Moss Troopers vs Border Reivers

The term ‘Moss Trooper’ is often, but quite erroneously applied to the Anglo-Scots border reiver of the sixteenth century.

Moss Troopers
In fact there was an important difference between them in that most border reivers were otherwise respectable farmers and landowners, who from time to time set forth from their castles to steal livestock from their neighbours – ideally but not invariably on the other side of the border.

Moss troopers on the other hand were landless bandits, usually operating in wandering gangs, lurking in the mosses and maintaining themselves by highway robbery and petty thievery as well as cattle rustling. Initially the moss troopers who preyed on Cromwell’s stragglers and dispatch riders were just such bandits. But once they began to be organised under the command of regular officers, they developed into first-class light cavalry.