Andrew Abram, More Like Lions Than Men (Helion, 2020)
Growing up, I understood the English Civil War as a fight between two armies that clashed regularly with the Parliamentarian army of Oliver Cromwell overcoming the Royalist army of Charles I who was doomed to lose his head as a result. Other fighting in the regions was dismissed as not much more than local fisticuffs. Times have changed, of course, along with scholarship and interpretation, and the interconnectedness of the struggle has become steadily more apparent. In that vein, Andrew Abram’s More Like Lions Than Men examines the Cheshire Army of Parliament under Sir William Brereton and establishes it firmly in the broader strategic context of the war.
Abram splits his book into three parts. Part I follows the Cheshire army on campaign from Autumn 1642 to February 1646. Brereton assumed command in a County that showed little interest in the war, but he recruited a sizeable force and cooperated with other Parliamentary forces across England. He also resisted Royalist incursions into Cheshire as the County became increasingly important. Brereton was successful through 1643 aided by a cadre of competent officers and experienced soldiers and that continued through the heavy fighting of 1644 and the siege of Chester that occupied much of 1645.
Parts II and III delve into the nuts and bolts of the Cheshire army. Abram examines how men were recruited, dressed, and organized into the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and other non-fighting branches. He includes an interesting section on religious ministers, which was important particularly in the Parliamentarian armies. Abrams turns his attention to how the army functioned away from the battlefield; how they were fed, paid, and armed, including their ammunition. Part III surveys the units that made up the Cheshire army, beginning with Brereton’s cavalry, highlighting their sub-units, officers and NCOs, and numbers. He does the same for the Infantry regiments and Dragoons. He concludes with an outstanding bibliography
  More Like Lions Than Men is excellent value. The opening fast-paced narrative section is followed by an exemplary scholarly analysis of all elements of the Cheshire army. The text is littered with interesting contemporary illustrations and a judicious use of quotes, though some are too long and could have been paraphrased. The colour plate section of soldiers and flags adds to the production values of what is overall a fine book and one that sets the standard for anyone wishing to attempt the same. If diving deep into an English Civil War army appeals to you then this is a must buy; for those just interested in the ECW and how armies fought, Abram has set you up with a thoroughly engrossing read.
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