ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Scotland 1650 - 1654
In 1650-2 the armies of the Commonwealth had taken on and routed the armies of the covenant, those who had fought alongside the English Parliament in the 1640s. In 1653 they faced a new challenge from the Highland clans who had remained loyal to Charles I and had never recognised the covenant. These men had loitered in their fastnesses while Charles II dallied with the Presbyterians. Now they made their own bid to restore him at least to his Scottish throne. No less than thirteen Scottish peers pledged themselves to the exiled king, who responded by sending Lieutenant-General Middleton, a veteran of Preston and Worcester from St Germain to be their leader. For the best part of two years they tied down thousands of English troops by refusing to be drawn into open battle and waging an opportunistic war against successive forces commanded first by Colonel Robert Lilburne and then Lieutenant-General George Monck. It was a war of attrition with many ambusjes and skirmishes, during which thousands of clansmen and hundreds of English were killed; and it involved Monck and his deputy, Robert Morgan, in hundreds of miles of forced marches. There is no question that the English had the superiority in numbers, resources, discipline. The question was whether they had the superiority of willpower and the ability to keep the Lowlands quiet, especially since the costs of the campaign would need to be met in large part from Scotland. The English nerve held, and while taxation was high, so was Monck's willingness to soften the regime's attitude to its previous enemies. A notable easing of the policy of Anglicization and proscription prevented the spread of the revolt; and an iron grip was kept on all the routes from the Highlands to the Lowlands. The unflinching gaze of the English at their Highland foes, together with increasing shortages of supplies made worse by a brutal scorched earth policy, broke the will of the Scottish royalists. Once Monck started transporting to slavery in Barbados all those captured in arms, panic set in and bands of rebels began surrendering themselves. It was not a glamorous campaign, or a militarily interesting one, but it showed a ruthless efficiency and determination lacking elsewhere. Even after the embers of revolt were stamped out, there was no complete safety. The English did not occupy the Highlands; they sealed it off from the Lowlands..........As ever in Scottish history, pacifying the Lowlands was not to prove the same thing as pacifying Scotland."

- John Morrill, 'The Civil Wars - A Military History of England Scotland and Ireland 1638-1660', Oxford Press.

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