Monday, July 19, 2010

A Lady of No Reputation Who Was Simply Amazing, Part II

Map Showing the Sites of Major Battles
In Hugh O'Neill's Rebellion

Clontibret, 1595

Yellow Ford, 1598

Kinsale, 1601-1602

As all of the Irish thought, "Why are they here?," in the early 1590s the English continued to extend their control over the whole of Ireland from Ulster in the northeast.

As they did so, Hugh O'Neill of the Tyrone Clan of Ulster, tolerated by the English as loyal to the crown, began organizing a powerful Irish army.

In 1591, the English murdered an Irish lord for opposing the appointment by the English of a sheriff over the lord's region.

Filled with fear and rage, the Irish resisted appointments of even more sheriffs. As battles broke out, O'Neill gave up any effort to achieve sovereignty and freedom by guile, and joined the rebellion. In 1595, the Irish inflicted an embarrassing defeat on an English army at Clontibret, Ireland, and the English suddenly found themselves in the largest war of the Elizabethan period.

In 1598 the Irish repeated their success, at Yellow Ford in Ulster. A large English army, comprising a substantial portion of the English army in Ireland, was marching to relieve a fort in Ulster, when the Irish attacked the English army after it had become bogged down in the rear by a cannon slowed by mud, and bogged down in the front by a large trench. About half of the English army was annihilated.

In 1599 the English responded to Yellow Ford with a huge army for the time -- 17,000 men. A large contingent was sent to relieve an embattled Gaelic chieftain loyal to the crown. At Curlew Pass, the English attempted to advance up a "road" comprised of huge stones and bog between them, littered with trees felled by the Irish. The Irish savagely harassed the advancing English from nearby woods. The English soldiers, hungry and exhausted, began to panic, and retreated. Colliding with their comrades, the English army was thrown into chaos. The main body of the well-trained Irish charged, and soundly defeated the English. The Earl of Essex was executed by the English for his military failure, his subsequent parley with the Irish, and his unauthorized return to London and attempted coup d'etat there.

The Earl's successors thereafter employed a mix of conciliation, guile and force to retake English forts in Ireland, amidst an occasional Irish victory. At Kinsale in 1601-1602, after surrounding a Spanish army landed at Kinsale in the south of Ireland and bombarding them around the clock, the English force became desperate when surrounded by a large force of Irish irregulars and Scots under Hugh O'Neill. After a long seige, when the English were on the point of surrendering, the Irish foolishly attacked, and were defeated. The Irish retreated, and ther Spanish allowed to return home. In 1603, O'Neill and his allies fled to Spain in search of renewed Spanish support. The Spanish declined. The British, discovered the absence of O'Neill and his allies, seized all of their lands and people, securing the north for the English, who then colonized the land with a large contingent of Presbyterians from Scotland.

Over the next 40 years, the English completely failed to do anything but hate and oppress the Irish clans.

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