Oliver Cromwell was a key figure in the English Civil War and the eventual leader of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He is perhaps most famous for his role in the creation of the New Model Army, which was a highly trained and disciplined military force that played a key role in the Parliamentarian victory in the Civil War.
The New Model Army was created in 1645 and was designed to be a more effective fighting force than the older, more traditional armies that had previously been deployed by both the Parliamentarians and the Royalists.
Here is an outline of the key features of the New Model Army:
It was made up of professional soldiers who were paid a regular wage. This contrasted with the older system, where soldiers were often unpaid and had to rely on looting and pillaging to survive.
It was organized into regiments, each of which was commanded by a colonel. This was a more efficient and centralized system than the older one, which was based on feudal levies and was often difficult to control.
It was a highly disciplined army and was expected to follow strict codes of conduct. This was in contrast to the older armies, which were often undisciplined and prone to drinking and stealing.
It was trained and equipped according to the latest military standards and equipment such as muskets, pikes, and other modern weapons. There was also the adoption of more effective tactics such as the use of infantry in tight formations.
Muskets were the primary firearm equipped by infantry at the time. They were relatively accurate and had a long range, but they took a long time to load and could only fire a single shot before needing to be reloaded. Pikes were long spears that were used by infantry to defend against cavalry charges. They were also used in close combat and were effective when employed in combination with muskets.
Tactics during this period were also evolving. One strategy that was becoming more popular was the use of infantry in tight formations, with rows of musketeers protected by a “hedgehog” of pikemen. This allowed the infantry to present a formidable defence against cavalry charges and to hold their ground against enemy infantry.
Structure of the New Army
The New Model Army was made up of a total of 22 regiments of footsoldiers (infantry) and 8 regiments of horse (cavalry), each commanded by a colonel. The infantry regiments were each made up of around 1,000 soldiers, while the cavalry regiments each had around 500 soldiers.
The New Model Army was also supported by several other units, including artillery, engineers, and logistical support. These units played a vital role in the Army’s operations and were integral to its success.
Weapons of the new Model Army
During the 17th century, a variety of weapons were used in warfare. Some of the most common types of weapons and their uses are described below:
Muskets: Muskets were long-barrelled firearms that were fired by using a matchlock or flintlock mechanism. They were the main infantry weapon.
Pikes: Pikes were long spears that were used by infantry to defend against cavalry charges. A pike was a long spear that was used by infantry as a weapon and as a means of defence against cavalry charges. Pikes were typically made of wood or iron and ranged in length from 16 to 21 feet. They had a long, thin shaft and a pointed head, which was either flared or tapered depending on the design.
Cannons: Cannons were large artillery pieces that fired iron balls or other projectiles over long distances. They were used to attack fortifications and enemy troops and were often used in conjunction with muskets and pikes in battlefield tactics.
Swords: Swords were long, curved blades that were used in close combat. They were carried by both infantry and cavalry and were used for both attack and defence.
Backsword: The backsword was a single-edged sword that was popular among both infantry and cavalry. It had a straight blade and was used for both cutting and thrusting.
Broadsword: The broadsword was a double-edged sword with a wide, flat blade. It was used primarily by cavalry and was effective at both cutting and thrusting.
Rapier: The rapier was a long, thin sword that was popular among the nobility and was used primarily for duelling. It had a narrow, pointed blade and was designed for thrusting rather than cutting.
Cutlass: The cutlass was a short, curved sword with a single-edged blade. It was often used by sailors and was effective at both cutting and hacking.
Effective Commanders of the New Model Army
There were several commanders who played a key role in the success of the New Model Army during the English Civil War. Some of the most effective commanders of the New Model Army include:
Oliver Cromwell: Oliver Cromwell was the most famous and influential commander of the New Model Army. He rose to prominence during the early years of the Civil War and eventually became the leader of the Army and the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was known for his tactical brilliance and his ability to inspire and lead his troops.
Thomas Fairfax: Fairfax was a general in the New Model Army and was known for his steady leadership and his ability to work effectively with Cromwell. He played a key role in the Parliamentarian victory in the Civil War and was eventually appointed as the Lord General of the Army.
Sir Thomas Wessex: Wessex was a general in the New Model Army and was known for his ability to lead and train his troops effectively. He played an essential part in several important victories for the Parliamentarians and was a highly respected soldier.
Sir Philip Skippon: Skippon was a general in the New Model Army and was known for his bravery and his ability to lead his troops in battle. He played a key role in several important victories for the Parliamentarians and was highly respected by his fellow commanders.
Sir William Waller: Waller was a general in the New Model Army and was known for his tactical skills and his ability to lead his troops well. He played an important role in several battles.
These are just a few examples, but there were many other talented and capable commanders who were instrumental to the Army’s success during the Civil War.
Overall, the New Model Army was a significant innovation in military organization and set the stage for the modern professional army that exists today. Its emphasis on professional soldiers, centralized command structure, modern equipment and tactics, and discipline laid the foundation for the modern military and influenced the development of military organization and doctrine in the centuries that followed.