and-front breastplate over abuff leather coat, which itself gave some protection against sword cuts, and normally alobster-tailed pothelmet with a movable three-barred visor, and a bridle gauntlet on the left hand. The sleeves of the buff coats were often decorated with strips of braid, which may have been arranged in a regimental pattern. Leather bucket-topped riding boots gave some protection to the legs.citation needed
Regiments were organised into six troops, of one hundred troopers plus officers, non-commissioned officers and specialists (drummers,farriersetc.). Each troop had its own standard, 2 feet (61cm) square. On the battlefield, a regiment was normally formed as two divisions of three troops, one commanded by the regiments colonel (or the major, if the colonel was not present), the other by the lieutenant colonel.7
Their discipline was markedly superior to that of their Royalist counterparts. Cromwell specifically forbade his men to gallop after a fleeing enemy, but demanded they hold the battlefield. This meant that the New Model cavalry could charge, break an enemy force, regroup and charge again at another objective. On the other hand, when required to pursue, they did so relentlessly, not breaking ranks to loot abandoned enemy baggage as Royalist horse often did.8
The New Model Army contained one regiment ofdragoons, of twelve companies each of one hundred men, under ColonelJohn Okey. Dragoons were mounted infantry, and wore much the same uniform as musketeers although they probably wore stout cloth gaiters to protect the legs while riding. They were armed withflintlocksnaphaunces rather than thematchlockmuskets carried by the infantry.
On the battlefield, their major function was to clear enemy musketeers from in front of their main position. At theBattle of Naseby, they were used to outflank enemy cavalry.
They were also useful in patrolling and scouting. In sieges, they were often used to assault breaches carryingandgrenades. The storming party were sometimes offered cash payments, as this was a very risky job. Once theforlorn hopeestablished a foothold in the enemy position, the infantry followed them with their more cumbersome pikes and matchlock muskets.
In 1650, Okeys dragoons were converted into a regiment of horse. It appears that after that date, unregimented companies of dragoons raised from the Militia and other sources were attached to the regiments of horse and foot as required. This was the case at theBattle of Dunbaron 3 September 1650.9
The Regiments of Foot consisted of ten companies, in whichmusketeersandpikemenwere mixed, at least on the march. Seven companies consisted of one hundred soldiers, plus officers, specialists and so on, and were commanded by captains. The other three companies were nominally commanded by the regiments colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, and were stronger (200, 160 and 140 ordinary soldiers respectively).10
The regiments of foot were provided withred coats. Red was chosen because uniforms were purchased competitively from the lowest bidder, andVenetian redwas the least expensive dye.11Those used by the various regiments were distinguished by differently coloured linings, which showed at the collar and ends of the sleeves, and generally matched the colours of the regimental and company standards. In time, they became the official facing colour.12On some occasions, regiments were referred to, for example, as the blue regiment or the white regiment from these colours, though in formal correspondence they were referred to by the name of their colonel. Each company had its own standard, 6 feet (180cm) square. The colonels companys standard was plain, the lieutenant colonels had a cross of Saint George in the upper corner nearest the staff, the majors had a flame issuing from the cross, and the captains standards had increasing numbers of heraldic decorations, such as roundels or crosses to indicate their seniority.
The New Model Army always had two musketeers for each pikeman,13though depictions of battles show them present in equal numbers.aOn the battlefield, the musketeers lacked protection against enemy cavalry, and the two types of foot soldier supported each other. For most siege work, or for any action in wooded or rough country, the musketeer was generally more useful and versatile. Musketeers were often detached from their regiments, or commanded, for particular tasks.
Pikemen, when fully equipped, wore apot helmet, back- and breastplates over a buff coat, and often also armouredtassetsto protect the upper legs. They carried a sixteen-foot pike, and a sword. The heavily burdened pikeman usually dictated the speed of the Armys movement. They were frequently ordered to discard the tassets, and individual soldiers were disciplined for sawing a foot or two from the butts of their pikes,14although senior officers were recommended to make the men accustomed to marching with heavy loads by regular route marches. In irregular fighting in Ireland, the New Model temporarily gave up the pike.15In battle, the pikemen were supposed to project a solid front of spearheads, to protect the musketeers from cavalry while they reloaded. They also led the infantry advance against enemy foot units, when things came topush of pike.16
The musketeers wore no armour, at least by the end of the Civil War,17although it is not certain that none had iron helmets at the beginning. They wore a bandolier from which were suspended twelve wooden containers, each with a ball and measured charge of powder for theirmatchlockmuskets. These containers are sometimes referred to as the Twelve Apostles.18According to one source, they carried 1lb of fine powder, for priming, to 2lbs of lead and 2lbs of ordinary powder, the actual charging powder, for 3lbs of lead.19They were normally deployed six ranks deep, and were supposed to keep up a constant fire by means of thecountermarcheither by introduction whereby the rear rank filed to the front to fire a volley, or byretroductionwhere the front rank fired a volley then filed to the rear. By the time that they reached the front rank again, they should have reloaded and been prepared to fire. At close quarters, there was often no time for musketeers to reload, and they used their musket butts as clubs. They carriedswords, but these were often of inferior quality, and ruined by use for cutting firewood.20Bayonets were not introduced into European armies until the 1660s and so were not part of a musketeers equipment.
The establishment of the New Model Armysartilleryvaried over time, and the artillery was administered separately from the Horse and Foot. At the Armys formation, Thomas Hammond (brother of Colonel Robert Hammond who commanded a Regiment of Foot) was appointed Lieutenant General of the Ordnance.21Much of the artillery was captured from the Royalists in the aftermath of the Battle of Naseby and the storming ofBristol.
The establishment of the New Model also included at least two companies of firelocks orfusiliers, who woretawnycoats instead of red,22commanded initially by MajorJohn Desborough.21They were used to guard the guns and ammunition wagons, as it was obviously undesirable to have matchlock-armed soldiers with lighted matches near the gunpowder barrels.
The artillery was used to most effect insieges, where its role was to blast breaches in fortifications for the infantry to assault. Cromwell and the other commanders of the Army were not trained in siege warfare and generally tried to take fortified towns by storm rather than go through the complex and time-consuming process of building earthworks and trenches around it so that batteries of cannon could be brought close to the walls to pound it into surrender.
The Army generally performed well when storming fortifications, for example at thesiege of Drogheda, but paid a heavy price atClonmelwhen Cromwell ordered them to attack a well-defended breach.23
The New Model did not use tents, instead being quartered in whatever buildings (houses, barns etc.) were available, until they began to serve in the less populated areas of the countries of Ireland and Scotland. In 1650, their tents were each for six men, a file, who carried the tents in parts.24In campaigns in Scotland, the troops carried with them seven days rations, consisting exclusively of biscuit and cheese.25
The Army took the field in late April or May, 1645. After an attempt to raise theSiege of Tauntonwas abandoned, the Army began aSiege of Oxford, sending a detachment of one regiment of cavalry and four of infantry to reinforce the defenders of Taunton. After the Royalists capturedLeicester, Fairfax was ordered to leave Oxford and march north to confront the Kings army. On 14 June, the New Model Army destroyed King Charles smaller but veteran army at theBattle of Naseby. Leaving the Scots and locally raised forces to contain the King, the New Model Army marched into the west country, where they destroyed the remaining Royalist field army atLangporton 10 July. Thereafter, they reduced the Royalist fortresses in the west and south of England. The last fortress in the west surrendered in early 1646, shortly before Charles surrendered himself to a Scottish army and hostilities ended.citation needed
Having won theFirst Civil War, the soldiers became discontented with theLong Parliament, for several reasons. Firstly, they had not been paid regularly – pay was weeks in arrears – and on the end of hostilities, theconservativeMPs in Parliament wanted to either disband the Army or send them to fight in Ireland without addressing the issue of back pay. Secondly, the Long Parliament refused to grant the soldiersamnestyfrom prosecution for any criminal acts they had been ordered to commit in the Civil War. The soldiers demanded indemnity as several soldiers were hanged after the war for crimes such as stealing horses for use by the cavalry regiments. Thirdly, seeing that most Parliamentarians wanted to restore the King without major democratic reforms or religious freedomb, many soldiers asked why they had risked their lives in the first place, a sentiment that was strongly expressed by their elected representatives.
Two representatives, called Agitators, were elected from each regiment. The Agitators, with two officers from each regiment and the Generals, formed a new body called theArmy Council. At a meeting (rendezvous) held nearNewmarket, Suffolkon 4 June 1647 this council issuedASolemne Engagementof the Army, under the Command of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfaxto Parliament on 8 June making their concerns known, and also detailing the constitution of the Army Council so that Parliament would understand that the discontent was Army wide and had the support of both officers and other ranks. This Engagement was read out to the Army at a general Army rendezvous on 5 June.citation needed
Having come into contact with ideas from the radical movement called theLevellers, the troops of the Army proposed a revolutionary new constitution named theAgreement of the People, which called for almost universal male suffrage, electoral boundary reform, power to rest with a Parliament elected by the people every two years, religious freedom, and an end to imprisonment for debt.citation needed
Increasingly concerned at the failure to pay their wages and by political manoeuvrings by King Charles I and by some in Parliament, the army marched slowly towards London over the next few months. In late October and early November at thePutney Debates, the Army debated two different proposals. The first was theAgreement of the People; the other was theHeads of Proposals, put forward by Henry Ireton for the Army Council. This constitutional manifesto included the preservation of property rights and would maintain the privileges of the gentry. At the Putney Debates, it was agreed to hold three further rendezvous.citation needed
The army remained under control and intact, so it was able to take the field when theSecond English Civil Warbroke out in July 1648. The New Model Army routed English royalist insurrections inSurreyandKent, and inWales, before crushing a Scottish invasion force at theBattle of Prestonin August.
Many of the Armys radicals now called for the execution of the King, whom they called,Charles Stuart, that man of blood. The majority of the Grandees realised that they could neither negotiate a settlement with Charles I, nor trust him to refrain from raising another army to attack them, so they came reluctantly to the same conclusion as the radicals: they would have to execute him. After the Long Parliament rejected the ArmysRemonstrancecby 125 to 58, the Grandees decided to reconstitute Parliament so that it would agree with the Armys position. On 6 December 1648, ColonelThomas PrideinstitutedPrides Purgeand forcibly removed from the House of Commons all those who were not supporters of the religious independents and the Grandees in the Army. The much-reducedRump Parliamentpassed the necessary legislation to try Charles I. He was found guilty of high treason by the59 Commissionersandbeheadedon 30 January 1649.
Now that the twin pressures of Royalism and those in the Long Parliament who were hostile to the Army had been defeated, the divisions in the Army present in the Putney Debates resurfaced. Cromwell, Ireton, Fairfax and the other Grandees were not prepared to countenance the Agitators proposals for a revolutionary constitutional settlement. This eventually brought the Grandees into conflict with those elements in the New Model Army who did.
During 1649, there were three mutinies over pay and political demands. The first involved 300 infantrymen of ColonelJohn Hewsons regiment, who declared that they would not serve in Ireland until the Levellers programme had been realised. They were cashiered without arrears of pay, which was the threat that had been used to quell the mutiny at the Corkbush Field rendezvous.
In theBishopsgate mutiny, soldiers of the regiment of ColonelEdward Whalleystationed inBishopsgate, in London, made demands similar to those of Hewsons regiment. They were ordered out of London.citation needed
Less than two weeks later, there was a larger mutiny involving several regiments over pay and political demands. After the resolution of the pay issue, theBanbury mutineers, consisting of 400 soldiers with Leveller sympathies under the command of CaptainWilliam Thompson, continued to negotiate for their political demands. They set out forSalisburyin the hope of rallying support from the regiments billeted there. Cromwell launched a night attack on 13 May, in which several mutineers perished, but Captain Thompson escaped, only to be killed in another skirmish near theDiggerscommunity atWellingborough. The rest were imprisoned inBurfordChurch until three were shot in the Churchyard on 17 May. With the failure of this mutiny, the Levellers power base in the New Model Army was destroyed.
Later that year, on 15 August 1649, the New Model Army landed in Ireland to start theCromwellian conquest of Ireland. The soldiers in this expeditionary force were not the first New Model soldiers to fight in Ireland (many hundreds had fought in the major battles of the previous years) but the scale of the 1649 deployment far exceeded all earlier efforts. Many soldiers were reluctant to serve in this campaign, as Ireland had a bad reputation amongst English soldiers, and regiments had to draw lots to decide who would go on the expedition.citation needed
The politically and religiously disunited Royalist and Catholic coalition they met in Ireland were at a major disadvantage against the New Model Army. After the shock defeats atRathminesandDrogheda, many of the Royalist soldiers opposing the Parliamentarian forces became demoralised, melting away at the first opportunity. The Scottish Royalist army in Ulster was badly weakened by desertion before thebattle of Lisnagarveyfor example.citation needed
However, resistance by some of the native Irish Catholic forces, who were faced with land confiscations and suppression of their religion in the event of a Parliamentarian conquest, proved stubborn and protracted. Some units, notably the