martes, 6 de julio de 2010

The War of the Three Kingdoms

No examination of these forefathers can be made without having a thorough understanding of the times in which they lived. In the twenty five years which stretch from the initial proof given by the Muster Rolls to the proof offered by the Hearth Money Tax, Ireland was a war torn country. The only new immigrants were soldiers, and those soldiers were almost entirely English.

The war of the three kingdoms can be divided into four phases: the initial Irish Rebellion of 1641; the first English Civil War of 1642 and its implications and consequences in Ireland; Cromwell's arrival and the ethnic cleansing that ensued; and finally the demobilsation of the English Army in 1655, the replantation of Leinster, Munster and Ulster, and the misery of Connaught. As will be seen our McKinley man-at-arms were in the thick of the conflicts the whole way through: God help them.

Phase One: The Irish Rebellion of 1641

It was only a matter of time: since the flight of the Earls the plantation of Ulster had meant dispossession for the bulk of native Irish. As ever in Ireland, what started as one thing ended as another. Thus what initially started as a bloody uprising to take back confiscated land and goods from what were seen as English usurpers actually ended up with the self-same Irish cause taking the English Royalist cause in favour of Charles 1st in the English Civil War. Thus in Ireland the Protestants in fact were split into three factions: those that sided with the Irish Catholic Confederacy and backed the King against the Parliamentarians; those that backed the Parliamentarians; and those Scots that proclaimed the Covenanter cause, i.e. the new Presbyterians.

The Rebellion started on the evening of 22nd October 1641 with uprisings in most of the main towns across the country that were outside of the Dublin Pale. Many Protestants were put to the knife and rumours of massacres spread like wild-fire. Certainly there was a serious blood-bath, but from what I can dig out of the annals, massacres were seldom much above a couple of dozen eople being put to the sword in any one town: definately a "light" level of massacre compared to what the response would be. Soon the Confederates essentially ruled much of the country and help was called for by the local protestant population, with meesangers being sent off to plea for assistance to the King in Westminster. It has to be said that the initial focus of the Rebellion was against the English settlers and the Scots were left in peace for the first month or so; but with derry on the doorstep of the Laggan, that non-interference soon came to an end.

But up in north-west Ulster, two brothers with a sturdy track record of fighting in the 30 year War in Europe, had started to build and train a local army as soon as rumours started about a possible rebellion. The two Stewart brothers, Sir William and Sir Robert had fought as soldiers of fortune under the Kings of Sweden and of Denmark and later for King James. They recruited a local army (regiment) from volunteers: those volunteers being from the Muster Rolls of 1830. Thus was brn what was to become known as the Laggan Army (the Laggan being the fertile lands to the southwest of Londonderry and whose commercial centre was Raphoe). Thus all of our McKinley's can be assumed to have joined the Laggan Army. The instructions were that the brothers were 'to raise two regiments, consisting of officers who were worthy and gallant gentlemen, and two troops of horses'.

Sir William Stewart had initially gone to Ireland in 1608 as a Captain, under the direct orders of the Scottish Parliament, in command of a company of Scottish troops, whose role was to defend the Scottish planters and ensure that they were formed into an effective militia. One assume he was the man behind the Muster Rolls. He was knighted in 1613 and made a Baronet in 1623 being titled Baron Stewart of Ramelton. By 1610 he was able to muster 1000 armed men in Donegal and by 1614 2000 men. Sir William and Sir Robert were well connected from the outset, being nephews of Lord Ochiltree, who was First Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the King, ie one of the King's most trusted men. As early undertakers themselves, Sir William was based at Ballylawan and Sir Robert in Ramelton. Sir William's eldest son was further ennobled in 1641 taking the titles Viscount Mountjoy and Earls of Blessington. Robert's branch didn't do too badly either, becoming Earls of Londonderry under George III.

The Lagganeers were surrounded by hostile forces and managed not only to fight them back out of the immediate Laggan area, but recaptured and liberated the principal castles of western Ulster, which had been under seige or taken by the Confederates. The leader of the opposition, Sir Phelim O'Neill decided that the absence of the Protestant defenders from their own stronghold of the Laggan was an oportunity not to be missed and he set off to pillage Raphoe. The Lagganeers got word of the plan, chased the Confederates and defeated their army near Castlederg. Sir Phelim was bloodied and frustrated and made two more attempts to gain the Laggan. Finally in the following year, backed up by the MacDonnell Clan he gathered a huge army and marched on Raphoe. The two armies met at Glenmaquin, some three miles to the north west of Raphoe in the heart of the Laggan. I quote local historian Gerald Wallace. "On the 15th June, the Irish army crossed into the barony of Raphoe. The Laggan forces fell back according to a plan to entice the Irish army into territory which was home ground for the Laggan forces. On the 16th of June the Laggan forces closed the distance between themselves and the insurgents to half a mile and stood to arms all night. Dawn found the two armies drawn up in the townland of Glenmaquin where there is a stream still called 'The Battle Burn'. Each army pitched on the slope of a hill with a valley between them. The Irish army made no move to attack. The Stewarts, realising their inferiority, in numbers were unwilling to give their advantageous position on the hill. The Laggan forces resorted to a strategy that was well known to them as professional soldiers, a number of horsemen and musketeers were sent out to fire on the Irish army and to incite them to attack. The Irish army thinking that their opponents were about to attack, slowly advanced to meet them. The Lagganeers were victorious, although 500 of their soldiers were killed."

The Laggan Army, despite being considerably smaller than the regiments of the Confederate Catholic Army, had two major benefits: they were trained and led by professionals; and they were desperate. Help was a long way away and would be a long time coming. After the Battle of Glenmaquin the Army was maintained and essentially kept the peace in the area.

Life became more complicated in late 1642 and early in '43 with the arrival of a Scottish Covenanter army who's treatment of Catholic prisoners of war and of the local Catholic population was fairly barbarous adding to the bitterness already caused by the killings and massacres carried out on both side in 1641. It is estimates that something like 10% of the British settler population were killed during this early period: some 12,000 men, women and childen. But that is across the entirety of the country: in Ulster the toll was probably close to one third of the protestant population. In this period Donegal was relatively speaking a haven of tranquility, thanks to the Stewart brothers and their Lagganeers.

As of early 1642 the bulk of the country was under the control of the Catholic Federation, with only those centres with a high percentage of settlers managing to stave them off: namely Dublin, Cork, Carrickfergus and Derry. Charles 1st sent over a sizeable English army to suppress the rebels and as stated above the Scottish Parliament sent troops over as well. But the English Parliament didn't trust the King's intentions fearing that what he was trying to do was to bring the rebels around to backing him against Parliament. Thus the English tropps were soon withdrawn. By that stage two thirds of the country was under confederate control and a third (Ulster, Dublin and Cork) under British rule with their garrisons and troops skirmishing regularly with the rebels.

Phase Two. The English Civil War

Students of English history will know that by August of 1642 the political situation in England has decayed into open Civil War, with Charles 1st taking Nottingham, Stafford and Shrewsbury with a few thousand Royalist cavalry and the Parliamentarians responding by raising a considerable army. the two sides finally collided and the first pitched battle of the English Civil War took place at Edgehill on 23rd October 1642.

For the next few years Ireland was a sideplay to the English civil war, with skirmishes and pillaging being the name of the game. Our Lagganeers would have been kept busy keeping the Confederates out of the north, working in parallel to the Covenanter regiments. But their allegiance was an uneasy one. The Covenanters were first generation Presbyterians and highly evangelical in the sense of wanting all to join their religion. The Lagganeers and specifically their officers and leaders were of the old religion and hence Royalist.

Not an easy situation and made all the more difficult when in 1649 Charles 1st was finally beheaded and his exiled son, Charles II signed a treaty with the Catholic Confederates and the English Royalists promising self-rule to the Irish and full rights to Catholics once he was restored to the throne. Royalist Troops were dispatch to Ireland and the Catholic Confederate Tropps came under their control, although led by the Irish James Butler Earl of Ormonde. The plan being to build up strength in Ireland to launch a full invasion of England from the Emerald Isle. This meant that our gallant Lagganeers were now allied and included in the Royalist cause.

The Royalist and Confederate Army gathered outside of Dublin in late July, ready to attack the sole Parliamentarian outpost left in Ireland - Dublin. But Colonel Michael Jones of the Roundheads (Parliamentarians) launched a suprise attack on the Royalists, and won a resounding victory and leaving the Royalists incapable of mounting another attack for various months. On Augst the 15th the English Parliamentarians landed fifteen ship loads of soldiers and equipment into Dublin plus their General, one Oliver Cromwell; and two days later his son-in-law Henry Ireton landed another thirty five ship loads and the history Irleand changed forever.

Phase Three: Cromwell and ethnic cleansing

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