Phineas Riall
Sir Phineas Riall, KCH
Royal Guelphic Order
The Royal Guelphic Order, sometimes also referred to as the Hanoverian Guelphic Order, is a Hanoverian order of chivalry instituted on 28 April 1815 by the Prince Regent . It has not been conferred by the British Crown since the death of King William IV in 1837, when the personal union of the...

 (December 15, 1775 - November 10, 1850) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 army officer, who fought in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...


Phineas Riall was born in Clonmel
Clonmel is the county town of South Tipperary in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county. While the borough had a population of 15,482 in 2006, another 17,008 people were in the rural hinterland. The town is noted in Irish history for its resistance to the Cromwellian army which sacked both...

, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 into a wealthy Protestant landowning family, the third son of Phineas Riall (1737-1797) of Heywood, Co. Tipperary, whose father had founded the Riall Bank of Clonmel, and Catherine Caldwell of Dublin. He entered the army as an Ensign
Ensign (rank)
Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

 in 1794 and rose rapidly through purchase of commissions
Sale of commissions
The sale of commissions was a common practice in most European armies where wealthy and noble officers purchased their rank. Only the Imperial Russian Army and the Prussian Army never used such a system. While initially shunned in the French Revolutionary Army, it was eventually revived in the...

. Even though he spent seven years on half pay (i.e. without any regimental or staff appointment), he was Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 in the 15th Regiment of Foot in 1805. He sailed with them to the West Indies, and seems to have first seen serious action when he commanded the regiment at the capture of Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

 in 1809. The next year, he commanded a brigade at the capture of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

. After this, he returned to England.

Over the next two years, he received promotion to Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 and Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 through seniority. He was then posted to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, where initially he commanded the Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 district, then accompanied Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

Gordon Drummond
Sir Gordon Drummond, GCB was the first Canadian-born officer to command the military and the civil government of Canada...

 to Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...


On arrival, Drummond immediately halted all withdrawals and mounted an attack on the American side of the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

. As part of the attack, Riall led a detachment across the river at Lewiston
Lewiston, New York
Lewiston is a village in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 2,781 at the 2000 census. The village is named after Morgan Lewis, an early 19th-century governor of New York. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.The Village of Lewiston,...

 on December 19, 1813 and advanced south. The attack was almost unopposed, as the Americans had stripped the Niagara front of Regular soldiers to furnish an ill-fated attack on Montreal. The advance was marked by the burning of almost every village, in reprisal for the American burning of Newark
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a Canadian town located in Southern Ontario where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario in the Niagara Region of the southern part of the province of Ontario. It is located across the Niagara river from Youngstown, New York, USA...

 ten days earlier.

On December 30, Riall again crossed the Niagara River further south, and repeated the deliberate destruction at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 and Black Rock, although here there were a Navy yard and several other legitimate military targets.

On July 5, 1814, Riall commanded the "Right Division" of the British Army in Upper Canada, on the Niagara river. At the Battle of Chippawa
Battle of Chippawa
The Battle of Chippawa was a victory for the United States Army in the War of 1812, during an invasion of Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5, 1814.-Background:...

, he ordered them to attack Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

's advancing American brigade. The result was a bloody defeat for the British. Riall's tactics might have been correct had he faced American militia, as he thought, but were disastrous against Scott's well-trained regulars.

On July 25, Riall's troops once again engaged Scott at the Battle of Lundy's Lane
Battle of Lundy's Lane
The Battle of Lundy's Lane was a battle of the Anglo-American War of 1812, which took place on 25 July 1814, in present-day Niagara Falls, Ontario...

. Riall was severely wounded in the arm early in the battle, and while riding to the rear, was captured by American infantry. While he was a prisoner, a fellow captive (Canadian militia dragoon officer William Hamilton Merritt
William Hamilton Merritt
William Hamilton Merritt was an influential figure in the Niagara Peninsula of Upper Canada in early 19th century and one of the fathers of the Welland Canal....

) described him as "very brave, near sighted, rather short, but stout." He was allowed to sail for England on parole in December.

On February 18, 1816, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, a post he held until 1823. Thereafter, he appears to have seen very little service, although he was knighted in 1833 and eventually became full General on November 23, 1841. He died peacefully in Paris in 1850.

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