In 1638 there was one king to rule them all, Charles I, and three intermingled but decidedly distinct kingdoms. The major theater with the majority of the large battles was to be in the Kingdom of England (and Wales) by far the most populous and prosperous of the three. While the issues were decidedly complex the factions might be distilled down simply to the king’s party (the Royalists) and almost quite literally everybody else. Even in the late summer of 1641, as the impasse between a very stubborn king and a passionate (but fragmented) parliament reached epic proportions, hardly anyone thought that they would be killing one another in droves in less than a year. As in virtually every other war the ultimate question to be answered was who could make whom do what (and who has to pay for it!). As fascinating as the wars in England are it is the other two kingdoms that draw my attention. I need English forces ONLY when they encounter Scottish or Irish forces. Consequently I will need some rag tag forces to represent the English army in the First and Second Bishops Wars (1638-9) but also others to represent the professional new model army for the conquest of Ireland and the submission of Scotland (1649-53). There are also the garrison forces in Ireland to consider but they come about almost automatically if the other two are in place.
It was the impasse in England that brought opportunity for first Scotland and then Ireland to go their separate ways. Scotland was to be dominated by the Kirk (the Presbyterian Church) and Ireland to form a confederation with strong Roman Catholic representation. Both Scotland and Ireland had their native sons return home from all over Europe with military knowledge, men, and arms all of which had been gained in the ongoing Thirty Years War. Principally from these beginnings each country was to go on to create several armies of diverse capability.
In these pages I shall try to explain my understanding (evolving almost daily) of how to construct the wargame armies in each of the kingdoms and how to organize them in the most effective way to achieving the desired goal – the exploration of as many battles as possible on the Celtic Fringe. Deeply complicating this construction is there were, at various times, multiple factions often working at cross-purposes in each of the kingdoms. Ireland particularly being a constant tapestry of confusion!
For an explanation of the of how the various sides are distinguished from one another on the tabletop see The Factions Identified.
A single blog post showing all the completed armies (with photos) of the ECW era has recently been posted