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Their scouts fired on a small British detachment, which ran. On the morning of June 2 news came of a larger Canadian force advancing, and O'Neill went out to meet them. Deploying his men in a field near the high road at a place called Ridgway, he sent his pickets forward. They found heavy ground in front and about three-quarters of a mile away some 1,400 men of the "Queen's Own" of Toronto and the Hamilton Volunteers advancing rapidly in line. O'Neill, after a few rounds, withdrew his pickets, and the Canadians, taking the movement for fight, came briskly on. As soon as they were clear of cover, O'Neill, firing a volley, gave orders for a charge. At it they went with a cheer, and the whole Canadian line gave way. They ran as fast as their legs could carry them, leaving some fifty killed and wounded. After chasing them for two miles, O'Neill halted his men and brought them back to Fort Erie, where they intrenched. The Canadians did not stop until they reached Colburne, eighteen miles away. The Fenian loss was twenty-five. In the night O'Neill learned that no help was coming from the United States' side, while news reached him that a force of 5,000 Canadian and British regulars was advancing on Fort Erie. Accordingly, at 2 a. m. on June 3, he surrendered to the United States forces with 400 of his men, who were detained for a few days on the U. S. S. Michigan and then let go. The balance of his force, about 250 men, escaped in groups across the river. There was another little victorious skirmish with the Canadians lower down under Captain Spear, who also slipped back over the border unpursued. What fighting took place was workmanlike and creditable.
There was a flicker of Irish fighting spirit in the Boer War. Many thousands, no doubt, were in the English army of 250,000 men brought against the 30,000 Boers, but there was a small "Irish Brigade" that fought on the Boer side, and was notably engaged at Spion Kop, where the English were driven so sweepingly from their position by desperate charges.
In the War of 1870, between France and Prussia, the good wishes of the Irish went with France, for the sake of the old friendship, largely helped, no doubt, by the fact that at the summit of army command was Marshal MacMahon, a de
scendant of a warrior of the old Irish Brigade. His service in Algiers; his skill and daring in the Crimean War before Sebastopol, where he led the division which stormed the Malakoff; his victories in the Italian War of 1859 against Austria, including the great battle of Magenta, all made him a striking, romantic figure. He failed in 1870 against the Prussians at Worth, and was made prisoner with his army at Sedan, but he suppressed the Commune after the war and was President of France from 1873 to 1879. The device by which 300 Irishmen took part on the French side in the war with Germany has a grim humor. They went as aides in an ambulance corps fitted out in Dublin by subscription, but, once on French soil, enlisted in the army. “Maybe we can kill as well as we can cure," said one of them. The Compagnie irlandaise, as it was called, did creditable work, and was in the last combat with the Prussians at Montbellard. Their captain, M. W. Kirwan, was offered a Cross of the Legion of Honor, but for some reason declined it. Dr. Constantine J. McGuire, who won the decoration for bravery before Paris during the siege of the Commune, did, however, accept it, receiving the cross from the hands of Marshal MacMahon, and, hale and hearty, wears the red ribbon on occasion in New York today,
Even as this chronicle of daring deeds and daring doers is being penned, in the ranks and as commanding officers on the side of the allies in the far-flung battle lines of the great European war, are men of Irish birth, and, let it not be forgotten, not a few of the opposing side are the descendants of the Irish military geniuses who, in days gone by, fought so gallantly across the continent "from Dunkirk to Belgrade". They are all, every man of them, bearing bravely, as of yore, their own part amid the dangers and chances of the fray.
If the inspiring story is of necessity here barely sketched in outline, it nevertheless clearly indicates that, as it has been for two thousand years of Irish history, so it will be to the end of the human chapter—the Irish race is the Fighting Race, and willing, even eager, to risk life itself for vital issues.
Keating's, MacGeoghegan's, Mitchel's Histories of Ireland; J. C. O'Callaghan: The Irish Brigades in the Service of France, The Green Book; Lossing: Field Book of the Revolution, Field Book of the War of 1812; Several Mexican War Histories; Battles and Leaders of the Civil War; The Irish at Home and Abroad (New York, 1856); Canon O'Hanlon: Irish-American History of the United States; O'Hart; Irish Pedigrees; Martin I. Griffin: Life of Commodore Barry; John D. Crimmins : Irish Miscellany; Joseph Denieffe : Fenian Recollections; Plowden: Historical Review of the State of Ireland (London, 1803); Hays: History of the Irish (1798) Rebellion; Macaulay: History of England ; J. R. Young: Around the World with General Grant; several valuable articles and records of research by Michael J. O'Brien of New York.
THE SORROWS OF IRELAND
BY JOHN JEROME ROONEY, A. M., LL.D.
HE Sorrows of Ireland"! What a vision of woe the
words conjure up. The late Goldwin Smith, himself an Englishman and a Unionist, in his Irish History and the Irish Question, finds that "of all histories, the history of Ireland is the saddest. For nearly seven centuries it was a course of strife between races, bloodshed, massacre, misgovernment, civil war, oppression, and misery."
The first of the great scourges of Erin was the coming of the Danes, the bloodthirsty and conquest-loving Vikings of the North, the worshipers of Thor and Odin, the gods of thunder and of strife. These warriors, in never-ending invasions, had for four hundred years overrun Britain and finally conquered the northern provinces of Gaul. Until the end of the eighth century Ireland had been free from the Scandinavian scourge. About this time the invaders made lodgments along the coasts, passed inward through the island, burned and looted religious houses and schools of learning, levied tribute upon the inhabitants, and at length established themselves firmly at Limerick, Waterford, Dublin, Wexford, and Carlingford. Fortified towns were built, trading communications with Britain and the continent were set up, and the Northman, though not in actual possession of the interior of the island, was apparently in substantial control of its destinies. Brian Borumha, or Boru, brother of the king of Munster, of the Dalcassian race of O'Brien, refused to submit, roused his brother, fought the Danes of Limerick at Sulchoid (A. D. 968), and captured Limerick. Brian later succeeded his brother, became sovereign of all Ireland (A. D. 1001), and, on Good Friday, A. D. 1014, joined battle with the Danes upon the famous field of Clontarf. Here the power of the Northmen was forever broken, Brian falling at the moment of victory, while in his tent, by the hand of a fugitive Dane.
With the death of Brian the united government dissolved. The provincial kings, or princes, resumed separate authority
and a struggle arose among them, with varying success, for the national sovereignty. The central government never had been strong, as the nation was organized on a tribal or family basis. In this weakened condition Dermot MacMurrough, king of Leinster, abducted the wife of O'Rourke, prince of Breffni, while the latter was on a pilgrimage. MacMurrough was compelled to fly to England. He sought the protection of the Angevin English king, Henry Plantagenet. As a result of this appeal, a small expedition, headed by Strongbow (A. D. 1169), was sent to Ireland, and Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin were taken. Then came Henry himself, in 1171, with a fleet of 240 ships, 400 knights, and 4,000 men, landing at Waterford. This expedition was the beginning of the English attempted conquest of Ireland—a proceeding that, through all the ruin and bloodshed of 800 years, is not yet accomplished. Henry's first act was to introduce the feudal system into that southern half of the island which he controlled; he seized great tracts of land, which he in turn granted to his followers under feudal customs; he introduced the offices of the English feudal system and the English laws, and placed his followers in all the positions of power, holding their lands and authority under the feudal conditions of rendering him homage and military service.
This was the root of the alien "landlordism" and foreign political control of future times which became the chief curses of Ireland, the prolific source of innumerable woes. The succeeding years till the reign of Henry VIII. witnessed the extension, and at times the decline, of the Anglo-Norman rule. When Henry VII. became king of England the Anglo-Norman colony or “Pale" had shrunk to two counties and a half around Dublin, defended by a ditch. Many of the original Norman knights had become "more Irish than the Irish themselves." Such was the great family of the Geraldines or Fitzgerald-the most powerful, with the O'Neills of the North, in Ireland. A united attack at this time would most certainly have driven out the invader; for it must be remembered that Dublin, the "Pale"-"the Castle government" of later timeswas the citadel of the English foreign power, and before a united nation would most certainly have succumbed.
When Henry VIII. ascended the throne of England, the policy of peace in Ireland was continued during the early por