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Short Reviews by John Lee For BCMH Journal Mars and Clio

John Lee

Cromwell’s War Machine: The New Model Army 1654-1660
By Keith Roberts
Published by Pen & Sword 2005, £19.99
ISBN: 1 844 150941

Keith Roberts is a man seriously in control of his subject where the English Civil War is concerned. This book has a much wider agenda than the title suggests. He sets the whole of the war and its contending armies in the context of contemporary Dutch, Spanish and German military theory and practice. It is very well illustrated with formation diagrams that help our understanding of the battlefield tactics of the time.

He takes us through the whole experience of the armies on both sides of the Civil War – recruitment, organisation and equipment, training, tactics, professionalism, and military life in general.

The New Model Army itself appears quite late on the scene and promptly settles the first civil war on the fields of Naseby and Langport in 1645. After imposing its will upon London in no uncertain terms, it goes on to win the second and third civil wars before peace at home was secured. It had a brief and turbulent history, and was marked out by its aggressive ethos. It relentlessly sought out battle to settle the issue once and for all. In a wonderfully modern-sounding phrase from its own lips, “Noe other Army could doe the Business”.

My only complaint is that there is not enough on the New Model Army itself. I would have liked a lot more on its regiments and its battles. That would, I suppose, have needed a much bigger book and this is such good value at £19.99. An excellent primer on the armies of the ‘English Revolution’.

 

Napoleon’s Army
By Colonel. H. C. B. Rogers
Pen & Sword, 2005 (1974), p/b £12.99
ISBN: 1 844 15310X

Full marks to Pen & Sword for making available again this timeless classic study of the basic workings of Napoleon’s Army.
After a brief history of the wars from 1792 to 1815 to put everything in context, there are fine detailed studies of the cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineers and signallers, administration, the medical services and the workings of the Imperial headquarters. There are two detailed studies of the Napoleonic corps system working at its best. The superb III Corps d’Armee of the ‘Iron Marshal’, Davout, during the campaign in Prussia in 1806 and in the much-neglected campaign in Poland in 1807, is a paradigm of the Napoleonic system.

There is excellent use of first hand accounts and fine black-and-white illustrations throughout.

 

Bonaparte in Egypt
By Chris Herold
Published by Pen & Sword, 2005 (1962) p/b £14.99  424pp
ISBN: 1 844 152 855

Another useful addition to any Napoleonic library courtesy of Pen & Sword’s reprint programme.

The Directory accepted Napoleon’s grandiose scheme for conquering Egypt as a preliminary to operations against the British in the East in order to get him out of France, where he was getting much too big for his boots! His large plans included the taking along of 150 scientists and artists to make a deep study of the country. (A lesson for America there, before she goes invading any more Eastern nation states). This book covers all aspects of the expedition – military, political and cultural.
Despite his early military success, those British ‘Goddamns’ ruined everything by utterly annihilating the French fleet in Aboukir Bay. When the invasion of Syria degenerated into a dreary, plague-ridden siege of Acre (whose garrison was sustained by a British fleet and its marines), Napoleon lost interest and escaped to France. Only the War of the Second Coalition saved him from a court martial. His wretched, abandoned army was gobbled up in 1801 – by the British, of course!

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