15 Nov 2016

New Approaches to the Military History of the English Civil War - Proceedings of the First Helion And Company 'Century of the Soldier' Conference

New Approaches to the Military History of the English Civil War - Proceedings of the First Helion And Company 'Century of the Soldier' Conference

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the military history of the English Civil War and its associated conflicts in Ireland and Scotland. Historians are increasingly paying attention to the actualities of war (to use Sir Basil Liddell Hart's phrase) during these conflicts, and this has given rise to an accompanying recognition that the better-studied political, social and religious developments of the mid-17th Century cannot be divorced from military events; this is a timely evaluation of a selection of distinct, yet interrelated, military aspects of the civil war.

Warwick Louth applies theory to practice in a new approach to battlefield investigation and interpretation. By comparing the instructions in 17th Century military manuals with the evidence from Conflict Archaeology, Warwick Louth demonstrates how his groundbreaking methodology can improve our understanding of the events that took place on the civil war battlefields of Britain.

Peter Gaunt sheds new light on the little-studied (but vitally important) Battle of Middlewich on 13 March 1643, which kickstarted the civil war (political, as well as military) career of Sir William Brereton and played a key role in establishing parliamentary dominance in the strategically significant county of Cheshire.

Many who formed the nucleus of royalist and parliamentarian armies had fought in the English regiments in the service of the Dutch Republic prior to the civil war. Ismini Pells investigates how these men looked back to their shared experiences on the continent to establish networks and working relationships both with those in their own armies and the armies of their adversaries.

Nowhere are the actualities of war more apparent than in a conflict's casualties. Eric Gruber von Arni examines Royalist hospital provision during the civil war – evaluating the attitudes and achievements that accompanied it – and contrasting these with the attitudes and achievements of parliamentary medical care.

Stephen Rutherford assesses the battlefield surgery of both sides. He considers the types of wounds that were inflicted, and highlights the biomedical significance of the treatments available – many of which have remained unchanged until the 20th Century and even to the present day.

Tim Jenkins provides a reminder that military outcomes were often dependent on civilian actions. Focusing on one of Shrewsbury's leading inhabitants, William Rowley, Jenkins explores the role of religious ideology in the corporate politics and civil war allegiances of a town that remained under Royalist occupation from September 1642 to February 1645. In so doing, he offers fresh insights into the influence of Puritanism and its influence in societal and religious innovation.

This volume concludes with two short case studies that re-evaluate our understanding of two key battles: Roundway Down and Worcester. Christopher Scott offers a new explanation for Sir William Waller's defeat at Roundway Down on 13 July 1643, which rests on the destitute condition of the horses in Waller's cavalry.

Malcolm Wanklyn considers Cromwell's operational blunders following the Battle of Dunbar on 3 September 1650, which made it necessary to launch an amphibious operation to break the stalemate in his campaign against the Scots. Wanklyn follows this with a reappraisal of the bridge-building exercise over the Rivers Teme and Severn at Powick that made Cromwell's tactical plan for fighting the Scots at Worcester – exactly a year later – possible.

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