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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Wednesday 27 March 2024

The Young Montrose

 I have jumped ahead a few volumes in my chronological re-read of Nigel Tranter's novels to get to the two Montrose books as they fit my current wargame project. The first is The Young Montrose, which covers his early campaigns. I have the 1974 Coronet edition, which has a different cover from the current edition.

The Earl of Montrose, also known as James Graham, was a significant figure in the civil wars of the mid-17th century. His early career was marked by loyalty to the Scottish Covenanters, who opposed King Charles I's attempts to impose religious uniformity in Scotland. Montrose initially served in the Scottish Covenanting Army during the Bishops' Wars against England in the 1630s. However, he later switched sides due to political and personal grievances. He was crucial in rallying support for King Charles I in Scotland, leading royalist forces against the Covenanters during 1644–1645. His military successes earned him the title of Marquis of Montrose.

Tranter starts the story when Montrose returns from his grand tour of Europe and a period of study at Padua. He becomes a leading figure in the Covenanter movement, which turns into armed conflict. Montrose mainly fought in the North, a part of the Bishops' Wars that gets less attention than the actions on the border. However, he gradually falls out with the Covenanters when his great enemy, the Earl of Argyll, takes effective control of the government of Scotland. 

The book covers the early battles of the Civil War when Montrose became Charles' commander in Scotland. It includes several epic descriptions of the campaigns and his leadership in recruiting and deploying his army. The core elements were the Irish Brigade and his own Grahams, but his Highlanders tended to drift off after a victory. This is a great story and one of my favourite Tranter books. 

I have finished the core elements of my 15mm Montrose army, mainly Essex, but I have some more Peter Pig to add.

Irish Brigade

Gordon Horse

Strathbogie and other Pike and Shot units.

I even got them onto the tabletop at the club last Sunday. They were victorious, probably because I did not command them!


  1. Have you seen the Khurasan Miniatures figures for the Scots and Irish in this period? Very nice 👏👏