The Irish and British Wars: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure

The Irish and British Wars: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure

The Irish and British Wars: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure

The Irish and British Wars: Triumph, Tragedy, and Failure


With numerous maps and illustrations, James Scott Wheeler connects the strategic and tactical levels of war with political actions and reactions, and discusses how Britain and Ireland became battlegrounds in the 'war of three kingdoms'. The various stages of this period of turmoil are clearly demonstrated, right through to the execution of Charles I, the conquest of Catholic Ireland, and the eventual death of the English Republic, and provide students of history with an excellent addition to their studies.


The Solemn League and Covenant and the Irish cessation of September 1643 transformed the strategic situation in the Stuart Kingdoms. the Scottish Covenanters became inextricably committed to the parliamentarian cause and further militarized their nation. the Irish Confederates hitched their fortunes to those of the English king. For the next two years, the Irish and Scottish revolutions depended on the results of the English Civil War. Whichever side won in England would have the power to affect the military and political outcomes in the other kingdoms. At this juncture, the opposing forces in England each possessed strategic advantages that balanced the military odds. Consequently, the outcome of the conflict remained uncertain and unpredictable as the war entered its second year.

The strategic situation, fall 1643

The events of September brought to a dramatic close the first phase of the English Civil War and the Irish insurrection. the king found himself in an ambiguous strategic situation. On the positive side, Charles possessed three major and several minor field armies in England, each with a history of tactical success. in the north, Newcastle, newly created a Marquis, led about 14,000 soldiers in his efforts to secure Lincolnshire and to capture Hull for the king. His troops had soundly defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor and had driven Cromwell’s and Meldrum’s contingents back to the edge of the Eastern Association.

Charles commanded his main army from Oxford. This army had cleared most of the midlands of parliamentary garrisons and had provided columns of nearly invincible cavalry to support the royalists in Cheshire and the southwest. in the southwest, these troopers had joined Sir Ralph Hopton’s army in the total defeat of Waller at Roundway Down, and then in the capture of Bristol.

Royalist affairs in Ireland were significantly dimmer than in England, but they were not without hope. the leading royalists, Ormond, Clanricarde, and Inchiquin, held enclaves in the three southern provinces. Ormond’s bastion in Dublin was the most important, followed by Inchiquin’s bases inYoughal and Cork. the cessation protected these positions. the cessation also made available to Charles a significant number of Protestant troops whom he quickly ordered sent to Bristol and Chester.

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