I wrote this scenario for the Wargamer's Annual several years back and thought it would be nice to serialize it here on the blog. It is quite a long article so will appear in seven parts. Originally the idea was play tested by Joe North and Gavin Tovrea in the US. Joe is a well known Jacobite!
|Ireland action from 1691.. Paul Mc's Kirke's Regiment|
He robbed many rich of their gold and their crown
He outrode the soldiers who hunted him down
Alas, he has boasted, They'll never take me,
Not a swordsman will capture the wild rapparee
Extract from an old Irish ballad.
|Tories? Rapparees? Bandits? Freedom Fighters?|
Forgive me if I first offer a little explanation about a group of people
known collectively to history as the Rapparees. The reason is that the most
common response I experience when mentioning them in conversation is a blank
look. The word Rapparee apparently
derives from the Irish word ropairí, which is the plural of ropaire.
A rough translation is ‘one who
carries a short pike’. Rapparees were irregulars who operated on the
Jacobite side during the struggle between the forces of King James II and King
William III in Ireland between 1689 and 1691. The term came to be generally
applied to bandits and criminals after the period in question and is pejorative
in that context but not in origin.
Ireland had a long history of such irregular bands dating back before
the Confederate Wars of the 1640s. During the Cromwellian campaigns of the 1650’s
they caused widespread disruption to the hated anti-Catholic forces from
England and made huge tracts of the countryside complete no-go areas for the
occupying troops. These bands were ruthlessly hunted down, imprisoned,
transported or executed. In this earlier period they were known as Tories, from
yet another Irish word tóraidhe which translates roughly as ‘pursuer’.
This is thought to be the origin of the political term Tory meaning
traditionalist which has survived into modern times although the connection to
me at least, is not immediately obvious!
|Current Thomond Bridge at Limerick - the town was the goal for William|
The ‘tory’ label was applied during the early days of the conflict
between the Houses of Stuart and Orange to Irish Catholics who supported King
James. It was another way of calling them bandits or rebels and harked back to
the previous generation and the activities of the anti- Cromwell factions. The
term was superseded by Jacobite from the Latin Jacobus for James. When James’s
man on the spot Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell made the call
to arms there were more volunteers than weapons. This meant some loyal
regiments formed to fight the foreign invaders were disbanded. It is from these
units that the bulk of the Rapparee bands are thought to have coalesced. The
Rapparees were it seems a mixed blessing. They proved to be a persistent thorn
in the side of William’s forces and tied down significant numbers of troops needed
to guard supplies, trains and locations. At the same time, several groups began
to menace the population in general. They were somewhat indiscriminate in their
choice of victim and probably recognized a straight criminal opportunity which
could be explained away if they were caught by their own side. This meant the
Catholic population also began to suffer at the hands of these loyal men of
|From the castle museum at Athlone|
|Re enactors in 1690s dress taken in 2015|
Their modus operandi was somewhat similar to that of any partisan outfit
during a foreign occupation. Hidden weapons
caches (in the case of the Rapparees the location was often assumed to be in
bogs), lightning concentrations of troops, hit and run raids and melting into
the general populace was all standard practice. The short pikes favoured by
them were cut down military weapons. Their arms were supplemented by captured
or stolen muskets and no doubt, swords and sgian dubh. One of the best known
but by no means the only notable Rapparee was a fellow by the outstanding
moniker of ‘Galloping’ Hogan.
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