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"New Model Army vs the rest of the world?" Topic

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Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2017 5:41 p.m. PST

Been busy reading up on ECW stuff and the New Model Army ends up seeming like one of the best forces of the conflicts.

How would it compare against contemporary forces on the mainland at the same time?
Assuming reasonably equal numbers of course.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

The first big battle of the 'New Noddle' was Naseby, where although it outnumbered Charles' army, the infantry was in difficulties until rescued by the Horse.
It did get better, and performed well against the Scots and Irish.
In general, the Cavalry was probably as good or better than most contemporary European Cavalry, all else being equal, and the foot being about as good, though I may be being a bit generous here!
The Royalist foot was better till almost the end of the wars.
Its not really possible to compare with certainty – we only know how well it did against its real opponents.

That is my opinion only, I am sure loads of folk will disagree!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2017 6:34 p.m. PST

I think it would have struggled against many simply because of size.

In wargaming "equal armies" terms it'd probably hold up well – good mix of shotte to more disciplined cavalry.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2017 9:02 p.m. PST

Well, born from years of conflict and a deliberate attempt to 'professionalize' within an ongoing war, I'd have thought it superior to many and well and truly tested against experienced and often veteran forces. So … pretty darn effective.

Tassie Wargamer01 Jan 2017 10:36 p.m. PST

They seem to have performed well enough against the Spanish and Royalist forces at the Battle of the Dunes in 1658.



Phillius Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2017 11:20 p.m. PST

The Dunes is the best example when trying to do that comparision. they held the left flank, with support from the navy, against the Spanish and seem to have done well, but not brilliant. Turenne and his subordinates were pleasantly surprised at how well they had done (I think that reference is in Turennes memoirs, but can't be sure), so obviously the expectations weren't high before the battle.

The quality of forces in the ECW were probably, at best, on a par with the average European forces. But there was also a lot of poor quality stuff on the field in the ECW, England, Ireland and Scotland.

I think the NMA was probably pretty good compared to most other ECW forces, but on a par with the average forces in Europe at the time.

However, there are probably just as many opinions that are different to mine.

Martin Rapier02 Jan 2017 2:39 a.m. PST

What Phillius said. The Armies of the ECW were generally pretty dreadful, so the better units might compare with average European ones (where many of the officers had already served of course).

Mike Target02 Jan 2017 5:47 a.m. PST

I recall a quote (but alas not the source) from the WSS about 50-60 years later that mentioned how the English had not previously been well regarded as soldiers on the continent, to the point where if you wanted to attack the weak point in your opponents army you looked for where the English flags were flying…

This poor reputation can only have come from the performance of the NMA and its immediate successors.

However by the WSS the English Army under Marlborough appears to have taken a level in badass which hadnt gone unnoticed by its contemporaries who lamented that they were no longer a walkover.

steamingdave4702 Jan 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

@ Mike Target. I think the turning point in how European commanders viewed the British may have been the battle of Walcourt in 1689. When the British contingent arrived in Flanders, Waldeck consudered them to be a total shower, poorly disciplined, ill trained and liable to desert at the first opportunity. He was oarticulary scathing about the English Guards. John Churchill ( Marlborough) arrived and spent a few months sorting them out. At Walcourt the British played a major part in defeating d'Humiere's army and Waldeck expressed his appreciation. By Steenkirk, the "English" had accquired a reputation as hard- fighting troops, although that reputation did them no favours with some of their Allies; Count Solms is reputed to have said " The English love fighting, let them fight" when he failed to reinforce the infantry attack on the French right flank.

Mike Target02 Jan 2017 7:46 a.m. PST


Yes! That sounds about right, it would certainly have been somewhere within a few years either side of those events.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

Of course, the New Model Army was disbanded after the restoration on Charles 2nd in 1660. It cannot be judged by the poor performance of the Royal Army which followed.

Mike Target02 Jan 2017 12:26 p.m. PST

Is it not the case though that it was basically the same actual units? just disbanded for 30 seconds and then reraised. In which case judgement would be fine.

Personal logo Baccus 6mm Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Jan 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

Just a couple of points. The NMA as such became the army of the Commonwealth and the earlier name dropped out of use over the years. The constituent regiments of the army ranged from hard bitten veterans of the Irish and Scottish campaigns to garrison and trained band units.

As I recall, and I am away from my sources, the Foot regiments present in Flanders and at the Dunes were actually newly raised formations specifically for that expedition so you may not be able to regard their performance as typical.

As with many things ECW related, things are far less clear cut thanks seems at first sight.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2017 2:23 p.m. PST

Is it not the case though that it was basically the same actual units? just disbanded for 30 seconds and then reraised.
The campaigns in the low countries were 20 years after the disbandment of the New Model, so the men would be different, as were the officers.
Charles 2nd based his army on loyal 'Cavaliers' he brought over from the continent, he deeply distrusted the New Model soldiers and officers – but for political reasons some New Model troops (especially horse, were maintained in the the new Royal army. The original army of Charles 2nd probably numbered only 5000 men.

Timbo W02 Jan 2017 3:58 p.m. PST

Very true Baccus,

the Flanders Rgts were mostly new raised in the mid 1650s but they apparently contained a good number of experienced old soldiers (and lets face it there were likely plenty about after 20 years of warfare).

the other side of the coin is the ill fated Western Design where Venables' men got whupped twice by the Spanish at Santo Domingo, though they went on to capture Jamaica against light opposition. The recruiting for these regiments was apparently very different with far fewer old soldiers and topped up by troops from Ireland and newly recruited men from the Barbados settlers.

As for Charles II's army very few came from the old NMA, just the horse and foot guards really. However few were from the old Royalist forces in Flanders, as they hjad so little support over the last couple of years that they practically melted away to nothing before the Restoration, and most of those left were sent to Tangiers.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

I shall soon be able to tell you, as I am taking a New Model Army to the forthcoming FoG:R doubles competition in Cardiff at the end of this month, where they will be fighting mainly TYW armies ("Europe's Tragedy, 1618-1648").

I should warn you, though, that the results may be somewhat skewed by my partner and I being crap commanders. Even by English ECW standards……

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

Well, today in a friendly/warm-up game at my club (Wessex Wargames Society), my 900-point NMA completely broke an all-cavalry Hungarian force, losing only one unit routed.

Unfortunately, if past history is anything to go by, this just means that my humiliation in the actual competition at the end of this month will be all the more devastating……

Artorius26 Jan 2017 6:40 p.m. PST

A good read about the New Model is C.H. Firth's classic "Cromwell's Army".

My impression is that they eventually became some of the best soldiers in Europe and the legacy of Oliver's Army can be seen in the long tradition of professional excellence in the British Army. Although that excellent army performed well in European wars, it was always a minority and the bulk of a "British" army in Europe was allied troops.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2017 3:58 a.m. PST

Unfortunately, if past history is anything to go by, this just means that my humiliation in the actual competition at the end of this month will be all the more devastating……

And so it proved finishing last (by some way) in a field of ten armies (4 Later German, 3 Early Swedes, and 2 Imperial Spanish). I suppose I should have guessed it wasn't going to be a great weekend, when my regular doubles partner had to cry off due to a house fire, being replaced by my son who had never played FoGR before, or wargamed at all for about 10 years. To be fair, the first three armies we faced were all Later German, with masses of Superior Panz…er, I mean Cuirassiers, who at a mere 20 points a unit LESS than our Superior Determined Horse, still got an extra factor in melee. As it happens, the high cost of DH is considered a serious problem with FoGR rules and is in the process of being addressed. Just too late for us……

As if avoiding armies we could actually beat in 3/4 of our games wasn't enough, the same opponents all brought their "A" game, dice-wise, whilst we were…well, crap doesn't even begin to describe it. Lest anyone thinks this is an excuse, all three of our "German" opponents actually apologised to us afterwards for how lucky they'd been routinely hitting our superior foot with 3 out of 4 dice with artillery and 4 out of 4 dice in melees, isolated commanded shot (no accompanying horse, no general, no rear support, hitting on 5s) beating superior DH hitting on 3s at impact and 4s thereafter even winning big in the impact phase), three units of superior DH being routed in just two bounds of melee by two units of average reiters, ripples of "double drops" across an entire line of infantry from one unit routing or a general being killed, scoring 11 (needing 12) on risk to enemy general four times in one game, and having a superior foot unit double-drop to rout, autobreaking the army, with what we already knew was going to be the last roll of the game, are just some of the more "memorable" examples. Two of our opponents finished joint second two points behind the winner and the third finished 8th having scored fewer points in its other three games (as they themselves had predicted after their "hit fest" against us) than we did in ours.

In fairness, we did well in game 4 against Swedes (who had fewer and worse horse than us), and I have regularly beaten Spanish at my club, so the NMA is far from useless against armies without artificially inflated cavalry (our only success against any cuirassiers was a 4-base unit of firelocks shooting them into rout in game 1). Tactically, we had to behave a-historically by shoring up our flanks with our two superior foot units and keeping our mounted behind/inside them. Because the foot had to be >12" from the table sides, to avoid becoming "nervous", this forced us to bring all our DH into the opponents' artillery kill zone, instead of having it on the flanks where it would be immune (competition rule: heavy/medium guns cannot deploy so as to be able to fire into the 12" area on each flank). Which left our centre open to being massively overwhelmed by enemy foot.

Obviously, this is just a set of wargame rules, and historically the NMA only fought outside of the British Isles against French and Spanish troops of this era, who weren't the best at that time, so there is no way of telling for sure how well it would have done. However, I did learn at the weekend that Gustavus's successor asked Cromwell to lend him troops and money in return for two German ports, so someone at the time seems to have thought they were ok.

I'm taking essentially the same army to BADCON at Burton-on-Trent in three weeks' time, which has a 1618-1659 theme, and I've been informed the armies submitted (thus far) for that tournament are a little more varied, so we may be a bit luckier there.

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