Today in History, March 17: 1780 – “The General directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for to-morrow the SEVENTEENTH instant,” read the orders, “a day held in particular regard by the people of [Ireland].”
General George Washington’s Army was bedded down amidst 6 foot snow drifts, suffering through the worst winter on record…even worse than Valley Forge.
Recently the Irish, who were also in rebellion against the Crown, had declared themselves AMERICANS in solidarity with the American colonists that were fighting for their independence.
At least a quarter of Washington’s army was Irish…and a vast majority of his commanders shared that distinction. So GW decided that St. Patrick’s Day…(not Christmas, nor Easter)…would be a day of rest and celebration for his army.
2 thoughts on “Revolutionary Irish”
A History Lesson: Colonel Isaac Barre
Here are some excerpts from The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman, Chapter Four, “The British Lose America”:
“The Stamp Act, introduced by Grenville in 1765, will be remembered ‘as long as the globe lasts.’ So proclaimed Macaulay in one of his bugle calls to historical grandeur. It was the act, he wrote, destined to ‘produce a great revolution, the effects of …which will long be felt by the whole human race,’ and he blamed Grenville for not foreseeing the consequences. That is hindsight; even the colonies’ agents did not foresee them. But enough information was available to the English to forecast determined resistance by the Americans and prospects of serious trouble.”
“In Parliament, the colonial petitions were rejected unheard on the ground that they concerned a money bill for which petitions were disallowed. Jackson and Garth spoke in the House denying Parliament’s right to tax ‘until or unless the Americans are allowed to send Members to Parliament.’ Rising to answer, the President of the Board of Trade, Charles Townshend, soon to be a critical figure in the conflict, provoked the first moment of excitement in the American drama. Shall the Americans, he asked, ‘children planted by our Arms, shall they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden we lie under?’
“Unable to contain himself, Colonel Isaac Barre, a fierce one-eyed former soldier who had fought with Wolfe and Amherst in America, sprang to his feet. ‘They planted by your Care? No! Your Oppressions planted ’em in America. . . . They nourished up by your Indulgence? They grew up by your neglect of ’em. . . . They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence. . . . And believe me, and remember that I this day told you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first, will acompany them still. . . . They are a people jealous of their liberties and who will vindicate them if ever they should be violated—but the Subject is too delicate and I will say no more.’ These sentiments, recorded Ingersoll, were thrown out so spontaneously, ‘so forcibly and firmly, and the breaking off so beautifully abrupt, that the whole House sat awile as Amazed, intently looking and without answering a Word.’ It may have been the first moment when perhaps a few realized what loomed ahead.
“Barre, who looked on the world with a ‘savage glare’ from a face scarred by the bullet that took out his eye at Quebec, was to become one of the leading defenders of America and orators of the Opposition. Of Huguenot ancestry, born in Dublin and educated at Dublin’s Trinity College (described by the father of Thomas Sheridan as ‘half bear [beer] garden and half brothel’), he had left the Army when his promotion was blocked by the King and was elected to Parliament through the influence of Lord Shelburne, Irish-born like himself. His staunch support of America, joined with that of another champion, of a sort, is commemorated in the town of Wilkes-Barre, Pennslyvania.”
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Thanks…that was interesting.