by Peter Berry

The English Civil War has been the subject of study for 350 years. It is unfortunate that it is only now that we are beginning to establish exactly how the soldiers were dressed and equipped. The fault mainly lies with the romantic version of the conflict that envisaged befeathered rakehells fighting for the King against soberly dressed, hypocritical snivelling bullies fighting for Cromwell.

The Victorians especially viewed the events of the through their own distorting mirror and the results of all of this can be seen on many a wargames table, where Royalist musketeers sporting lace collars and big hats adorned with feathered plumes are engaged in mortal combat with Roundhead pikemen wearing lobster pot helmets and striped rugby shirts.

It will surprise many to realise how little is actually known about the appearance of Civil War armies. For example, wargamers expect to know all the coat colours and flags for Hopton's Foot and then get very upset when that information is simply not available.

The New Edition of Forlorn Hope wargames rules contain comprehensive lists concentrating on the two main field armies which are covered on a year by year basis, but also taking in the West Country, Yorkshire, Scotland and Ireland. Each list will contain a breakdown of the armies, lists of known regiments and formations and where known coats and details of Colours.

Given the rigours of war and campaign it was common for soldiers to be issued with new clothing once a year. However, there was no guarantee that the colour of coats issued from one year to the next would be consistent. For example, John Hampden's regiment was issued with green coats lined yellow in 1642. In 1643, the reissue to the army only included red or grey coats. After Hampden's death the regiment continued under two further colonels, and was unlikely to have received issues of its original hue. Thus, the regiment could only be called 'Greencoats', or indeed' 'Hampden's, for a short time of its existence.

The situation is further compounded, when you consider that at any time a regiment would have had in its ranks; new recruits, who may not have received any issue of clothing; drafts from amalgamated regiments, or even deserters from the other side. We are not dealing with chocolate box soldiers in pretty regular uniforms.

As a result when a coat colour is indicated it can only be relevant for that year. There is no guarantee of it being valid for either preceding of succeeding campaigns. It is also highly likely that many soldiers served in their own clothing for at least part of their military career.

For those of you building armies, you may also wish to consider that members of different regiments were often brigaded together to form viable battlefield formations. As the war progressed, regiments rarely took the field as an entity, this a brigade could contain soldiers dressed in red, blue, grey, green and civilian clothing!

The exception to this chaos seems to be the Scots, who issued their soldiers with a simple "four tailed" coat of hodden grey, but even here, there were various red coated regiments.
It is worth noting that the issues of clothing to the Oxford army regiments consisted of coat, breeches and Montero - a full suit, presumably all of the same colour. There is no similar issue of breeches in Essex's army, and it is only possibly in 1644 and certainly in 1645 and the New Model contracts that we see Parliament providing a full set of clothing to its soldiers.

Finally, the plates are based on established source material. I have not indulged in second hand supposition, although this may be a valid tactic if you ever want to get an army painted!
Where an area is shown as white, it is because there is no information available. A light grey is used to indicate where white linings are used.







Colours of the English Civil War


>>>>click here




Essex's Army Coats and Regimental Colours

1642 -1645

>>>>click here




New Model Army


no info available




Oxford Army Coats and Regimental Colours


>>>>click here




Covenanting Scots


no info availabe