Stamping the civil war

June 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Just a postscript on the last entry. Besides the Battle of Naseby stamp the Royal Mail released earlier this week to accompany the House of Stuart issues, there are at least four other UK stamps commemorating the civil wars.

Issued in June 1992, these stamps marked the 350th anniversary of the first major armed conflict of the civil wars: the Battle of Edgehill, Warwickshire, October 23, 1642, which posterity has reckoned a victory for the Royalists. These stamps honor the common soldier, represented in terms of what he carried into battle: pike, musket, standard, or drum.

Why the pike, not the sword, in the pointy category? My uninformed guess: the pike’s association with stouthearted fellows whose social rank was presumably lower than that of sword wielders. Like Newcastle’s Lambs (or White Coats) at the bloody Battle of Marston Moor, Yorkshire, on July 2, 1664.

In one the most affecting episodes in the history of the civil wars, the Lambs refused to quit fighting (probably in an effort to cover the retreat of fellow infantrymen) after it was clear that Cromwell had extinguished any Royalist hope of victory. Only thirty seem to have survived. The rest of the Lambs–some say as many as 3,000–knowingly sacrificed themselves to slaughter.

For more about the Battle of Marston Moor, click here.

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