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!
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.
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.
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.