SIEGES AND FORTIFICATIONS
RONALD HUTTON AND WYLIE REEVES
The characteristic military action of the British and Irish Civil Wars was an attack upon a fortified strongpoint. The First English Civil War began with one on Hull ( July 1642) and ended with one on Harlech Castle ( March 1647); likewise the Second Civil War was concluded with the reduction of Pontefract ( March 1649) and the Third with the storming of Worcester ( September 1651); Scotland's troubles were framed between the taking of Edinburgh Castle in March 1639 and the fall of the mighty stronghold of Dunottar in May 1652; while the Irish Civil Wars began in October 1641 with the capture of Charlemont Castle and effectively ended eleven years later in April 1652 with the surrender of Galway after a nine-month blockade. In its first year of campaigning, the New Model Army fought two field actions and conducted a dozen sieges and storms. Prince Rupert, one of the few commanders in history who consistently sought battle as a first and not a last resort, took part in six field actions during the First English Civil War but over twice as many which involved assaulting or defending strongpoints. Similarly skirmishes and sieges, which aimed to capture key forts and towns and to destroy the enemy's economic base, dominated the course of the Irish Civil Wars and throughout the 1640s only seven battles were fought. Cromwell's decisive Irish campaign consisted almost entirely of sieges, and even Montrose's Highland war, which reversed the usual rule in its larger proportion of battles, included assaults upon Aberdeen and Dundee and ended with the reduction of a pair of Hebridean castles. For most of the wars in the three kingdoms, more troops remained locked up in garrisons than took part in mobile operations.
Why did the various protagonists maintain so many garrisons? Towns were, of course, centres of wealth in their own right, and soldiers lodged in them could
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Publication information: Book title: The Civil Wars:A Military History of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1638-1660. Contributors: John Kenyon - Editor, Jane Ohlmeyer - Editor, John Morrill - AssociateEditor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 195.
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