Fontenoy - 11 May 1745

Catalpa

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
10,257
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
 


MsAnneThrope

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2009
Messages
1,807
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? :shock:
 

former wesleyan

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
25,605
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.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
4,344
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
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.
 

Garibaldy

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 12, 2007
Messages
722
There's a small display in the museum in Les Invalides in Paris dedicated to Fontenoy.
 

Walter Tirel

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
15
I seem to remember a section in Collins Barracks on The battle of Fontenoy. It is probably still there.
 

Catalpa

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
10,257
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!:)
 

Catalpa

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
10,257
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.
 

Garibaldy

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 12, 2007
Messages
722
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.
Years ago. Must have been changed since then.
 

Green eyed monster

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
2,429
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.
Well as you said with regard to the curriculum history and how it is viewed is somewhat subjective, following on from that in Ireland WW2 is not nearly viewed as significantly as it is in the rest of Europe (owing to our neutrality), however since you bring it up back then the 'fascists' often wore redcoats of course, the Indians' telling of their history (twenty years after this the English would enact a plan to exterminate Native Americans with smallpox blankets) and our own, the Highlanders at Culloden and the African people transported as cargo could testify to that.

As for Fontenoy you would have to wonder if Cumberland's savage behaviour in the aftermath of Culloden a year later in 1746 was not in some way inspired by the humiliation of this loss (given our relatedness to highlanders). It's nice that we could give the French a victory on the continent, just a pity the fates never flipped that and gave us and them a lasting victory on our own soil in those times. Still, given the European conspiracy against us back in 1690 when we were pitched against roughly the same kind of alliance (Holland, Holy-Roman-Empire (and derivatives) , England) and also allied with a French king called Louis - it's nice to think that we got some payback - there is no doubting that our troops always fought better when they did the fighting far away from their homes and famillies (who could be kept out of it), and of course with proper equipment.
 

Riadach

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
12,817
Wasn't it Voltaire who said, the Irish fight so bravely abroad yet so poorly at home. There is a great novelisation of Fontenoy, by Liam Mac Cóil, from the point of view of one of the officers, rather effectively and realistically transmitted. Only for Irish speakers though :)

And a slight correction, the quote is cuimnighidh ar Luimneach is ar fheall na Sasanach, remember limerick and the treachery of the English.
 

owedtojoy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
48,617
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


The map might be useful.

The battle took place in the war known as the War of Austrian Succession, mainly about the succession of Empress Maria Theresa to the Austrian Throne - Austria was then the Holy Roman Empire, and a major power. It took in other wars - there was fighting North America and in India between Britain and France, and in the Caribbean between Britain and Spain. Britain's main ally on the continent was Prussia, whose King Frederick The Great seized the Austrian province of Silesia. Frederick retained it after the war, though Maria Theresa was recognised as Empress, and it is seen as the beginning of the rise of Prussia as the premier power in Germany, supplanting the polyglot and diverse Holy Roman Empire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Austrian_Succession
 

McTell

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
7,064
Twitter
No
11 May 1745: The battle of Fontenoy was fought on this day
//
the Irish Brigade in the service of Farnce
//
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

It is a famous part of french history.

As usual with AM Sullivan, his basically true story is full of mistakes that are designed to fire up schoolboy emotions, but don't fully reflect what was going down.

The irish brigade regiments exchanged in 1689-90 were not the wild geese of 1691 - but there were overlaps.

The irish brigade did not serve or swear loyalty to France or to the french people, but to the king of france, and so some of its officers got the chop in the 1790s.

The irish brigade was loyal to the concept of the Divine Right of Kings, and thankfully we have moved on a little bit since then.

Hey, it was all about jobs and I feel sorry for anyone having to die that way. Military bravery is mostly about sticking by your comrades in a tight spot. The brigade did very well on the day, by its standards, but were more expendable to the french generals than french regiments.
 


New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top