Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Regiment de Fitz-James at Rossbach

The battle of Rossbach (November 5, 1757) was one of the worst French military disasters in the Seven Years' War.  A Prussian cavalry force under General Seydlitz shattered the advance guard of the French-Austrian-Imperial army.  General Hildenburghausen with two regiments of Austrian curaissers stood against Seydlitz.  They were joined by the Irish Regiment Fitz-James.  These brave men were unable to stand against Seydlitz's cavalry force, and the day was lost.
The heroism of Regiment Fitz-James, and two commanders of it, is told in the 1779 issue of Hibernian Magazine:

"What in Rosbach's bloody plain befel,
Ambitious Fred'rick's savage troops can tell
Where one stout legion of Hibernian blood
The fire of all the Prussian arms withstood;
Led by the Betagh twins, bright twins in fame,
Their goodness, valour, and their skill the same--
* * *
And when, with half his men, one brother fell,
The next, (a tale incredible to tell!)
With the small remnant of his slaughter'd band,
Their way cut thro' the Prussians, sword in hand.
Charm'd with such feats, the King withheld his fire,
And let these heroes unassail'd retire;
Had search made for their leader o'er the field,
That he might to his corpse all honours yield;
To pieces hew'd, his corpse was sought in vain,
Amidst the bleeding heaps of mangled slain."
(quoted from pg. 583, History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France, by J. C. O'Callaghan)

1 comment:

  1. One of the my favorite Irish songs has to do with an Irish Brigade in the French army during the War of Spanish Succession. It is called "The Flower of Finnae" and, incidentally, my Irish ancestry can be traced back to that vicinity in Co. Cavan:

    He fought at Cremona, she hears of his story
    He fought at Cassano, she’s proud of his glory;
    Yet sadly she sings “Shule Aroon” all the day:
    “O come home, my darling, come home to Finnae!”

    Eight long years have passed till she’s nigh broken-hearted,
    Her reel and her rock and her flax she has parted;
    She sails with the “Wild Geese” to Flanders away,
    And leaves her sad parents alone in Finnae.

    On the Slopes of La Judoigne the Frenchmen are flying,
    Lord Clare and his squadrons the foe still defying,
    Outnumbered and wounded, retreat in array,
    And bleeding, lies Fergus and thinks of Finnae.

    In the cloisters of Ypres, a banner is swaying,
    And by it a pale, weeping maiden is praying,
    That flag’s the sole trophy of Ramillies’ fray,
    This nun is poor Eileen, the Flower of Finnae.