SAS Wargames Club

SAS Wargames Club
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Monday, 9 May 2016

United Irish: 1798 Campaign


Background to the campaign
In the late 1790’s the movement known as the United Irishmen (UI) had flourished as apolitical movement but because of its sympathies towards the emancipation of Irish Catholics it was forced to become an armed underground movement.

In December 1796 the French attempted to land 15,000 troops in Bantry bay in an effort to support a planned rising by the United Irishmen in Ulster but the landing failed due to a winter storm and the rising was aborted.

The Irish Government, now unnerved by the fact that they could have had an armed insurrection on their hands, went to extreme lengths to find out who the rebel leaders were and over the next 18 months also attempted to suppress the movement. Through a combination of torturing suspects and the free quartering of troops, which became known as the “Dragooning of Ulster”, it revealed large arsenals of Muskets and Pikes that the rebels had been stock piling and it looked like the movement was on the verge of collapse. With most of the leadership in prison and in an act of desperation the remaining council members launched what was to become an uncoordinated rising in the eastern counties of Ireland.

The rebel’s initial plan was for the UI forces based in Dublin to take the city, with the counties bordering Dublin rising in support and preventing the arrival of crown reinforcements. The rest of the country was to tie down other garrisons. The signal to rise was the interception of the mail coaches that were to leave Dublin on the morning of the rising. However, last-minute intelligence from informants provided the Government with details of rebel assembly points in Dublin city and the military managed to occupy these and prevented the rebels from rallying. Deterred by the presence of the military, the gathering groups of rebels quickly dispersed. In addition, the plan to intercept the mail coaches miscarried, with only the Munster-bound coach halted at Johnstown, near Naas on the first night of the rebellion.

Although the planned nucleus of the rebellion had imploded, the surrounding parishes around the city of Dublin rose as planned eventually followed by most of the counties outside County Dublin. The first clashes of the rebellion took place just after dawn on 24th May.

Fighting quickly spread throughout Leinster, with the heaviest fighting taking place in County Kildare where, despite the Army successfully beating off almost every rebel attack, the rebels gained control of much of the county after the military were ordered to withdraw to Naas for fear of being isolated. However, rebel defeats in Counties Carlow and Meath effectively intimidated the rebels enough for them to start seeking terms with the crown.

Surrender terms were agreed to and disarming the rebels was on the whole successful however, during one that was overseen by General Duff at Gibbet Rath both sides started firing on each other after things got out of hand and a “massacre” by crown forces ensued. News of other incidents such as the execution of suspected rebels by overzealous Yeomanry at Carnew and Dunlavin Green spread into Wexford.

These incidents were enough to incite the UI Council in Wexford into action with the rebels converging at Oulart Hill. 400 men led by the Reverend John Murphy, won a small yet significant victory by defeating a company of the North Cork Militia. This gave confidence to the rebels and their numbers began to grow. Wexford was aflame and with little in the way of garrison to stay the rebel surge the Government soon lost control and the garrisons locked themselves in hoping that relief would arrive before it was too late.

Current Situation (From the Memoirs of Miles Byrne)
“After their victory at Oulart hill Father John and his little army of some 5,000 men now became quite flushed with their victory. Seeing the King's troops flying and escaping in every direction, they were at a loss to know which division they should pursue; they however, having as yet no cavalry, marched from Oulart Hill, and encamped for the night on Carrigrew Hill. Next morning, the 28th of May, at seven o'clock, they marched to Camolin, and from thence to Ferns. Not meeting with any of the King's troops in this town to oppose them, they were at a loss as to what to do….”

So, as with the Wexford council in 1798 there is no clear plan as to what to do next because of the limited amount of time it had to organise a rising.

The umpire supplied the UI leaders with some information and objectives that will not be shared here until the campaign has ended - to stop the sneaky Brits snooping to see what is to be done!

Campaign Notes
Or how the campaign will be run - this is not a democracy it's a dictatorship...

Unit sizes
Because the rules I’m going to use aren’t casualty based I will refer to numbers of units rather than numbers of men throughout the campaign. Therefore unit strengths are as follows:
Units of Pikemen nominally 600 men in Close order
Units of Gunsmen nominally 200 men in skirmish order
1 model artillery piece = 1 artillery piece

You have 4,800 pikemen (8 units), and 200 men armed with assorted firearms, the rest are
armed with pikes and assorted farm implements. The campaign will last for 50 days the
exact same number of days the Wexford army continued to exist.

Logistics
Logistics will become an important part of the campaign. To make this as simple as possible during any campaign battle your camp will be represented on the table. Should this be attacked or god forbid lost during the battle then problems will set it.

Lines of supply
If you do lose your camp then re supply will be relatively easy because the local population will support you. However, if the Crown comes up with a scheme to impede this then things could become difficult.

Family ties
Because the men were terrified of retribution being carried out against their families by the Yeomanry and Militia whilst they were away fighting, wives and children always accompanied the UI army. These family members will be represented on the gaming table and should you lose them then this could have a demoralising affect on your army.

Command control
Unlike other campaigns players won’t be allocated personality figures as normal because I want to take a slightly different approach to try and counter the rather flaky appearance of people at the pub on Monday nights were most of our campaign planning activities take  place. Instead players will act as either the UI Wexford Council or the Irish parliament giving much more scope for minimal player involvement when it comes to issuing orders to the Umpire.

Each side will be given a list of principle leaders and Generals involved in the campaign and the players can then allocate forces to them and send them on their way. This can be done by one person per side if this should be the case on a Monday night, the decisions made by that person will prevail