One of the greatest heroes of the English Civil Wars, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose is now ready to lead your troops into battle!
“Let me be judged by the laws of God,the laws of nations and nature, and the laws of this land.”
So spoke James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose at his trial in Edinburgh in 1650, a plea that inevitably would fall on deaf ears… handsome, aristocratic and highly principled, Montrose inspired great tales of derring-do and even poetry from the likes of Sir Walter Scott, but did the legend that the romantics paint of him really fit this tragic individual?
Montrose could have lived a settled life in his castle home at Kincardine, married happily to Magdalen who bore him five children. Instead he chose to fight arduous and savage campaigns that stretched him physically and mentally. He did this not once, but twice when he came back to Scotland from exile to once again raise an army for a Stuart King.
His forces were meagre at best, his resources even less. Yet he ran rings around even experienced Covenant armies that chased him all over Scotland, avoiding combat where he could, then turning to savage his foe with short sharp actions that inevitably led to rout and bloody pursuit.
Keeping an alliance together of the wild Irish men and the atavistic Highland clans must have been an incredible feat and, though he was ultimately defeated, it is all the more wonder that he achieved so much for so long with so little.
Montrose had a sense of theatre about himself and his role. He carried the Royal standard hidden, wrapped up and sewn into his saddle before passing it to his ensign, Hay of Dalgetty, and sounded a trumpet to signal his presence on the battlefield, a sound his foes soon came to fear. In his daring game of cat and mouse against his Covenant foe he also adopted a code name, ‘Venture Fair’ and wore a bunch of oats in his bonnet as a popularist field sign.
He was far from being a ‘fop’ however, being a superb archer himself and capable of devising strategies that would confound and surprise his enemies. At Kilsyth, on a baking hot day, he had his men strip down to their bare shirts instantly easing their movements and adding to their erocious appearance. His Highland troops were also savage, when roused, as at Alford where the veteran Nat Gordon ordered his wild Scots to gut and hamstring the Covenant cavalry with their long dirks, a process he calls ‘Houghing’ – not a pretty sight.
Montrose was a gentleman of honour who died serving a cause he loved, but also emerges as arguably the greatest of the Civil War generals. You can purchase this excellent miniature and worthy leader right now in the Warlord webstore.