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Legion Irlandaise

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Legion Irlandaise

Postby Connaught » August 26th, 2011, 4:04 pm

Established on 31 August 1803, the Legion Irlandaise was originally created in anticipation of an invasion of ireland. The purpose was to establish a core of trained irish officers and ncos who could raise the population of ireland in a war of liberation against the english rulers of ireland. By using Irish soldiers, Napoleon hoped to achieve three important goals: (1) the invasion force would be viewed by the irish population as an army of liberation, rather than a foreign invader; (2) a minimum number of french troops would be required for the effort; and, (3) such an invasion, if properly carried out, would tie up a maximum number of English troops for years to come, and could result in the English suing for peace.

However, with the continuing superiority of the British fleet, an invasion of England became more unlikely. The dream of an Irish invasion died with the British victory over the combined French and Spanish Fleets off Cape Trafalgar in 1805. With Austria and Russia preparing to renew the struggle for control of central Europe, Napoleon's attention turned to the east.

As the need for manpower for the Empire increased, the decision was made to expand the Irish Legion from a battalion sized unit into a regiment. Men were recruited first from Irish and Scottish Jacobite expatriates, whose families had been forced to flee following failed revolts. Prisoner of war camps were also a good source of soldiers. Recruiters for the Legion found that Irish Sailors who had been taken by press gangs, and forced into the British Navy before their capture, had no loyalty to King George. Once these men were taught the basic soldier skills, they proved good soldiers and hard fighters. Other men for the Legion came from German and Polish recruits -- forming a truly European force. While commands were given in French, the troops and officers spoke to each other in English or in their native tongues.

The Irish wore a standard pattern light infantry uniform. Their coatees were a distinctive green with yellow collar, lapels, cuffs, turnbacks, and piping, and were worn with white pantaloons and waistcoats. Carabiniers had red shako cords and plume, red epaulettes, and red grenade on turnbacks. Voltiguers had green shako cords, green tipped yellow plumes, green epaulettes with yellow crescent, and green horn on turnbacks. Chasseurs had white shako cords, green plume, green piped yellow shoulder straps, green horn on turnbacks. Buttons were gold for officers and brass for other ranks. The remaining items of uniform and equipment were standard light infantry issue. The Regiment received its own flag and an eagle. The flag bore on one side a large gold harp, with the motto: "L'INDEPENDENCE D'IRLANDE". On the other side was the inscription: "NAPOLEON EMPEREUR DES FRANCAIS A LA LEGION IRLANDAIS".

In the fall of 1807, the Irish were ordered out for duty. The first battalion of the Irish Regiment was ordered to Walcheren Island, in the mouth of the Scheldt River, to bolster the forces defending the naval base at Antwerp. Just as the British troops that came after them, the soldiers stationed at Walcheren suffered the drastic effects of "Walcheren fever," a form of malaria.

In the spring of 1809, the Irish Regiment had a new official name -- the 3d Regiment Etranger (Irlandaise). However, most official correspondence continued to refer to them as the Regiment Irlandaise. On July 30th of that year, the First Battalion received its baptism of fire in battle when English forces landed on Walcheren Island. After a spirited defense, the vastly outnumbered French forces, including the Regiment Irlandaise, retreated into Flushing. On August 1, The English attacked all along the perimeter outside Flushing. The Irish suffered heavy casualties, but performed well and held their assigned position. The Irish regiment remained in an advanced position from the 3d to the 13th of August, and were engaged in almost daily skirmishes. The English were preparing positions and bringing up siege guns. The expected bombardment began at noon on 13 August. At 5 pm the enemy infantry attacked all of the advanced posts. Although elements of the other regiments sought to retreat into the city, the Irish held firm and occupied their original position at the end of the day. In the fighting, the acting Commander of the 1st Battalion, Captain William Lawless, was struck below the right eye by a musket ball that lodged below his ear. This serious wound forced him to seek medical attention, and he was carried into the town.


The rest of the article:http://www3.sympatico.ca/dis.general/irish.htm
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Re: Legion Irlandaise

Postby Connaught » September 2nd, 2011, 4:32 pm

During the Nine Years' War, Irish troops came to France in great numbers. And again in late 18th and early 19th century groups of volunteers found their way over from Ireland. They formed "Legion Irlandaise" (Irish Legion) and recruited among British prisoners of war. According to magweb.com the Irish Legion, was raised as a light infantry "from the almost endless stream of enthusiastic Irishmen that appeared any time there was an Englishman to be shot."

Virginia Shaw Medlen writes: "Established on 31 August 1803, the Legion Irlandaise was originally created in anticipation of an invasion of Ireland. The purpose was to establish a core of trained irish officers and ncos who could raise the population of Ireland in a war of liberation against the english rulers of Ireland. By using Irish soldiers, Napoleon hoped to achieve three important goals:


- the invasion force would be viewed by the Irish population
as an army of liberation, rather than a foreign invader;

- a minimum number of french troops would be required for the effort

- such an invasion, if properly carried out, would tie up
a maximum number of English troops for years to come,
and could result in the English suing for peace.
However, with the continuing superiority of the British fleet, an invasion of England became more unlikely. The dream of an Irish invasion died with the British victory over the combined French and Spanish Fleets off Cape Trafalgar in 1805. With Austria and Russia preparing to renew the struggle for control of central Europe, Napoleon's attention turned to the east."
(Shaw Medlen - "Legion Irlandaise (Napoleon's Irish Legion) 1803 - 1815")


http://www.napolun.com/mirror/napoleonistyka.atspace.com/infantry_Napoleon_3.htm#irish
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