Count Alexander O'Reilly

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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O'Reilly, Alexander, Count, a Spanish General, was born at Baltrasna, in the County of Meath, in 1722. He entered the Spanish service as a lieutenant in the Irish Brigade, and served in Italy, where he received a wound which lamed him for life. In 1757 he passed into the Austrian army, and distinguished himself against the Prussians at Hochkirchen, in 1758. The following year he entered the French service and assisted at the battle of Bergen (1759), and the taking of Minden and Corbach. War having broken out between Spain and Portugal, he re-entered the Spanish service, was made a lieutenant-general, and defeated the Portuguese before Chaves, in 1762. The advent of an English army, under Burgoyne, checked the Spanish successes, and the Peace of Paris (February 1763) deprived O'Reilly of active military employment. In 1765 he saved the life of Charles III. in a popular tumult in Madrid. He remodelled the Spanish army, and introduced the German discipline.

Promoted to be Field-Marshal, he was sent to Havannah as second in command, and in June 1768 took possession of Louisiana, which had been ceded to Spain by France. On his return he was made Governor of Madrid and Inspector-General of Infantry. His selection for the command of an expedition against Algiers excited some jealousy amongst the Spanish officers, and caused the failure of the enterprise. Charles III. not daring to reinstate him in the government of Madrid, made him Governor of Cadiz and Captain-General of Andalusia. In April 1786 he was deprived of all his employments, and obliged to retire on a small pension. He must, however, have been still wealthy, as in 1790 he paid an Irish gentleman 1,000 guineas for preparing his pedigree. He died near Chinchilla, 23rd March 1794, aged 72.

Sources

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

42b. Biografico (Diccionario Universal): Don Juan Sala. Madrid, 1862.

134. Four Masters, Annals of Ireland by the: Translated and Edited by John O'Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1856.

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