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The Warrior Generals

The Warrior Generals: Winning the British Civil Wars

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Warrior Generals
    Book Description:

    In this bold history of the men who directed and determined the outcome of the mid-seventeenth-century British wars-from Cromwell, Fairfax, and Essex to many more lesser-known figures-military historian Malcolm Wanklyn offers the first assessment of leadership and the importance of command in the civil wars.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16841-9
    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 Plates
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Maps and Battle Plans
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  7. Glossary
    (pp. xii-xviii)
  8. CHAPTER 1 The Generals
    (pp. 1-10)

    It was the early afternoon of Thursday, 13 July 1643. Henry, Lord Wilmot, lieutenant general of cavalry in King Charles I’s field army, sat on his horse on Morgan’s Hill looking across a dip in the Wiltshire Downs. His orders when he left Oxford, the royalist headquarters, were simple and straightforward. He was to rescue the infantry and artillery of the army of the west under Sir Ralph Hopton, penned up in the town of Devizes for the past five days and very short of food and ammunition. However, blocking his way on Roundway Down, three miles short of the...

  9. CHAPTER 2 The First Campaign of the English Civil War: THE OPENING MOVES
    (pp. 11-23)

    Open warfare broke out in England, the wealthiest and most populous of Charles I’s three kingdoms, in the late summer of 1642 after five years of political turmoil that had afflicted both England and Scotland. Some of those who immediately took up arms on behalf of Parliament or the king had concerns about religion, civil liberties and social unrest. Others responded to pressures such as kinship and economic self-interest. The flashpoint was a fundamental issue of sovereignty, namely who should have ultimate control over the armed forces of the realm. In Scotland the king had just lost this right through...

  10. CHAPTER 3 Over by Winter? Edgehill and Turnham Green
    (pp. 24-38)

    The marches of the king’s army after leaving Shrewsbury seem to have been grounded in the belief that the earl of Essex would do nothing unless provoked. Writing from Wolverhampton on 17 October, the king expressed his amazement that Essex had been so inactive for so long. At first he expected ‘daily a battle’, now he thought that ‘the rebels want either courage or strength to fight before they are forced’.¹ The encounter between the rearguard of his army and the vanguard of Essex’s on the 22nd was therefore more of a shock to the royalist high command than it...

  11. CHAPTER 4 Taking Stock, November 1642–April 1643
    (pp. 39-48)

    In the late summer of 1642 both sides expected the fighting to end in a matter of weeks,¹ but the first campaign had been inconclusive and the king and Parliament faced the daunting prospect of a lengthy war and all the human misery that would necessarily flow from it. However, Charles and his ministers did not hold Lord Forth and Prince Rupert responsible for what had happened and the diarchy remained in place. After all they had much to their credit. The military outlook was far rosier than it had been at Nottingham. The field army had driven the enemy...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Parliament’s Lost Opportunities, April–July 1643
    (pp. 49-61)

    The 1643 campaigning season for the two field armies began in the early spring. For the first time in the war the earl of Essex was on the offensive, his objective to remove the threat to London by driving the king’s forces from the Thames valley. For the past six weeks a truce had been in operation whilst peace negotiations took place at Oxford, but there was frenetic military activity elsewhere with minor battles being fought at Ripple, Hopton Heath, Middlewich, Whalley and Seacroft Moor.¹ When peace talks reached an impasse on 12 April, Parliament refused to renew the truce,...

    (pp. 62-74)

    Not only were the Parliament generals in the provinces responsible for losing vast tracts of countryside, but the fact that the king still had a field army in southern England in the summer of 1643 owed a great deal to the operational decisions they made that were not in the interests of the total war effort. The earl of Essex received nothing other than Lord Grey of Wark’s corps of the Eastern Association army, a band of raw and ill-equipped tyros who melted away due to endemic disease and shortage of pay and provisions. In defence of Lords Fairfax and...

    (pp. 75-88)

    The 1643 campaigning season for the armies that had fought at the First Battle of Newbury ended with the royalist reoccupation of Reading at the end of September, though brigades from both performed specific tasks from time to time, usually in support of provincial commanders whose war continued remorselessly throughout the winter. Only in England to the south of the Thames was there a break of four weeks or so from mid-January 1644 onwards when snow carpeted the land.¹ The inquest into the success or failure of the commanders-in-chief in carrying out their political masters’ war aims therefore began earlier...

  15. CHAPTER 8 Great Expectations: SELBY AND OXFORD
    (pp. 89-98)

    In the autumn of 1643 the king charged his generals with restarting the strategic initiative which had stalled at Newbury in late September, but such gains as they did make were concentrated in October, November and early December. From mid-December onwards there was a run of setbacks on most fronts: Prince Maurice had failed to capture Plymouth; the garrison at Towcester near Northampton had to be withdrawn; Lord Hopton had lost half his infantry at Alton and Arundel; Lord Byron had suffered defeat at Nantwich and Lords Forth and Hopton at Cheriton. Moreover, the two clear successes, the relief of...

  16. CHAPTER 9 The Marston Moor Campaign
    (pp. 99-109)

    Whilst two of Parliament’s generals were putting the king’s military position in south central England under near intolerable pressure, Prince Rupert was trying to put together a force capable of rescuing the marquis of Newcastle and his infantry from York. The matter was not that pressing as the earl of Leven and Lord Fairfax could not cut the city off completely from the surrounding countryside and appeared to have ruled out the idea of storming it. Their focus was on drawing in the army of the Eastern Association. Only then would there be sufficient troops to make the blockeade watertight...

    (pp. 110-121)

    If the prospect of the speedy surrender of the royalist western army at Devizes in early July 1643 formed the first high point of Sir William Waller’s career as an army general, the assemblage of a vast host at Stourbridge twenty miles to the north of Worcester on 14 June 1644 was the second. His army, supplemented by that of the earl of Denbigh, drawn out of the Midlands’ garrisons from Coventry in the east to Wem in the west, and by several regiments from Cheshire, was in an enviable position. With only 3,000 infantry made up entirely of musketeers,...

  18. CHAPTER 11 The March to Newbury: SAVING THE SOUTH
    (pp. 122-129)

    The maelstrom that engulfed the earl of Manchester in the autumn and winter of 1644 far surpassed earlier attacks on the earl of Essex. The occasion was the remarkable decline in the military effectiveness of the army of the Eastern Association. At Marston Moor on 2 July it had turned near certain defeat into total victory, but it proved utterly incapable of winning the war in the south. The stock explanation is that Manchester lost the will to fight, but this is questionable at the very least and may be totally erroneous. The circumstances surrounding the malaise that affected the...

  19. CHAPTER 12 The Second and Third Battles of Newbury
    (pp. 130-140)

    Parliament and the Committee of Both Kingdoms had the time to put their house in order because for most of September the king’s Council of War was busy with matters of military administration, re-establishing control over the four counties of the south-west, raising supplies and recruits for the two armies, and making provisions for the blockade of Plymouth, Lyme and Taunton.¹ Discussions concerning the strategy for the rest of the campaign came next when Prince Rupert met his uncle and brother at Sherborne on 30 September. He promised to assemble a force of some 6,000 men made up of his...

    (pp. 141-153)

    The outstanding military development of the winter of 1644 was the creation of the New Model Army, nationally financed, larger than any previous army, commanded by a new general with a hand-picked officer corps, and strategically and operationally under the control of the Committee of Both Kingdoms. This was a new venture. The appointment of the steering committee did not pave the way for it,¹ and it had nothing whatsoever to do with Sir William Waller’s cry of despair after Cropredy Bridge.² This is not to deny that problems of command, recruitment and maintenance and how to solve them were...

  21. CHAPTER 14 Fairfax, Rupert and the Battle of Naseby
    (pp. 154-166)

    Sir thomas Fairfax’s command emerged from the chrysalis on 30 April 1645. His first orders were to lead the infantry and some of the cavalry on another relief expedition to Taunton, whilst the remainder were to continue helping Cromwell harass the king’s forces in the Oxford area.¹ Halfway to Taunton new instructions arrived from Westminster. A battle was imminent somewhere to the south of Oxford. Rupert, Maurice and the king had rendezvoused in the Cotswolds and were likely to try and crush Cromwell Force in what might well be the Fourth Battle of Newbury. However, four regiments of New Model...

  22. CHAPTER 15 Fairfax and Goring
    (pp. 167-178)

    What had happened on the battlefield at Naseby vindicated the decision of the Committee of Both Kingdoms to give Fairfax his operational independence but after persuading Leicester to surrender he was reluctant to take responsibility for the next decision, which was a strategic one, without the complete backing of his political masters. After their defeat the king, Prince Rupert and their cavalry, still several thousand strong, had made their way across the Midlands to Hereford where they met General Charles Gerard's corps and immediately set about raising new infantry regiments for the Oxford army colonels, most of whom had escaped...

  23. CHAPTER 16 Warfare in Scotland and Ireland 1642–1648
    (pp. 179-190)

    There was warfare in Ireland throughout the period covered by the English Civil Wars and beyond, and in Scotland from 1644 onwards, but it was significantly different from the fighting in England. In the first place it was bloodier, partly because of traditional ways of doing things, partly because combatants and non-combatants frequently owed their allegiance to different religions rather than to different varieties of Protestantism. On the other hand, campaigning in Ireland in particular tended to be less intense (though no less painful for the civilian population), grinding to a halt at times because some essential military supplies, such...

  24. CHAPTER 17 The Second English Civil War
    (pp. 191-204)

    The first English Civil War had ended to all intents and purposes in the spring of 1646. Both the royalist armies had surrendered; the few remaining major garrisons could not hold out for long as there was no prospect of relief; and by the end of May the governors were under instruction from the king to negotiate the best terms they could with their besiegers. But there was still a war to win in Ireland, and the obvious way for the two Houses of Parliament to bring it to a successful conclusion was to ship the New Model Army there....

  25. CHAPTER 18 The British Wars 1649–1652: IRELAND
    (pp. 205-214)

    Oliver cromwell returned to England in mid-October 1648, and spent the next six weeks supervising the sieges of Pontefract and Scarborough, the last garrisons holding out in the north for the king. This distanced him from the early stages of the second army coup, first the demand from the army that King Charles should be brought to trial to answer for the crimes he had committed against the people of England (who were the true sovereign), and then the forcible expulsion by the army of about one hundred members of the House of Commons to ensure that its will prevailed.¹...

  26. CHAPTER 19 The British Wars 1650–1651: SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND
    (pp. 215-227)

    The succession of messages Cromwell received begging him to return to England was an indication of worsening relations between the Commonwealth government and Scotland. Robbed of its king by the New Model Army and the purged House of Commons, the Scottish government had duly proclaimed the Prince of Wales as King Charles II. Initially, the House of Commons and the Council of State did no more than issue a formal protest reminding the marquis of Argyll and his colleagues of their shared experience of the treachery of the House of Stuart. A declaration of war would have been a gross...

  27. CHAPTER 20 Generals: THE AUDIT
    (pp. 228-233)

    There are, of course, problems in separating out the impact of the army generals from the background noise of special pleading and extraneous detail to be found in contemporary sources, the gaps in the coverage of events, and the misapprehensions and misreadings of texts to be found in works written since. Such problems are also compounded by the impossibility of explaining what would have happened, as opposed to what could have happened, if the army generals had taken different decisions. However, an audit of their performances can shed light on three very important facets of the relationship between generalship and...

  28. Notes
    (pp. 234-289)
  29. Bibliography
    (pp. 290-300)
  30. Index
    (pp. 301-312)