The “new modelling” of Parliament’s army was first proposed by Sir William Waller after his defeat at Cropredy Bridge in June 1644. Parliament’s armies were recruited from regional associations but soldiers were often reluctant to campaign away from their local areas, as Waller found to his cost when trying to control his mutinous London regiments. Waller proposed the formation of a national army with no regional affiliations and the idea was taken up by Oliver Cromwell in a speech to the House of Commons in December 1644. The Self-denying Ordinance was hurried through the Commons to sweep away the existing military high command and the New Model Army Ordinance was passed on 19 February 1645.
Parliament’s new army was planned to comprise 22,000 men: twelve regiments of foot of 1,200 men each in the proportion two-thirds musketeers, one-third pikemen; eleven regiments of horse of 600 men each, one regiment of 1,000 dragoons (mounted infantrymen) and an artillery train of 50 guns. The cavalry were mainly veterans drawn from the armies of Manchester, Essex and Waller. The infantry included some veterans, with a majority of pressed men drawn from London, the east, and south-east. In Kent, some of the pressed men mutinied and had to be forcibly restrained. Parliament’s intention was to enforce strict discipline in return for regular pay — eight pence per day for the infantry and two shillings per day for the cavalry, who had to supply their own horses and pay for their upkeep.
The infantry regiments wore coats of venetian red with white facings to identify the individual regiments (the New Model was the first British “redcoat” army). They were armed with matchlock muskets or pikes. The cavalry wore “lobster-tail” iron headpieces and chest armour over a thick leather “buff” coat. The troopers were armed with a sword and two pistols.
Sir Thomas Fairfax was appointed Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of the army in January 1645, with Philip Skippon as Major-General of Foot.
Oliver Cromwell was officially appointed Lieutenant-General of Horse (and second-in-command of the army) in June 1645. Fourth in rank of the general officers was Thomas Hammond, Lieutenant-General of Ordnance, who commanded the artillery and engineers. Other officers on the general staff were charged with particular departments such as the administration of military justice and the acquisition of supplies and provisions. One of the most important of these was the Scoutmaster-General Leonard Watson, who was responsible for reconnaissance and collecting intelligence on enemy movements: the efficiency of the New Model Army’s intelligence department was a major factor in its success.
At the time of its formation, the New Model was one of several Parliamentarian armies active in England. There was also the Scottish Covenanter army under Lord Leven, the Northern Association army under Major-General Sydenham Poyntz, formed from troops formerly commanded by Lord Ferdinando Fairfax in Yorkshire, and the Western Association army of Wiltshire and the four western counties, commanded by the Presbyterian Edward Massey. Besides these, there were smaller bodies of troops in Wales, the eastern counties and the midlands.
Although it was derided by Royalists (and some Parliamentarians) as the “New Noddle”, Fairfax quickly moulded the New Model Army into an efficient, disciplined fighting force with an unusually high degree of motivation. Officers were appointed and promoted on merit rather than on their status in society in line with Cromwell’s famous statement in a letter to Sir William Spring in 1643: “I had rather have a plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a gentleman and is nothing”
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "The New Model Army" https://englishhistory.net/stuarts/civil-war/the-new-model-army/, January 17, 2022