Irish Rebellion of 1798

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Irish Rebellion of 1798
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions and the French Revolutionary Wars
MAXWELL(1845) p184 Defeat at Vinegar Hill.jpg
Defeat of the Rebels at Vinegar Hill, by George Cruikshank
Date24 May – 12 October 1798
Location
Result

Rebellion defeated, British victory

  • Acts of Union 1800
  • United Irishmen guerrilla campaign in the Wicklow Mountains until 1803
Belligerents
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg Irish Republic
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg United Irishmen
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg Defenders
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg  Ireland
Commanders and leaders
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg Wolfe Tone
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg Henry Joy McCracken
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg Lord Edward FitzGerald
Green harp flag of Ireland.svg John Murphy
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg General Jean Humbert

Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Jean-Baptiste-François Bompart
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg General George Warde
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg MGO Charles The 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Lt. Gen. Gerard Lake
Saint Patrick's Saltire.svg Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh

Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Commodore John Warren
Strength
50,000 United Irishmen
4,100 French regulars
10 French Navy ships [1]
40,000 militia
30,000 British regulars
~25,000 yeomanry
~1,000 Hessians
Casualties and losses
10,000 [2] –50,000 [3] estimated combatant and civilian deaths
3,500 French captured
7 French ships captured
c.500–2,000 military deaths [4]
c.1,000 loyalist civilian deaths[ citation needed ]

The Irish Rebellion of 1798 (Irish : Éirí Amach 1798) was an uprising against British rule in Ireland. The United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American and French revolutions, were the main organising force behind the rebellion, led by Presbyterians angry at being shut out of power by the Anglican establishment and joined by Catholics, who made up the majority of the population. Many Ulster Protestants sided with the British, resulting in the conflict taking on the appearance of a sectarian civil war in many areas, with atrocities on both sides. A French army which landed in County Mayo in support of the rebels was overwhelmed by British and loyalist forces. The uprising was suppressed by British Crown forces with a death toll of between 10,000 and 30,000.

Irish language Goidelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.

Kingdom of Great Britain Constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Kingdom of Ireland Historical kingdom on the island of Ireland between 1542 and 1801

The Kingdom of Ireland was a client state of England and then of Great Britain that existed from 1542 until 1800. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain in personal union with their other realms. The kingdom was administered from Dublin Castle nominally by the King or Queen, who appointed a viceroy to rule in their stead. It had its own legislature, peerage, legal system, and state church.

Contents

Background

Wolfe Tone, United Irish leader. Theobald Wolfe Tone - Project Gutenberg 13112.png
Wolfe Tone, United Irish leader.

Since 1691 and the end of the Williamite War, Ireland had chiefly been controlled by the minority Anglican Protestant Ascendancy constituting members of the established Church of Ireland loyal to the British Crown. It governed through a form of institutionalised sectarianism codified in the Penal Laws which discriminated against both the majority Irish Catholic population and Dissenters (non-Anglican Protestants, e.g. Presbyterians). In the late 18th century, liberal elements among the ruling class were inspired by the example of the American Revolution (1765–1783) and sought to form common cause with the Catholic populace to achieve reform and greater autonomy from Britain. As in England, the majority of Protestants, as well as all Catholics, were barred from voting because they did not pass a property threshold. Despite Ireland nominally being a sovereign kingdom governed by the monarch and Parliament of the island, due to a series of laws enacted by the English, such as Poynings' law of 1494 and the Declaratory Act of 1719 (the former of which gave the English veto power over Irish legislation, and the latter of which gave the British the right to legislate for the kingdom), [5] Ireland in reality had less independence than most of Britain's North American colonies, adding to the list of grievances.

Williamite War in Ireland Irish Theatre of the Nine Years War

The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), was a conflict between Jacobites and Williamites over who would be monarch of the three kingdoms of Ireland, England and Scotland. It is also called the Jacobite War in Ireland or the Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland.

The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland between the 17th century and the early 20th century by a minority of landowners, Protestant clergy, and members of the professions, all members of the Established Church. The Ascendancy excluded from politics and the elite other groups, most numerous among them Roman Catholics but also members of the Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations, along with non-Christians such as Jews. Until the Reform Acts (1832–1928) even the majority of Irish Protestants were effectively excluded from the Ascendancy, being too poor to vote. In general, the privileges of the Ascendancy were resented by Irish Catholics, who made up the majority of the population.

Church of Ireland Anglican church in Ireland

The Church of Ireland is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second largest Christian church on the island after the Roman Catholic Church. Like other Anglican churches, it has retained elements of pre-Reformation practice, notably its episcopal polity, while rejecting the primacy of the Pope. In theological and liturgical matters, it incorporates many principles of the Reformation, particularly those espoused during the English Reformation. The church self-identifies as being both Catholic and Reformed. Within the church, differences exist between those members who are more Catholic-leaning and those who are more Protestant-leaning. For historical and cultural reasons, the Church of Ireland is generally identified as a Protestant church.

When France joined the Americans in support of their Revolutionary War, London called for volunteers to join militias to defend Ireland against the threat of invasion from France (since regular British forces had been dispatched to America). Many thousands joined the Irish Volunteers. In 1782 they used their newly powerful position to force the Crown to grant the landed Ascendancy self-rule and a more independent parliament ("Grattan's Parliament"). The Irish Patriot Party, led by Henry Grattan, pushed for greater enfranchisement. In 1793 Parliament passed laws allowing Catholics with some property to vote, but they could neither be elected nor appointed as state officials. Liberal elements of the Ascendancy seeking a greater franchise for the people, and an end to religious discrimination, were further inspired by the French Revolution, which had taken place in a Catholic country.

American Revolutionary War War between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which won independence as the United States of America

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Irish Volunteers (18th century) 18th century local Irish militias

The Volunteers were local militias raised by local initiative in Ireland in 1778. Their original purpose was to guard against invasion and to preserve law and order at a time when British soldiers were withdrawn from Ireland to fight abroad during the American Revolutionary War and the government failed to organise its own militia. Taking advantage of Britain's preoccupation with its rebelling American colonies, the Volunteers were able to pressure Westminster into conceding legislative independence to the Dublin parliament. Members of the Belfast 1st Volunteer Company laid the foundations for the establishment of the United Irishmen organisation. The majority of Volunteer members however were inclined towards the yeomanry, which fought and helped defeat the United Irishmen in the Irish rebellion of 1798.

Society of United Irishmen

"Equality --
It is new strung and shall be heard"
United Irish Symbol
Clairseach (harp) with cap of liberty instead of crown United Irish badge.gif
"Equality —
It is new strung and shall be heard
"
United Irish Symbol
Clàirseach (harp) with cap of liberty instead of crown

The prospect of reform inspired a small group of Protestant liberals in Belfast to found the Society of United Irishmen in 1791. The organisation crossed the religious divide with a membership comprising Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, other Protestant "dissenters" groups, and some from the Protestant Ascendancy. The Society openly put forward policies of further democratic reforms and Catholic emancipation, reforms which the Irish Parliament had partially but reluctantly granted in 1793. [6] The outbreak of war with France earlier in 1793, following the execution of Louis XVI, forced the Society underground and toward armed insurrection with French aid. The avowed intent of the United Irishmen was to "break the connection with England"; the organisation spread throughout Ireland and had at least 200,000 members by 1797. [7] However, only a small proportion of them took part in the 1798 rebellion, suggesting that most members supported its aims, but not to the extent of violence unless provoked. It linked up with Catholic agrarian resistance groups, known as the Defenders, who had started raiding houses for arms in early 1793.

Protestantism division within Christianity, originating from the Reformation in the 16th century against the Roman Catholic Church, that rejects the Roman Catholic doctrines of papal supremacy and sacraments

Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second-largest on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.

To augment their growing strength, the United Irish leadership decided to seek military help from the French revolutionary government and to postpone the rising until French troops landed in Ireland. Theobald Wolfe Tone, leader of the United Irishmen, travelled in exile from the United States to France in 1796 to press the case for intervention.

French Directory Executive power of the French Constitution of 1795-1799

The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution. On the other hand, according to the mainstream historiography - for example F. Furet and D. Richet in “French Revolution” - with the aforementioned terms is indicated also the regime and the period from the dissolution of the National Convention of Tuileries Palace on 26 October 1795, which was superseded by the two new elected Councils, and the coup d’état by Napoleon. Only in 1798 the Council of Five Hundred moved to the Palais Bourbon.

By this stage the dominant Roman Catholic Hierarchy was totally opposed to the United Irish, having seen the results of the "Dechristianization" policy in France since 1789, and this led to a reduction of support. In 1796–97 the French armies had opposed the Papacy in Italy, and in February 1798 the French republican system set up a short-lived "Roman Republic". The hierarchy was naturally concerned that a republican rebellion led mostly by protestant nationalists, would, if successful, be governed as yet another "Sister republic" of France.

The dechristianization of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of the results of a number of separate policies conducted by various governments of France between the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Concordat of 1801, forming the basis of the later and less radical laïcité policies. The goal of the campaign between 1793 and 1794 ranged from the public reclamation of the massive amounts of land, power, and money held by the Catholic Church in France to the termination of Catholic religious practice and of the religion itself. There has been much scholarly debate over whether the movement was popularly motivated.

Roman Republic (18th century) republic at the Apennine Peninsula between 1798-1799

The Roman Republic was proclaimed on 15 February 1798 after Louis Alexandre Berthier, a general of Napoleon, had invaded the city of Rome on 10 February. The Roman Republic was a client republic under the French Directory composed of territory conquered from the Papal States. Pope Pius VI was exiled to France and died there in 1799. It immediately took control of the other two former-papal revolutionary administrations, the Tiberina Republic and the Anconine Republic. The Roman Republic was short-lived, as the Papal States were restored in October 1799.

Protestant Irish nationalists

Protestant Irish nationalists are adherents of Protestantism in Ireland who also support Irish nationalism. Protestants have played a large role in the development of Irish nationalism since the eighteenth century, despite most Irish nationalists historically being from the Irish Catholic majority, as well as most Irish Protestants usually tending toward unionism in Ireland. Protestant nationalists have consistently been influential supporters and leaders of various movements for the political independence of Ireland from Great Britain. Historically, these movements ranged from supporting the legislative independence of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Ireland, to a form of home rule within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to complete independence in an Irish Republic and a United Ireland.

Aborted invasion (1796)

In End of the Irish Invasion ;- or- the Destruction of the French Armada (1797), James Gillray caricatured the failure of Hoche's expedition. Irish-Invasion-Gillray.jpeg
In End of the Irish Invasion ;– or– the Destruction of the French Armada (1797), James Gillray caricatured the failure of Hoche's expedition.

Tone's efforts succeeded with the dispatch of the Expédition d'Irlande, and he accompanied a force of 14,000 French veteran troops under General Hoche which arrived off the coast of Ireland at Bantry Bay in December 1796 after eluding the Royal Navy; however, unremitting storms, indecisiveness of leaders and poor seamanship all combined to prevent a landing. The despairing Wolfe Tone remarked, "England has had its luckiest escape since the Armada." [8] The French fleet was forced to return home and the veteran army intended to spearhead the invasion of Ireland split up and was sent to fight in other theatres of the French Revolutionary Wars.

Counter-insurgency and repression

The Establishment responded to widespread disorder by launching a counter-campaign of martial law from 2 March 1797. It used tactics including house burnings, torture of captives, pitchcapping and murder, particularly in Ulster as it was the one area of Ireland where large numbers of Catholics and Protestants (mainly Presbyterians) had effected common cause. In May 1797 the military in Belfast also violently suppressed the newspaper of the United Irishmen, the Northern Star .

Arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald (George Cruikshank). Lordfitz.gif
Arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald (George Cruikshank).

The British establishment recognised sectarianism as a divisive tool to employ against the Protestant United Irishmen in Ulster and the divide and conquer method of colonial dominion was officially encouraged by the Government. Brigadier-General C.E. Knox wrote to General Lake (who was responsible for Ulster): "I have arranged ... to increase the animosity between the Orangemen and the United Irishmen, or liberty men as they call themselves. Upon that animosity depends the safety of the centre counties of the North." [9]

Similarly, The Earl of Clare, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, wrote to the Privy Council in June 1798, "In the North nothing will keep the rebels quiet but the conviction that where treason has broken out the rebellion is merely popish", [10] expressing the hope that the Presbyterian republicans might not rise if they thought that rebellion was supported only by Catholics.

Loyalists across Ireland had organised in support of the Government; many supplied recruits and vital local intelligence through the foundation of the Orange Order in 1795. The Government's founding of Maynooth College in the same year, and the French conquest of Rome earlier in 1798 both helped secure the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to rebellion; with a few individual exceptions, the Church was firmly on the side of the Crown throughout the entire period of turmoil.

In March 1798 intelligence from informants amongst the United Irish caused the Government to sweep up most of their leadership in raids in Dublin. Martial law was imposed over most of the country and its unrelenting brutality put the United Irish organisation under severe pressure to act before it was too late. A rising in Cahir, County Tipperary broke out in response, but was quickly crushed by the High Sheriff, Col. Thomas Judkin-Fitzgerald. Militants led by Samuel Neilson and Lord Edward FitzGerald with the help of co-conspirator Edmund Gallagher dominated the rump United Irish leadership and planned to rise without French aid, fixing the date for 23 May.

Rebellion

The initial plan was to take Dublin, with the counties bordering Dublin to rise in support and prevent the arrival of reinforcements followed by the rest of the country who were to tie down other garrisons. [11] The signal to rise was to be spread by the interception of the mail coaches from Dublin. However, last-minute intelligence from informants provided the Government with details of rebel assembly points in Dublin and a huge force of military occupied them barely one hour before rebels were to assemble. The Army then arrested most of the rebel leaders in the city. Deterred by the military, the gathering groups of rebels quickly dispersed, abandoning the intended rallying points, and dumping their weapons in the surrounding lanes. In addition, the plan to intercept the mail coaches miscarried, with only the Munster-bound coach halted at Johnstown, near Naas, on the first night of the rebellion.

Although the planned nucleus of the rebellion had imploded, the surrounding districts of Dublin rose as planned and were swiftly followed by most of the counties surrounding Dublin. The first clashes of the rebellion took place just after dawn on 24 May. Fighting quickly spread throughout Leinster, with the heaviest fighting taking place in County Kildare where, despite the Army successfully beating off almost every rebel attack, the rebels gained control of much of the county as military forces in Kildare were ordered to withdraw to Naas for fear of their isolation and destruction as at Prosperous. However, rebel defeats at Carlow and the hill of Tara, County Meath, effectively ended the rebellion in those counties. In County Wicklow, news of the rising spread panic and fear among loyalists; they responded by massacring rebel suspects held in custody at Dunlavin Green and in Carnew. A baronet, Sir Edward Crosbie, was found guilty of leading the rebellion in Carlow and executed for treason.

Spreading of the rebellion

"Charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards on the insurgents - a recreant yeoman having deserted to them in uniform is being cut down" - William Sadler (1782-1839). Vinhill.gif
"Charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards on the insurgents – a recreant yeoman having deserted to them in uniform is being cut down" – William Sadler (1782–1839).

In County Wicklow, large numbers rose but chiefly engaged in a bloody rural guerrilla war with the military and loyalist forces. General Joseph Holt led up to 1,000 men in the Wicklow Mountains and forced the British to commit substantial forces to the area until his capitulation in October.

In the north-east, mostly Presbyterian rebels led by Henry Joy McCracken [12] rose in County Antrim on 6 June. They briefly held most of the county, but the rising there collapsed following defeat at Antrim town. In County Down, after initial success at Saintfield, rebels led by Henry Munro were defeated in the longest battle of the rebellion at Ballynahinch. [13]

The rebels had most success in the south-eastern county of Wexford where they seized control of the county, but a series of bloody defeats at the Battle of New Ross, Battle of Arklow, and the Battle of Bunclody prevented the effective spread of the rebellion beyond the county borders. 20,000 troops eventually poured into Wexford and defeated the rebels at the Battle of Vinegar Hill on 21 June. The dispersed rebels spread in two columns through the midlands, Kilkenny, and finally towards Ulster. The last remnants of these forces fought on until their final defeat on 14 July at the battles of Knightstown Bog, County Meath and Ballyboughal, County Dublin. [14]

French intervention

The Battle of Castlebar, 1798 Castlebar Races WynneC.jpg
The Battle of Castlebar, 1798

On 22 August, nearly two months after the main uprisings had been defeated, about 1,000 French soldiers under General Humbert landed in the north-west of the country, at Kilcummin in County Mayo. Joined by up to 5,000 local rebels, they had some initial success, inflicting a humiliating defeat on the British in Castlebar (also known as the Castlebar races to commemorate the speed of the retreat) and setting up a short-lived "Irish Republic" with John Moore as president of one of its provinces, Connacht. This sparked some supportive uprisings in Longford and Westmeath which were quickly defeated, and the main force was defeated at the battle of Ballinamuck, in County Longford, on 8 September 1798. The Irish Republic had only lasted twelve days from its declaration of independence to its collapse. The French troops who surrendered were repatriated to France in exchange for British prisoners of war, but hundreds of the captured Irish rebels were executed. This episode of the 1798 Rebellion became a major event in the heritage and collective memory of the West of Ireland and was commonly known in Irish as Bliain na bhFrancach and in English as "The Year of the French". [15]

On 12 October 1798, a larger French force consisting of 3,000 men, and including Wolfe Tone himself, attempted to land in County Donegal near Lough Swilly. They were intercepted by a larger Royal Navy squadron, and finally surrendered after a three-hour battle without ever landing in Ireland. Wolfe Tone was tried by court-martial in Dublin and found guilty. He asked for death by firing squad, but when this was refused, Tone cheated the hangman by slitting his own throat in prison on 12 November, and died a week later.

Aftermath

General Joseph Holt (1799). Holt.png
General Joseph Holt (1799).

Small fragments of the great rebel armies of the Summer of 1798 survived for a number of years and waged a form of guerrilla or "fugitive" warfare in several counties. In County Wicklow, General Joseph Holt fought on until his negotiated surrender in Autumn 1798. It was not until the failure of Robert Emmet's rebellion in 1803 that the last organised rebel forces under Captain Michael Dwyer capitulated. Small pockets of rebel resistance had also survived within Wexford and the last rebel group under James Corcoran was not vanquished until February 1804.

The last stand of James Corcoran (11 February 1804) Guerilla warfare Wexford.jpg
The last stand of James Corcoran (11 February 1804)

The Act of Union, having been passed in August 1800, came into effect on 1 January 1801 and took away the measure of autonomy granted to Ireland's Protestant Ascendancy. [16] It was passed largely in response to the rebellion and was underpinned by the perception that the rebellion was provoked by the brutish misrule of the Ascendancy as much as the efforts of the United Irishmen.

Religious, if not economic, discrimination against the Catholic majority was gradually abolished after the Act of Union but not before widespread mobilisation of the Catholic population under Daniel O'Connell. Discontent at grievances and resentment persisted but resistance to British rule now largely manifested itself along anti-taxation lines, as in the Tithe War of 1831–36.

Presbyterian radicalism was effectively tamed or reconciled to British rule by inclusion in a new Protestant Ascendancy, as opposed to a merely Anglican one. By mid-1798 a schism between the Presbyterians and Catholics had developed, with radical Presbyterians starting to waver in their support for revolution. [17] The government capitialised on this by acting against the Catholics in the radical movement instead of the northern Presbyterians. [17] Prior to the rebellion, anyone who admitted to being a member of the United Irishmen was expelled from the Yeomanry, however former Presbyterian radicals were now able to enlist in it, and those radicals that wavered in support saw it as their chance to reintegrate themselves into society. [17] The government also had news of the sectarian massacre of Protestants at Scullabogue spread to increase Protestant fears and enhance the growing division. [17] Anglican clergyman Edward Hudson claimed that "the brotherhood of affection is over", as he enlisted former radicals into his Portglenone Yeomanry corps. [17] On 1 July 1798 in Belfast, the birthplace of the United Irishmen movement, it is claimed that everyman had the red coat of the Yeomanry on. [17] However, the Protestant contribution to the United Irish cause was not yet entirely finished as several of the leaders of the 1803 rebellion were Anglican or Presbyterian.

Nevertheless, this fostering or resurgence of religious division meant that Irish politics was largely, until the Young Ireland movement in the mid-19th century, steered away from the unifying vision of the egalitarian United Irishmen and based on sectarian fault lines with Unionist and Dublin Castle individuals at the helm of power in Ireland.After Robert Emmets rebellion of 1803 and the Act of Union Ulster Presbyterians and other dissenters were likely bought off by British/English Anglican ruling elites with industry ship building wollen mill and as the 19th century progressed they become less and less radical and Republican/Nationalist in outlook.

Atrocities

Half-hanging of suspected United Irishmen by government troops. Hanging.gif
Half-hanging of suspected United Irishmen by government troops.

The intimate nature of the conflict meant that the rebellion at times took on the worst characteristics of a civil war, especially in Leinster. Sectarian resentment was fuelled by the remaining Penal Laws still in force. Rumours of planned massacres by both sides were common in the days before the rising and led to a widespread climate of fear.

Government

The aftermath of almost every British victory in the rising was marked by the massacre of captured and wounded rebels with some on a large scale such as at Carlow, New Ross, Ballinamuck and Killala. [18] The British were responsible for particularly gruesome massacres at Gibbet Rath, New Ross and Enniscorthy, burning rebels alive in the latter two. [19] For those rebels who were taken alive in the aftermath of battle, being regarded as traitors to the Crown, they were not treated as prisoners of war but were executed, usually by hanging. Local forces publicly executed suspected members of the United Irishmen without trial in Dunlavin in what is known as the Dunlavin Green Executions and in Carnew days after the outbreak of the rebellion. [20]

In addition, non-combatant civilians were murdered by the military, who also carried out many instances of rape, particularly in County Wexford. [21] [22] Many individual instances of murder were also unofficially carried out by local Yeomanry units before, during and after the rebellion as their local knowledge led them to attack suspected rebels. "Pardoned" rebels were a particular target. [23]

According to the historian Guy Beiner, the Presbyterian insurgents in Ulster suffered more executions than any other arena of the 1798 rebellion, and the brutality with which the insurrection was quelled in counties Antrim and Down was long remembered in local folk traditions. [24]

Rebel

County Wexford was the only area which saw widespread atrocities by the rebels during the Wexford Rebellion. Massacres of loyalist prisoners took place at the Vinegar Hill camp and on Wexford bridge. After the defeat of a rebel attack at New Ross, the Scullabogue Barn Massacre occurred where between 80 [25] and 200 [26] mostly Protestant men, women, and children were imprisoned in a barn which was then set alight. [27] In Wexford town, on 20 June some 70 loyalist prisoners were marched to the bridge (according to an unsourced claim by historian James Lydon, first stripped naked) [26] and piked to death. [28]

Legacy

Grave of Wolfe Tone
Bodenstown, County Kildare Grave of Wolfe Tone.jpg
Grave of Wolfe Tone
Bodenstown, County Kildare

Contemporary estimates put the death toll from 20,000 (Dublin Castle) to as many as 50,000 [3] of which 2,000 were military and 1,000 loyalist civilians. [29] Some modern research argues that these figures may be too high. Firstly, a list of British soldiers killed, compiled for a fund to aid the families of dead soldiers, listed just 530 names. Secondly, professor Louis Cullen, through an examination of depletion of the population in County Wexford between 1798 and 1820, put the fatalities in that county due to the rebellion at 6,000. Historian Thomas Bartlett therefore argues, "a death toll of 10,000 for the entire island would seem to be in order". [30] Other modern historians believe that the death toll may be even higher than contemporary estimates suggest as the widespread fear of repression among relatives of slain rebels led to mass concealment of casualties. [31]

By the centenary of the Rebellion in 1898, conservative Irish nationalists and the Catholic Church would both claim that the United Irishmen had been fighting for "Faith and Fatherland", and this version of events is still, to some extent, the lasting popular memory of the rebellion. A series of popular "98 Clubs" were formed. At the bicentenary in 1998, the non-sectarian and democratic ideals of the Rebellion were emphasised in official commemorations, reflecting the desire for reconciliation at the time of the Good Friday Agreement which was hoped would end "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

The popular Irish ballad The Rising of the Moon recounts the loss of the United Irishmen. Written as early as the 1860s, [32] the song has been since performed by many musicians, including The Dubliners.

List of major engagements

DateLocationBattleResult
24 May Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare Battle of Ballymore-Eustace United Irishmen repulsed
24 May Naas, County Kildare Battle of Naas United Irishmen repulsed
24–28 May Rathangan, County Kildare Battle of Rathangan United Irish victory, rebels repulsed 28 May
24 May Prosperous, County Kildare Battle of Prosperous United Irish victory
24 May Old Kilcullen, County Kildare Battle of Old Kilcullen United Irish defeat Cavalry force and advance on Kilcullen
24 May Kilcullen, County Kildare Battle of Kilcullen British victory
25 May Carnew, County Wicklow Carnew massacre British execute 38 prisoners
25 May Dunlavin, County Wicklow Dunlavin Green massacre British execute 36 prisoners
25 May Carlow, County Carlow Battle of Carlow British victory, rising in Carlow crushed
26 MayThe Harrow, County Wexford Battle of the Harrow United Irish victory
26 May Hill of Tara, County Meath Battle of Tara Hill British victory, Rising in Meath defeated
27 May Oulart, County Wexford Battle of Oulart Hill United Irish victory
28 May Enniscorthy, County Wexford Battle of Enniscorthy United Irish victory
29 May Curragh, County Kildare Gibbet Rath massacre British execute 300–500 rebels
30 May Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow Battle of Newtownmountkennedy British victory
30 MayForth Mountain, County Wexford Battle of Three Rocks United Irish victory, Wexford taken
1 June Bunclody, County Wexford Battle of Bunclody British victory
4 JuneTuberneering, County Wexford Battle of Tuberneering United Irish victory, British counter-attack repulsed
5 June New Ross, County Wexford Battle of New Ross British victory
5 JuneScullabogue, County Wexford Scullabogue massacre Irish rebels kill 100–200 loyalists
7 June Antrim, County Antrim Battle of Antrim United Irishmen repulsed
9 June Arklow, County Wicklow Battle of Arklow United Irishmen repulsed
9 June Saintfield, County Down Battle of Saintfield United Irish victory
12–13 June Ballynahinch, County Down Battle of Ballynahinch British victory
19 June Shannonvale, County Cork Battle of the Big Cross [33] British victory
19 Junenear Kilcock, County Kildare Battle of Ovidstown British victory
20 June Foulkesmill, County Wexford Battle of Foulksmills British victory
21 June Enniscorthy, County Wexford Battle of Vinegar Hill British victory
30 Junenear Carnew, County Wicklow Battle of Ballyellis United Irish victory
27 August Castlebar, County Mayo Battle of Castlebar United Irish/French victory
5 September Collooney, County Sligo Battle of Collooney United Irish/French victory
8 September Ballinamuck, County Longford Battle of Ballinamuck British victory
23 September Killala, County Mayo Battle of Killala British victory
12 Octobernear Tory Island, County Donegal Battle of Tory Island British victory

See also

Related Research Articles

Society of United Irishmen liberal political organisation

The Society of United Irishmen, founded as a Radical or liberal political organisation in 18th-century Belfast, Ireland, initially sought Parliamentary reform. It evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. It launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798 with the objective of ending British monarchical rule over Ireland and founding a sovereign, independent Irish republic.

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References

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  6. Catholic Relief Act, 1793
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    • The Writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone 1763–98, Volume Two: America, France and Bantry Bay – August 1795 to December 1796 (Journal entry 26 December 1796) – eds. T W Moody, R B MacDowel and C J Woods, Clarendon Press (USA) ISBN   0-19-822383-8
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  30. Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "Rising of the Moon, The". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  31. "southern star".

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