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funeral sermon (1646), "to break the ice and set his
first footing in the Red Sea. No proclamation of trea-
son could cry him down, nor threatening standard
daunt him that in that misty morning, when men knew


not each other, whether friend or foe, by his arising
dispelled the fog, and by his very name commanded
thousands into your service." Opinion in most of the
country was pretty firm on one side or the other, but
it was slow in mounting to the heat of war. The
affair was grave, and men went about it with argument
and conscience. In every manor-house and rectory
and college, across the counters of shops in the towns,
on the ale-bench in the villages and on the roads, men
plied one another with precedents and analogies, with
Bible texts, with endless points of justice and of expe-
diency, thus illustrating in this high historic instance
all the strength and all the weakness of human reason-
ing, all the grandeur and all the levity of civil and
ecclesiastical passion. Many, no doubt, shared the
mind of Hutchinson's father, who was stanch to
the Parliamentary cause but infinitely desirous that the
quarrel should come to a compromise, and not to the
catastrophe of w-ar. Savile said: '"I love religion so
well, I would not have it put to the hazard of a battle.
I love liberty so much, I would not trust it in the hands
of a conqueror; for, much as I love the king, I should
not be glad that he should beat the Parliament, even
though they were in the wrong. My desires are to
have no conquests of either side." Savile was no edi-
fying character ; but a politician who would fain say
both yes and no stands in a crisis for a numerous host.
On the other hand, human nature being constant in its
fundamental colors, we may be sure that in both camps
were many who proclaimed that the dispute must be
fought out, and the sooner the fight began, the sooner
would it end.

Enthusiasts for the rights and religion of their coun-
try could not believe, says one of them, that a work so
good and necessary would be attended with so much

From the original portrait in the National Porlrait Gallery.


difficulty, and they went into it in the faith that the
true cause must quickly win. On the other side, deep-
rooted interests and ancient sentimerit gathered round
the crown as their natural center. Selfish men who
depended upon the crown for honors or substance, and
unselfish men who were by habit and connection un-
alterably attached to an idealized church, united accord-
ing to their diverse kinds in twofold zeal for the king
and the bishops, in the profound assurance that Provi-
dence would speedily lay their persecutors low. Fam-
ilies were divided, close kinsmen became violent foes,
and brother even slew brother. Some counties were
almost wholly for the king, while others went almost
wholly for the Parliament. In either case, the rem-
nant of a minority, whether the godly or the ungodly,
found it best to seek shelter outside. There were
counties where the two sides paired and tried to play
neutral. The line of social cleavage between the com-
batants was not definite, but what we are told of Notts
was probably true of other districts, that most of the
nobles and upper gentry were stout for the king, while
most of the middle sort, the able substantial free-
holders, and commoners not dependent on the malig-
nants above them, stood for the Parliament.

Speaking broadly, the feeling for Parliament was
strongest in London and the east ; the king was strong-
est in the west and north. Wherever the Celtic ele-
ment prevailed, as in Wales and Cornwall, the king
had most friends, and the same is true with qualifica-
tions in the two other kingdoms of Scotland and Ire-
land. Where the population was thickest, busiest in
trade and manufacture and wealthiest, they leaned
with various degrees of ardor toward the Parliament.
Yorkshire was divided, the cloth towns south of the
Aire being Parliamentary. Lancashire, too, was di-


vided, the east for the Parhament. the west for the
king. The historians draw a Inie from Flarnborough
Head to Plymouth, and with some undulations and
indentations such a line separates Royalist from Par-
liamentary England. In East Anglia opinion was
steadfast through the struggle^ but elsewhere it fluc-
tuated with the fortunes of the war, with the wavering
inclinations of influential gentry, and with the various
political issues that rose in bewildering succession after
the military fight was over. One of the most import-
ant of all the circumstances of the hour was that the
fleet (in July, 1642) declared for the Parliament.

The temper of the time was hard, men were ready
to settle truth by blows, and life as in the middle ages
was still held cheap. The Cavalier was hot, unruly,
scornful, with all the feudal readiness for bloodshed.
The Roundhead was keen, stubborn, dogged, sustained
by the thought of the heroes of the Old Testament who
avenged upon Canaanite and Amalekite the cause of
Jehovah. Men lived and fought in the spirit of the
Old Testament, and not of the New. To men of
the mild and reflecting temper of Chillingworth the
choice was no more cheerful than between publicans
and sinners on one side, and scribes and Pharisees on
the other. A fine instance of the high and manly tem-
per in which the best men entered upon the struggle is
to be found in the words used by Sir Wiliam Waller
to the brave Hopton. "God, who is the searcher of
my heart," Waller wrote, "knows with what a sad
sense I go upon this service, and with what a perfect
hatred I detest this war without an enemy; but I look
upon it as sent from God, and that is enough to silence
all passion in me. We are both upon the stage, and must
act such parts as are assigned us in this tragedy. Let
us do it in a way of honour and without personal ani-


On the whole, the contest in England was stained by-
few of the barbarities that usually mark a civil war,
especially war with a religious color upon it. But
cruelty, brutality, and squalor are the essence of all
war, and here too there was much rough work and some
atrocity. Prisoners were sometimes badly used, and
the Parliamentary generals sent great batches of them
like gangs of slaves to toil under the burning sun in
the West Indies, or to compulsory service in Venice
or an American colony. Men were killed in cold
blood after quarter promised, and the shooting of
Lucas and Lisle after the surrender of Colchester in
1648 was a piece of savagery for which Fairfax and
Ireton must divide the blame between them. The
ruffianism of war could not be avoided, but it was ruf-
fianism without the diabolical ferocity of Spaniards in
the sixteenth century, or Germans in the seventeenth,
or French sansculottes in the eighteenth. The dis-
cipline of the royal forces was bad, for their organiza-
tion was loose ; and even if it had been better, we have
little difficulty in painting for ourselves the scenes that
must have attended these roving bands of soldiery, ill-
paid, ill-fed, and emancipated from all those restraints
of opinion and the constable which have so much more
to do with our self-control than we love to admit.
Nor are we to suppose that all the ugly stories were on
one side.


IBoo^i^ tTwo



IT is not within my scope to follow in detail the mili-
tary operations of the civil war. For many
months they were little more than a series of confused
marches, random skirmishes, and casual leaguers of
indecisive places. Of generalship, of strategic sys-
tem, of ingenuity in scientific tactics, in the early stages
there was little or none. Soldiers appeared on both
sides who had served abroad, and as the armed strug-
gle developed, the great changes in tactics made by
Gustavus Adolphus slowly found their way into the
operations of the English war. He suppressed all
caracoling and parade manceuvers. Cavalry that had
formed itself in as many as five or even eight ranks
deep, was henceforth never marshaled deeper than three
ranks, while in the intervening spaces were platoons
of foot and light field-pieces. All this, the soldiers
tell us, gave prodigious mobility, and made the Swed-
ish period the most remarkable in the Thirty Years'
War. But for some time training on the continent
of Europe seems to have been of little use in the con-
flicts of two great bands of military, mainly rustic,
among the hills and downs, the lanes and hedges, the
rivers and strong places, of England. Modern sol-
diers have noticed as one of the most curious features
of the civil war how ignorant each side usually was of



the doings, position, and designs of its opponents.
Essex stumbled upon the king, Hop'ton stumbled upon
Waller, the king stumbled upon Sir Thomas Eairfax.
The two sides drew up in front of one another, foot in
the center, horse on the wings ; and then they fell to
and hammered one another as hard as they could, and
they who hammered hardest and stood to it longest
won the day. This was the story of the early engage-

Armor was fallen into disuse, partly owing to the in-
troduction of firearms, partly perhaps for the reason
that pleased King James I — because besides protect-
ing the wearer, it also hindered him from hurting other
people. The archer had only just disappeared, and
arrows were shot by the English so late as at the Isle
of Re in 1627. Indeed at the outbreak of the war
Essex issued a precept for raising a company of
archers, and in Montrose's campaign in Scotland bow-
men are often mentioned. It is curious to modern
ears to learn that some of the strongest laws enjoining
practice with bow and arrow should have been passed
after the invention of gunpowder, and for long there
were many who persisted in liking the bow better than
the musket, for the whiz of the arrow over their heads
kept the horses in terror, and a few horses wounded
by arrows sticking in them were made unruly enough
to disorder a whole squadron. A flight of arrows,
again, apart from those whom they killed or wounded,
demoralized the rest as they watched them hurtling
through the air. Extreme conservatives made a judi-
cious mixture between the old time and the new by
firing arrows out of muskets. The gunpowder of
those days was so weak that one homely piece of ad-
vice to the pistoleer was that he should not discharge
his weapon until he could press the barrel close upon


the body of his enemy, under the cuirass if possible;
then he would be sure not to waste his charge. The
old-fashioned musket- rest disappeared during the Pro-
tectorate. The shotmen, the musketeers and harque-
busiers, seem usually to have been to the pikemen in
the proportion of two to three. It was to the pike and
the sword that the main work fell. The steel head of
the pike was well fastened upon a strong, straight, yet
nimble stock of ash, the whole not less than seventeen
or eighteen feet long. It was not until the end of the
century that, alike in England and France, the pike
was laid aside and the bayonet used in its place. The
snaphance or flintlock was little used, at least in the
early stages of the war, and the provision of the slow
match was one of the difficulties of the armament.
Clarendon mentions that in one of the leaguers the be-
sieged were driven to use all the cord of all the beds of
the town, steep it in saltpeter, and serve it to the sol-
diers for match. Cartridges, though not unknown,
were not used in the civil war, and the musketeer went
into action with his match slowly burning and a couple
of bullets in his mouth. Artillery, partly from the
weakness of the powder, partly from the primitive con-
struction of the mortars and cannon, was a compara-
tively ineffective arm upon the field, though it was
causing a gradual change in fortifications from walls
to earthworks. At Naseby the king had only two
demi-culverins, as many demi-cannon, and eight sa-
kers. The first two weighed something over four
thousand pounds, shot twenty-four pounds, with a
charge of twelve pounds of powder. The saker was
a brass gun weighing fifteen hundred pounds, with a
shot of six or seven pounds.

It was not, however, upon guns any more than upon
muskets that the English commander of that age


relied in battle for bearing the brunt whether of at-
tack or of defense. He depended upon his horsemen,
either cuirassier or the newly introduced species,
the dragoons, whom it puzzled the military writers of
that century whether to describe as horse-footmen or
foot-horsemen. Gustavus Adolphus had discovered or
created the value of cavalry, and in the English civil
war the campaigns were few in which the shock of
horse was not the deciding element. Cromwell, with
his quick sagacity, perceived this in anticipation of the
lessons of experience. He got a Dutch officer to teach
him drill, and his first military proceeding was to raise
a troop of horse in his own countryside and diligently
fit them for action. As if to illustrate the eternal les-
son that there is nothing new under the sun, some have
drawn a parallel between the cavalry of the small re-
publics of Greece in the fourth century before Christ
and the same arm at Edgehill ; and they find the same
distinction betw^een the Attic cavalry and the days of
Alexander, as may be traced betw-een the primitive
tactics of Oliver or Rupert and those of Frederick the
Great or Napoleon.

We are then to imagine Oliver teaching his men
straight turns to left and right, closing and opening
their files, going through all the four-and-twenty pos-
tures for charging, ramming, and firing their pistols,
petronels, and dragons, and learning the various sounds
and commands of the trumpet. "Infinite great," says
an enthusiastic horseman of that time, "are the con-
siderations which dependeth on a man to teach and
govern a troop of horse. To bring ignorant men and
more ignorant horse, W'ild man and mad horse, to
those rules of obedience which may crown every mo-
tion and action with comely, orderly, and profitable
proceedings — hie labor, hoc opus est."


Cromwell's troop was gradually to grow into a regi-
ment of a thousand men, and in every other direction
he was conspicuous for briskness and activity. He
advanced considerable sums from his modest private
means for the public service. He sent down arms into
Cambridgeshire for its defense. He boldly seized the
magazine in Cambridge Castle and with armed hand
stayed the university from sending twenty thousand
pounds worth of its gold and silver plate for the royal
use. He was present at the head of his troop in the
first serious trial of strength between the Parliamen-
tary forces under the Earl of Essex and the forces of
the king. The battle of Edgehill (October 23, 1642)
is one of the most confused transactions in the history
of the war, and its result was indecisive.^ The Royal-
ist were fourteen thousand against ten thousand for
the Parliament, and confiding even less in superior
numbers than in their birth and quality, they had little
doubt of making short work of the rebellious and cant-
ing clowns at the foot of the hill. There was no great
display of tactics on either side. Neither side appeared
to know when it was gaining and when it was losing.
Foes were mistaken for friends, and friends were
killed for foes. In some parts of the field the Parlia-
ment men ran away, while in other parts the king's
men were more zealous for plundering than for fight.
When night fell, the conflict by tacit agreement came
to an end, the Royalists suspecting that they had lost
the day, and Essex not sure that he had won it. What
is certain is that Essex's regiment of horse was un-
broken. "These persons underwritten," says one eye-
witness, "never stirred from their troops, but they and

l-It is hardly possible to take more to extract a correct and coherent
pains than Mr. Sanfordtook(" Stud- story out of irreconcilable author-
ies and Illustrations," pp. 521-528) ities.


their troops fought till the last minute," and among the
names of the valiant and tenacious persons so under-
written is that of Cromwell.

Whether before or after Edgehill, it was about
this time that Cromwell had that famous conversation
with Hampden which stands to this day among the
noble and classic commonplaces of English-speaking
democracy all over the globe. "I was a person," he
told his second Parliament the year before he died,
"that from my first employment was suddenly pre-
ferred and lifted up from lesser trusts to greater, from
my first being a captain of a troop of horse, and I did
labor as well as I could to discharge my trust, and God
blessed me as it pleased him. And I did truly and
plainly, and then in a way of foolish simplicity as it was
judged by very great and wise men and good men too,
desire to make my instruments help me in that work.
I had a very worthy friend then, and he was a very
noble person, and I know his memory is very grateful
to all — Mr. John Hampden. At my first going out
into this engagement. I saw our men were beaten at
every hand, and desired him that he would make some
additions to my Lord Essex's army, of some new regi-
ments. And I told him I would be serviceable to him
in bringing such men in as I thought had a spirit that
would do something in the work. 'Your troops,'
said L 'are most of them old decayed serving-men
and tapsters, and such kind of fellows, and,' said I,
'their troops are gentlemen's sons and persons of qual-
ity. Do you think that the spirits of such base and
mean fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen
that have honor and courage and resolution in them?
You must get men of spirit, and of a spirit that is
likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go, or else you
will be beaten still.' He was a wise and worthy per-

by Cooper at Windsor Castle, by special permission of
Her Majesty the Queen.



son, and he did think that I talked a good notion, but
an impracticable one. Truly I told him I could do
somewhat in it. I did so and truly I must needs say
that to you, impute it to what you please : / raised
such men as had the fear of God before them, and made
some conscience of what they did, and from that day
forward, I must say to you, they were never beaten,
and wherever they were engaged against the enemy
they beat continually. And truly this is matter of
praise to God, and it hath some instruction in it, to
own men who are religious and godly. And so many
of them as are peaceably and honestly and quietly dis-
posed to live within rules of government, and w^ill be
subject to those gospel rules of obeying magistrates
and living under authority — I reckon no godliness
without that circle '"

As the months went on, events enlarged Cromwell's
vision, and the sharp demands of practical necessity
drew him to adopt a new general theory. In his talk
with Hampden he does not actually say that if men
are quietly disposed to live within the rules of govern-
ment that should suffice. But he gradually came to
this. The Earl of Manchester had raised to be his
major-general Lawrence Crawford, afterward to be
one of Cromwell's bitter gainsayers. Crawford had
cashiered or suspended one of his captains for the sore
offense of holding wrong opinions on religion. Crom-
well's rebuke (March, 1643) i^ o^ ^^^ sharpest.
"Surely you are not well advised thus to turn off one so
faithful in the cause, and so able to serve you as this
man is. Give me leave to tell you, I cannot be of your
judgment; cannot understand it, if a man notorious for
wickedness, for oaths, for drinking, hath as great a
share in your affection as one who fears an oath, who
fears to sin. Aye, but the man is an Anabaptist. Are


you sure of that? Admit that he be, shall that render
him incapable to serve the public? Sir, the State in
choosing men to serve it takes no notice of their opin-
ions; if they he willing faithfully to serve it, that satis-
fies. I advised you formerly to bear with men of
different minds from yourself; if you had done it when
I advised you to do it, I think you would not have had
so many stumbling-blocks in your way. Take heed of
being sharp, or too easily sharpened by others, against
those to ivhom you can object little but that they square
not zvith you in every opinion concerning matters of

In laying down to the pragmatical Crawford what
has become a fundamental of free governments, Crom-
well probably did not foresee the schism that his
maxims would presently create in the Revolutionary
ranks. To save the cause was the cry of all of them,
but the cause was not to all of them the same. What-
ever inscription was to be emblazoned on the Parlia-
mentary banners, success in the field was the one
essential. Pym and Hampden had perceived it from
the first appeal to arms and for long before, and they
had bent all their energies to urging it upon the House
and inspiring their commanders with their own con-
viction. Cromwell needed no pressure. He not only
saw that without military success the cause was lost,
but that the key to military success must be a force at
once earnest and well-disciplined; and he applied all
the keen and energetic practical qualities of his genius
to the creation of such a force within his own area. He
was day and night preparing the force that was to show
its quality on the day of Marston Moor. "I beseech you
be careful what captains of horse you choose; a few
honest men are better than numbers. If you choose
godly, honest men to be captains of horse, honest men


will follow them. It may be that it provokes some
spirits to see such plain men made captains of horse.
It had been well if men of honor and birth had entered
into these employments ; but why do they not appear ?
Who would have hindered them? But seeing it was
necessary the work should go on, better plain men than
none; but best to have men patient of wants, faithful
and conscientious in their employments." Then, in
famous words that are full of life, because they point
with emphasis and color to a social truth that always
needs refreshing: 'T had rather have a plain russet-
coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves
what he knows, than that which you call a gentleman
and is nothing else. I honor a gentleman that is so
indeed." When Manchester's troops joined him,
Cromwell found them very bad, mutinous, and un-
trustworthy, though they were paid almost to the week,
while his own men were left to depend on what the
sequestrations of the property of malignants in Hun-
tingdonshire brought in. Yet, paid or unpaid, his
troops increased. "A lovely company," he calls them ;
*'they are no Anabaptists, they are honest, sober Chris-
tians, they expect to be used like men."

He had good right to say that he had minded the
public service even to forgetfulness of his own and his
men's necessities. His estate was small, yet already
he had given in money between eleven and twelve hun-
dred pounds. With unwearied zeal he organized his
county, and kept delinquent churchmen in order.
"Lest the soldiers should in any tumultuous way at-
tempt the reformation 01 the cathedral, I require you,"
writes Cromwell to a certain Mr. Hitch at Ely, "to for-
bear altogether your choir service, so unedifying and of-
fensive." Mr. Hitch, to his honor, stuck to his service.
Thereupon Cromwell stamps up the aisle with his hat


on, calling in hoarse barrack tones to Mr. Hitch, "Leave
off your fooling, and come down sir." Laud would
have said just the same to a Puritan prayer-meeting.
Many more things are unedifying and offensive than
Cromwell had thought of, whether in Puritan or

The time came when the weapon so carefully forged
and tempered was to be tried. The Royalist strong-
hold on the Lincolnshire border was Newark, and it
stood out through the whole course of the war. It is
in one of the incessant skirmishes in the neighborhood
of Newark or on the Newark roads, that we have our
first vision of Cromwell and his cavalry in actual en-
gagement. The scene was a couple of miles from
Grantham (May 13, 1643).

Ten weeks later a more important encounter hap-
pened at Gainsborough (July 28), and Cromwell has

Online LibraryJohn MorleyOliver Cromwell → online text (page 9 of 35)