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Wishart, Bishop George - JAMES, FIRST MARQUESS OF MONTROSE (1612-1650) (A HISTORY OF THE KING MAJESTIES"S AFFAIRS IN SCOTLAND UNDER MONTROSE). 1903 EDITION.  

 

The official biography of James Graham, the 1st Marquis Of Montrose, written by one of his best friends. The book is a very subjective, biased and partial, over reverential source on the well known Scottish commander of Royalist forces from the ‘English’ Civil War period, Many of Montrose’s military actions are portrayed in the best possible light, while the role of his allies, Alastair McColla, and Manus O’Cahan, are dumbed down and derided unfairly to make Montrose seem even more of a military genius than he undoubtedly was. Montrose himself was somewhat embarrassed by the early editions of the book which came out after the King (Charles 1st, himself defeated)) had ordered his surrender.  Montrose was cast into exile in Europe in 1646 and he arrives there hoping to recruit an army to fight on for King Charles 1st against his English Parliament and Scottish Covenant. Victors. Montrose found that Wishart’s biography had made him a celebrity in Europe where the book had become a best-selling guidebook on military tactics and skills. The book had been published in Latin, and it was only translated into English in a bowdlerised Edwardian edition, which severely censored the work. This made the depiction of Montrose even less reliable for most historians, but the work is still often cited as the most important resource on Montrose by one of his own contemporaries. Wishart actually missed most of the events in Montrose’s life, having spent much of the Civil war as a prisoner of war in Edinburgh Castle. He was present in the closing battles of The first Civil war in Scotland, and witnessed the defeat of Montrose’s Irish allies at Philipaugh, (September 13th 1645) where Montrose controversially left them to their fate (Massacred to almost the last man) and fled for his life), Wishart’s depiction of the Battle of Auldearn (9th May 1645) is particularly absurd but influential. According to Wishart, this was Montrose’s greatest victory, where he allowed the Scots-Irish forces led by Alastair McColla to hold off the advancing Covenant forces while Montrose kept the bulk of his army in hiding in a concealed hollow until late in the battle and then ambushed the enemy.  Wishart accuses McColla of nearly ruining the strategy by advancing too far upon the enemy and jeopardising the entire plan. In fact, as modern historians have discovered, Montrose was caught napping at Auldearn. He had camped his men dangerously close to the enemy, and had spread his forces over a vast area, which meant that he had a seriously difficult time rousing them once the attack had started. McColla and his men fought alone because they were alone in being immediately alert to the presence of the enemy. Montrose had not hidden the bulk of his army ion a hollow, but had been running around frantically trying to wake them all up in the first place. McColla and the Irish-Scots serving under him had fought the superior enemy to a stand still by the time Montrose arrived with re-enforcements. Wishart’s contempt for McColla, the true genius in Montrose’s army, borders on slander. A fascinating, highly influential book, but one that needs to be read with an awareness that much of what it claims has to be taken with a pinch of salt.   http://www.scotwars.com/html/manus_ocahans_regiment.htm

 

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