Monday, 23 March 2015

Book Review - Famous By My Sword

In this book Singleton examines the role of the Royalist general the Marquess of Montrose in the British Civil War during 1644-1645. The author argues convincingly that this army, rather than being one that comprised
only Scots Highlanders, was composed of well-trained, skilfully led and highly motivated troops. Troops who were, above all, professional. He shows that Montrose's army used the latest battlefield techniques which gave it success after success. The myth of Highland charges carrying all before them in bloody rout is turned upon its head completely.

That the Covenanting armies set against him were not of the highest quality is not the fault of Montrose. In a series of battle descriptions the author shows that time and time again professional troops triumph over amateurs. This is not to say the Covenanting troops were all duds. Their best trained and led men were fighting in England at the time. In fact Scots troops, specifically lancers, brought about the Royalist collapse at Marston Moor battle.

The book also contains a number of colour plates. These are uniformly excellent and include several photographs of present day interpreters clad in authentic costumes.I felt these photographs were the highlight in a book that is excellent throughout. The appendix is a fascinating collection of first-hand accounts of the battles of Tippermuir, Aberdeen, Auldearn, Inverlochy. The first-hand accounts conclude with a description of Montrose's final defeat at Kilsyth. A defeat brought about by a lack of Royalist regulars versus large numbers of professional Covenanting troops returned from England.

In conclusion I enjoyed reading this book immensely. The author proves his case that professional, disciplined troops made up the bulk of Montrose's army and that the Scots Highlanders, despite the national myth, were useful only in the pursuit of an already smashed enemy.



  1. I have got a copy of this book and it's on my 'to read' pile - it does look very good , Tony

  2. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a really interesting book, I'll check it out.
    Just the thing for my Scottish Armies which I just got from Baccus!
    Amazon tells me its not coming out until Dec 2015 though?


    1. Thank you, Paul :) Have a look here for a happier outcome:

    2. Thank you Mr Tin, sadly not happy when Amazon won't cross deliver. Weird how its not yet available in the US though isn't it! Maybe its a reprinting thing

    3. Hi Paul,
      I found this on the Casemate USA site:

      All the best

    4. You really know how to help a guy spend his money don't you James...

    5. I'm all about the welfare me, Paul ;-)