Dragoons and Dragoon Operations in the British Civil Wars, 1638-1653

Andrew Abram

Based on primary archival research and published sources, the book assesses the concept, raising, equipping, composition, organization, and operational role of dragoons during the British Civil Wars.
Date Published :
May 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
40 ills, 4 maps, 9 tables, 4 color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804511954
Pages : 348
Dimensions : 9.8 X 7.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


This book explores the concept, raising, equipping, composition, organization, and operational role of dragoons during the British Civil Wars. It also provides information about known dragoon units and their activities, across a relatively broad geographical and chronological range, and challenges previous interpretations in the light of more recent research. As such, this represents the first sustained study of early-modern dragoons. These soldiers were an essential part of seventeenth-century armies, even if some contemporaries reflected uncertainties about their precise function. Arguably, as part of the wider context of ‘military revolution’ in the tactics and prosecution of war in Europe, during the Thirty Years’ War in particular, the medium harquebusiers and mounted infantry continued to evolve. Although dragoons occasionally delivered mounted charges, their distinctive character dictated that they were employed in operations where mobility was essential – the seizing of bridges and strongholds, raiding, reconnaissance, patrolling and foraging. Dragoons were also used for defending hedges and passes, specialist siege operations, and in providing covering fire for both the horse of foot.

In terms of organization, various regiments of dragoons and autonomous companies (referred to also as troops) were recruited by all armies, although some came and went, and several units remain obscure, both in their origins and history. Some companies were attached to regiments of Horse, following the continental practice, which was also adopted by the Scottish armies. Some authors have suggested that civil-war dragoons were a fighting elite, who were often commanded by professional soldiers and recruited from veterans of other conflicts. There is some truth in this – officers such as Prince Rupert, Sir Arthur Aston and Colonel James Wardlaw led and promoted their role – although there are various examples of inexperienced, and poorly equipped and officered dragoon units during the early stages of the wars. Nevertheless, some military experience is evident from the early stages of the fighting in England, when some Royalist dragoons seemed better trained and disciplined than the rest of the army. For the Parliamentarians, many recruits were obtained in London from returning veterans and foreign professionals. Among Sir William Brereton’s dragoons, some captains were commissioned in the capital, and in 1642 most of the recruits enlisted there, possibly in part from Dutchmen or from British soldiers returning from abroad. Moreover, Colonel Hugh Fraser’s Covenanters were built around ‘four complete companies’ returned from continental service, while the regiment was considered the ‘stoutest’ in the army.

This book therefore covers the following areas: the origins and role of dragoons; combined arms tactics and specialist operations; organization and composition of dragoon units; pay and quarter; arms and ammunition; standards, equipment and clothing; horses, equine care, saddlery and fodder; the Oxford Army; the Earl of Essex’s Army; the Eastern Association Army; the New Model Army; and the role of dragoons in regional warfare.

About The Author

Having joined the British Army in 1978 aged sixteen, Dr Andrew Abram served as a regular soldier in various theatres, including the South Atlantic. In 1997 he discovered that he could attend university, graduating with a first-class honours degree in history at the University of Wales, Lampeter three years later. In 2007 he was awarded his doctorate by the same institution, being employed there as a teaching fellow and lecturer in medieval history until 2015. Andrew has subsequently acted as an associate lecturer in history at Manchester Metropolitan University, and historical consultant to museums and local groups. He has researched, written about, and taught on medieval and early-modern warfare, and contributed journal articles and book chapters on related topics. More recently, Dr Abram’s research interests in the civil war in Cheshire, the northwest of England and the Welsh borders, as well as seventeenth-century conflicts more generally, continues, and he is currently working on a studies of the 1659 Booth Rebellion, and Charles II’s army and Tangier for Helion & Company. Andrew lives with his family in the Peak District, where he enjoys travelling, reading crime and naval adventure novels, brewing beer,climbing, hiking, and training for pilgrimages to holy sites.

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