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The History of Colonel Edward Montagu's Regiment of Foote

The Regiments Formation

In June 1643 Edward Montagu received a 'local' commission to raise a regiment of foot in from his cousin the 2nd Earl of Manchester - Historians beware as the Earl of Manchester was also called Edward Montagu!

The regiment was quartered around Newport Pagnell with several other foot regiments, under the command of Lieutenant General Lawrence Crawford.  This force, under Crawford, attacked Hillesden House on the 5th March.  Hillesden House was a Royalist garrison which was part of the string of defences created to protect Oxford.  Oxford was where the King, Charles I, was based and became the 'Royalist Capital' in the 1st Civil War (1642 - 1646). The house and the garrison surrendered after an engagement lasting only 15 minutes! Crawford's force then marched back to Newport Pagnell.

Throughout the 1st Civil War there were 4 main field armies.  These were - the 'Southern Association' under Sir William Waller, the 'Northern Association' under Lord Ferdinando Fairfax, the 'London Trained Bands' commanded by a Parliamentarian committee and the 'Eastern Association' under the 2nd Earl of Manchester. On the 20th April 1644 Montagu's regiment joined up with the 'Eastern Association' at Huntingdon.


Siege of Lincoln

The 'Eastern Association' marched north to retake control of its most northern county - Lincolnshire. On the 3rd May Lincoln town and castle were requested to surrender.  The town and castle were under the governorship of the Royalist commander, Sir Francis Fane, who refused to surrender.  On the 6th May Montagu's and Russell’s regiments, were detailed to take the outworks protecting part of the town.  Both regiments carried out their orders successfully, not only taking the outworks but pursuing the Royalist troops defending the outworks and forcing them to retreat into the castle.

On the following day the upper town, around the castle, was stormed after a brief cannonade. The Royalists retreated into the castle. Scaling ladders were called up and put against the castle walls but these proved to be too short!  The defenders pushed away the ladders with pike and fired carbines, pistols and muskets into the mass of Parliamentarian troops at the bottom of the wall. At one stage the fighting got so heated that 'greate stonnes' were thrown down on the attackers.  Eventually the attackers gained a tenuous hold on part of the wall.  Soldiers then widened this hold, by climbing onto the shoulders of those at the top of the ladders, and took the castle.  Those of the regiment that reached the top fought so ferociously that it demoralised the defenders and they started asking for quarter.  Montagu's regiment was praised for its valour for it's part during this action.


Siege of York

On the 7th of May the Earl of Manchester declared a day of thanksgiving.  On the 8th May 1644 the 'Eastern Association' marched out of Lincoln to the North to Gainsborough via Torksey and a bridge of boats across the river Trent.  The 'Eastern Association' were ordered  to march to support the Scottish Army under the Earl of Leven and the 'Northern Association' who were then besieging the northern Royalists in York.

On the 1st June they crossed the bridge of boats built, and guarded, by the Scots Army in the Fulford/Acaster Malbis area.  By the 3rd they had taken up their quarters on the north/north western side of York.

Montagu's were part of the 'Eastern Association' attacking force that cleared the suburbs up to the wall on the 6th June. This allowed Manchester to bring cannon to within 40 yards of the walls. A mine was also started under St. Mary's tower.

On the 16th June Lieutenant General Crawford gave the order for the explosion of the mine beneath the tower.  The mine blew up creating a breach in the walls and Crawford sent part of his brigade in, in an attempt to take York.  Unfortunately Crawford blew the mine without informing anyone else in the Allied Parliamentarian Army and therefore the defending Royalists were able to call on all their troops.  As a result Crawford's attack failed.  His brigade lost 15 killed, 60 wounded and around 100 taken as prisoners.

On the 30th June the Allied Parliamentarian Army fell back from the walls of York in order to intercept the Royalist relief force under Prince Rupert. They failed to do this and on the 1st July Rupert crossed the River Ouse and entered York.


Marston Moor

On the evening of the 2nd July 1644 the Battle of Marston Moor was fought.  Both sides had originally settled down for the night expecting to fight on the morrow.  However the Scottish Generals persuaded the other Allied generals to attack.  The Parliamentarians started singing psalms.  Oliver Cromwell was in charge of the cavalry on the Allies left flank.  The infantry were formed up in three lines between the flanks of the cavalry.  Crawford's brigade was placed immediately to the right of Cromwell's cavalry.  This brigade consisted of the regiments of Montagu, Pickering and Russell.

A report by a member of the Eastern Association states that the brigade '..... had a hard pull of it, for they were charged by Rupert's bravest both in front and flank ..... but they pressed on ..... dispersing the enemies foot almost as fast as they charged them .....'. Another eyewitness stated that '..... what should I name the brigade of Colonel Russell, Colonel Montagu and Colonel Pickering, who stood as a wall of brass and let fly small shot like hail upon the enemy, and not a man of their whole brigade killed .....'. Although it is unlikely that they did not lose men it seems certain that their training prevented the foot of Rupert in front of them having much time to react.

Crawford's brigade, now supported by part of Cromwell's cavalry, faced the remnants of Rupert's cavalry - recently reformed after plundering the Allied baggage train.  Cromwell's cavalry charged and routed them.  Crawford's foot then attacked and defeated the foot that had formed up around this cavalry.


Surrender of York and After

The 4th July saw the Allies back in front of York. On the 13th Edward Montagu was sent to negotiate the surrender of York as the representative of Manchester's Eastern Association.  On the 16th the garrison, with the remnants of Rupert's foot, marched out with all honours of war.

Some of the Eastern Associations' senior officers had become dissatisfied with the Earl of Manchester.  After York this widened into a visible rift. Manchester wished to take the Eastern Association back to recruit and recuperate.  Cromwell and many of the senior officers, including Edward, wished to reduce the remaining Royalists garrisons - of which there were many.  The senior officers felt that if this was not done then all that had been gained at Marston Moor and York would be lost.  Manchester felt that Fairfax had sufficient force to do this.  The Eastern Association continued to discuss this whilst marching back to Doncaster.

At Doncaster a propitious situation occurred.  Colonel Lilburne with a small force had been besieging Tickhill castle nearby.  He lacked, however, both sufficient forces and cannon to take the castle.  Lilburne requested Manchester's help and was refused.  Lilburne then summoned the castle to surrender in the name of Manchester.  This worked and the castle and its garrison subsequently surrendered on the 26th July.  Manchester was furious.  A compromise was then almost certainly reached as part of the Eastern Associations foot, cannon and cavalry under Crawford was detached to deal with all Royalist garrisons found in the retiring path of the Eastern Association.

Montagu's regiment was a part of this force although Edward himself was not present.  In early August Edward had received information that his father was very ill and had returned to the house at Barnwell.  Edward left his Lieutenant Colonel, Mark Grimes, in charge of the regiment.

On the 2nd August 1644 Welbeck House, South Yorkshire surrendered to Crawford's force.  On the 11th Sheffield castle, South Yorkshire surrendered.  The preserved articles of surrender show Mark Grimes and Colonel Pickering as signatories.  On the 14th Bolsover castle, Derbyshire fell, followed on the 16th by Staveley House, Derbyshire.  In early September Crawford’s force rejoined the rest of the Eastern Association.  Montagu's regiment had started out in early 1644 with a strength of around 1000.  By the time the regiment returned in the following September death, disease and desertion had reduced it to around 300.


Newbury and the aftermath

On the 1st September the Southern Association army under the Earl of Essex was resoundingly defeated at Lostwithiel, Cornwall.  On the 18th October Manchester's army joined forces with the Western Association under Sir William Waller at Basingstoke, Hampshire. Parliament had ordered Manchester to join his army with Waller's and the remnants of Essex's and defeat the Royalist army then under the command of the king, Charles I.

The forces met at Newbury, Oxfordshire on the 27th October.  Manchester's army was detailed to take Shaw House, which was garrisoned by the Royalists.  The route to be taken to reach this objective was complicated.  By the time Manchester attacked in the early evening the defenders had been given plenty of time to strengthen the outworks.  The army met severe fire and Manchester called off the attack.  This allowed the King to extricate the defenders.  Senior officers requested permission to pursue the retreating Royalists but Manchester refused.  After this battle serious accusations were levelled at Manchester.  Cromwell and some of the senior officers, Montagu amongst them, brought an indictment against Manchester.

The rest of the year was spent by Montagu, Cromwell and the other officers testifying on behalf of, or against, Manchester.  Montagu is reported to have told the hearing '..... that he heard the Earl of Manchester say that he was against this war in the beginning of it and that if those who began it had to do it again they would be twice advised, or to that effect .....'. The members of the Parliamentarian committee set up to hear all points of view decided to take no action against Manchester.

Winter Quarters

The winter of 1644/45 saw Montagu's regiment in garrison at Henley-on-Thames.  Edward was the governor and, apart from his own regiment, the rest of the garrison consisted of 2 troops of Cromwell's own cavalry regiment.

The only recorded mutiny in Montagu's regiment occurred at Henley.  The mutiny had its origins in late 1644 when Montagu cashiered two captains - Taylor and Rouse - for 'notorious crimes'.  They then left the regiment.  At some stage they petitioned the Earl of Manchester who refused to confirm Montagu's decision.  This was probably due to Montagu’s involvement in Manchester’s indictment.  In the 17th century, although Montagu would have decided the officers of his regiment, their commissions were granted by the commander of the army - in this case Manchester.

In January 1645 Taylor and Rouse rejoined the regiment at Henley with letters absolving them of these 'notorious crimes'.  On the 19th February, Grimes reported to Montagu that he had seen these two officers drinking with, and spreading mutinous talk to, the rest of their companies.  Grimes attempted to arrest them but they got away.  On the following day, whilst on muster parade, a mutiny broke out. Some soldiers even refused to muster and ran out of the town.  Grimes managed to quieten the rest and order was returned.

On the 27th February Montagu was in London and appealed to the appropriate parliamentarian committee for removal of Taylor and Rouse and their companies.  The committee agreed.  At the end of February the two troops of Cromwell's cavalry had been ordered to return to the rest of his regiment.  On the 1st March captains Taylor and Rouse with their two companies were marched out of Henley accompanied by Cromwell's two troops of cavalry.


The New Model Army

In March 1645 Montagu’s regiment became part of the 'New Model Army' under Sir Thomas Fairfax.  The regiment are known to have received 'red jackets lined blue'.  These jackets were almost certainly given to those who needed them - the new recruits.  Those draftees who came from other regiments will have worn what they had been originally supplied with.  The regiment must therefore have looked quite a picture with soldiers in different coloured linings and even different coloured jackets!.

The number of men in the regiment was still low despite receiving some replacements from the abolished regiments of the now abolished Associations (Eastern, Western and Southern).  As St. Albans had become a centre for holding 'draftees' to the New Model Army, Montagu sent Officers to collect new recruits from there on the 6th May.

Prince Rupert led the succesful storming of Leicester.  This is variously described as a noteable success and a pointless diversion.  Certainly the vicious slaughter, including women and children, drew the New Model army’s thoughts away from Oxford but also had the result of forcing his own army into meeting the New Model in battle on open ground.


Naseby

On the 14th June 1645 the New Model Army met the Kings forces at Naseby, Northamptonshire.  It is probable that Montagu was a brigade commander and commanded the regiments of Pickering, Hammond and his own.  The majority of the troops in his own regiment were untrained and certainly not used to war, as was most of the New Model's foot.  The opposing Royalists, in contrast, were veterans.

Prince Rupert led a cavalry charge which went through Ireton’s cavalry on the Western wing wing but did not stop before they got to the baggage train two miles in the rear.  There they stopped to plunder.

As a result of their inexperience, the first line of the New Model foot in the centre was pushed back into the second line of reserves. It is reported that Montagu's and Pickering's regiments were routed.  Fortunately for the New Model the Royalists were, however, outflanked by the New Model foot and as a result were unable to bring enough reserves forward to break the foot.

Cromwell made a successful cavalry charge on the eastern wing, breaking Langdale’s cavalry.  Unlike Prince Rupert he was able to reign in the charge and re-gather his men.  Cromwell drew up the main body of his cavalry to attack the unprotected flank of the Royalist foot.  Okey then remounted his dragoons and charged the Royalist foot “like cavalry” on the Western flank.  The Royalist foot realised the hopelessness of their position and most surrendered or fled. Montagu’s regiment lost 40 men and left another 39 recovering from wounds in Northampton.


Southwest with the New Model Army

Following the victory at Naseby  The New Model Army marched south to defeat the various armies and garrisons of the Royalists.  It is interesting to follow the progress on a map and see the non-linear advance. The army was ‘mopping up’ opposition garrisons rather than forcing an army before it.

On the 9th July, Fairfax received information that Major General Massey, sent earlier to hold Taunton, was being attacked by the Royalist General Goring's army.  He dispatched Major General Montagu with a force of 2000 musketeers and a regiment of cavalry to Massey's aid.  Montagu reached him on the 10th to discover that Massey had already defeated Goring's army.  Both Montagu’s and Massey’s forces returned to Langport and joined the rest of the New Model Army.

Meanwhile Goring, after the defeat by Massey, retreated to Bridgewater.  Where he entrenched and fortified the town.  On the 21st July, a damp morning, Fairfax gave the order for the New Model Army to attack.  Montagu's regiment was positioned on the east side of the town.  The regiment was part of the force to attack first under Major General Montagu, followed by more troops carrying fascines and bridging equipment. (Fascines were brushwood faggots used to fill ditches)  This force took the outworks and drove the Royalists back into their second line defences - a moat and the town wall.  The retreating Royalists left their cannon behind and this was immediately turned round and used against them.  Fairfax summoned the town to surrender.  The Royalist reply was to fire at the New Model Army.  On the 22nd July Fairfax allowed out the women and children and then proceeded to set fire to the town.  The town officials were alarmed at this and pressured the mayor and Goring to surrender. The town finally surrendered on the 23rd July.

The New Model Army continued its advance south.  No longer the “rookie” army which had struggled at Naseby, they carried all before them.  On the 29th July Bath, Somerset was summoned to surrender which it promptly did.  On the 13th August Sherbourne Castle surrendered after being pounded by the artillery.


Siege of Bristol

In late August the city of Bristol was surrounded and Fairfax requested its surrender.  Bristol was one of the main ports after London and the only port still under Royalist control.  Its importance was such that the garrison commander was the King's nephew, Prince Rupert. .. Prince Rupert assured the King that he could hold Bristol for four months.  On the 2nd September 1645 Fairfax and his Generals took the decision to storm Bristol.

The attack began in the morning of the 10th. Montagu was yet again a brigade commander in charge of his own, Colonel Pickering's, Colonel Waller's, and the Lord General's foot regiments.  He also had command of two regiments of horse which were to be used if he broke into Bristol.  The brigade was positioned on the east side of St. Mary's church in the Redcliffe Meads area.  Montagu's and Pickering's regiments were to take Lawfords Gate - an entrance into the city of Bristol.

The regiments charged towards the gate " which was well filled with men and cannon". For two hours the battle raged backwards and forwards.  Most of the fighting was at close quarters.  Finally the Royalists retreated leaving the two Parliamentarian regiments in command of the gate, its outworks and 20 cannon.  Montagu then ordered the levelling of part of the outworks to allow the cavalry across.  This was done and the horse charged across shouting 'The Lord of Hosts'.  The two regiments charged through the market place up to the castle walls.  The regiments managed to secure the castle gates and the garrison surrendered

The only fortification that was still holding out was Priors Fort.  Rainsborough's regiment had been detailed to take this, but had come up against severe fire.  Montagu detached part of his own regiment to help, under the command of Colonel Hammond.  The fort was taken and all the garrison were “... put to the sword...” as they had refused quarter.

At around 9 p.m. Prince Rupert realised that he would be unable to hold Bristol with his remaining forces.  He therefore requested to negotiate a surrender.  Fairfax sent Montagu, Pickering and Rainsborough to Rupert to negotiate. On the 11th September the Royalist garrison marched out with all honours of war.  Prince Rupert “..... dressed in scarlet, richly laid with silver lace .....” was escorted by Fairfax, Cromwell, Montagu and Rainsborough.  However the people of Bristol, unhappy at the treatment they had got from the Royalists, shouted as he left “give him no quarter, give him no quarter”

The king took the loss of Bristol so badly that he deprived Rupert of all military authority and ordered him to leave the country.  After several attempts to plead his case he was reconciled with King Charles; but when the King left Oxford to surrender to the Scots Prince Rupert left the country and joined the French service.  He subsequently became a sailor and after the Restoration became an Admiral, along with Montagu!

Montagu and Colonel Hammond were sent by Fairfax to London to report the victory to Parliament.  As Edward had been elected to his father's seat in parliament he had to give up command of his regiment due to the 'self denying ordinance'.  The regiment continued using Montagu's name until taken over by Lambert in early 1646.  The regiment was now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Grimes.


Securing the Southwest

Towards the middle of September Fairfax gave Cromwell control of a force of foot, cavalry and cannon with orders to reduce some of the remaining Royalist garrisons.  On the 23rd September the garrison at Devizes, Wiltshire, surrendered to Cromwell's force, without losses.

Cromwell then headed towards the Royalist castle and supply depot at Winchester, Hampshire.  Winchester surrendered on the 28th September after a bombardment by the artillery.  The heavy artillery was so effective against the fortifications that “a breach wide enough for 30 men to enter abreast” had been made within a day.

The only major garrison remaining in the South West was Basing House.  This was a Royalist, and a Catholic stronghold near Basingstoke in Hampshire.  It was heavily fortified and had manages to withstand  sieges for two years.

Cromwell ordered the artillery to bear on one side of the fortifications.  There were five great guns, two of them ‘demi cannons’ - probably firing a 24 pound (weight) cannon ball and one ‘whole cannon’ firing a 50 pound ball.  In addition there were culverins firing 16 pound balls.  As in earlier sieges these guns showed their worth.

The final assault was ordered for daybreak on the 14th October 1945.  The Catholics refused to yield and the assault was bloody.  A quarter of the garrison was killed and much booty of jewels, plate and works of art was taken.  The house was set on fire, perhaps from an accidental fire in the cellars.  Afterwards Cromwell recommended that the house should be knocked so that the house could never again be a stronghold and possible refuge of opposition. the Parliamentarian garrison for the area was based at Newbury