Alternate History

1798: Irish War of Independence

39,855pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Add New Page Talk0

The Revolution of the 43 ships sent under General Hoche, 36 arrive at Bantry Bay, the General's flag ship Fraternité among them. The rest split up to avoid being caught by the Royal Navy. However, due to appalling weather, the commanders of the other ships turned back to France. With 8000 of the original 15,000 troops Hoche and Tone, agreed to advance on the towns of Bantry and Glengarriff. Fraternité, which was hidden in a small inlet two miles north of Bantry, the bodies found were those of the militias, dressed in French uniforms. The other ships are contacted, by the General and they were ordered to return immediately. They arrived within three days. Hoche agrees to train the United Irishmen leaders and soldiers in conventional warfare, he and Tone retreat into the countryside with the army, where they begin stockpiling weapons, training the soldiers and raiding surrounding towns, occasionally as far of as Cork.

By February 1798, all leading members of the United Irishmen could just about lead men in a combat situation and over half of the dedicated members had done their designated four months training in musket, sword, pike and pistol. Rising planned for 23rd May 1798. Various Leinster United Irishmen leaders were arrested, along with various weapons raids. Lord Edward Fitzgerald heard news of the arrests and fled to a safe house outside Wicklow. As a personal insult, weapons were hidden in the homes of known spies, and the militias were anonymously tipped off, this brought a web of deceit down on the spy network, virtually destroying almost all later espionage attempts. With several spies in the Irish parliament, the United Irishmen learned that martial law was to be placed on Dublin on the 20th May. Fitzgerald ordered the planned ‘Dublin Revolution’ be brought forward to the 19th May in order to take the city before the soldiers arrived.

The revolution officially began at 4:36 am, 19th May, with riots breaking out in the surrounding towns of Naas, Prosperous and Killcullen, the rioters were of course United Irishmen members as well as 4,500 French troops which had been moving towards Dublin since Fitzgerald had sent word of the changed plans. Whilst the militias moved to the outskirts of the city to deal with the rioters, Fitzgerald and at least 3000 French-armed revolutionaries, moved out of their selected hiding places and surrounded Dublin castle, with a skeleton garrison of 40 guards, the castle was taken with few losses. By 7:00am, the town was almost completely taken, with only minor pockets of resistance and most of the militias either fled, dead or willing to fight for the revolution. The Republic of France officially recognised the sovereignty of the Republic of Ireland, or Eire, its official name. The USA and various other counties also recognised the new nation. The soldiers meant for garrisoning Dublin were diverted north to hold Belfast from branches of the United Irishmen commanded by Henry Joe McCracken and Henry Munro, the revolutionary paper, ‘The Northern Star’ was officially banned under penalty of hanging by the Irish parliament in their new seat of Belfast Town hall.

There were many protests and riots led by members of the United Irishmen, these clashed with British army patrols on a regular basis, also there were at least seven “lynching’s” of protestant landowners, most of them fled the island. Across the city and surrounding countryside, rebels and United Irishmen sympathisers rose up and seized their former masters estates or businesses, most are crushed within days of starting but several estates manage to repulse the attacks and become strongholds for the United Men. The soldiers raided suspected United Irishmen homes, and caught Henry Munro visiting his wife on the 26th May, he escaped the initial confrontation but was seriously wounded with a bullet hitting him in the side. He managed to make it to a loyal revolutionary doctor in the outskirts of Downpatrick where he was treated and later rescued by several members of the Volunteers (another revolutionary group). He and Henry Joy retreated towards Fermanagh with almost three tonnes of weaponry, and several thousand loyal Irishmen, they began a guerrilla war campaign against General Lake with great success. Upon hearing the news of the Dublin Revolutions success, Father John Murphy decided (without consulting his fellow commanders) to lead his small force of local Catholics in clashes with Militia patrols. As soon as this was heard by Tone, who now goes by the title “Commanding Chief of the Free Irish Forces”, he was inclined to have Murphy executed for disobeying an order, fortunately the attacks were mostly successful, and the militias were driven out of the city by the 23rd, so Murphy was instead promoted to Colonel of the South Leinster Rifles under the condition that he waited for Tone to arrive French reinforcements, (the promotion didn’t actually mean anything as Murphy was the highest ranking man in the entire city, it was just a way of flattering the Father into staying put). Murphy does stay put, but sends out rebels on horse back to hunt down the escaped militias, many of who were combining into groups with the escaped Dublin militia and terrorising the surrounding countryside. By the time Tone arrived with his 7000 strong force of French and Irish soldiers, Father Murphy had already built a fort on Vinegar Hill for the soldiers to bunk in, not only that but thousands of Irishmen and hundreds British deserters had joined expanding his original force of 800 men to 6000.

With Hoche advancing towards Limerick with his remaining French troops, the two Henrys keeping Lakes hands tied behind his back with near constant raids on the few remaining British strongholds in the north and Dublin firmly under the control of “Deputy-Commander” Fitzgerald, Tone decided to turn the combined army north and make a push towards Belfast. Meanwhile, Henry Joy had taken his 6500 strong force of hardened guerrilla warriors and oppressed peasants, to besiege Londonderry on the 6th June, however General Lake had prepared for this eventuality, and with new reinforcements from Britain, he attempted to launch an attack to hit the rebel army in the back, fortunately Munro had sufficiently recovered enough to direct men in combat, and was following Lakes army with the intention of attacking their rear. At 11am, 7th June, Lakes army lined up behind McCracken’s and prepared to advance, at the same time however, Munro’s army opened fire from the tree line, ripping into the back of the artillery and reserve units, Lake himself was captured by a rebel whilst trying to escape the scene. With the newly acquired artillery pieces and reinforcements, McCracken’s army was in Derry by the 11th June. With Lake in republican custody, the way to Belfast and ultimate victory seemed clear for Tone and his men. But as it turned out, the newly appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Despite his good hopes, no reinforcements would arrive in Belfast or anywhere else in Ireland, with the French revolutionary war calming down on the continent, the British government could not afford to send anymore troops to the “doomed island”, all available soldiers needed to be stationed at the ports and other strategic locations along the British coast, in case of an attempted French invasion.

The two forces meet at Drogheda, Cornwallis arriving first and taking up defensive positions in and around the city, Tone had stopped in Dublin to pick up Fitzgerald, bolstering his force from 13,000, to almost 29,000, including French troops, United Irishmen members, mercenaries, oppressed peasants and British soldiers willing to fight for the revolution. However there were only six working cannons in the Irish army, all of them rather antiquated emplacements from Dublin castle, they were used for the first week of the siege, but they all eventually blew up. Leading to a medieval style ‘waiting siege’, after three months, however, pain of hunger became too much for the trapped army, and they attempted to break through on the 21st September, by which time Henry Joy had lead his troops to Belfast and was only one day away from liberating the entire city. Cornwallis led his troops in a gallant charge against the Irishmen, but this had been Tones Plan B since the cannons blew up (Hoche taught him well). With the musket men blocking the road ahead of him Cornwallis charged with all his cavalry, followed by the militias and regular foot soldiers springing Tones trap, the hundreds of United Irishmen who had become effective at guerrilla warfare were lying in wait along the sides of the road amongst corpses left by Tones men (dysentery was deadly thing for a besieging army), as soon as the cavalry broke into their thundering charge, the guerrillas leapt out of their hiding places and charged the army.

As soon the British officers realised this, they attempted to turn around back into the city, many soldiers died in the resulting crush, and many more were maimed as they were trampled under hoof by the fleeing cavalry, at least 200 soldiers were killed in that one attempt, with almost 1000 injured in some way from the crush. Most of the British army made it back inside the walls of the city. Unfortunately for them and the people of Drogheda, the Irish soldiers also managed to get inside the town. The Battle of Drogheda was one of the bloodiest of the revolution, almost as bad as the Battle of Killcullen, nearly 19,000 of Cornwallis’s force was completely destroyed, Tones army faired little better with only 12,000 men left alive, and almost all of the survivors wounded, Father Murphy, lost his lower left arm in the fighting. With Cornwallis, Lake and various other officers and ministers in custody and heading to Geneva Barracks to be held until their trials, Belfast and Dublin in revolutionary hands, and Hoche having won the siege of Sligo, the revolution was over with a rebel victory. Now attentions were turned to the sea, whilst the Irish Navy was technically non-existent in 1798, the attacks on Wexford, Belfast and Galway had led to the capture of 13 ships of various design, not only that but several of the higher ranking members of the United Irishmen owned several fishing vessels and traders, which they outfitted with French and American built cannons.

Whilst still no actual match for the Royal Navy, the 28 strong fleet was able to put up a determined fight with French assistance, the Battle of Coleraine (actually fought five miles north of the port) was a particular morale booster for the young republic. The Republican Navy also performed admirably in the attack on the Isle of Man, the island had little strategic value, it was more to emphasis that the revolution was not confined to Ireland, the aristocracy was not safe in Britain. The officers and politicians captured, stood trial in the Green Street Courthouse from 23rd November to the 4th December 1799, the results were rather predictable with most of the members of the former Irish Parliament and remaining nobility being exiled or invited to become governors of the new provinces if they were born in Ireland, however their lands and titles were forfeit. The results of the officers trial were also rather predictable, the ones born in Ireland were invited to join the army keeping their ranks, most refused and were either exiled or in a number of cases executed.

Like General Lake, he was sentenced to be hung for crimes against the Irish people, he attempted to poison himself in Newgate prison as he had wanted to be shot like a soldier, he died in agony three days later. The first elections in Ireland's history took place on the 28th March 1801, after almost two years of Tones ‘dictatorship’, however due to continued unrest throughout the island (particularly in the north) and the isolation of the many small towns and villages, the elections were held in the major cities were anyone could vote, this did not do anything to deter the people, many of them traveling hundreds of miles to do so. The elections were to decide the Head of State and it was hoped that he would then choose his government. As was predicted Tone took the lead, being the only fully qualified person to take the role. As it happened, Hoche also ran in the elections at the request of the Committee for Public Safety (Frances governing body at the time), he did rather well in the west counties where he had led his men, securing half the votes of Galway and Sligo, but in the end Tone one due to the fact that he had orchestrated the revolution in the first place.

His first act as head of state was to pick his ministers, he declared himself “Consul of the Republic of Eire” and chose Fitzgerald as his “First Minister”, his head of government, Henry Joy was picked as “First General”, commander of the armed forces, Henry Munroe (who was a successful merchant before the revolution) became “Minister of Finance” and Arthur Todd (a leading member of the United Irishmen and former lawyer) became “Minister of Justice”. He and his ministers then spent several months trying to smooth out any creases in their government system, they spent seven months drafting the “Bill of Rights” which contained such rights as freedom of religion, freedom of culture and freedom from slavery, the few thousand African slaves left behind by the fleeing British landlords were freed and given money and accommodation, it was decided that the country would become a secular state (to appease the Orangemen and radical protestants who still believed that it was a Catholic revolution and were attacking people throughout the country). A Senate house was created out of the former Irish parliament, with two representatives from each province. The first military uniforms were designed, several of them tailored for the Consul and his generals, it looked like the French design, a green jacket with yellow cuffs and collars, white breeches and black boots, Henry Joy also took to wearing a bicorn hat (the same type as Napoleon), they also designed a new flag, (the green, white and orange tri-colour of modern Ireland was designed by the United Irishmen), however it was altered with the Irish harp being placed in the middle. One of the most shocking revelations discovered by the ministers however was that Ireland could not support itself financially.

For centuries the island had managed under British rule because the income was pooled with the income from Britain and its colonies, however now the island was left without a financial cushion due to the lack of industry, diplomats were sent to America and France to request P20,000,(P stands for punt, the Irish word for pound) from each of them, within two months, both nations had agreed, France more grudgingly than America, (they were still annoyed that Hoche failed to win the elections) and P50,000 was on the way. As soon as the money arrived Munroe began directing it towards the industrial centres of Belfast and Derry. Also he began to build up the brewing industry, as trade records had shown, Irish brew was a popular export to both Britain and the Americas, with thousands being pumped into the whiskey and stout industries the economy slowly began to improve, the linen industry was also a great help to the island, in the north the linen industry in Belfast was already one of the largest in the world, this meant that there was now a cheap source of income for the country. As a result of the economic growth, many immigrants to America and Britain were compelled to return to their homeland, some of the newly returned Irishmen had left America due to the fact that work was hard to come by; but more importantly, several Irishmen had done rather well in America after the revolution, they sold their plantations and businesses and set of back to the “Old Country” with hundreds of dollars, it was in part thanks to these men who looked on Ireland as their forefathers had looked on America that helped the economy redevelop so quickly, they knew all the tricks of the trade and within two years had turned Ireland into industrial nation on par with Portugal or the German city states. Henry Joy introduced reforms to the Army in order to make a more disciplined fighting force, now that many of the rebels had returned to their homes, the armed forces were reduced to 64,000 men, whilst a larger number then when the war had started, many of the original members had died in the fighting, therefore a battle could not simply be won by weight of numbers as before, in 2nd September 1802, they loyal British officers and many mercenary generals recruited from all across Europe began the lengthily process of training a professional army, the training that had been led by Hoche (since left to France with 12,000 of his surviving French troops) was more suited to the rebels lack of time and military skill, now however with the Irish Navy to act as a deterrent tot the Royal Navy (not a very good one mind) the republic had all the time in the world to train an army, and it is at Tones insistence that the Irish army be capable at holding its own against force known to the modern world, for this to be achieved, mercenaries were hired across Europe, in Africa, an Irish trader managed to persuade a group of 58 black men from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to join up as mercenaries, several trips and three months later over 200 individuals were volunteering for a post, all of them were skilled in the use of their tribal weapons and fairly adequate in the use of a musket.

Even in America, the United States government sent 100 captured Shawnee Braves to Ireland at the request of Henry Joy (who also believed that the soldiers should be prepared for anything), only 74 survived the journey, and diseases picked up in Ireland whittled their number down to 48, nonetheless they proved effective in teaching the soldiers how to counter guerrilla warfare, in fact due to the kindness displayed by the Irishmen, the Sioux decided to stay in Ireland where they formed the “Connaught Braves Regiment”. The army was divided into four brigades to ease command structure, one for each province of the island. With regiments as diverse as any in Europe and a skilled and disciplined army, Ireland was ready to face the world, however a nasty shock was right around the corner for the new nation. 

In May 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte, popular general, amazing tactician and the elected First Consul of France, declared himself Emperor of the French Republic. When the news first reached Tone, he was practising his dueling with his bodyguard, not wanting to be he held up, he had the messenger read it to him whilst he fought. When he heard the news he was temporarily stunned and caught in the ribs by his bodyguard, fortunately the swords were specially blunted, but his bodyguard (a six-footer from Kerry going by the name of Edward O’Toole) was strong enough to knock him on to his backside. Tones reaction to the news was similar to the other Ministers and indeed the Irish people, they felt betrayed by their allies. The next day Tone (obviously still rather annoyed by Napoleons decision) ended the alliance completely, however the Republic was now in a tight spot, with no allies and still technically at war with Britain, emissaries were sent to London to try and make some sort of peace between the two nations. After months of negotiations a peace was finally reached, and on the 17th October 1804 it was ratified by the Prince Regent and Consul Wolfe Tone. The treaty, known as the Treaty of Douglas, was rather generous to Eire. 1. The United Kingdom of Great Britain was to recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Eire. 2. The United Kingdom of Great Britain was to relinquish all claims to the island of Ireland and the Isle of Man (occupied since 10th January 1799). 3. The Republic of Eire would play no further part in the Napoleonic War. 4. In exchange for their sworn neutrality, the Republic of Eire would gain. The Isles of Scilly (off the coast of Cornwall) New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Jamaica (including the Cayman islands)Mosquito Coast. The Bay of Islands (and all claims to the two islands of New Zealand)Claims to the Andaman, Nicobar and Laccadive Islands. The ports of Bombay, Vasai, Surat, Bharuch, and Khambhat on the west Indian coast. At the end of the Napoleonic War, any officers, regiments and ships of Irish origin, residing in the British army would be given the choice of leaving and joining the Irish one Britain was also in a tricky situation, word had reached parliament that the Emperor Napoleon was constructing a massive invasion fleet. Normally this would not have bothered the British, their skilled sailors and superior warships usually managed to get the country out of such situations, but with a number of ships still in the Irish sea defending the trade routes, an agreement had to made at some point. The official portrait of the signing was titled “The Prince and the Pauper” (you can guess whose side the artist was on), the picture has been argued as being bigoted towards the British for centuries, the Prince Regent is virtually shining in his finery and looks at most 32, Tone by contrast looks sour and old, his uniform disheveled and obviously made to look dreary, an Irish version was painted in 1836 despite the Prince having become King George IV and since died, and Tone pushing 70, retired 30 years before. It was slightly more realistic, though the Princes age was exaggerated slightly. In the end, the signing of the treaty signified an end to the Irish war of Independence, the peace was received differently on both islands. In Ireland celebrations lasted for days on end (in the north however the militias disrupted several “Devil Tone” effigy burnings). Meanwhile In Britain, protests of varying violence were put down across the country 1st Marques Charles Cornwallis (his predecessor John Pratt was assassinated by a member of Defenders) was preparing to lead the 20,000 remaining British troops along with 6000 peasants under the command of the remaining landowners and several thousand Orangemen south (though not a military force, the Orangeman requested to fight). His intention was to simply retake Dublin, and wait for more reinforcements from Britain, then to strike at the rebel strongholds, despite the skill that the United Irishmen commanders had displayed in battle, Cornwallis suspected that the French were the real commanders of the forces and was sure that the commanding officer was using Dublin as his ‘centre-of-control’.

The news of the landing drew United Irishmen from across Munster, by time the French advanced, almost all the militias had been captured or killed by the rebels, thus the landing was kept completely secret.

Several of the newly arrived rebels agreed to wear the uniform of the now dead militias so as not to arise any suspicion in the eyes of the regular soldier patrols and tax collectors, amazingly the soldiers did not seem to notice the new faces as they were more interested in combing the beach for any ships or bodies, they found no ships, all sunk except the

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki