How do you rate Cromwell as a general?

Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
#1
Ignoring his sociopolitical views and policies, what are your thoughts on Cromwell's skills as a military commander? He seems to me a little underrated; whenever the topic of 'greatest British generals' comes up, the top two spots are always Wellington and Marlborough, and while these two are certainly worthy, I feel like Cromwell deserves more credit than he gets. As far as I'm aware he never lost a battle, and all of his campaigns were remarkably successful. His reforms to the 'New Model Army' were far-sighted and effective, and made the British army of the mid-17th century a formidable and modern fighting force.
 
Jul 2019
91
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
#2
I am by no means well informed on the subject, but at least one of Cromwell's biographers, Antonia Fraser, rated him very highly.

C. V. Wedgwood was more restrained in her comments on his military skill, but she noted that Cromwell knew nothing of military affairs when he started but still his results were undeniably impressive.

He certainly could improvise intelligently, made good use of cavalry, and held his army together when the pressure was on.
 
Mar 2019
1,653
Kansas
#3
Ignoring his sociopolitical views and policies, what are your thoughts on Cromwell's skills as a military commander? He seems to me a little underrated; whenever the topic of 'greatest British generals' comes up, the top two spots are always Wellington and Marlborough, and while these two are certainly worthy, I feel like Cromwell deserves more credit than he gets. As far as I'm aware he never lost a battle, and all of his campaigns were remarkably successful. His reforms to the 'New Model Army' were far-sighted and effective, and made the British army of the mid-17th century a formidable and modern fighting force.
I don't see him as being particularly innovative as a commander. Where he is a superstar is the command structure and the discipline he brought to his army. Really he won the battles he did because his troops went where they were told, did as they were told. And most of all remembered their training when they most needed it.
 
May 2018
821
Michigan
#4
Ignoring his sociopolitical views and policies, what are your thoughts on Cromwell's skills as a military commander? He seems to me a little underrated; whenever the topic of 'greatest British generals' comes up, the top two spots are always Wellington and Marlborough, and while these two are certainly worthy, I feel like Cromwell deserves more credit than he gets. As far as I'm aware he never lost a battle, and all of his campaigns were remarkably successful. His reforms to the 'New Model Army' were far-sighted and effective, and made the British army of the mid-17th century a formidable and modern fighting force.
I have to admit I know very little about him, other than some view him as an "English Julius Caesar" to a certain extent: a man possessing of great military and political acumen willing to use force to secure his power, and perhaps even rise with a quasi-populist message as Caesar did.

One odd thing about Cromwell is that he had no formal military training. This was not necessarily uncommon: Wellington attended a French military academie, and while it did teach practical skills such as swordsmanship and horsemanship (both applicable to 18th and 19th century battlefields), it was more of a finishing school than West Point or the Prussian General Staff college.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,456
Las Vegas, NV USA
#5
AFAIK all of Cromwell's military experience was during the English Civil War and in Ireland. There were later adventures in the Caribbean against Spain which were not personally led by him. Since he never personally fought against a major European power like France, I don't think he can be fully rated in terms of his abilities. He was 40 years old and a member of Parliament when the Civil War began.
 
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May 2011
515
UK
#6
Cromwell's supposed lack of military training is a misconception, in the 17th century no one had what a 20th century observer would consider military training. Cromwell did have years of experience serving in the county militia which was the same level of experience as most participants in the Civil war (although many had also served in Flanders).

Of Cromwell's ability, as has already been mentioned his key achievement was to instill a greater level of discipline and professionalism in the cavalry he commanded and later the whole army. He won a series of spectacular victories which destroyed his opponents who should have had the better of him. He was also the first person in history to militarily conquer the whole of the British Isles and bring it under a single government by force. The fact he did not face a continental opponent should not diminish his achievements, the New Model Army served with great distinction on the continent at the Battle of the Dunes under the command of William Lockhart, I don't think anyone has ever tried to claim Lockhart is a superior commander to Cromwell. Cromwell was pivotal in the defeat of the royalist army, which was in the initial stages of the war superior to the Parliamentarian army in training an tactics. The Scottish forces he later defeated were experienced, professionals who had served with success in Europe.
 
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