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The Last Ironsides: The English Expedition to Portugal, 1662-1668, by Jonathon Riley

Solihull, Eng. Helion / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2014. Pp. xx, 202. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $69.95. ISBN: 1909982202.

Cromwell’s Veterans on Campaign in Iberia

Retired British general Prof. Riley (King’s College London), gives us a very interesting look at a long forgotten campaign, one which saw the last elements of Cromwell’s New Model Army take the field alongside Royalist troops to fight for Portugal against Spain in the name of the recently restored Charles II. It’s a tale of tough campaigning, grueling marches, hard fighting, bureaucratic neglect, and more that reduced the small army from 3,500 men to 1,000, few of whom ever saw England again. 

The book naturally deals a good deal with religious matters, as the New Model Army troopers were all Puritans fighting for Catholic Portugal against equally Catholic Spain. As he tells this story, Riley tells us a great deal about the conduct of war in the period, including pay, often overlooked by many historians, while at times making comparisons with later English campaigns in Portugal and Spain, during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Napoleonic Wars. 

Despite its rather obscure subject, this lively, well written account will prove interesting reading for any armchair general, and valuable for those with a particular interest in the period.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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