My half term holiday reading has been Jonathon Riley's 'The Last Ironsides'. I am often attracted to obscure campaigns and I picked up this book in a London bookshop a while ago. It is a history of the English expedition to Portugal 1662-1668.
Portugal had been fighting for its independence from Spain for many years when Charles II was restored to the British throne. He agreed to marry the Infanta, Cathrine of Braganza, in return for a much needed cash dowry, trade concessions, and possession of Bombay and Tangier.
Part of the deal was that he would send two regiments of foot and a regiment of horse to support the Portuguese army. This was an opportunity to ship out of the country the remnants of Cromwell's New Model Army. A win-win deal by any standard.
The author covers the diplomatic background and then the campaigns the English regiments fought in. They became, with French regiments, the cutting edge of the Portugese army and distinguished themselves in several battles and sieges. Only a thousand were left standing when the war was won and 400 of these were sent to Tangier, a virtual death sentence in itself.
The English regiments mostly fought in Southern Portugal and Spain. Many of the place names are familiar to the later Peninsular War campaigns in the early 18th and 19th centuries. Badajoz, Merida and Albuquerque, amongst others.
The book is well illustrated with period drawings and modern maps. The English regiments even kept their New Model Army redcoats, so this provides another campaign for wargamers with later civil war armies.