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The Mighty New Model Army

The New Model Army was an armed group created by the Parliament of England in 1645 in order to oppose the King's army. A professionally trained fighting unit, the New Model Army was to go down in history as having turned the tide of the English Civil War.

One of the most celebrated battles fought by the Parliament was the Battle of Marston Moor, which was by all accounts a major victory for them. It was however far from decisive as Charles was able to sufficiently recover from it. The formation of the New Model Army however was to prove a major turning point in the continuing struggle between Parliament and the monarchy. General Fairfax, who was in the position of commander-in-chief, headed the army and in charge of the cavalry was Oliver Cromwell. By this time Cromwell had already made quite a reputation for himself by fighting in the aforementioned Battle of Marston Moor. It was during this war that Oliver Cromwell's cavalry inflicted considerable damage to the King's army.

The New Model Army was an unusual fighting unit at that time in that acceptance into the force was based on a person's ability rather than on his lineage or position in society. This meant that even a person of modest birth could hope to attain the position of officer in this army on the virtue of his capability. In fact, one of the most prominent officers in the New Model Army was a butcher by a profession. This disregard of the army for social conventions made it an attractive position for the less-privileged members of society in those days and they joined the army by the hundreds.

Oliver Cromwell was a devout Puritan and he showed a strong preference for soldiers who shared his beliefs. Many new recruits who were not Puritans to begin with eventually converted to the faith.

Because of this strong religious fervour many of the soldiers in the New Model Army were emboldened in battle believing in their hearts that they were fighting with God on their side. A common scenario in the army in those days was the sight of soldiers marching off into battle while singing psalms.

The fighting method of the New Model Army was largely based on lightly armed cavalry. They quickly became known as the Ironsides for the apparent ease in which they ploughed through the opposing forces. Ironically this name was possibly given to them by one of the King's most esteemed officers Prince Rupert.

The soldiers of the New Model Army were typically attired in tough leather jerkins, as the traditional full plated armour would have weighed down their horses too much. The horses were of course critical components of the New Model Army's plan of attack, as their modus operandi involved in large part, the element of surprise; they would typically surprise the enemy with a speedy attack, hitting hard and decisively and then move on to the next target.

In the first major battle of the New Model Army, which was the Battle of Naseby in June 1645, they were able to kill almost 1,000 Royalist soldiers and captured 4,500 others. In addition, they were able to take possession of the King's weapons and from then on they were on the attacking side of the conflicts.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 25/07/2008

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