Naseby Q & A (summer 2011)

Naseby: phase one - the King's army on the move ...

With a couple of public outings on consecutive weekends, there have been a number of interesting questions I feel I could have answered more informatively.   Given a bit more time, here’s what I would have liked to have had at my fingertips …

Q: When was the Cromwell Monument erected?

A: 1936

Q: What were the total casualties at Naseby*

*perversely, although I had casualty figures for individual New Model regiments (Foard gives these in his analysis of the fighting on Closter Hill), I didn’t really have the battle totals in the front of my mind at all.

A: Royalist losses are put at 700 – 1,000 dead, 4 – 5,000 taken prisoner (Foard: 5,500) and around 80 standards and colours.  Parliamentarian losses appear to be 100 – 150 killed and just over 500 wounded.

Analysing the figures, Foard, of course, points out that they mean around three-quarters of the King’s army were killed or captured on the field.  Given that records show the rest, fleeing or wounded, dispersed through Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, it means, in any useful sense, that the King’s army was annihilated on the 14th of June.

Martin Marix Evans helped me deal with this topic at Festival of History.  Martin reckons the terrain contributed significantly to the high ratio of surrendered to killed …  He puts the case convincingly that horses are unwilling to charge across the lines of the ‘ridge and furrow’ cultivation of open field agriculture (and we know that – like nearly all battles of the period – Naseby was fought along the grain rather than across it): he believes, therefore, that Cromwell’s Horse were only able to close in cautiously on the backs of the Royalist Foot, allowing time for the massed surrender.   A proper charge, he observes, would have caused carnage.

Q:  Where was Henry Ireton from?

A:  Attenborough in Nottinghamshire.

He studied at Oxford and went to the Bar.  He joined the Parliamentarians at Edgehill.   Naseby was his first experience commanding at such a high level.  A year after the battle, he married Cromwell’s daughter.   Later, he signed the King’s death warrant.   In one of English history’s more shameful and macabre episodes, his was one of the three bodies exhumed and posthumously hung, drawn and quartered for regicide (Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw).  Ireton Road addresses probably do refer to the Henry Ireton of this period.

Parliament's senior officers at Naseby

Q: How likely were the senior Officers to get killed in these battles?*

*both a question asked at Festival of History, and an obvious issue arising out of Cromwell getting killed in the COW refight …

A: My instinctive answer was that being wounded was quite common, getting killed less common but always a risk.    Looking over the period in less of a hurry, I can see … Earl Lindsey killed at Edgehill; the Earl of Northampton at Hopton Heath; John Hampden at Chalgrove; Grenville at Lansdown; Cavendish at Grantham; Aston at Drogheda, Tyldesley at Wigan Lane.  I’m sure there are others.  So, quite a few (and some notables), though clearly not that common.

What was apparent from flicking through Richard Brooks’s very useful ‘Cassell’s Battlefields of Britain and Ireland’ is that just as common an outcome of combat in this period was being taken prisoner.   Depending on the outcome of the battle, sometimes that might lead to subsequent execution, but at Naseby the surrender of the King’s army meant Ireton ended up taking prisoner his own captor (so it was a status that could reverse by the end of the battle).

I will need to adjust the ‘lost in combat’ outcomes table of my ECW Armati variant to reflect the likelihood of surviving but being taken prisoner.

I must also correct my reference to Philip Skippon being shot in the leg.  Ireton, it was, that had taken a leg wound – and from a pike (and also a halberd in the face).  Skippon’s very serious bullet wound was through the back, from stomach to shoulder.  Even at the time this was put down as likely friendly fire (a ‘hang fire’ Marix Evans speculates) …  He was taken to nearby Brixworth, but could not be moved thence for another fortnight.

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One Comment on “Naseby Q & A (summer 2011)”


  1. […] high toll is not entirely unfeasible in this period (see my earlier post on risk) … and results from the very aggressive attitude adopted by the commanders.  But it did get […]


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