Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 7

Oh dear, where's the bloody man? He's still out in the wilds of Armagh. So we have to endure another of his effusions. On the topic of gore, and still with only letter B, we find:

Bloody O'Reilly

Alexander (later Alejandro) O'Reilly was born in Dublin in 1722. He became one of the Wild Geese, a mercenary in the service of Spain. He fought first in Italy, then with the Austrians. By the time of the Spanish invasion of Portugal, he had risen to the rank of Brigadier-General.

At the end of the Seven Years War, O'Reilly was in Cuba, to reclaim Havana surrendered by the British as part of the peace treaty. He reported at length on the deficiencies of the defences, which led to the construction of the fortifications at La Cabaña. By its completion in 1774 it was the most extensive defence site in the New World: it survives -- during the Cuban Revolution of 1959, La Cabaña was Che Guevara's headquarters, where he oversaw the trials and exceutions of many of the Batista regime.

Another of the arrangements in the settlement of the Seven Years War was the ceding of Louisiana from France to Spain. This was not welcomed by the French of Louisiana who went into revolt. in April 1769 O'Reilly was appointed Governor and Captain-General of the now-Spanish colony Louisiana while in Spain in April 1769, with orders to suppress the revolt in Louisiana, and establish good Spanish order.

Once in New Orleans, O'Reilly earned his nick-name by hanging five prominent French rebels (a sixth had died in captivity), and sending many more to gaol in La Cabaña. To this day, there's a plaque on the corner of Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, listing the victims and fingering O'Reilly.

That episode apart, O'Reilly was a more than competent colonial administrator. he reformed many of the practices in Louisiana, including the manumission of slaves, and allowing slaves to buy their liberty.

Back in Spain he was raised to the nobility as a Count, and continued to give his adopted country military service until his death, by now also a Field Marshal, in 1794. Sphere: Related Content

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