Obrazy na stronie

obloquy upon the service in general. *On advice received at Newtonbarry of the attack intended by the rebels, an express had been sent to Clonnegail, two miles and a half distant, ordering the troops posted there to march immediately to Newtonbarry. The commander of these troops, Lieutenant Young of the Donegal militia, instead of marching immediately, spent two hours in hanging four prisoners, in spite of the urgent remonstrances of the gentlemen of the town, and an officer of the North Cork, who considered these men as not deserving death: some of them having actually declined to join the rebels, when it was fully in their power. By this delay, and an unaccounta bly circuitous march, three miles longer than the direct road, the troops arrived not at Newtonbarry till after the action was entirely over. Mr. Young, on his arrival in Clonnegall, had commanded the inhabitants to furnish every individual of his soldiers with a feather-bed, and had, without the least necessity, turned Mr. Derenzy, a brave and loyal gentleman and his children, out of their beds. When remonstrances were made to this officer for the incessant depredations of his men, his answer was, "I am the commanding officer, and damn the croppies."

The rebels having been foiled in their late efforts, and disheartened at their recent defeats, had taken post on Corrigrua hill in great force, where they rested on their arms till the 4th of June. Meantime, the long and anxiously expected army under General Loftus, arrived at Gorey. The sight of fifteen hundred fine troops, with five pieces of artillery, filled every loyal breast with confidence, that the immediate and total dispersion of the rebels was at hand. The plan was, to march the army in two divisions, by different roads at Corrigrua, and attack the enemy iu conjunction with other troops. The rebels were in the mean time preparing to quit Corrigrua, and to march to Gorey. Information had been received by the rebel chiefs, of the intended motions of the army, and they acted upon it. But when intelligence of the plan of the rebels march was brought to the army, by a respectable farmer, named Thomas Dowling, the officers despised his information, and even threatened him with imprisonment. Both armies marched about the same time: that of the rebels surprised a division under Colonel Walpolet, at a place called Tubberneering. The rebels instantly poured a tre

* Gord. 2 edit. p. 151.

This gentleman was a relative and favourite of Lord Camden's. He was no soldier; but being ambitious of signalizing himself in the rebellion, had, through importunity at the castle, where favour had too frequently outweighed merit, procured the command of five hundred men. He had only one quality of a soldier....courage; which, without discretion in a commander, becomes rashness. He refused to employ scouts or flanking parties; and was not, aware of the enemy till they were within gun shot. He was conspicuously mounted on a white charger, in full uniform and plumage.

mendous fire from the fields on both sides of the road, and he received a bullet through the head from the first fire. His troops fled in the utmost disorder, leaving their cannon, consisting of two six pounders, and a smaller piece, in the hands of the enemy. They were pursued as far as Gorey, in their flight through which, they were galled by the fire of some of the rebels who had taken station in the houses. The unfortunate loyalists of Gorey, once more fled to Arklow with the routed army, leaving all their effects behind.

While Walpole's division was attacked by the enemy, General Loftus, being within hearing of the musquetry, detached seventy men, the grenadier company of the Antrim militia, across the fields to its assistance; but they were intercepted by the rebels, and almost all killed or taken. The general, still ignorant of the fate of Colonel Walpole's division, and unable to bring his artillery across the fields, continued his march along the highway, by a long circuit, to the field of battle, where he was first acquainted with the melancholy event. For some way he followed the rebels toward Gorey, but finding them posted on Gorey-hill, from which they fired upon him the cannon taken from Colonel Walpole, he retreated to Carnew; and still contrary to the opinion of most of his officers, thinking Carnew an unsafe post, though at the head of twelve hundred effective men, he abandoned that part of the country to the rebels, and retreated nine miles farther, to the town of Tullow, in the county of Carlow.

Whilst one formidable body of the Wexford insurgents was advancing toward the north, another still more formidable was preparing to penetrate to the south west. The conquest of New Ross, which is situated on the river formed by the united streams of the Nord and the Barrow, would have laid open a communication with the disaffected in the counties of Waterford and Kilkenny, in which many thousands were supposed ready to rise in arms at the appearance of their successful confederates. The possession of that important post, when it might have been effected without opposition, immediately upon their success at Enniscorthy, had, fortunately for the royal cause, been abandoned on account of a personal difference amongst their chiefs. The rebel army at Wexford chose Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, as soon as he was liberated from prison, for their genera


* The following was the form of their appointment.

"At a meeting of the commanders of the united army, held at "Carrickburn camp, on the 1st of June, 1798, it was unanimously agreed, that Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey should be appointed and elected commander in "chief of the united army of the county of Wexford, from and after the first "day of June, 1798,

[ocr errors]

"Signed by order of the different commanding officers of the camp,
"NICHOLAS GRAY, Secretary."

lissimo, and they divided into two main bodies: one of which directed its course northward to Gorey; the other, which was headed by Harvey in person, took post on Carrickburn mountain, within six miles of Ross, where it was reviewed and organized till the 4th of June, when it marched to Corbet hill, within a mile of that town which it was intended to attack the next morning. Harvey, though neither destitute of personal courage, nor of a good understanding, possessed no military experience, much less those rare talents, by which an undisciplined multitude may be directed and controlled. He formed the plan of an attack on three different parts of the town at once, which would probably have succeeded had it been put in execution. Having sent a summons to General Johnson, the commander of the king's troops, with a flag of truce, to surrender the town, the bearer of it, one Furlong, was shot by a sentinel of an outpost. Whilst Harvey was arranging his forces for the assault, they were galled by the fire of some out-posts: he ordered a brave young man, of the name of Kelly, to put himself at the head of five hundred men, and drive in the out-posts. Kelly was followed confusedly by a much greater number than he wished: he executed his commission; but could not bring back the men as ordered; they rushed impetuously into the town, drove back the cavalry with slaughter on the infantry, seized the cannon, and being followed in their successful career by crouds from the hills, seemed some time nearly masters of the town. From a full persuasion of a decided victory in favour

"It was likewise agreed, that Edward Roche should from and after the 1st “day of June instant, be elected, and is hereby elected a general officer of the "united army of the county of Wexford.

"Signed by the above authority,


To shoot all persons carrying flags of truce from the rebels, appears to have been a maxim with his majesty's forces. This measure if wise, was certainly less productive of good, than evil consequences. In Furlong's pocket was found the following letter of summons to Ġeneral Johnson.


"AS a friend to humanity, I request you will surrender the town "of Ross to the Wexford forces, now assembled against that town; your re"sistance will but provoke rapine and plunder, to the ruin of the most inno"cent. Flushed with victory, the Wexford forces, now innumerable and irre"sistible, will not be controlled, if they meet with resistance. To prevent, "therefore, the total ruin of all property in the town, I urge you to a speedy "surrender, which you will be forced to in a few hours, with loss and blood"shed, as you are surrounded on all sides. Your answer is required in four "hours. Mr. Furlong carries this letter, and will bring the answer.

"I am, Sir,

Camp at Corbet Hill, balf past "three o'clock in the morning, "June 5, 1798,"

"B. B. HARVEY, "General commanding, &c. &c. &c."

of the rebel army, some officers of the garrison fled to Waterford, twelve miles distant, with the alarming intelligence.

The original plan of attack was thus defeated by this premature, though successful onset, in one quarter; the Dublin and Donegal militia maintained their posts at the market house, and at a station called Fairgate, and prevented the rebels from penetrating into the centre of the town; while Major General Johnson, aided by the extraordinary exertions of an inhabitant of Ross, named M'Cormick, who had served in the army, though not then in commission, brought back to the charge the troops that had fled across the river to the Kilkenny side; they presently recovered their post, and drove the rebels from the town, the outskirts of which were now in flames, fired by the assailants or disaffected inhabitants, as Enniscorthy had been. The rebels, in their turn, rallied by their chiefs, returned with fury to the assault, and regained some ground. Again dislodged by the same exertions as before, and a third time rallied, they were at last finally repulsed, after an engagement of above ten hours, ending about two o'clock in the afternoon.

The official bulletin, published at Dublin on the 8th of June, stated, that on the 5th, about six in the morning, the rebels attacked the position of General Johnson, at New Ross, with a very large force and great impetuosity; .but that, after a contest of several hours, they were completely repulsed. The loss of the rebels was very great, the streets being literally strewed with their carcasses. An iron gun upon a ship carriage had been taken; and late in the evening they retreated entirely to Carrickburn, leaving several iron ship guns not mounted.

General Johnson stated, that too much praise could not be given to the forces under his command.

The general severely regretted the loss of that brave officer, A return of the Lord Mountjoy, who fell early in the contest. killed and wounded of his majesty's forces had not then been received, but it appeared not to have been considerable. It was supposed to have been about 300, though the official detail afterwards made reduced them to about half that number.*

The impetuosity and ardour with which the rebels assailed the town of Ross, and the prodigality with which they threw away their lives, surpassed belief. The troops did not stand it; and the difficulty, with which that able and meritorious officer, General Johnson, rallied them, proves the terror, which this ferocious, though irregular charge of the rebels had created. The first assailants had no sooner dislodged the troops, than, instead of pursuing them on their retreat, they fell most voraciously to plunder, and became quickly disabled to act from intoxication, whereby they were so easily repulsed on the return of the fugitive troops. Sir Richard Musgrave says, (p. 410) " that such


was their enthusiasm, that though whole ranks of them were seen to fall, "they were succeeded by others, who seemed to court the fate of their com panions, by rushing on our troops with renovated ardour."

[ocr errors]

Bloody as was the carnage at New Ross, where the rebels were said to have lost between two and three thousand men, the horror of that scene vanished before the inhuman massacre of a number of unfortunate prisoners,* men, women and children,

One rebel, emboldened by fanaticism and drunkenness, advanced before his comrades, seized a gun, crammed his hat and wig into it, and cried out, " come "on, boys, her mouth is stopped." At that instant the gunner laid the match to the gun, and blew the unfortunate savage to atoms. This fact has been verified by the affidavit of a person who saw it from a window.

* Such inhuman massacres in cold blood are in their nature too horrible to find advocates, whether perpetrated under the brutal orders of a king's officer on avowed rebels, or of rebels in retaliation; by a Henry at Agincourt, a Suwarrow at Praga, or a Bonaparte in Palestine. To a deed so foul the grossest misinterpretation must be expected in the frantic rage of party to be superadded to its own essential atrocity. Sir Richard Musgrave (p. 426) has asserted, that "John Murphy, the rebel captain, Nicholas Sweetman, and William Devereux, who both held the same rank, commanded a guard of 300 rebels, and that when the rebel army began to give way at Ross, an express was sent to Murphy, to put the Protestant prisoners to death, as the king's troops were gaining the day; but Murphy refused to comply without a direct order from the general: that he soon after received another message to the same purpose, with this addition, that the prisoners, if released, would become very furious and vindictive: that shortly a third express arrived, saying the priest gave orders that the prisoners should be put to death: that the rebels, on hearing the sanction of the priest, became outrageous, and began to pull off their clothes, the better to perform the bloody deed."

There is no question, but that the rebels were universally and unexceptionably determined upon the principle of retaliation and retribution: they considered every man that lost his life under military execution, without trial, as a murdered victim whose blood was to be revenged; so sanguinary and vindictive had this warfare fatally become. Besides numerous instances of such military executions, wherever the army had gained an advantage, they bore deeply in their minds the deliberate and brutal murder of thirty-eight prisoners, most of whom had not (at least who were said and believed not to have) committed any act of treason at Dunlavin on the 24th of May; and the like wanton and atrocious murder of thirty-nine prisoners of the like description at Carnew, on the morn ing of Whitsun Monday, merely because the party, which had them in custody, had orders to march, and they were unwilling to discharge them, but wanted time to examine, much more to try them. A gentleman of punctilious veracity and retentive memory has assured me, that he was present in the House of Commons at the examination of a Mr. Frizell, a person of respectability, at the bar of that house, in the summer of 1798, who was a prisoner in the house of Scullabogue on the 4th of June. He was asked every question that could be suggested relative to the massacre: to which his answers were substantially as follows: That having been taken prisoner by a party of the rebels, he was confined to a room on the ground floor in Scullabogue house, with twenty or thirty other persons; that a rebel guard with a pike stood near the window, with whom he conversed: that persons were fiequently called out of the room in which he was by name, and he believes were soon after shot, as he heard the report of muskets shortly after they had been so called out; that he understood that many were burned in the barn, the smoke of which he could dis. cover from the window that the sentinel pikeman assured him, that they would not hurt a hair of his head, as he was always known to have behaved well to the poor: that he did not know of his own knowledge, but only from the reports current amongst the prisoners, what the particular cause was, for which the rebels had set fire to the barn. Upon which, Mr. Ogle rose with precipitancy from his seat, and put this question to him with great eagerness: Sur, tell us what the cause was? It having been suggested, that the question would be more regularly put from the chair, it was repeated to him in form;

« PoprzedniaDalej »