Thursday, October 21, 2010

Northern Ireland & Revolutionary USA War 1776

The Ulster Plantation is modern day "Northern Ireland," which is part of the United Kingdom and the subject of much news over attempts to bring peace to this violence torn region. The Ulster Plantation was formed in the early 1600's by King James I of England (who was also James VI of Scotland).  What we today call "Northern Ireland" dates to c600 AD, and perhaps earlier, when Vikings overran this part of Ireland, and the fragmented Irish kings were unable to completely repel them.  These legends survive as oral tradition in modern day Ireland.  England since the time of the Normans had been unable to subdue the Irish - yet refused to withdraw from the island - for fear of giving its strong enemies - such as Spain and France - a friendly foothold, so close to its borders.

Elizabeth's soldiers - just prior to her death - subdued, in a very bloody fashion, an Irish rebellion in the north. James declared the property of rebel chiefs as forfeited to the crown, and offered to Scottish Presbyterians the opportunity to settle in the Ulster provinces. This solved multiple problems (in the short term) for James. The Scottish lowlands were horribly impoverished and overpopulated.  Scottish noblemen wanted more grazing lands for sheep herding. The Irish were Catholic, and James wanted protestants to secure his borders.  Hundreds of thousands of Scots settled in Ulster. Conditions were harsh, filled with war and famine.
Between 1700 and 1800, hundreds of thousands of these Scots came to America. They were called "Scots-Irish" (note by FOC, the Scots humorously refer to Scotch as only "the drink," not to themselves.  This is stated with a mandatory twinkle in the eye.) to distinguish them from the native, Catholic Irish. They were not Irish, but did come to America via Ireland.  At the time of the Revolution (1776), they represented about 10% of the population. They were poor, rugged and courageous settlers, who carved the frontier and bore the brunt of the Indian attacks on the colonies.

There are many reasons for immigration from Scotland to Ulster. The reason would typically depend on the time of their migration. The principal move of Scots to Ulster began when James I of England (also James VI of Scotland) made it policy to settle Scots in Ulster. His decision was an attempt to deal with a multitude of domestic troubles. Landowners in Scotland wanted fewer tenants. Crime and theft in the lowlands was becoming rampant as the clan orders were breaking down, food supplies dwindled. He also was faced with Irish Catholics who would not submit to English rule. His "solution" was to settle Scot Presbyterians in Ulster. This would free up tenancies, give land to Scots and create a counter force to the ever troublesome Irish.
However, Northern Ireland proved a temporary home for many of the Ulster Scots. Most did not receive land as promised. Conflict with the Irish was constant (even though the Scotti migrated out of Ireland to what is now Scotland c600 AD!).
In 1700, the English mercantile policies effectively destroyed the woolen industry of Ulster, and a huge number of Scot-Irish migrated to America.  Given this mixed background, one might expect the Scot-Irish to do anything in the revolutionary war, as opposed to "real" Irish, who were patriot to their dogs.  The real Irish were Catholics, having been converted from Druidism to Catholicism by Saint Patrick beginning in 433.

Nature of the Struggle.  The origin of the American Revolution  -- 1776 was intricately involved in the desire of the colonists to control their own political affairs, including the right to vote on taxes, and the desire to end England's interference with trade in and out of the colonies.  Most of the colonists had suffered the hardships of coming to a hostile new land because they had no future at home, and they wanted a chance at a better life.   These were people who were very poor, or third sons who would inherit nothing under the law of primogeniture.

Battle of Lexington.  19 April 1775 British Red Coats fired on local ("rebel") militia in Lexington, Massachusetts in the first overtly hostile act.  Later, at the Battle of Concord, the "rebels" sent the Red Coats into full retreat, and fired at them from behind every tree and boulder!  Herein lies the tale as seen, told, and experienced from South Carolina.   Many hesitating Georgians and Carolinians made up their minds after the Battle of Lexington and blood was spilled. As long as there was a chance for peace, it was a large step to begin a rebellion, but the choice was made for them by the British. When the news arrived that fighting had actually begun in Massachusetts, a number of men broke into the powder magazine in Savannah and took six hundred barrels of powder.

Charleston: First British Invasion of the South, 1776. South Carolina, ever the firebrand state, acting under the lead of Henry Laurens, seized the royal arsenal and munitions of war long before the news of Lexington and Concord had reached that colony

Defense of Charleston, 28 June 1776.  The British attacked on the morning of 28 June 1776, and bombarded Fort Sullivan (the palmetto log construct described above) from a fleet of war vessels, aided by a landing force of several thousand men under Sir Henry Clinton. The landing party was promptly repulsed by the guns of the battery at the north end of the island. The British fleet, however, began a heavy ten hour bombardment. The Americans returned fire causing great damage, while the shots of the British bounced off or sank almost harmlessly into the soft spongy, but strong enough!, palmetto logs

Declaration of Independence Signed.  And I bet you thought this started it all!  The Provincial Congress met again in January, 1776 to chose delegates to the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776.

  • Summary.  After the Battle of Lexington the hesitation of the majority of Georgians and Carolinians about entering the revolutionary movement ended.  The patriots organized, held meetings and Provincial Congresses, and in the summer of 1775 overthrew the royalist government at Savannah, by arresting the governor and expelling the royalist officers from the militia. They then sent delegates to the Continental Congress, at Philadelphia, and the delegates there signed the Declaration of Independence.  North and South Carolina likewise successfully threw out the British.
Campaigns in South Georgia 1778-1783.  In the early days of the war, the military activity of Georgia was directed against Florida. Florida had been ceded to Great Britain in 1763.  St. Augustine was strongly fortified and again threatened the safety of Georgia and South Carolina.  The southern border of Georgia was constantly raided by bands of British, Indians and royalists.

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