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Thread: Fontenoy - 11 May 1745

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Default Fontenoy - 11 May 1745

    11 May 1745: The battle of Fontenoy was fought on this day


    On this day 265 years ago the Irish Brigade in the service of Farnce took part in its most famous Battle and played a material part in defeating the English at the Battle of Fontenoy.

    It occurred in what was then the Austrian Netherlands in present day Belgium. The French under Marshal De Saxe defeated the British - Dutch Army under the Duke of Cumberland.

    The Allied Army was on the advance to relieve the siege of Tournai when they encountered the French under Marshal De Saxe drawn up in prepared positions. In all the French army numbered 93 battalions, 146 squadrons and 80 cannon, some 70,000 troops, of which 27 battalions and 17 squadrons were left to cover Tournai. In support of this position was a reserve of picked infantry and cavalry regiments, including the Irish Brigade, the “Wild Geese’’.

    Cumberland reconnoitred the French position on 10th May and decided to pin down the French right wing by attacking with the Austrian and Dutch contingents between Antoing and Fontenoy. While these attacks were being made the British and Hanoverians would advance between Fontenoy and the Bois de Bary across what appeared to be open ground. The Pragmatic Army was comprised of 56 battalions of infantry and 87 squadrons of cavalry supported by 80 cannon, in all around 53,000 men.

    The French Army however put up a formidable defence and the Allies found the advance heavy going, taking many casualties as they attempted to break their opponents line. But Cumberland pressed on and eventually forced his way into the centre of the French position. The troops opposing him began to buckle. It was the critical moment of the battle. It was at this point that Marshal De Saxe unleashed his reserve who enveloped the flanks of the British Column. The Irish Brigade was in the think of it, the men fired up by thought of revenge against their Country’s Oppressor. The Irish Regiments advanced upon the British lines to the cry: 'Cuimhnigidh ar Liumneac, agus ar fheile na Sacsanach’ – ‘Remember Limerick and British faith.’

    It consisted that day of the regiments of Clare, Lally, Dillon, Berwick, Roth, and Buckley, with Fitzjames' horse. O'Brien, Lord Clare, was in command. Aided by the French regiments of Normandy and Vaisseany, they were ordered to charge upon the flank of the English with fixed bayonets without firing…

    The fortune of the field was no longer doubtful. The English were weary with a long day's fighting, cut up by cannon, charge, and musketry, and dispirited by the appearance of the Brigade. Still they gave their fire well and fatally; but they were literally stunned by the shout, and shattered by the Irish charge. They broke before the Irish bayonets, and tumbled down the far side of the hill disorganized, hopeless, and falling by hundreds. The victory was bloody and complete. Louis is said to have ridden down to the Irish bivouac, and personally thanked them…

    George the Second, on hearing it, uttered that memorable imprecation on the penal code, 'Cursed be the laws which deprive me of such subjects.' The one English volley and the short struggle on the crest of the hill cost the Irish dear. One-fourth of the officers, including Colonel Dillon, were killed, and one-third of the men. The capture of Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, and Oudenard, followed the victory of Fontenoy."
    STORY OF IRELAND
    By A. M. Sullivan

    It was their most famous Victory though it came at a high cost, with hundreds of men dead and wounded. The Pragmatic Army lost almost 10,000 men, while the French suffered between 6,000-7,000 casualties

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    Politics.ie Member MsAnneThrope's Avatar
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    I love these posts Catalpa. Thank you for taking the time to post them. BTW did you get a PM and links from me several weeks ago about the Irish slaves in Philadelphia in the late 1700's or did I send it to Cato or some other Cat by accident?
    We all love animals. Why do we call some 'pets' and others 'dinner'?

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsAnneThrope View Post
    I love these posts Catalpa. Thank you for taking the time to post them. BTW did you get a PM and links from me several weeks ago about the Irish slaves in Philadelphia in the late 1700's or did I send it to Cato or some other Cat by accident?
    Yes I did & thank you for the information!

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    Politics.ie Member former wesleyan's Avatar
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    Forty years later they failed to see which way the wind was blowing and supported the Royalist cause. Pity they hadn't been available to Napoleon.

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    Sorry, Catalpa:

    This thread (and Fontenoy) deserved a lot more attention than it has had so far.

    Fontenoy's modern significance is that it gets taught in the Irish "Higher" curriculum (or did when that was my immediate problem, fifty years gone) one heck of a lot more than it did in the English GCE syllabus. In itself, that tells us something of what is "history".

    I suppose, as an outrageous analogy, that the surrender at Ostende of the Foot Guards was a dismal anticipation of Dunkirk, 1940. Thank the Lord, 195 years later, the Irish contingent were embedded in the British Army, on the proper side and against Fascism. Even so, if I'd been stuck at Ostende after the boozers had shut, and the last ferry left, I'd willingly have surrendered to any one.

    Accept this post as my marker. Give me time to work up a point of argument.

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    There's a small display in the museum in Les Invalides in Paris dedicated to Fontenoy.

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    I seem to remember a section in Collins Barracks on The battle of Fontenoy. It is probably still there.

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    Here's a very interesting site. There are links to pages setting out the history of the regiments, in outline, and their colours.

    Bataille de Fontenoy - 1745

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Redfellow View Post
    Sorry, Catalpa:

    This thread (and Fontenoy) deserved a lot more attention than it has had so far.

    Fontenoy's modern significance is that it gets taught in the Irish "Higher" curriculum (or did when that was my immediate problem, fifty years gone) one heck of a lot more than it did in the English GCE syllabus. In itself, that tells us something of what is "history".

    I suppose, as an outrageous analogy, that the surrender at Ostende of the Foot Guards was a dismal anticipation of Dunkirk, 1940. Thank the Lord, 195 years later, the Irish contingent were embedded in the British Army, on the proper side and against Fascism. Even so, if I'd been stuck at Ostende after the boozers had shut, and the last ferry left, I'd willingly have surrendered to any one.

    Accept this post as my marker. Give me time to work up a point of argument.
    Graciously Accepted!

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garibaldy View Post
    There's a small display in the museum in Les Invalides in Paris dedicated to Fontenoy.
    When were you there last?

    I was there in May last year and I know everything had not been finished at that stage but I saw nothing on it - contrary to back 2000 when they did have something.

    IIRC the National Museum in the old Collins Barracks has a display allright.

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