New knowledge from my own doorstep. The Argyll Rebellion 1685.


Anyone interested in the period will automatically associate the year 1685 with James II & VII's ascension to the throne and.... The Monmouth Rebellion. The Argyll Rebellion, which overlapped and was inextricably linked with Monmouth's adventure is not very well known and often dismissed in a few lines allowing all gunsights to be retrained yet again on the West Country Protestant rising. 

Royal Scots Horse - led by another legend- John Graham of Claverhouse

And so it would have remained for me if not for the arrival of Fighting for Liberty published by Helion and written by Stephen M. Carter. To say this book was a revelation is an understatement. I was absolutely astonished to discover that almost every family holiday I took between the ages of 5 and 14 was full of unwitting visits to battlesites and events that I never knew existed. Having a caravan at Loch Goil between 1966 and 1980 meant that my long summers and school holidays to Carrick Castle, Inverary, Cairndow, Glendaruel, Clachan and many other locations on the Cowal were actually treading in the footsteps of the armies of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll and his opponent John Murray,1st Marquis of Atholl.

Battle at Muirdyke

Although the book is about both rebellions, the information on Argyll's month-long military campaign was by far the more interesting because I quickly realized, I knew nothing about it. That is in no way to
detract from the detailed writing on the southern campaign.

I have been so inspired by the events described by Mr Carter that a new scenario pdf has jumped right to the top of the queue and is now ready to be published in the latest batch of 4PLAY content over the next couple of weeks.

Rearguard at Glendaruel

The number of troops mobilized in Scotland ran into thousands. The regiments involved from the Government side are indeed famous - The Scots Dragoons (Scots Greys), Mar's (Scots Fuzileers),  Scots Guards, The Royal Regiment of Horse supported by many militia units and the feared Highland Watch - Stuart leaning clans with an axe to grind all over Scotland where they believed they had be wronged. (They have long memories these chaps).

Highland Watch companies were extremely active during the Rising.

The most surpising element of this Argyll epiphany was not that I didn't know much about it but, that there were so many military events on both land and sea and in so many places, all in the space of a month. This is scenario rich territory and I have taken full advantage of Carter's descriptions to format three land based games for Glendaruel, Ardkinglas and Muirdyke. All the more exciting as I have inadevertently (and frequently) walked on all three battlefields!

Ardkinglas table set up

From leaving the Vlie and crossing the North Sea to Orkney, Islay, Kintyre and Cowal, Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire and Ayrshire, there was military action including nearly two thousand men fighting in a seesaw battle at the head of Loch Fyne right on the site of the internationally famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at which I recently dined!

Soon to be released Argyll Rebellion 4PLAY pack

The author has discovered a level of detail about the campaign which is truly impressive. I suspect that some of the narrative is supposition when it comes to dialogue but, the broad facts are impressive enough so that is easily overlooked. The information on troops, officers, formations and equipment is a wargamer's delight and I have drawn heavily upon it for the creation of the 4PLAY content with which I am very pleased. 

A useful reference book when creating the scenarios

The information on the Monmouth phase of the rebellions is equally detailed and at 337 pages the book is a major work. I have not seen anything as detailed in softback before. I thoroughly recommend this book, yet another little triumph for Helion.