The New Model Army and the End of the War

In December 1644, the House of Commons decided that its armies must be restructured to ensure victory in the field. Only after months of negotiations, however, did the House of Lords concur with the formation of the New Model Army, to be composed of the armies of Essex, Manchester, and Waller. On April 3, 1645, these commanders were removed by the Self-Denying Ordinance, for the discharging of the Members of both Houses from all offices, both military and civilian. The one exception made was for Cromwell, who sat in the Commons but was appointed lieutenant general of horse of the New Model Army, which was to be commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax. Charles I left Oxford in May and had to decide on his strategy for the new campaign season. His queen had left England for the safety of her native France, and his 14-year-old heir, Charles, prince of Wales, had been sent to the loyalist West Country. The king then fatefully decided to split his forces. He and Rupert, now commander in chief, would march north, while 3,000 of his cavalry were sent west. In the meantime, Fairfax and the New Model Army had been directed on various inconclusive missions by the Committee of Both Kingdoms. Only when the king surprised the parliamentary stronghold of Leicester in the Midlands on May 31 did the committee give Fairfax permission to proceed as he saw fit. Fairfax immediately set off in pursuit of the king’s army. On June 14, the New Model Army, numbering 14,000 17,000 men, encountered the king’s 10,000 men at Naseby in Northamptonshire. Despite their inferior numbers, the seasoned royalist infantry held its own, but the parliamentary cavalry, led by Cromwell, proved to be the deciding factor. In the end, the king’s army was totally broken, with over 4,000 of his infantry captured. The king, however, did escape to Wales, where he began recruiting new forces. Fairfax was determined to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible. There was a growing war-weariness in the country, and popular self-defense forces, called Clubmen, had arisen in many locales against the depredations of both armies. The New Model Army marched west, carefully avoiding any confrontations with the Clubmen en route, and defeated the last major royalist field army at Langport in Somerset on July 10. But rather than pursue the fleeing royalists farther west, Fairfax concentrated on cutting them off by capturing a series of royalist strongholds, among them Bristol, which Prince Rupert surrendered on September 10. The war wound down that winter as the New Model Army again turned west, where Hopton surrendered the king’s last forces in March 1646, but not before sending the prince of Wales out of the country. With his son safely away, Charles I surrendered himself on May 5 to the Scottish army. The civil war had come to an end. But the long-sought peace did not bring a final resolution to the contentious questions concerning state and church in England. Instead, a more radicalized New Model Army made up of men such as Cromwell, who wanted independent congregations began to part ways with its nominal commander, Parliament. Fairfax remained lord general through the royalist uprisings in 1648, which he and Cromwell put down, but he played no part in the trial and execution of Charles I in January 1649. Nor would he lead the New Model Army against his former allies the Scots when they supported Charles II, which led to Fairfax’s resignation in 1650. Cromwell then assumed control not only of the New Model Army but also of the English state until his death in 1658. Yet even Cromwell could not formulate a permanent form of government, and, in 1660, the Stuart monarchy was restored. Because of distances and the lapse of time in communications, the newly founded British North American colonies played no direct role in the civil war. The Puritans of New England favored the parliamentary cause, while the royal colony of Virginia remained loyal to Charles I. The Virginia House of Burgesses even condemned the king’s execution, but not until October 1649, some nine months after his death. Florene S. Memegalos See also: Charles I; Charles II; Cromwell, Oliver; Puritanism. Bibliography Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of. The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England Begun in the Year 1641. 6 vols. Edited by W. Dunn Macray. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1888. Gardiner, S. R. History of the Great Civil War, 1642 1649. 4 vols. London: Longman, Green: 1901 1904. Reprint, London: Windrush, 1987. Kenyon, John. The Civil Wars of England. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988. Prall, Stuart E. The Puritan Revolution and the English Civil War. Malabar, FL: Krieger, 2002. Roots, Ivan. The Great Rebellion: 1642 1660. London: B. T. Batsford, 1966. Wedgwood, C. V. The King’s War, 1641 1647. London: Collins, 1958. New Model Army – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia History of the British Army – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Xi’s new model army The Economist

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