Casualties in Dublin in the civil war


Roberto Jordan

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Nonsense. In fact utter bullsh!t.

The division was mostly based on the "haves" versus the "have-nots".
Both have different objectives, and a different mentality.

The "haves" wanted to keep their influence, power, privileges, status, wealth (however small).
The "have nots" wanted to level the playing field and were motivated by different objectives.

It was control versus ambition.
Authority versus rebellion.
Respectability versus revolt.
I think that you are bought somewhat wrong.

On the ground, especially in areas like Kerry & west cork which were not part of the ( relatively) large scale civil war fighting ( which occurred in Dublin and latter on the fractured front line of Limerick city, limerick county( where the closest thing Ireland has ever seen to modern open, battles ocurred after the fall of the city) and mid munster) the fighting was bitter because so little divided the combatants, they were known to each other and the fighting was small scale, small unit based on both sides.It was almost inter parish rivalry writ in blood.

At a more senior level within the pre-treaty movement there was a more fundamental disagreement , though here again little other than personal affiliation of the minority of leaders who went pro treaty to collins & mulcahy was often at the heart of the decision of combatants either way.

The divide referred to above in the earlier post was not one , in my view , that directly drove the combatants drawn from the pre-treaty movement.
This is because any real 'haves" ( in terms of world view rather than just net worth or background) were on the periphery of the fighting. They were either found on the political fringes of the movement ( e.g. kevin o'higgins) or in the form of those bankrolling the "national army" or filling its ranks in the form of ex. B.A commissioned officers.

the counter revolution got going in the vacuum created by the fighting, the latter having sucked in those committed to an independent different ireland. I am not one who subscribes to the lost leader or lost republic fantasy. But as per the above mentioned o'higgins and his sorry cabal the clongowes boys got their feet under the tables a hell of lot quicker thanks to the civil war than they would have otherwise.
And the fuppers, their seed & breed , ilk , hangers-on and mimicers are still running the stinking place today.
 
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Roberto, what do you think of John Durney's civil war casualties?

They're unbelievably light IMO. I'd put them at twice his number.
 

DrNightdub

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Roberto, what do you think of John Durney's civil war casualties?

They're unbelievably light IMO. I'd put them at twice his number.
On what basis though? For example, in the whole of the Civil War fighting in Donegal, I know of just under a dozen fatalities:
- 4 FS soldiers in an ambush in Newtowncunningham on 4th May
- 2 FS soldiers at an ambush at Drumkeen near Stranorlar on 11th July
- 2 FS soldiers in a gun battle at Glenties on 27th July
- 2 FS soldiers in an ambush at Sugnagillow on 31st July
- 1 republican prisoner killed while attempting to escape from Drumboe on 11th December

Then there was an FS soldier killed in a guardroom fight in Ballyshannon in mid-Jan 1923 but this was probably due to drunkenness rather than politics - my granda, who was an FS officer, subsequently put an ad in the local papers saying any pub found serving drink to soldiers in uniform would be fined.

Plus 1 FS soldier killed at Creeslough on 10th March (probably not directly related to the Civil War) and the four men executed at Drumboe on 14th March as a reprisal for that killing.

If you read the likes of The Summer Campaign in Kerry, what's striking is how casualties on either side were mainly incurred in ones and twos and that was the scene of extended guerilla warfare. I would say the bitterness of the Civil War was independent of the death rate, although things like the Kerry atrocities exacerbated it.
 
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I read the Donegal situation alright in Tom Glennon's book.

I've argued against John Dourney that its very hard to believe that the Irregulars suffered less casualties than the Free State troops given the latter's superior firepower, especially artillery. It'd be interesting to hear your take on that. Eunan O'Halpin says CW casualties outnumbered AIW and Rising casualties combined.

I'm also not sure that simply adding up lists of records of people killed at the time is sufficient, although it is the first thing you'd do. It doesn't give any scope for undocumented casualties, which in conflicts like this often number a good deal.

What do you think DrNightclub?
 

JohnD66

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I read the Donegal situation alright in Tom Glennon's book.

I've argued against John Dourney that its very hard to believe that the Irregulars suffered less casualties than the Free State troops given the latter's superior firepower, especially artillery. It'd be interesting to hear your take on that. Eunan O'Halpin says CW casualties outnumbered AIW and Rising casualties combined.

I'm also not sure that simply adding up lists of records of people killed at the time is sufficient, although it is the first thing you'd do. It doesn't give any scope for undocumented casualties, which in conflicts like this often number a good deal.

What do you think DrNightclub?
Not the best at names are you?
 

sgtharper

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I do have a problem with John Dourney's casualty figures for the 16-23 period. His is an extremely good website but I'm not quite sure why so much faith must be put into the British Army's official casualty lists. For example, John's piece about Mount Street bridge takes the amount of killed directly from the BA's records. The BA (and indeed every army in the history of warfare) have a long history of playing down their own casualties and exaggerating their enemies. Its a natural occurrence but why take only one side's figure as gospel?
Please give examples of "the BA having a long history of playing down their casualties" other that in time of an actual war?

In reply to your earlier point there's a very good reason for having faith in the British Army's casualty lists, because they are demonstrably accurate, meticulously kept and easily checked. A casualty or fatality in a properly constituted and organised army such as the BA generates a mountain of paperwork entries and records all relatively easily checked and cross-checked. Unit War Diaries, After-action reports, casualty returns, incident reports, medical forms, hospital records, burial records,pay records, ration returns, medal entitlements, pension entitlements, posting records etc etc. I could go on but I hope by now you've got the picture?

What's more, these people tend to have families, and friends. You can't simply "disappear" them, their injury or disappearance is likely to be noticed?

Right throughout the Anglo-Irish war, the national press under control of the the Government, minimised crown forces casualties and totally fabricated those of the old IRA (the old IRA of course did the exact opposite).
But that's not the Army, even if it's true.

Why the assumption that the BA's casualty figures are unerringly accurate when history tells us that's rarely been the case?
History shows you no such thing actually.
 
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Please give examples of "the BA having a long history of playing down their casualties" other that in time of an actual war?
Is that supposed to be a joke?

Besides, Sgt Harper, the schooling you received on the Crossbarry thread should have rendered you pretty silent on this issue :)

But that's not the Army, even if it's true
Again, the recent embarrassment you made of yourself on the Tourmakeady thread doesn't appear to have taught you anything
 

sgtharper

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Is that supposed to be a joke?
Obviously not.

Besides, Sgt Harper, the schooling you received on the Crossbarry thread should have rendered you pretty silent on this issue :)

Again, the recent embarrassment you made of yourself on the Tourmakeady thread doesn't appear to have taught you anything
I don't recall any such embarrassment on my part but more importantly, you haven't answered my points?

And putting a Smiley on the end of your post doesn't mean your opinion is beyond challenge by the way.
 
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Obviously not.
So you're asking me to tell you when the British haven't exaggerated their own and their enemies casualties in times other than when they were engaged in war? In other words, I must rule out the the very (only?) circumstances (a war) where they've incurred and inflicted casualties? Forgive me for half thinking you were attempting a joke, Mr Harper.

you haven't answered my points?
What points? You haven't made any points. The only thing you appear to have said is that wherever the British Army have been engaged in violent conflict/war, the casualty figures for them and the enemy must only be taken by their side because they are unerringly accurate and therefore the other side's figures - whomever they may be - must always be fabrication and lies.

Here, have one of these ye feckin' eejit ye: petunia
 

DrNightdub

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I've argued against John Dourney that its very hard to believe that the Irregulars suffered less casualties than the Free State troops given the latter's superior firepower, especially artillery. It'd be interesting to hear your take on that. Eunan O'Halpin says CW casualties outnumbered AIW and Rising casualties combined.

I'm also not sure that simply adding up lists of records of people killed at the time is sufficient, although it is the first thing you'd do. It doesn't give any scope for undocumented casualties, which in conflicts like this often number a good deal.

What do you think DrNightclub?
I think the casualty-inflicting role of artillery in the Civil War is over-rated. The FS Army peppered the Four Courts for the best part of a week and I think the total casualties among the garrison were less than half a dozen. The psychological effects would've been much greater though. Similarly, in the Battle of Belleek-Pettigo, the British Army deployed artillery for the first time since the Easter Rising and the combined fatalities among the FS Army / anti-Treaty IRA amounted to seven.

To be honest, I would expect that in a guerrilla campaign, it'd be the "conventional" force - in this case, the FS Army - that would suffer the most casualties purely on the basis that they'd be the ones being ambushed. All bar one of the Donegal examples I mentioned bear this out, as those were situations where the FS Army were caught unawares. Having superior firepower in the form of artillery is actually of f***-all value if the opposition won't have the decency to sit still and be bombarded.

As regards undocumented casualties, then you're straight into the realms of speculation which, from the perspective of historical accuracy, is basically a parlour game - it's all hypothetical and unsubstantiated. I go back to the point I made previously about the value of the local press - they often reported on incidents that weren't necessarily covered in the national press. For example, the incident I referred to regarding the guardroom brawl in Ballyshannon that led to the death of an FS soldier was reported in the Derry Journal but never made it to the national papers. Same with the republican prisoner shot while attempting to escape (and to add fuel to the fire, the documentation relating to that incident is completely missing from the Donegal Coroner's file in the National Archives, the only reason I know it happened is cos the inquest was reported in the local press). If you're going to claim there even were any undocumented casualties, you have to provide examples and by definition, you've no evidence to support such a claim - not even any smoke to suggest the existence of a fire.

I think to open a discussion about "undocumented casualties", you've got to offer some proof in terms of "so-and-so was killed on whatever date and we can prove that because of X, yet it wasn't documented" - otherwise you're into the realm of how many potential corpses can dance on the head of a needle.

As regards O'Halpin claiming that Civil War casualties exceeded those of both the Easter Rising and War of Independence, can you provide a link or other reference? I know from emailing him that his project relating to the dead of the Irish revolution only went up as far as Dec 1921 - in other words he didn't document the dead of the Civil War.
 
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As regards O'Halpin claiming that Civil War casualties exceeded those of both the Easter Rising and War of Independence, can you provide a link or other reference? I know from emailing him that his project relating to the dead of the Irish revolution only went up as far as Dec 1921 - in other words he didn't document the dead of the Civil War.
I read it on John Dorney's;) Site but he was merely speculating, as has every other historian of the period. Why do the great majority of them lead towards the thousands rather than the conservative figure of around 1,500?

I think to open a discussion about "undocumented casualties", you've got to offer some proof in terms of "so-and-so was killed on whatever date and we can prove that because of X, yet it wasn't documented" - otherwise you're into the realm of how many potential corpses can dance on the head of a needle.
But if you could do that much, they wouldn't be undocumented would they? :)

Besides isn't that the case with most conflicts, well certainly ones that go back a wee bit in history (1798 for example) that estimation of undocumented deaths is a large part of coming to a rough figure? I know that regarding the CW back in 1922 it should be much easier to ascertain a rough figure but is it a certainty that all the fatalities were recorded in this particular "war" when in many others, even of the same time period, that wouldn't have been the case?

(PS John D has done some fantastic and studious research into this area and I'm not calling his expertise into question. I'm just throwing a few things out there for the sake of debate, that's all :))
 

between the bridges

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I read it on John Dorney's;) Site but he was merely speculating, as has every other historian of the period. Why do the great majority of them lead towards the thousands rather than the conservative figure of around 1,500?



But if you could do that much, they wouldn't be undocumented would they? :)

Besides isn't that the case with most conflicts, well certainly ones that go back a wee bit in history (1798 for example) that estimation of undocumented deaths is a large part of coming to a rough figure? I know that regarding the CW back in 1922 it should be much easier to ascertain a rough figure but is it a certainty that all the fatalities were recorded in this particular "war" when in many others, even of the same time period, that wouldn't have been the case?

(PS John D has done some fantastic and studious research into this area and I'm not calling his expertise into question. I'm just throwing a few things out there for the sake of debate, that's all :))
Translation: don't expect me to back up my waffle...
 

DrNightdub

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Besides isn't that the case with most conflicts, well certainly ones that go back a wee bit in history (1798 for example) that estimation of undocumented deaths is a large part of coming to a rough figure? I know that regarding the CW back in 1922 it should be much easier to ascertain a rough figure but is it a certainty that all the fatalities were recorded in this particular "war" when in many others, even of the same time period, that wouldn't have been the case?
I don't think you can compare a short, mainly guerrilla-style conflict like the Civil War with the likes of the Western Front where bodies were blown apart under shelling and corpses were lost in the mud and shell-holes of no-man's land, hence so many casualties recorded as "missing."

For there to have been thousands of deaths in the Civil War, you would have to argue that none of their family members placed death notices in the local or national papers, none of their funerals were recorded by whatever clergy buried them, farmers up and down the country kept finding decomposed remains on their land for years afterwards, the republican National Graves Association decided not to remember them in posterity or the FS Army decided to hide their deaths, none of the relatives of killed FS soldiers applied for Military Service Pensions and none of the papers got even an inkling of hundreds of fatal incidents. It simply doesn't stack up.

JohnD66 has documented 218 deaths in Dublin, the scene of the most intense fighting. Then add in some of the county-based studies referred to previously and assume they checked all the potential sources I just mentioned:
- Cork: 180
- Kerry: 170
- Sligo: 48
- Offaly: 22
- Kildare: 17
- Donegal: 16
That's a total of 671 and you're starting to run out of counties...
 

JohnD66

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I don't think you can compare a short, mainly guerrilla-style conflict like the Civil War with the likes of the Western Front where bodies were blown apart under shelling and corpses were lost in the mud and shell-holes of no-man's land, hence so many casualties recorded as "missing."

For there to have been thousands of deaths in the Civil War, you would have to argue that none of their family members placed death notices in the local or national papers, none of their funerals were recorded by whatever clergy buried them, farmers up and down the country kept finding decomposed remains on their land for years afterwards, the republican National Graves Association decided not to remember them in posterity or the FS Army decided to hide their deaths, none of the relatives of killed FS soldiers applied for Military Service Pensions and none of the papers got even an inkling of hundreds of fatal incidents. It simply doesn't stack up.

JohnD66 has documented 218 deaths in Dublin, the scene of the most intense fighting. Then add in some of the county-based studies referred to previously and assume they checked all the potential sources I just mentioned:
- Cork: 180
- Kerry: 170
- Sligo: 48
- Offaly: 22
- Kildare: 17
- Donegal: 16
That's a total of 671 and you're starting to run out of counties...
Nightdub, while I agree with your point, in partial mitigation I suspect that some of those local totals might be a little low (now I'm talking tens here not hundreds). When I went through the Dublin casualties a few times, including all the NA accidents (there were a lot) and the IRA 'Last Post', the total eventually went up from 170 to 218.

For the record I've also counted c.100 deaths in Tipperary so far. But I suspect it's a little higher as it includes no accidental deaths of NA soldiers, which are generally around 1 in 4 of their deaths. I'd guess Limerick has a similar total as there was fairly heavy fighting there in the early weeks. Kildare is 50 or so btw and I suspect the total in Wexford and Mayo is about that. In Cavan I've found about 10 deaths or so and maybe twice that in Monaghan. So that brings you to about 1,000 with most of the more violent counties included.

So yes I find it hard to see how the total could be far above 1,500 even if everyone who has done local studies has missed lots of bodies. Let's say we allow for very widespread under-reporting of casualties, there's still no way at all the total death toll is over 2,000.
 
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For there to have been thousands of deaths in the Civil War, you would have to argue that none of their family members placed death notices in the local or national papers, none of their funerals were recorded by whatever clergy buried them, farmers up and down the country kept finding decomposed remains on their land for years afterwards, the republican National Graves Association decided not to remember them in posterity or the FS Army decided to hide their deaths, none of the relatives of killed FS soldiers applied for Military Service Pensions and none of the papers got even an inkling of hundreds of fatal incidents. It simply doesn't stack up.
I'm talking about IRA deaths so that wouldn't make any difference regarding Pensions.

Regarding death notices and funerals, is that part of the information John D took into account when doing his research? (The farmers thing is stretching it a bit mate...)

Did the papers accurately report on every single fatality? Perhaps they did and it would have to be the local ones cos the national ones, as can be seen from the AIW, were not in any way reliable.

And casualties being estimated in war doesn't require bodies to be obliterated and lost in mud. Both sides give an estimate of their own dead vs the enemy's and both are invariably at odds with one another. I wonder is there any contention in Finland, for example, regarding the casualties of their civil war? And why do you think almost all previous scholars of the subject put the toll in the thousands? Was it that they simply hadn't undertaken the kind of detailed work Dorney carried out?

If John D's calculations are correct - and its looking like they are - it shows that the Civil war was but a mere Mickey Mouse skirmish rather than anything else.
 
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