Continued from yesterday. . .
When the Civil War ended in the United States in April of 1865, 200,000 battle-hardened men were now free to participate as members of the Fenian movement. The bulk of that number had been sworn in during the course of the War between the States, but with the end of the conflict, many more decided to join.
Those involved within the British and American armies waitied for "the word" from Stephens
to initiate rebellion. But the Fenian leader held back. The general consensus amongst historians as to the reason why is that the Fenian leaders had not formulated a real military plan.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, British "authorities" in Ireland made a number of swoops on Fenian "hotspots," including the headquarters of the Irish People
. James Stephens, Thomas Clarke Luby, and O'Donovan Rossa were apprehended in these arrests. Stephens, the leader of the group, made a daring escape not long after being incarcerated in Richmond Prison, Dublin.
It was not long before the word got out about Stephens' escape and its details. Apparently, John Devoy
, the leader of the Fenians within the British army informed two prison warders who happened to be Fenian supporters of the situation. Stephens was whisked away to a safe house in the country.
While Stephens was away from Dublin, Devoy attempted to make a move towards violence that many believe would have been very effective. TA Jackson's Ireland Her Own
seems to believe that any sizable uprising at that point in time would have secured a large a part of the island saying: "There is a weighty reason for believing that if John Devoy's advice had been taken, the result would have been to secure for Ireland as much as was secured by the Treaty of 1921, without Partition".
The trials of the remaining incarcerated Fenian leaders (Kickham
) caused great uproar throughout the country when renowned (and widely hated) conservative Catholic judge William Keogh
was appointed to try their cases. Called "the solo-trombone in the Pope's brass band," his appointment meant a completely unfair trial for those accused.
Their counsel, Isaac Butt
, presented a case full of love of country and culture. He said the men desired greatly to see Ireland an independent state from Britain and they viewed armed uprising as the only means of attaining this objective.
*Tomorrow's bit will include excerpts from some of the prisoners speeches from the dock.