IN?1830, after the prolonged agricultural recession that followed the close of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, a series of riots swept across England’s southern counties. The outbreaks went on to spread, largely unchecked, into East Anglia, the Midlands and several northern counties, eventually to reach Carlisle. The economic hardship of the long-suffering, wretchedly oppressed and half-starved labourers had become so acute that their usual forbearance finally snapped. This agrarian rebellion was fuelled by an unprecedented level of class hatred and bitterness. Driven by a blind desire for revenge and reprisal against the farmers and their wealthy friends, the farmhands were set on a course of violent, direct retaliatory action, regardless of the consequences. Captain Swing explores, closely, what county and national reporters in 1830 were calling a ‘war of poverty against property’, a civil strife of ‘destitution against possession’, and breathes new life and colour into the criminal exploits and violent resistance of the Captain Swing insurgents, to endeavour to understand what their contemporaries described apprehensively as ‘their dark mischief’ and ‘state of reckless insubordination’.