Loyalists

On this day: February 7th, 1922 - The IRA Kidnaps More than Forty Loyalist Supporters

Photo: Colour image of the Irish Republican Army patrolling Grafton Street during the Irish Civil War in 1922

In mid-January 1922 the Monaghan football team was arrested in the north on their way to play Derry in the final of the Ulster Championship. On 7 February the IRA responded by kidnapping forty-two prominent loyalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and held them as hostages. A party of eighteen armed B-Specials, when travelling by train to Enniskillen, were stopped at Clones railway station in Co Monaghan by an IRA group. The B-Specials reacted immediately by shooting Commander Fitzpatrick. His colleagues retaliated by fatally shooting four Specials and arresting the survivors. Trouble in the north was at a boiling point and in the three days after the Clones incident thirty people were murdered in Belfast.

Pressure from Churchill and Chamberlain on Craig and Collins helped to secure the release of the Monaghan footballers and the Fermanagh/Tyrone loyalists but for some time the British suspended the evacuation of troops from Ireland.

Collins and Craig had further discussions in Dublin in early February but the meeting broke down over the question of the boundary revision. Craig informed reporters that he had the assurance of the British Government that the Boundary Commission would make only slight changes. He complained that the maps which Collins produced led him (Craig) to the assumption that Collins had already been promised almost half of Northern Ireland. Craig would agree to minor changes but if North and South failed to agree, there would be no change at all. Collins issued a statement which refused to admit any ambiguity and said that majorities must rule.

The British and the Provisional Government finally agreed that an Irish Free State Agreement Bill would legalise the Treaty and the transfer of power to the Provisional Government and would authorise the election of a Provisional Parliament to enact the Free State Constitution. Final ratification of the Treaty would be deferred until the British confirmed the Free State Constitution; only then would Northern Ireland be allowed to exclude itself formally from the Free State.

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The Ulster Defence Association initially started out as a number of vigilante groups brought together to defend Loyalist areas in Belfast. They quickly degenerated into a terrorist organisation. 

Many patriots found it hard to sympathize with the Loyalists, who were often well-to-do Anglican merchants and members of the old social elite. To aggravate matters, New York City had witnessed many British atrocities. Hordes of American soldiers had been incarcerated aboard lice-ridden British prison ships anchored in the East River. A staggering eleven thousand patriots had perished aboard these ships from filth, disease, malnutrition, and savage mistreatment. For many years, bones of the dead washed up on shore. How could New Yorkers forgive such unspeakable deeds?
—  Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow.

African-Americans fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War. Some fought as free men, some were sent to fight for their masters, some fought for the promise of freedom (which was an offer made by both sides).

Most African-Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War did so on the side of the British, but there were African-Americans in the very first bloodshed. One African (Prince Estabrook or Easterbrook) was one of the wounded on April 19, 1775. Other African-Americans fought at Bunker Hill, and after the battle one of them (Salem Poor) had a letter of recommendation sent to Congress by several senior officers–no other man in the Revolutionary War had this happen. This led to some speculation that it was Poor who had killed Major Pitcairn, or perhaps Lt. Colonel Abercrombie.

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Loyalist uniforms during the American Revolution

During the American Revolution most Loyalist military units were part of the “Provincial Corps” - a continuation of the colonial American military branch which assisted the British Armed Forces. Some of the more ad-hoc formations, or groups of Loyalist militia, operated outside of this sphere. Regardless, efforts were made to equip most Loyalist formations with green uniforms in keeping with the general traditions of the Provincial Corps. 

As the war progressed British authorities realised that generally having different uniforms from the regulars has harming Loyalist morale. To that end many Provincial Corps regiments were allowed to switch to red coats. A few who had developed a particular affinity for their green jackets retained them, such as Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers or Tarleton’s British Legion.

Uniform of Loyalist Eli Dagworthy, Dagworthy served in the 44th Regiment of Foot. The uniform is kept at the Smithsonian Institute and the information there says that the uniform is that of the Loyalist Eli Dagworthy. 

While Eli Dagworthy may have been a Loyalist, this uniform is too early to have been a Revolutionary War uniform. It appears to be a French & Indian War era uniform and is closer to 1765 in style than 1775. 

It’s a fantastic example of a British uniform from that time period and in amazingly good condition considering it’s age.

The Siege of Londonderry

The siege of Londonderry was a defining moment in the history of Loyalists in Northern Ireland.  On the 18th of December 1688 the city was attacked by a Jacobite army under the command of King James the 2nd.  The Protestant garrison refused to accept the Catholic James as their rightful Monarch, instead siding with King William the 3rd, Prince of Orange. 

Initially the city’s governor, Robert Lundy, wanted to surrender to the numerically superior army under James’s command.  Thirteen of Londonderry’s citizens, apprentice boys by trade, decided to take matters into their own hands, slamming shut the city’s gates in the face of James’s demands that they surrender.  From the walltops the garrison shouted a battle cry remains the watchword of the Loyalists across the globe to this day – no surrender.   

James and his army spent one hundred and five days encamped around the city, their artillery bombarding it ever day whilst the people living within the walls slowly starved to death.  Famine, disease and relentless Jacobite assaults killed thousands, yet the will of Londonderry’s inhabitants to resist never wavered.  Every demand that they give in was met with the same reply – no surrender.

As the siege wore on people were reduced to eating candle wax, or sending their dogs out to eat rats, and then eating the dogs in turn. At long last, on the one hundredth and fifth day of siege help arrived in the form of three merchant ships laden with fresh supplies sent by King William.  In a heroic rescue operation they broke through the Jacobite blockade, rendering their efforts at starving Londonderry’s inhabitants futile.

The salvation of Londonderry remains a potent image to this day.  Around eight thousand men, women and children perished during the siege, and the victory secured the ascension of the current day Monarchy and, through it, the Bill of Rights which provides us with our most basic liberties and was used as the basis for both the French Revolution and the American Constitution.  The victory at Londonderry is still celebrated throughout Britain and a special society, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, exists to commemorate the thirteen original men who first closed the gates to the city.  It currently has around eighty thousand members worldwide.

So the loyalist flag protesters had a protest outside city hall today, which is where the international women’s day march stopped for speeches too. So Anna Lo (who is Cantonese-Chinese, but has lived in Ireland for a long time and been a prominent politician for years) got up to give a speech about the role of women in politics and society and was met by the flag protesters deciding to shout “go home” over and over again at her.

Can they actually get any lower, like?