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`The Furie of the Ordnance'

`The Furie of the Ordnance': Artillery in the English Civil Wars

Stephen Bull
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    `The Furie of the Ordnance'
    Book Description:

    NEW LOW PRICE The English Civil War has frequently been depicted as a struggle between Cavaliers and Roundheads in which technology played little part. The first-hand sources now tell us that this romantic picture is deeply flawed - revealing a reality of gunpowder, artillery, and a grinding struggle of siege and starvation. As with naval warfare, developments in gun technology drastically changed land warfare in the years leading up to 1642. The Civil War was itself shaped largely by the availability of munitions. A failure to procure them in 1643 and 1644 - combined with abortive attempts on London - ultimately proved the downfall of the Royalists. Moreover a final move away from fortified local garrisons reshaped both the nature of warfare in England, and the country itself. STEPHEN BULL is Curator of Military History and Archaeology, Lancashire Museums.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-641-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. A Selective Chronology of the Civil Wars
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Maps
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxiv)

    The spark for this book was struck as early as 1974 when – as a very young enthusiast of all things to do with the English Civil War – I read the following remarks in Brigadier Peter young’sCavalier Army:

    Cannon were most useful in siege work but counted little in battles. Their slow rate of fire, perhaps one round every three minutes if served by an expert crew, meant that there would have to be a great concentration to cause a decisive number of casualties. however, cannon did not exist in great numbers in the England of that time.

    A few...

  9. 1 Of Guns and Gunners
    (pp. 1-37)

    In its most basic form the technology of the early modern gun is not highly complex. It consists essentially of a tough, fracture resistant tube, or ‘barrel’, closed at one end, into which is inserted gunpowder. A wad may be pushed into the barrel to hold it in place, before a projectile is put in. This may itself be confined by further wadding. A very small aperture, otherwise known as the ‘touch hole’, or ‘vent’, near to the closed end of the barrel, provides access to the charge. By inserting a pricker into the vent the gunner clears the hole...

  10. 2 ‘England’s Vulcan’: Artillery Supply under the Early Stuarts
    (pp. 38-53)

    Ordnance production at the end of the reign of Elizabeth I was characterised by diversity both in terms of manufacturers and commercial interests. In late 1594, for example, we find six active founders in the Ordnance Office registers: Henry Pitt, Peter Gyll, Thomas Johnson, George Elkyn, Richard Phillips and Samuel Owen. Of these Pitt, Phillips and Owen appear to have concentrated primarily on the production of ‘brass’ (bronze) ordnance. Other persons who were not actually founders, such as Robert Evelyn, sometimes provided guns for state service, both through sub contracting and providing foreign pieces, captured or otherwise, thus acting as...

  11. 3 A Scramble for Arms: The War of Ordnance Logistics
    (pp. 54-80)

    The causes of the Civil Wars were diverse and arguably included a complex web of conflicting political, religious, and financial motivations. They almost certainly happened when they did because of unrest in Scotland – which had started the ‘Bishops Wars’ of 1639 and 1640 – and the ugly Irish Rebellion of 1641. Yet a very good case can be made that the great, or First, Civil War in England actually began over who controlled military forces and supplies. The shape of the opening campaigns was almost entirely dictated by the need to secure munitions of all descriptions – and not least artillery. Moreover...

  12. 4 Artillery Fortifications
    (pp. 81-99)

    At the opening of the Civil War knowledgeable commanders on both sides were well aware that very few of the towns, houses and castles of England were tenable in modern war. Many sieges on the Continent – in Italy, the Dutch Wars, and then the Thirty years War – had demonstrated that medieval walls were no match for artillery. Indeed as early as 1589 Paul Ive in hisPractise of Fortificationhad offered the opinion that, ‘Townes enclosed with weake walles of stone, and defended with small, square or rounde towres, are insufficient to abide the mallice and offence that an enemey...

  13. 5 Artillery and Sieges
    (pp. 100-136)

    Sieges were every bit as important as battle in the Civil Wars: many casualties were caused, and much of the cost of the war was absorbed in defending and attacking towns and castles. Holding cities dominated trade, allowed regulation of taxation, and controlled major route ways – thus shaping campaigns. Many battles occurred when, and where, they did because armies were deployed to capture or relieve towns and were confronted en route to their objective. Moreover at any given moment until the final stages of the First Civil War, roughly ten times as much ordnance was tied up in static defences...

  14. 6 Battle
    (pp. 137-160)

    A common body of tactics for the use of artillery on the battlefield existed long before 1642. During the decades leading up to the English Civil Wars, a number of key European texts containing tactical theory were translated and circulated, in either manuscript or book form. English and Scottish commentators also added their opinions, or reassessed artillery tactics in the light of their own experience. Unsurprisingly – given its recent dominant position and the military adventures of Spain at the end of the sixteenth century – many ideas came from the Iberian peninsula, or from soldiers who had fought in the service...

  15. Conclusions
    (pp. 161-172)

    Without doubt ordnance was the arbitrating technology of the mid seventeenth century: it determined the design of the warship and fortification, and by extension was a significant factor in government expenditure – much of which was military. It was also crucial both to the outcomes of the Civil Wars, and the way they were fought. To ignore this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the period. The wars of the Low Countries had been struggles of sieges of artillery works punctuated by battles; the English Civil Wars would follow a similar trend, albeit that the protagonists sometimes had more space in which...

  16. Appendix I Ordnance Types 1634–1665
    (pp. 173-174)
  17. Appendix II Shot Finds
    (pp. 175-177)
  18. Appendix III The Parliamentarian Artillery Train of 1642 details extracted from PRO WO 528/131/2, PRO WO 55/387, and the ‘Catalogue of the Names’, BL E 83 (9)
    (pp. 178-180)
  19. Appendix IV The Establishment of the King’s ‘Trayne of Artillery’ (Oxford Army), June 1643 extracted from Rawlinson Ms D 395 ff 208–9
    (pp. 181-182)
  20. Appendix V The Equipment and Personnel for One Gun and One Mortar, and Infantry Munitions, dispatched from Oxford in May 1643: PRO WO 55/458.65, ff 7–8
    (pp. 183-184)
  21. Appendix VI Guns captured by the King’s army at Bristol, July 1643 as Listed in Rawlinson Ms D 395 ff 138–139, ‘Survey’ by Samuel Fawcett
    (pp. 185-185)
  22. Appendix VII The Artillery and Officers of the New Model Army Details extracted from PRO WO 47/1, ff 108–118; CSPD DIII, 1644, pp 499, 500, 517;
    (pp. 186-187)
  23. Appendix VIII The Ideal Artillery Train according to BL Harleian Ms 6844, ‘A Short Treatise Concerning All Things Needfull in an Armye According to Modern Use’, c. 1660
    (pp. 188-188)
  24. Appendix IX The Masters and Officers of the Ordnance c. 1610–1660 extracted from Ordnance Quarter Books, DNB and State Papers
    (pp. 189-191)
  25. Appendix X Typical Firing Sequence for a Small to Medium Sized Gun using a crew of three: reconstructed from passages in various sections of William Eldred’s Gunner’s Glasse, London, 1646, and other manuals of the period 1620–1650
    (pp. 192-194)
  26. Glossary
    (pp. 195-200)
  27. Illustrations
    (pp. 201-224)
  28. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-244)
  29. Index
    (pp. 245-248)
  30. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-249)