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Many moss-troopers were disbanded or deserting soldiers from one of the Scottish armies of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. They had kept their weapons and lived a life of brigandage, attacking both civilians and Parliamentary soldiers for supplies during the Royalist rising of 1651 to 1654 when English Parliamentarian troops under George Monck occupied Scotland. Moss-troopers usually operated in small bands, either on the fringes of the Highlands or in the border regions. Many Highland lairds complained of moss-troopers' cattle-stealing and of how they incurred military reprisals against the Highlands as a whole.
Some moss-troopers may[original research?] have had a national-political as well as an economic motivation, believing in resisting the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland - much as their Irish contemporaries, the "tories", in part resisted English occupation.
Much like the Border Reivers who had operated in the area during the sixteenth century, moss-troopers do not have a clear genesis. They gradually evolved from the sociopolitical milieu of the Borders, but they appear suddenly in historical records, thus giving the false impression that they appeared suddenly.
- rapparees - Irish guerrillas who fought for James II after the Revolution of 1688 and who on his defeat degenerated into brigands
- Sergeant Mor, who fought on after the 1745 rebellion until his capture and execution in 1753.
- Penney, Norman, ed. (1925). The Short Journal and Itinerary Journals of George Fox. Cambridge University Press. p. 33.
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