Irish Brigade (France)

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For other uses of "Irish Brigade", see Irish Brigade (disambiguation).
Irish Brigade
Brigade irlandaise.jpg
Regimental flags of the Irish Brigade.
Active May 1690 – 1791
Country France
Allegiance France/King James II
Branch French army
Type infantry
Size Three to six regiments
Motto Semper et ubique Fidelis (Always and Everywhere Faithful)
Colors red
Engagements

Nine Years War
*Battle of Steenkerque War of the Spanish Succession
*Battle of Malplaquet
War of Austrian Succession
*Battle of Fontenoy

Jacobite Rising
*Battle of Falkirk
*Battle of Culloden
Commanders
Notable
commanders

The Hon. Arthur Dillon
Justin MacCarthy
Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally, baron de Tollendal, maréchal de camp

The Irish Brigade was a brigade in the French army composed of Irish exiles, led by Lord Mountcashel. It was formed in May 1690 when five Jacobite regiments were sent from Ireland to France in exchange for a larger force of French infantry who were sent to fight in the Williamite war in Ireland. The Irish Brigade served as part of the French Army until 1792.

Formation[edit]

These five Jacobite regiments, comprising about 5000 men, were named after their colonels: Lord Mountcashel, Butler, Feilding, O'Brien and Dillon. The French reformed them and disbanded Butler's and Feilding's, either incorporating their men into the remaining three regiments. The remaining three regiments, Mountcashel's, O'Brien's and Dillon's, formed the first Irish Brigade in France and were known as Lord Mountcashel's Irish Brigade and served the French with distinction during the remainder of the Nine Years War (1689–97).

Under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, which ended the war between King James II and VII and King William III in Ireland, a separate force of 12,000 Jacobites had arrived in France in an event known as Flight of the Wild Geese. These were kept separate from the Irish Brigade and were formed into King James's own army in exile, albeit in the pay of France. Lord Dorrington's regiment, later Rooth or Roth, following the Treaty of Ryswick in 1698, was formed from the former 1st and 2nd battalions James II's Royal Irish Foot Guards (formerly on the Irish establishment[1]) of Britain.[2]

Service[edit]

With the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, King James's army in exile was disbanded, though many of its officers and men were reformed into new regiments. Having been merged into the original Irish Brigade these units served the French well until the French Revolution. Other Irishmen – such as Peter Lacy – proceeded to enter the Austrian service on an individual basis.

The Irish Brigade established themselves as crack troops and became one of the elite units of the French Army.[3] While increasingly diluted by French and foreign recruits from elsewhere in Europe, its Irish-born officers and men often aspired to return to aid Ireland and regain their ancestral lands, as some did during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.[4]

Irish regiments participated in most of the major land battles fought by the French between 1690 and 1789, particularly Steenkirk (1692), Neerwinden (1693), Marsaglia (1693), Blenheim (1704), Almansa (1707), Malplaquet (1709), Fontenoy (1745), Battle of Lauffeld (1747); and Rossbach (1757).

They also remained strongly attached to the Jacobite cause, taking part in the rising of 1715 and the rising of 1745. For the latter, a composite battalion of infantry ("Irish Picquets") comprising detachments from each of the regiments of the Irish Brigade, plus one squadron of cavalry, was sent to Scotland. This force saw action at the second Battle of Falkirk (where they cemented the victory by driving off the Hanoverians causing the clans to waver) and Culloden, alongside the regiment of Royal Scots (Royal Ecossais) which had been raised the year before in French service. As serving soldiers of the French King the Irish Picquets were permitted to formally surrender after Culloden with a promise of honourable treatment, and were not subjected to the reprisals suffered by the Highland clansmen.[5] Many other exiled Jacobites in the French army were captured en route to Scotland in late 1745 and early 1746, including Charles Radcliffe, 5th Earl of Derwentwater, a captain in Dillon's regiment who was executed in London in 1746.

In the interim, however, the Brigade found itself briefly opposed to its Spanish counterpart in the War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1718–20, as France was allied to the Jacobites' British Hanoverian rivals. As a result it was Spain who assisted the Highland Jacobites in their rising that ended in the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719.[6] The 1716 Anglo-French alliance had effectively secured the Hanoverian succession in Ireland and Britain.[7] Despite the alliance France continued to recognise James III as legitimate, and therefore the Jacobite regiments in France continued to hope for decades that their cause would eventually succeed.

Irish regiments served in the War of the Austrian Succession, Seven Years' War, both in Europe and India, and during the American War of Independence, though by the 1740s the number of Irishmen serving in the regiments had begun to markedly decline. The five regiments were increased to six during the War of the Austrian Succession, the sixth being Lally's, initially created by the Comte de Lally -Tollendal through drafts from the original five.[8] Each regiment had a strength of one battalion of 685 men and Fitzjames' cavalry regiment counted 240 men. The Brigade played a crucial role at Fontenoy attacking the right flank of the British column suffering 656 casualties and, according to O'Callaghan captured the colours of the Coldstream Guards and fifteen cannon.[9] McGarry, in a recently published book entitled Irish Brigades Abroad, identifies the flag concerned coming from Sempill's Regiment of Foot, the forerunner of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. [10] The Irish even suffered higher casualties of around 1400 men, at the Battle of Lauffeld when they led the assault which drove the British from Lauffeld village and secured victory.[11] During the Seven Years War the Irish Regiments in French service were: Bulkeley, Clare, Dillon, Rooth, Berwick and Lally as well as the regiment of cavalry, Fitzjames; parts of these units were at the Battle of Culloden.

From January 1766 the Papacy formally recognised George III of the Hanoverian dynasty as the lawful monarch of Britain and Ireland, and refused to recognise Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was now styled as King Charles III by the Jacobites.[12] The rise of George III also saw the Tories come back to power with John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute forming a ministry – the Tories had previously included high placed, financially powerful Jacobites. There were always a number of English and Scots serving in the Brigade, though their numbers fluctuated markedly over the years. A database being compiled by the Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies at Trinity College suggests that for every ten Irishmen there were on average two Englishmen and one Scot.[citation needed]

Walsh's regiment is noted for aiding the American cause in the American Revolution, when they were assigned as marines to John Paul Jones' ship, the Bonhomme Richard.[13] Their involvement and use of the motto "Semper et Ubique Fidelis" may have influenced the adoption of the motto "Semper Fidelis" by later generations of their brother U.S. Marines.

Uniforms and flags[edit]

Colour of Dillon's Regiment, Irish Brigade

The Irish Brigade wore red coats throughout the eighteenth century with different coloured facings to distinguish each regiment. In 1757 Bulkeley's Regiment had green facings, Clare's yellow, Dillon's black and Roth's dark blue with white braiding. The 1791 provisional regulations, on the eve of the disestablishment of the Irish Brigade, gave black facings to all four regiments with only minor distinctions to distinguish each unit.[14]

Flag of the "Régiment Berwick“

Most of their flags were representative of their British Jacobite origins, with every regimental colour carrying the cross of St George and the four crowns of England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Nearly all the regiments' flags carried an Irish harp in the centre, one exception being Roth's regiment of former Foot Guards,[15] whose official title in the 1690s was the King of England's Foot Guards; their flag was a red cross of St George with a crown in the centre surmounted by a crowned lion. Another was the Earl of Clancarty's, whose flag became that of the Duke of Berwick's regiment when the latter was founded in 1698 following the abolition and merger of Clancarty's and several other regiments to form Berwick's, later, in 1743, Fitzjames infantry. A correct representation of the flag carried by Berwick's regiment can be seen by following the link below to the Flags of the French army. Fitzjames's cavalry regiment standard had a French design of a yellow field with a central radiant sun surmounted by a ribbon with the motto: Nec Pluribus Impar, [Not Unequal to Many].

Language[edit]

Some officers of the Irish Brigade are believed to have cried out Cuimhnígí ar Luimneach agus ar fheall na Sasanach![16] ("Remember Limerick and Saxon perfidy") at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745. Modern research by Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin claims that it is very doubtful if the regiments would also have been chanting in Irish, a language unknown to probably a majority of the brigade at the time.[17] Others strongly dispute this, as over the course of 100 years new recruits were brought into the brigade mostly from the Irish speaking regions of West Munster, the homeland of, among other the O'Connell family. Stephen McGarry also makes the point in his book Irish Brigades Abroad that Irish was widely spoken in the Irish regiments of France.[18] Daniel Charles O'Connell was the uncle of The Liberator Daniel O'Connell and was the last Colonel of the French Irish Brigade in 1794 and rose to general rank. The O'Connells were native Irish speakers and members of dispossessed Gaelic Aristocracy. According to official French Army regulations, officers of the Irish Brigade regiments had to be Irish, half of which had to be born in Ireland and the other half born of Irish parents in France.[19]

Seamus MacManus shows in his book The Story of The Irish Race (1921):

"In truth it was not the "Wild Geese" who forgot the tongue of the Gael or let it perish. We are told that the watchwords and the words of command in the "Brigade" were always in Irish, and that officers who did not know the language before they entered the service found themselves of necessity compelled to learn it."[20]

End of the Irish Brigade[edit]

The Farewell Banner.

The Brigade ceased to exist as a separate and distinct entity on 21 July 1791. Along with the other non-Swiss foreign units, the Irish regiments were transferred into the regular French Army as line infantry, losing their traditional titles and uniforms. The initial (1791) restructuring of the army saw the Dillon Regiment become the 87e Regiment, Berwick the 88e and Walsh the 92e.[21]

Gentlemen, we acknowledge the inappreciable services that France has received from the Irish Brigade, in the course of the last 100 years; services that we shall never forget, though under an impossibility on requiting them. Receive this Standard as a pledge of our remembrance, a monument of our admiration, and our respect, and in future, generous Irishmen, this shall be the motto of your spotless flag: 1692–1792, Semper et ubique Fidelis.

Count de Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII)

The members of the Irish Brigade had historically sworn loyalty to the King of France, not to the French people and their new republic of 1792. In 1792 elements of the Brigade who had rallied to the emigre Royalist forces were presented with a "farewell banner," bearing the device of an Irish Harp embroidered with shamrocks and fleurs-de-lis.

Of the two senior Dillon officers who remained in the French army, Theobald was killed by his soldiers when in retreat in 1792 and Arthur was executed in 1794 during The Terror.[22] In 1793 the former Dillon Regiment was split into the 157th and 158th Line regiments. In 1803, the Irish Legion was formed by Napoleon Bonaparte for Irishmen willing to take part in a future invasion of Ireland.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Childs, John. The army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution, Manchester, 1980, ISBN 0-7190-0688-0, pp. 1–2. The army of Great Britain had an 'establishment' army from each of the three nations comprising it. At the accession of James II the English establishment army was 8,665; the Irish establishment was 7,500 and the Scottish 2,199
  2. ^ D'Alton, John. Illustrations, historical and genealogical, of King James's Irish Army list 1689, Volume 2, London, MDCCLXL, pp.9–11. Also, Childs, John. The army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution, Manchester, 1980, ISBN 0-7190-0688-0, p.xiii.
  3. ^ McGarry, Stephen, Irish Brigades Abroad, Dublin 2013
  4. ^ Culligan, Matthew J.; Cherici, Peter, The Wandering Irish in Europe: Their Influence from the Dark Ages to Modern Times, Clearfield, 1999, ISBN 0-8063-4835-6
  5. ^ John Prebble, "Culloden", Penguin Books 1978
  6. ^ Glenshiel notes accessed Sept 2009
  7. ^ O Ciardha, Eamonn "Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 1685–1766" (Four Courts, Dublin 2004) pp. 182, 235; ISBN 1-85182-805-2
  8. ^ Skrine, Francis Henry.Fontenoy and Great Britain's Share in the War of the Austrian Succession 1741–48. London, Edinburgh, 1906, p.373
  9. ^ O'Callaghan, John Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, London, 1870, p.359
  10. ^ McGarry, Stephen. Irish Brigades Abroad, Dublin, 2013, p. 94.
  11. ^ >McGarry, Stephen. Irish Brigades Abroad, Dublin, 2013, p.135
  12. ^ O Ciardha, Eamonn, op cit., page 365.
  13. ^ Irish Soldiers In the American Revolutionary War, see Irish Soldiers In the American Revolutionary War
  14. ^ Lilane et Fred Funcken, L'Uniforme et les Armes des Soldats de La Guerre en Dentelle ISBN 2-203-14315-0
  15. ^ Mackinnon, Daniel.Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards, London 1883, Vol.1, p.145, "Irish (Foot) guards"
  16. ^ O'Callaghan, John Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, London, 1870, p. 358.
  17. ^ Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin, "Casualties in the Ranks of the Clare Regiment at Fontenoy", Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Number 99, 1994.
  18. ^ McGarry, Stephen, Irish Brigades Abroad, Dublin 2013 p. 31-2,
  19. ^ Moulliard, Lucien, The French Army of Louis XIV, Nafziger Collection, 2004, ISBN 1-58545-122-3, p. 64, translated by G.F. Nafziger from the original 1882 French publication.
  20. ^ MacManus, Seamus, The Story of The Irish Race, Gramercy, ISBN 0-517-06408-1, p. 477
  21. ^ Terry Crowdy, "French Revolutionary Infantry 1789 – 1802", ISBN 1-84176-660-7
  22. ^ List of officers – search for Dillon

References[edit]

  • Childs, John. The army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution, Manchester, 1980, ISBN 0-7190-0688-0, pp. 1–2.
  • Crowdy, Terry . "French Revolutionary Infantry 1789 – 1802", ISBN 1-84176-660-7
  • Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin, Casualties in the Ranks of the Clare Regiment at Fontenoy, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Number 99, 1994.
  • Funcken, Lilane et Fred. L'Uniforme et les Armes des Soldats de La Guerre en Dentelle ISBN 2-203-14315-0
  • Mackinnon, Daniel. Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards, London 1883, Vol.I.
  • McGarry, Stephen. Irish Brigades Abroad: From the Wild Geese to the Napoleonic Wars, The History Press, 2014. ISBN 1-845887-999
  • Moulliard, Lucien, The French Army of Louis XIV, Nafziger Collection, 2004, ISBN 1-58545-122-3, p. 64, translated by G.F. Nafziger from the original 1882 French publication.
  • O'Callaghan, John Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, London, 1870.
  • O Ciardha, Eamonn "Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 1685–1766" (Four Courts, Dublin 2004) pp. 182, 235; ISBN 1-85182-805-2
  • Prebble, John. Culloden, Penguin Books 1978

Literature[edit]

Stephen McGarry's Irish Brigades Abroad (Dublin, 2013 KIndle edition, paperback May 2014) is a new book on the subject and finally updates John Cornelius O'Callaghan's History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France (London, 1870). Mark McLaughlin's The Wild Geese, (London, 1980) was published by Osprey as part of their Men-at-Arms series provides an introduction to the subject.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]