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Rebel Strength During the Rising

The Rebel forces had various meeting places or Muster Points around Dublin. The number of Volunteers who gathered at the Muster Points is given below. The numbers are compiled from various original source documents in the Irish National Archive. From information from the Irish and UK National Archives the strength of the Rebel Forces can be reliably put at 1,500.

1st Dublin City Battalion Irish Volunteers Muster Point, Liberty Hall, this Battalion set up Headquarters in the GPO under the command of Pearse, Connolly and Plunkett. Muster, 150 which increased to 350 as news of the Rising spread.

D Company 1st Dublin Battalion Irish Volunteers, part of the 1st Battalion above. Commandant E. Daly Vice-Commandant P. Beaslia Muster Point, Blackhall Street. Muster, 250.

2nd Dublin City Battalion I.V. Commandant, T MacDonagh Vice-Commandant Major J MacBride Muster Point Saint Stephen’s Green Muster, 200.

3rd Dublin City Battalion I.V. Commandant E. de Valera Muster Point, Brunswick Street, Earlsfort Terrace and Oakley Road Muster, 130.

4th Dublin City Battalion I.V. Commandant E. Céannt Vice-Commandant, C Brugha Muster Point, Emerald Square, Dolphin’s Barn Muster, 100.

5th North Dublin Battalion I.V. Commandant T. Ashe Muster Point Knocksedan, Swords Muster, 60.

Irish Citizens Army Captain S. Connolly  Muster Point Liberty Hall Muster, 50.

Kimmage Garrison Captain G. Plunkett Muster Point, Kimmage (Plunkett Family Estate) Muster, 56.

British Forces who Fought During the Rising


From Left Capt. the Marquis of Anglesey Brig.-Gen. Hutchinson, Capt. Bucknill, General Sir John Maxwell, Col. Taylor, Capt. Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Gen. Byrne and Col. Stanton.

Although difficult it is possible to research British soldiers who served in Ireland before 1922. Because Ireland was regarded as home no medals were awarded for any action these soldiers took part in. Below is a list of British regiments who fought during the 1916 Rising. The list is a result of research into the period and as such may not be complete.

The Curragh Camp Kildare
Because WW1 was in progress in 1916 the majority of troops stationed in Ireland were either reserve or extra reserve troops. (R) = Reserve, (ER) = Extra Reserve.
  • 3rd Cavalry Brigade (R)
  • 5th Battalion (Prince of Wales) The Leinster Regiment (ER)
  • 5th Battalion The Royal Dublin Fusiliers (ER)
  • 8th Cavalry Brigade (R) made up of the 16th/17th Lancers, King Edward’s Horse and Dorset/Oxfordshire Yeomanry.
  • 9th Cavalry Regiment (R) made up of 3rd/7th Hussars and 2nd/3rd County of London Yeomanry.
  • 25th Infantry Brigade (R) (Not a full Brigade)
  • 10 Cavalry Regiment (R) made up of 4th/8th Hussars, Lancashire Hussars, Duke of Lancaster’s/Westmoreland/Cumberland Yeomanry.

Dublin Garrison
  • Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks). 10th Service Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers
  • Richmond Barracks 3rd Reserve Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.
  • Marlborough Barracks, Phoenix Park, 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment ex-3rd Reserve Cavalry Brigade made up of 5th/12th Lancers, City of London/1st County of London Yeomanry.
  • Portobello Barracks 3rd Reserve battalion Royal Irish Rifles

  • 5TH Reserve Artillery Brigade only 4 artillery pieces were operational.

  • 15th Reserve Infantry Brigade comprising 1000 men, all ranks.

  • 4th (ER) Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers ex-25th Reserve Infantry Brigade.

The following is a list of troops, which were sent from various locations around England.

59th 2nd North Midland Division Commanded by Major General Sandbach
  • B Squadron The North Irish Horse
  • 59th 2/1st North Midland Divisional Cyclist Company
  • C Squadron 2/1st Northumberland Hussars
  • 59th Divisional Signal Company
176th Infantry Brigade 2nd Lincoln and Leicester Commanded Brigadier by C. G. Blackader.
  • 2/4th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 2/5th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 2/4th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment
  • 2/5th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment
177th Infantry Brigade 2nd Staffordshire Commanded by Brigadier L.R. Carleton
  • 2/5th Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment
  • 2/6th Battalion The South Staffordshire Regiment
  • 2/5th Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment
  • 2/6th Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment
178th Infantry Brigade 2nd Nottingham and Derby under the command of Coronal E.W.S.K. Maconchy
  • 2/5th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters
  • 2/6th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters
  • 2/7th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters The Robin Hoods
  • 2/8th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters

The force also included various Artillery, Engineers and Ancillary units including

  • 295th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
  • 296th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
  • 297th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
  • 298th Brigade Royal Field Artillery
  • 59th Divisional Ammunition Column
  • 467th Field Company Royal Engineers
  • 469th Field Company Royal Engineers
  • 470th Field Company Royal Engineers
  • 2/1st Field Ambulance Company
  • 2/2nd Field Ambulance Company
  • 2/3rd Field Ambulance Company
  • 59th Division Train Army Service Corps
  • 59th Mobile Veterinary Section
  • 59th North Midland Sanitary Section

Other units who offered their service were

  • Trinity Collage OTC (Officer Training Corps)
  • A detachment from the Army School of Musketry
  • Home Defence Force Georgius Rex

Georgius Rex was a small force of mainly elderly men who had formed a type of ‘home guard’ at the beginning of World War 1. Members wore uniform and were armed. The Georgius Rex involvement in the 1916 Rising was somewhat accidental as the extract from a newspaper of the time illustrates.

'On Monday afternoon, the Volunteers fired on columns of the elderly Home Defense Force styled Georgius Rex (King George) and nicknamed ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ by Dubliners, killing or injuring a number of them. The members of the Home Defense Force were on their way home from maneuvers; they were in uniform and carried rifles but had no ammunition, so in effect they were unarmed. There was a violent public reaction when the news spread that the Volunteers had shot these unarmed elderly men; Pearse issued an order prohibiting his Forces from firing on anybody who was unarmed, whether in uniform or not.' 

One of the GR men who died as a result of wounds received in this incident was Francis Browning. He died two days later on the 26th of April from a single head wound. He was 47 years old. Members of the Irish Rugby Football Union Volunteer Training Corps who erected a memorial on his grave in Dean's Grange Cemetery. See War grave of the 1916 Rising link.

Although the Volunteer Corps (Georges Rex) appeared to be and were treated by the media at the time as a harmless bunch of old men playing soldiers the Volunteer Corps did play an important role, along with other voluntary organisations, during the 1916 Rising. Below is a report published in the national newspaper a few days after the Rising.

Kingstown Volunteer Corps

The Kingstown Volunteer (GR) Corps were paid a high compliment by General Sir John Maxwell, the General officer Commanding the Troops in Ireland, who, on Tuesday, 9th May, accorded the Corps the official recognition of an inspection by Major-General Sandbach, the General Officer commanding the Dublin area. The inspection took place in front of the Royal marine Hotel, where the members of the Kingstown and district Volunteer (GR) Corps paraded on the green, along with the local corps of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, nurses of the St. John’s Ambulance Association, and a number of special constables. During the previous fortnight all these bodies had lent active assistance to the military.

The Kingstown and District Volunteer Corps, which is affiliated to the Irish Association Volunteer Training Corps, whose headquarters are at Beggar’s Bush Barracks, in the very beginning of the rebellious outbreak offered its services to the military authorities. These were accepted, and the Volunteers were afterwards the very guides and lights to the military in what to them was a strange terrain. In the early stages of the insurrections Volunteers undertook the protection of the local gas works. Night and Day they assisted in the work at the town barriers, to which they were deputed under general orders. The chief officer, Mr T Morgan Good, was appointed Town Commandant, and to him the Provost Marshal expressed his appreciation of the Corps’ services, and declared that they had been indispensable. Amongst the many efficient services rendered by the Corps was that of organising a supply of motorcars, motorcycles, and bicycles for the use of the military. The Corps also policed the Carlisle Pier and the railway stations with the military. The Boy Scouts were most useful, acting as messengers and assistant at the soldiers’ buffet, while the Girl Guides afforded a great deal of very acceptable service in a variety of offices. They assisted in the heavy work of issuing permits. Miss Nancy Gosling gave her services voluntarily as typist to the APM, and Miss Baird and Miss Lucy Gosling acted in the same office as telephone clerks.

The Parade
The Volunteers paraded in front of the Marine Hotel to the number of 75, including all ranks, and were under the command of their officer – Mr T Morgan Good, Town Commandant: Mr S A Quan Smith, Mr R Norman Potterton, Mr EF Scanlan, and Dr Matthew Good. Fifty of the Volunteers wore uniform and about 24 or 26, with some special constables, were in mufti. There were some 40 Boy Scouts on the ground, under the command of Mr SA Quan Smith senior Vice-President for the county, and Mr Evelyn Wilkinson, acting Scout Master. Sixteen Girl Guides, in their neat navy blue uniforms, also under the command of Mr Quan Smith, were present, and three nurses, representing the St. Johns Ambulance Association – viz., Mrs Robinson, Lady Corps Superintendent, Co Dublin; Mrs Middleton Curtis, Lady Corps Treasurer, City of Dublin, and Miss Mowbray, Lady Divisional Superintendent. About 250 men, new drafts for the North Midland Divisional Artillery, were also paraded.

Major-General Sandbach made close and interested inspection of the Volunteers, who were drawn up in two lines. He questioned many, and spoke in flattering terms of the parade to Mr Good. He inspected the Boy Scouts and girl Guides very carefully, and especially noted those wearing war service badges, granted for aid to the military since the war began in 1914.

Having inspected the Girl Guides and Nurses, Major-general Sandbach said Sir John Maxwell had asked him to convey his thanks for the work they had done during the crisis.' 

Fighting in Dublin During The Rising

The account below of the fighting in Dublin during the 1916 Rising comes mainly from Dispatches issued by Sir John Maxwell and gives a good idea of which regiments and corps were involved in the fighting and where they were situated during the Rising. It is obvious from newspaper reports and those Killed in Action that many soldiers from other Regiments and Corps who were in or near Dublin when the Rising started volunteered their services. On Easter Monday, 24th April, at 12.15 p m., a telephone message was received from the Dublin Metropolitan Police saying Dublin Castle was being attacked by armed Sinn Feiners. This was immediately confirmed by the Dublin Garrison Adjutant, who reported that, in the absence of Colonel Kennard, the Garrison Commander, who had left his office shortly before, and was prevented by the rebels from returning, he had ordered all available troops from Portobello, Richmond, and Royal Barracks to proceed to the Castle, and the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment towards Sackville street. The fighting strength of forces in Dublin at the outbreak of the Rising was:
  • 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, 35 officers, 851 other ranks.
  • 3rd Royal Irish Regiment, 18 officers, 385 other ranks.
  • 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 37 officers, 430 other ranks.
  • 3rd Royal Irish Rifles, 21 officers, 650 other ranks.
Of these troops an inlaying piquet of 400 men, which for some days past had been held in readiness, proceeded at once, and the remainder followed shortly afterwards.

At 12.30 p.m. a telephone message was sent to General Officer Commanding, Curragh, to mobilise the mobile column, which had been arranged to meet any emergency, and to despatch it dismounted to Dublin by trains which were being sent from Kingsbridge. This column, under the command of Colonel Portal, consisted of 1,600 officers and other ranks from the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Brigade. During the day the following troops were ordered to Dublin:

  • A battery of four 18-ponndors R.F.A., from the Reserve Artillery Brigade at Athlone.
  • The 4th Dublin Fusiliers from Templemore.
  • A composite battalion from Belfast.
  • An additional 1,000 men from the Curragh. This message being sent by one of the troop trains.
At 9.35 p.m. Colonel Kennard, Officer Commanding, Dublin, reached the Castle with another party of 86 men of the 3rd Royal Irish Regiment. The defence of the docks at North Wall was undertaken by Major H. F. Somerville commanding a detachment from the School of Musketry, Dollymount, reinforced by 330 officers and men of the 9th Reserve Cavalry. At the time of the rising Major-General Friend, then commanding the troops in Ireland was on short leave in England, and when visiting the headquarters of the Horse Guards on that day heard the serious news from Dublin. He returned that night, and arrived in Dublin early on the morning of the 25th April. He has informed me that at a conference it was decided to despatch at once two infantry brigades of the 59th Division from England to Ireland, and that the remaining Infantry brigade and artillery of this Division were to be held in readiness to follow if required.

On April 25th, Brigadier-General W. H M. Lowe, Commanding the Reserve Cavalry Brigade at the Curragh, arrived at Kingsbridge Station at 3.45 a.m. with the leading troops from the 25th (Irish) Reserve Infantry Brigade, and assumed command of the forces in the Dublin area, which were roughly 2,300 men of the Dublin garrison, the Curragh Mobile Column of 1,500 dismounted cavalry men, and 840 men of the 25th Irish Reserve Infantry Brigade.

As a heavy fire was being kept up on the Castle from the rebels located in the Corporation buildings, Daily Express offices, and several houses opposite the City Hall, it was decided to attack these buildings. The assault on the Daily Express office was successfully carried out under very heavy fire by a detachment of the 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers under 2nd Lieutenant F. O'Neill. Towards evening 25th of April the 178th Infantry Brigade began to arrive at Kingstown, and in accordance with orders received, the brigade left Kingstown by road in two columns. The left column, consisting of the 5th and 6th Battalions Sherwood Foresters, by the StiIlorgan-Donnybrook road and South Circular road to the Royal Hospital, where it arrived without opposition. The right column, consisting of the 7th and 8th Battalions Sherwood Foresters, by the main tram route through Ballsbridge, and directed on Merrion square and Trinity College.

This column, with 7th Battalion leading, was held up at the northern corner of Haddington road and Northumberland Road, which was strongly held by rebels, but with the assistance of bombing parties organised and led by Captain Jeffares, of the Bombing School at Elm Park, the rebels were driven back. At 3.25 p.m. the 7th Battalion Sherwood Foresters met great opposition from the rebels holding the schools and other houses on the north side of the road close to the bridge at Lower Mount street, and two officers, one of whom was the Adjutant. Captain Dietrichsen, were killed, and seven wounded, including Lieutenant - Colonel Fane, who, though Wounded, remained in action.

At about 5.30 p.m. orders were received that the advance to Trinity College was to be pushed forward at all costs, and therefore at about 8 p.m., after careful arrangements, the whole column, accompanied by bombing parties, attacked the schools and houses where the chief opposition lay, the battalions charging in successive waves, carried all before them. But, I regret to say, suffered severe casualties in doing so. Four officers were killed. 14 wounded, and of other ranks 216 were killed and wounded. The steadiness shown by these two battalions is deserving of special .mention, as I understand the majority of the men have less than three months service.

During: the night of 26th-27th April several fires broke out in this quarter and threatened to become dangerous, as the fire brigade could not get to work owing to their being fired upon by the rebels. Throughout the day further troops of the 176th Brigade arrived in the Dublin area. On 27th April the 5th Leinsters, 26th Sherwood Foresters. 3rd Royal Irish Regiment, the Ulster composite battalion, under the command of Colonel Portal, began and completed by 5 p.m. the forming of a cordon round the rebels in the Sackville street area, which by nightfall of the 27th the 177th Infantry Brigade had arrived at Kingstown, where it remained for the night.

At 2 a.m. on the 28th April I arrived at North Wall and found many buildings in Sackville street burning fiercely, illuminating the whole city, and a fusillade of rifle fire going on in several quarters of the city. Accompanied by several Staff Officers who had come with me, I proceeded to the Royal Hospital. After a conference with Major-General Friend and Brigadier-General Lowe, I instructed the latter to close in on Sackville street from East and West, and to carry out a house-to-house search in areas gained. I was able to place the 2/4 Lincolns at his disposal for the purpose of forming a cordon along the Grand Canal, so enclosing the Southern part of the city and forming a complete cordon round Dublin. During the afternoon the 2/5th and 2'6th South Staffords arrived at Trinity College, and this additional force allowed me to begin the task of placing a cordon round the Four Courts area in the same way as the Sackville street area, which had already been .successfully isolated.

During the afternoon the 2/5th and 2/6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, which had been escorting ammunition and rifles from North Wall, and had been held up in Charles street, was relieved by armoured motor lorries, which had been roughly armoured with boiler plates by the Inchicore Railway Works and placed at my disposal by Messrs. Guinness.

Throughout the night the process of driving out the rebels in and around Sackville street continued, though these operations were greatly hampered by the fires in this area and by the fact that some of the burning houses contained rebel stores of explosives which every now and again blew up. In other quarters of the city the troops had a trying time dealing with the numerous snipers, who became very troublesome during the hours of darkness.

Owing to the considerable opposition at barricades, especially in North King street, it was not until 9 a.m. on the 29th April that the Four Courts area was completely surrounded.

Throughout the morning the squeezing out of the surrounded areas was vigorously proceeded with, the infantry being greatly assisted by a battery of Field Artillery commanded by Major Hill, who used his guns against the buildings held by the rebels with such good effect that a Red Cross Nurse brought in a message from the rebel leader, P. H. Pearse, asking for terms. A reply was sent that only unconditional surrender would be accepted. At 2 p.m. Pearse surrendered himself unconditionally, and was brought before me, when he wrote and signed notices ordering the various "Commandoes" to surrender unconditionally.

During the evening the greater part of the rebels in the Sackville street and Four Courts area surrendered.

Early on the 30th April two Franciscan monks informed me that the rebel leader, MacDonagh, declining to accept Pearse's orders, wished to negotiate. He was informed that only unconditional surrender would be accepted, and at 3 p.m., when all preparation for an attack on Jacobs Biscuit Factory, which he held, had been made, MacDonagh and his band of Rebels surrendered unconditionally. In the St. Stephen's Green area, Countess Markieviez and her band surrendered and were taken to the Castle. These surrenders practically ended the rebellion in the City of Dublin.

Throughout the night of the 30th April/1st May isolated rebels continued to snipe the troops, but during the 1st May these were gradually cleared out, and in conjunction with the police a systematic house-to-house search for rebels and arms was continued.