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The Battle of Fishguard, February 1797 in .NET framework
The Battle of Fishguard, February 1797
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Whenever possible, the French liked to make trouble for the British at home In 1796 a 13,000-strong invasion force commanded by General Hoche hoped to effect a landing in Bantry Bay, Ireland, to stir up trouble with the help of anti-British Irish folk Some of Hoche s ships arrived but bad weather prevented a landing Of the rest, five were lost in storms, six were captured, and the rest went home
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Part III: Wars of Succession, Independence, and Revolution
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The following year the French decided to mount an expedition to Wales In command was an American named William Tate Originally of Irish extraction, Tate had served as a rebel artilleryman during the American War of Independence; his qualifications for the job in hand seemed to be the ability to speak English and a dislike of the British His troops, known as the 2nd Legion de Francs, consisted of some 1200 gaol sweepings, deserters, and former rebels against the Revolution It seems probable that General Hoche considered Tate and his troops very expendable indeed, judging from his orders: After being put ashore near the Bristol Channel, they were to burn Bristol, capture Chester and Liverpool, destroy port facilities and fill in docks as they went, and raise the country in rebellion Obviously, they would have no shortage of things to do The wonder is that what happened next has not become a musical or an ice show Unable to agree with the ships captains on a suitable landing place in the Bristol Channel, Tate agreed to put his command ashore somewhere in Cardigan Bay In fact, the troops landed on a rocky headland close to Fishguard on 22 February 1797 The locals spotted them and raised the alarm Some French troops went out to forage and quickly became drunk on wine the local people had salvaged from the wreck of a Portuguese ship Others were shot while trying to steal from farms A Welsh woman tipped one down a well, but he survived, and a fierce lady cobbler named Jemima Nicholas rounded 12 up with a pitchfork Meanwhile, the Lord Lieutenant of Pembrokeshire, Lord Cawdor, was assembling a counter-invasion force While the troops were gathering, a number of Welsh women in their traditional scarlet cloaks and black steeple hats apparently lined up to give a distant impression of infantrymen The story may well contain an element of truth Lord Cawdor s army finally numbered 43 men of his own Pembroke Yeomanry, 100 Cardigan militia, 93 Pembroke volunteers, 191 Fishguard Fencibles, a 148strong naval party with two 9-pounder cannon, and some attached officers, giving a grand total of 575, or approximately half of the invaders strength However, Tate and his officers were in no mood to fight; in the circumstances, surrender seemed the most comfortable option Tate initiated a courteous correspondence with Lord Cawdor, as a result of which the invaders grounded arms and marched off under escort So ended the last invasion of the British mainland As if the whole business had not been bizarre enough, the battle honour Fishguard was subsequently awarded to the Pembroke Yeomanry although they had fought no battle
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The Great Irish Rebellion of 1798
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Planned and executed by the Society of United Irishmen, the events of 1798 are a rare example of Protestants and Catholics working together for what they believed to be the good of Ireland The Protestant Ascendancy wanted
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10: The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
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more power for the toothless Parliament in Dublin, and the Catholics (in the majority in Ireland) wanted the full rights and privileges enjoyed by other Irish citizens The inspiration for this rising was the French Revolution and its architects were Wolfe Tone and Napper Tandy They agreed the date for the rebellion as 24 May and ingeniously set the time to coincide with the passing of mail coaches through the towns and villages, so creating an ever-enlarging ripple across the countryside For more on the political situation, see Mike Cronin s Irish History For Dummies (published by Wiley) The rebellion s fortunes were mixed In some areas the local British garrisons experienced no difficulty in containing the outbreak, in others they had to fall back In general, the rebels lacked discipline and direction; some took time off to settle old scores and the old religious rivalries surfaced before long Throughout May and on into June, British regular troops, yeomanry, and militia brought one area after another back under government control, sometimes with little mercy being shown to those involved in the uprising The rebellion was at its strongest in County Wexford, where the rebels held the towns of Wexford and Enniscorthy in strength Commanded by Lieutenant General Gerard Lake, some 10,000 troops fought a pitched battle against 16,000 rebels at Vinegar Hill, near Enniscorthy, on 12 June They routed the rebels, who lost approximately 4000 men killed or wounded, and the back of the rebellion was broken Folklore sometimes presents the battle as an Anglo-Irish contest, but most of Lake s troops were Irish yeomanry and militia regiments Too late in the day, the French awoke to what was happening On 22 August approximately 1000 French troops under General Joseph Humbert landed at Killala Bay in County Mayo Having been joined by a large number of Irish rebels, Humbert inflicted a defeat on Lake at Castlebar The engagement was notable on two counts: Most of the Irish element in both armies took to their heels at the first cannon shot A lone Highland sentry, positioned at the top of a flight of steps in the town, fought with such ferocity that the bodies of his French assailants surrounded him when he was finally killed Humbert must have known his was a fool s errand, but he gamely continued to march in the direction of Dublin, hoping that more rebels would join him In fact, the reverse applied The new Viceroy of Ireland, Lord Cornwallis, carefully coordinated the movement of his own and Lake s armies until they finally cornered Humbert near the village of Ballinamuck on 8 September Humbert fought for a token half hour, then surrendered Cornwallis s forces killed several hundred rebels, mostly during the pursuit, and captured 90
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