English Civil War

Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar, painted by Andrew Carrick Gow, 1886 (detail)

Above: Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar, painted by Andrew Carrick Gow, 1886 (detail).

1642 - the year Cromwell commenced his miltary career.

2,000 - the estimated number of miles Cromwell covered during his miltary service.

8 - the number of years it took Cromwell to rise from a man without military experience (1642) to become commander-in-chief of the parliamentary army (1650).

20 - the estimated number of weeks Cromwell spent at the House of Commons during the 3 years of the first civil war. Cromwell remained a member of parliament during the war years, occasionally returning to Westminster (mainly during breaks in the fighting and in winter).

Did You Know?

In August 1644, before civil war broke out and as both crown and parliament grew further apart and began amassing troops in England and Wales, Cromwell raised armed resistance in Cambridge in order to prevent the colleges sending their silver to York (silver intended to help fund the Royalist cause).

60 - the number of horse (mounted soldiers) Cromwell raised in Cambridge.

22 August 1642 - the date Cromwell raised his standard at Nottingham.


First English Civil War

Map of major English Civil War battles.

Above: Map of major English Civil War battles.

23 October 1642 - the first major battle of the civil wars, at Edgehill. Cromwell's troop rendevoused with the Earl of Essex and the parliamentary army, but arrived too late for the main battle. It is believed he was probably there for the closing stages.

Read more about the Battle of Edgehill

13 November 1642 - the date the Earl of Essex blocked the Royalists' advance at Turnham Green, thereby preventing them from reaching London.

Did You Know?

Late in 1642, the king regrouped his army in Oxford, whilst the parliamentary army did the same in London, and both armies spent the winter months securing territories throughout England and Wales. The Royalists held Cornwall most of northern England, and almost all of Wales. Parliament held the rest of England and a small area in south-west Wales.

January 1643 - Cromwell is made colonel of a regiment of horse in the Eastern Association army.

11 May 1643 - the first recorded indication that Cromwell believed that God was guiding him and his victories, in a letter shortly after a fight at Belton.


"God hath given us, this evening, a glorious victory. Cromwell, writing after battling the Royalists at Belton

12 months - the period Cromwell served as a colonel of a cavalry regiment of the Eastern Association, battling to prevent the rise of royalism in East Anglia and the East Midlands, and the threat of the Royalist army to the north (Jan 1643 - Jan 1644).

Notable Cromwell Engagements: 1643

28 April - captures Crowland.

11 May - captures Grantham.

13 May - fights at Belton.

24 July - captures Burghley House.

28 July - fights at Gainsborough.

11 October - the Battle of Winceby.

February 1644 - the month Cromwell was appointed to the Committee of Both Kingdoms, the main executive committee of parliament.

c. Feb 1644 - the month Cromwell was also promoted to lieutenant-general of the horse in the Eastern Association army (making him second-in-command of parliament's largest regional army, beneath the Earl of Manchester).

March 1644 - the month Cromwell commenced a 9-month spell of active military service, in areas including Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridge, York and the south Midlands.

2 July 1644 - the date of the Battle of Marston Moor, the biggest battle of the English Civil War and considered to be Cromwell's greatest military success.


"God made them as stubble to our swords. Cromwell, writing on the Battle of Marston Moor

Notable Cromwell Engagements: 1644

May-June - the Siege of York.

02 July - the Battle of Marston Moor.

27 October - the second battle of Newbury.

Nov 1644 - having returned to parliament, Cromwell criticises the Earl of Manchester, accusing him of military failings and of seeking a compromise peace with the king.

9 December 1644 - Cromwell proposes to parliament that all members holding a military command (which included the Earl of Manchester) should return to politics and full-time military commanders have sole responsibility for leading the troops.

January 1645 - Cromwell's proposal is made law, with the Self-Denying Ordinance requiring that all affected MPs resign their military commands by late spring of the same year.


New Model Army

January 1645 - at the same time, parliament vote to merge regiuonal armies (including Cromwell's Eastern Alliance Army) into a new national force, the New Model Army.

Mar-Apr 1645 - Cromwell returns to the field of battle, with campaigns in Oxfordshire and southern England.

May 1645 - the deadline for MPs to give up their military commands under the Self-Denying Ordinance.

40 - the number of days that parliament voted to extend Cromwell's military commission beyond the deadline of the Self-Denying Ordinance, due to the growing threat of the Royalist army in the Midlands (Cromwell's commission would continue to be extended as the war dragged on).

June 1645 - the month Cromwell was promoted to the position of lieutenant-general of the horse of the New Model Army, at the request of Sir Thomas Fairfax, the commander-in-chief (this made Cromwell the second-in-command of the national parliamentary army).

Notable Cromwell Engagements: 1645

14 June - the Battle of Naseby.

10 July - the Battle of Langport.

July - siege and capture of Bridgewater.

August - siege and capture of Sherborne castle.

Aug-Sept - siege and capture of Bristol.

Sept-Oct - siege and capture of Devizes and Winchester.

08-14 October - siege, storming and capture of Basing House.

Did You Know?

Thomas Fairfax, in forming the New Model Army, had to argue for, and won, the ability to promote soldiers to officer positions based on merit rather than social rank.

Notable Cromwell Engagements: 1646

09 January - fight at Bovey Tracy.

16 February - the Battle of Torrington.

Mar-Apr - siege and capture of Exeter.

May-June - siege of Oxford.

£90 p.a. - Cromwell's approximate annual income at its lowest point, during the 1630s.

£2,500 p.a. - Cromwell's annual pension at the end of the war, having been given estates confiscated from the Marquess of Winchester.



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