First English Civil War (1642 – 1646)
The Roundheads were famous for having short-cropped hair whereas the Cavaliers became famed for long hair and wigs! Both sides had problems with recruitment at the beginning of the war; it is estimated that their combined forces totaled less than 15,000 men at the start. However, the conflict spread rapidly and soon involved all elements of society. By the end of 1642, both armies had more than 60,000 men.
The First English Civil War was dominated by skirmishes as local garrisons fought for territory. There were only a handful of major battles and Charles started at a disadvantage. The Roundheads held the majority of England’s important ports and London. The Cavaliers needed to capture the capital to win the war and routinely failed in this quest. While both sides claimed victory at the first major clash of the war, the Battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642, neither group gained a clear advantage. The evenly matched armies suffered approximately 2,000 casualties apiece with around 1,000 soldiers killed in total.
The Royalists enjoyed some success in 1643 by taking control of most of Yorkshire after victory at Adwalton Moor. The turning point in the war arguably came in autumn when Charles was forced to raise the Siege of Gloucester and subsequently suffered defeat at the First Battle of Newbury. From then on, the Parliamentarians had the momentum. The first significant battle of the war occurred at Marston Moor on 2 July 1644. A Parliament force, aided by Scottish Covenanters, decisively defeated the Royalists. 4,000 Royalists were killed, and another 1,500 were captured. This was a crippling blow to the king and his armies effectively abandoned the North of England which was to prove crucial in the following year when the king was unable to gain support from the Marquess of Montrose.
Parliament created the New Model Army in 1645 with Sir Thomas Fairfax as the leader and Oliver Cromwell as second-in-command. This centralized standing army was reasonably well trained and well funded. After suffering some setbacks in early 1645, Parliament turned things in its favor permanently with victory at the Battle of Naseby on 14 June. Of the 7,400 Royalists that took the field, only 1,400 managed to escape the battle. Naseby ruined the Royalist army, and it suffered a sequence of setbacks at Langport, Rowton Heath, and Annan Moor.
Charles tried to battle on but found his resources were all but gone. He tried to hide with a Presbyterian Scottish Army but was surrendered to the Parliamentarians instead. The king was handed over at Newark on 5 May 1646 and immediately imprisoned. The First English Civil War came to an end.