17th century questions

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17th century questions

Postby Stephen Curtin on Sat Oct 11, 2008 10:14 pm

Hi everyone Im new here so I hope this is in the right place. Anyway as you can tell I have a few question about 17th century Ireland. I have been doing some research lately about the Irish confederate wars and the williamite war but there does not seem to be alot of info online so hopefully you guys can help.

First I would like to know if the leine was still being used by the 1640's or was everyone pritty much wearing english fashioned clothing?

What armour if any was used by Irish troops at this time? From what I know, Irish forces during the confederate wars were supplied with arms from the French, the Spanish and from Rome but I cant find any reference to armour. What I did find on wikipedia was "Rinuccini sent ahead arms and ammunition, 1000 braces of pistols, 4000 cartridge belts, 2000 swords, 500 muskets and 20,000 pounds of gunpowder. He arrived twelve days later with a further two thousand muskets and cartridge-belts, four thousand swords, four hundred brace of pistols, two thousand pike-heads, and twenty thousand pounds of gunpowder, fully-equipped soldiers and sailors and 150,658 livres tournois to finance the Irish Catholic war effort." but I have yet to come across references to what Spain supplied to Eoghan Rua Ó Néill and his men before they left for Ireland.

As for the above mentioned swords, does anyony know what type they were or where they were bought as it might help to id them? Were swords with ring pommels still popular in Ireland at this time?

Another thing that has been bothering me is that most sources say that the Irish infantry of this time was composed of roughly half pikemen and musketeers yet I have also heard stories of the famous highland charge being pioneered by Alasdair MacColla in Ulster at this time. The thing is, to be effective the highland charge needs men to fire there guns at close range, drop them and then run in with broadswords and targes before the enemy has time to reload but how do you carry a targe when your main weapon is a pike or a musket? So do you think that as well as pikemen and musketeers there were some sword and targe men? or maybe the Irish infantry did not use targes amd simply dropped their pikes and muskets and charged with swords and scians.

On a simular note does anyone know how popular targes and baskethilt broadswords were in Ireland?

Finnally we come to the cavalry. What equipment was used by the cavalry and dragoons of the confederate and williamite wars? I'm assuming that these men could probably afford to supply there own arms and armour so references may be hard to come by.

The only thing I could find out about the confederate cavalry was that they were mostly armed as lancers in the Spanish fashion. Spanish lancers of this time were armed with a lance (obviously), a sword and a suit of half armour (meaning a helmet, gorgot, cuirass, tassets, pauldrons, vambrais and gauntlets) but I find it a little hard to belive that all but the richest Irish lords could afford such equipment.

There is a painting made in 1680 of Neil O'Neill who fought and died leading a unit of dragoons at the battle of the boyne 1690. The painting show him in fashioable clothing for the time, armed with a short spear/javalin, a pritty big targe covered with plain red leather and a baskethilt broadsword and scian at his belt. Do you think that spears/javalins were still being used in battle or is this just ceremonial?

I konw this is a lot of questions but if ye could answer at least some of them I would be very greatfull.

Thank in advance.
Stephen.
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Re: 17th century questions

Postby rinuccini on Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:22 am

Stephen Curtin wrote:First I would like to know if the leine was still being used by the 1640's or was everyone pritty much wearing english fashioned clothing?

OK, from off the the top of my head:
Leine seems to have long gone by this period, even some doubt it was being worn during the 9 years war (first decade of the 17th century). Wearing English style clothes if you were weathy, or English style clothes copied using Irish style tayloring (ie Dungiven jacket). For the lower classes Irish styles of clothing were still in evidence. Long coats still seem to have been popular as were trews instead of breeches. Plus the Irish still often went went bareheaded. Geography paid a part, more English style dress in the pale, more Irish style up in Ulster (especially the wilds of Tyrone where the bulk of O'Neils troops would have been recruited), where a brat, shirt and trews would probably be the limit of your clothing. (see Ilustrations on the map of Ireland by Strong (I think his name is Strong)).

Everyone still seems to have worn Brats regardless of class.

The recent seried 'Cromwell in Ireland' has some good pointers to the dress of the time.

Dunleavy's 'Dress in Ireland' is an excellent source.

Stephen Curtin wrote:What armour if any was used by Irish troops at this time? From what I know, Irish forces during the confederate wars were supplied with arms from the French, the Spanish and from Rome but I cant find any reference to armour. What I did find on wikipedia was "Rinuccini sent ahead arms and ammunition, 1000 braces of pistols, 4000 cartridge belts, 2000 swords, 500 muskets and 20,000 pounds of gunpowder. He arrived twelve days later with a further two thousand muskets and cartridge-belts, four thousand swords, four hundred brace of pistols, two thousand pike-heads, and twenty thousand pounds of gunpowder, fully-equipped soldiers and sailors and 150,658 livres tournois to finance the Irish Catholic war effort." but I have yet to come across references to what Spain supplied to Eoghan Rua Ó Néill and his men before they left for Ireland.


Almost no eveidence here but I would guess, very little armour was worn. It's believed that armour had pretty much disapeared for pikemen after the first year or so of the English Civil War. Would say that the most armour would be worn by the better equiped cavalry and this would be a breastplate and pot helmet.

Spain didn't supply O'Neill with anything. They didn't want him to leave. The Spanish army in Flanders was being attacked by the French in the South, Dutch to the North and the German Protestants and Swedes to the East. The last thing they needed was 1. to lose experienced commanders and soldiers, 2. Go to war with England to the West. O'Neill and about 150 men sneaked off, they also brought suppliers (muskets, arquebuses and powder) which is listed somewhere.

Stephen Curtin wrote:As for the above mentioned swords, does anyony know what type they were or where they were bought as it might help to id them? Were swords with ring pommels still popular in Ireland at this time?

Standard European swords for foot and horse. Have a look at sites such as this http://www.fairfax.org.uk/ for some good images of English/European swords (tucks, hangers and falchion types). Skein was also very common and would have been used with or instead of a sword . Swifty, can you add anything here?

Stephen Curtin wrote:Another thing that has been bothering me is that most sources say that the Irish infantry of this time was composed of roughly half pikemen and musketeers yet I have also heard stories of the famous highland charge being pioneered by Alasdair MacColla in Ulster at this time. The thing is, to be effective the highland charge needs men to fire there guns at close range, drop them and then run in with broadswords and targes before the enemy has time to reload but how do you carry a targe when your main weapon is a pike or a musket? So do you think that as well as pikemen and musketeers there were some sword and targe men? or maybe the Irish infantry did not use targes amd simply dropped their pikes and muskets and charged with swords and scians.

OK you have two different styles of fighting here. Standard European tactics were units of Battalia size (around 500 strong) would manoever in formation on the battlefield (two wings of shot with pikes in the middle). Infantry needed to keep these tight formations or cavalry would wipe them out. In the hilly terrain of the Scottish highlands a charge with swords would be more successful as cavalry didn't operate well there. MacColla's troops were highlanders, either from the west of Scotland (MacDonalds) or from the Glens of Antrim (MacDonnells). It appears to be these troops only who used the highland charge.
Highland charge tactics were: Only the front rank would have muskets, targes can be slung over your back to keep your arms free. Rear ranks were made up of poorer equiped men with spears, axes and agricultural implements. Often highland units would also have bowman who would remain at the rear of the unit and lob arrows onto the target just before the charge went in. The highlanders would approach to about 100 yards, fire their muskets (in an attempt to force the enemy to do the same, at a range were few casualties would result). Drop the musket, then charge with sword and targe. If the enemy broke they would be cut down, if they stood, the charge usually petered out and the highlanders fell back, possibly to charge again.

Most Irish infantry (including those who went to Scotland with MacColla) were trained to fight in standard formation.

Stephen Curtin wrote:On a simular note does anyone know how popular targes and baskethilt broadswords were in Ireland?

See above: Only with Scottish MacDonalds and Irish MacDonnells. MacDonnells being settlers from the west of Scotland and their decendants. North Antrim was easier to get to from Scotland than it was from the rest of Ireland from which it is cut off by the hills and glens of the Antrim plateau.

Stephen Curtin wrote:Finnally we come to the cavalry. What equipment was used by the cavalry and dragoons of the confederate and williamite wars? I'm assuming that these men could probably afford to supply there own arms and armour so references may be hard to come by.

Evidence points to them wearing standard Cavalry equipment for both periods. At the battle of Ross, the English and Irish cavalry got mixed in together and could only be told apart by the fact that the Irish were wearing belts of twisted straw as a field sign. Standard equipment being a buff leather coat and bucket top boots, pot helmet and breatplate for those better off. Equipment was sword, pistols and carbine/arquebus. Williamite wars, long coat and felt hat see: http://www.nidragoons.org/
Irish Cavalry was never very numerous (esp in the 1640s), but was always of good qualty. Troopers would have supplied their own equipment, and, depending on weath, that of their followers. Also dragoons at this period weren't cavalry but infantry who travelled by horse and dismounted to fight as infantry. They would have carried muskets (more Williamite period as there don't seem to have been a lot of dragoons in Ireland in the 1640s).

Stephen Curtin wrote:The only thing I could find out about the confederate cavalry was that they were mostly armed as lancers in the Spanish fashion. Spanish lancers of this time were armed with a lance (obviously), a sword and a suit of half armour (meaning a helmet, gorgot, cuirass, tassets, pauldrons, vambrais and gauntlets) but I find it a little hard to belive that all but the richest Irish lords could afford such equipment.

Very few could have afforded this kind of panoply. Light lances were carried by some Scottish cavalry, they were adopted by the 'British' settlers in Ulster (a high proportion of whom were Scots or of Scottish descent). It seems that the Ulster Irish copied the practice from their Scots and British enemies, rather than from the Spanish. Better armed cavalry still preferred pistols to lances (Owen Roe and his followers after the battle of Clones, exchanged pistol shots with the Laggan cavalry, rather than charging in with lances).

Stephen Curtin wrote:There is a painting made in 1680 of Neil O'Neill who fought and died leading a unit of dragoons at the battle of the boyne 1690. The painting show him in fashioable clothing for the time, armed with a short spear/javalin, a pritty big targe covered with plain red leather and a baskethilt broadsword and scian at his belt. Do you think that spears/javalins were still being used in battle or is this just ceremonial?

Just posing with the type of kit he thought his ancester Hugh O'Neill would have worn.

I hope you find some of this usfull, please get back to me if you have any questions.

8-) Hugh 8-)
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Re: 17th century questions

Postby Stephen Curtin on Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:28 pm

Hey sorry it took me so long to get back. Thanks a million rinuccini you comfirmed all that I had suspected but had no evidence. If anyone else wants to weigh in with there opinions id be happy to hear them thanks.
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Re: 17th century questions

Postby euryalus on Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:03 pm

I think a point which might be made here is that, during the wars of the 17th century, Scottish tactics and equipment differed from those of the English armies in several respects - Scottish pikes, for example, were said to have been shorter than the standard 16 ft English pikes. It is reasonable to assume that Irish officers and soldiers who had fought on the Royalist side in England during the civil war would have followed English military traditions. There are, in fact, numerous references to Irishmen serving in the King's Army - in fact, this was a source of particular annoyance among the Parliamentarians who seem to have regarded them as personal enemies.

A book entitled "The History of the Warr of Ireland from 1641 to 1653" by "a British Officer of the Regiment of Sir John Clotsworthy" suggests that the pikes used by Owen Roe's men at the Battle of Benburb in 1646 were longer, and better-designed than those of the Scots, while a few years earlier, in the late Tudor period, there were reports of Tyrone's men being uniformly-clad in red coats and morion helmets "like English Soldiers".

By the mid-17th century what was known as "The Irish Army" to distinguish it from the English and Scottish armies (although it might more properly have been called "The Army in Ireland") was dressed and equipped like the rest of the Parliamentary forces, in red coats with different coloured facings for each regiment - although there are suggestions that the dragoons may have worn brown tunics rather than red ones.
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Re: 17th century questions

Postby rinuccini on Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:32 am

euryalus wrote:I think a point which might be made here is that, during the wars of the 17th century, Scottish tactics and equipment differed from those of the English armies in several respects - Scottish pikes, for example, were said to have been shorter than the standard 16 ft English pikes. It is reasonable to assume that Irish officers and soldiers who had fought on the Royalist side in England during the civil war would have followed English military traditions. There are, in fact, numerous references to Irishmen serving in the King's Army - in fact, this was a source of particular annoyance among the Parliamentarians who seem to have regarded them as personal enemies.


Scottish highland tactics differered. However English and Scottish lowland forces followed standard European tactics and equipment (both followed the Swedish and Dutch examples). At the beginning of the Civil War both Royalist and Parliamentarian forces made extensive use of Scottish Officers who had more experience than English officers.

Pikes in all armies seemed to have ranged from 9 to 18 feet and a number of sources talk of pike blocks with uneven sized pikes. There was also a tendency to chop bits off the end of the pike to make it easier to carry. As the main job of pikemen was to ward off enemy cavalry, a 9ft pike was just as effective as a 16ft one.

Regarding Irish troops, it's difficult to know who was and who wasn't Irish as the English regiments that went to Ireland in 1641 and then returned to fight for the King were referred to as 'Irish' regiments. There were certainly some serving in England, a reference to two regiments at the battle of Cheriton Broughton's and Inchiquin's may indicate two Irish regiments (IE full of Irishmen).


euryalus wrote:A book entitled "The History of the Warr of Ireland from 1641 to 1653" by "a British Officer of the Regiment of Sir John Clotsworthy" suggests that the pikes used by Owen Roe's men at the Battle of Benburb in 1646 were longer, and better-designed than those of the Scots, while a few years earlier, in the late Tudor period, there were reports of Tyrone's men being uniformly-clad in red coats and morion helmets "like English Soldiers".


See above, what seems to have happened in this case was that Rinuccini supplied O'Neil's forces with pikeheads shortly before Benburb so the Irish pikes were of full length (18ft if following the Spanish tradition). The Scot's army, having trailed their pikes around Ireland for the best part of 5 years seem to have cut theirs down.

The first soldiers in Ireland to wear Red coats were O'Neils men. Queen Elizabeth supplied coats and equipment and officers to train them, O'Neil then took his newly trained army off to fight Queen Elizabeth's troops!

Hugh
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Re: 17th century questions

Postby euryalus on Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:48 pm

I think one of the chief differences between what I have called "English" and "Scottish" tactics was the use of lancers among the cavalry - the Parliamentarian armies never used them, whereas they seem to have been common in the "Scottish" armies. The Cromwellian cavalry regiments were armed with swords and pistols, and I have read somewhere that around 80 per cent of the Irish army of circa 1646 was similarly-eqipped, leaving the remaing 20 per cent as "Scottish" style lancers. I can probably find a contemporary source if anybody should need one.
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