I Just received my copy of Stuart Reid’s new book from Caliver Books a couple of days ago and had a chance today to look through it. Scots Armies In The Great Rebellion 1638-1658 is a redo of Reid’s early works on the subject BUT is NOT the tired rehash of the same material that I suspected it might be. I have not as yet read it cover to cover,having jumped over the chapters on The Horse and The Artillery, so I could concentrate on areas of particular interest such as raising the armies, the foot, and equipment and dress. While I have found no jaw-dropping suprises so far, the writing is sharp and clearly freshly done (I am used to reading Reid’s material and really enjoyed the new presentation).
After the narrative sections that begin the book there are collections of information, tightly organized and easy to use:
First are the eight pages of color plates done by Bruno Mugnai which are fresh treatments of Covenant, Highland, and Irish (1) dress. While I would not call the figures animated they certainly clearly and competently show the details and colors. Incidentally Hodden Grey is shown as a butternut grey (which is in line with my sense of it but may disturb some).
Next are 25 pages of the captured colours (black and white sketches) of the Covenanter armies at Preston and Dunbar. Yes this has all been presented before but these are large, sharply printed, and have concise annotations. It’s nice to have them accessible in one place.
Reid also has three chapters on the Scot’s government regiments of the Solemn League and Covenant, the army at Preston, and the army at Dunbar, each with a brief description of their service. Obviously you can gain much more detail from Furgol’s A Regimental History of The Covenanting Armies 1639-1651 BUT for a quick reference these chapters are excellent and very well organized.
Finally there are several appendices (5) that reproduce documents regarding the levying, structuring, and disbanding of the Covenant armies at various points in their history. Of greatest interest (to me at least) is The Atholl Wapinschaw Returns 1638 which Reid has often drawn conclusions from and I find their specificity delightful and enlightening.
I should add that the actual narrative is a little thin, maybe running to 45 pages, and there is no specific chapter on the Royalist forces in Scotland (although useful asides on that subject occur in the narrative). Still if one is just starting to build a Covenanter army or needs a single reference on the subject this book would be an excellent choice!