General admits the futility of ‘acts of great violence’ in Ireland

Sir John Moore – Painting by Thomas Lawrence –
The National Portrait Gallery
.

10 January 1798

Major General John Moore disapproved of the enthusiasm with which other British officers committed atrocities in Ireland while suppressing local uprisings against British rule. On 10 January 1798, he made an insightful observation in his diary. He noted that:

‘the mode which has been followed to quiet the disturbances in this country has been to proclaim the districts in which the people appeared to be the most violent, and to let loose the military, who were encouraged in acts of great violence against all who were supposed to be disaffected;’ adding that  ‘individuals have been taken up upon suspicion, and without any trial sent out of the country.’

Moore concluded that such measures were futile, remarking that ‘by these means the disturbances have been quelled, an apparent calm produced, but the disaffection has been undoubtedly increased.’1 However, such were the pressures for harsh measures from London that within five months, Moore himself was resorting to the very same indiscriminate terror tactics, confessing in his diary on 27 May that the lack of local collaboration by many parishes was ‘forcing me to ruin them,’ and that as soon as his Redcoats appeared ‘everybody fled’.2

FOOTNOTES

  1. Sir John Moore, diary entry 10 January 1798 in Major-General Sir J.F. Maurice (editor), The Diary of Sir John Moore, Edward Arnold, 1904, p. 271.
  2. Sir John Moore, diary entry 27 May 1798, in Major General Sir. J.F. Maurice (editor), The Diary of Sir John Moore, op. cit., p. 290.

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