The first active service for the regiment of Galmoy began in Italy in 1701 at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession. With other Irish regiments it was in the army of Marshal Catinat who, cautious after a brush with Prince Eugene of Savoy at Carpi, had to accept the Duke de Villeroy as commander over his head. The day after his arrival the Duke wrote home that "the 40 first battalions were only from 360 to 400 men strong, except the Irish who were numerous, with a great number of reformed officers." The Irish officers of regiments disbanded in 1698 served on as volunteers on half-pay in the line. This is confirmed by other sources and was surely one of the reasons for the quality of the regiments. The army of the Duke of Savoy (Prince Eugene’s cousin) met up with the French and together they marched to Chiari, which Eugene’s army was known to have occupied.
Seeing only a few enemy troops, Villeroy insisted on attacking the town, saying the King had sent him to fight the enemy, not to look at him through a telescope. In fact, Eugene had reinforced the town’s defences and hidden his men behind parapets. The attacking French and Savoyards were raked by fire from the town and from the Austrian cannon. The first attack stopped at the wall. A supporting attack was launched with Dillon and Galmoy on the right alongside the French regiments of Auvergne and Medoc. Under fire from Austrian grenadiers hidden in mills and farmhouses in the countryside before the town they attacked these and conquered some of them, only to be driven out by a flank attack later. Villeroy hesitated and left his men struggling against a town fortified to an extent not expected. After a massacre lasting two hours, Catinat siezed the initiative and called the army to retreat.
The French losses were high, about 2000 compared with the Imperialists 117 men. Felix MacNamee, aged 35, a native of Armagh, had had his left arm taken off by a cannon ball and, put out of service, was admitted into the military hospital of Les Invalides, dying at Arras in 1726. The ensign of the Colonel’s company, Terence Sweeny, aged 33, was hit in the right thigh by cannon shot and across the body by a musket ball. He too, was admitted to Les Invalides and survived until 1750. Also hit by a cannon shot in the right leg was the reformed Lieutenant Thomas Meade, aged 31, a native of Kilmallock, who survived until 1736. John Conor, aged 31, a Kerryman and the sergeant of grenadiers, lost his right arm though a musket ball but lived until 1721.
It is interesting to note that the battle of Chiari cost Galmoy the greatest number of those men who were accepted into Les Invalides, a sign of the heftiness of that combat for them.
The retreat was covered by our regiment along with two other brigades with slight losses.
Villeroy and the Irish regiments went into Cremona for the winter. Although O’Callaghan only mentions those of Burke and Dillon, the regiment of Galmoy was also present and played its part in the heroic defence against a surprise attack by the Imperial forces on the early morning of the 1st February 1702. Neil Cowen, a reformed lieutenant aged 52 and a native of Armagh, was so badly trampled by horses that he too was referred to the hospital of Les Invalides, living on until 1733. As a result of the affair, the regiment of Galmoy, which had previously received only the French level of pay, was raised to the same level of the original Irish regiments of Dillon, Clare and Lee.
On 15th August 1702 we find Galmoy on the left wing of the French army at Luzzara, now under Vendôme. Here the French had to give way after a hard fought battle with the Imperial troops under Prince Eugene. John Fox, 40 years old and a native of Dungannon had his right arm taken off by a cannon ball. Peter Walsh lost a couple of fingers on the left hand – this, and other old wounds, put him into Les Invalides at the age of 57. Antony Murphy from Armagh suffered a musket ball in the right arm which put him out of service at the age of 40. A few years later, in 1706, he died while in the garrison in the Citadelle of Lille. (The old age of the soldiers is because of the fact that only soldiers with more than 12 years of service were eligible to be admitted into Les Invalides.)
At the end of the year the regiment of Galmoy consisted of only 397 men against the full quota of 495 men. The losses were graver due to the fact that the regiment had had more than its full complement at the start of the campagne thanks to the number of reformed officers.
1703 found the regiment in Germany where it took part in the surprise attack on the allied army at Speyer, when Marshal Tallard turned on the force which was supposed to relieve the city of Landau, which he was besieging. Defeating the allies with relatively light losses on the 15th November, Tallard turned back to accept the surrender of Landau on the 18th.
The following years found it back in Italy where at Genivolta the Imperial strongpoint was taken by the Grenadiers of Berwick, Galmoy and Auvergne.
We find it at Vendôme’s victory over Prince Eugene at Cassano d’Adda on 16th August 1705. Here Cornelius Sullivan, 34, a native of St. Michel in Co. Cork, lost his left arm and was admitted to Les Invalides as a result. We loose track of him in 1720 when, detached to a garrison in Provence, he failed to return and, after a delay of two months, was declared a deserter. At Cassano the Imperial army broke through the French lines and was only contained by the efforts of the second line containing the Irish regiments of Dillon, Burke and Galmoy. Galmoy suffered the loss of 40 officers killed or wounded. It was here that they found themselves in a moat up to their waists in water and pulled themselves up by their teeth to get a shot at the enemy. Being shot at by enemy cannon on the other bank of the Adda, they swam accoss and put it out of action.
Early in 1706 Galmoy’s fought alongside Dillon’s, Fitzgerald’s and Bourke’s, distinguishing itself. In September of that year it was part of the army besieging Turin, when Prince Eugene relieved the town and drove the French forces out of Italy for the rest of the war.
1707 found it in the Black Forest on the upper Rhine, defending the lines of Stollhofen. In 1708 the regiment went to Spain taking part in the actions at Tortosa, Valentia, Alecante. Afterwards marching back north, in 1709 we find it at the start of the year in Dauphiné and later in Flanders, where it fought the battle of Malplaquet as part of the Irish brigade. In this bloodiest battle of the war it paid its share of the total price. The files of Les Invalides record the story of Cornelius Luossy, aged 48 and a native of Cork. He was sergeant of grenadiers under Captain de la Roche and suffered a bayonet wound in the left hand which put him out of service after 20 years. Interestingly, he carried a "nomme de guerre" besides his real name: "Lafortune". This was a usual practice in the French regiments but not often met in the Irish. Another sergeant, Art O’Neill, a native of Magrath, near Dublin, was still serving in the company of Captain Kearny at the ripe old age of 66 when a bullet across his neck at Malplaquet was intended to turn him into a pensioner. This, and his poor eyesight, put him into Les Invalides on Christmas day 1711. It must have been boring for the old warrior, for on the 29th March 1712 he left the hospital to join up again as a dragoon in the colonel’s company of the regiment of Coetmen!
When England dropped out of the war in 1711/1712 the French cleaned up Flanders by taking the fortresses of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain in quick succession. After taking part in this campaign, Galmoy walked back to Spain through Roussillon in 1713 and in 1714 it took part in the siege of Barcelona which ended the Austrian King Charles III’s presence on the peninsula. Here the records of Les Invalides tell of a certain Anthony Fitzmartin, 39, who had his left leg cut off by a bullet storming the citadelle. He was given a job as a guard in the detachment at the infamous Chateau d’If where he drowned on 9th April 1719.
On the 30th January 1715 his old regiment Galmoy was disbanded and what men remained were put into the regiment of Dillon.
The following captains are recorded for the regiment. Since there are more than the 13 required, a few must have been successors to others.
- Lt. Col Barnwall
- Grenadier Captain Butler, 1709 Captain de la Roche
Major John Kelly
Captain O’Neill, later Captain Guégane (Geoghan ?)
Captain Bremichon ?
Captain O'Kahane (O’Cahan ?)
Captain Gallwey (Colonel Galmoy ?)
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