ESSEX's ARMY 1642-1644

This was the main Parliamentarian field army of the first English Civil War. It has received the most intense study, yet despite this details remain sketchy after 1642.
In general, soldiers were issued with shoes, hose, shirts, snapsacks, and coats. Knitted monmouth caps were the most likely form of headwear.


The initial outfitting of the main army was comprehensive, and it is the one for which we have the most complete records. Many of these regiments did not survive intact into the second year of the war, so this nice complete picture must be treated with great caution. Every parliamentary army seems to sport John Hampden's Greencoats. However, neither he nor his regiment survived 1643 intact, and as you will see below, it is highly unlikely that they remained as 'Greencoats' for very long!

Regimental Colours
Of all the regiments of Parliament's main army in 1642, we have only one description - that of Lord Brookes. The only other source comes from a painting that includes four colours presumably taken as trophies at Edgehill. Many more were taken at the battle, so these may represents whole stands of Colours. No differences or markings can be seen.
So for all of 1642, we have the following


The orderly picture of 1642 now disappears. The troops campaigned in their 1642 issue coats, but there was large-scale amalgamation of regiments, and no heed was taken to the coat colours of the constituent units. There was an issue of new coats made to the army in Autumn 1643. However, the coats issued did not tally with the previous year's, nor were they issued uniformly to regiments. The foot of 1643 were dressed in a range of motley colours, mostly red and grey, and coats were not of a uniform colour within regiments. A reference of the time refers to 'Parliament Grey' - a reflection of the much more sober appearance of Parliament's main army.

Regimental Colours
The only Colours from this year again are in the form of captured trophies. Four orange colours, differenced by white stars and one major's colour. There is no regimental attribution.


Further reductions and amalgamations prior to the Lostwithiel Campaign plus new recruits meant that the army would have taken on an even less harmonious appearance.
The West Country campaign was a disaster and the Foot needed to be re-equipped and re-clothed. This was done in a remarkable effort of mobilising resources in Portsmouth in September 1644. While we have details of the numbers involved, unfortunately we have no indication of the colours of the new coats. Peachey and Turton suggest that they would have been a uniform colour with either red or grey being favourites.
The Foot were able to take part in the second battle of Newbury, but this was their last campaign. In April 1645 the regiments were disbanded and the men re-enlisted into the units of the New Model Army.

Regimental Colours
Once again trophies form a major source of information. Following the capitulation of the army at Lostwithiel three Colours are noted by Symonds.

After Lostwithiel the army was completely refitted including Colours and we have the following patterns noted:

Of these it is know that Aldrich took his colours with him into the New Model in 1645.