Book Review: The Irish Militia, 1793-1802: Ireland's Forgotten Army


by Ivan F. Nelson

Dublin: Four Courts /Portland, Or.: ISBS, 2007. Pp. 272. Illus., maps, plans, tables, notes, biblio., index. $55.00. ISBN:1846820375

The role of the militia in Britain' s wars of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has largely been overlooked, not to say forgotten.  Nevertheless, despite its reputation for having a small army, Britain maintained very large militia forces raised by conscription on a permanent footing during the wars of 1756-1815; Edward Gibbon, for example, served over two years on active duty as a militia officer during the Seven Years' War.  In The Irish Militia, retired British officer Ivan Nelson takes a look at the Irish contribution to home defense during the Revolutionary Wars. 

The book deals not only with military matters, including recruiting, training, equipping, and, naturally, field service, but also delves into complex and contentious political, social, and religious issues involved in raising a force with Catholic enlisted men and Protestant officers, in a period that culminated in the United Irishmen Febellion and French invasion of 1798, during which militiamen performed unevenly at best. 

Particularly valuable for students of British military history and of the French wars.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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