CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

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CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Sat May 03, 2008 2:31 pm

Battle of Benburb, 1646

The red-haired O'Neill was in truth a greater, because a better trained, soldier than his clansmen Hugh and Shane. His Benburb was the revenge for Kinsale. But while Kinsale decided a war, Benburb was only a battle. Yet it was a classic battle, a textbook military operation, brilliantly conceived and executed. Neither the proud Shane nor the intuitively clever Hugh could have fought Benburb.

The time was May, 1646. Ulster was seething with evicted Irish rebels, and Protestant planters evicted in turn by the rebels. The Confederation in Kilkenny, under the direction of the Papal Nuncio, had subsidised Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill, and given him the task of preventing the Scots armies in the North from marching on Kilkenny. The continental-trained and experienced O'Neill had spent the winter training more than five thousand men near Lough Sheelin in Co. Cavan. In May, three armies from the North began to move Southward with the intention of converging at Glaslough in North Monaghan, destroying O'Neill on the way, and then marching on Kilkenny. One of these armies came from the valley of the Foyle, a second came from the Coleraine area, and the third and strongest
came from Antrim and was under the command of the competent General Monroe.

Toward the end of May, O'Neill moved into an offensive that seemed to trap him. He opted for Charlemont, across the river from the present town of Moy, the one fort -in the North held by the Confederation. Monroe had already gone South as far as Poyntzpass, near Newry, but he was far too wise a soldier to leave so large a force about as large as his own in his rear, although he did underestimate O'Neill's strength.

Monroe, it should be added, despised the Irish and could not bring himself to believe that they would fight a pitched battle. He marched quickly from Poyntzpass, with the intention of cutting off O'Neill before the latter reached Charlemont. He arrived at Armagh on June 4th and discovered that he was too late. And now we see the genius of O'Neill : he did not underestimate his opponent, but relied on the proven courage and shrewdness of Monroe to draw the latter into a battle that suited himself.

On the evening of June 4th O'Neill moved up the Northern bank of the river, but without going too far from Charlemont in case things went against him. Next morning Monroe moved Northward from Armagh, but he wisely decided not to attempt a crossing over the sharp slopes of the Benburb section of the Blackwater. He drew back to Armagh and then went Westward to the nearest ford, Caledon. The move was intelligent. It was correct military procedure, and for that reason O'Neill had been able to anticipate it. But O'Neill waited on; while Monroe forced his marches, O'Neill rested his forces.

The delay had another advantage for O'Neill, although Monroe saw it at the time as an advantage for himself. The Coleraine force, under Monroe's son-in-law, was coming from the North via Dungannon. This could mean a trap for O'Neill. But he knew, as well as Monroe did, the proximity of the men of Derry. And while Monroe was making his Caledon detour, O'Neill sent most of his cavalry to Dungannon where they intercepted and defeated the army from Coleraine.

In the afternoon Monroe crossed the river and moved down the left bank, i.e. on the same side as Eoghan Ruadh. The latter watched the manoeuvre, and sent one or two small detachments to harass and delay the Scots-English opponents. About six in the evening Monroe crossed the Oona, which joins the Blackwater just above the present Battleford bridge. Having climbed Thistle Hill, Monroe continued Eastward, and a mile further on arrived at the elevation known as Derrycreevy. And there, across the valley in Drumfluch, and much to his astonishment, he saw the Irish drawn up for battle.

Much has been written on the tactics of the battle which ensued. It should suffice here to say that the Irish columns were widely spaced, thus leaving room for retreat. The Scots-English, on the other hand, were packed in a manner that made orderly retreat impossible. This was the one strictly military mistake that Monroe made. His cannons which were placed on top of the hill, were virtually ineffective. Yet it was their booming which recalled the victorious Irish contingent from Dungannon. Seeing the Irish horses coming over the hill on the Irish right, the enemy must have presumed that the Coleraine reinforcement was at hand. At any rate, Monroe first tried a sally close to the river with the apparent intention of breaking through the Irish flank so as to cut off retreat to Charlemont. This was repulsed.
The sun was still shining in the eyes of the Irish, but toward eight o'clock Eoghan Ruadh, having addressed his troops, pressed his right flank against Monroe's left, forcing the enemy to swing, as on an axis, till his back was toward the river, with the last rays of the setting sun in his eyes. The wind also, it is believed, was blowing the cannon smoke down toward the river. The tactics and strategy were extremely successful. The enemy was tired, out-manoeuvred and trapped. The battle itself was won before it began. To escape the attack on their left, the Scots turned to the right, and of course were drowned in the Blackwater. There was almost a bridge of bodies floating in the water.

Of those who fled back the way they had come, many were lost in the Oona, the marshes, or Tultygiven Lake and the other lakes around Knocknacloy.

No other Irish victory had ever resulted in so complete an annihilation. Very few of the enemy got back to Poyntzpass. Caesar, one feels, would have been proud of such a victory as Benburb.
Na Fianna Éireann Fíor inár gCroíthe Neart inár Láimhe Comhsheasmhacht inár dTeanga.
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby rinuccini on Sun May 04, 2008 9:35 am

Good excuse to put up a few photos that have never seen the light of day.
Photos of English, Irish and Scottish troops of the 1640s taken on the actual battlefield of Benburb and at Carrickfergus, the HQ of the Scottish army in Ulster.
gallery/menu.php?gallery=members&album_id=17
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby finnobreanan on Sun May 04, 2008 2:27 pm

Is that Boyd Rankin at the event? I thought I saw him in some of the images in your gallery.
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby knightofredemption on Sun May 04, 2008 4:10 pm

Well spotted that is indeed the man himself.
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The Battle of the Yellow Ford

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Tue May 06, 2008 6:58 pm

The Battle of the Yellow Ford (Irish: Béal an Átha Buidhe)

was fought in southern Armagh, Ulster, in Ireland, near the river Blackwater in August 1598, during the Nine Years War (Ireland). It was fought between the Gaelic native Irish army under Aodh Mór Ó Néill and Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill and an English expeditionary force under Henry Bagenal. The English were attempting to march from Armagh town to relieve a fort on the Blackwater, but fell into a well prepared ambush and were routed with heavy losses.


The opposing sides

Bagenal, who was an English settler from Newry and O'Neill's brother-in-law, commanded 4000 English troops (many of whom were actually Irishmen), along with Irish auxiliaries and several pieces of artillery. O'Neill had the forces raised from the clans of O'Neill, ODonnell and their dependent clans. He also had a substantial number of mercenaries in his pay, many of them from the Highlands of Scotland. The English troops were armed with the standard weapons of the day, pikes and muskets for the infantry, swords and pistols for the cavalry. The Irish carried their traditional arms of swords, axes and javelins but also pikes and muskets, especially calivers, which were a lighter and more portable version of the standard musket. O'Neill had several English and Spanish military advisors in his pay, who trained his troops in the use of modern weaponry. Many Irish horsemen carried their spears over-arm, either thrusting or throwing them at close quarters in the traditional manner.


The battle

The country the English troops had to march over was hilly and wooded and interspersed with bogs, making it ideal for an ambush. O'Neill had also lined their line of march with obstacles such as breastworks across the road trenches which had been built purposely to slow down troops. The trenches were covered in thorns so horses couldn't pass. As soon as they left Armagh, the English were harassed with musket fire and thrown spears from Irish forces concealed in the woods. As a result the different English companies became separated from one another as they paused to deal with the hit and run attacks. This problem for the English was accentuated when one of their artillery pieces became stuck in the mud and part of the column got left behind trying to shift it.

At this point, Henry Bagenal was killed by a shot through the head, further demoralising his troops and to add to the chaos, the English gun-powder store exploded, apparently ignited accidentally by the fuse of a matchlock musket. Seeing their enemy in confusion, the Irish horsemen rushed the head of the column, followed by swordsmen on foot. The English troops in this part of the field (at the "yellow ford" from which the battle gets its name) were cut to pieces. Some sources say the Irish beheaded the wounded English survivors left on the field after the battle. The remnants of the English force had to turn back the way they had come and try to fight their way back to Armagh. They reached it, but were pursued all the way to the town by the Irish, who then surrounded it.

The English lost between 1500 and 2000 killed at the battle, including 18 "captains" or officers, with more wounded. Several hundred soldiers also deserted to the rebels. Either way, out of over 4000 English soldiers who had set out from Armagh, just over 2000 reached the town after the battle. Those who did reach Armagh were virtual prisoners inside. The cavalry broke out and dashed south escaping the Irish. After three days negotiations, it was agreed that the English troops could leave Armagh as long as they left their arms and ammunition behind them. The English were evacuated by sea from Newry to Dublin. O'Neill's force lost about 200 killed and 600 wounded in the battle. In the next two years, O'Neill managed to spread his rebellion all over Ireland, but was eventually defeated at the battle of Kinsale in 1601 and forced to surrender in 1603.
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby the_power on Tue May 06, 2008 8:32 pm

rinuccini wrote:Good excuse to put up a few photos that have never seen the light of day.
Photos of English, Irish and Scottish troops of the 1640s taken on the actual battlefield of Benburb and at Carrickfergus, the HQ of the Scottish army in Ulster.
http://www.livinghistory.ie/gallery/men ... lbum_id=17


Wow, thanks for that! Great stuff...and I love the fact that you only uploaded good photos :)

John
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby rinuccini on Wed May 07, 2008 7:23 am

Hi John
thanks...I tried to be selective with the photos, too many and people get bored.

Boyd and Lynne are both there as is Cameron, members of Clan Uladh, and the English Civil War Society. We had hoped to put on a re-enactment in a field right beside the battlefield. Unfortunetly in the end we didn't get the necessary funding.

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Re: The Battle of the Yellow Ford

Postby rinuccini on Wed May 07, 2008 7:29 am

shergar wrote:The Battle of the Yellow Ford (Irish: Béal an Átha Buidhe)

At this point, Henry Bagenal was killed by a shot through the head, further demoralising his troops and to add to the chaos, the English gun-powder store exploded, apparently ignited accidentally by the fuse of a matchlock musket.


Anyone whose ever fired a matchlock, carrying a lighted match around in your left hand, you realise how easy is would be in the heat of battle to stick your hand into barrel of gunpowder to quickly load your gun, forgetting that you're holding the match.....d'oh :roll:
Last edited by rinuccini on Wed May 07, 2008 7:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CÁTH BENBURB 1646 EOGHAN RUADH UÍ NEILL

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Wed May 07, 2008 5:04 pm

excellent observation hugh as i never really though about that until i saw your post . i learn something new every day thank you
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