The mention of the Scottish insurrection of 1745 brings naturally with it another reference to the history of the Irish soldiers in the military service of France. This year was in truth the most eventful in the annals of that celebrated legion, for while it was the year of Fontenoy and victory on the one hand, it was on the other the year of Culloden and defeat.
The decisive battle of Fontenoy, in which the Franco-Irish troops bore so decisive a part, was fought on the 11th of May, 1745. The French army, commanded by Saxe, and accompanied by King Louis, leaving 18,000 men to besiege Namur, and 6,000 to guard the Scheldt, took a position between that river and the allies, having their centre at the village of Fontenoy. The British and Dutch, under the King's favourite son, the Duke of Cumberland, were 55,000 strong; the French 45,000. After a hard day's fighting, victory seemed to declare so clearly against France, that King Louis, who was present, prepared for flight. At this moment Marshal Saxe ordered a final charge by the seven Irish regiments under Counts Dillon and Thomond. The tide was turned, beyond expectation, to the cry of "Remember Limerick!" France was delivered, England checked, and Holland reduced from a first to a second-rate power upon that memorable day. But the victory was dearly bought. One-fourth of all the Irish officers, including Count Dillon, were killed, and one-third of all the men. The whole number slain on the side of France was set down at 7,000 by English accounts, while they admitted for themselves alone, 4,000 British and 3,300 Hanoverians and Dutch. "Foremost of all," says the just-minded Lord Mahon, "were the gallant brigade of Irish exiles." It was this defeat of his favourite son which wrung from King George II. the oft-quoted malediction on the laws which deprived him of such subjects.
The expedition of Prince Charles Edward was undertaken and conducted by Irish aid, quite as much as by French or Scottish. The chief parties to it, besides the old Marquis of Tullibardine and the young Duke of Perth, were the Waterses, father and son, Irish bankers at Paris, who advanced one hundred and eighty thousand livres between them; Walsh, an Irish merchant at Nantz, who put a privateer of eighteen guns into the venture; Sir Thomas Geraldine, the Pretender's agent at Paris; Sir Thomas Sheridan, the prince's preceptor, who, with Colonels O'Sullivan and Lynch, Captain O'Neil, and other officers of the brigade, formed the staff, on which Sir John McDonald, a Scottish officer in the Spanish service, was also placed. Fathers Kelly and O'Brien volunteered in the expedition. On the 22nd of June, 1745, with seven friends, the prince embarked in Walsh's vessel, the Doutelle, at St. Nazaire, on the Loire, and on the 19th of July, landed on the northern coast of Scotland, near Moidart. The Scottish chiefs, little consulted or considered beforehand, came slowly and dubiously to the landing-place. Under their patriarchal control there were still in the kingdom about a hundred thousand men, and about one-twelfth of the Scottish population. Clanronald, Cameron of Lochiel, the Laird of McLeod, and a few others, having arrived, the royal standard was unfurled on the 19th of August at Glenfinin, where that evening twelve hundred men--the entire army so far--were formed into camp, under the orders of O'Sullivan. From that day until the day of Culloden, O'Sullivan seems to have manoeuvred the prince's forces. At Perth, at Edinburgh, at Preston, at Manchester, at Culloden, he took command in the field, or in garrison; and even after the sad result, he adhered to his sovereign's son with an honourable fidelity which defied despair.
Charles, on his part, placed full confidence in his Irish officers. In his proclamation after the battle of Preston, he declared it was not his intention to enforce on the people of England, Scotland, or Ireland, "a religion they disliked." In a subsequent paper, he asks, "Have you found reason to love and cherish your governors as the fathers of the people of Great Britain and Ireland? Has a family upon whom a faction unlawfully bestowed the diadem of a rightful prince, retained a due sense of so great a trust and favour?" These and his other proclamations betrayed an Irish pen; probably Sir Thomas Sheridan's. One of Charles's English adherents, Lord Elcho, who kept a journal of the campaign, notes, complainingly, the Irish influence under which he acted. "The prince and his old governor, Sir Thomas Sheridan," are especially objected to, and the "Irish favourites" are censured in a body. While at Edinburgh, a French ship, containing some arms, supplies, and "Irish officers," arrived; at the same time efforts were made to recruit for the prince in Ireland; but the agents being taken in some cases, the channel narrowly watched, and the people not very eager to join the service, few recruits were obtained.
The Irish in France, as if to cover the inaction of their countrymen at home, strained every nerve. The Waterses and O'Brien of Paris were liberal bankers to the expedition. Into their hands James "exhausted his treasury" to support his gallant son. At Fontainebleau, on the 23rd of October, Colonel O'Brien, on the part of the prince, and the Marquis D'Argeusson for Louis XV., formed a treaty of "friendship and alliance," one of the clauses of which was, that certain Irish regiments, and other French troops, should be sent to sustain the expedition. Under Lord John Drummond a thousand men were shipped from Dunkirk, and arrived at Montrose in the Highlands about the time Charles had penetrated as far south as Manchester. The officers, with the prince, here refused to advance on London with so small a force; a retreat was decided on; the sturdy defence of Carlisle, and victory of Falkirk, checked the pursuit; but the overwhelming force of the Duke of Cumberland compelled them to evacuate Edinburgh, Perth, and Glasgow--operations which consumed February, March, and the first half of April, 1746.
The next plan of operations seems to have been to concentrate in the western Highlands, with Inverness for head-quarters. The town Charles easily got, but Fort-George, a powerful fortress, built upon the site of the castle where Macbeth was said to have murdered Duncan, commanded the Loch. Stapleton and his Irish, captured it, however, as well as the neighbouring Fort-Augustus. Joined by some Highlanders, they next attempted Fort-William, the last fortress of King George in the north, but on the 3rd of April were recalled to the main body.
To cover Inverness, his head-quarters, Charles resolved to give battle. The ground chosen, flanked by the river Nairn, was spotted with marsh and very irregular; it was called Culloden, and was selected by O'Sullivan. Brigadier Stapleton and Colonel Kerr reported against it as a field of battle; but Charles adopted O'Sullivan's opinion of its fitness for Highland warfare. When the preparations for battle began, "many voices exclaimed, 'We'll give Cumberland another Fontenoy!'" The Jacobites were placed in position by O'Sullivan, "at once their adjutant and quarter-master-general," and, as the burghers of Preston thought, "a very likely fellow." He formed two lines, the great clans being in the first, the Ogilvies, Gordons, and Murrays; the French and Irish in the second. Four pieces of cannon flanked each wing, and four occupied the centre. Lord George Murray commanded the right wing, Lord John Drummond the left, and Brigadier Stapleton the reserve. They mustered in all less than five thousand men. The British formed in three lines, ten thousand strong, with two guns between every second regiment of the first and second line. The action commenced about noon of April 16th, and before evening half the troops of Prince Charles lay dead on the field, and the rest were hopelessly broken. The retreat was pell-mell, except where "a troop of the Irish pickets, by a spirited fire, checked the pursuit, which a body of dragoons commenced after the Macdonalds, and Lord Lewis Gordon's regiments did similar service." Stapleton conducted the French and Irish remnant to Inverness, and obtained for them by capitulation "fair quarter and honourable treatment."
The unhappy prince remained on the field almost to the last. "It required," says Mr. Chambers, "all the eloquence, and, indeed, all the active exertion, of O'Sullivan to make Charles quit the field. A cornet in his service, when questioned on this subject at the point of death, declared he saw O'Sullivan, after using entreaties in vain, turn the head of the prince's horse and drag him away."
From that night forth, O'Sullivan, O'Neil, and a poor sedan carrier of Edinburgh, called Burke, accompanied him in all his wanderings and adventures among the Scottish islands. At Long Island they were obliged to part company, the prince proceeding alone with Miss Flora McDonald. He had not long left, when a French cutter hove in sight and took off O'Sullivan, intending to touch at another point, and take in the prince and O'Neil. The same night she was blown off the coast, and the prince, after many other adventures, was finally taken off at Badenoch, on the 15th of September, 1746, by the L'Heureux, a French armed vessel, in which Captain Sheridan (son of Sir Thomas), Mr. O'Beirne, a lieutenant in the French army, "and two other gentlemen," had adventured in search of him. Poor O'Neil, in seeking to rejoin his master, was taken prisoner, carried to London, and is lost from the record. O'Sullivan reached France safely, where, with Stapleton, Lynch, and the Irish and Scotch officers, he was welcomed and honoured of all brave men.
Such was the last struggle of the Stuarts. For years after, the popular imagination in both countries clung fondly to Prince Charles. But the cause was dead. As if to bury it for ever, Charles, in despair, grew dissipated and desponding. In 1755, "the British Jacobites" sent Colonel McNamara, as their agent, to induce him to put away his mistress, Miss Walsingham, a demand with which he haughtily refused to comply. In 1766, when James III. died at Avignon, the French king and the Pope refused to acknowledge the prince by the title of Charles III. When the latter died, in 1788, at Rome, Cardinal York contented himself with having a medal struck, with the inscription "Henricus IX., Anglae Rex." He was the last of the Stuarts.
Notwithstanding the utter defeat of the Scottish expedition, and the scatterment of the surviving companies of the brigade on all sorts of service from Canada to India, there were many of the exiled Irish in France, who did not yet despair of a national insurrection against the house of Hanover. In the year 1759, an imposing expedition was fitted out at Brest under Admiral Conflaus, and another at Dunkirk, under Commodore Thurot, whose real name was O'Farrell. The former, soon after putting to sea, was encountered at Quiberon by the English under Hawke, and completely defeated; but the latter entered the British channel unopposed, and proceeded to the appointed rendezvous. While cruising in search of Conflaus, the autumnal equinox drove the intrepid Thurot into the Northern ocean, and compelled him to winter among the frozen friths of Norway and the Orkneys. One of his five frigates returned to France, another was never heard of, but with the remaining three he emerged from the Scottish Islands, and entered Lough Foyle early in 1760. He did not, however, attempt a landing at Derry, but appeared suddenly before Carrickfergus, on the 21st of February, and demanded its surrender. Placing himself at the head of his marines and sailors, he attacked the town, which, after a brave resistance by the commandant, Colonel Jennings, he took by assault. Here, for the first time, this earlier Paul Jones heard of the defeat of his admiral; after levying contributions on the rich burgesses and proprietors of Carrickfergus and Belfast, he again put to sea. His ships, battered by the wintry storms which they had undergone in northern latitudes, fell in near the Isle of Man with three English frigates, just out of port, under Commodore Elliott. A gallant action ensued, in which Thurot, or O'Farrell, and three hundred of his men were killed. The survivors struck to the victors, and the French ships were towed in a sinking state, into the port of Ramsey.
The life thus lost in the joint service of France and Ireland, was a life illustrative of the Irish refugee class among whom he became a leader. Left an orphan in childhood, O'Farrell, though of a good family, had been bred in France in so menial a condition that he first visited England as a domestic servant. From that condition he rose to be a dexterous and successful captain in the contraband trade, so extensive in those times. In this capacity he visited almost every port of either channel, acquiring that accurate knowledge which, added to his admitted bravery and capacity, placed him at length at the head of a French squadron. "Throughout the expedition," says Lord Mahon, "the honour and humanity of this brave adventurer are warmly acknowledged by his enemies." "He fought his ship," according to the same author, "until the hold was almost filled with water, and the deck covered with dead bodies."