GENERAL ROBERT MUNRO

General Robert Munro's homeland and seat of the Clan was on the north side of  the Cromarty of Firth in Scotland. He was sent to Ulster by the Scottish parliament to protect the English and Scottish settlers as a result of the 1641 uprising initiated by Sir Phelim O’Neill, Lord Maguire and Rory O’ More, an uprising which was backed by many of the  old Anglo-Irish settlers.  It is worthwhile noting that over eighty percent of Scotland were pro covenant at the time and opposed to attempts by King Charles 1st  to impose a revised Prayer Book on the Scottish Church, this lead to conflict between the Scottish parliament and the English crown -  shortly after Munro landed in Ulster the English civil war began. Munro landed in Carrickfergus in April of 1642 and made his residence at Trooperslane, he brought with him 10,000 troops complete with artillery, he also brought under  his command troops ‘raised’ locally amongst the settlers including a mounted cavalry regiment under Lord Conway. Owen Roe O’Neill  had returned to Ireland from Spain in July of 1642 and took command of the ‘raised’ Confederate Irish Army, Preston and others followed to add weight to their  Ulster campaign  - the conflict that took place in Ulster was barbaric, many of the ‘raised’ troops were undisciplined and atrocities were being matched by atrocity. Munro's strategy was just as ruthless  and no measure was spared in his campaign  against O’Neill and his supporters - the conflict led to thousands of innocent people getting slaughtered on both sides. O’Neill waged a guerrilla type offensive in Ulster, whereas Munro, superior in numbers, systematically destroyed castles and villages throughout the land – some accounts tell of him laying waste to both Antrim and Down in what we would nowadays refer to as a 'scorched earth policy'. He attacked and took Newry in 1642 and Belfast by superior force in 1644.  Munro suffered the worst setback to  his Ulster campaign at the Battle of  Benburb in 1646, when he was defeated by O’Neill.  Heavily outnumbered and without artillery, O’Neill had taken the advantage of position and strategy, the ensuing pitched battle left 3,000 of Munro’s troops dead and Lord Conway’s mounted regiment reduced to 40 horsemen. With confrontation going on between the English parliament and the Crown, the English civil war underway, confrontation between the Scottish covenanters forces and the English crown  - there was little control over what was going on in Ulster and the conflict continued from 1641 to 1649. After the English civil war had  ended, Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland and  by superior military force and the systematic implementation of a ruthless and barbaric war strategy, brought about a swift end to the long and bloody rebellion.  Cromwell is always cited as being barbaric in Irish history - He was a military tactician well experienced in warfare and it must be pointed out that he was no more barbaric than the conflict had already been, on all sides there had been accounts of atrocities, people being burned alive in buildings and villages systematically destroyed, heads cut off and stuck on posts - on both sides. All war is barbaric, that is its nature from ancient to modern times it is and will always be that way. Although Charles 1st was a Scottish Protestant married to a Roman Catholic, there were many in power who suspected him of ‘catholic’ sympathies,  some believing that he silently approved of the 1641 uprising, interestingly enough,  Sir Phelim O’ Neill, before his execution in Dublin when asked to confess to that same question, remained silent. Whatever the truth of these suspicions about Charles 1st and his support for Sir Phelim O' Neill - they both suffered the same fate by being executed by the new  master's of power in England and Ireland.

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