BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE 1651-1662
Countless historians have spoken of the civil wars ending in 1651; and countless historians have been wrong. The battle of Worcester may have been the last pitched battle of the British and Irish civil wars; but it was far from being the last military engagement of the period. The embers of Catholic royalist resistance in Ireland had yet to be extinguished -- the last formal surrender of an organized Irish force took place at Cloghoughter on 27 July 1653 -- and guerrilla activities there continued throughout the 1650s. There was a major revolt in Scotland in 1653-5. It took 6,000 men eighteen months tramping up and down the glens of the north-west Highlands to put it down. The attempt of Charles II in the spring of 1655 to raise armed revolt in England may have been a series of damp squibs (the choice of Marston Moor and Rowton Heath as two of the rendezvous points for would-be insurrectionaries was unwise), but the second attempt -- in the summer of 1659 -- brought 12,000 men together in a serious pitched battle at Winnington Bridge on the Mersey. Just as significant in different ways, in 1655 and 1656 6,000 British troops failed in an attempt to wrest Hispaniola ( Cuba) from the Spaniards but succeeded in taking Jamaica as a consolation prize; and in 1657 a further 6,000 English troops were sent to fight alongside or within the French army in northern France and Flanders, where (at the battle of the Dunes) they came up against a smaller body of British and Irish troops in the Spanish service. This was not a decade devoid of military interest or significance.
There was thus no let-up in the sense of military crisis. Between 1651 and 1660 there were never less than 30,000 men in the standing armies of the Commonwealth and Protectorate (the figure stipulated in the Instrument of Government). 1 Indeed at times -- as in 1652, in late 1654 and early 1655, and again in 1659 -- there were well over 50,000 men in arms. This is quite apart from the 'select militias', the highly trained and well-armed reservists who need to be added to any calculation of the forces at the disposal of the state.