Our final chapter covers the later stages of the English Civil War and the formation of the New Model Army. If you missed the second part in this series it is available here.
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.
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