Battle of Fishguard

The Battle of Fishguard was a military invasion of Great Britain by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition. The brief campaign, on 22–24 February 1797, is the most recent landing on British soil by a hostile foreign force, and thus is often referred to as the "last invasion of Britain".

The French General Lazare Hoche had devised a three-pronged attack on Britain in support of the Society of United Irishmen. Two forces would land in Britain as a diversionary effort, while the main body would land in Ireland. Adverse weather and ill-discipline halted two of the forces but the third, aimed at landing in Wales and marching on Bristol, went ahead.

After brief clashes with hastily assembled British forces and the local civilian population, the invading force's Irish-American commander, Colonel William Tate, was forced into unconditional surrender on 24 February. In a related naval action, the British captured two of the expedition's vessels, a frigate and a corvette.

Invasion plan

General Hoche proposed to land 15,000 French troops in Ireland to support the United Irishmen at Bantry Bay. As a diversionary attack to draw away British reinforcements, two smaller forces would land in Britain, one in northern England near Newcastle and the other in Wales.

In December 1796 Hoche's expedition arrived at Bantry Bay, but atrocious weather scattered and depleted it. Unable to land even a single soldier, Hoche decided to set sail and return to France. In January 1797 poor weather in the North Sea, combined with outbreaks of mutiny and poor discipline among the recruits, stopped the attacking force headed for Newcastle, and they too returned to France. However, the third invasion went ahead, and on 16 February 1797 a fleet of four French warships left Brest, flying Russian colours and bound for Britain.

Expedition forces

The Wales-bound invasion force consisted of 1,400 troops from La Legion Noire (The Black Legion), a partly penal battalion under the command of Irish-American Colonel William Tate. He had fought against the British during the American War of Independence, but after a failed coup d'etat in New Orleans, he fled to Paris in 1795. His forces, officially the Seconde Légion des Francs, became more commonly known as the Légion Noire ("The Black Legion") due to their using captured British uniforms dyed very dark brown or black. Most historians have misrepresented Tate's age, following E. H. Stuart Jones in his The Last Invasion of Britain (1950), in which Jones claimed Tate was about 70 years old. In fact, he was only 44.[2]:76–77

The naval operation, led by Commodore Jean-Joseph Castagnier, comprised four warships - some of the newest in the French fleet: the frigates Vengeance and Résistance (on her maiden voyage), the corvette Constance, and a smaller lugger called the Vautour. The Directory had ordered Castagnier to land Colonel Tate's troops and then to rendezvous with Hoche's expedition returning from Ireland to give them any assistance they might need.

Landing

Carreg Wastad
Carregwastad Head, the landing site for Tate's forces
Carngwasted & Ebewalin.jpeg
French forces landing at Carregwastad on 22 February 1797. From a lithograph first published in May 1797 and later coloured
Goodwick sands.jpeg
French troops surrender to British forces on Goodwick sands

Of Tate's 1,400 troops, some 600 were French regular soldiers that Napoleon Bonaparte had not required in his conquest of Italy, and 800 were irregulars, including republicans, deserters, convicts and Royalist prisoners. All were well-armed, and some of the officers were Irish. They landed at Carregwastad Head near Fishguard in Pembrokeshire on 22 February. Some accounts report a failed attempt to enter Fishguard harbour, but this scenario does not seem to have appeared in print before 1892 and probably has its origin in a misunderstanding of an early pamphlet about the invasion.[2]:78 The Legion Noire landed under the cover of darkness at Carreg Wastad Point, three miles northwest of Fishguard. By 2 a.m. on 23 February, the French had put ashore 17 boatloads of troops, plus 47 barrels of gunpowder, 50 tons of cartridges and grenades and 2,000 stands of arms. One rowing boat was lost in the surf, taking with it several artillery pieces and their ammunition.

Armed response

Upon landing, discipline broke down amongst the irregulars, many of whom deserted to loot nearby settlements. The remaining troops confronted a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. Many local civilians also organised and armed themselves.

Volunteer infantry and cavalry

Landowner William Knox had raised the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry in 1794 in response to the British Government's call to arms. By 1797, there were four companies totalling nearly 300 men, and the unit was the largest in the County of Pembrokeshire. To command this regiment, William Knox appointed his 28-year-old son, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Knox, a man who had bought his commission and had no combat experience.

On the night of 22 February, there was a social event at Tregwynt Mansion, and the young Thomas Knox was in attendance when a messenger on horseback arrived from the Fishguard & Newport Volunteer Infantry to instruct the commanding officer of the invasion. The import of this news was slow to dawn on Knox, but, upon returning to Fishguard Fort, he ordered the regiment's Newport Division to march the seven miles to Fishguard with all haste.

Lord Cawdor, captain of the Castlemartin Troop of the Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry, was stationed thirty miles away at Stackpole Court in the far south of the county, where the troop had massed in preparation for a funeral the following day. He immediately assembled all the troops at his disposal and set off for the county town of Haverfordwest along with the Pembroke Volunteers and the Cardiganshire Militia, who were on routine exercises at the time. At Haverfordwest, Lieutenant-Colonel Colby of the Pembrokeshire Militia had summoned together a force of 250 soldiers.

Naval crew and ordnance

Captain Longcroft brought up the press gangs and crews of two revenue vessels based in Milford Haven, totalling 150 sailors. Nine cannons were also brought ashore, of which six were placed inside Haverfordwest Castle and the other three prepared for transit to Fishguard with the local forces.[3] Cawdor arrived, and in consultation with the lord lieutenant of the county, Lord Milford, and the other officers present, Lord Cawdor was delegated full authority and overall command.

Initial actions

The French moved inland and secured some outlying farmhouses. A company of French grenadiers under Lieutenant St. Leger took possession of Trehowel farm on the Llanwnda Peninsula about a mile from their landing site, and it was here that Colonel Tate decided to set up his headquarters. The French forces were instructed to live off the land, and as soon as the convicts landed on British soil, they deserted the invasion force and began to loot the local villages and hamlets. One group broke into Llanwnda Church to shelter from the cold, and set about lighting a fire inside using a Bible as kindling and the pews as firewood. However, the 600 regulars remained loyal to their officers and orders.

On the British side, Knox had declared to Colby his intention to attack the French on 23 February if he was not heavily outnumbered. He then sent out scouting parties to assess the strength of the enemy.

Battle averted

By the morning of 23 February, the French had moved two miles inland and occupied strong defensive positions on the high rocky outcrops of Garnwnda and Carngelli, gaining an unobstructed view of the surrounding countryside. Meanwhile, 100 of Knox's men had yet to arrive, and he discovered he was facing a force of nearly ten times the size of his own. Many local inhabitants were fleeing in panic, but many more were flocking into Fishguard armed with a variety of makeshift weapons, ready to fight alongside the Volunteer Infantry. Knox was faced with three choices: attack the French, defend Fishguard or retreat towards the reinforcements from Haverfordwest. He quickly decided to retreat and gave orders to spike the nine cannons in Fishguard Fort, which the Woolwich gunners refused to do. At 9 a.m., Knox set off towards his rear, sending out scouts continuously to reconnoitre the French. Knox and his 194 men met the reinforcements led by Lord Cawdor at 1.30 p.m. at Treffgarne, eight miles south of Fishguard. After a short dispute over who was in charge, Cawdor assumed command and led the combined British forces towards Fishguard.

By now, Tate was having serious problems of his own. Discipline among the convict recruits had collapsed once they discovered the locals' supply of wine. (A Portuguese ship had been wrecked on the coast several weeks previously.) Moreover, morale overall was low, and the invasion was beginning to lose its momentum. Many convicts rebelled and mutinied against their officers, and many other men had simply vanished during the night. Those troops left to him were the French regulars, including his Grenadiers. The rest mainly lay drunk and sick in farm houses all over the Llanwnda Peninsula. Instead of welcoming Tate's invaders, the Welsh had turned out to be hostile, and at least six Welsh and French had already been killed in clashes. Tate's Irish and French officers counselled surrender, since the departure of Castagnier with the ships that morning meant there was no way to escape.

By 5 p.m., the British forces had reached Fishguard. Cawdor decided to attack before dusk. His 600 men, dragging their three cannons behind them, marched up narrow Trefwrgi Lane from Goodwick toward the French position on Garngelli. Unknown to him, Lieutenant St. Leger and the French Grenadiers had made their way down from Garngelli and prepared an ambush behind the high hedges of the lane. A volley of muskets and grenades poured at close range into the tightly compressed column would have resulted in heavy casualties to Cawdor's men. However, Cawdor decided to call off his attack and returned to Fishguard due to the failing light.

French surrender

That evening, two French officers arrived at the Royal Oak where Cawdor had set up his headquarters on Fishguard Square. They wished to negotiate a conditional surrender. Cawdor bluffed and replied that with his superior force he would only accept the unconditional surrender of the French forces and issued an ultimatum to Colonel Tate. He had until 10 a.m. on 24 February to surrender on Goodwick Sands, otherwise the French would be attacked.

At 8 a.m. on the 24th, the British forces lined up in battle order on Goodwick Sands. Up above them on the cliffs, the inhabitants of the town came to watch and await Tate's response to the ultimatum. The locals on the cliff included women wearing traditional Welsh costume which included a red whittle (shawl) and Welsh hat which, from a distance, some of the French mistook to be red coats and shako, thus believing them to be regular line infantry.[4]

Tate tried to delay it but eventually accepted the terms of the unconditional surrender and, at 2 p.m., the sounds of the French drums could be heard leading the column down to Goodwick. The French piled their weapons and by 4 p.m. the French prisoners were marched through Fishguard on their way to temporary imprisonment at Haverfordwest. Meanwhile, Cawdor had ridden out with a party of his Pembroke Yeomanry Cavalry to Trehowel farm to receive Tate's official surrender. Unfortunately the actual document has been lost.

After brief imprisonment, Tate was returned to France in a prisoner exchange in 1798, along with most of his invasion force.

Folk heroine

A legendary heroine, Jemima Nicholas, is reported to have gone out single-handed with a pitchfork into the fields, rounded up twelve French soldiers and escorted them to town where she locked them inside St. Mary's church.[5]

Related naval action

On 9 March 1797, HMS St Fiorenzo, under the command of Sir Harry Neale, was sailing in company with Captain John Cooke's HMS Nymphe, when they encountered La Resistance, which had been crippled by the adverse weather in the Irish Sea en route to Ireland, along with La Constance. Cooke and Neale chased after them, engaging them for half an hour, after which both French ships surrendered. There were no casualties or damage on either of the British ships, while the two French ships lost 18 killed and 15 wounded between them.[1] La Resistance was re-fitted and renamed HMS Fisgard and La Constance became HMS Constance. Castagnier, on board Le Vengeance, made it safely back to France.

Legacy

Last invasion of Britain - Carregwastad Point - geograph.org.uk - 54434
Modern memorial stone on the headland

Suspension of "specie payments"

When the news hit London a few days later, there was a run on the Bank of England by holders of banknotes, attempting to convert them into gold (a right enshrined in the wording that still exists on English notes of "I promise to pay the bearer on demand..."). However, owing to the gold standard, and the fact that the total face value of the notes in circulation was almost exactly twice the actual gold reserves held (£10,865,050 of notes, compared to £5,322,010 in bullion),[6] on 27 February 1797, Parliament passed the Bank Restriction Act 1797 (37 Geo. III. c. 45). This act, which turned all banknotes from "convertible" to "inconvertible" notes, suspended these so-called 'specie payments' until 1821.

This move was perhaps inevitable owing to high taxation levels in place to fund the Napoleonic Wars, but the Battle of Fishguard immediately preceded the first occasion when banknotes issued by a central bank could not be redeemed for the underlying wealth that they represented, a precedent that has defined the modern use of banknotes ever since.[7]

Battle honour

In 1853, amidst fears of another invasion by the French, Lord Palmerston conferred upon the Pembroke Yeomanry the battle honour "Fishguard". This regiment, still in existence as 224 (Pembroke Yeomanry) Squadron of the Royal Logistic Corps, has the distinction of being the only unit in the British Army, regular or territorial, to bear a battle honour for an engagement on the British mainland. It was also the first battle honour awarded to a volunteer unit.

Attack on Ireland

In August of the following year, another French force landed in County Mayo, Connaught, in the west of Ireland. In contrast to the debacle at Fishguard, this expedition saw some bloody fighting in which hundreds were killed in the Battle of Castlebar.

Memorial tapestry

In 1997, a 100 ft-long Last Invasion Tapestry, sewn by 78 volunteers, was created to mark the 200th anniversary of the events.[8]

References

  1. ^ a b James. James' Naval History. pp. 95–6.
  2. ^ a b Rose, Richard (2003). "The French at Fishguard: Fact, Fiction and Folklore". Transactions of the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion. 9.
  3. ^ The Last Invasion of Britain 1797 at fishguardonline.com
  4. ^ J. E. Thomas (2007). Britain's Last Invasion: Fishguard 1797. Tempus. p. 138. ISBN 0752440101.
  5. ^ The Battle of Fishguard - one of Wales' greatest military achievements at WalesOnline, 19 May 2011. Accessed 14 August 2016
  6. ^ War Finance in England; The Bank Restriction Act of 1797 - Suspension of Specie Payments for Twenty-four Years—How to Prevent Depreciation of the Currency. The New York Times, 27 Jan 1862. Accessed 22 April 2016
  7. ^ "The Bank of England Restriction. 1797-1821". North American Review, Vol 105, No 217, Oct 1867, at JSTOR—subscription needed. Accessed 22 April 2016
  8. ^ Invasion heroine's records find. BBC News, 4 April 2006
  • Johnson, Ben. "The Last Invasion of Britain". Historic UK. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  • Latimer, Jon (12 July 2003). "The Battle of Fishguard: The Last Invasion of Great Britain". Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  • Latimer, Jon (2001). Deception in War. London: Overlook Press. pp. 21–33.
  • Kinross, John (1974). Fishguard Fiasco. London: H. G. Walters (Publishers) Ltd.
  • McLynn, Frank (1987). Invasion: From the Armada to Hitler. London: Routledge. pp. 84–89.
  • Rose, Richard (2003). "The French at Fishguard: Fact, Fiction and Folklore". Transactions of the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion. 9.
  • Stuart-Jones, Edwyn Henry (1950). The Last Invasion of Britain. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • "Divers find French invasion wreck". BBC News. 10 November 2004. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2016.

External links

Bank Restriction Act 1797

The Bank Restriction Act 1797 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (37 Geo. III. c. 45) which removed the requirement for the Bank of England to convert banknotes into gold. The period lasted until 1821, when convertibility was restored. The period between these two dates is known as the Restriction period.

Bank of England

The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom, it is the world's eighth-oldest bank. It was privately owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946.The Bank became an independent public organisation in 1998, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government, but with independence in setting monetary policy.The Bank is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has a devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy. The Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances", but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days. The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macroprudential regulator to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector.

The Bank's headquarters have been in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a name taken from a satirical cartoon by James Gillray in 1797. The road junction outside is known as Bank junction.

As a regulator and central bank, the Bank of England has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes. Until 2016, the bank provided personal banking services as a privilege for employees.

Fishguard

Fishguard (Welsh: Abergwaun, meaning "Mouth of the River Gwaun") is a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with a population of 3,419 recorded in the 2011 Census. The community of Fishguard and Goodwick had a population of 5,043 in 2001 and 5,407 in 2011. Modern Fishguard consists of two parts; Lower Fishguard and the "Main Town". Fishguard and Goodwick are twin towns with a joint Town Council.

Lower Fishguard (locally known as 'Lower Town') is believed to be the site of the original hamlet from which modern Fishguard has grown. It is situated in a deep valley where the River Gwaun meets the sea, hence the Welsh name for Fishguard. It is a typical fishing village with a short tidal quay. The settlement stretches along the north slope of the valley.

The main town contains the parish church, the High Street and most of the modern development, and lies upon the hill to the south of Lower Fishguard, to which it is joined by a steep and winding road. The part of the town that faces Goodwick grew in the first decade of the 20th century with the development of Fishguard Harbour.

French frigate Résistance (1796)

Résistance was a Vengeance-class frigate of the French Navy. She was captured by HMS St Fiorenzo in 1797 and taken into British service as HMS Fisgard. She was sold in 1814.

Glamorgan Yeomanry

The Glamorgan Yeomanry was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army originally raised in the late eighteenth century as a result of concern over the threat of invasion by the French. It was re-raised in the Second Boer War and saw service in both World War I and World War II. The lineage is maintained by C (Glamorgan Yeomanry) Troop, 211 (South Wales) Battery, 104th Regiment Royal Artillery.

Invasions of the British Isles

Invasions of the British Isles have occurred throughout history. Various sovereign states within the territorial space that constitutes the British Isles were invaded several times; by the Romans, Germanic peoples, Vikings and Norsemen who came from Sweden, Denmark and Norway, the French and the Dutch.

Jemima Nicholas

Jemima Nicholas (also spelt Niclas; c. 1750 – July 1832), also known as Jemima Fawr, was a Welsh heroine during the 1797 Battle of Fishguard (commonly known as the last invasion of Britain). Armed with only a pitchfork, she single-handedly rounded up 12 French soldiers when they were drunk; they surrendered shortly afterwards at the Royal Oak.

She died at the age of 82, and a plaque in Fishguard is dedicated to her.

In 2006 at the records office in Haverfordwest records were found by a local college lecturer, Andrew Thomas of Thornton, Milford Haven, which show a Jemima Nicholas being baptised in the parish of Mathry on 2 March 1755.

Last battle on British soil

There are several contenders for the title of last battle on British or English soil, depending largely on how one defines battle and how one classifies various events.

Below is a chronological list of events that different sources cite as the last battle on British or English soil or a related title:

Battle of Sedgemoor, Somerset, England, 6 July 1685. The final battle of the Monmouth Rebellion, is often cited as the last battle on English soil. The local museum makes the lesser claim that it was the last the "major battle" on English soil "when Englishmen took up arms against fellow Englishmen."

Battle of Preston, Lancashire, England, 9–14 November 1715. Fought during the Jacobite Rising of 1715, it is claimed by some sources to be the last major battle to be fought on English soil; other authors regard it as a siege rather than a battle.

Clifton Moor Skirmish, Westmorland (now Cumbria), England, 18 December 1745. Also known as "The Battle of Clifton Moor", this was the last action of the Jacobite rising of 1745 to take place in England, and the last time English and Scottish armies clashed on English soil, but it is debated whether this counts as a full battle or just a "skirmish".

Battle of Culloden, Scotland, 16 April 1746. The final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745, this was the last large scale pitched battle fought on British soil, and in many sources the last battle of any sort fought in Great Britain.

Battle of Fishguard, Wales, 22–24 February 1797. The most recent landing on British soil by a hostile foreign force, and thus is often referred to as the "last invasion of Britain".

Battle of Bossenden Wood, Kent, England, 31 May 1838. The battle, if it was such - some sources refer to it as an "armed rising" - was fought between a small group of labourers from the local area and a detachment of soldiers sent from Canterbury to arrest the labourers' leader.

Battle of Graveney Marsh, Kent, England, 27 September 1940. The last ground engagement involving a foreign force to take place on the mainland of Great Britain, was an encounter between the crew of a downed German aircraft and British soldiers training nearby.

Llanwnda, Pembrokeshire

Llanwnda is a rural village and historical parish to the north of the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire and part of the community of Pencaer. It lies some two miles northwest of the port of Fishguard and is inside the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

To the north of the village is the rocky outcrop of Garnwnda, which was the site of a French soldiers' camp during the Battle of Fishguard. On the north side of Garnwnda is a prominent cromlech excavated by John Fenton in 1847.The church of St Gwyndaf is a Grade II* listed building

The community came to a degree of national prominence in the summer of 2007 following the purchase of a semi-derelict farmhouse (Trehilyn) by the broadcaster Griff Rhys Jones and the ensuing BBC television documentary, A Pembrokeshire Farmhouse, which recorded its restoration.

Légion Noire

La Légion noire (The Black Legion) was a military unit of the French Revolutionary Army. It took part in what was the unsuccessful last invasion of Britain in February 1797.The Legion was created on the orders of General Hoche to take part in a three pronged attack against Ireland and Britain. It was commanded by chef de brigade William Tate.

Mathry

Mathry (Welsh: Mathri) is a village, community and parish in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The hilltop village is 6 miles (9.7 km) southwest of Fishguard, close to the A487 road between Fishguard and St David's.

Military deception

Military deception refers to attempts to mislead enemy forces during warfare. This is usually achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial fog of war via psychological operations, information warfare, visual deception and other methods. As a form of strategic use of information (disinformation), it overlaps with psychological warfare. To the degree that any enemy that falls for the deception will lose confidence when it is revealed, he may hesitate when confronted with the truth.

Deception in warfare dates back to early history. The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise, puts great emphasis on the tactic. In modern times military deception has developed as a fully fledged doctrine. Misinformation and visual deception were employed during World War I and came into even greater prominence during World War II. In the buildup to the 1944 invasion of Normandy the Allies executed one of the largest deceptions in military history, Operation Bodyguard, helping them achieve full tactical surprise.

Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire (, , or ; Welsh: Sir Benfro [ˈsiːr ˈbɛnvrɔ]) is a county in the southwest of Wales. It is bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east, Ceredigion to the northeast, and the sea everywhere else.

The county is home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only national park in the United Kingdom established primarily because of the coastline; the Park occupies more than a third of the area of the county and includes the Preseli Hills in the north as well as the 186-mile (299 km) Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Industry is nowadays focused on agriculture (86 per cent of land use), oil and gas, and tourism; Pembrokeshire's beaches have won many awards. Historically mining and fishing were important activities. The county has a diverse geography with a wide range of geological features, habitats and wildlife. Its prehistory and modern history have been extensively studied, from tribal occupation, through Roman times, to Welsh, Norman and Flemish influences.

Pembrokeshire County Council's headquarters are in the county town of Haverfordwest. The council has a majority of Independent members, but the county's representatives in both the Welsh and Westminster Parliaments are Conservative. Pembrokeshire's population was 122,439 at the 2011 census, an increase of 7.2 per cent from the 2001 figure of 114,131. Ethnically, the county is 99 per cent white and, for historical reasons, Welsh is more widely spoken in the north of the county than in the south.

Strumble Head

Strumble Head (Welsh: Pen Strwmbl) is a rocky headland in the community of Pencaer in Pembrokeshire, Wales, within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It marks the southern limit of Cardigan Bay. Three islands lie off the head: Ynys Meicel – 112 feet (34 m) – Ynys Onnen and Carreg Onnen.

Strumble Head, which is on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, comprises part of the Strumble Head - Llechdafad Cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest and is one of the best sites in Britain to view cetaceans, particularly the porpoise which can be spotted in the tidal races around the headland with modest binoculars. Public cetacean watches are frequently organized by the Goodwick-based local marine wildlife conservationist Sea Trust. Seals can often be spotted. A wartime lookout post was converted as a shelter for wildlife fans and was opened by Bill Oddie.The adjacent coast has been the site of numerous shipwrecks. In 2003, a French shipwreck, possibly from the battle of Fishguard, was found nearby . The Bardse of the Pile of Fowdrey was wrecked off Strumble Head on 3 October 1763 laden with a cargo of iron and copper from Wicklow bound for Chepstow. In 1915, the barque Calburga, one of Canada's last square rigged sailing ships, was lost.It gives its name to Strumble Head Lighthouse on the island of Ynys Meicel, and Strumble VOR, a way-point in many transatlantic flights.

The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781

The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 is a 1783 large oil painting by John Singleton Copley. It depicts the death of Major Francis Peirson at the Battle of Jersey on 6 January 1781.

The Battle of Jersey was the last French attempt to seize the island of Jersey, and one of the last battles with invading forces from a foreign nation in the British home islands. The invasion was organised privately by Baron Philippe de Rullecourt but funded and supplied by the French government, and was intended to remove the threat that British naval vessel based in Jersey posed to American ships in the American Revolutionary War.

Approximately 1,000 French soldiers, commanded by de Rullecourt and an Indian, Mir Sayyad, landed at La Rocque, Grouville, overnight on 5–6 January. They occupied St Helier early on the morning of 6 January. They captured the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, Moses Corbet, in bed. Although Corbet surrendered, Peirson, the 24-year-old commander of around 2,000 troops of the British garrison, refused to surrender. As Peirson organised a counter-attack, a French shot killed him. Lieutenant Philippe Dumaresq of the Jersey militia took command of the British forces, which comprised detachments of the 95th Regiment of Foot, 78th Highlanders, and Jersey Militia. The British forces quickly overwhelmed the French, most of whom surrendered.

John Boydell, a successful engraver and publisher and Aldermen of the City of London, commissioned Copley to paint a large painting, 251.5 centimetres (99.0 in) by 365.8 centimetres (144.0 in). The scene looks towards the final French resistance in Royal Square, viewed along what is now Peirson Place, with the French soldiers taking their last stand around the statue of George II. Further British reinforcements are visible on the hill at the top left. The statue and some of the buildings depicted still stand (some with bullet holes caused by the battle).

Although Peirson was killed in the early stages of the battle, the painting shows Peirson (at the centre of the painting under the large Union Flag, supported by other officers) being shot down leading the final charge, giving him a more heroic role and fate. To the left, his black servant Pompey avenges his master by shooting the sniper. It is believed that the depictions of the officers supporting the stricken Peirson are true portraits; the black servant of auctioneer James Christie was the model for Pompey, although it is unclear whether a black servant played a role (there is no suggestion in contemporaneous sources). Copley modeled the civilians fleeing to the right on his wife, family nurse and children.

Peirson became a national hero, and the painting drew crowds when it was first exhibited at 28 Haymarket in May 1784, with admission charged at 1 shilling. The Tate Gallery purchased the painting in 1864. Between 1989 and 2010, a copy appeared on the 10 Jersey pound note, and before that on the 1 pound note.

Tregwynt Mansion

Tregwynt Mansion is a manor house in the parish of Granston in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The Tregwynt Hoard was found during renovations in 1996.

William Tate (soldier)

Chef de brigade (colonel) William Tate was the Irish-American commander of a French military force known as La Légion Noire ("The Black Legion") which invaded Britain in 1797, resulting in the Battle of Fishguard.

The 1,200 to 1,400-strong Légion Noire landed at Carregwastad Point, near the Welsh port of Fishguard, on February 22 but surrendered three days later. After brief imprisonment, Tate was returned to France in a prisoner exchange in 1798, along with most of his invasion force. This was the last invasion of the British mainland by foreign forces.

Tate reportedly disliked the British because his family had been killed by pro-British Native Americans in the American War of Independence, and he advocated Irish republicanism.Many historians, following E. H. Stuart Jones, the author of The Last Invasion of Britain (1950), have suggested that William Tate was about 70 years old in 1797; he was in fact 44.

Yeomanry Cavalry

The Yeomanry Cavalry was the mounted component of the British Volunteer Corps, a military auxiliary established in the late 18th century amid fears of invasion and insurrection during the French Revolutionary Wars. A yeoman was a person of respectable standing, one social rank below a gentleman, and the yeomanry was initially a rural, county-based force. Members were required to provide their own horses and were recruited mainly from landholders and tenant farmers, though the middle class also featured prominently in the rank and file. Officers were largely recruited from among the nobility and landed gentry. A commission generally involved significant personal expense, and although social status was an important qualification, the primary factor was personal wealth. From the beginning, the newly rich, who found in the yeomanry a means of enhancing their social standing, were welcomed into the officer corps for their ability to support the force financially. Urban recruitment increased towards the end of the 19th century, reflected in the early 20th century by increasingly common use of hired mounts.

The yeomanry was first used in support of local authorities to suppress civil unrest, most notably during the food riots of 1795. Its only use in national defence was in 1797, when the Castlemartin Yeomanry helped defeat a small French invasion in the Battle of Fishguard. Although the Volunteer Corps was disbanded following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the yeomanry was retained as a politically reliable force which could be deployed in support of the civil authorities. It often served as mounted police until the middle of the 19th century. Most famously, the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry was largely responsible for the Peterloo Massacre, in which some 17 people were killed and up to 650 were injured, while policing a rally for parliamentary reform in Manchester in 1819. The yeomanry was also deployed against striking colliers in the 1820s, during the Swing riots of the early 1830s and the Chartist disturbances of the late 1830s and early 1840s. The exclusive membership set the yeomanry apart from the population it policed, and as better law enforcement options became available the yeomanry was increasingly held back for fear that its presence would provoke confrontation. Its social status made the force a popular target for caricature, particularly after Peterloo, and it was often satirised in the press, in literature and on the stage.

The establishment of civilian police forces and renewed invasion scares in the middle of the 19th century turned the focus of the yeomanry to national defence, but its effectiveness and value in this role was increasingly questioned. It declined in strength, surviving largely due to its members' political influence and willingness to subsidise the force financially. A series of government committees failed to address the force's problems. The last, in 1892, found a place for the yeomanry in the country's mobilisation scheme, but it was not until a succession of failures by the regular army during the Second Boer War that the yeomanry found a new relevance as mounted infantry. It provided the nucleus for the separate Imperial Yeomanry, and after the war, the yeomanry was re-branded en bloc as the Imperial Yeomanry. It ceased to exist as a separate institution in 1908, when the yeomanry became the mounted component of the Territorial Force. Yeomanry regiments fought mounted and dismounted in both the First World War and the Second World War. The yeomanry heritage is maintained in the 21st century largely by four yeomanry regiments of the British Army Reserve, in which many 19th century regiments are represented as squadrons.

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