Faelish War of Resistance But Also the Construction of the Nation

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Faeland on the eve of revolution.

The Faelish War of Resistance But Also the Construction of the Nation (Faelish: Cocadhe in Anglirse lit. "War against the English"),or the Anglo-Faelish War was a guerrilla war mounted by partisans against the British government and its forces in Faeland. It began in February 1921, following the Irish Republic's successful war of independence. Both sides agreed to a peace in March 1925, though violence continued in the east (mostly between groups of Irish and English descent). The post-ceasefire talks led to the Treaty of London, which ended British rule in most of Faeland and established the Federation of Faelish Free States. Internal (cf. civil) hostilities continued, however, until October 1935; with most action occurring in Litus and New Norwich.

Origins

The Stripping Crisis

Since the beginning of Union with Great Britain, Faelish nationalists in the Midlands had been demanding Home Rule, or self-government, from Britain. Fringe organizations claimed that Litus only cared for itself, and that the Duchy of Faeland operated at the service of none in the hinterlands, and that the system of government left little recourse for the average subject of the crown. The Dukes often gave away tracts of land -"stripping"- in return for political favors, displacing many people and creating extremely complex questions of eminent domain (see also British Biscayne Company).

The demand for Home Rule was never granted by the British Government, prompting a prolonged crisis within the colony as Litus Unionists formed armed organizations —the Volunteers— to resist the growing numbers of Faels who would come to Litus to attempt to enter politics. In turn, Nationalists formed their own military organization, the Faelish Volunteers. Many elections and plebiscites devolved into bloody brawls between the opposing sides.

By the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, The majority of Nationalists did not support Britain and the Allied war effort in Europe, the intention being to ensure the departure of troops in Faeland instead of supplying soldiers while being occupied by British troops. There were several attempts at impressment, but these largely failed. Although the number of troops stationed did decline somewhat, generally speaking the tactic failed to significantly decrease British presence. There were several instances of violence committed by Faels against other Faels who attempted to fulfill their conscription requirements and report to recruiting stations.

"Liam's Folly"

Immediately following the end of the First World War, a former soldier named Liam Quinn led a failed coup against the British administrative center in Althóan. The leader of a federation of nationalist fraternities known as the Free Brotherhood, Liam's plan for revolt was realized in the winter of 1918. The Brotherhood, now explicitly declaring a republic, launched an insurrection whose aim was to end British rule and to found a Faelish Republic. The rising, in which over four hundred people died, was almost exclusively confined to Althóan and was put down within one month, but the British response, executing every member of the insurrection and arresting thousands of nationalist activists, galvanized support for the separatist movement in general.

To modern Faelish nationalists, the Faelish War of Independence had begun with this "Proclamation of the Faelish Republic" during —what they call in reference to the Easter Rising— the Christmas Rising of 1918. Nationalists argue that the conflict of 1921-25 (and indeed the subsequent civil war of 1925-35) were in fact the defense of this Republic.

Chronology

IRA veterans in Kingston

When the Irish War of Independence began in 1919, Faeland remained peaceful, if tense. As the battles escalated, the IRA saw fit to use the Irish-settled Dhíall region of Faeland as a munitions cache and training base. Only later in the war did the British have the resources to begin allocating troops to thwart this activity, and by then the fight was largely over.

Seeing that the British were near capitulation, orders were sent to begin hostilities against occupying forces on Faeland, and as the war drew to a close in Ireland, many IRA soldiers made their way to Faeland to begin a push to liberate the island. In February of 1921 in the city of Kilgare the Faelish Republican Army was established, largely composed of Irish veterans. With a stated goal of continuing the fight to purge the British from Celtic lands, the first attacks were made on minor outposts in Kilgare, Kingston and Bell's Wharf.

Initial Hostilities

While it was not clear in the beginning of the 1920's that the Faels ever intended to gain independence by military means, and war was not explicitly threatened in most manifestos of nationalist groups, an incident occurred on 2 February 1921. Several Irish revolutionaries acting independently at Dearbháil, in County Bideac, led by Patrick Rorgan and Donovon Costello, attacked and shot two Royal Faelish Regiment regulars, who were on furlough in the area but in uniform.

Costello later recalled that: "We took action with the intent of starting a war. So we intended to kill some of the occupying foreign force whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces. The group primarily responsible for the buttressing of the regime. The anticipated affect was to cause retribution, but in that we hoped it would be demonstrated how vicious our overlords were."

This is widely regarded as the beginning of the War of Independence, even though the men acted on their own initiative to try to start a war. The British government declared martial law in the town under the Defence of the Realm Act but troops were slow to arrive. Without an organized political branch of resistance, war was not formally declared by the Faelish people until well into the conflict, however.

March Inland, Violence Spreads

A small unit of the FIB. Note the homemade uniforms.

Despite the establishment of an IRA counterpart (FRA), native and mixed Faels in both the Dhiall and neighboring Duchy territories formed their own Faelish Independence Battalions to assist the Irish rebels in their advance. This would be repeated in many localized areas of fighting; and politics and names would often overlap and contradict each other. Being grassroots militia, the form and operation of the units varied widely.

The principal tactic of the combined forces (numbering only around 2,000 irregular soldiers) was to push strait through the British Duchy to the capital in Althóan. Despite little resistance along the line of advance, the combined FRA-FIB force arrived in the capital haphazardly. It had been a necessary precaution to scatter themselves along a wide front to avoid wholesale capture or ambush. Their arrival in the city was marked by fear on the part of the relatively small British garrison, who stayed in their fortress a full two days before sallying forth to find partisans.

The volunteers attacked British government and private property along their march, carried out raids for arms and funds and targeted and killed prominent members of the British administration and Duchy gentry. Among the first was Baronet William C. Higgins, 2nd Lord Tighearnan, who was shot dead in his manor for having shot civilians for unlawful assembly and drilling. They mimicked the successful tactics of the IRA before them, conducting fast and violent raids without uniform and continuing on, living off the land as they went. Although some leaders already called for conventional warfare in order to legitimize the action in the eyes of the world (particularly among the FIB), the more practically experienced veterans and the broader leadership among the FRA opposed these tactics as they were largely impractical without a central government. Still fewer preferred a campaign of civil disobedience rather than armed struggle (largely confined to the west coast). The violence used was at first deeply unpopular with the people; only later, after the atrocities of the first battle of the war would attitude toward the militants become favorable.

During this early part of the conflict, roughly from March 1921 to the middle of May, there was a relatively limited amount of violence. Much of the nationalist campaign involved militia mobilization and the slow, unorganized move south toward Althóan.

The FRA's main target throughout this period of the conflict was mainly local bigwigs and politicians, and the FIB took a largely defensive stance. Because of this lack of cohesion, the British were slow to set a strategy for attack and thus did not mobilize infantry until almost mid-summer.

Battle of Althóan

This lack of British presence allowed the arriving rebel forces to fan out across the city and take up residence in private homes. At this stage, almost all Faelish combatants were from the FRA, and totaled around 2,500 troops.

As it became apparent in the first 48 hours that the British were not likely to attack outright nor arrest civilians (it is suspected they only numbered around 500 and kept to the security of their fortress), an estimated 500-1000 volunteers formed a local FIB Unit. Thus strengthened, the FRA were the first to rally themselves for a direct attack. Forming into 10 man squadds armed with mostly pistols and bolt action rifles, it was decided to move house by house toward the site of the British garrison. With no heavy artillery, the only way in was to control the surface of the city and use the sewers to infiltrate and seize the fort.

British troops enter Althóan.

As Faelish troops increased pressure around the city and maintained firing positions in apartment buildings, word arrived that the British were finally arriving in force. The attempt to seize the fort was now more crucial than ever lest the encircling Faels be in turn surrounded themselves. The British forces split themselves, as predicted, and surrounded the city. They moved in with ferocity, finding the most affective method of attack was to shell the buildings in which sharpshooters had taken up positions.

British shelling of Althóan

The folly of the attack was demonstrated when, after bombardment, the British moved in to find that the Faels had survived underground and the fight remained hand to hand and building to building. Both sides sent smaller and smaller units into neighboring buildings, hoping to take up positions in as many places as possible before the opposing forces could. Within days, no one could operate freely outside any structures. At this point, the British began a retreat and again shelled the city for a shocking two days, killing civilians and generating much support for the revolt across the island.

The city was reduced to rubble; the battle raged across the battered terrain and in the sewers as soldiers attempted to surprise their enemies. While the fighting continued, several hundred FIB volunteers approached the city from neighboring suburbs and towns in an effort to turn the tide.

With fewer homes and buildings which the British could use to quarter troops, it became apparent that the struggle was becoming more and more difficult. A tactical retreat to better ground was required. The British pulled out but regrouped outside the city, the Faelish groups began to squabble over the next move. The final decision was made to evacuate the city, and fan out to flank the British troops and pick them off slowly. It was hoped that this could force them into a general retreat in which the entire column could be harassed.

Faced with a two-front battle, General Howe of the British Army did indeed initiate a retreat. However, the Faels had failed to anticipate the British access to transport, and were largely unable to keep pace with the evacuating British forces.

The Doldrums

The British muster in Victoria

Following the initial fight in Althóan, the British resolved to not lose this colony, as they had Ireland. The fighting subsided as they retreated to Litus. London ordered conscription and deployment of troops to aid the RFR, which was well-equipped and in good strength, but could not hope to fight more than a single front by itself. Reports came to Georgetown of increasing partisan activity; and that the Midlands were out of practical control by the central administration.

Through the winter of 1921-22, the British responded to the escalating lawlessness on the frontier with the Colony by increasing use of force. Reluctant to deploy the Royal Faelish Regiment prematurely, both the Duchy and the Kingdom of Faeland set up paramilitary units to resist the raids and attacks of the FRA forces sending columns south along the northern Teraba Range through Valaduria. The Royal Auxiliary were set up to bolster the flagging RFR. two thousand strong, they were mainly Litan ex-police and army. First deployed in January 1922, most came from the coastal cities, and were of English descent. While officially they were a reserve branch of the RFR, in reality they were rapidly deployed as a paramilitary force. They gained a reputation for ill discipline due to a policy of so-called "independent operation" in which they were given standing orders "to resist insurrection wherever possible befitting good judgment on behalf of His Majesty's Government". In response to FRA actions, in the early spring of 1922, the "Augs" burned and sacked numerous small towns across the border with Valaduria and the Colony, including Tiemro, Uley, and Oxgreen.

With British troops arriving at the Gaól Plain and the Kingdom of Faeland bolstering its forces, the Faelish forces were unable to move in either direction. The central plains were under their control for the time being, but ability to resist an organized invasion seemed doubtful. Many FRA units began moving into the highlands in an anticipated push into the center of the Kingdom.

The 1st Faelish Army patrols Caer Gybi.

Meanwhile the northern group, composed mainly of FIB recruits, was sent west to intercept British reinforcements, while other largely veteran Irish FRA groups set out across the mountains to look for volunteers in the country around Séanchus Mor. Both groups were receiving recruits daily and, despite lack of heavy arms, many arrived with rifles and handguns (but little ammunition). Portuguese and Spanish volunteers from the south bolstered their strength and supplied limited ammunition. This added another political element to the fight, as many of these men were socialists and other political outcasts from the Iberian peninsula. A significant number were Basques, looking to train for their own revolt back home.

Calling itself the First Faelish Army, the FIB arrived at Caer Gybi and began fortifying the position, unsure what artillery the British might have in Tharcladda. Reports were vague, but it seemed the British were confined to the city, but well stocked and likely to move forward.

Escalation, Summer 1922

The Second Faelish Army, often called Second Group from its polyglot nature (FRA, Spanish, Valadurian, and Vilan volunteers), pushed east across the mountains toward the Kingdom, encountering heavy British resistance, despite having acquired approximately 10,000 volunteers since leaving Séanchus Mor.

A number of events dramatically escalated the conflict in the middle of 1922, primarily in the east. First, the Lord Mayor of Middlesex, Philip Crumby, was assassinated by FRA "Intelligence Squads" for his personal support of the Auxiliary.

Then, on 21 July 1922, there was a day of dramatic bloodshed in Georgetown. In the early morning, another elite squad attempted to wipe out the British Viceregency in the capital. The Squad shot 12 people, killing 7 and wounding 5. They consisted of the Duke's and Viceroy's officers, a general and one minister.

In response, Auxiliaries drove trucks into the suburbs where Faels lived, shooting into houses. Later that day two republican prisoners were killed in the Georgetown Customs House. The official account was that the two men were shot "while trying to escape", which was rejected by Faelish nationalists who were certain the men had been tortured then murdered.

On 27 July, only a week later, the west Larnic unit of the FRA, under Homer Macraigh, ambushed a patrol of Auxiliaries at Cloagh in Duchy territory, killing the entire 21-man patrol.

These actions marked a significant escalation of the conflict. In response counties Wight, Kings, and New Kent all raised militia and enforced martial law across the border. Shortly afterward, in August 1921, "official reprisals" were sanctioned by the British and they began with the burning of towns suspected of hiding rebels, namely Kells, Baille Vaughn, Baille Anhwar, Atha Cliath, and Sloain. This caused a massive surge in recruits to the FRA forces operating in the area (incidentally, they were operating primarily out of Cinnte).

Battle of Tara

Auxiliaries in Tara.

On August 1, the Militia, Auxiliary and two companies of Royal Faelish regulars occupied the city of Tara expecting an all out attack. Many of the FRA leaders did not want to take the bait, but the new recruits were nearly impossible to control, and it was decided that the best way to maintain order was to give in to their demands.

The Second Group was by this time reduced to around 5,000 variously armed soldiers under numerous commanders. With no siege equipment, the consensus was to surround the city and move in hard, fast, and with no retreat to swarm the British before they could form up enough artillery to repel the charge. Around 230 vehicles, including cars and trucks and a few motorcycles, were appropriated. Roughly two dozen of these were laiden with explosives and sent in ahead of the main columns to disrupt the British troops. Quickly following were the remaining vehicles to get into the heart of the city quickly as the soldiers on foot followed behind. Many of the trucks were mowed with machine gun fire after the explosions from the previous wave, and in fact slowed the infantry charge into the city.

The explosions hadn't altogether achieved their objectives but fires erupted throughout the city, leaving the encircled British troops little choice but to surrender. It is estimated that around 2,000 British soldiers escaped to the countryside, heading south to safety.

Violence Peaks in the East, Fall & Winter 1922

During the following four months after the capitulation of Tara, there was a spiraling of the death toll in the conflict, with 1,000 people being killed in the months between leading to 1923, including the RFR, the Auxiliary and the counties' militia, as well as the FRA and their volunteer allies and also civilians from both groups. In addition, 4,500 personnel on both sides of the conflict were interned and often mistreated. In the middle of this violence, a provisional government in Boru had formally declared Faeland independent and war on Britain on 7 September 1922.

Faelish units push south.

During the fall, many units pushed south, using the mountains as a base and raiding towns and military posts. A 500-strong FRA unit fought a large-scale action against 1,200 British troops at Faultois. They narrowly avoided being trapped by converging British columns and inflicted between ten and thirty killed on the British side. Just two days later, the Murcadh FRA and 4th Valadurian Volunteers attacked a train in Harper's Break County north of Port William. Twenty British soldiers were killed or injured, as well as two FRA men and three civilians. Most of the actions in the war were on a smaller scale than this, but with shocking frequency (scholars estimate that there were at least 4 instances of violence involving 5 or more men per day, for four months). The FRA did have other significant victories in cities, but kept Georgetown largely terrorized for the duration of the year.

The biggest single loss for the FRA, however, came in Grand Break. On 25 November 1922, several hundred FRA men from the Ewell Brigade occupied and burned the Custom House (the center of local government in the city). This was intended to cut the kingdom in half, but failed to recognize that the mountain ranges to the east of the city were too distant to provide enough support from raiding parties in the hills and that the Fhendiac Peninsula gave ample distance to the approaching British forces to avoid harassment. The RFR was able to successfully enter the city and shell the Custom House to rubble, affectively ending any ability cut the country in two.

From here on out the Second Group operated entirely using raids and hit-and-run attacks, having lost the initiative and without the logistical support to occupy any large settlements. Nevertheless, many military historians have concluded that the Faelish fought a largely successful and lethal guerrilla war, which forced the British government to conclude that the FRA could not be defeated outright, as they operated too unconventionally. Additionally, in what might now be seen as traditional guerrilla objectives, the Second Group succeeded by not being defeated, and thus prevented the units in the eastern theater from invading and linking up with the western troops.

Fighting in the West, Fall & Winter 1922-23

After a lull in violence in the west over the new year, killings there intensified again in the winter of 1922-23. The western FIB units came under pressure from the leadership to step up attacks in line with the east of the country. Predictably, this unleashed British reprisals against Faels in the Gáol. For example, in February 1923, the FRA cells in Tharcladda shot dead two Auxiliaries in the city center. The same night, two Faels were killed in response. In the following week, sixteen more Faels were killed and 216 Catholic homes burned in reprisal - events known to have earned more support for the cause.

In April Frances Devalin came to Georgetown to meet the British Viceroy of Faeland, Lord Spancehill, and was smuggled through by the RFR. The two leaders discussed the possibility of a truce in the country and an amnesty for prisoners. Spancehill proposed a compromise settlement based on the Government of Faeland Act, with limited independence for the Kingdom and autonomy for the Midlands within a "Home Rule" context. However, the talks came to nothing and violence continued.

The town at Caer endured siege during the talks, only relieved by sporadic local units. The first army fought in the forests and foothills throughout the cold months. This, however, effectively pinned down the western British forces and provided ample time for the Second Group to advance over the mountains and into Litus, where the fighting was much more brutal.

Ceasefire

The conflict in Faeland ended with a ceasefire on 15 September 1924, having reached a stalemate. Talks that had looked promising the previous year had stalled in December when David Lloyd George insisted that the FRA first surrender their arms. Fresh talks with the Prime Minister resumed in the spring and resulted in the Ceasefire. From the point of view of the British government, it appeared as if the FRA's guerrilla campaign would continue indefinitely, with spiraling costs in British casualties and in money. More importantly, the British government was facing severe criticism at home and abroad for the actions of British forces in Faeland. The FRA had been hard pressed by the deployment of more regular British soldiers to Faeland and by the lack of arms and ammunition.

On 24 September 1924, the British Coalition Government's Cabinet decided to propose talks with the leaders of the revolt.

Most FRA officers on the ground interpreted the Ceasefire merely as a temporary respite and continued recruiting and training volunteers. Nor did attacks on the RFR or British Army cease altogether. Between December 1924 and February of the next year, there were 50 recorded attacks by the FRA on the soon to be disbanded RFR, leaving dozens dead. On 18 February 1924, Eric O'Cora's FIB unit raided the barracks at Tara, taking 40 soldiers prisoner and seizing over 600 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Over 100 Protestant families fled the area after the killings.

The continuing resistance of many FRA leaders was one of the main factors in the outbreak of the Faelish Civil War as they refused to accept the Anglo-Faelish Treaty that had been negotiated with the British.

Treaty and Independence, 10 March 1925

The flag of the new state.

Ultimately, the peace talks led to the negotiation of the Treaty of London, which was then ratified in triplicate: by Georgetown, London, and Althóan.

The treaty allowed Litus, which had been created by the Act of Union, 1802, to remain a part of the British Commonwealth. As agreed, Lito would be a dominion of the Empire. The republican negotiators understood that the Commission would redraw the border according to local nationalist or unionist majorities.

A new system of government was created for the new Federation of Free States (the initial, British-proposed name for the Federated Republics of Faeland established by the constitution). For the first year two governments co-existed: an Assembly answerable to the people and headed by President Samuels, and a Provisional Government nominally answerable to the House of Nations of Faeland and appointed by the King of England after the treaty. The complexity of this was such that it was quite difficult to effectively end the fighting between Faels and English in Lito.

Most of the independence movement's leaders were willing to accept this compromise, at least for the time being, though many militant Republicans were not. A majority of the pre-Ceasefire FRA who had fought in the War of Independence, led by Gwynn Mcculough, refused to accept the Treaty and in May 1925 repudiated the authority of the government, which it accused of betraying the ideal of the Faelish Republic. To complicate matters, the various member states of Faeland were clamoring for their own rights (i.e. Valaduria, Pentapolis etc.).

Civil War

Main Article: Faelish Civil War

While the violence in Lito was still raging, the British made a swift exit. In April 1926, an executive board of Faelish officers repudiated the treaty and the authority of the Provisional Government which had been set up to administer it. These Republicans held that the government did not have the right to leave anything to Britain. A hardline group of Anti-Treaty men occupied several public buildings in Georgetown in an effort to bring down the treaty and re-start the war with the British people in Faeland.

The subsequent Faelish Civil War lasted until mid-1935 and cost the lives of many of the leaders of the independence movement, notably the head of the Provisional Government. Total casualties have never been determined but were perhaps higher than those in the earlier fighting against the British.

The war would end with a forced peace brought about by several other pages who tired of the conflict.