Joaquin Blake was an Irishman who fought for the Spanish against Napoleon – and delivered a rare victory against the French.
Article by Andrew Bamford from “Military Illustrated”.
Son of the Wild Geese.
Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, expatriate Irish soldiers fought with distinction in the Catholic armies of Europe. After the collapse of the final Jacobite rising of 1745, the trickle of rank-and-file volunteers largely dried up, but many Irish gentry families had by now established themselves in exile, giving good service as officers and assimilating themselves into the societies of their new homes. Whilst the Irish heritage of these sons of the Wild Geese led to some ludicrous names and dubiously-assumed pretensions to nobility (such as Austria’s Johans-Sigismund Maguire von Inniskillin), they rewarded the states that had adopted them with loyal and honest service.
This was nowhere more true than in Spain, where, upon the outbreak of the Peninsular War in 1808, only a handful of officers of Irish descent sided with the French, as opposed to scores of high-ranking Spanish traitors. The most distinguished of the Hispano-Irish who stayed loyal to Spain was Joaquin Blake, one of the very few Spanish generals to ever defeat the French in battle during the final six years of the conflict.
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