The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars


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Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract Traditionally historians have accepted Cromwell's explanation for the failure of Parliament's generals to win a decisive victory in the Newbury campaign, and thus bring an effective end to the First English Civil War by destroying the last of the king's field armies. Volume 96 , Issue January Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer.

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Forgot password? The Scottish Royalists, aided by Irish troops, had a rapid series of victories in —45, but were eventually defeated by the Covenanters.


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The Covenanters then found themselves at odds with the English Parliament, so they crowned Charles II at Scone and thus stated their intention to place him on the thrones of England and Ireland as well. Scotland had helped to spark this series of wars in , when it had risen in revolt against Charles I's religious policies. In practice, the Covenant also expressed a wider Scottish dissatisfaction with Charles's policies, especially the sidelining of Scotland since the Stuart Kings had also become monarchs of England in The Covenanters raised a large army from the dependants of their landed class and successfully resisted Charles I's attempt to impose his will on Scotland in the so-called Bishops Wars.

The Scottish uprising triggered civil war in Charles' other two Kingdoms, first in Ireland , then in England. Charles and his minister Thomas Wentworth were unable to persuade the English Parliament , which itself was unhappy with Charles's civil and religious policies, to pay for an army to put down the Scots. As a result, they had proposed raising an army from Irish Catholics, in return for abolishing discriminatory laws against them. This prospect alarmed Charles' enemies in England and Scotland and the Covenanters threatened to invade Ireland.

In response a group of Irish conspirators launched the Irish Rebellion of , which quickly degenerated into a series of massacres of English and Scottish Protestant settlers in Ireland. This in turn sparked civil war in England, because the Long Parliament did not trust Charles with command of an army to put down the Irish rebellion, fearing that it would also be used against them.

The English Civil War broke out in The Covenanters sent an army to Ulster in Ireland in to protect the Scottish settlers there. In , following the signing of a treaty — The Solemn League and Covenant — with the English Parliament, the bulk of the Covenanters' armed forces were sent south to fight on the Parliamentarian side in the English Civil War. Unlike England, in Scotland both Royalists and Covenanters agreed the institution of monarchy was divinely ordered but disagreed on the nature and extent of Royal authority versus that of the church.

Royalism was most prominent in the Highlands and the north-east of Scotland, due to a mix of religious, cultural and political reasons; Montrose switched sides because he distrusted Argyll's ambition, fearing he would eventually dominate Scotland and possibly depose the King. Furthermore, the Highlands was a distinct cultural, political and economic region of Scotland. It was Gaelic in language and customs and at this time was largely outside of the control of the Scottish government.

Some Highland clans preferred the more distant authority of King Charles to the powerful and well organised Lowlands based government of the Covenanters. Clan politics and feuds also played a role; when the Presbyterian Campbell , led by their chief, Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll , sided with the Covenanters, their rivals automatically took the opposing side. It should be said some of these factors overlap that spanned the Irish Sea: for instance the MacDonalds were Catholics, were sworn enemies of the Campbells, and had a strong Gaelic identity.

To the MacDonnells themselves the question was largely irrelevant, they had more in common with native Irish and Scots Highlanders, with whom they shared a common Gaelic language and culture than with those who ruled them". Montrose had already tried and failed to lead a Royalist uprising by , when he was presented with a ready made Royalist army. The Irish Confederates , who were loosely aligned with the Royalists, agreed in that year to send an expedition to Scotland.

From their point of view, this would tie up Scottish Covenanter troops who would otherwise be used in Ireland or England.

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Shortly after landing, the Irish linked up with Montrose at Blair Atholl and proceeded to raise forces from the MacDonalds and other anti-Campbell Highland clans. The new Royalist army led by Montrose and MacColla was in some respects very formidable. Its Irish and Highland troops were extremely mobile, marching quickly over long distances — even over the rugged Highland terrain — and were capable of enduring very harsh conditions and poor rations.

They did not fight in the massed pike and musket formations that dominated continental Europe at the time, but fired their muskets in loose order before closing with swords and half-pikes. This tactic was effective in such a wilderness and swept away the poorly trained Covenanter militias that were sent against them.

These locally raised levies frequently ran away when faced with a terrifying Highland charge , and were slaughtered as they ran. However, the Royalist army also had major problems: the clans from the west of Scotland could not be persuaded to fight for long away from their homes — seeing their principal enemy as the Campbells rather than the Covenanters, which resulted in fluctuating membership — and the Royalists also lacked cavalry , leaving them vulnerable in open country.

Montrose overcame some of these disadvantages through his leadership and by taking advantage of the forbidding Highland mountains. Keeping his enemies guessing where he would strike next, Montrose would sally out to attack lowland garrisons and withdraw to the Highlands when threatened by the more numerous enemy.

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In the safety of the mountains he could fight on terrain familiar to his army, or lead the Covenanters on wild goose chases. From — Montrose led the Royalists to six famous victories, defeating covenanting armies larger than his own of roughly men except at Kilsyth, where he led approximately 5, In the Autumn of , the Royalists marched across the Highlands to Perth , where they smashed a Covenanter force at the battle of Tippermuir on 1 September. Shortly afterwards, another Covenanter militia met a similar fate outside Aberdeen on 13 September.

Unwisely, Montrose let his men pillage Perth and Aberdeen after taking them, leading to hostility to his forces in an area where Royalist sympathies had been strong.

The English Civil War Part 1 Blood On Our Hands

In December , the Royalists rampaged through the Campbells' country. During the clan warfare Inveraray was torched and all armed men were put to sword; approximately Campbells were killed. In response to the attack on his clansmen, Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll assembled the Campbell clansmen to repel the invaders. Montrose, finding himself trapped in the Great Glen between Argyll and Covenanters advancing from Inverness, decided on a flanking march through the wintry mountains of Lochaber and surprised Argyll at the battle of Inverlochy 2 February The Covenanters and Campbells were crushed, with losses of 1, Montrose's famous march was acclaimed as "one of the great exploits in the history of British arms" by John Buchan and C.

The most important of these were the Gordons , who provided the Royalists with cavalry for the first time. Inverlochy was an important strategic victory for the Royalists, because the Scottish Covenanter army in England was ordered to send a proportion of their force north to help bolster the Covenanter forces in Scotland. This significantly weakened the Scottish army in England and it was only the lack of Royalist infantry and artillery in the north of England that prevented Prince Rupert from attacking them.

In April , to hinder the northwards movement of English Royalist field artillery, Oliver Cromwell led a cavalry raid into the English Midlands. The raid was the first active operation carried out by the newly formed New Model Army. In April Montrose was surprised by General William Baillie after a raid on Dundee, but eluded capture by having his troops doubleback on the coast road and fleeing inland in a corkscrew retreat. Another Covenanter army under John Urry was hastily assembled and sent against the Royalists.

At Auldearn , near Nairn , Montrose placed Macdonald and most of infantry in view of the enemy and concealed the cavalry and remaining infantry. Despite Macdonald attacking prematurely, the ruse worked, and Hurry was defeated on 9 May. Another cat-and-mouse game between Bailie and Montrose led to the battle of Alford on 2 July. Montrose confronted the Covenanters after the latter had forded the Don , forcing them to fight with the river at their back and on uneven ground. The Royalists triumphed and advanced into the lowlands. Bailie went in pursuit and Montrose waited for him at Kilsyth.

Oliver Cromwell

During the ensuing battle the Royalists were inadvertently aided by Argyll and other members of the "Committee of Estates," who ordered Bailie to make a flank march across the front of the Royalist army, which pounced on them and triumphed. After Kilsyth 15 August , Montrose seemed to have won control of all Scotland: In late , such prominent towns as Dundee and Glasgow fell to his forces. The Covenanting government had temporarily collapsed, paying for its over-confidence in defeating Royalist resistance. As the royally commissioned lieutenant-governor and captain-general of Scotland, Montrose used his powers to summon parliament to meet in Glasgow, but the limitations of his triumph soon became clear.

King Charles was in no position to join the Royalists in Scotland, and though Montrose wanted to further Royalist objectives by raising troops in the south east of Scotland and marching on England, MacColla showed that his priorities lay with war of the MacDonalds against the Campbells and occupied Argyll. The Gordons also returned home, to defend their own lands in the north-east. During his campaign Montrose had been unable to attract many lowland royalists to his cause.

Even after Kilsyth few joined him, having been alienated by his use of Irish Catholic troops, who were "regarded as barbarians as well as enemies of true religion.

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Montrose, his forces having split up, was surprised and defeated by the Covenanters, led by David Leslie , at the battle of Philiphaugh. Approximately Irish prisoners, having surrendered upon promise of quarter, were executed, and of the Royalist army's camp followers — mostly women and children - were killed in cold blood. In September Montrose fled to Norway. The Royalist victories in Scotland had evaporated almost overnight owing to the disunited nature of their forces.

After failing to persuade the King to take the Covenant, the Scots finally handed him over to the commissioners of Parliament in early At the same time they received part payment for the service of their army in England, which then returned north. Those who had fought for Montrose, particularly the Irish, were massacred by the Covenanters whenever they were captured, in reprisal for the atrocities the Royalists had committed in Argyll.

Ironically, no sooner had the Covenanters defeated the Royalists at home than they were negotiating with Charles I against the English Parliament. The Covenanters could not get their erstwhile allies to agree on a political and religious settlement to the wars, failing to get Presbyterianism established as the official religion in the Three Kingdoms and fearing that the Parliamentarians would threaten Scottish independence. Many Covenanters feared that under Parliament, "our poor country should be made a province of England.

This intervention on behalf of the King caused a brief civil war within the Covenanting movement. The two factions came to blows at the Battle of Stirling in September , before a peace was hastily negotiated.

The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars
The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars
The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars
The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars
The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars
The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars

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