A history of the regiment during the English Civil War - Part 1

From the regiments formation up until the siege of York

Posted on February 01, 2022

Welcome to the first in a three part series covering the history of Edward Montagu's regiment during the civil war.

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.

Part two in this series is now available here.