This is the story of the Irish militia in the first period of its existence, the turbulent era of the French revolutionary wars from 1793 to 1802. The Irish militia has been much criticized, and its reputation has been much maligned, but there has been little sustained research into the force, which is redressed by this account.
This book covers the organization, composition and embodiment of the militia, as well as dealing with weapons, commissions, perceptions of duty, loyalty of militiamen, leadership and discipline of the men. It sets the Irish militia in its context as a part of the British army of the time and comments on the poor training and discipline of this force as it confronted the French.
The author reconsiders the operational performance of the militia and shows how it withstood the 1798 rebellion, which it ultimately defeated. Lapses of discipline are not glossed over, but neither are the numerous examples of personal bravery, and unit steadfastness. The result is a detailed and fascinating account of a much maligned force written by a soldier about soldiers who have been largely misrepresented and seemingly forgotten in Ireland.
Ivan Nelson LLB, PhD, is a retired army officer and graduate of Queen’s University Belfast.