Earl of Essex's Regiment of Foot,
First Captain's Company
Contact: Gary Leitzell (Sgt., Commander), 140 Indiana Ave., Daton, OH. 45410; 513-253-1359 (Home/Work); Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Geographical Base: Midwest (mainly Ohio/lndiana areas & also western Pennsylvania area)
Current Members: 1 Sgt., 9 soldiers, 1 campfollower
Membership Policy & Fees: Formed late 1994 (still forming). Company/unit sets their own regimental fee (if any) for members (to pay for unit equipment such as flag, drum, all tentage & camp/cooking items as needed).
Affiliation: English Civil War Society of America (ECWSA)
Uniform: 'Tawny' orange wool soldier's coat lined in white wool, wool breeches (color choice by soldier, as long as it is a muted dye) and Mommouth Cap (skull cap for pikemen & 'blue-bell' with brim style for musketeers), with linen shirt, white wool stockings (optional white, grey or linen oversocks), plus proper style shoes. Note that coat/breeches buttons made of same wool cloth covered over bits of leather. In addition soldiers were issued with a leather baldric & scabbard for their sword, and a leather snapsack for belongings (wool blanket, eat ware & personal items). Optional are leather gauntlets, but required for fencing skirmish.
Weapons: Of all of the regiments in the ECW, this is one that can be associated with tin-plate charges with lead tops.
Colours: Orange tawny field with one white mullet (star) painted in center; St. George' s canton in upper left corner (1/6th of field); Orange tawny sleeve; Orange tassels & cords of 2' length. Each Captain's company (lst-7th) has one white mullet, with those of the Colonel's being a plain field without St. George's canton, Lt-Colonel's a plain field with St. George's canton, and Major's a white pile wavy added. At present the unit is still forming, so no colour has been made for the field, but will eventually be the 1st Captain's (one white mullet).
Brief History of the Regiment: Robert Deveraux, the 3rd Earl of Essex, born 1591, son of Elizabeth I's piqued favorite, had gained considerable experience in war at and by sea. In the Bishop's Wars he was second in command of the King's Army, yet always favored the calling of Parliament. On 12 July 1642, was made Lord General of the Army of Parliament, and an army that included 20 regiments of foot was raised shortly thereafter for him. This was to be the main field force to support the Parliamentary cause in its dispute with King Charles I.
The Earl of Essex's Regiment of Foot (known as the Lord General's Regiment) was naturally the first and foremost regiment of foot raised for the Earl of Essex's Army (known as "Olde Robin's Foote"), and fought in most engagements of the army. The regiment was reputed to be one of the better ones of the Army of Parliament, and naturally was the counterpart to the King's Lifeguard of Foot.
On 28 July, 1642, volunteers from London and the Southwark of Essex registered at the New Artillery Gardens. August 1st they were divided into companies and regiments with appointed officers. The regiment reached its full establishment of 1500 strong in 10 companies by the 10th, when it received 1461:14:4 levy money from Parliament to pay for an order made on the 6th for " ..coats, shoes, shirts, caps and snapsacks..." at 17 shillings cost per man. The regiment, as most in Earl of Essex's Army, was well armed at the start of the war, having a pike to musket ratio of 1 to 2, with most pikemen in full corslets of armor (helmet, back/breast, tassets & gorget).
At Edgehill the regiment fought valiantly against the King's Lifeguard of Foot and Duke of York's Regiment of Foot, to cover the rout of four other regiments of the Earl of Essex's Army. After the battle the regiment was naturally one of those retained in the Earl of Essex's Army, when others, as a result of severe casualties, were reduced to bring regiments up to strength.
From Jan-Apr. 1643, the regiment (along with the army) was decimated by disease while in the Thames Valley & Aylesbury areas, and besieging Reading. On 1 February, 1644, Parliament realized the army needed complete reorganization and recruitment to oppose the King's Army. The regiment was naturally retained, rather then being reduced, but with only 8 companies.
The regiment, along with the rest of "Olde Robin's Foote", surrendered unconditionally to the King at Lostwithel on September 2nd (the Earl of Essex escaped the night before with some of his staff via fishing boat). The troops were not plundered by the Royalists on the King's command, but the local people stripped them to the skin once they were free of their Royalist guards on their way to Plymouth.
On September 19th new clothes were sent to the army, consisting of coats, breeches, stockings, shoes, caps, snapsacks and all arms. From arms issued at this time, it seems that the Earl of Essex' s Regiment of Foot (as well as the rest of the army) had a pike to musket ratio of 1 to 6. During this uniform issue no mention of tawny-orange coats is known, instead red and grey being more likely.
The army marched in rain for three days and nights, drawing together at Southwich House near Porchester, and were very badly reduced (some regiments having only 200 men). The Earl of Essex had developed a bad chill from marching at the head of his men in the appalling weather, and seemed to develop an ulcer, taking to bed in Reading, never to take the field again.
On 2 April, 1645, the Lord General, Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex, resigned his commission rather than face the ignominy of dismissal due to the "self-denying ordinance", and the subsequent forming of the New Model Army The next day Sir Thomas Fairfax was made Lord General of the New Model Army. To prevent any discontent since the Earl of Essex still had a large following in the army, the old Lord General's Army was mustered at Forebury on April 5th. The soldiers were promised a fortnight's pay, new clothes consisting of coats, breeches, shirts, stockings, shoes, snapsacks and caps, plus all arms, and that they would be constantly paid. This did the trick, and the soldiers and officers were quietly reduced and re-enlisted, with the Earl of Essex's Regiment into Sir Thomas Fairfax's Regiment of Foot of the New Model Army.
The cause Essex fought for triumphed just before he died in 1648, although its unlikely he would have appreciated the victory, and certainly not the King's execution, nor would he have had any part of it. "Olde Robin" was very much liked by his men, having on at least two occasions (Edgehill & Second Newbury) fought with his regiment with pike in hand, and frequently marched at the head of his regiment, even in adverse weather. It is with sadness then that for a commander who was so well liked and endeared by his men, that after the closing of the last New Model muster book on the evening of their reducement and re-enlistment, "Olde Robin's Foote" was no more.
The following is a list of the campaigns & engagements the regiment was involved in - 1642: Edgehill, Turnham Green; 1643: Siege of Reading, Caversham Bridge, Relief of Gloucester, First Newbury, Olney (near Newport Pagnell); 1644: Detachments at Aylesbury & possibly Hilesden House, Oxford Campaign, Relief of Lyme, Relief of Plymouth, Horsebridge, Lostwithiel Campaign (Beacon Hill & Castle Dore), Second Newbury; 1645: Possible detachment as garrison of Abingdon, reduced & formed into Sir Thomas Fairfax's Regiment of Foot of the New Model Army on April 5th, Naseby. Note: rest of regiment's history as New Model Army. The reconstructed regiment has members with backgrounds in living history re-enacting and wargaming. Its commander was a member of Nicholas Devereaux's Regiment of Foot of the ECWS in England (commanded by Alan Turton, author of Olde Robin's Foote, and ECWSA contact/researcher).
Last Updated: 5/95