Today, January 3, 1602, the battle of Kinsale

JohnD66

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Today in 1602 (though by the Gregorian calendar England was still using it took place on Christmas eve 1601) the battle of Kinsale took place outside that Cork town on Ireland's southern coast.

Today in Irish History, January 3, 1602, The Battle of Kinsale | The Irish Story

A Spanish expedition of 3,00 men to help the Ulster Irish rebel chieftains Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell landed there in September/October (that date thing again) 1601. The Spaniards were besieged by Lord Mountjoy and his Enlgish forces and blockaded by an English fleet. The northern lords marched to relieve them but were routed at the battle of Kinsale on January 3.

Recriminations continued for a long time thereafter about the reasons for O'Neill and O'Donnell's defeat. The Annals of the Four Masters blamed rivalry between them. The military historian Hayes McCoy thought the problem was their departure from guerrilla tactics and the unsuccessful adoption of Spanish 'pike and shot' formations. Regardless, the despite neither side taking many casualties, the Irish were routed and the Spaniards surrendered. O'Neill held out by using guerrilla tactics for another year before surrendering on good terms but their cause was lost at Kinsale.

Personally I don't think you can classify the likes of O'Neill and O'Donnell and their contemporaries as nationalists. They were traditional Gaelic lords who were fighting primarily for their own lordships, and often within them too. O'Neill exterminated the sons of Shane O'Neill to come to power in Tir Eoin, O'Donnell's most dangerous enemy throughout the period was his kinsman Niall Garbh O'Donnell. But they did proclaim they fighting for the freedom of Ireland and the Catholic religion and in terms of the development of Irish political consciousness their movement and their defeat at Kinsale is significant.
 


between the bridges

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One of the great 'what if's' of Irish History is if the Spanish had managed to land further North and link up with O'neill prior to engaging Blount...
 

JohnD66

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One of the great 'what if's' of Irish History is if the Spanish had managed to land further North and link up with O'neill prior to engaging Blount...
One of the weird things is though, I believe that O'Neill requested that they land on the south coast. The thinking was that it was too difficult to break out from Ulster and to break into the key strategic parts of Ireland.
 

between the bridges

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One of the weird things is though, I believe that O'Neill requested that they land on the south coast. The thinking was that it was too difficult to break out from Ulster and to break into the key strategic parts of Ireland.
Its been awhile since I read anything, but wasn't the original plan to land further north? Iirc the Spanish fleet admiral gave the land commander the choice of Kinsale or going back to Spain?
 

JohnD66

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Its been awhile since I read anything, but wasn't the original plan to land further north? Iirc the Spanish fleet admiral gave the land commander the choice of Kinsale or going back to Spain?
As far as I know, the plan was to land at Kinsale at O'Neill's request.
 

Hogsback

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As far as I know, the plan was to land at Kinsale at O'Neill's request.
It's been many years since I've read 'The Great O'Neill' by Sean O'Faolain but if I recall correctly his telling had the Spanish planned to land further North but were forced South by weather, and there was much soul searching in the North about committing to the march South.
In fact it was the fast forced march (and fog on the day) which was the main factor in the defeat in his opinion.

I've been up to the seat of the O'Neill at Tullyhougue many times.
A truly magical place. Thoroughly recommend a visit to anyone in the area.

I believe there is a big visitor centre in Dungannon now too - but I haven't got to that yet.
 
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Telstar 62

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Good to know that the Spanish Inquisition savages were given the
boot by the English before they could get their hands on this country.:cool:
 

former wesleyan

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One of the weird things is though, I believe that O'Neill requested that they land on the south coast. The thinking was that it was too difficult to break out from Ulster and to break into the key strategic parts of Ireland.
Plus ca change then, eh ?
 

McTell

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No
One of the weird things is though, I believe that O'Neill requested that they land on the south coast. The thinking was that it was too difficult to break out from Ulster and to break into the key strategic parts of Ireland.

Shorter distance for the spanish; less chance of bad weather (like 1588); less chance of the english navy knowing their position and maybe attacking; a great harbour; might inspire more rebellions in Munster.

Who knows, it nearly worked. Our prayers obviously didn't :?
 

JohnD66

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It's been many years since I've read 'The Great O'Neill' by Sean O'Faolain but if I recall correctly his telling had the Spanish planned to land further North but were forced South by weather, and there was much soul searching in the North about committing to the march South.
In fact it was the fast forced march (and fog on the day) which was the main factor in the defeat in his opinion.

I've been up to the seat of the O'Neill at Tullyhougue many times.
A truly magical place. Thoroughly recommend a visit to anyone in the area.

I believe there is a big visitor centre in Dungannon now too - but I haven't got to that yet.
Sean O'Faoilean's book is a great read but it's not very historically accurate. For instance he wrote that Hugh O'Neill was brought up in England when in fact he grew up in the Pale - fostered to a family named the Hovendans.

On Kinsale, again, we have evidence now that shows that O'Neill specifically requested that the Spaniards land in the south and had set up extensive contacts for them there via Florence McCarthy, his sometime ally in the region. Unfortunately for the plan, McCarthy was arrested just before the landing.

Hiram Morgan writes that in 1601 itself, what happened was that the northern chiefs requested a landing in the north if the force was below 4,000, which it was, (between the Bridges, this backs up your point) but in the south if it was over 6,000. The idea being that the Spaniards would be strong enough to drive into the heartland of Ireland by themselves while the northern forces could advance south. But O'Neill was very disappointed by the actual landing which was from his point of view the worst of both worlds, too small and needing him to march all the way south to support it.

And yes the problem was partly the weather, which forced the Spaniards to land at Kinsale as they could proceed no further north.

( I looked up Hiram Morgan, The Battle of Kinsale, 2001)
 

between the bridges

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Sean O'Faoilean's book is a great read but it's not very historically accurate. For instance he wrote that Hugh O'Neill was brought up in England when in fact he grew up in the Pale - fostered to a family named the Hovendans.

On Kinsale, again, we have evidence now that shows that O'Neill specifically requested that the Spaniards land in the south and had set up extensive contacts for them there via Florence McCarthy, his sometime ally in the region. Unfortunately for the plan, McCarthy was arrested just before the landing.

Hiram Morgan writes that in 1601 itself, what happened was that the northern chiefs requested a landing in the north if the force was below 4,000, which it was, (between the Bridges, this backs up your point) but in the south if it was over 6,000. The idea being that the Spaniards would be strong enough to drive into the heartland of Ireland by themselves while the northern forces could advance south. But O'Neill was very disappointed by the actual landing which was from his point of view the worst of both worlds, too small and needing him to march all the way south to support it.

And yes the problem was partly the weather, which forced the Spaniards to land at Kinsale as they could proceed no further north.

( I looked up Hiram Morgan, The Battle of Kinsale, 2001)
As we say in Fermanagh moi's not as slow as I walk fast...
 

parentheses

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I think there was some fellow wrote a book about Kinsale-he argued the English victory had huge geopolitical implications.

It enabled the beginnings of the British empire-British colonies in America and the Caribbean. Had the Irish and Spanish won, Spain would have stayed top dog.


.
 

JohnD66

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I think there was some fellow wrote a book about Kinsale-he argued the English victory had huge geopolitical implications.

It enabled the beginnings of the British empire-British colonies in America and the Caribbean. Had the Irish and Spanish won, Spain would have stayed top dog.


.
Stretching it a bit I'd say, but an interesting thesis. Got any more on it?
 

PeaceGoalie

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I think there was some fellow wrote a book about Kinsale-he argued the English victory had huge geopolitical implications.

It enabled the beginnings of the British empire-British colonies in America and the Caribbean. Had the Irish and Spanish won, Spain would have stayed top dog.
The Battle of Benburb was the last one the Irish won. They named Dublin's red light district in memory of it. The East Tyrone PIRA are direct descendents of those victors. Most of them don't know where Dublin's Benburb St is.
 

Catalpast

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Out this one up on the site a few years back:

3 & 4 (N.S.) January 1602: The Battle of Kinsale/Cath Chionn tSáile was fought on this day.

Probably the most decisive battle in Irish History took place on this day. The forces of the Irish under the Earl of Tyrone, Aodh (Hugh) O’Neill, and his ally Aodh ‘Red Hugh’ O’Donnell attacked the English lines surrounding the besieged town of Kinsale and were defeated. Inside was the Spanish garrison under Don John Aquila. The siege had begun two months before when the Spanish had landed at this small fishing port on Ireland’s south east coast. They had been sent by King Philip II of Spain to aid the Catholic Irish in their revolt against the Protestant Queen Elizabeth of England.

News quickly spread throughout the Country of their landing and both the Irish and the English made haste their forces to march south and meet Aquila either as friends or enemies. The English were under the command of Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy. Mountjoy in Dublin was nearer to Kinsale than the northern leaders in Ulster and consequently got his forces to Kinsale first. He quickly laid siege to Kinsale. However he was not strong enough to risk taking it by storm. With the place blocked by land and by sea he intended to starve the garrison out and hope that the Irish would not be able to envelop him from the outside as well. In the event the Irish came south in sufficient numbers to make it very difficult to re-supply his forces. Both side’s forces suffered from want and lack of shelter but Mountjoy’s men felt it more and thousands of the besiegers of Kinsale died from cold and disease.

The Irish on the outside were not equipped to be so far from their base of operations in Ulster and could not remain indefinitely on the outside unless they had hope of Victory. Eventually they agree with the Spanish commander to launch an assault if they could be guaranteed that a sally would be made by Aquila’s men to support them.

There was some dispute amongst the Irish as to the best course of action to follow, with O’Donnell for making a determined attack while O’Neill counselled caution. In all probability the decisions of the Irish leaders to attack when they did was taken in light of their dwindling supplies and the desperation of their men to march North to their homes (where English pressure and intrigue was intense). It was a calculated gamble to meet the English in the open as their men were used to a different kind of warfare, one of the woods, the bogs and the rough terrain where English cannon and cavalry were of limited use.

The northern leaders chose to bring their forces up to the English lines under cover of night but such an operation is fraught with difficulties and the columns became disorientated.

They spent much time in the early hours in dispute and contention, which arose between them. The two noble hosts and armies marched at last side by side and shoulder to shoulder together, until they happened to lose their way and go astray, so that their guides and pathfinders could not hit upon the right road, though the winter night was very long and though the camp which they were to attack was very near them, it was not until the time of sunrise on the next day, so that the sun was shining brightly on the face of the solid earth when O’Neills forces found their own flank at the lord Deputy’s camp, and they retired a short distance while their ranks and order would be reformed, for they had left the first order in which they had been drawn up through the straying and the darkness of the night….
Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Ui Domhnaill (The Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell) by Lughaidh O Cleirigh

Formed up in unwieldy copies of the Spanish ‘Tercios’ it would appear the Irish could not manoeuvre in front of Mountjoy’s fixed positions in a manner that could hope to inflict upon the enemy any significant casualties. In the event Mountjoy was on the ball and took the initiative, using his cannon and cavalry to good effect and scattering the Irish columns and riding down the survivors with his Horse.

They were not long considering them till they fired a thick shower of round balls [to welcome the Irish] from clean, beautiful big guns, with well oiled mechanisms and from finely ridged, costly muskets, and from sharp-aiming, quick firing matchlocks, and they threw upon them every other kind of shot and missile besides. Then burst out over the walls against them nimble troops, hard to resist, of active steady cavalry, who up to that were longing for the order to test the seed of their high galloping horses on the plain. They allowed their foot to follow after for they were certain that the hail of spherical bullets and the force attack of the troops would make destructive gaps in front of them among their enemies. Both armies were mingled together, maiming and wounding each other so that many were slain on both sides.

But in the end O’Neill’s forces were defeated, an unusual thing with them, and they fled swiftly away from the place, and they way the hurry urged them was to pour in on top of O’Donnell’s forces who happened to be east of them and had not yet come to the field of battle. When the routed army of O’Neill, and the troops of the Lord Deputy’s army following them, and swiftly smiting their rear, broke into the midst of O’Donnell’s people, wavering and unsteadiness seized on the soldiers, fright and terror on their horses and though it was their desire and their duty to remain on the field of battle, they could not.
O Cleirigh

Inside Kinsale nothing stirred and De Aquila claimed he was not aware what the Irish planned to do that day. He soon after surrendered and was allowed to depart for Spain with his men.

The morale of the Irish in revolt never recovered after this huge setback and the forced departure of the expeditionary force sent by the King of Spain to help them. O’Donnell almost immediately took ship for Spain to organise another expedition but was poisoned there by English agents. O’Neill returned North and fought on until 1603 when he surrendered to Mountjoy. Remarkably he got his personal Estates back and with a fair degree of local control again in his hands.

But his days were numbered as English Law was gradually extended into Ulster and his authority continually undermined. Fearing imprisonment and execution on trumped up accusations he fled to the Continent in 1607 in the famous ‘Flight of the Earls’. He ended his days in Rome as a charge on the Spanish Monarchy but under the immediate protection of the Pope. He died and was buried there in 1616 - still plotting to regain his lost lands.
http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/121550-day-ireland-408-years-ago.html
 

Catalpast

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O'Neill had been so successful in the war because he engaged the English on his own terms. His army wasn't trained or equipped like those of his enemy and he didn't have veteran subordinates to lead his various forces. So he levelled the playing field by drawing the English further and further away from their supply base, harassing them at all times and then striking on ground of his own choosing which suited his men.

What he did (had to do?) at Kinsale was the complete opposite and his men had little to no training in the conventional sense re square formations. That and his horses had no spurs so the riders couldn't launch spears properly.

That's what I can remember from I think G McCoy.
He had to do something as his Army was falling apart

- it was really a last throw of the dice launching a full frontal attack on Mountjoy's positions

- really it was a demonstration to allay the Spanish to sally out and catch the English off guard.

Combined operations are difficult at the best of times and clearly there was a communication breakdown between the Allies.

Mountjoy too was in trouble and IIRC was on the point of sending away his cavalry due to lack of fodder

He suffered thousands of casualties due to cold and disease as his men camped in the open in the midst of an Irish Winter.

There is nothing to suggest that O'Neill and O'Donnell's men were very much better off.

While the battle was an overrun

- the Siege itself was a close run thing....
 


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