This month we announce the launch of our new series telling the history of the British Army through the experience of 25 battles.
For the next 25 issues of Military History Monthly we will be telling the story of the British Army using the hooks provided by 25 battles. We will focus on the Army in action, and will tell the story of what happened in each battle.
But the battles are indeed hooks – opportunities for saying something more. We want to explore the key themes – to do with economy and society, politics and grand strategy, tactics and the techniques of war – that form the context for the recruitment and training, the organisation and supply, the tactics, fighting techniques, and prowess of British soldiers at successive stages in the development of the Army. Each article will focus on what seem to be the most significant themes for the period in question.
We start with the Battle of Naseby. This in itself is controversial. Some histories of the British Army delve far deeper into the past, seeing the Restoration of 1660 as the true starting-point. This, we feel, reflects a traditional reluctance to recognise the central significance of the revolutionary struggle of the mid 17th century in British history.
Naseby is controversial in another sense. New research, in particular metal-detector surveys carried out by battlefield archaeologists, is challenging traditional accounts. We have tried to reflect this in our reconstruction, but in some respects we choose to reserve judgement. Archaeological evidence is not easy to interpret.
What exactly do heavy concentrations of shot at a particular place signify? Intensive fighting – or an overturned supply wagon, men shedding equipment in flight, or some accident of survival and recovery at a particular point in the landscape under investigation?
We would welcome readers’ comments throughout. If you think we have got Naseby, or any of the battles wrong, let us know and we will share the debate with other readers online and on our Letters page.
Welcome, then, to the Military History Monthly ‘History of the British Army in 25 Battles’. We hope you find it an exciting, thought-provoking, and sometimes controversial read.
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