Command structure?

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    Wondering if there are any good sources as to how the command structure was outlined for the bulk of the ECW? What I mean is, Asltey, for example. Who served under him? I understand there was movement of officers but as a general rule.

    Here is an example of what I mean for the New Model Army (Which was easier to find):
    New Model Army (1645)
    Sir Thomas Fairfax (General)
    Oliver Cromwell (Genral or Command of the Horse)
    Philip Skippon
    John Okey
    Lieutenant-Col. Thomas Pride
    Henry Breton (Commissary-Gen. of Horse)

    There are many commanders that are just floating out there in my mind. Maybe this is because I’m a Yank and this was not taught in schools, lol.

    Any lists?


    My army is Royalist, as an FYI. My son’s is Parliament.

    Charge The Guns

    Hi Bill, I’ll take a swing at this one 🙂

    The high level command structure used by both most armies in the ECW followed models established on the continent, typically from the Dutch and Swedish traditions.

    The example you give for Naseby follows the typical model.

    The overall commander in chief, often just referred to as the General; maybe a Captain General, or a Lord General.

    The second in command would be the Commander of Horse, typically a Lieutenant General. In typical battles the horse were split in to a right and a left wing. This general would typically command the right wing (the right being the traditional position of honour). The Commander of Horse would himself had a second in command, who would command the left wing of horse. This may just be a Colonel of one of the horse regiments, rather than someone with a staff command. (Note generals would typically also be a colonel of horse/foot regiments as well as being on the ‘staff’.) The wings of horse could be subdivided further and this would be in to lines of regiments / squadrons of horse. A senior Colonel may be given command of one one of these brigade / lines.

    Third in overall command was the Sergeant Major General (the ‘sergeant’ often being dropped leaving Major General). This general commanded the foot, typically in the centre of the army when deployed. The foot was often sub-divided in to brigades with each brigade being commanded by the senior Colonel of the regiments (2 or 3 typically) in the brigade.

    After these you sometimes have a commander of Dragoons. Might be a Major General, or may be just a Colonel of one of the dragoon regiments.

    Then there is the Commander of the Ordnance, who commanded the heavy guns. (The artillery were further subdivided in to a whole complex system of their own!)

    There is a whole lot more on Commissary etc. but I guess you are interested in the troop commanders.

    Things often got messy as at different times each side had multiple armies. So, for example, at Marston Moor in 1644, the Royalists were made up of Rupert and Newcastles two armies, and the Parliamentarians were made up of the Scots, Eastern Association and North Association, three armies. So the Parliamentarians technically had three Generals of Horse at the battle! In this case there was a lot of shuffling about to determine an order of precedence.

    In smaller engagements you might have a Major General commanding the whole force, and you’d then have colonels taking the position of wing, centre commanders etc.

    So, the command structures were very fluid, but were established for an action around the C in C, Horse, Foot and Ordnance strcutures described above. Using your example of Astley. In the Edgehill campaign he commanded the foot, which was divided in to a number of brigades. Each of these brigades would be made up of a number of regiments, and the senior colonel of the regiments in the brigade would command the brigade. A nice breakdown is available here . (BCW is a great site, if you’re not familiar already.)

    Hope this helps, Bill.


    Many thanks! BCW Project site is amazing!

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