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In the Irish Brigade_ A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain

In the Irish Brigade_ A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain
Title: In the Irish Brigade_ A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain
Release Date: 2006-05-08
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
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In the Irish Brigade:

A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain
By G. A. Henty.

Chapter 1:Fresh from Ireland.
Chapter 2:A Valiant Band.
Chapter 3:A Strange Adventure.
Chapter 4:At Versailles.
Chapter 5:A New Friend.
Chapter 6:An Ambuscade.
Chapter 7:In Paris Again.
Chapter 8:To Scotland.
Chapter 9:An Escape From Newgate.
Chapter 10:Kidnapping A Minister.
Chapter 11:On the Frontier.
Chapter 12:Oudenarde.
Chapter 13:Convalescent.
Chapter 14:A Mission.
Chapter 15:Treachery.
Chapter 16:Captured.
Chapter 17:An Old Friend.
Chapter 18:War.
Chapter 19:In Search of a Family.
Chapter 20:Gerald O'Carroll.


The evils arising from religious persecution, sectarian hatred,ill government, and oppression were never more strongly illustratedthan by the fact that, for a century, Ireland, which has since thattime furnished us with a large proportion of our best soldiers,should have been among our bitterest and most formidable foes, andher sons fought in the ranks of our greatest continental enemy. Itwas not because they were adherents of the house of Stuart thatIrishmen left their native country to take service abroad, butbecause life in Ireland was rendered well-nigh intolerable forCatholics, on account of the nature and severity of the lawsagainst them, and the bitterness with which those laws were carriedinto effect.

An Irish Catholic had no prospects of employment or advancementat home. He could hold no civil appointment of any kind. He couldnot serve as an officer, nor even enlist as a private, in the army.He could not hold land. He was subject to imprisonment, and evendeath, on the most trifling and frivolous accusations broughtagainst him by the satellites of the Irish Government. Not onlycould he not sit in the parliament of Dublin, but he could not evenvote at elections. It was because they believed that the return ofthe Stuarts would mean relief, from at least some of theirdisabilities, and liberty to carry out the offices of theirreligion openly, and to dwell in peace, free from denunciation andpersecution, that the Irish remained so long faithful to theJacobite cause.

It was not, indeed, until 1774 that the Catholics in Irelandwere admitted to qualify themselves as subjects of the crown, andnot until the following year that they were permitted to enlist inthe army. Irish regiments had enlisted in France, previous to theConvention of Limerick; but it was the Irish army that defendedthat town, and, having been defeated, passed over to France, thatraised the Irish Brigade to the position of an important factor inthe French army, which it held for nearly a hundred years, bearinga prominent part in every siege and battle in Flanders, Germany,Italy, and Spain. A long succession of French marshals and generalshave testified to the extraordinary bravery of these troops, and totheir good conduct under all circumstances. Not only in France didIrishmen play a prominent part in military matters, but they wereconspicuous in every continental army, and their descendants arestill to be found bearing honoured names throughout Europe.

Happily, those days are past, and for over a hundred years thecourage and military capacity of Irishmen have been employed in theservice of Great Britain. For records of the doings of some of theregiments of the Irish Brigade, during the years 1706-1710, I amindebted to the painstaking account of the Irish Brigade in theservice of France, by J. C. O'Callaghan; while the accounts of thewar in Spain are drawn from the official report, given in Boyer'sAnnals of the Reign of Queen Anne, which contains a mine ofinformation of the military and civil events of the time.

G. A. Henty.

Chapter 1: Fresh from Ireland.

A number of officers of O'Brien's regiment of foot, forming apart of the Irish Brigade in the service of France, were gatheredin a handsome apartment in the Rue des Fosses, on the 20th of June,1701, when the door opened, and their colonel entered with a youngofficer in the uniform of the regiment.

"I have asked you here, gentlemen all," he said, "to present toyou a new comrade, Desmond Kennedy, who, through the good officesof the Marshal de Noailles, has been appointed, by His GraciousMajesty, to a cornetcy in our regiment.

"Now, gentlemen, I have known, and doubtless you can all of yourecall, instances where the harmony of a regiment has beengrievously disturbed, and bad blood caused, owing to the want of aclear understanding upon matters connected with a family; whichmight have been avoided, had proper explanations been given at thecommencement. I have spoken frankly to Mr. Kennedy, and he hasstated to me certain particulars, and has not only authorized me,but requested me to repeat them to you, feeling that you had aright to know who it was that had come among you, and so to avoidquestioning on matters that are, of all others, prone to lead totrouble among gentlemen.

"Beyond the fact that he is a Kennedy, and that his father hadto fly from Ireland, two years after the siege of Limerick, owingto a participation in some plot to bring about a fresh rising infavour of King James, he is unacquainted with his family history.He has never heard from his father, and only knows that he made forFrance after throwing the usurper's spies off his track, and therecan be little doubt that it was his intention to take service inthis brigade. There have been several Kennedys in the service, andI have little doubt that this young gentleman's father was theMurroch Kennedy who joined the third regiment, about that time, andwas killed a few months afterwards at the battle of Breda. Hisdeath would account for the fact that his son never received aletter from him. At the time when he left Ireland, the child wassome two years old, and, as communication was difficult, and theboy so young, Murroch might very well have put off writing untilthe boy grew older, not thinking that death might intervene, as itdid, to prevent his doing so.

"This is all simple and straightforward enough, and you will, Iam sure, have no hesitation in extending the hand of friendship tothe son of a gallant Irishman, who died fighting in the ranks ofthe Irish Brigade, exiled, like the rest of us, for loyalty to ourking.

"Still, gentlemen, you might, perhaps, wonder how it is that heknows no more of his family, and it was that this question might bedisposed of, once for all, that I am making this statement to youon his behalf. He was not brought up, as you might expect, withsome of his father's connections. Whether the family were soscattered that there was no one to whom he could safely entrust thechild, I know not, but, in point of fact, he sent him to one of thelast houses where a loyal gentleman would wish his son to bebrought up. We all know by name and reputation--I and your majorsknew him personally--the gallant James O'Carroll, who died,fighting bravely, at the siege of Limerick. He was succeeded in hisestate by his brother John, one of the few Irishmen of good familywho turned traitor to his king, and who secured the succession tohis brother's possessions by becoming an ardent supporter of theusurper, and by changing his religion.

"Why Murroch Kennedy should have chosen such a man as theguardian of his son is a mystery. Whether they had been greatfriends in earlier times, when John O'Carroll professed as warm anattachment to the Stuart cause as did his brother James, or whetherKennedy possessed such knowledge of O'Carroll's traitorous dealingswith the Dutchman as would, if generally known, have rendered himso hateful to all loyal men that he could no longer have remainedin the country, and so had a hold over him, Mr. Kennedy can tell usnothing. He was brought by his nurse to Castle Kilkargan, and wasleft with John O'Carroll. It is clear that the latter accepted thecharge unwillingly, for he sent the child to a farm, where heremained until he was eight years old, and then placed him with theparish priest, who educated him. The lad visited at the houses ofthe neighbouring gentry, shot and rowed and fished with their sons.O'Carroll, however, beyond paying for his maintenance, all butignored his existence, showing no interest whatever in him, up tothe time when he furnished him with a letter of introduction to deNoailles, except that he made him a present of a gun, as soon as hebecame of an age to use one. He never attempted to tamper with hisloyalty to King James, and in fact, until he sent for him to askwhat profession he would choose, he never exchanged ten words withhim, from the time that he was brought to the castle.

"We can each form our own theory as to the cause of such strangeconduct. He may have given a pledge, to Murroch, that the boyshould be brought up a loyalist, and a true son of the church. Itmay have been that the loyalty of the boy's father formed sounpleasant a contrast to his own disloyalty, and apostasy, that hedisliked the sight of him. However, these theories can make nodifference in our reception of Desmond Kennedy, as a gentleman of agood family, and as the son of a loyal adherent of the king; and assuch, I think that I can, from what I have already seen of him,assert that he is one who will be a good comrade, a pleasantcompanion, and a credit to the regiment."

The subject of these remarks was a tall and handsome youngfellow, some sixteen years of age. He was already broad at theshoulders, and promised to become an exceedingly powerful man. Hehad stood somewhat behind the colonel, watching calmly the effectof his words on those whose comrade he was to be, for he knew howpunctilious were his countrymen, on the subject of family, placingas much or even more value than did the Scots, on points ofgenealogy, and of descent from the old families. His frank openface, his bearing and manner, did as much to smooth his way as didthe speech of his colonel, who, when he had been introduced to him,two days before, had questioned him very closely on the subject ofhis family. It had almost been a matter of satisfaction to Desmondwhen he heard, from the colonel, that the officer who had fallen atBreda was probably the father of whom he had no remembrance; for,from the time he attained the age of boyhood, it had been a griefand pain that he should never have heard from his father, who, itnow appeared, had been prevented by death from ever communicatingwith him.

The officers received him cordially. They had little doubt thathe was the son of the Murroch Kennedy, of Dillon's regiment,although, after they separated, some wonder was expressed as to thereason why the latter had committed his son to the care of sonotorious a traitor as John O'Carroll.

Desmond had been specially introduced to two of the younglieutenants, Patrick O'Neil and Phelim O'Sullivan, and these tookhim off with them to their quarters.

"And what is the last news from Ireland? I suppose that theconfiscations have ceased, for the excellent reason that they haveseized the estates of every loyal gentleman in the country?"

"That was done long ago, in the neighbourhood of Kilkargan, and,so far as I know, everywhere the feeling is as bitter as ever,among those who have been dispossessed, and also among the tenantsand peasantry, who have found themselves handed over to the merciesof Dutchmen, or other followers of William. At Kilkargan there wasnot that grievance; but, although they had still one of the oldfamily as their master, they could not forgive him for deserting tothe side of the usurper, nor for changing his religion in order todo pleasure to William. Certainly, he can have derived but littlesatisfaction from the estates. He seldom showed himself out ofdoors, never without two or three armed servants, all of whom werestrangers from the north, and he was often away, for monthstogether, at Dublin."

"And what did you do with yourself?"

"I fished, shot, and rode. I had many friends among the gentryof the neighbourhood, who

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